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Category: Recipes

  1. Monday, April 2

    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 things back in here and there. But now that I’ve made these changes to my diet in such a positive way, 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 homemade chocolate granola bars.

    Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars (Gluten Free) from @janemaynard

    As I was calculating the amount of sugar in each recipe, I was surprised by how much sugar was coming from the chocolate chips. If I took them out and used cocoa powder, theoretically I would still get that chocolatey flavor but without all the added sugar. So, I tried it. And the trick worked!

    Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars (Gluten Free) from @janemaynard

    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, a little crispy, but they don’t fall apart at all. And the flavor is wonderful. I think I might even like these better than the original, 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!

    Homemade Chocolate Granola Bars (Gluten Free) from @janemaynard

    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". 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.

     


  2. Chocolate Chip Gluten-Free Homemade Granola Bars

    One of the recipes I’m most proud of on this blog is my Chewy Chocolate Chip Homemade Granola Bar recipe. I love those granola bars and everyone I’ve ever shared them with loves them. I’ve tried different flavors, but we always come back to chocolate chips. The original recipe is best!

    Gluten-Free Homemade Granola Bars with Chocolate Chips from @janemaynard

    That said, over the last few weeks I’ve had to clean up my eating and do some elimination diet stuff. (FUN TIMES!) The adjustments to my diet prompted me to modify my granola bar recipe in two ways: take out the wheat and reduce the amount of sugar. The recipe below is the gluten-free version of my original granola bar recipe and each bar contains about 3 grams less sugar than the original recipe, going from 13-14 grams added sugar per bar to about 11 grams.

    Gluten-Free Homemade Granola Bars with Chocolate Chips from @janemaynard

    This recipe tastes almost the same as the original, it’s just a little less chewy and a little more crispy. But not by much. I am perfectly happy with the modifications to this recipe and would use either recipe just as happily!

    I have one more modified version to share, Chocolate Granola Bars, which I will do in a separate post. The chocolate granola bars have only about 8 grams of sugar per bar and they taste great! But first here is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Gluten-Free Homemade Granola Bars!

    Chocolate Chip Gluten-Free Homemade Granola Bars
     
    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 oat flour (make sure label says gluten free)
    • ¼ cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    • Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¾ cup coconut oil
    • ½ cup honey
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 325º F.
    2. Combine oats, crisped rice, coconut, oat flour, brown sugar, chocolate chips 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". 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.

     


  3. Monday, March 19

    Thai Basil Beef with Coconut Brown Rice

    Ages ago when I kicked off my {now sorely-neglected} podcast, one of my first guests was Tracy Benjamin of the food blog Shutterbean. First off, Tracy is one of my favorite people and I love her episode, so go take a listen if you haven’t already! One of the recipes Tracy shared in that episode was for Thai Beef with Basil, a recipe her family loves that utilizes ground beef. I’ve had it on my to-try list ever since and last week it finally happened.

    Thai Basil Beef with Carrot Slaw and Coconut Brown Rice, a delicious and easy go-to dinner! From @janemaynard

    The result? A really great go-to recipe that my kids devoured. All three of them said they want me to make it again and I am definitely planning to. I must admit that I wasn’t sure I was going to love this recipe – serving ground beef over rice just, I don’t know, didn’t capture my interest. Well, I’m glad I tried it anyway as I loved the recipe, too! The carrot slaw is key to why I love this dish so much. I also cooked the rice in coconut milk instead of water, which gave a nice, subtle flavor to the dish overall.

    Thai Basil Beef with Carrot Slaw and Coconut Brown Rice, a delicious and easy go-to dinner! From @janemaynard

    As is my M.O., I changed the recipe, both on purpose and on accident. I am writing my version up below, mostly so I don’t forget what I did but also so I can share it with you, in case you think my changes seem like a good idea. Enjoy!

