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  1. Friday, May 11, 2018

    Friday Show & Tell: Cool Food, Kitchen Gear and More!

    I have so many things to share today, ranging from a non-wheat pasta product, a non-dairy milk alternative, a super cool kitchen tool that made making cut-out cookies delightful, cool shoes AND a live show for the family that is sure to be awesome. Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

    Banza Chickpea Pasta

    Banza Chickpea Pasta

    I don’t follow many celebrities on social media, but I do follow Kristen Bell (who I actually saw speak last week and she is tiny and adorable and smart and she even sells really delicious bars that save lives, go check them out!). Back in February she posted this cute Instagram video about Banza pasta. I’ll be the first to admit I ordered six boxes almost immediately after watching it. I have eaten the pasta a few times now and am ready to report that…

    I love Banza! It smells and tastes a little different than normal pasta. Because, duh, it’s not normal pasta. It’s made out of chickpeas. Which means it’s full of fiber and protein and all kinds of good nutrients. But, also, when you top it with whatever you normally top your pasta with, it totally tastes good. If you’re looking for a wheat alternative or just want a pasta with a healthy boost, I recommend Banza!

    Oatly

    Oat milk by Oatly is a great dairy alternative!

    Okay, so I have pretty much cut dairy from my diet. I still use butter, but whenever I eat anything with cream or milk, I feel awful. Which means I haven’t had a decent latte in months, which is a cryin’ shame. Then, last week, I went to one of my favorite local coffee shops Revolution Roasters and discovered they had “oat milk” as one of their milk options. After a lengthy discussion with the barista (because once you get me talkin’ ’bout food I can’t stop), I gave the oat milk latte a try and SKIPPED HOME SINGING TRALALA BECAUSE I WAS SO HAPPY THE END.

    Oh wait. That’s not the end. I went home and ordered a whole lotta oat milk from Oatly, the very oat milk my barista raved about.

    So far Oatly’s oat milk is my favorite milk alternative I have tried. It has a unique flavor, as all milk alternatives do, but it’s my favorite so far, and the flavor is more subtle than say almond or coconut milk. It kind of tastes like, well, granola or oatmeal, but, like I said, it’s subtle. And the oat milk plays nice with my body. No nuts to worry about, no dairy to worry about and I feel good afterwards. Oatly is a plant-based, sustainable product, which is another big reason I am happy to support them.

    King Arthur Rolling Mat

    The rolling mat for baking form King Arthur Flour

    Oh my goodness I am so happy I bought this rolling mat. SO HAPPY. Here’s the background: my grandma and my mom always had the Tupperware rolling mat, which I received as a wedding gift many moons ago. I know they loved it, but I never really did (sorry Mom and Grandma!). The mat would slide around and over time it started cracking and falling apart (which made me sad because nostalgia, but I haven’t missed it in the kitchen as far as cooking is concerned). Once my Tupperware rolling mat bit the dust, I bought a new rolling mat from King Arthur. It came in the mail and I promptly put it away for a few years. It stayed in the cabinet, patiently waiting, until yesterday.

    This mat is seriously awesome. It stays put on the counter beautifully, it’s really big, and it just plain worked great. I highly recommend it! Click here to buy a King Arthur Rolling Mat for yourself.

    My New Favorite Birkenstocks

    My New Favorite Birkenstock Styles - Mayari and Daloa - from This Week for Dinner

    I didn’t start wearing Birkenstocks until a few years ago. Once I did, I was hooked and it’s pretty much the only shoe I wear (as made apparent by the T-shaped tan line on my feet that I just can’t shake). The Gizeh style has served me well and I own three pair. But, I’ve gotta admit, I was getting a little tired of them. So, I started poking around, looking at different kinds of Birks. I ordered a pair of the Mayari sandals in Stone and the Daloa sandals in Mocha, just to try on, mind you. And, well, I kept both pair. They’re my new faves. Which means now I’ll have even more Birkenstock tan lines on my feet. 😐

    Wild Kratts Live!

    Wild Kratts Live US Tour

    My kids love Wild Kratts on PBS. A lot. Even Cate, my 7th grader. I just learned that there is a Wild Kratts Live show and the U.S. tour kicks off in September. We are totally going no matter what. But it’s a surprise, so don’t tell my kids. (Hopefully they don’t read this, fingers crossed!) Click here to get tickets for a show near you!

    In Conclusion…

    Please don’t tally how much money I have spent on this post. Thank you and good day.


