roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza

roasted red pepper pizza
roasted red pepper pizza

So remember on Friday when I mentioned that because I can be a perfectionist with this blog that I sometimes make a recipe 2 to 3 times before I post it?  Well, this recipe was one of those recipes.  I actually only made this 2 times, but still, it was 2 times within the course of a week.  I figured it was OK since it’s a pretty healthy meal and my kids always are happy to eat pizza, even if it’s on a whole-wheat crust.

This pizza is super easy to make, even easier than my sausage skillet pizza.  I know a lot of you wanted to try that pizza but either did not have a skillet or were a bit intimated by the thought of cooking a pizza in a skillet.  So, here is a pizza that everyone can make.It’s your basic run of the mill cheese pizza except that you are replacing the tomato sauce with a roasted red pepper puree and topping it all on a thin and crispy whole-wheat pizza crust.  Isn’t that genius?  Red peppers are so good for you and this is an easy and delicious way to get them into your diet.  I even think that if you had picky kids they would love this pizza (maybe just add a bit more cheese to disguise the red pepper sauce a bit more).

My kids loved this pizza, seriously, I’m not lying.  They thought the red pepper sauce tasted as good as any tomato sauce and they didn’t complain about it being on a whole-wheat crust.  I honestly don’t think they even noticed that it was on a whole-wheat crust till I mentioned it.  They even liked the arugula on top!  My kids are becoming way more experimental with food since I started this blog.  They will try and eat just about anything I make.  They are now even starting to like my “mommy” dishes.  Zoe has been begging me to make my chickpea burgers again, so I am whipping up a batch of those tomorrow.

roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza:

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4-6

Note:  The roasted red pepper sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated till needed. 

  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled – see my instructions below on how to roast a red pepper
  • 1 pound whole-wheat pizza dough – you can use regular pizza dough here as well if you don’t like whole-wheat crusts.  I used Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust.  
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced – you can also buy the shredded mozzarella and make it easy on yourself.
  •  extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • cornmeal for baking sheets
  • arugula to top the pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash the red peppers and then cut them in half lengthwise.

red peppers cut in halfCut off the stem with a paring knife and scoop out all the seeds and membranes.  I used a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and membranes.

scooping out red pepper seedsPlace the peppers cut side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

roasting red peppersRoast the peppers in the pre-heated 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes; until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, rotating the sheet if necessary for them to cook evenly.  Below is what mine looked like after roasting for 25 minutes.

roasted red peppersLet the peppers cool for a minute or two, and then remove them from the baking sheet and place them in a bowl, cover the bowl with foil or a plate, and let cool for about 30 minutes.

roasted red peppers in bowlWhen the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off the skins and discard them, dropping the peppers back into the bowl.

roasted red peppers skinnedPut the peeled peppers into a blender.

 In a blender, puree peppers until smooth. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the sauce into a bowl if you’re not using it right away, and refrigerate until needed.  If you’re using the puree right away, then just keep it in the blender for easy pouring.Now, lets move onto the pizza.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Slice up your cheese, toss some arugula with a splash of olive oil and set aside.On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle shape.  You can also roll the dough out into 2 circles, one large circle or 4 small circles.  It’s really up to you.

We chose to make one large rectangular pizza.
Easy peasy!Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with cornmeal and shape to fit the pizza dough onto the pan.The corn meal helps to keep the pizza dough from sticking to the pan and also helps to make the pizza crust a bit more crunchy and taste like its from an actual pizzeria.Brush the edges of the dough with some olive oil.  This helps to crisp up the crust.Top the dough with the red pepper puree (as you would a tomato sauce) making sure to leave a 1-inch border on the sides. Top the pizza with the mozzarella cheese and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Top the pizza with the arugula.  Slice it up and serve with your favorite salad or vegetable.  We paired the pizza with some roasted asparagus, but I also love to pair it up with my lacinato kale salad.Since we were eating so healthy, I treated us to this for dessert.Cacao nib and cocoa shortbread ice-cream sandwiches.

