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  1. Tuesday, February 18, 2014

    Handy Trick When Forming Granola Bars

    Ever since I wrote about homemade granola bars last fall I have been consistently making them every week. I haven’t bought a box of granola bars since – the homemade version is just too delicious!

    tip for shaping homemade granola bars easily from @janemaynard

    With all this granola bar making that I’ve been doing, I finally have the recipe memorized and making them is a snap. However, there is one part of the process that is always a little tricky – pushing the granola bar mixture out into a rectangle before baking. The granola mixture sticks to your hands so you have to work very carefully, especially around the edges. Well, I accidentally stumbled upon a trick that solves the problem: push the granola into shape with wet hands!

    One day I washed my hands and went to make the granola bar rectangle without drying my hands off first – it was the most magical mistake! With just slightly damp hands, the granola mixture does not stick at all to your hands, making it sooooo much easier to form the granola into a nice, squared-off rectangle.

    tip for shaping homemade granola bars easily from @janemaynard

    That’s all for today. Just a simple little trick to make your granola-making endeavors easier. Also, if you haven’t started making homemade granola bars, hop to it already. Super, duper, crazy delicious.


  2. Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    How to Keep Leftover Guacamole Green

    Today’s Kitchen Tip ROCKS. Brace. Yourselves. After today you will know how to keep leftover guacamole green.

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    So, it’s a running joke with a lot of our friends that everything they do around me is so they can get on the blog. One of my new friends here in our new town is just such a friend and she’s getting on the blog after a very short friendship. She wins.

    Katie (the friend) had Cate over for dinner the other night and when I picked Cate up they were eating leftover guacamole that was as green as the day it was born. Katie said, “I have a great tip for keeping guacamole green.” And I was like, “It doesn’t involve lemon juice or avocado pits, does it?” And Katie was like, “No way.” And I was like, “Good, because OXYGEN is the reason guacamole turns green.” And Katie was like, “Exactly. The trick is water.”

    THIS TRICK IS GENIUS. I don’t know how I haven’t heard of this tip before. Okay, so here’s what you do: put your leftover guacamole in a storage dish and then put about half an inch of water on top of the guacamole. That’s right, just carefully pour it right on top of the guac. This completely blocks any contact with oxygen and the guacamole stays completely and totally green. Also put a lid or plastic wrap over the dish to prevent spilling in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat the leftovers, just pour off the water! It’s like magic except that it totally makes sense.

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    I’ve always stored my guacamole with plastic wrap directly on the guacamole and then a lid on the container, and it sort of helped, but not completely. I still got a light brown layer. Then I used water instead of plastic wrap – green as far as the eye can see.

    The guacamole you see pictured in this post is two days old. TWO DAYS. 

    how to keep leftover guacamole green from @janemaynard

    And, I know, brown guacamole and avocados aren’t bad and taste (supposedly) just as good. But who likes brown guacamole? Nobody, that’s who.

    Please note, the overuse of capitalized words and the word “like” in this post should be a clear indicator as to how excited I am about this tip. 

    (If you’re looking for a guacamole recipe, click here.)

    I saw Katie today and she said she found the idea originally on The Kitchn, of course, because they’re full of great ideas over there! If you’d like to check out their post, click here. It will also prove we’re not crazy. 😉


  3. Thursday, January 16, 2014

    My Iceberg Lettuce Substitute

    This is one of those posts where half of you will say, “Uh, duh, Jane!” and the other half of you will say, “Duh! Why haven’t I thought of this before?” For those of you in category 1, just move on and have a lovely, iceberg lettuce-free day. For those of you in category 2, I’m glad I’m not alone. Okay, so, let’s move on with the issue at hand, shall we?

    simple iceberg lettuce substitute from @janemaynard

    Iceberg lettuce. I pretty much hate it. I loved it as a kid and, with every year I walk on this earth, I like the stuff less and less. I think it tastes like water and it isn’t as nutrient rich as other lettuces and greens, so what’s the point? It’s only positive attribute is the texture. Sometimes you just need the extra crunch that iceberg lettuce can provide.

