Archive | December, 2011

What’s For Dinner This Week- Family Classics

Meal Planning with The Organized Cook

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System answers the question “What’s For Dinner Tonight?” with the answer- “What’s For Dinner This Week.

If you’re a subscriber to The Organized Cook, Family Classics is on the menu this week.  And with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays, we made this week’s dinner menu using simple recipes that create gourmet results.


Day 1: Roasted Whole Chicken



Day 2: Baja Fish Tacos



Day 3: Spaghetti Bolognese


Day 4: Green Chicken Enchiladas


Day 5: Meaty Lasagna

Subscribe to The Organized Cook

It’s not too late to get this week’s Picky Eaters Weekly Meal Plan; subscribers have already received their menu, grocery shopping list, recipes and cooking instructions in one meal plan by email.  Not a subscriber to The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan SystemSubscribe now:

marquee 300x132 Whats For Dinner This Week  Simple Gourmet 

Test Drive

Want to test drive The Organized Cook?  Simply leave a comment below and tell me about your “dinnertime rut” challenges and we’ll send you Family Classics Weekly Meal Plan for free!

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A Food Photography Anniversary with Picaboo

A Food Photography Anniversary

A little over a year ago, a dear friend urged me to take up food photography in preparation for production of my- then- upcoming book: The Organized Cook- Busy Mom’s Remedy to Dinnertime Ruts and Runaway Grocery Bills.  Setting aside all self-doubt and lack of knowledge of all-things-photography, I began my journey to learning this art, from lighting to food preparation and aperture.

Now, one book, one blog and one year later, I’ll never look at food the same way again.  Every ray of diffused dusk lighting illuminating leafy vegetables, steam billowing from Le Crueset pot or sizzling bubbles from an oily saute sends me running to fetch my Canon T2i.

A Food Photography Celebration

To celebrate my anniversary, I’ve enlisted the help of Picaboo to create A Food Photography Celebration photo book chronicling my best culinary snapshots along with recipes and photography tips from this past year.

Creating a photo book with Picaboo was fun and simple.  I love photo books and the first and most important function I look for when using a service to create one is user-friendliness.  The upload photo feature from Picaboo was the best I’ve used yet and the only service that uploads your entire photo folder and then allows you to choose from them, saving me a lot of time- and we all know how I love to save time!

The editing features were simple and allowed me to create a beautiful book with lots of taste appeal showcasing my favorite food photos and recipes.

Win A $30 Picaboo Gift Card Gift Card

We are so excited to share the giveaway with you just in time for the holidays.  Whether you’re creating cards, calendars or photo books, Picaboo is the perfect place to shop!  There are many ways to enter:  ENTER THE GIVEAWAY.











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Win A Picaboo Gift Card

Picaboo Gift Card Giveaway from The Organized Cook

We hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a great start.  To celebrate the season and  help with holiday shopping we’re excited to be giving away 3 $30 Picaboo gift cards.



Enter The Giveaway

We are so excited to share the giveaway with you just in time for the holidays.  Whether you’re creating cards, calendars or photo books, Picaboo is the perfect place to shop!  There are many ways to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Why Picaboo Is The Perfect Holiday Gift

Yes, a photo book can be a great holiday gift by sharing your favorite photos with friends and family.  Here are some other great holiday gift ideas using Picaboo.

Giving The Gift of Memories: Teenagers

I have a nineteen year-old daughter in college in addition to my twins- 7 and “baby”- 5.  She loves watching her younger siblings experience the magic of Christmas- with Santa, Rudolph and all the wonder she remembers from when she was that age.

The Christmas experience is different for older children than it is for younger.  So, in addition to her to sharing holiday traditions with her siblings by leaving cookies and milk out for Santa with them, I’m making a photo book this year for her with holiday memories of when she was younger.