What are some of your favorite pizza recipes?

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde

steak
For those of you that are vegetarians, I apologize for these photos.  They are really in your face kind of photos.  I am not a fan of photos of meat, but I had to take them to so show the recipe.  My friend Wendy asked when I was going to post the steak and salsa recipe that I raved about in my Monday post.  I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to post it because I didn’t get great photographs of the meat and I forgot to take a photo of the completed salsa.  She told me it’s the recipes that she comes for not the photographs (though they do help her to see what the finished product is going to look like).  So I am posting this recipe for you Wendy, as I know it’s going to be a perfect weekend for grilling out!  Yaay for that!

I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this blog.  Sometimes I will make a recipe 3 times before I post it in order to get a great photograph, seriously, I am a freak that way.  Luckily my family is not picky and loves my cooking so they bear with it.  I am striving to let loose a bit more and posting these not so perfect photographs is one of my ways of doing that.  
For those of you that love steak, this salsa is going to make you love it even more. The fresh herbs add so many flavors to a boring old steak and really make your taste buds sing!

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde:
Recipe from bon appetit

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon and mint 
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 skirt steak (or steak of your choice)
Mix 1/4 cup oil, the 4 cloves of minced garlic, and the 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
 Let marinate for 20 minutes. 
While the oil mixture is marinating, wash and coarsely chop up the tarragon, mint and parsley leaves and set aside.
 This combination of herbs smells so amazing.
Once the oil mixture has marinated for 20 minutes, add all the herbs to oil mixture and stir until well coated. Let stand until herbs begin to wilt, about 10 minutes. 
Stir in remaining 1/4 cup oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and then give the salsa one final mix.

I am passing along the grilling instructions from bon appetit below for those of you that are interested.  I did not get photographs of the process because John was grilling and I was busy prepping everything in the kitchen.  I also think cooking meat is a personal preference so I tend not to get caught up with how long or how to grill it.  Some people like their steak rare and some like it well done.  We like ours medium.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Season skirt steak generously with salt and pepper and grill until charred, 2 minutes per side for medium-rare Obviously, you will want to cook it longer per side for medium.

Transfer steak to a serving platter; let rest for 5 minutes, allowing juices to accumulate on platter. Transfer skirt steak to a cutting board and slice against the grain on a diagonal. Season to taste with salt; return to platter with juices. 
Top your grilled steak with the herb salsa!  

As you can see we paired our steak with the wheat berry and kale salad that I posted on Monday.  These two items went perfectly together.
 John and I enjoyed the leftovers below for dinner the next night. I topped the wheat berry salad with some steak and the herb salsa and then microwaved it all for about 1 minute.  
It was so delish!
Here is what’s on my weekend reading list in-between lacrosse and baseball games, of course.  

Are you reading anything fun?

Cheers to me becoming a bit less of a perfectionist (hey, sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader)!   Thanks for giving me that push Wendy!

my kid’s favorite weekday dinner and dessert

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Wondering what to make the family for dinner and dessert tonight?  Look no further, I’ve got you covered. No, I’m not offering to make you dinner tonight, sorry, but I have two great recipes to share with you.  These two recipes are kid and grownup approved and not just by my family, but my kid’s friends as well.  I wish my blog had some sort of ticker symbol that I could click every time I made a recipe from here.  If it did, these two recipes would be in the double digits.

