Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for October 28th

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I want to start off by saying THANK YOU to all of you for all the amazing comments and emails last week celebrating my blog’s first birthday. It was so nice to hear all your positive comments, and I savored each and every one of them, so thanks for taking the time to jot down a few words. I spent much of last week in the kitchen cooking up some new and not so new recipes. It was rainy and cool so I was content just puttering around the kitchen. I tried a new cupcake recipe on Sunday to bring to our friend’s house. Zoe, the videographer, videotaped the whole process, so we will feature the video along with the recipe. We had such a great time cooking, photographing and videotaping it all. I love working on blog stuff with the kids. Eli came in to lend a hand sampling it all.  He had to test each step, just to be sure it was blog worthy.  Cute little guy! Here’s a sneak peak at the cupcakes. They are dark chocolate cupcakes with a creamy chocolate frosting.  The frosting is light and airy so it compliments the richness of the cupcakes. 

Happy first birthday to Marin mama cooks

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Hip Hip Hooray!  It’s Marin Mama Cook’s 1-year celebration. Can you believe that this blog has only been alive for a year? I can’t, because honestly this blog has become such a huge part of my life and has really transformed me. I now have a hobby and passion that I adore.  This post is going to be a bit long, so grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and settle in.

Why did I start a blog? 

Yes, why did I start this exhausting hobby, I often ask myself this question.  A year ago I struggled with finding a passion, something creative that I could do while the kids were in school. I thought about going back to school, getting a part-time job or possibly getting back into interior design. All of those options sounded great, but I wasn’t really passionate about any of them, and going back to school would mean that I would be compromising my job at home. I was envious of people who got out of bed with a passion for the day. They just had that extra spark because they were doing something that excited them and brought them joy. I loved reading blogs and secretly wanted to have a blog of my own, but wasn’t sure I was ready to put myself out there, and I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to blog about. One day I got up and decided to create a cooking blog for my friends and family with all of my favorite recipes. A cooking blog seemed like a natural fit, as I was always cooking up something new, and my friends would often ask me to email them the recipe. I thought, why not take some photos, write out some recipes, and have my friends and family just come to my blog to get a recipe. It would be way easier than emailing them all separately. So, I had a blog idea and now I just needed a name. All of the sudden, the name Marin Mama Cooks came into my mind.  I LOVED it and it was a perfect fit.  I’m a mom who cooks and I live in Marin. It couldn’t get any easier than that, right? At first, I posted about 3-4 times a week. I had so many recipes that I loved and I wanted to get them out there.  I soon learned that I needed to set some limits, as posting 3-4 times a week was not something I could maintain if I wanted to have a quality blog and basically a quality of life.  I slowly worked down to posting 2 times a week and I feel like that is the perfect amount for me.  

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for October 21st

weekly menu for october

Last week was unseasonably hot, (near 90 most afternoons) so I ended up not making the chicken Parmesan, as I did not want to heat up the kitchen. It was basically a week of sandwiches and salads. I really should check the weather forecast before I plan my weekly menu, don’t you think? Anyway, I made this delicious egg salad sandwich on Monday, (which I will post soon) as well as whipped us up a batch of curried chicken salad. It felt like summer cooking in October.  

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deep-dish pepperoni pizza

deep-dish pepperoni pizza
deep-dish pepperoni pizza

Have you purchased a cast iron pan yet?  Yvonne, I’m speaking directly to you!  My friend Yvonne said she would get a cast iron pan once I did a post on how to maintain one.  I still haven’t put a post together hoping that she will just go with it and let me explain it to her over the phone. Is anyone else interested in a post on how to maintain a cast-iron pan?  If so, I will write one. It won’t be the most exciting post, but if you’re all wanting it, I will do it, so let me know. See, I’m nice that way. If you don’t have a cast iron, you have to get one. They are really inexpensive, ($22 for a 10-inch and $28 for a 12-inch) and you can use them for just about anything. I even made a chocolate chip cookie in mine.

