Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for September 30th

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Today I thought I would share with you 10 random facts about myself.  There really is no rhyme or reason to any of the below facts, just a small sampling of who I am.   
  • I actually like to clean.  I’m not saying I’m a big fan of cleaning the toilets or bathrooms, but I like to vacumn dust and organize.  It calms and centers me when my house and space is organized.
  • I make my bed every day.
  • I’m not a computer person, strange coming from a blogger, right?  Being on the computer for more than an hour at a time drains me.  I need people, interaction and nature.
  • I really wasn’t a fan of vegetables until about 8 years ago.  Of course I ate them, but I begrudgingly did so.  I realized when I had kids that I better learn how to eat them without cringing, (what kind of an example would I be) so I finally learned how to cook them so they tasted good, and now of course, I love them!
  • I never tried kale until a year ago.  Yes, the kale obsessed mama was not kale obsessed a year ago.  Hmmmm, what was I obsessed with?  Oh yes, it was arugula salads. What’s next, bok choy?  
  • I hate figuring out what to wear everyday. I honestly wish I had someone, like Andie, that could lay out an outfit for me each day (a cute one preferably).
  • These are the cities that I have lived in; Scotia, NY, Bristol, RI, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, MN.  I now reside in Marin County, which is 10 minutes north of San Francisco.  
  • One place I would love to visit is Europe. I have never been, and would love to change that.
  • I have eaten the same breakfast practically everyday since I was 17.  Grape nuts topped with something like granola, go-lean crunch, plain cheerios, you get it. I change up what I top my grape nuts with, but the base is the same. I also have a cup of coffee, but I added that addition after college.  
  • I have never gone to bed without washing my face or brushing my teeth.  Seriously, even on those crazy college nights.

There are of course, many more aspects to who I am, but I will leave you with those and share more later.  Let’s move on with this week’s weekly menu.

 Disclaimer:  I did not make the pizza this past Friday night.  I was a rebel and went astray from the weekly menu.  The day got busy and I was fighting a cold, so we went to our favorite kitchen away from home, DJ’s.  I loved it though because I ran into so many friends (Andie and Mike) and familiar faces that night. Sometimes its good to get out of the house.

Speaking of getting out of the house.  We got out of the house for dinner last night, literally, as it was 81 degrees and absolutely gorgeous.  We had a busy day of soccer, so John picked up a pepperoni pizza (the kids requested this as I jipped them of pizza the night before) on his way home, and I made up some miso kale salad with tofu, and we had dinner on the front lawn. The kids asked why we didn’t do this more often, and I said, “We’re doing it now, so lets be present and enjoy the night.”  We played outside till it got dark.  It was the perfect night as we we’re all together and present with one another.
Tuesday:  Leftovers night!  Beer-braised chicken verde tacos and sliced red pepper and carrots.
Thursday:  Take out night!  
Friday:  Deep dish pepperoni pizza and caesar salad.  Since I never made that pizza last week, I thought I would give it a try this week.  
 
I don’t know what it was about last week, but I baked up a storm.  I made 3 batches of popovers because they’re so easy, and are the perfect snack for the kids to bring to school or have for breakfast topped with some jam.
 I baked a batch of these sugar-crusted popovers on Saturday morning.  Huge hit!
 I whipped up my kid’s favorite chocolate chip pumpkin bundt bread for an after school snack.  The kids both had a playdate that day so half of it was gone by 4:00.
I also tried a new and larger skillet cookie (12-inch) with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I have to tweak the cooking time, so I will post it soon.  
 If you’re craving a skillet cookie, here’s the 10-inch skillet version.  It’s so good!
I still plan on baking this week, but we don’t want to and can’t eat it all.  Any takers?
 
You can click here to see older weekly menus.

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beansDon’t judge this pasta by the above photo.  This pasta tastes much better than it looks. Trust me!  I have made it 3 times so far, and it’s been a hit each time.  Eli’s words the other night, “mmmmm, this is just so good.”  That’s all I needed to hear.