 

I’ll be honest with you, tonight I’m taking the night off from cooking.  It’s my lacrosse carpool night and by the time we get home, its to late to re-heat/make dinner plus I have a starving 7 year old by that point who I need to feed immediately!  I have also made dinner the past 6 nights and I think I deserve a break from cooking.  Tonight I want to sit down and be served and have myself a nice glass of wine (DJ’s pours the largest glasses of wine, I must say).  
DJ’s here we come. 
Click on the title below the pictures to link over to the full recipe.
This was the first pasta I introduced on my blog.  It’s my go-to pasta because it’s super easy to make and it’s a one-bowl meal.  It’s also pretty healthy with all that broccoli stuffed into the dish (I do mean I stuff this dish with tons of broccoli, no skimping here).
This pasta is the dinner of choice at all sleepovers at the Grandy house.  You have to trust this is good if a bunch of 12 year olds are preferring a bowl of broccoli pasta to pizza!  
What’s up with that?
OK, lets move onto dessert!  That is everyone’s favorite part of the meal, right (at least in my house)?  I make sure to have a little something sweet every night for the family, as it’s nice to have a little treat at the end of the day.
These brownies are finger and plate licking good.  Yes, both my kids lick the plate after consuming these fudge-like brownies.  The top is crusty and the inside is rich, gooey (in a good way), and oh so chocolaty. 
If you like chocolate and dessert, then you will love these brownies.


Do you have a favorite recipe from my blog that you make over and over (or have tried once)?
If so, give me a shout out and let me know!  
I would love to hear from you.

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kale

wheat berries with charred onions and kaleAm I turning into a health nut or what?  I have eaten more kale in the past 6 months than I have in my whole lifetime, seriously. This blog is working wonders for my health and waistline (as well as my hubby’s).  It was actually John that picked out this recipe, can you believe it?  We received the recent issue of bon appetit on Friday.  John opened it up, pointed at two recipes, looked at me and said, “honey, we’re making this for dinner on Sunday.”  I  then took a look at the two recipes and happily agreed.  Did I mention that John is an amazing cook, even better than me?  I’m such a lucky girl.

Wheat berries?  You’re probably wondering what the heck they are.  Wheat berries are simply individual kernels of wheat.  They’re a true whole grain.  A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron.  Wheat berries have a chewy bite and a subtle nutty and earthy flavor.  You can find them in the natural foods section of your local grocery store. I found these at Whole Foods in the bulk bins.
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wheat berries with charred onions and kale: 
recipe from bon appetit
serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups wheat berries 
  • 2 medium yellow onions – see instructions below
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - The recipe called for 8 tablespoons but we did not feel we needed all the oil, so we just added what we felt was necessary.
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, de-stemmed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 packed cups) – I used curly kale for this recipe
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Combine wheat berries, 1 onion half, 5 thyme sprigs, and 1 tablespoon salt in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2 inches.  
The below photo was taken before I put in the water, of course, but I thought it was pretty so I snapped up a picture.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium or medium low (our stove has an intense flame so we went to medium low) and simmer until wheat berries are just tender but still firm to the bite, about 35 minutes. 
Drain in a colander and discard the onion and thyme sprigs. Place wheat berries in a large bowl and let cool.  
Meanwhile, rinse, de-stem, dry and tear up your kale into 2-inch pieces; set aside.  
Cut remaining 3 onion halves crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat; add onions. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are charred in spots, about 5 minutes. 
Transfer onions to the bowl with wheat berries
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to same skillet (we actually added about 1 teaspoon as there was oil leftover). Working in 3 batches, add kale and cook, tossing occasionally, sprinkling with salt and pepper, and adding oil as needed between batches, until charred in spots, about 1 minute per batch.  
This is another tasty and kid approved way to get your kale in.  My kids loved the kale sautéed this way as it reminded them of kale chips but without the crunch. 
Add the kale to the bowl.  Drizzle with the 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and any remaining oil left in the pan; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We served this up as a side salad for dinner, but I would definitely eat a bowl of this for lunch without the steak!
 Here were my leftovers the next day.  I topped the salad with some leftover steak and the herb salsa.  I then microwaved it for about 1 minute. 
 It was a two-nighter meal and tasted just as good or even better the next night.