    Well, yesterday, I was making myself a turkey sandwich on a roll leftover from our dinner of sausage subs. The roll reminded me of this place (Nielsen’s Frozen Custard in Utah) that makes a simple turkey sandwich that sometimes just hits the spot. I wanted to replicate the sandwich but needed iceberg lettuce, which I did not have because, well, I never buy it unless I have to. I did, however, have a head of romaine lettuce.

    simple iceberg lettuce substitute from @janemaynard

    So, I grabbed my knife and sliced the romaine nice and skinny, just like I would have with iceberg. Sure, it’s not quite as crunchy as iceberg, but it has a good balance of leafy and crunchy to fit the bill. It worked like a charm on my sandwich. It would also be perfect on tacos and other foods where you often find iceberg lettuce lurking.

    There you have it. Romaine is now my iceberg lettuce substitute. It’s healthier and tastes better. And it’s got a good bite. Life is good. Adios, iceberg. It’s been nice known’ ya.


  4. Friday, December 6, 2013

    Wild and Crazy Kitchen Gadgets!

    This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading to learn more about Dreamfarm’s great products and to find out the winner!

    holiday gifts & giveaways on thisweekfordinner.com

    Happy Friday! To celebrate the weekend I have TWO awesome Gifts & Giveaways posts for you today. Let’s start with a couple of wild and crazy…kitchen gadgets!

    dreamfarm clever kitchen gadgets | thisweekfordinner.com

    I was recently introduced to the company Dreamfarm. Dreamfarm is all about solving problems and creating products that do just that! They have lots of fun items and I have been trying out a few of their kitchen products for the last month or so.

    I’ve been using the Chopula (it’s great!),  the Clongs (work great, sits off your bench), the Garjet (you seriously have to go watch the video, this garlic press is cool!), the Supoon (love it, it’s great! also sits off your bench), and the Scizza. Let’s talk about the Scizza for a moment, shall we?

    dreamfarm scizza pizza scissors | thisweekfordinner.com

    dreamfarm scizza pizza scissors | thisweekfordinner.com

    Years ago I wrote a post about how scissors are the best pizza cutter because, well, they are! So as soon as I saw the Scizza I knew I had to give it a try. Scissors made just for cutting pizza? It’s like a dream come true! You should definitely click through to watch the Scizza video and see how cool it is! It is hands down my favorite thing from Dreamfarm.

    If you’re looking for a cool holiday gift for any cooks in your life (or even for yourself!), Dreamfarm is a great option. Very fun and original products that are definitely gift-worthy.

    Time for the giveaway! One of you lucky people will win a set of Dreamfarm products, including the chopula, clongs, garjet, supoon and the beloved scizza (total retail value of $111.75).

    dreamfarm kitchen gadgets giveaway | thisweekfordinner.com

    Here is how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Thursday 12/12/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address.)

    • Simply leave a comment, any comment, on this post! That’s it! Although, if you want to tell us which Dreamfarm product is most appealing to you, we’d love to hear about it!
    • Bonus entry: Like This Week for Dinner on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Follow me on Pinterest and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did! (If you already follow, that counts!)
    • Bonus entry: Like Dreamfarm on Facebook and leave a separate comment telling me you did!
    • Bonus entry: Follow Dreamfarm on Twitter and leave a separate comment telling me you did!

    Good luck!

    I am happy to announce that comment #47 Jen M was the winner! She said, “What cool and inventive products they have!” and she is right! Congrats, Jen!

    I was given a sampling of Dreamfarm products to review for this giveaway. All opinions are 100% my own.


  5. Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    I finally have a tortilla warmer!

    You know what I’ve always wanted? A tortilla warmer. I’ve frequently looked for them in stores but have had a hard time finding them. (Side note: I don’t know why I never looked on Amazon, but whatever.)

    tortilla warmer | thisweekfordinner.com

    My wonderful neighbor Ari (who is from Mexico City and shops at a Mexican market nearby) knew I was on the lookout for one. She knocked on my door the other day, tortillas and tortilla warmer in hand! She’s a very good neighbor and she knows how to make me very happy!

    tortilla warmer | thisweekfordinner.com

    So, yeah, tortilla warmers are great. You should get one. You can heat up your tortillas, put them in the warmer as you go, then serve all the heated tortillas at once. It’s awesome. (Now that I think about it, my warmer will come in handy for Swedish pancakes, too!)


