Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for March 31st

weekly dinner menu for March 31st

weekly dinner menu for March 31st Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’re all celebrating this day with friends and family or at least doing something fun and Easterly (I really don’t know if that’s a proper word). We’re actually headed out to meet our “California family” for an early brunch this morning, like 10:00 am early, so I would say it’s more like a late breakfast. I’m up early hoping that I get the motivation and energy to hit the gym beforehand, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen, as we hiked down into Muir woods yesterday and my legs are wiped! I tell you, there were a lot of stairs to climb! This week’s photo is the makings of the broccoli lemon pasta that I made last week for dinner. I actually used some broccoli rabe to change things up a bit, and threw it in for the last minute of the pasta’s cooking time, to make this meal even simpler to make. I also love the new pasta we tried with it. I really love this photo because it shows you how simple and fresh ingredients can make a beautiful and healthy dinner.

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buttermilk roasted chicken

buttermilk roasted chicken

buttermilk roasted chickenIt’s so nice to have an arsenal of quick and easy weeknight meals that don’t taste like they were quick and easy to make. I want to serve my family healthy, real food during the week, but I don’t always have the time to make something elaborate. I have a boatload of easy week-night meals in my repertoire, and this chicken dish is one of those. This is one of those chicken dishes that you will make at least once a month, if not more. It’s one of my favorite chicken recipes because you can throw the marinade together in less than 10 minutes and then let it sit anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. It’s a great make-ahead dish, perfect for a weeknight dinner or fancy enough for a dinner party…. 

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for March 24th

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DSC_0047 weekly menuYou’re all probably on the edge of your seats wondering how those veggie burgers that I made last week turned out, right?  Well, I hate to say it, but they were not good at all (insert sad face). In fact, I didn’t even serve them up to the family. I was frazzled at dinner time because I had planned on serving them up that night, but luckily I had the all the ingredients on hand for the chicken quesadillas that I was going to serve on Tuesday, so I served that up to the family instead. To be honest, I think the kids were happier with the dinner switch. I just love it when I have a well stocked fridge or pantry with quick and healthy options to choose from.

So, I just got back from a great lunch with a new blogger friend, Laura. Laura lives in the Bay Area and had been following my blog for a while and just recently started a blog of her own. She emailed me about a month back to let me know about her about her new blog. I emailed her back and suggested we get together for lunch to meet and talk about blogging. I really love meeting fellow bloggers because I love talking about food, blogs and all that fun stuff.  It’s so fun to meet someone with a similar passion. Laura just started her blog less than a month ago, so she’s still working on all the kinks and such.  She has some great recipes already on there (I so want to make her cauliflower enchiladas).  She’s into healthy living and healthy eating.  Check our her blog, it’s called Lemons to Lemongrass.

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How to de-stem and thinly slice kale

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DSC_0006 kaleOk, so I have a lot of kale salads on the blog, (9 if you’re counting) so I thought it might be nice to share a post on how to de-stem and thinly slice kale, instead of always linking you all to my lactinato kale salad recipe where you have to scroll down the post just to get the info.

I already did a post on how to keep kale and other greens fresh, and since then I have received a lot of positive comments from readers and friends saying that those simple tips have made their lives so much easier when it comes to preparing a salad at the end of the day. Kale is one of those lettuces that keeps well. If washed and stored properly, it will keep up to 2 weeks. Most kale salads last up to 3 days in the fridge. That means if you make a kale salad on Monday, you will have leftovers Tuesday and Wednesday.  I mean who doesn’t like a salad that you can make ahead or better yet have leftovers of?

A note about purchasing lacinato kale:  Don’t purchase lacinato kale that feels tough and paper-like.  It will not breakdown and thus will not absorb the dressing even when you massage it.  Kale is best when its soft and pliable, (feels like regular lettuce) as it absorbs the dressing and is tender when eaten.

Ok, here are the step-by-step photos for de-stemming and thinly slicing kale.

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simple egg salad

simple egg salad

simple egg saladSpring is around the corner and it’s the perfect time for cold sandwiches like egg or chicken salad. Egg salad is such a simple and quick sandwich to throw together, especially if you have hardboiled eggs already made up, and it’s the perfect Meatless Monday sandwich.

To be honest, I have never made egg salad at home until this past year. I usually just ate it when I went out for lunch. John decided to boil up some eggs on day and suggested we make some egg salad for lunch. We didn’t have a recipe on hand and we both knew we didn’t want a mayonnaise laden sandwich, so I went to Heidi’s blog (my other favorite go-to person for recipes, besides the Barefoot) to see if she had a recipe. Well, she did, and it looked simple and exactly what we were looking for. We made up a batch and loved it. The kids even gave it the thumbs up (although Eli’s thumb was a bit sideways). This recipe is pretty basic, so feel free to add to it what you wish like, red onions, green onions, pickles, black olives or capers.  Really, feel free to doctor it up anyway you want. I like things simple, so this version works for me.

