chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with chocolate ganache

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with ganache

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt cake with ganacheHappy Holidays everyone! I’m not doing my normal weekly menu post this week because it’s a holiday week, so I’m taking a holiday.  I’m actually going to take an extended 2 week blogging holiday so I can just “be” and enjoy time with my family and friends.  I plan on hiking, skiing, reading and cooking tons with the kids.

I didn’t want to leave you all high and dry so I’m finally posting this recipe from my friend Averie, that I have made at least 5 times.  Averie did an amazing update on the chocolate chip pumpkin bunt bread.  She took the bundt bread recipe and turned it into a bunt cake. This is dessert guys, no longer an afterschool snack.  If you haven’t checked out Averie’s site, Averie Cooks, you must.  Averie has been blogging for years and she has it down. If you have a sweet tooth, then she’s your gal. She has over a million desserts on her blog as well as some great bread recipes that I can’t wait to try. Over the past year she has become a great blogging friend, and she’s taught me so much about blogging, so thanks Averie!

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twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoes

twice baked potatoesOk, so these potatoes are not one of the healthiest recipes I have on the blog, but they sure are tasty.  I believe that life, as well as food, is all about moderation and balance.  If you have balance, then you are living in the natural harmony of life.  To eat too healthy is actually not healthy.  Too much of one thing is not good for anyone.  Look at nature, when there is too much sun the plants don’t thrive because they need the rain as well. The key to life is balance.

These potatoes bring back happy memories every time I make and eat them.  My dad use to whip up a similar version of these potatoes every Easter and Christmas.  I use to help him out by scooping out the insides of the potatoes after they were baked, and then putting everything back in the skins after all the goodies were added to the potatoes.  It was pure comfort family cooking, but a happy memory in my heart, and one I still cherish.

What’s great about these potatoes or really any potato recipe, is that you can play with the recipe and add what you like to it.  You can add more or less cheese, more or less milk, some other greens, basically you are the creator here, so feel free to create. Another reason I love these potatoes is that they can be made and assembled ahead of time and then baked up later. They’re the perfect potato to bring to a dinner party or potluck.

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for December 16th

DSC_0012-1

DSC_0012-1Zoe and I had fun playing around with the above ribbon. We were trying to figure out something creative to do with it when all of a sudden we got the inspiration to make the word joy!  We were both feeling the joy so we wanted to send some joy your way.  In light of the recent events in Newton, I’m trying to just hug and be with my family and appreciate each moment with them. I’m sending my love, light and prayers to those families in Newton and I can’t begin to fathom what they’re going through. I wish we lived in a world/reality where tragedies like this didn’t happen.  I know that sounds a bit naive, but that is my dream and my wish.  I wish we could all see that we’re brothers and sisters and connected as one and not separated.  My dream is for a world where there is peace, joy, health and love for everyone.  I’m hoping that we move closer to that reality.

Last Monday I was feeling overwhelmed and stressed wondering how I was going to get everything done. I felt the tug to get out into mother nature and play, so I listened to that tug and got out and ran in my favorite canyon among the redwoods.  I ran and frolicked through the trails.  I felt so free and liberated, just like a kid again.  It was just what I needed, and I came home refreshed and so mellow.  I knew everything would get done and that I didn’t have to worry and rush around to get it done.  It just reminds me that when we get outside in nature, it takes all of our cares and stresses away.  Mother nature truly is the most beautiful creation in the world and more beautiful than anything manmade. I thought I would share with you a few photos that I snapped on my run.  This is my favorite trail to run on because it’s nestled in the redwoods and it’s so peaceful and  green this time of year.  I love all the trees in this canyon, from the majestic redwoods to the smaller ones that get all fuzzy and green.  I also love how they hug the trails and create a natural and protective canopy.  Usually when I run this trail, I don’t see anyone, and I feel like I’m running in my own private back yard.  This is my time to meditate and get quiet, and appreciate the world around me.  I hope you enjoy the below photos. Then feel free to enjoy the weekly menu.

