Archive | food

my new (easy!) approach to meal planning

5-meals

You know what time is not typically the high-point of my day?

4 o’clock.

The kids are home from school, my work day is over (at least until bedtime), and the next big thing on my task list is dinner. Ugh.

It’s not the actual cooking that is problematic and not the eating or even the clean up. It’s the part where I have to figure out what to make that gets me every time.

Except when I’ve taken the time to meal plan. Continue Reading →

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perfect for your easter brunch: cranberry orange scones

In case you are looking for a last minute addition to your Easter brunch this weekend (or any time, for that matter), these scones are perfect.

cranberry-orange-scones

Some scones are dry and break into tiny crumbs when you bite into them and these are not like that at all. They are soft and flaky with a hint of orange and sweet cranberries. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. Her cookbooks are amazing. Every recipe I’ve made of hers is an instant favorite (like her apple crisp and chicken noodle soup and coconut cupcakes). And the pictures are really pretty.

Okay, back to the scones. They are fairly easy to make. Just dump all the dry ingredients in the mixer, add the zest of one orange and cut in cold butter (just try not to think about how much butter you’re using).

ingredients-for-scones

Then you add heavy cream and eggs until just combined to form a sticky dough. Before adding cranberries (craisins, actually) she has you toss them in a little bit of flour. Genius idea, this flour-covered-craisin-thing, as they mix in to the dough rather than sinking to the bottom.

Gently roll out the dough on a floured board and cut with a pastry cutter. Or a cup if you don’t have one. #makeitwork

use-cup-to-cut

Bake for 20 minutes, drizzle on a light glaze and you have the most delicious homemade scones ever.

cranberry-orange-scones-brunch

I made these for my college girlfriends when they came into town last month and again yesterday afternoon just because. I may even make them again on Sunday. Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

recipe from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

i n g r e d i e n t s

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

d i r e c t i o n s

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

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let’s make sea salt caramels

sea-salt-caramel-recipe

Growing up, we could always count on my grandpa to make two things for our family christmas: rich, chocolaty fudge and creamy, chewy caramels. Both were delicious and have become seasonal favorites in my family now. Yesterday I made both of these treats. Edie has an easy and oh so yummy fudge recipe {right here} and these sea salt caramels are my go-to recipe. I’ve shared it once before, but thought I’d show you step by step in photos because sometimes that takes the fear out of cooking.

sea-salt-caramels-up-close

These little caramels are irresistible, they make great gifts and can be refrigerated for up to three weeks {although there’s no way they would last that long in my household}.

Here’s what you need:

sea-salt-caramel-ingredients

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray

sea-salt-caramel-tools

medium heavy bottomed pan
wooden spoon {I like this flat wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan}
candy thermometer

STEP ONE // prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lining it in parchment paper and lightly oiling

sea-salt-caramel-prepare-baking-dish

STEP TWO // In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.

sea-salt-caramel-step-one

sea-salt-caramel-bring-to-boil

STEP THREE // Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°

sea-salt-caramel-add-corn-syrup

Stir continually and watch that thermometer {or two}. It takes several minutes and it’s important to get it to the exact temperature.

sea-salt-caramel-boil-to-230

STEP FOUR // Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°

sea-salt-caramel-add-butter-and-vanilla

The caramel starts to look more caramelly and thickens and it feels like it takes forever to get to the right temp. Just keep stirring and pull it off the heat right away when it hits 240°

sea-salt-caramel-boil-to-240

STEP FIVE // Remove from heat, stir in salt

sea-salt-caramel-add-salt

STEP SIX // Carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dish and sprinkle with additional sea salt

sea-salt-caramel-pour-in-prepared-dish

Let cool for an hour or so.

STEP SIX //  Remove from baking dish and cut the caramel into 1 inch pieces

cut-sea-salt-caramel

STEP SEVEN // To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper

sea-salt-caramel-on-parchment-paper

and secure the ends with a simple twist.

wrapped-up-sea-salt-caramel

Enjoy!

Servings: Makes about 125 one-inch pieces

Sea Salt Caramels
created by the ladies of Liddabit Sweets courtesy of O magazine.

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray

Directions

Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°.
Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking dish (parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful).
Let cool at least 1 hour. Invert onto a cutting board covered with waxed or parchment paper and cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Caramels can be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper or cellophane. (To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and secure the ends with a simple twist.) Store airtight at cool room temperature (around 65°) or in the refrigerator; will keep up to 3 weeks.