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for March 17th

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DSC_0010 cupcMary, if you’re reading this post then you will see that I visited your favorite bakery this weekend. We stopped in after lunch to pick up some cupcakes for dinner. I also decided to purchase their cookbook along with this cute little cake pan (see bowl below) that they use to bake their tiny cakes in. Isn’t that the weirdest pan you have ever seen? It looks like a metal camping bowl. I can’t wait to make a cake in it as it’s just too cute and I’m also really curious to see how a cake turns out in it. You know what I discovered about the owner, Meg Ray, while perusing this book?  I found out that she’s a self-taught baker. Isn’t that inspiring? She has 4 successful bakeries and she didn’t even go to culinary school. She just loved to bake and came up with a concept and just went for it. I really admire her and it gives me hope and inspiration to just follow your dreams.  You don’t have to have a culinary degree to be a great cook, or an interior design degree to be a great designer, (hint, hint, Sharon and Annie) some people just have a natural innate talent.  Anyway, if you’re ever in the SF bay area, check out one of Miette’s bakeries.  If you can’t check out one of their bakeries, then check out their cookbook, Miette.

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salted caramel brownies

salted caramel brownies

DSC_0036What do you get when you take your absolute favorite brownie recipe and add caramel and sea salt to it?

IMG_3287You get a masterpiece, I’m saying a brownie lovers dream. These brownies are not your typical cake-like brownies, they’re more fudge-like in consistency, but fudge-like in a good way, like mouthwatering lick your fingers and plate sort of way.  I absolutely love these brownies, hence the name, Robert’s absolute best brownies.  Zoe and I have been talking about making caramel and sea salt brownies for sometime, so I decided to surprise her one day after school. I didn’t research another brownie recipe because these are our family’s favorite recipe, so why re-invent the wheel, right? I’m so glad that I added the caramel and sea salt, because not only do we have one favorite brownie recipe, but we now have two. I must warn you that these brownies are not low in calories and they’re not for the faint of heart.  These brownies are decedent, rich, and oh so fudgey, but so worth the indulgence. You will be licking your fingers, plate and fork after eating not one, but possibly two of these brownies.

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for March 10th

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9f84dea6-d0ed-4927-a9a0-a91188a6fef2_zps360327faGuess what? We officially have a teen in the house, yep a teenager. My baby girl turned 13  this past Friday. I’m elated because I’m so proud of the young woman she’s turning into, but at the same time, I’m a bit sad because I miss my little girl. I can’t believe how fast the years are flying by. I mean she’s grown from this tiny little baby into…

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kale and ricotta salata salad

kale and ricotta salata salad

kale and ricotta salata salad (1 of 1)Anyone who knows me knows that I love lacinato kale. I mean it just tastes so good, yes, you heard me right, it really tastes good. It’s not just me who feels that way, my kids prefer a kale salad over an arugula or spinach one any-day, and John, well he likes all types of salads, he’s not a picky guy. Kale is uber healthy, and if stored properly the leaves can last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. Kale is also a great make-ahead salad.  It’s one of those salads that you can make ahead, like the morning of an event, and have it taste great at dinner. Kale salads make great leftovers. I love that I can make up a salad on Monday and then eat leftovers on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it tastes great all three days. I will have to say that lacinato kale is the kale to try first if you are new to kale.  Lacinato kale really tastes more like a lettuce, especially when you massage the dressing into it.  Curly kale on the other hand, tastes bitter and can leave a chalky aftertaste in your mouth. I think most people who have tried kale have tried curly kale, and that’s why kale has gotten the bad reputation. Please, just try a salad with lacinato kale (sometimes called tuscan or dinosaur kale) and you might be converted.

Anyway, I’m always on the hunt for new kale recipes. I already have 5 kale salads that I love, and my top two salads are my lacinato kale salad and miso kale salad.  My lacinato salad has turned kale haters into kale lovers, so that is saying a lot. This ricotta salata salad may also be one that turns people around, not only because it tastes great, but it’s so easy to prepare, and much like my lacinato salad uses pantry ingredients. This is Eli’s favorite kale salad thus far. Many of you may not be too familiar with ricotta salata. Ricotta salata is an aged ricotta that has been pressed, so it looses moisture and becomes crumbly and easy to grate. It’s a fairly mild tasting cheese, (I think that’s why Eli loves it so much) but has an amazing salty flavor to it.  The other great thing about ricotta salata, is its price tag.  You can usually get a chunk of cheese for under $4.00. So, this is a great salad for those of you on a budget.  Don’t look for ricotta salata cheese near the traditional ricotta cheeses, (the ones in the plastic containers) this cheese will be located in the cheese section of your grocery store, where the fancier cheeses are.

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for March 3rd

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IMG_3288Caramel, sea salt and my favorite brownies can only mean one thing!  The best dessert ever, and so worth the 5 pounds that you will gain from one bite, just kidding!  If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, then you saw the whole show when I made these up the other night (hint, hint).  I was craving something salty and chocolatey and hence these brownies were created. The brownies barely made it to day 2.  I’m serious, we just couldn’t stop ourselves at one.  John and the kids were very happy campers, and all came to an agreement that its pretty cool having a mom who has a cooking blog.  I pinky swear this recipe will be on the blog next week.

Oh, here’s a quick photo that I took of the finished product. Yup, these brownies are dark, gooey and fudgey.  Here’s the link to the salted caramel brownies.

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