    Thai Basil Beef with Coconut Brown Rice
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Adapted from Bon Appetit recipe, as discovered by friend Tracy Benjamin from Shutterbean. This dinner is easy to make and all three of my kids (all ages!) loved it!
    Author:
    Serves: Serves 4
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup short grain brown rice
    • 1¾ cup canned coconut milk
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
    • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced (remove seeds for less heat)
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • kosher salt
    • ½ cup beef stock (or ½ teaspoon beef bouillon + ½ cup hot water)
    • 3 cups fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade (measure basil before cutting)
    • 4 medium carrots, julienned
    • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (both white & green parts)
    • 1 lime, juiced
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • lime wedges for serving, if desired
    Instructions
    1. Add rice, coconut milk and ½ teaspoon salt to a pot. Stir then bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook on low for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit with lid on for 10 additional minutes.
    2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and jalapeño and cook until onions have softened and start to turn translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
    3. Add garlic, pressing it through a garlic press, to the pan. Stir then add ground beef. Break beef up, sprinkle evenly with kosher salt, then cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat as it cooks.
    4. Add beef broth (or bouillon and water, if using) along with the ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Let simmer over low heat for 5-10 minutes, adding ⅔ of the basil a few minutes before serving. (Note: I removed about half of the jalapeño pieces before serving to reduce the heat for my kids.)
    5. In a mixing bowl combine juice from 1 lime, 2 teaspoons oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, carrots, green onion and the remaining ⅓ of the basil. Stir well to coat veggies in the dressing.
    6. Serve rice topped with beef and carrot slaw. Drizzle some of the dressing from the slaw bowl over the servings and enjoy!

     

     


  4. Wednesday, March 7

    Sweet Ricotta Cream

    I can’t eat dairy right now (in the process of figuring out some allergy stuff). Therefore, I think the best way to torture myself is to share a recipe that is all about dairy.

    Sweet Ricotta Cream Recipe from @janemaynard, perfect served with fruit for a rich yet light dessert

    This sweet ricotta cream recipe is divine. The sweet ricotta cream is perfect paired with fruit, especially berries, peaches and the like. And while I am one who usually considers nothing to be dessert unless chocolate is involved, this ricotta cream served with fruit is definitely dessert enough for me. That is saying something.

    Sweet Ricotta Cream Recipe from @janemaynard, perfect served with fruit for a rich yet light dessert

    Now go and enjoy! And eat an extra bite for me!

    Sweet Ricotta Cream Recipe from @janemaynard, perfect served with fruit for a rich yet light dessert

    Ricotta Cream
     
    Prep time
    Total time
     
    Pair with your favorite fruit to create a rich yet light dessert that everyone will adore!
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
    • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
    • ¼ cup heavy cream
    • 6 tablespoons powdered sugar
    • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • Fresh fruit of your choice
    Instructions
    1. Using a spoon, mix together the ricotta, mascarpone, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla well in a medium bowl. Some ricotta cheeses are firmer than others - adjust by adding additional cream if the mixture seems too thick.
    2. Pair with sliced or chopped fruit of your choice - berries are wonderful as well as fruits like mango and peaches. Layer the ricotta cream with fruit for a pretty parfait, or simply just scoop everything into a bowl willy nilly. Either way it will be delicious!

     


  5. Sunday, February 25

    Week 568 Weekly Menu…and my foray into “clean eating”

    Hey everyone! So, one week ago when I planned my weekly menu it was a regular old week. Except for a horrific rash on my face that had been bothering me for nearly two weeks, that is. I went to the doctor on Tuesday. She told me to essentially eat like a hunter gatherer for 1 week and that I absolutely could not eat sugar, dairy or wheat for the week. So, since Tuesday I have only eaten meats, beans, vegetables, fruits, eggs and brown rice. (I’m allowed to eat oats, too, but just haven’t yet.)

    If you know me at all, you know special diets are just not my thing. But I of course listened to the doctor and got on it stat. And I have good news, which is also bad news in my opinion because I love bread so much. This clean eating stuff actually worked. WHAT THE?! Here are my conclusions so far:

    • This way of eating not only has cleared up the rash (which was terrible, friends…terrible), but my skin overall has never looked this good. I have always struggled with acne, so this is saying something.
    • I have lost over 6 pounds already. I’m sure some of that was water retention, but every time I step on the scale the number is lower. Note: I am not actively trying to lose weight. Note #2: Don’t worry, I’m not wasting away or anything. 😉
    • Eating this way was easier than I thought it would be and the food I have been eating has been delicious.
    • Eating this way requires a lot more food prep. Which just takes a little more planning. But I am also using way more fruits and vegetables, which is fantastic. I took about 30-45 minutes on grocery shopping day to prep a bunch of raw veggies so they are waiting in the fridge for a snack or for cooking.
    • I AM ALSO BORED TO DEATH WITH FOOD. Really. Today the food boredom is really kicking in. This boredom is manifesting itself in two ways. First, I’m sick of thinking so hard about food. Second, I am just bored with the options. I wish I could eat more things.