What have you made with kale lately?
Are you becoming kale obsessed like me?
Bon appétit

chipotle shrimp tacos

shrimp


My friend Em wrote an amazing post on intuition and health and it got me thinking that we do tend to take our health for granted till it’s not there.  I know that when I’m feeling sick I crave feeling good again, I miss it, and when I do feel good again I feel so grateful and strong.  Health, love, peace and safety are my top priorities in life.  I feel blessed knowing my family is in great health, that I have lots of love and friends in my life and that I have a beautiful home that keeps my family and I warm and safe.  We can all get caught up wishing and looking for the next and greatest thing or focusing to much on the future instead of the here and now.  If we focused more on being present and on what is in front of us, we would realize that we really do have a wonderful and blessed life!

Speaking of feeling blessed, I felt extremely blessed on Saturday when the sun finally came out and the temperatures climbed up to the low 70’s.  It was a day where we had no obligations other than just being together, how cool is that?  We cleared off the back deck, the kids played in the yard till dark and John and I cooked this amazing meal together.  All in all it was an A+ day.

There are 3 recipes listed here.  You can just make the chipotle shrimp or add these delicious sides that we created.  It’s all up to you!  

chipotle shrimp tacos:

Recipe from Food Network
Serves 4

  • 1 pound medium shrimp (about 20) peeled and deveined & tails removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle or blended chili powder – You may want to add a bit less of this if you’re serving these to your kids and they are not fans of spicy things.   My kids were fine with these, but they can handle spicy dishes.
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 corn tortillas

Mix the olive oil, chipotle or chili powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

Sorry about the raw shrimp photo, not to appetizing is it?Heat a stovetop or outdoor grill to medium-high.

Pour on the shrimp and arrange them so they are not touching one another. Grill the shrimp until translucent, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on each side.This is a much prettier photo than the raw shrimp!Throw the tortillas on the grill and grill them until slightly charred and pliable, about 20 seconds per side.

Now, lets move onto the toppings.

 red cabbage slaw:

  • 1/4 red cabbage
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

We make the slaw about 1/2 hour to an hour before dinner so it can marinate.  You don’t want to make it too much further in advance because it may get soggy.

Coarsely chop the cabbage, squeeze both lime halves over the cabbage, add the kosher salt and mix it all together.  Let the slaw sit and marinate.

cilantro-lime yogurt sauce:

Makes enough for 8 tacos with some leftover

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Combine the greek yogurt, cilantro, lime juice and minced garlic into a small bowl and mix together until blended.  Refrigerate sauce until needed.  This sauce can be made earlier that day or a day in advance.Spoon a bit of the cilantro yogurt on each tortilla and then top it with the red cabbage slaw and about 2 to 3 shrimp.  We served this up with some homemade avocado and tomatillo salsa (recipe to follow) and some tortilla chips, yummy.  

We gave ourselves a night off from veggies :)

This was the perfect “welcome to spring” meal!

salmon with almond-lime yogurt sauce

salmon


Last week was a much-needed rest from the chaos of life.  It was a week full of sleeping in, cooking up new recipes, play dates for the kids (and me) and just all around relaxing.  It gave me a glimpse of what summer will be like, and I liked it! The only downer was that it was spring break and it felt like winter break.  Remember these pics from our February ski week?Well, there was none of that going on over this past week.  We were in our winter garb and raincoats until Saturday.  When I took this picture of the salmon above, the wind was gusting, it was 50 degrees and the parsley leaves were blowing everywhere (I took this photo outside on my deck).  This is the best shot I could get as I wanted a somewhat warm dinner.

Saturday gave us a taste of summer though as the sun came out and the temps climbed up to the low 70’s.   We opened up the grill in celebration and grilled up some amazing chipotle shrimp tacos (recipe to follow Thursday).  The kids played outside till it was dark and we even contemplated going to Sausalito for ice cream cones, but unfortunately we were to stuffed from dinner to make that trek.  I know, to stuffed for dessert, who are we?