  2. Thursday, May 10, 2018

    Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

    So. I’ve been making pot roast in a slow cooker for ages. The recipe is simple, reliable and delicious. I didn’t think anything could ever replace that recipe. And then, this week, I tried making pot roast in my Instant Pot, using the pressure cooker settings. Whoah, boy, pressure cooker pot roast just replaced slow cooker pot roast. Quite frankly I’m stunned by this upset. But I’m happy about it just the same.

    How to make pot roast in a pressure cooker

    I bought an Instant Pot I think three years ago and, until last month, had used it only once. I tried cooking basic chicken using the pressure cooker function and it worked, well, fine. It didn’t blow me out of the water, and so the Instant Pot got pushed to the back of the cabinet. And then my friend Christine mentioned a few weeks ago how she loves making brown rice in the pressure cooker. So I dug it out and started experimenting.

    Recipe for pressure cooker pot roast

    As of today I am so-so on brown rice (I just haven’t perfected that process yet) and in love with making beans in the pressure cooker (I’ll share that recipe another day, it took some tweaking but I finally have it where I like it). And then I decided to try pot roast. HUGE SUCCESS. It tasted the same as my slow cooker pot roast and, top to bottom, took about 2 hours instead of the usual 8-9 hours.

    I will say this – I can totally see instances where cooking the pot roast for 8 hours will be more convenient based on my schedule for a particular day. But what is so glorious is now I have two options, 2 hours or 8 hours, with equally delicious results. Hooray for pressure cooker pot roast!

    Pressure cooker pot roast, my new favorite way to make pot roast!

    I took my inspiration for this pot roast from my friend Barbara from Pressure Cooking Today. She is my pressure cooker guru. You need to bookmark her site pronto if you have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. You’re welcome. (Click here for Barbara’s pot roast recipe, which has a few more ingredients than my version below.)

    Pressure Cooker Pot Roast
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Simple, easy and delicious! Instructions below are based on using an Instant Pot.
    Author:
    Serves: 6-8
    Ingredients
    • 1 chuck, chuck-eye, or round roast (around 4 pounds)
    • 1-2 tablespoons canola, vegetable or olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
    • ½ of an onion, chopped
    • 2 cups beef broth or stock
    Instructions
    1. Sprinkle roast evenly with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    2. Select the "Browning" setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil to Instant Pot and let heat up. Once hot, brown the roast on both sides, a few minutes per side until you start to get beautiful browned spots. Set roast aside.
    3. Add onions to the Instant Pot and cook until softened and translucent. Stir regularly.
    4. Add the chopped onions to the oil in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and mushrooms and cook, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Scrape up all the browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot while broth is simmering.
    5. Add roast and change Instant Pot setting to High pressure. Make sure the pressure release handle is on "Sealing." Set the timer for 90 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pot to build pressure and for the 90-minute countdown to begin.
    6. When the 90 minutes is over, turn off the pressure cooker and let it sit for 15 minutes, letting pressure release naturally. At the 15-minute mark, using a hot pad and being careful not to touch the steam, turn the pressure release handle to "Venting" to release the rest of the pressure. Once it stops steaming, remove the lid.
    7. Let roast rest for 10-15 minutes. Use juices for gravy, straining the juice first to remove the "stuff" left behind in the juices. Make gravy using white roux (click here for recipe and instructions). You can also use a slurry made from ½ cup flour whisked with 1 cup cold water to thicken the gravy if you forgot to make the roux.

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:


  3. Sunday, May 6, 2018

    Week 578 Weekly Menu

    Happy Sunday! This week I attended the Mom 2 Summit and it was, as usual, really wonderful. This year I came home with a list of things to do that are going to improve my {aging} blog. So get ready! Changes are in store and they are all for the better! (Although, honestly, some of those changes are pretty boring and you won’t even know they  happened…but I’m good with that because spring cleaning always feels good, even when no one sees inside your closets!)

    Weekly menu from This Week for Dinner for the week of May 7, 2018, including pesto chicken pasta and chicken tortilla soup!

    MONDAY:
    Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos (I’ll be eating mine as a brown rice bowl :))

    TUESDAY:
    – Pesto Chicken Pasta

    WEDNESDAY:
    Chicken Tortilla Soup

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Red Beans and Rice (trying a new recipe, will let you know how it goes!)

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Baked Salmon with Chimichurri
    – Roasted potatoes and another side vegetable

    Okey dokey, your turn! Please share your menus in the comments! Can’t wait to see what everyone has cooking! (That and I can’t wait for a list of dinner ideas that I can steal for next week!)