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Marin Mama’s weekly dinner menu for October 14th

simple egg salad

I received so sweet responses, calls, emails and such from people regarding Eli’s birthday post. My family was super psyched to be able to see his special day, as they all live out of state.  See, I use to have this other blog that I started at the same time as my cooking blog.  It was a blog about my family, my thoughts and basically random stuff.  I even had a post on there with a video of Carly Simon’s, “You’re so Vain.” I mean it was pretty random.  I posted there almost daily in the beginning, but then life got in the way and I didn’t have as much time to focus on 2 blogs.  So that blog took a back seat to my cooking blog.  My family and friends were a bit sad, as they liked seeing photos of the kids and what was happening in our life.  I went back a few times and posted there thinking I could handle two blogs, but it’s so time consuming, and like I said before, I’m not much of a computer person.  I would rather be outside enjoying my family then typing about my family.  Anyway, I thought I would include the link to the post I wrote for Eli last year.  It shows pictures of him from a baby till age 7.  Here’s the link for those of you that are interested.  

This blog is primarily a cooking blog, but I’m going to incorporate more photos and such of the family from time to time.  My family is a huge part of my life, (of course) and the reason I got into cooking in the first place.  So with that being said, here are two photos of the kids that I took yesterday at their soccer games.  

I could watch those two play soccer all day. Honestly, there’s nothing better than sitting in the warm sun and cheering your kids and their friends on. Life is good! It was a picturesque fall day yesterday and the kind of day that you want to bottle up. We caped off the day by getting on our bikes and biking to dinner.  It was dusk by the time we headed home and there was such a sense of freedom biking in the dark. We were the only ones out on the trail, and we felt as free as a bird. We felt so free that we actually shouted, “I’m king of the world.” Seriously, we are geeks! Ok, let’s move onto this weeks menu.
 
Sunday night dinner:  Chicken adobo with basmati rice served with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and Jerusalem artichokes.  My good friend, Carloyn Jensen, recommended the chicken adobo recipe. The recipe is a family favorite in her house, and it’s all made in the slow cooker, so it’s a perfect weeknight meal.  My friend Amanda recommended the roasted vegetable combination.  We roast cauliflower and Brussels all the time, but have never tried Jerusalem artichokes, so we’re excited to give them a try (I don’t think the kids are though). 
 
Monday night dinner: Heirloom tomato soup and egg salad sandwiches!  Gosh, I haven’t had one of those sandwiches in years. Thanks for the idea Debbie!  
I made up 2 batches of Heirloom tomato soup on Friday, as the season is sadly coming to a close.  I’m sad because I love this soup, but excited to try some new seasonal soups as well.  

simple egg salad
Tuesday:  Chicken parmesan, garlic bread and broccolini.  This is one of our family’s favorite fall and winter dinners.  Its pure comfort cooking and the perfect make-ahead meal.
If you like chicken and mozzarella cheese, then you will LOVE this dish.
Wednesday:  Leftover night!  Chicken parmesangarlic bread and broccolini.
Thursday:  Take out night!
Friday:  Deep-dish pepperoni pizza with miso caesar salad.  This pizza was such a hit in the Grandy house.  John’s words, “This is the best pizza you’ve ever made darling.”  I will be sure to post this recipe on Wednesday!

Happy Sunday and happy cooking!

Eli’s birthday celebration!

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I’m breaking out of my comfort zone and writing a post on Friday morning of all days.  It’s not like I don’t have 100 other more important things to do, but I was going through photos from Eli’s birthday yesterday and thought I would throw it all together in a quick recap post.  
So Happy Friday to you all, and I hope you enjoy this recap of Eli’s special day!  
Each year for his birthday, Eli gets to pick out one sugar cereal to enjoy and consume over the next week or so, till its gone (it doesn’t last past 5 days).  Last year he picked Lucky Charms and the year before that, frosted flakes. 
Look at that happy little guy!

pumpkin muffin poppers

pumpkin muffin poppers

pumpkin muffin poppersPinterest is one of my new favorite places to find fun recipes.  I found my favorite heirloom tomato soup there and now these pumpkin poppers!  Pinterest rocks!  When I saw the photo of these muffins, I just had to make them.  They reminded me of my sugar-crusted popovers, and I knew if they tasted anything like those, then they would be a winner.

I have made these 3 times so far and they are gone, like gone, in a heartbeat.  The muffins are unbelievably moist and when you cover them all over with the sugar and cinnamon mixture, you have yourself a killer snack.  They’re crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.  We’ve been eating them for breakfast, after school with some warm chai tea and even after dinner for dessert.  They are so versatile!

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for October 7th

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This is an extra special week in the Grandy house as Eli turns 8 this Thursday!  
Happy Birthday Eli!  