This pasta is one of those super easy, weeknight throw together pastas. I prepared it and had it on the table in under 30 minutes. It’s also a one-bowl meal, which makes it even better. Another thing I love about this pasta is that the green beans cook with the pasta.  You just throw them in for the last 3 minutes with the pasta and drain them both together.  LOVE IT!  If green beans aren’t in season, I use broccolini or broccoli rabe in place of the green beans.  I just cook the broccoli rabe for the last two minutes with the pasta, as brocooli rabe tends to cook faster.

I went easy on myself and bought the pesto. Yes, even Marin mama cuts corners on dinner.  Paradise Foods has the best pesto, and sometimes (a lot of the time) I don’t feel like making my own, so I just buy theirs.  I do have some great pesto recipes that would work well with this pasta. If you’re up for making your own, you could try my basil pesto and even my walnut pesto. Both of them would be great additions, but I’m assuming that most of you will go the store bought route for your pesto, so go for it!  We can’t be Martha all the time, right?  Sometimes you have to weigh the pros and cons.  Do I want to make some brownies or pesto, hmmm, difficult choice there, mmmm, not really.

orecchiette pasta with pesto, sausage and green beans:

recipe adapted from Real Simple
  • 1 box of orecchiette pasta
  • large bunch of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces –  I never measure out my vegetables.  I go vegetable heavy, as we could all use more veggies in our diet. Just grab yourself a big handful or two, and call it a day.  I use baby broccoli or broccoli rabe if green beans are not in season.
  • 4 italian, turkey or chicken sausage links or 3/4 pound of ground sausage – I used classic italian style sausages 
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto - I used 1/2 cup as we love pesto.
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • splash of olive oil
Wash and trim your green beans into 1-inch pieces.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.  While the pasta water is cooking, cook up your sausages.  You can either grill them or sauté them in a pan. The grill master was not home, so I cooked mine in the skillet.  Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat, (if your pan seems dry, add more oil) add the sausages and cook, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Let the sausages cool a bit and then slice them into thin slices.Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking time.  If you’re using broccolini or broccoli rabe then add them in for the last minute of cooking time.  

I loved this step because it was all done in one pot at the same time!  How efficient!  Reserve a cup of the pasta water.

I put this part in, but I tend not to use to much pasta water as it makes my sauce to watery.  I also don’t shake my pasta out when I drain it.  I drain it and then immediately return it to the pot, so there is always some extra water there anyway.

Drain the pasta and green beans together and return them to the pot.  Add the sausage, pesto, parmesan and some of the reserved cooking water to the pasta, and toss to combine.  Add more cooking water if the pasta seems dry.Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top them with some fresh parmesan.

I make sure that each bowl gets a good amount of green beans. This is a pantry pasta, so you could really just throw in just about any vegetable.  Frozen green peas, broccolini, broccoli, asparagus and spinach are some good choices.

Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for September 23rd

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Are any of you parents as exhausted as I am?  September has just been non-stop, and I was so exhausted on Friday that I actually fell asleep on the couch at 7:45 (I’m such a party girl).  I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.  I did force myself to wake up from my little catnap at 8:30, as I knew if I stayed asleep that I would be up at 1:00 in the morning.  I also had to stay awake as Zoe was out at a birthday party, and didn’t get home till 11:00 (gasp).  John and I had our first glimpse of what it’s going to be like waiting up for a teenager and I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet. I’m such an early to bed kind of gal (not 7:45 early) and don’t know if I’m going to be able to stay up and wait for the kids to come home. Any parents of teens out there have some tips?  Do I start drinking coffee in the evenings? I know wine is not the answer, as it puts me to sleep.  I guess I still have a few years to practice, right? Please let the years go slowly, as I’m in no rush for the kids to grow up.  
 
You’re probably wondering what those strange looking things are in the above photo.  Those are the sugar crusted popovers that I baked for the kids yesterday morning.  I got up early to get the eggs to room temp, (pretty easy to get up early when you go to bed at 7:45) but it was well worth it, as the kids were super psyched when they got up and smelled these puppies in the oven. They have been begging me to make them for months, so I finally sucked it up and made them.  Let me just tell you that I did not hear a peep from them while they were eating these, it was so silent that you could literally hear a pin drop.  Make these for your kids, I promise you they will LOVE them.  They taste like donuts, but are better and way easier.  You don’t even need a popover pan, you can use a standard muffin pan. 