  6. Thursday, October 24, 2013

    2 Totally Awesome Garlic Press Tricks

    About a billion years ago, I mentioned on the blog how I love using a garlic press. My friend Lindsay commented saying she doesn’t like using a garlic press because she feels like she loses so much of the garlic in the process. I responded that I just “re-moosh” it a lot and don’t care that much about the waste. (I know. I’m a total garlic waster. Quelle horreur.) Then someone else named Misty commented saying that she loves her garlic press, too, and that she puts the whole clove in, paper and all. And then Lindsay was like, “That is genius!” and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t really get what Misty was talking about, which was dumb because when I went back to find the comments this week I realized Misty totally linked to a post about her trick and I could have learned this a billion years ago. (Did you follow all that? I think multiple episodes of The Vampire Diaries last night may be having an impact on my ability to communicate like an adult.)

    how to effectively use a garlic press | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.com

    I finally figured out Misty’s trick this week and I LOVE IT. It also inspired another trick that I want to share, which isn’t quite as cool but still handy.

    Misty’s Garlic Press Trick: When you use a garlic press put the WHOLE CLOVE, paper and all, into the press and then push it through like normal. Remember all that waste that Lindsay was so worried about? The paper becomes the waste that gets stuck in the press and almost every last bit of garlic gets pushed through. It’s like magic. Vampire Diaries-worthy magic. The other really cool part of this trick is that the garlic press is easier to clean when you use it this way. The paper doesn’t get all stuck in the bumps and grooves like straight-up garlic does. It’s so much easier to clean up!

    how to effectively use a garlic press | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comPut the whole clove in, with paper.

    how to effectively use a garlic press | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comPush it all the way through.

    how to effectively use a garlic press | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comVoila! Only the paper is left behind.

    My Related Garlic Press Trick That’s Not Quite as Magical: Okay, so, you can also use your garlic press to get the paper off of your clove easily. Once again place the whole clove, paper and all, into the press. Then push, but not too far. Just enough to crack things up a bit. Remove the clove from the press and you should be able to easily peel the paper off the clove. Alternatively you can just smash the clove under the flat-side of a knife to get the same effect, which is what I normally do, but the press works great, too!

    how to effectively use a garlic press | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comPut the whole clove in, with paper.

    using a garlic press to get paper off of garlic cloves | from @janemaynard at thisweekfordinner.comPress about half way, remove the garlic clove, then pop off the paper!

    Happy mincing and de-papering of garlic!

    Please note: Garlic was harmed in the making of this blog post. In fact, I wasted one entire clove just for a picture. I didn’t use it for anything. I am a true garlic waster. I’m surprised I even care about this cool garlic trick at all.


  7. Tuesday, September 3, 2013

    Kitchen Tip: Do You Have an Instant-Read Thermometer?

    Do you have an instant-read thermometer with a probe and an oven-safe cord? If the answer is no, then I want you to put this item on your “to-buy” list immediately!

    instant read cooking thermometer | thisweekfordinner.com

    Before I had my thermometer, I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Nate was the one who bought it and I am so grateful he did! I use it ALL THE TIME, especially when cooking meat. If I use the thermometer when cooking meat of any kind, the end result is always juicy and tender but still cooked through. The thermometer is helpful in many other situations as well, such as the ever-important task of cooking doughnuts.

    I was thinking the other day that I should write up a quick tribute to to my thermometer, especially since it decided to keep on trucking even after I burned it on the stovetop and thought for sure it had bitten the proverbial dust. Amazingly, it came back to life. I think it must love me as much as I love it!

    instant read cooking thermometer | thisweekfordinner.com

    I can’t find my exact thermometer online anywhere, so I am unable give you a link to buy the one I have. I did a quick search on Bed Bath and Beyond and found many great options, ranging in price from $20-100. Mine was most certainly on the $20 end of the spectrum and it has served me faithfully year after year. I recommend finding a thermometer with an oven-safe cord, so that you can leave the probe in the food throughout cooking if desired.

    Happy thermometer shopping!

    And, if you DO have a thermometer and love it, please tell us about it and why it is so great! Links are helpful, too! Thanks, everyone!


  8. Tuesday, August 20, 2013

    This Kitchen Tip Will BLOW YOUR MIND and Give You the Power to Tackle Any Plastic Wrap or Foil In Your Path

    Nate’s Aunt Linda shared today’s kitchen tip with me last week on the Cape. She saw it on Facebook recently and everyone she’s shared it with since has had the same reaction I did: “DUH! How did I not know that?!?!”