 

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the perfect treat for your weekend

Years ago {like probably 25}, my mom worked with a woman who made these little pastries and they became instant favorites.  They are small, buttery, easy to make and have remained a favorite go-to breakfast treat. I made them for our back-to-school brunch last month and they disappeared quickly. Always a good sign.

Today, I share the beloved recipe with you. Just in time for your weekend.

granny-horns

GRANNY HORNS

Crescents:
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cream together cottage cheese and butter. Add flour and salt. Collect dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Divide in 3 parts.  Lightly flour and roll each part into circle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 12 wedges per circle and roll into crescents. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly golden.

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix together and generously drizzle over warm crescents.

granny-horns-crescent-roll-recipe

Is your mouth watering? So delicious. Not healthy, but they are small.  Definitely a fun treat to make this weekend.

 

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my new approach to meal planning

Meal planning.

It’s one of those dreaded tasks because 1. it takes forever and 2. how are you to know what you’ll feel like eating three weeks from now?

BUT … having a plan for dinner makes life so much easier. Every mom-friend I talk to agrees that when we do have meals planned out ahead of time, our days {and especially dinnertime} goes a million times smoother.

I am not by nature a great planner. I like flexibility and am very in the moment. Yet I have a household that requires daily nourishment and that job falls on my shoulders. So I figure I better get my act together and find a system that works because I have quite a few years ahead of me of feeding my family {three of whom are growing boys and from what I hear, they are going to eat us out of house and home}.

meal-planning-calendar

I’ve developed a plan. A meal planning plan. One that I think might work {it has for the past two weeks, at least}. Here’s how I’m doing it:

1. Collect dinner ideas on my pinterest dinner board. We have a few favorites from cookbooks that are included as well.

2. Schedule dinners for monday – thursday on the jdc | monthly dinner menu calendar {more info below}. Mondays are our busiest days, so each of those meals are either soups or slowcooker meals to make things easier. We like to eat out or get together with friends on weekends, so no meals are set in stone for those days and sunday nights are usually spent eating masterfully made suppers at Ryan’s parents’ house.

3. Shop for one week’s meals each monday, using the pinned recipes to compile a shopping list.

4. On the meal day, I’ll pull up the recipe on the ipad and cook away.

5. The ultimate goal would be to repeat the same meals once per month for each season, so we’ll probably do this same schedule into november and december, and then switch things up a bit once the new year comes around.

meal-planning-october-dinnertime-calendar

The fact that my October meals are scheduled is a very proud moment. I find that cooking is not my issue or even the shopping … it’s the pre-planning and deciding what to eat and so now having it done gives so much freedom.

If you’d like to give our meals a try, feel free to download the filled-in calendar below.

october-meal-plan

{click on the calendar to download and print}

A few notes if you do follow this menu plan:

1. find most of the recipes here.

2. we eat a lot of chicken.

3. Most of these dinners are one dish meals, but sometimes I’ll add crusty bread or a salad or sauteed green beans.

4. burrito bowls are our favorite meal – we copy Chipotle’s recipe with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, refried beans, grilled chicken, grilled peppers & onions, pico, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream. Yum. It’s on the menu twice.

5. Ryan found a whole grain rice + quinoa mix at costco and it is delish. That is what we eat on the chicken & rice days.

Hope this is helpful for my fellow struggling-meal-planners

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Want more organization tools to help make your days a bit easier {and prettier}? I’m pleased to introduce the new JDC | monthly october collection.

october-collection-antlers

This is our monthly printable papergoods service where you get an original set of practical and stylish calendars, lists, note cards and more. Here’s what’s included this month:

jdc-october-collage

 

Upon joining, you will be sent a link to access all of the pdf files. Download and print, or save them to your computer for a rainy day.

JDC | monthly members will also receive 50% off all printables in the shop.

the details:

You will receive the link to the monthly collection immediately after signing up. On the 22nd of each month, you will receive an email with the link to download the newest collection of printable files. If you decide JDC | monthly is not for you, you are free to cancel at any time.

Click the button below to receive JDC | monthly via email for $9.99 {try it for 7 days free!}.

get-organized New this month … if you are not ready to commit to a monthly membership, you can purchase just this month’s collection. The price is $12.99 and you’ll have access to the files forever.

just-this-collection

We’d love to see how you use your monthly goods. Tag a photo on any social media using #jdcmonthly so we can take a peek.

AND … please share your thoughts on meal panning. Is it a struggle in your household, too? Do you have a system that works? Any great tips?

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