I have a few things on this week’s menu that I haven’t posted yet, but I promise I will post them soon.  It’s officially fall, so you will most likely see some sort of soup in our weekly dinner menu. Soups are the perfect weekday meal because you can make them ahead of time and use them that week or freeze them for later.  I’m making tons of the Heirloom soup now, as I want to freeze batches for the winter.  Another one of my favorite fall soups is my roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Red peppers are all over the place now, so it’s the perfect time to enjoy them.

Monday: heirloom tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Tuesday:  New recipe!  Pesto orecchiette with sausage and green beans.
Look for the recipe this week!
 Wednesday:  Chicken with shallots, popovers and roasted cauliflower.
My kids have been begging for this meal, as it has 3 of their favorite things. 
This is a kid approved (10+) and favorite meal among friends as well. I make this meal a lot when I have the kid’s friends over. 
Thursday:  Crazy Thursday!  Take out night!
Friday: Deep-dish pepperoni pizza (photo and recipe soon) & kale salad with tahini & lemon dressing.  
I hope you all have a restful and blissful Sunday. 
Stay tuned this week for the orecchiette with sausage recipe.  It’s a kid approved and easy weeknight meal.  

how to make a “mean green juice” without a juicer

mean green juice without a juicer

So, there’s this new juice bar that just opened in Corte Madera for all you locals called, Juice Alley.  It’s an amazing little juice bar that has tons of different organic juice concoctions, vegan snacks and bars. I’m so excited as I love green juices and I also love that it’s right next to my gym.  What a great and healthy treat to pick up after a hard workout, right?  So, I tried their kale and ginger juice.  Let me just tell you that it was amazing and the ginger just popped in my mouth. I knew I was going to have to figure out how to replicate it at home, as this daily juice thing was going to turn into a pricy habit.  I googled the ingredients, and of course, there were 100 different recipes.

So here I was looking to juice, but I didn’t own a juicer.  I didn’t let that stop me though, so again, I went on the Internet and googled, “how to juice without a juicer,” and I found exactly what I was looking for. OK, honestly, what did we do before the Internet?  I really can’t seem to recall how I found information.  Did I actually go to the library and look through encyclopedias for questions such as this?  I really don’t remember, and I feel like we were in the dark on a lot of things. I can only imagine what science is going to create next that will make the Internet seem obsolete like encyclopedias.

Getting back on topic here, basically if you have a blender, you can juice. Yes, you can, trust me. You don’t have to just drink smoothies or pulpy concoctions. You can drink a smooth and refreshing juice.  All you need is a blender and this handy little bag, called a jelly strainer bag.  You can find these at most kitchen or hardware stores that sell kitchen appliances.  I picked mine up at the local Ace Hardware in Larkspur, for those of you that are local.  They cost $ 4.99 for 2 bags.  BTW, don’t get the metal contraption that is sold with some of the bags, just buy the bags.

To clean the bags, just use some dish soap and rub the bag together till it’s clean and all the soap is off the bag. Then place the bag on top of a glass or something similar to air dry.  These bags should last quite a while.  I have used my 10x already and it still looks new.  
mean green juice without a juicer

how to make a “mean green juice” without a juicer:

recipe adapted from reboot your life
makes 22 ounces
printer friendly recipe

  • 6 to 8 kale leaves, washed and de-stemmed – I used 8 leaves and used lacinato/dinasour kale because it’s not as bitter tasting as curly kale, but you can use any kind of kale.
  • 2 green apples – cored and cut into chunks – There were not any organic granny smith apples, so I picked up some Mutsu apples, and they were perfect.
  • 3 – 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks – I used 3 stalks
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled –  I love ginger and think it adds a pop of flavor to the juice, so I put in quite a bit.  If you’re not a big fan of ginger, than start out with a smaller piece, say 1/2-inch to 1-inch piece.
  • 1/2 lemon – peeled, but you can leave on the white pith
  • 1 cucumber peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup filtered water

Below are the ingredients before they’re prepped.Here’s how the ingredients will look after they’re prepped.To peel ginger, just take a spoon and gently scrape off the skin from top to bottom.  The skin is thin, so minimal effort is required.Pour 1 cup of water into your blender.  Add in the chopped apple, chopped celery, chopped cucumber and peeled lemon, and blend away till liquified.  Add in the ginger and the de-stemmed kale leaves and puree till smooth.
Take your jelly bag and wrap it over a large measuring cup or bowl.