    Are you ready for this life-changing, super simple, we-all-should-already-know-this kitchen tip?

    You know how when you need to dispense aluminum foil or plastic wrap from the box you kind of have to hold the lid closed just the right amount so that you can still pull the plastic or foil without pulling out the whole roll and it’s always kind of finicky and annoying? (I think Virginia Woolf would be very proud of that amazing run-on question. 10 points for liberal arts majors!)

    trick for dispensing plastic wrap and foil | thisweekfordinner.com

    Okay, look at the ends of the box and you’ll notice a little spot that says something like “Press here to lock roll” or “Push tab” or something like that. Guess what? You just have to push those tabs in on both ends and that holds the roll in the box for you. VOILA! No more battling the roll! I’m thinking these tabs have probably been around FOREVER.

    How many of you already knew about these handy tabs? How many of you were just as clueless as the rest of us?

    trick for dispensing plastic wrap and foil | thisweekfordinner.com

    You better believe I’ve pushed all the tabs in on my boxes!

    Happy Rolling!


  9. Thursday, June 20, 2013

    Cutting Triangle Half Sandwiches

    Hey everyone! It’s looking like I’ll be able to share our fun news with you tomorrow! Which is one of the reasons I’ve been missing from the blog this week. Things to do! Things to do!

    Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Until then, I want to share a little trick I just discovered. Oprah would call it an “A-HA!” moment, but I think it can more accurately be described as an “OH, DUH!” moment.

    Okay, so I have kids who won’t eat the crust on their sandwiches. It drives me batty. They all started out as people who ate their crusts, but all three of them, at some point along the way, just stopped eating crusts. I think it’s such a waste and I hate it, but there’s not much I can do about it! Since there’s no fighting the no-crust-eating around here, I always cut their sandwiches into four triangle, which results in straight crusts. If the crusts are straight, they end up eating a lot more of the actual sandwich.

    My one problem has always been when they just want half of a sandwich. I always cut squares for half-sandwiches. When you try to cut rectangular-sized bread into a triangle for a half, the edges don’t line up.

    Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.comSee, the long side of one triangle doesn’t line up with the short side of the other triangle and everything is skeewompus.

    As a result of all this, I hate giving my kids half sandwiches because I feel like they are hardly getting any sandwich at all with those dumb cornered crusts.

    And then, the other day, as I was making a half sandwich, it finally hit me. We CAN have half sandwiches AND straight crusts, too! (PS…I’m pretty sure this is what Marie Antoinette actually said.)

    uncut bread | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Cut the bread in half diagonally, into two large triangles.

    first cut | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Then, flip one of the pieces over, like so. (This is the secret to success here!)

    the flip | cutting half triangle sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    Look at that! The long edges line up with the long edges, the short edges line up with the short edges. All is right with the world!

    bread lined up | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    The result? A half sandwich cut into two triangles with straight crusts!

    final product | Cutting Half Triangle Sandwiches | thisweekfordinner.com

    When I was photographing the bread for this post yesterday, Cate asked, “Do you think other people don’t know this?” She makes a good point. You may all have already figured this out, but if there is just one of you in the “OH, DUH!” boat like me, then it’s worth writing the post!

    Happy non crust half sandwich eating, spoiled children of the world!


  10. Thursday, May 16, 2013

    I’ve got a spice expiration problem

    Apparently I have a problem. I don’t update my spices regularly enough!

    First case in point: cream of tartar. I have proof that it does not last forever, in case you were wondering.

    old cayenne pepper

    Today I have another example of my problem! Cayenne pepper. For months I’ve been thinking that we were out of cayenne pepper. Every time I’d go to use it I’d look around the cupboard, only to realize AGAIN that we were out. Well, I finally remembered to buy some last week. The next day I went to use it and, much to my surprise, I found TWO bottles of cayenne pepper in the cupboard! Only one of them didn’t look so much like cayenne pepper anymore.

    I find it funny that I actually picked the cayenne pepper up countless times looking for cayenne pepper but not even bothering to read the label because it looked nothing like cayenne pepper! I mean, it’s BROWN.

    So, I have a question for you today. Do you update your spices regularly? Do you have a good system for doing so? Or are you like me and forget about your spices until you actually need them and find they are totally useless?!?!

    If you happen to do a good job of keeping your spices up to date, please share tips, resources with info that you like, or anything you’ve got about keeping the spice cupboard fresh!