  4. Monday, April 30, 2018

    Week 577 Weekly Menu

    Oh my, this week is getting off to a busy start! Let’s see if I can pull off a weekly menu in 5 minutes or less. I’ll be heading to the Mom 2 Summit this week, so it’s a lot of the family fending for themselves.

    Weekly dinner menu from This Week for Dinner for the week of 5/30/18

    MONDAY:
    – Leftovers

    TUESDAY:
    Taco night

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Spaghetti
    – Salad

    THURSDAY:
    – English Muffin Pizzas

    FRIDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Pot roast (because I’ll be needing a good old fashioned home-cooked meal by the end of this week!)
    Roasted potatoes and salad

    We need your menus this week to provide a bit more inspiration than what I’ve got going on. Please post your weekly menus below in the comments! Thank you!


  5. Wednesday, April 25, 2018

    Lentil Rice Bowl with Lime-Tahini Dressing

    Today I have a recipe to share with you that is now my favorite. It’s a lentil rice bowl with lime-tahini dressing. That may or may not sound good to you, but no matter what you are thinking right now I promise you will like it. Well, okay, there may be someone out there not down for the lentil rice bowl but I kind of doubt it.

    Last week I had a photography job in Orange County. I needed to grab lunch on the road and noticed a place called CAVA. Now that I’m not eating wheat, dairy and sugar and my diet is still quite strict (waiting to get that allergy testing done!), eating out is tricky. CAVA looked like it could be promising so I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did, I love this restaurant!

    Recipe for Lentil Rice Bowl with Lime-Tahini Dressing from This Week for Dinner. Healthy and delicious!

    Heartbreakingly, we do not have a CAVA restaurant anywhere near my house. (Insert trombone.) I think the best way to describe CAVA is that it is essentially a Mediterranean-inspired Chipotle. You create a bowl, choosing your grains, greens, proteins, veggies, etc. While there were ingredients that did have wheat and dairy, there were plenty that did not. There was so much to choose from it made me happy! I ended up creating a lentil rice bowl with lime-tahini dressing and was, quite frankly, surprised how much I liked it.

    I had a bit of my bowl left over when I picked up Owen from school. He ended up stealing the rest of my lunch…I have never seen him inhale unidentified vegetables and grains that way! For the last week he has been begging me to recreate the bowl at home, so last night I gave it a go.

    Recipe for Lentil Rice Bowl with Lime-Tahini Dressing from This Week for Dinner, delicious and healthy dinner that makes great leftovers!

    This is my new favorite meal. It took some effort to get all the ingredients prepared, but the final dish was worth it. And now I have a fridge full of ingredients I can easily throw together for lunch or leftover dinner this week.

    Nutritious and delicious recipe for Lentil Rice Bowls with Lime-Tahini Dressing from This Week for DInner

    I did include leftover rotisserie chicken in our bowls to use it up, but you could easily leave the meat out and the bowl would be just as delicious…and completely plant based! Yay for delicious vegan food! (Update: the last time Nate and I ate this, we decided it really truly does not need chicken. This bowl is hearty and filling and delicious without meat.)

    Animated GIF showing how to create a Lentil Rice Bowl with Lime-Tahini Dressing from This Week for Dinner

    I am going to list below exactly how I built our bowls. Obviously you can mix and match ingredients or come up with your own creation. The CAVA menu provides some pretty great cooking inspiration, click here to check it out. (CAVA also has locations in 9 states as well as Washington D.C. If you live near one, I highly recommend it. Go and enjoy it for me!)

    Lentil Rice Bowl with Lime-Tahini Dressing
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • Brown Rice
    • Lentils (Green, Brown and/or Black)
    • Cooked chicken, bite-sized pieces (leave out to make this dish vegan)
    • Carrots, diced
    • Golden beets, diced
    • Cauliflower, bite-sized pieces
    • Super or Power Greens, chopped (I bought a mix from the grocery store produce section)
    • Broccoli Slaw (no dressing, again, I bought a mix from the grocery store produce section)
    • Hummus
    • Chimichurri sauce
    • 3 handfuls grape tomatoes, chopped
    • 1 cucumber, chopped
    • Olive oil
    • 3 limes
    • ⅓ cup tahini (stir well before using)
    • ⅓ cup water
    • 1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
    • ¾ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    Instructions
    1. Combine the juice from 2½ limes, tahini, water, garlic, salt and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
    2. Roast carrots, beets and cauliflower together in a 425º F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt before roasting.
    3. Cook brown rice and lentils as directed on the package.
    4. Put tomatoes and cucumbers in a small bowl, drizzle with olive oil and squeeze the juice from the final ½ lime you haven't yet used. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
    5. In a bowl, layer the ingredients as follows: brown rice, lentils, chicken (if using), roasted vegetables, greens, slaw, spoonful of hummus, spoonful or two of chimichurri sauce, cucumber-tomato mixture. Drizzle generously with the tahnini dressing, mix all together and enjoy!
    6. Tip: I mixed and prepared all the individual ingredients in the containers that I would be storing them in the refrigerator in after dinner was done. It made clean-up much easier!