This recipe is your basic salmon topped with an amazing sauce.  I use to eat all my seafood and meats plain with just a touch of salt and pepper but I have recently discovered sauces, and I like them.  Sauces make all the difference and can transform a simple dish into a gourmet dish.  Get ready as I have some amazing homemade sauces coming up in the next couple of weeks.  salmon with almond-lime yogurt sauce:

recipe from whole living magazine
yogurt sauce is enough for 4 salmon fillets

  • salmon fillets – the amount you will get will depend on how many people you’re feeding 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 small shallot, very thinly sliced
  • fresh herbs to top such as parsley, dill, mint or chervil - I used parsley as that is what I had in the house.  My girlfriend made this and used dill and loved it.

I actually made the sauce in the afternoon and refrigerated it, so it’s a great make-ahead sauce.  In a small saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat and add the almonds, stirring until they become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer almonds and oil to a small bowl to cool, then stir in the tablespoon lime juice and season with salt.  
 Mix in yogurt until fully combined.  Chill the sauce (covered) until ready to use.
Cook your salmon your favorite way.  We like to either grill our salmon or broil it.  I broiled it for this recipe as it was raining outside.  
 
To serve, dollop each fillet with the yogurt sauce and sprinkle with the diced shallots and herbs.
This is the perfect dish to serve up at dinner or brunch as the salmon tastes great hot or cold topped with this sauce.  You can make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it till needed.    Salmon is such a quick, healthy and easy weeknight meal to serve up.  
Do you broil, bake or grill your salmon?

lemon pesto, walnut pesto & basil pesto

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 Lemon Pesto
 Walnut Pesto
 Traditional Basil Pesto

Pesto, pesto, pesto, 3 cheers for pesto!  Pesto rocks!  Not only is pesto healthy, but it also has endless uses.  Top it over hot or cold pasta, throw it over some pizza dough and make yourself a green pesto pizza, spread it on some cold or grilled bread for a different take on garlic bread, top your favorite meat or fish with it.  You get where I’m going here, right?  Pesto is such a versatile sauce in the way it’s used and the way it’s made.  There is arugula pesto, parsley pesto, broccoli pesto (I have made this before and topped it on quinoa, that recipe later).

Have you ever made your own pesto before?  It’s super easy and so worth it.  If you do make it on your own, the great news is that pesto freezes exceptionally well, so you can make a big batch and store it for future use.  I usually make up 2 batches and then use one that week and freeze the other batch in a small glass container.


Below are 3 of my favorite go-to pesto recipes.  
If you’re looking for a dairy free one, try the walnut pesto.  
BTW, I don’t have a big food processor and have made all of these pestos in my mini-prep.

lemon pesto:

recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen
makes about 1 cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled   
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts 
  • zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons  
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 2 cups packed basil leaves 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese 
  • 2-4 tablespoons water to thin sauce 
This pesto is wonderful paired with this lentil meatball recipe.


Add the following ingredients into the bowl of a food processor:
2 peeled garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
zest and juice of 2 meyer lemons
1 teaspoon sea salt
Blend ingredients until smooth
Add in the 2 cups basil leaves and 1/2 cup olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
 Add 2-4 tablespoons of water to thin as desired. I used 4 tablespoons, as I like my pesto be a bit thinner.  This is optional of course. 
Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.

walnut pesto:

recipe adapted from Oprah
makes about 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
This pesto is wonderful paired with pasta with sausage and broccolini.

My favorite way to toast nuts is by using a dry skillet.  Some people like to toast them in the oven, but the frying pan seems to work better for me.  Heat a medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add walnuts to the hot,dry pan and cook, watching constantly and stirring frequently, until walnuts start to brown and smell toasted, about 5 minutes.  Let the walnuts cool.
Combine the following in the bowl of a food processor:
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 cups basil
garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt 

Process and, while motor is running, drizzle in 1/2 cup olive oil to form pesto; set aside.  Note:  If you don’t have a large food processor, like me, and only have a mini prep, then you can put all of the ingredients plus the 1/2 cup olive oil into the mini prep and whiz away.

traditional basil pesto:

recipe from How to Cook Everything
makes about 1 cup – enough for a pound of pasta

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 garlic clove, peeled, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts (not toasted)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more if desired
  • 1/4 fresh grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese – I used parmesan here and I add this to the pesto an hour before I am going to use it.