    I meet again with the doctor in two days to go over test results and to discuss the diet changes and next steps, including reintroducing foods slowly. The reason I am telling you all of this is because this is a food blog and this has been a pretty significant development in my daily experience with food. I won’t write about it all the time, but it was just so fascinating to me that results came so quickly with this diet shift. Crazy stuff.

    Okay, so here is this week’s menu, which is one I should be able to enjoy if I have to continue with the food restrictions beyond this Tuesday.

    Week 568 Weekly Dinner Menu

    MONDAY:
    Carnitas Rice Bowls

    TUESDAY:
    – Boozy Beef Stew

    WEDNESDAY:
    Stefania’s Braised Chicken

    THURSDAY:
    – Leftovers

    FRIDAY:
    – Grilled Chicken with Salad

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Roasted Veggie Scrambles

    Your turn! Share your dinner plans for the week in the comments below! (And any clean eating wisdom…I’ll take it!)


  6. Wednesday, January 31

    Happy 11th Birthday, Blog! Blended Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies to Celebrate!

    Today is This Week for Dinner‘s 11th birthday! How is that even possible? ELEVEN YEARS. Pretty soon my blog will be a teenager, which means I need to enjoy these last moments before it starts talking back and asking for a phone and stuff.

    Blended Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from @janemaynard

    I pretty much celebrate every blog birthday with chocolate. Last night I remembered a cookie recipe from my pre-blog days that my mother-in-law Pat gave to me. I decided to pull out my old recipe box, dig through the cards and find it. I made the cookies and everyone in the family loved them. The main difference with this recipe is that you blend the oatmeal before adding it to the dough, giving the cookies the flavor of oatmeal with a different texture than what you’re used to with oatmeal cookies, a texture that we all love.

    Blended Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from @janemaynard

    And, yes, I am sharing yet another chocolate chip cookie recipe. I know, I know, how many versions can one blog hold? Apparently a lot.

    You may notice from the photos that I used Guittard’s chocolate wafers as opposed to chips. Wafers or chips both work fabulously in this recipe, but I do love the layered effect that the wafers give to the final cookie. However, if you don’t have chocolate wafers on hand, good ol’ fashioned chocolate chips are just as delicious!

    Blended Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies from @janemaynard

    Happy birthday, Blog! And happy baking, everyone!

    Blended Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
     
    Prep time
    Cook time
    Total time
     
    Modified from a very old Mrs. Fields' recipe that my mother-in-law shared with me many moons ago. I have altered the recipe in several ways, but the oatmeal trick definitely came from Mrs. Fields!
    Author:
    Serves: 4 dozen
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
    • 2½ cups rolled oats
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 12-18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or wafers (12 ounces is a normal amount; 18 ounces is if you really like chocolate!)
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
    2. In a stand mixer or large bowl using a hand blender, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 4-5 minutes.
    3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat another 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
    4. In a blender, blend the oats until it resembles a very coarse flour.
    5. Add oats to cookie dough and blend on low until just combined.
    6. Add flour and blend on low until just combined.
    7. Stir in chocolate.
    8. Form dough into balls (approximately 2 tablespoons per ball). Place on ungreased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper (I use a Silpat). Press down gently on the dough balls to flatten them a bit. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until bottom edges are a golden brown.
    9. Dough balls may be frozen. Add a few minutes to cooking time if baking from frozen.

     


  7. Friday, October 20

    Show and Tell, Grab Bag Edition! Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, Deodorant, Netflix Birthday Fun & Prius Envy

    Hello, friends. I have a veritable grab bag of things to share with you today, including a recipe, deodorant, Netflix and car talk. Yes, totally random. But also fun! 😉 Let’s start with the food!

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Pumpkin Spice Butter Spread + Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Last week LAND O LAKES treated me to a surprise package, complete with a shiny new Chemex coffee maker and everything I needed to make Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer using their Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Butter Spread. We are loving the Pumpkin Spice Butter (seriously, I had to cut Cate off…she would have eaten a loaf’s-worth of toast just to consume the butter), so I felt like I needed to tell you about it! Plus, I did in fact make the Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer and it was delicious. I am now sharing the recipe with you!

    Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer Recipe from LAND O LAKES and @janemaynard

    Show and Tell, Grab Bag Edition! Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer, Deodorant, Netflix Birthday Fun & Car Envy
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • ½ cup half & half
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 teaspoons LAND O LAKES Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter Spread
    Instructions
    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Microwave, stirring occasionally, 30-45 seconds or until butter spread is melted and sugar is dissolved.
    2. Beat with hand mixer for 90 seconds or until mixture is frothy. (Note: I whisked by hand.)
    3. Store in refrigerator in a container with a tight-fitting lid up to 1 week. Shake well before each use.

    Native Natural Deodorant

    Native Deodorant, my new favorite thing! from @janemaynard

    Years ago I wanted to switch to natural deodorant but had a bad experience (read: Hello, Stinky Lady!) and gave up. but the fact I’ve been smearing aluminum on my body every day for over 30 years has always nagged at me. Well, my sister-in-law Cora recently demanded that I try Native deodorant. She was insistent. She pretty much made me buy it. Well, I must admit that I am grateful Cora was so bossy! I LOVE NATIVE. So, so, so, so much. I have the Coconut & Vanilla, Coconut & Shea and Apricot & Peach scents and I love them all. Note: the scents are seasonal, so a few of those flavors aren’t currently available, but there are a bunch of new ones that sound great!

    Why do I love Native so much?

    • First and foremost, the deodorant actually works. I have less body odor than I did with anti-perspirant and my clothes are picking up less scents, too. Cora (and the website) said that I would need about 2 weeks for my body to adjust and for the deodorant to work well. I started using the deodorant during a heat wave and loved it from Day One. But please, if you try it, give it at least 2 weeks to kick in (in case you are not lucky like I was). Also, if you need to freshen up later in the day, just re-apply and magically things smell better.
    • Native’s customer service is amazing. AMAZING. I originally ordered the summer scent pack and did not like the floral scent that came with it. Native made an exchange beyond easy. Plus, even before needing customer service support, I loved their email communications. They do a great job every step of the way
    • I really like the scent options they have. The deodorant just plain smells good without being overpowering.
    • For those with baking soda allergy, they also have a sensitive version that does not contain baking soda.

    I must admit I thought it was a little funny how excited Cora was about her deodorant. I mean, how can someone be that happy about deodorant. But here I am. On the Native bandwagon and happy to be here. I’m in all the way! Thanks, Cora!

    Netflix Birthday Fun!

    New! Netflix Birthday Messages for Kids! from @janemaynard

    Did you hear about the new birthday messages for kids on Netflix? They launched the birthday messages just in time for Owen’s birthday last month and he loved them. Owen’s birthday party involved taking eight 5- and 6-year-old boys to the LEGO Ninjago movie, followed up with a dinosaur cake at the park. Having the LEGO Ninjago friends and the Dinotrux friends sending birthday wishes his way totally made Owen’s day!

    To find the messages, simply type “birthday” or “birthdays” into your Netflix search bar and all 15 birthday message video options will appear. Definitely a cute way to kick off your little one’s special day!

    Why I Wish We Weren’t So Frugal and Had Bought a New Prius

    2017 Toyota Prius Test Drive from @janemaynard

    Nate has been driving a Prius for over 3 years and has been very happy with it. When his lease was up this past spring, we decided to be frugal and buy the car he was driving rather than start a new lease with the latest Prius. I was perfectly happy with that decision until 3 months later when Toyota lent us a new 2017 Prius for our east coast trip. I love the new Prius. We shouldn’t have been so responsible after all! What were we thinking? 😉 I am grateful I had the chance to try the Prius out for a month (thanks, Toyota!), but now I totally have Prius envy. Here are a few of the things I loved about the car:

    • The car basically drives itself. The radar cruise control works beautifully. I used it ALL THE TIME. For example, when we drove from Cape Cod to New Hampshire, I followed my sister-in-law using cruise control. The system detects the speed of the car in front of you and adjusts accordingly, so Jess was basically doing all the driving. There is also a lane departure alert system, pre-collision and pedestrian detection system, and the car can park itself.
    • Even better gas mileage. I got over 50 miles per gallon the entire trip.
    • For such a small car, there  is a ton of storage. The back is roomy, and there is a net you can use to store smaller items. The storage was great for short and long trips alike.
    • I’ve mentioned this before about Toyota, but I love their remote lock system. It’s just awesome.
    • There was also a spot for doing that fancy cordless phone charging. My phone doesn’t have that capability, but I was sure wishing it did! I also like how the middle console is set up better in the new Prius versus previous models.
    • The navigation system worked better than my Google maps app on my phone. Impressive! And the car told me what the speed limit was at any given time, which is especially handy on those east coast back roads!
    • The one thing I did not love was the SofTex synthetic leather seat material. It is more eco-friendly than other synthetic leather materials and does not use any animal-based material, but if I had to choose I would go with fabric or real leather. I just didn’t love the feel of the seats or how they looked when inevitably sand and other stuff got into the seams.

    Phew! I think that’s all I have to share for today. As usual, Show & Tell is for the whole class! Feel free to chime in with your own finds and recent loves in the comments!

    Please note: I have a relationship with Netflix as a member of the Stream Team, which means they don’t pay me a dime but do send me cool fun stuff occasionally. Toyota provided me with the Prius for our trip. Land O Lakes provided me with product. I have no official relationship with Native deodorant.


  8. Thursday, October 5

    The Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake That Was Beyond Beloved

    Owen’s birthday was last week and I have yet to share his birthday cake with you all. I love making fun birthday cakes for my kids and my kids really look forward to planning out their cake each year. For his 6th birthday, Owen decided he wanted a dinosaur birthday party. He and I sat down and scrolled through Pinterest together to find the perfect dinosaur birthday cake. Owen picked out a few options, kept changing his mind about which cake he wanted, and then learned about chocolate candy that looks like rocks. Once he knew that candy existed he was hooked on making what turned out to be the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever. Thanks, Owen!

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    So, how do you make the easiest dinosaur birthday cake ever?

    1. Make a 2-layer round cake. Frost with chocolate frosting. Be generous with the frosting, especially on the top as those dinosaurs need a nice layer of mud to sink their feet into so they can stay standing!
    2. Buy chocolate candy that looks like rocks/pebbles. (I found the candy at Cost Plus World Market. They have pebble candy on Amazon, too, although the candy at Cost Plus were cuter and cheaper.)
    3. Place said candy on top of the cake.
    4. Pick out 3 of your child’s toy dinosaurs, stick them on top of the cake. (Dinosaurs should be relatively small – the big ones tip over.)
    5. YOU ARE DONE. You’re welcome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynard

    I used Matthew Mead’s chocolate cake recipe, which you can find at the end of this blog post. I made a chocolate buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake – recipe below!

    Click here for the the inspiration for this cake!

    Click here for the other easy dinosaur birthday cake idea (hello, cutest fossils ever) that I was totally trying to get Owen to choose. I had him convinced for about 2 hours, but then that rock candy ruined everything. Except it didn’t because Owen’s cake was super awesome.

    Easiest Dinosaur Birthday Cake from @janemaynardThat’s Owen’s “I knew the rock candy cake would be as cute as the fossil cake, Mom” face.

    Here is how I made the chocolate buttercream frosting. Once again, people who usually do not like cake loved my cake. These recipes are winners. Also, use HIGH QUALITY cocoa powder. I’m telling you it makes a difference. Promise.

    Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
     
    Author:
    Ingredients
    • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
    • ⅔ cups cocoa powder
    • 6-7 cups powdered sugar
    • 6-8 tablespoons milk or cream
    Instructions
    1. Beat butter with a mixer (I use my KitchenAid with the paddle attachment).
    2. Using a fine mesh sieve, add the cocoa powder to the butter. (The sieve prevents the cocoa from getting lumpy.)
    3. Gradually work in the powdered sugar, alternating with the milk/cream and beating well after each addition. I put a range for the powdered sugar and milk/cream measurements. Start with 6 cups and 6 tablespoons each, then add more powdered sugar if the frosting is too thin, or more milk/cream if it is too thick. Frosting should be a spreading consistency that still holds its shape.
    Notes
    This makes enough frosting for a 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake, with a little leftover.