I saved her letters to Santa along with photos from school plays and Christmas mornings.  That photo of her holding her favorite stuffed Rudolph with the biggest gleaming smile shouldn’t be kept away in a photo box.  With scanner fired up to scan in hand-written notes to Santa, I’m ready to create a gift for her that I hope will rekindle that Christmas magic in her heart.

Family Cookbook

My grandmother is 83 years old this year and has passed down so many great recipes to me and the family over the years.  I also have recipes from my great-grandmother, and in her original handwriting no less!  I thought this year would be the best time to take those recipes and add to them recipes from my aunts, cousins and sisters to create a family cookbook.

By combining various family photos of dinner gatherings and kitchen memories, this is the perfect gift to give my grandmother this year.

Family Birthday Calendar

Each year my mom creates a photo calendar listing each birthday in the family.  Photos of our family adorn each month as we’re reminded to celebrate those special days.



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Recipe For A Perfect Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man Cookie Recipe

This past weekend I baked 77 Gingerbread Man cookies as an annual family tradition (not the “77” part, but the baking gingerbread men part).  It was a lot of work, but it’s only once a year, right?

gingerbread man recipe

I love the smell of fresh gingerbread and my kids enjoy helping me prepare and roll out the dough, cut out the gingerbread men and watch them bake.  Of course, the best part is the last step when we get to decorate them.

If you’re in the mood for some fresh gingerbread cookies this year, here is a recipe that has never let me down:

Gingerbread Man Cookie Recipe

Gingerbread Man Recipe

ground ginger- the most important ingredient


  1. Flour- 6 cups
  2. Baking Powder- 1 tspn
  3. Ground Ginger- 2 tbspns
  4. Ground Cinnamon- 2 tbspns
  5. Ground cloves or allspice- 1 tspn
  6. Salt- 1/2 tspn
  7. Butter- 1 cup or 2 sticks, softened
  8. Brown Sugar- 2 cups
  9. Eggs- 2
  10. Vanilla- 2 tspns
  11. Dark Molasses- 1 cup
  12. Water- 1 tbspn


1.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves or allspice and salt

gingerbread recipe

dry ingredients


gingerbread recipe

whisk together dry ingredients

2.  Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until creamy

gingerbread recipe

blend together sugar and wet ingredients

3.  Slowly add flour mixture and water

gingerbread recipe

slowly add flour mixture and water


4.  Place gingerbread onto sheet of plastic wrap and hand-form into a ball

gingerbread recipe

place gingerbread onto sheet of plastic wrap


gingerbread recipe

hand form into a ball


5.   Let gingerbread stand at room temperature for 2-6 hours.  I like to make mine a day or two in advance.  So, dough can be refrigerated and then brought back to room temperature before rolling it out.

gingerbread recipe

wrap in plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2-6 hours; or it can be refrigerated and then brought back to room temperature


6.  Lightly dust surface with flour and roll dough with rolling pin that is also dusted lightly with flour

gingerbread recipe

roll out dough onto flour-covered surface

7.  Use cookie cutter to make cut-outs

gingerbread recipe


8.  Dip spatula into flour before scooping up cut-out and placing on an ungreased cookie sheet to bake

gingerbread recipe

dip spatula in flour first before placing cut-outs onto ungreased cookie sheet


9.  Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes and transfer to rack to cool after baking

gingerbread recipe

chilling out



Decorating Your Gingerbread Man

Use royal or buttercream icing to dress your gingerbread man.  My favorite Gingerbread Man candies are:

time to decorate!

  1. Red Hots for the eyes
  2. Spiced Gum Drops for the buttons
  3. Coconut for the hair


Every year, I take my Gingerbread Man cookies to Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation annual holiday party to let the kids decorate because it’s such a tactual experience.

Kids decorate Gingerbread Man cookies at Nevada Blind Children's Foundation


“And I had but one penny in the world. Thou should’st have it to buy gingerbread.” – William Shakespeare, Love’s Labours Lost

“NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!”Gingerbread Man, Shrek






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