Combine the following in the bowl of a food processor or blender:
2 cups basil 
pinch of salt
 1/2 peeled garlic clove
 2 tablespoons pine nuts
half of the olive oil

Pulse away till you get a nice consistency making sure to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary, then add the rest of the oil gradually.  If you want a thinner mixture you can add more olive oil.  I thought that the 1/2 cup was plenty and the pesto had a perfect consistency.

Pour your pesto into a container and store in the fridge till needed.  Add the freshly grated parmesan an hour or so before you use it.  This pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two or in the freezer for several months. 
We are pesto lovers in my house.  We love it over cold or warm pasta and if were feeling carbed out we throw it on top of some quinoa pasta.  Pesto is what got my kids to try and love quinoa pasta as it masks the flavor of the quinoa noodles.  We always make sure to throw a veggie or two in the pesto pasta to make it a one-bowl meal.  Roasted cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli or broccolini tastes wonderful paired with pesto.  

Marin Mama’s popcorn

popcorn

My kids are on spring break this week and that means my popcorn popper is going to be working overtime. Vacation at the Grandy house means lots of movie nights, and movie nights are not complete without Marin mama’s famous popcorn, (at least that’s what my kids and their friends call my popocorn). In all seriousness, Zoe and Eli love and devour this popcorn, and they tell me that it’s the best popcorn they’ve ever tasted. I’ve actually been told by a number of people that I need to bag this popcorn and sell it. I decided that making and bagging this popcorn would take to much time and effort, so I’m just going to share my secret recipe with you.

I love my Whirly-Pop popcorn popper as shown below. It pops the best popcorn and my kids love cranking the handle. This popper gets used on a daily basis!

Marin Mama’s Popcorn:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil  – see my notes below on the different types of coconut oils
  • fine sea salt

Our favorite oils to use for popcorn are listed in order of preference below:

  • refined organic coconut oilThis oil gives the popcorn a nice crisp, light and fresh flavor.  Refined coconut oil does not have that coconut smell.
  • extra virgin coconut oilThis oil is unrefined and smells like an actual coconut.  If you want and like that buttery movie style popcorn then use this. It really does give the popcorn that buttery flavor.  We’re not big fans of buttered flavored popcorn, so we prefer using the refined oil.  

Ok, lets make some popcorn!

Put the 1/2 cup kernels and 2 tablespoons oil (coconut oil is solid, but will melt immediately once heated) into your kettle popper or whatever pan/utensil you use to make fresh popcorn.  
 
Turn up the heat to medium and slowly turn the handle till the popcorn is popped.  
Toss the popcorn into a large bowl & sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste. We like to sprinkle on some salt, then shake the bowl a bit and then sprinkle on some more salt.  You get the drill!

That’s all there is to it folks!We love to throw treats in our popcorn such as m&m’s, candy corn, (Eli’s favorite around Halloween) and twizzlers. The sweet mixed with the salty is a winning combination.

This popcorn is not just for movie nights, it’s also the perfect popcorn to pack for your child’s snack at school or to serve up as an afternoon snack.  I pack Zoe a container of this popcorn every day for her school snack, and believe me she only gets a handful, as it’s instantly consumed by the masses. Once you pop your own popcorn, you’ll never go back to the microwave stuff again. I guarantee it!

Marin Mama’s popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil - see my notes below on the different types of coconut oils
  • fine sea salt

Instructions

Our favorite oils to use for popcorn are listed in order of preference below:

refined organic coconut oil - This oil gives the popcorn a nice crisp, light and fresh flavor. Refined coconut oil does not have that coconut smell.

extra virgin coconut oil - This oil is unrefined and smells like an actual coconut. If you want and like that buttery movie style popcorn then use this. It really does give the popcorn that buttery flavor. We're not big fans of buttered flavored popcorn, so we prefer using the refined oil.