     


  9. Sunday, September 3

    Burger Dogs and Week 552 Weekly Menu

    Happy Labor Day weekend, friends! I have a little something fun for you to potentially make at your barbecues this weekend, plus a menu. That’s right, I’m actually planning a menu this week. My goodness, I CANNOT believe I went two weeks without posting a menu. That is something I have not done in over 10 years, but I suppose there is a first time for everything. Honestly, it’s just been a crazy summer and we ended it with a bang. I decided to just give myself a break and not worry about it. Jane of This Week for Dinner from a few years back would be horrified. Miss a weekly menu post? QUEL HORREUR! But the world kept on spinning and this week I’ll give it a go again!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    But before the menu, I need to share this fun idea with you. One day when we were grilling up hot dogs and hamburgers, someone in our family (not sure who…maybe Nate? or one of the kids?) thought it would be funny to make a hamburger into a hot dog shape and serve it on a hot dog bun. I was like, “Sure, why not?” and proceeded to make hot dog-shaped burgers, a.k.a. burger dogs. The kids were downright giddy, it was really fun. So, the burger dogs totally worked and the kids loved it! It’s not that they taste different or anything, it really is just the novelty of it all. If you were to serve burger dogs as a meal, I would recommend chopping your lettuce and tomatoes as opposed to slicing, but other than that have at the burger dog like you would a regular hot dog or hamburger!

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    How to Make a Burger Dog from @janemaynard

    I don’t have instructions because, well, all you do is shape the meat into what looks like a hot dog and then cook it like normal. Easy peasy! Now go and make burger dogs to celebrate Labor Day!

    Menu time…

    How to make Burgers Dogs! Plus this week's dinner plans from @janemaynard, including free printable PDF of the meal plan and ingredients list!

    MONDAY:
    – Labor Day Cookout! The food will be the usual suspects I’m sure 🙂

    TUESDAY:
    – BLTs

    WEDNESDAY:
    – Caprese Salad and baguette

    THURSDAY:
    – Grilled Brats
    – Salad and watermelon

    FRIDAY:
    – Leftovers

    SATURDAY:
    – Eat out night

    SUNDAY:
    Bistro Chicken
    – Salad and mashed potatoes

    Click here or on the image above for a printable PDF of this week’s menu and ingredients list.

    As usual, if you have a meal plan for the week, please share it in the comments!

    And, before we go, I just want to take a moment to send love to anyone reading this affected by Hurricane Harvey. All week it has felt strange to me to be going about my daily life, knowing of the catastrophe unfolding for so many. For those of you looking for ways to help from afar, my friends at Mom2 created a great list of ways parents and kids can help with the hurricane relief efforts. Much love to all!


  10. Tuesday, August 8

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite

    Each year for my birthday Nate buys me a cake called the Viking from Extraordinary Desserts in San Diego. I’m pretty sure this cake was the actual ambrosia of the gods on Mt. Olympus. IT IS SO GOOD. Also, I will never make this cake in its entirety. I have the Extraordinary Desserts cookbook (now out of print) and the cake requires SIX(!!!!!) separate recipes in order to make the entire thing. Yeah, not gonna happen. I am perfectly happy waiting for September to roll around each year in order to indulge in the goodness that is the Viking.

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    That said, for Nate’s birthday I wanted to make something decadent and delicious. I decided to cut down the original Viking recipe and just use three of the elements, rather than all six. The final product was awesome. Nate couldn’t believe how much his birthday cake tasted like the Viking, so we named it the Viking Lite. While the Viking Lite is a bit of a labor of love it is totally worth it…and much less a labor than the original recipe!

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    The Viking Lite is made up of layers of chocolate sour cream cake and semisweet ganache, then coated in crushed chocolate praline. When I made the cake I only put the praline on the outside of the cake but we decided a layer of the praline inside the cake would have made it even better. I had leftover praline so we would just sprinkle it on each of our slices. Also, I recommend splurging for high-quality chocolate, like Guittard brand (they make baking chocolate and cocoa powder). Good-quality chocolate really will make a difference in your final product.