Pour your juice into the jelly bag.

Don’t worry if your bag slides off the bowl, you just want to make sure that your juice goes in the bag. You can aways hold it open with one hand while pouring with your other hand.Once all the juice is poured into the bag, remove the bag from the measuring cup or bowl and gently twist the top of the bag closed.  Slowly twist the bag so the juice escapes.  Keep twisting and squeezing the bag until all of the juice is released.

WARNING:  Ugly hand pictures below!Look at all that pulp that was left in the bag.  It’s a beautiful color, but not something I want to be drinking.  It actually looks like moss, doesn’t it.

My compost was very happy to receive all that pulp.
Pour the juice into a large glass, canning jar or Lifefactory bottle, and refrigerate it, as it will be a bit warm.  I was anxious to drink my juice, so I threw it in the freezer for a few minutes to cool.
Make sure you shake it (if you have a glass with a lid) or stir it before you drink it, as some of the juice will settle.
It helps to have a glass or bottle with a lid so you can shake your juice when it settles.
It’s recommended that you drink the juice the day you make it.  It really goes down easy and tastes great. It actually tastes sort of sweet and citrusy, at least to me.  What’s great about juicing is that you’re in control of the ingredients. You can add to or delete any of the ingredients you wish.  My friend Yvonne loves the taste of celery in her juice, so she adds more celery and less ginger, as she’s not a fan of ginger.
I do recommend you try it with the 2-inch piece of ginger sometime.  I’m not a huge fan of ginger, as it reminds me of my early pregnancy days, but that first juice from Juice Alley was packed with ginger and that flavor stuck with me.  The original “mean green juice” recipe called for a teaspoon of ginger, but when I tried the juice, it just didn’t have that “wow” factor I was looking for, so I added more ginger and I got the “wow” factor.
mean green juice without a juicer
Ok, I really want to know how many of you are actually going to buy the bags and make the juice?  I had lunch with my friend Andie yesterday and she asked what this new juicing contraption was that went with my vitamix.  I excitedly told her about the bags and she said, “Oh, I think I’ll just stick with my juices from the Bay Club and save myself the work.” I had to laugh at that statement because honestly, it’s what most people will do!  I love you Andie.
Do you like to juice?  If so, then you have to try my carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice.
carrot, grapefruit and ginger juice, no juicer required
Happy juicing everyone!

crispy & easy garlic bread

crispy and easy garlic bread
crispy and easy garlic bread

I honestly love where I live.  I just dropped off some of our favorite chocolate chip cookies to Zoe’s locker at school, as she has a reunion party with one of her favorite 6th grade teachers today.  As I was driving home, I just felt a sense of gratefulness, pride and love for where I live. There’s such a sense of community here, and everywhere I go, I always run into a familiar or friendly face.  It’s small town living, and I love it!

Anyway, I just thought I would share that with you all!  So, I’m in the process of planning out my weekly menu for next week, (which I posted for you on Sunday) and I put garlic bread on the menu.  I realized that I haven’t shared with you our favorite garlic bread recipe, lame, I know. This garlic bread is easy, crispy and tastes so darn good.  Garlic bread is the perfect accompaniment to any pasta, especially a saucy one. If you want to stretch a pasta meal into two nights, garlic bread helps you do that.  You can double the recipe to feed a crowd or add more garlic or less depending on how garlicky you like your bread.