Ok, lets make some popcorn!

Put the 1/2 cup kernels and 2 tablespoons oil (coconut oil is solid but will melt immediately once heated) into your kettle popper or whatever pan/utensil you use to make fresh popcorn.

Turn up the heat to medium and slowly turn the handle till the popcorn is popped.

Toss the popcorn into a large bowl & sprinkle with sea salt to taste. We like to sprinkle on some salt, then shake the bowl a bit and then sprinkle on some more salt. You get the drill!

That's all there is to it folks!

We love to throw treats in our popcorn such as m&m's, candy corn, (Eli's favorite around Halloween) and twizzlers. The sweet mixed with the salty is a winning combination.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/04/marin-mamas-popcorn/

blueberry coffee cake

coffeecake

I am so excited today because I am going to Berkeley to meet my blogger friend Em!  Em and I started commenting on each others blogs about 3 months ago and we just clicked.  We actually wrote “real” comments on each other’s blogs instead of the usual, “yum, your dish looks great.”  Em is witty and funny and her posts always give me tons of information as well as a chuckle.  Her blog is full of nutritional facts (as she is a nutritionist) and delicious recipes, check it out here.  Em resides in London but recently moved back to Berkeley to study for a few months.  Perfect timing as far as I’m concerned.  I promise to take pics!  Em, is that OK with you?  You better put something cute on, just kidding.

Anyway lets move onto to this scrumptious recipe.  This is my go-to Easter brunch cake.  I have been making this cake for the past 5 years and it has become an Easter hit!  When I get invited to the Fisher’s for brunch each year, the one request I get is to be sure to bring this cake.  I am beginning to think that it’s actually the cake that is invited to brunch and not me.  Hmmmm….

You don’t have to save this cake for Easter brunch, as it’s a great cake for any occasion.  I often make this up to enjoy on a lazy weekend with a nice strong cup of coffee.  This cake goes quickly so make sure to grab yourself a slice before the crowd dives in.

blueberry coffee cake:

recipe from Celebrate!

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces – You will use 10 tablespoons for the cake. Make sure to place the remaining 2 tablespoons in the fridge till you make the topping.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • Optional – confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Combine the following into a large bowl:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons cold butterMix up the ingredients with either a pasty blender or an electric mixer until it resembles coarse meal.  

I actually used a pasty blender to break down the butter and then used my electric mixer to combine it all.  Remove 1 cup of this mixture from the bowl and set aside for the topping.Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder to the remaining mixture in the bowl and stir to combine.

With the mixer running on low, mix in the 3/4 cup buttermilk until combined.
The batter will be a bit thick at this point.Once the buttermilk is combined, add in the egg and the 1 teaspoon vanilla; mix the ingredients together until combined.

Mix the batter for 1 minute on high speed to aerate the batter.

See how much lighter the batter got after adding the egg and vanilla? Fold in the blueberries, using a rubber spatula.Mmmmm, I just love fresh blueberries.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to flatten the top and make things even.Place the reserved 1 cup topping mixture into a bowl and add the 1/4 cup brown sugar and the 2 remaining tablespoons of cold butter.  Mix with a pastry blender or your fingertips until crumbly.

Tip:  Make sure that you get the 2 tablespoons of butter out from the fridge right before you are going to use it.  You want your butter to be cold for this step.Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the cake batter.Bake the cake until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.Allow the cake to cook in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

Then carefully remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cake on a serving plate.
Throw on some confectioners’ sugar if you want to make it look fancy.
I usually do this last step, but I forgot to today!   Pour yourself a nice dark cup of coffee, sit back, read the Sunday paper or your favorite blog and just relax!