Isn’t he just the cutest little guy? John has the perfect birthday party planned for him and his buddies. The boys and their dads are going to tour Alcatraz.  Yes, the boys are going to prison!  It’s the perfect party for a bunch of 8-year-old boys (and 8-year-old dads at heart).  I love the idea because I don’t have to go, (it’s a father and son kind of party) and I didn’t have to plan or organize anything. John handled it all from the invitations to the favors.  My hubby rocks!  The boys and dads are ecstatic!  Men and boys, it really doesn’t take much to make them happy.  Am I right, ladies?

I had one heck of a week, as I got my first real cooking scar.  I burned my forearm when I was browning some butter.  I wanted to test how long I could brown it before it turned.  Well, I found out that you shouldn’t brown it past 3 minutes, at least on my stove. The butter popped and burst, and I got a big splash on my forearm resulting in a not so pretty burn.  Luckily, I’m tough and worked through the pain. It actually looks worse than it is.  I guess I should put some vitamin E on it or else I’m going to have this big ugly scar on my forearm for the rest of my life.  

I’m in a bit of a brain fog this morning as I’m writing this post. We were out pretty late last night celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday, (Happy Birthday Heather) and I should be in bed sleeping right now, but I can’t sleep.  My body woke up raring to go at 5:30 this morning. Don’t you hate it when you plan on sleeping in and you just can’t?  Both kids are at sleepovers so you would think that I would be taking advantage of this free time and lounging in bed, but I have way too much energy to do that. I know this energy spark is going to fizzle out this afternoon and I’m going to have to take a nap.  

Zoe and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful and sweet comments you left on her chocolate mousse post.  She was beyond thrilled and they really meant a lot to her, so thanks for taking the time to comment.  

So lets move onto this week’s menu.  

Monday: Roasted red pepper and tomato soup and naan bread

Tuesday:  cilantro lime tacos with mango avocado salsa & green beans.
Wednesday: Leftovers of cilantro lime tacos with mango avocado salsasliced red pepper and carrots. 

Thursday:  It’s Eli’s birthday!  Yippee!  We’re skipping Eli’s soccer practice and having a normal family dinner!  No crazy takeout Thursday for us!  On your birthday in the Grandy house, you get to request your favorite entree.  Eli requested this green bean and shallot ravioli. It’s one of his favorite dinners and I love it because its super easy to whip up and healthy!  Go Eli!   
I’m also making by request, our favorite chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.  This cake is the official birthday cake of the Grandy house. 

Friday:  Roasted red pepper and arugula whole-wheat pizza and miso caesar salad.
I roasted some extra red peppers when I made this soup, and now I’m using them to top this pizza. Red peppers are in season right now and are fabulous!  
The caesar salad is just my miso dressing topped on some romaine lettuce, kale and radicchio.

Stay tuned Wednesday, as I will be posting the recipe for these beauties below. Pumpkin muffins rolled in sugar and cinnamon.  They kind of resemble my sugar-crusted popovers.  These muffins were a hit and were gone, I mean like gone, in one day.  I made them and texted the below photo and words, “OMG, so good,” to my friend Amanda.  She immediately texted me back saying, “Send recipe, will make them now.”  She is the baker mama, so she immediately made them and will vouch that they were a huge hit in her house as well.  

  You will love how easy they are to make and they’re the perfect treat for any fall party!
Carrie, I think Jonathan is going to want some of these, as John was hyping them up to him last night.
Have a great Sunday everyone.
To see previous weekly menu’s, click here.

easy chocolate mousse – cooking with kids

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Hi everyone!  Zoe here!  Now, I know you’re used to my wonderful mom writing these posts, but today I’m posting on her blog.  This post if for all of you kids out there that want to start cooking. I’m going to show you how to make the best, and easiest chocolate mousse ever.

I remember how I found this recipe. We were down in Carmel at this restaurant and for dessert we all split a chocolate mousse pie. It was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten. I decided then and there, that I needed to make this recipe. So about a week or two later we were in the library, and I saw this kid’s cookbook from William and Somona.  For fun I flipped through the pages, but then something caught my eye. It was their chocolate mousse recipe. Immediately, I checked out the book solely for the mousse recipe. I went home and whipped it up that same afternoon. Everyone in the family loved it and I have been making it ever since.

This recipe is so easy. It only requires two ingredients; semisweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream. Really, almost anyone can make this delectable treat, even my brother Eli.

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