In my old garlic bread making days I used butter and garlic salt.  One time I put too much garlic salt on the bread and it was so bitter that I swore it off from then on.  I’m happy I made the switch to the real stuff, as you can taste fresh garlic in every bite, but in a good way.  So move over garlic salt and say hello to the fresh stuff.

crispy garlic bread:

recipe from Everyday Food
serves 8
printer friendly recipe

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened – at room temp 
  • coarse salt
  • 1 loaf of italian bread (or your favorite crusty bread), halved lengthwise  

Note:  When I’m feeding my family, I only use 1/2 a loaf of bread.  I save the other half for the next night as well as half the garlic butter.  I just refrigerate the butter till the next day and take it out about an hour before I bake the bread to make it easier to spread.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel the garlic cloves.  Fill a small pan with water and bring it to a boil.  Add the garlic cloves to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon, and finely chop.In a small bowl, mix the chopped garlic with the butter and season to taste with coarse salt. Spread the butter mixture on cut sides of bread.Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sandwich both halves together and bake until the bread is crusty and the butter has melted, about 10 minutes.Slice it up and serve it up alongside your favorite pasta.  Throw on some fresh parsley for some color if you wish.Tip: I place a cutting board on the bottom of my sink and slice the bread there so I don’t get crumbs everywhere.  I know I’m a bit anal, but it’s nice not to be stepping on crumbs for the next week.    

Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for September 16th

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Last week I was a crazy cooking mama. I was trying all sorts of new recipes, some were successes, and some were destined for the compost (aka, my tofu and kale salad).  I also baked our favorite chocolate chip cookies for a celebration at Zoe’s school, as well as cooked up a skillet cookie for dessert.  Needless to say, I am “cookied out” this week. 

So, you might notice that Thursday has moved from leftover night to take out night.  I have really tried to make it a leftover night, but I’m literally in the car from 3:30 till 7:00 shuffling the kids around from one activity to the next. Eli eats dinner first at 5:00 before his soccer practice.  His choice is to hit Stefano’s with a buddy or two and grab a quick slice of pizza, done!  Zoe prefers a healthier dinner fare after her dance class, as well as I, so depending on time, we will either hit Sol Food, which is right next to her dance studio, or Cafe Del Soul, which is near Eli’s soccer practice.  On Thursdays I am literally a chauffeur, and it’s ok.  It’s part of being a mom, and honestly I love it. I savor the one-on-one time I get with the kids and the chaos that surrounds the evening.  I also know that I will miss this all this activity when the kids are out of the house, so I try to appreciate and relish in the chaos now. 
I’m giving you a bonus this week and adding in what we’re eating for dessert.  Mmmmm, I can’t wait, as I love these brownies.

Tuesday:  Leftover night!  Summer garden pasta and garlic bread..
Thursday:  Take out night!  
Friday:  Leftover night!  Enchiladas with pumpkin sauce & mixed green salad.
Here’s a preview of what’s to come this week:
Tuesday:  Easy and crunchy garlic bread.
 Thursday:  How to make juice without a juicer.  
What’s in this juice?  Kale, ginger, lemon, apple & celery.

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basilHere’s an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will enjoy, and the best part is that you can have it on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Yes, you heard me right, dinner in under 30 minutes. What mom or dad doesn’t like that?  Another great thing about this pasta is that it’s made with fresh and whole ingredients, so you can feel good about feeding your family a quick and easy dinner.

The heirloom tomatoes topped with parmesan and mozzarella taste like mini pizzas, but without the crust.  My kids even begged for thirds on the tomatoes.  I used heirloom tomatoes, but you can also use beefsteak, roma or vine-ripe tomatoes, whatever tomato strikes your fancy.

These tomatoes would also make a great side dish or appetizer.  I think they would even taste great topped on a pizza crust with some pesto or olive oil as the base sauce.  OK, I think I just created a new recipe for pizza Friday.  I love when that happens!

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil

spaghetti with cheesy broiled tomatoes and basil:

recipe adapted from real simple
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2-3 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - If your kids are not fans of spicy things, than I would go with the 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or julienned, plus more for serving
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
While your pasta is cooking, turn on your broiler and slice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet and arrange the tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle each tomato slice with the following ingredients in the following order:
  • salt 
  • pepper -you don’t have to add this to the kid’s tomato slices
  • grated parmesan 
  • mozzarella cheese

I would top each one with an even amount of both cheeses.  
Why not get the kids involved and have them top their tomatoes with the cheese, its like topping a pizza.  Its fun and gets them excited to eat tomatoes.