Bring this coffee cake to any brunch and you will be sure to be invited back!

kale salad with tahini & lemon dressing

kaletahini

Last week was so much fun!  I received so many positive emails, phone calls & comments from friends and people in my local and not-so-local community regarding my article in the Marin IJ.  It was wonderful to interact with everyone and hear what their favorite recipes were and such.  What started out as a mere hobby for me is really turning into so much more.  This blog is opening so many unique doors and introducing me to so many wonderful people.  So for those of you come by each week to check out my blog, thank you!  You are all inspiring me to keep this blog going and to keep trying new recipes! 


So, since I’m known as the kale obsessed Marin Mama, I thought I would share with you another, yes another, kale salad recipe.  This kale salad actually incorporates some other vegetables, so it’s more of a chopped crunchy kale salad.  You’re not just getting the benefits of kale here, you’re getting tons of other nutrients from all the other veggies along with the hemp seeds and walnuts.  This is a nutritional power packed salad.  Move over mixed greens, there’s a new lettuce in town and it’s called kale! 


Note:  You can add more or less of the ingredients below or add anything additional that you like to this salad to make it your own.  Salads are really great that way.


kale salad with tahini & lemon dressing:

recipe from Oh She Glows
serves 4 (or 2 in my case)
  • 1 bunch/head of kale - I used lactinato, but use whatever variety you want
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped or grated
  • 1/2 english cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 avocado – I always chop up the avocado right before serving so it stays fresh
  • 1/4 cup chopped grape or heirlom tomatoes
  • handful of chopped walnuts or any nut of your choice 
  • optional – handful of hemp seed - I liked this addition to the salad, but John was not a fan
Below are the ingredients you will need for the actual salad (oops, I forgot the to add the tomatoes here).   I did not waste any veggies here. The kids ate the rest of the red pepper, cucumber and avocado.  I even sliced up some cucumber for our water.
Your most likely asking the question, what exactly is hemp seed?  Below is a photo of the hemp seed I purchased.  You can find hemp seed at most grocery stores.  Hemp seeds are a great source of protein and omegas and they add a nice nutty flavor to the salad.
First things first, wash and chop up the veggies (I actually save the avocado and slice it just before serving the salad) and throw them into a mixing or salad bowl.  Wash, de-stem and slice up the kale (if you want to know how to de-stem and slice kale click here for a tutorial).  
Reserve the hemp seed and walnuts for sprinkling on top at the end.

Tahini Lemon Dressing:

recipe from Oh She Glows
makes under 1 cup of dressing

  • 1/4 cup Tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons or 3-4 small lemons)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast – see comment below
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons water


You can pick up nutritional yeast in the bulk section of most grocery stores (Wendy & Amanda, you can borrow some of mine to try as well as the hemp seeds).  I know Bob’s Red Mill makes one that is carried locally at Trader Joes, Albertsons, Mollie Stones, Good Earth  & Whole foods.  Nutritional yeast has a pleasant nutty-cheesy flavor and is packed with protein and B vitamins.  It comes in flakes or powder form.  I actually use it quite often to top my popcorn.  Hey, it is nutritional so why not add it where you can.

This is an easy dressing to make, just throw all the above ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth.
Add the dressing to the salad and mix and massage the kale until thoroughly combined.  
Note:  I did not add the whole batch of dressing; I just poured in a bit and then mixed it around and added more to taste, as I don’t like tons of dressing on my salad.
Store any of the leftover dressing in sealed jar and use it to top whatever else you want.
Place the salad in the fridge to ‘marinate’ for 10-15 minutes or longer.  I actually made this salad in the day and served it up for dinner (for John and I of course, as my kids would not like this).  If you are going to keep in the fridge for more than an hour then put it into a sealed container.This the perfect salad to have on a warm spring night.  Pair it up with some nann bread or top it with some grilled chicken and you have yourself a delicious dinner.
Have you noticed my new recipe link at the top?  Check it out!  I have all my recipes categorized (kale even has its own category).  Can you believe that I have posted 93 recipes thus far, I can’t?  I am sure you will find some new favorites to add to your recipe box.