Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for August 24thSorry I’m a bit late (oops, it’s 10:00 on Sunday evening) in my posting of the weekly menu today, but we were awakened at 3:30 in the morning by an earthquake, and needless to say we’re all a bit rattled over here.  The good news is that there wasn’t any damage and we’re all ok!  Whew!  I definitely don’t want to experience another one of those anytime soon.

So the kids and I took a mini vacation recently to Carmel Valley to visit our girlfriend Hilary and her family.  It was a wonderful mini vacation, and even though it was short, it totally re-charged my batteries.  The best part was that we all got to spend some quality time together, as we all bunkered down at Hilary’s casa for 4 fun-filled days!  Yep, hotel Hamilton is where we stayed, and the views and accommodations were amazing!  Thanks so much for having us Hilary. By the way,  I left a big tip for you in the guest room!  Eli was super psyched as he got to spend 4 days with his bestie, Sawyer.  These two boys have known each other since they can remember, and they are bonded like brothers.

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grilled cheese with roasted broccoliThis is the BEST grilled cheese sandwich EVER, at least that’s what Zoe and I said as we devoured this sandwich. Adding roasted broccoli to a grilled cheese sandwich is genius, as it adds an extra punch of flavor and texture, and honestly makes you feel less guilty about eating a grilled cheese.  As one of my readers Samantha says, “can’t go wrong with grilled cheese, but when you add a green- it takes it to a whole new level.”  Samantha, I totally agree with you girl!  Tossing some brocoli into a grilled cheese is also a great way to sneak some veggies into your little ones, so for those of you that have some picky veggie eaters, you may want to give this sandwich a try.  It’s kid approved in my house!

Grilled cheese sandwiches are a staple in this house.  We eat them for lunch all the time, as well as dinner.  Gilled cheese is just the perfect accompanyment to a creamy soup, and in the fall and winter we eat a LOT soup.  I’m lucky because I have one of the best grilled cheese makers, Zoe!  Zoe is a pro when it comes to making a killer grilled cheese, and I will show you her simple trick later in this post.  All you will need is a cast iron skillet and the lid of a pan.  Come on, let’s make up a grilled cheese sandwich!

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roasted broccoli

roasted broccoliI thought instead of showing you all some fancy staged photo of a bowl of roasted broccoli, that I would show you my kids actually eating and liking it!  I know that if I hear about someone’s kids digging a veggie then I’m more inclined to make it up for my kids.  So, hopefully by seeing my kids enjoying this super healthy veggie, some of you may be more inclined to make this up for your troops!  I’m also letting you all know that this is not going to be a fancy post with jaw dropping photos, but instead it’s going to be a quick and simple post showing you all a quick and simple family approved recipe.  That’s how Marin mama rolls these days.  I’m a full-time working mama, working on some easy family approved recipes for you all!

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marin mama's weekly dinner menu for August 3rdThat’s a picture of Eli and his peeps before they boarded the bus for sleep away camp.  I love the boy’s sneakers.  It’s all about sport shorts and neon colored sneakers!  Eli’s sneakers used to be this bright red neon color, but after a few weeks of playing in the dirt, they dulled out to a brownish red, so he laced them up some new neon yellow laces to add back a splash of color.  So, yes, Eli went to his first sleep away camp and LOVED it.  He came home exhausted and dirty, but he was begging to go back next year, so that’s a great sign. I also think it helped that he was with his 5 best buddies at camp and that they all shared a cabin together.

Here’ the letter he wrote to me from camp.  I absolutely adore how Eli uses the word “rocks” in 3 sentences. He loves that word almost as much as I love the word “awesome.”

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carrot-ginger dressing

carrot-ginger dressingIt’s summer-time and that means lots of salads in my house.  I love summer salads because they’re just so easy to whip up, they’re healthy for the most part (unless you slather them with too much dressing) and they pair with just about anything.  The best part is that there’s no cooking involved, which is the perfect thing on a hot summer night.  I try to make my salad dressings from scratch when I can because homemade dressings are full of fresh ingredients, and I love that you have control over what’s going into your dressing.  With dressings you can add a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and come out with something that makes your greens or veggies taste phenomenal.  I love pairing a salad with our favorite summer pasta and some french bread, or keeping it simple and just adding some roasted chicken to the top.  Summer-time is about simple, light and refreshing meals.

Ina's summer garden pasta and saladThis dressing is a tiny bit sweet, but has a bit of a spicy kick to it from the ginger, and it’s vegan to boot!  It’s a wonderful dressing to toss in with some mixed greens, but also works well as well as a dip for fresh-cut veggies like sliced avocado, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower or sliced heirloom tomatoes (yum!). This dressing keeps well in a jar for up to a week, so you can make a batch of dressing and have a fresh salad every night of that week.