Broil the tomatoes until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t these tomatoes look insanely good?

In a small saucepan or sauté pan, heat the 3 tablespoons oil with the chopped garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.Add the garlic oil, 1/4 cup torn or julienned basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper to the cooked pasta and toss to combine.  Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top each bowl of pasta with the cheesy tomatoes, some fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese.

The tomatoes are filling, so 2 tomato slices per bowl is plenty, but you may want a third, and that’s ok.That’s it folks.  How easy was that to throw together?  If you’re making this into a two-nighter meal, then you will want to make up some fresh cheesy tomatoes the next night.  I served this pasta up two nights in a row. It was super simple, as I just had to throw the tomatoes together while the pasta was re-heating. 

If your kids love pizza and pasta, then they will love this recipe.  

Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for September 9th

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See that tofu and chickpea dish in the above photo?  It looks great, right?  Well, it wasn’t, it was truly a dish fit for the compost. I went to Cafe Gratitude on Friday to say goodbye to my friend Em, as she is heading back to London.  We had a great lunch and we talked about food, blogging and photography, basically all the things that food bloggers like to chat about.  Anyway, I had the best lunch ever.  I was so inspired by my lunch that I came home and immediately cooked up this warm tofu, chickpea and kale dish for dinner. I was so disappointed when I took my first bite.  It just didn’t gel and the flavors were off.  Don’t you hate when that happens?  I think it was the universe’s way of telling me to take a night off from the kitchen. 

I want you to know that as I write this post I’m eating the biggest piece of chocolate cake ever from Susie Cakes. When they give you a cake slice, they literally give you a ¼ of the cake.  It’s definitely a two or three nighter piece. It’s taking all my will power to put the fork down and close the lid.  
This weekly menu is just for Monday through Friday, as John is cooking up dinner tonight and surprising me.  I basically have the day off, yaay!  If you want to take a look at the past two week’s menus, click on the photo link on my sidebar and it will take you directly to them.  Enjoy!
 

Monday:  Heirloom tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday:  Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos, nachos and some sort of salad (not sure yet).
Thursday:  Leftover night.  Paul McCartney’s refried bean tacos or make your own sandwich, and fresh cut red pepper, cucumber and carrots.

Friday:  Family pizza night.  Sausage and arugula skillet pizza
Stay tuned for Tuesday as I have an easy and family approved recipe, spaghetti with cheesy heirloom tomatoes. It’s so good and super easy to whip up.  

heirloom tomato soup

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)-3

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)-3Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had one of those dishes that stands out so much that you remember it and crave it years later?  Well, this soup is one of those dishes.  My girlfriends and I went to Calistoga for a girls weekend a few years back, and we stayed at the Solage resort in Calistoga.  It was such a luxurious and fun filled weekend.  The resort’s restaurant, Solbar, is amazing.  Everything on its menu is seasonal, local, organic and scrumptious.  We all had a cup of this soup and our taste buds were in heaven. We all kept commenting that we couldn’t believe there wasn’t any cream in the soup, because it tasted so creamy.

I have been searching for this recipe and thanks to Pinterest, I found it.  How strange and lucky is that? Someone had actually pinned a copy of this recipe.  Anyway, I found it and re-created it. Some of the instructions were a bit confusing, so I asked my brother-in-law (he’s a chef) to sort it out for me, and I simplified it for you all.

This soup is vegan, pure and made with such simple and fresh ingredients. It’s creamy without the cream, and it honestly doesn’t taste like your typical tomato soup, as its sweeter and not acidic.  The only downside with this soup is that it’s a seasonal soup. Heirloom tomatoes are typically in season from August through the end of October, so I recommend making this soup now, and freezing a couple of batches for the winter.

heirloom tomato soup (1 of 1)

heirloom tomato soup:

recipe slightly adapted from Solbar at Solage Resort
makes 6 portions
printer friendly version

  • 1 yellow onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided - you will use 1/4 cup twice in the recipe
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 springs of fresh marjoram or fresh oregano - I couldn’t find fresh marjoram so I used oregano, as it’s a similar tasting herb
  • 2 garlic cloves, microplaned – see how to microplane garlic below in post
  • 5 overripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and large chunked
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Prep all your ingredients.  Wash your herbs, chop up your onion, peel your garlic and core your tomatoes.