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chocolate coconut pie

chocolatepie

chocolate coconut pieOk, if you like coconut and dark chocolate, then this is the pie for you.  It’s seriously like eating a chocolate covered macaroon.  This is John’s new favorite dessert.  He saw it in the Martha Stewart’s New Pie and Tarts cookbook and asked me to please make it for him (he asked me to make the pie this summer, but I finally got around to making  it in November, oops).  One thing about John is that he is a HUGE fan of coconut.  His birthday cake request every year is Barefoot Contessa’s coconut cake.  I have made this pie 3 times in the past month and he still gets super excited when I place a slice in front of him for dessert.  I have never gotten a bigger compliment from him than when I made this pie, seriously.

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for December 9th

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for December 9th

Last week was not my best week for trying out new recipes.  I should have listened to my gut (intuition) and took a week off from new recipes.  It’s hard because when I see something that I want to cook up, I don’t have patience to wait till next week, I want to make it NOW!  Its like an addiction. Anyway, the universe was telling me to stop cooking, slow down and to finish up all the other things that I kept putting off that really had more of a priority. I’m paying for it now as I have tons to do and don’t know when I’m going to finish it all, but I always remember when I get overwhelmed that, life is long so it will all get done. You know what, it always does.

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Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soupI love this Italian wedding soup and I love Barefoot for supplying me with this recipe. I’ve seriously never had a bad recipe with Barefoot, honestly, every recipe that I’ve tried from her turns out great. Maybe we’re kindred spirits or something, but I get her cooking, and I like it.  I have her new book, Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, on my Christmas wish list, and I’m hoping that Santa delivers me a copy.  

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for December 2nd

weekly dinner menu for December 3rd

Happy December everyone!  I thought I would celebrate by throwing some green and reds in the above photo to get you all in the Holiday spirit.  So, it’s 5:00 in the morning on a Sunday and I’m up.  How sad is that?  I couldn’t sleep because all I can hear are these howling gusty winds and heavy rain pelting at the windows.  We live on the coast and the winds can get pretty intense.  What I don’t get is why the winds always intensify between the hours of 10:00 pm and 7:00 am?  It really makes for a terrible night sleep. We’ve pretty much had non-stop rain for the past 4 days and two of the storms have been pretty intense. Sunny California isn’t always so sunny, especially in the winter.  It’s funny how you look forward to those cozy rainy days and once you’ve had about 3 of them in a row, you’re over it, (well, at least I am). I’m really a sunshine sort of gal.

Let’s move on from the rain and onto a happier topic like the Holidays.  Have you started decorating yet?  The only Holiday thing I put up so far was our advent calendar. I actually forgot about it until Eli woke up yesterday morning and ran to the door that we hang it on and said, “Hey, where’s the advent calendar?”  Boy, that kid has a memory and radar when it comes to things like that (well, things that either supply candy or money that is).  I plan on setting up some more things around the house today, but we’re getting our tree next weekend.

If you’re looking some Holiday inspiration, then you have to check out my friend Annie’s blog.  Annie has the best ideas when it comes to decorating.  I have been following her blog for a little over a year and she just gives me such inspiration when it comes to home design, crafts, event planning and even cooking, as she’s an amazing cook. Annie is one of those people that I’m watching out for.  She’s going to be the next Martha or even something better.  She has such a unique and timeless style.  Anyway, since it’s officially December, I thought I would share with you three things from her blog that I so want to copy and do in my own house.  Take a look at the advent calendar she designed this year.  Amazingly beautiful, don’t you think?  This is the calendar she designed last year. I honestly think they both belong in a magazine, and I especially love how she has all of those jars of goodies lined up under last year’s advent calendar.  Those cookies and sweets would not last long sitting out in an open container in my house. I would see sneaky hands reaching in all day grabbing treats.  Annie, you must have pretty self-controlled kids.  You should also check out her homemade gift tags.  They are so easy to do, and something that I’m definitely going to attempt this year.

Ok, onto this week’s menu!

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