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite from @janemaynard

    Chocolate Ganache Praline Cake, a.k.a. The Viking Lite
     
    Based on the original Viking cake created by Karen Krasne of Extraordinary Desserts. Her cookbook is now out of print. I am sharing only the parts I used of the original Viking recipe below, along with my notes and modifications.
    Author:
    Serves: 1 8- or 9-inch cake
    Ingredients
    • GANACHE:
    • 24 ounces (4 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • CHOCOLATE ALMOND PRALINE:
    • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • ¼ cup whole milk
    • ⅓ cup unsalted butter, cubed (I used salted so that there was a bit of salt flavor in the praline)
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
    • 1 cup slivered almonds
    • CHOCOLATE SOUR CREAM CAKE:
    • ⅓ cup unsalted butter (I used salted because the recipe doesn't call for salt and I like a bit of salt flavor), room temperature and cut into ¼" cubes, plus ~2 teaspoons at room temperature for greasing the pans
    • 3 ounces (1/2 cup) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ½ cup sour cream, room temperature
    • 1 cup water
    Instructions
    1. GANACHE:
    2. Put the chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof mixing bowl.
    3. Bring the cream to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly and gently in a circular motion until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is fully combined. Set ganache aside for later. You will want the ganache to be thickened and at a spreading consistency when it's time to assemble the cake. I put mine in the fridge, covering the bowl with plastic wrap, and checked it every half hour or so, stirring it each time.
    4. PRALINE:
    5. Generously coat a baking sheet with oil or line with a silicone baking mat (I highly recommend using a Silpat or similar mat if you have one).
    6. Toast almonds on another baking sheet in a 350ºF oven for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
    7. Bring milk, butter, corn syrup and sugar to a boil in a medium, heavy saucepan. Insert a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches 310ºF, about 7-8 minutes (I think it took a little longer than that for me). The mixture should be thick and have started to lightly color. Remove the pot from the heat and set the thermometer aside.
    8. Add the cocoa powder and mix well with a whisk. (I added the cocoa powder through a fine mesh sieve, shaking it into the pot to avoid large lumps from forming.)
    9. Stir in the toasted almonds.
    10. Using a rubber spatula, carefully spread the hot mixture onto your oiled or Silpat-lined baking sheet, making sure the mixture is spread into an even layer. Set aside to cool.
    11. Once praline is completely cool and hardened, either blast it in a blender or food processor or place in a ziploc bag and hammer with a meat pounder on a wood cutting board, breaking the praline up into small bits.
    12. CAKE:
    13. Preheat oven to 275º F. Grease bottom and sides of two 8-inch or two 9-inch round cake pans with butter. Place a parchment round the size of the bottom of the pan in each cake pan, butter the top of the parchment, then lightly flour the pans. Set aside.
    14. Place chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl. Bring a pot of water to a simmer, place bowl on top of the pot (do not let bowl touch water surface), and melt chocolate, stirring occasionally.
    15. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
    16. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and light in color, about 7 minutes.
    17. Add the cubed butter and then the sour cream, mixing until full incorporated after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    18. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    19. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, just until fully incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
    20. Bring water to a boil then add to the batter. Mix on low to medium speed until full combined and smooth. Batter will be much thinner after the addition of the water.
    21. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, dividing evenly. Place pans in the center of the oven and bake until cake springs back slightly when pressed in the center and a cake tester comes out clean. Bake time could be up to 60 minutes, but start checking around 40 minutes for doneness.
    22. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans sitting on a cooling rack. Once completely cooled, run a thin knife around the edges and invert pans, carefully knocking the bottom of the pan if cake doesn't fall out immediately. Cakes can rest on the cooling rack until you are ready to place them on the cake platter. Remove parchment from bottom of cakes. If you are not immediately assembling the cake, wrap the cakes individually tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate, but cake can also remain wrapped at room temperature for up to 2 days.
    23. ASSEMBLY:
    24. Place one of the cakes on your serving platter. Place pieces of waxed or parchment paper under the edge of the cake all around. This will prevent icing from getting on your serving platter as you decorate the cake.
    25. Coat top of the first layer of cake with a nice thick layer of ganache.
    26. Optional (but recommended!): Add a layer of the chocolate almond praline layer on top of the ganache.
    27. Add the second cake layer. Spread a ganache layer on top, then frost the sides of the cake with the ganache. Once you have finished icing the sides with ganache, using your hands press the praline pieces on the sides of the cake all the way around to coat the sides of the cake. Carefully remove wax/parchment paper, using a knife to hold the frosting in place as you pull out the paper in spots where it gets stuck.
    28. If you did not put a layer of praline inside the cake, reserve the extra praline and sprinkle on each cut slice when serving.