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cold pesto pasta with chicken and sundried tomatoes_So I have this friend who is as obsessed with sun-dried tomatoes as I am with kale, and we all know how obsessed I am with kale, so you can only imagine. He puts sun-dried tomatoes in anything and everything, scrambled eggs, pasta, chicken dishes, cookies and brownies, you name it (just kidding on the last two, but I wouldn’t be surprised)!  Sun-dried tomatoes haven’t been in my pantry for the past couple of years, not because I’m not a fan, but I guess I sort of forgot about them.  Since I’ve been reintroduced to them, I’ve fallen in love with them once again.  They really add that extra punch of flavor to any dish, and I love their chewy texture.  I especially love them packed in olive oil, they’re so good that I could literally eat them out of the jar (and I have).  I think I’m becoming as obsessed with them as my friend, and who knows, I may be adding them to my next kale salad or topping them on my next pizza.

My friend’s obsession reminded me of one my favorite cold summer pastas, which yes, include sun-dried tomatoes.  I’ve seriously been making this pasta since 1994, and it’s still a pasta that I look forward to each summer.  The combination of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives is amazing!  It’s the perfect pasta to bring to a picnic or potluck, and an easy weeknight dinner as it can be made ahead of time. I love it when I can come home after a busy day, open the fridge and have dinner all ready to go. All you have to do is pair this pasta with a salad and a baguette, and you have yourself the perfect meal for a hot summer night.

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Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for July 6thIsn’t Eli such a cutie?  I love this picture of him posing with his new favorite yogurt drink, Slingshot!  Slingshot is actually a local product made and developed here in the Bay Area, which I think is pretty cool. The drink is pretty genius in fact, as there’s a little packet of goodies wrapped around the bottle that contains toasted oats, almond bits, chia seeds, honey and sunflower oil.  Eli thinks that the packet is the coolest thing and loves opening it and pouring into his yogurt.  This drink is packed with fiber, protein, live and active probiotics and Omega 3 fatty acids, so it’s a win win for any kid or adult in fact.  Anyway, I thought I would give a shout out to Slingshot because they’re a local company, and because Eli is such a huge fan!

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Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for June 22ndIt’s official, I have a high schooler now!   Zoe had her 8th grade graduation this past Thursday and there was not a dry eye in the house.  Seeing all of these kids that I’ve known since kindergarten walk down the aisle one by one to take their seats, blew me away.  They all looked all so grown up in their suits and dresses that I was in awe.  When did this happen?  When did my little pumpkin grow up into this beautiful girl I see today.  It seems like yesterday when she was toddling around the house.  It goes by so fast, so for those of you that have little ones, savor these days and just know that in a blink of an eye, they will be all grown up.  I’m absolutely loving watching her grow and each stage is amazing, but I do wish that time went just a bit slower. [click to continue…]

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almond butter brownies

almond butter browniesALMOND BUTTER BROWNIES!!!  Yes, you heard me right, almond butter brownies, not chocolate fudge brownies, so I apologize for those of you that were looking for something chocolately, next time!  These are a bit of a healthier brownie, if there is such a thing as a healthy brownie. These brownies are made with 6 simple ingredients, almond butter, honey, an egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Yep, there’s not flour or sugar in these brownies and you honestly won’t miss the sugar or flour, as these brownies are gooey on the inside and a bit crusty on the outside. They’re super simple to whip up, (only takes 1/2 hour) super tasty, kid and co-worker approved (yes, my kids and co-workers loved these) and gluten-free to boot!

My friend Kimber introduced these brownies to my girlfriends and I on our recent girl’s trip.  We all absolutely loved them, and we agreed as we literally devoured the pan, that I needed to get this recipe posted on my blog sooner than later. I was super excited to bake these up and share the recipe with all of you, but I wasn’t excited to photograph them because although they taste great, they’re not the most attractive things to photograph.  So before I get to the recipe I thought it would be fun to show you two of the photographs that did not make it to the cutting room floor.

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Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for May 18thI hope all of you moms out there had a fabulous Mothers Day. I seriously had one of the best Mothers Days yet.  It was a day filled with love and play from start to finish.  I started off the morning with huge hugs and cards and from both the kids, I went on an amazing run and then Zoe and I headed over to spend the afternoon in the sun watching Eli play baseball.

The coaches totally scored points with us moms.  They had the boys line up on the field with a rose in their hand, and they all chimed in at the same time and said, “Happy Mothers Day.”  I mean how adorable is that?   All of us moms ran down on the field and gave our cuties the biggest hugs!

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Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for May 11thHappy Mothers Day to all you moms out there!  I took this above picture on my run a few weeks ago because I was feeling loved, and just felt like drawing a heart in the dirt to express that feeling and symbolize the moment!  Running makes me feel like that, it makes me feel alive, free, full of appreciation for life and love!  I’m especially feeling the love today because it’s Mothers Day, and I’m grateful to be a mom to two of the most amazing kids in the world.  So today I’m celebrating them, and celebrating us. [click to continue…]

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