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:

     


  6. Sunday, April 22, 2018

    Week 576 Weekly Menu

    Happy Sunday! We’ve got a busy week ahead of us, but the dinner plan should help with the stress! Here we go…

    Weekly dinner meal plan #576 from This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:
    – Coconut Chicken Tenders (going to try experimenting with cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs)
    – Salad

    TUESDAY:
    Chili

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Chicken, Veggie, Rice & Lentil Bowls (going to copy something I had at Cava in Orange County, will share a recipe if what I create turns out well!)

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Pesto Pasta
    – Salad

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night! (The girls and I will be in Los Angeles attending the first-ever Maverick Summit for girls as well as the Get Lit Words Ignite Classic Slam…I can’t wait for this inspiring day with my daughters!)

    SUNDAY:
    – No clue because we have back-to-back music recitals in different towns. Will pack snacks and hope we don’t starve!

    As you know this blog would be super duper boring without all of you. Please share your own weekly menu in the comments below! Thank you!


  7. Urban Plates Chimichurri Sauce

    Hello. I need to share a quick recipe with you today. It’s for Urban Plates chimichurri sauce, which basically means I am totally copying a sauce I love from a restaurant called Urban plates. The Urban Plates chimichurri tastes especially delicious over steak or salmon, but it is so good you’ll probably want to pour it over all kinds of things (chicken? roasted vegetables? toasted baguette? YES to all!).

    Copycat recipe from the restaurant Urban Plates for their delicious Chimichurri Sauce by This Week for Dinner

    Less than a week after making my first batch of Urban Plates chimichurri I also made my new favorite meal Lentil Rice Bowls with Lime-Tahini Dressing. Holy smokes the chimichurri was good in that dish. Basically, you can pour the Urban Plates chimichurri over just about anything and be happy.

    So what is this Urban Plates and I keep speaking of? It is a a restaurant chain near where we live that is pretty much my favorite take-out place to eat. The food tastes homemade, there are tons of vegetables involved and the food is consistently delicious. Lately I’ve been ordering their baked salmon with a side of their chimichurri sauce…over and over again.

    Recipe for Chimichurri Sauce by This Week for Dinner as inspired by the restaurant Urban Plates

    The Urban Plates chimichurri sauce is divine. I dug around on the internet, found a blog post describing the ingredients in the sauce, then went to my kitchen to figure out the recipe. Happily I succeeded! I’ll still willingly go to Urban Plates where they can make the sauce for me, but I am relieved to know I can replicate this tasty sauce at home as well as share the recipe with those of you who live nowhere near an Urban Plates restaurant. Enjoy!

    Urban Plates Chimichurri Sauce
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    This recipe is a copycat of the Urban Plates chimichurri sauce I love so much! This sauce is wonderful served over steak or salmon but would be delicious drizzled over other savory foods, too!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 cups fresh parsley (no need to chop it up at all)
    • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large pieces (originally this recipe said ½ of a pepper, but I have revised to 1 whole pepper because I like it better that way)
    • ½ of a red onion, cut into large pieces
    • 2 garlic cloves, removed from the paper and cut in half
    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¼-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • ⅛-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    Instructions
    1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process on high for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl about halfway through. Pulse until sauce has a uniform, medium-fine chunky consistency like you see in the photos. Serve over proteins like steak or salmon, vegetables or whatever suits your fancy!

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:

     


  8. Monday, April 16, 2018

    Week 575 Weekly Menu

    It’s Monday…no meal planning for me yesterday because, yes, we were working on taxes. Fun times!

    Weekly dinner plan #575 from Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner

    MONDAY:
    – Brats, peppers and onions

    TUESDAY:
    Pasta Primavera (I’m excited to finally try Banza pasta for myself…family will get normal whole grain pasta)

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Homemade Hamburgers
    – Crudite

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    Coconut Chicken Tenders (going to try experimenting with cornmeal instead of breadcrumbs)
    – Salad

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Cyclops Farms Dinner for Nate and me…SO EXCITED!
    – Breakfast for dinner for the kids (I’m putting 10yo Anna in charge!)