Not sure how to core a tomato? Check out the step-by-step photos below. Pretty simple, right?  Below are how your tomatoes should look when they are all cored.Chop up your tomatoes into large chunks.Take your bunch of basil, your 4 sprigs of thyme and 4 sprigs of oregano or marjoram, and tie them up together with some kitchen twine.  

I would actually loop the twine around a few more times than I did, and tie it in a tighter knot.The recipe asks for the garlic to be microplaned.  To microplane garlic, all you need to do is get a cheese grater and rub the peeled garlic against it to grate it.Heat 1/4 cup olive oil, the diced onion and herb bunch in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium low heat, until the onion is soft, tender and translucent, but not browned.

You’re basically sweating the onion here.
Here’s a photo of the softened onions and herbs.
You can see that I should have tied my herbs together better.Stir in the garlic and quickly add the tomatoes and 1/2 tablespoon of salt.Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down.  Make sure you occasionally stir the tomatoes.

Remove the herbs.  Stir in the 1-teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and the 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Turn off the heat.
Puree the soup either using a hand held immersion blender or a regular blender.If you’re using a blender, return the soup to the pot after your puree it.

Keep warm until ready to serve.  Below is the finished product, doesn’t it look yummy?John and the kids rated this soup a 10+ and Zoe begged me to serve it to her for lunch the next day.  I packed some for her along with a popover and some fruit.This tomato soup is a bit sweeter than my creamless tomato soup, and tastes so fresh, because honestly all the ingredients are fresh.  You will also have to convince yourself and your guests that there is no cream in this soup, because it tastes so creamy.

My kids were never big soup fans till I started cooking them more. I think it takes a while for kids to get use to soups.  Soups are one of those dishes that look intimidating, but honestly, they are one of the easiest dishes to make.  I paired this soup for lunch the next day with half of a bagel topped with cream cheese and an heirloom tomato.  It was delish!I served it another day with a beet and kale salad.

This soup pairs well with just about anything.

Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for September 3rd

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This menu is a day late, but it’s Labor Day weekend and therefore not your typical week, so I’m counting today as Sunday.  I’m proud to say that I stuck last week’s weekly menu, and it really made my life easier.  I spent way less time at the grocery store, and I seriously think I gained an extra hour each day because I was not looking through cookbooks, blogs or magazines fretting about what to cook for dinner.  I honestly suggest to you all to get a weekly menu in place, as it will make your life easier.

 
This is the week where all my kids’ activities begin to ramp up, so goodbye to ease and relaxation, and hello craziness.  This week’s menu is pretty boring, as were having a bunch of two-night meals.  I need to get in the groove of the new schedule and these meals below are all make-ahead meals, and ones I don’t have to fuss with.
 
Thursday is going to be my crazy night till November.  I may even omit cooking for this day, as both kids have activities back to back, and they are both going to be eating dinner at two different times.  Major chaos.  I will attempt to have something easy that I can either heat up quickly for them, or I may just make it a sandwich or burrito night.  
Monday: Cilantro lime chicken tacos with mango avocado salsa and mixed green salad.
This is an easy two-nighter dinner for us, and mangos are so good right now. 
Tuesday: Leftovers – Cilantro lime chicken tacos and mixed green salad.

Wednesday: Cheesy baked tortellini pasta and fresh cut carrots and red pepper.
I’m using Dave’s gourmet pasta sauce here, not homemade marina this week, as sometimes you have to cut the corners when life gets busy. 
Thursday:  The kids are having leftovers of the tortellini pasta and fresh cut carrots and red pepper.
Thursday:  John and I are having miso kale salad with miso roasted tofu and whole wheat naan bread.
Friday: Family pizza night!  Roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza and kid friendly Caesar salad – (recipe soon)
Stay tuned for Wednesday, as I have an amazing heirloom tomato soup to share with you.