    As always, THANK YOU for sharing your own dinner plans in the comments! I love reading through them week after week!


  9. Sunday, April 8, 2018

    Week 574 Weekly Menu

    Spring Break was a blast and we’re having a nice quiet Sunday to recuperate from our whirlwind Disneyland and Joshua Tree visits, which means time to plan this week’s menu. Here we go!

    Weekly dinner plan from Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner for the week of 4/9/18

    MONDAY:
    – Italian Sausage, Peppers & Onions

    TUESDAY:
    – Salmon with chimichurri sauce
    – Side vegetable (whatever looks good at the store!)

    WEDNESDAY:
    Stefania’s Braised Chicken
    – Brown rice and side vegetable

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Taco night

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    – Chicken Biryani
    – Lentils

    Thanks as always for sharing your menus in the comments below! They are so incredibly helpful to me and so many others each week as we sit down to plan dinner. Can’t wait to see what you’ve all got cooking this week!


  10. Monday, April 2, 2018

    Gluten-Free Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars

    Recently I had to go super clean with my eating. There were a few weeks where I couldn’t eat any sugar, dairy or wheat. It ended up being easier than I thought it would be (no, really), but it has been nice to slowly add those ingredients back into my diet here and there. But now that I’ve made these positive changes to my diet, I would really like to maintain those changes. As a result, I’ve started looking at some of my favorite recipes and thinking about how I can modify them. One of the first recipes to go through a makeover was my beloved Chewy Chocolate Chip Homemade Granola Bar recipe. First I made the recipe gluten free and reduced the sugar by about 3 grams per bar. Then I took it a step further, which brings us to today’s recipe for homemade chocolate granola bars.

    How to Make Gluten-Free Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars from Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner

    When I was working on reducing the amount of sugar in my original granola bar recipe, I was surprised by how much sugar was coming from the chocolate chips. I wanted to be able to take out the chocolate chips but still get a good chocolate fix. By removing the chocolate chips and adding cocoa powder to the granola bar, we still get that delicious chocolate flavor with even less sugar. I tried it and it totally worked.

    Recipe for Gluten-Free Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars by Jane Maynard of This Week for Dinner

    This recipe for homemade chocolate granola bars is awesome. My original recipe is a bit more chewy, but the texture on these chocolate bars is fantastic, a little chewy as well as a little crispy, and they don’t fall apart at all. The flavor is wonderful – I think I might even like these better than the original chocolate chip bars, which is really saying something. This recipe is gluten free and each bar contains about 8 grams of sugar, which is 5-6 grams less per bar than my original recipe. Woohoo!

    Gluten-Free Homemade Chocolate Granola Bar Recipe by Jane Maynard at This Week for Dinner

    Please note that if you do not need the bars to be gluten free, you can in fact use regular all-purpose flour as a substitute for the oat flour. But if you want to go gluten free, stick with the recipe below using oat flour.

    Without further ado I give you Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars!

    Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars (Gluten Free)
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Author:
    Serves: 24
    Ingredients
    • 4 cups rolled old-fashioned oats (make sure label says gluten free)
    • 1 cup brown crisped rice cereal
    • ½ cup shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
    • ⅓ cup brown sugar
    • 3 tablespoons oat flour (make sure label says gluten free)
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder
    • Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¾ cup coconut oil
    • ½ cup honey
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
    2. Combine oats, crisped rice, coconut, brown sugar, oat flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix well.
    3. Combine coconut oil, honey and vanilla. Whisk well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. (Stir. Stir some more. Keep stirring!)
    4. Line a large cooke sheet with parchment paper. Pour granola bar mixture onto the lined cookie sheet. Press mixture out into a large, uniform rectangle, about 9" x 13" (which will be smaller than the pan, you do not push the granola all the way to the edges of the pan). It is easiest to form the rectangle if your hands are wet.
    5. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake for 14-15 more minutes.
    6. Cool completely before cutting. Cut into 24 bars, 8 rows x 3 columns.
    Notes
    The coconut oil can be solid or liquid - whatever it happens to be sitting in your cupboard is fine!
    If you do not need these to be gluten free, regular all-purpose flour can be substituted for oat flour with the same measurement.

    OTHER RECIPES YOU MAY LIKE:

    EQUIPMENT I USED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE: