how to roast chicken breasts

how to roast chicken breasts

how to roast chicken breastsSo here’s an simple question for you all.  How many of you buy a rotisserie chicken for a recipe that calls for shredded chicken, but end up just using the breast meat, and then tossing the legs and thighs? Hmmmm… I know that last sentence sounds a bit risky for a food blog, but you all get what I’m saying, right?  On one hand buying a rotisserie chicken is easy and pretty cost effective, but not when you’re tossing the legs and thighs because you’re not a fan of dark meat.  So, if you just buy rotisserie chicken for the white meat, then let me show you an easier, less expensive and less wasteful way to roast up chicken breasts for a recipe that calls for shredded or diced chicken. It’s a simple everyday tip, but one that you will use weekly, if you’re anything like me!  Hey, maybe I should start a series on the blog called, “Marin Mama’s Simple Every Day Tips!”  Hmmm…. I think I will noodle on that idea!  Feel free to chime in if you think a series like this would be helpful to you all!

So I use shredded chicken all the time, and not just for recipes that require it. Shredded chicken is incredibly versatile, so it doesn’t hurt to keep some on hand for those times when you’re in a pinch and you need a quick meal. I keep it handy in the fridge for sandwiches, salad toppers, soups and quesadillas throughout the week. It’s so handy to have shredded chicken ready to go for those last-minute “what do I make for dinner or lunch” meals.  You can toss shredded chicken into anything from pastas to soups and tacos, therefore making a simple and quick weeknight dinner!

simple weeknight chicken soup and rosemary and sea salt popoverI tend to roast up some chicken breasts on the weekend, as my weekly meal prep for the week, or at night while I’m hanging with the kiddos, or folding laundry. It just requires 30-45 minutes of your time (not active time, as the chicken is just roasting away in the oven)! I’ve converted many of my friends to this easy method, so I thought today that I would share it with all of you and maybe concert one or two of you as well!

So, here we go, let’s roast up some chicken…… 

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the best corn muffins

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the best corn muffinsI know it’s a bit bold to say that these are the best corn muffins, but in my humble opinion they are. I’ve sampled many corn muffins over the years, and these bad boys are basically what a corn muffin should taste like. They’re moist, a bit sweet and savory and have a nice texture and crunch from the cornmeal. They also brown up perfectly. I mean take a look at the above muffin, it’s nicely browned on the top and the bottom, perfection!

Another reason I declare these the best corn muffins is that they’re SO easy to whip up, I mean they are virtually foolproof. They take 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook, (25 minutes total) so they’re really just as easy to whip up as the boxed  version, and taste SO much better.  I also love that these muffins are made with basic pantry ingredients, so it’s likely that you will have everything you need on hand to whip these up (besides maybe the cornmeal).

So, if you’re looking for the perfect corn muffin to accompany your favorite soup or chili, or to serve up for breakfast paired with some butter and jam, give these muffins a try. I whipped up a batch of these for kids last week as an afternoon snack, and they were VERY happy campers. I think next I’m going to live on the edge try making a batch of these in my cast-iron skillet!  Oh yeah, just put that skillet on the table and dig in!

the best corn muffins… 

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easy oven baked sweet potato fries

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DSC_0024These fries are SO GOOD, SUPER ADDICTIVE and honestly as easy to make up as the frozen variety (and cheaper too).  I’m serious!  They’re browned, caramelized and slightly crispy on the outside, and soft, sweet and tender on the inside. Yum, Yum!  I will admit that these fries are not going to be crispy, like fries that have been fried, they tend to be softer like steak fries.

In the past few weeks these fries have become our new favorite dinner/lunch side, and one of the kid’s favorite after school snacks.  I hate even calling these fries, because fries have such a bad rap, and these are healthy.  I call them fries because it gets kids excited to try them, but between you and me, these are really just roasted sweet potatoes in fry form!

See, these fries make my kiddos silly and happy!  I’m even getting the thumbs up from Eli’s friend Robby. Make these fries up for your kiddos and they will be happy to! ;)

DSC_0027These fries are SUPER easy to make.  Just take a sweet potato, slice it up into fries, toss the fries with a bit of olive oil and coarse sea salt, and then bake them in the oven for 20 minutes.  The whole process from start to finish takes roughly 25 minutes.  Let’s be honest, most frozen sweet potato fries take 25-30 minutes to bake up, and they’re frozen peeps, while these take less time and are fresh!  Hmm… fresh or frozen, not much of a decision here.

Sweet potatoes are complex carbohydrate that contain protein, so they’re the perfect lunch/dinner side or snack because they fill you up, so you can eat one sweet potato and not be hungry or tired later.  Bonus! Sweet potato fires are also a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A and potassium.

I baked up some fries for  lunch the other day and paired with my favorite kale salad, and I have to say that I was one happy Marin mama! This lunch kept me full and satisfied until dinner!

sweet potato fries and kale salad

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orange popovers

orange popovers

orange popoversHappy New Year everyone and welcome to 2015!  Marin mama is back! I honestly can’t believe that it’s been over a month since I last posted. I mean I really feel like a lame food blogger! I didn’t mean to take such a long break, but life and work got in the way, and thus the blog got put on the back burner.  My commitment, or should I say resolution for this upcoming year is to make the blog a priority again. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m serious this time.  I really miss cooking, creating, writing and talking to you all, so this is the year that Marin mama gets launched, oh yeah!  I’m not sure entirely what that means, but I have lots of ideas that I will share with you all over the next few months. I’m excited for 2015 and enthusiastic to get out in the community more and expand and grow Marin Mama Cooks!

You’re probably wondering why am I starting off the new year with a popover post when most food bloggers are focusing on healthy detoxing foods.  I thought about inventing a new kale salad or some sort of quinoa dish, but honestly I just wasn’t in the mood to really create and eat anymore kale or quinoa. I’m still kale obsessed as always, but lately I’ve been craving soups, meats and carbs, and thus that’s what I’ve been cooking up.  I listen to my body and my cravings, as my body is usually telling me what it needs, and right now it wants winter comfort foods!

So since I’m a bit of a carbaholic, I decided to play around with one of my favorite carbs, popovers! I love experimenting with popovers, as it actually relaxes me in a strange way.  I wanted to create a slightly sweet popover for snack time, breakfast and/or brunch.  I had an orange handy and thought to myself, why not try tossing in some orange zest. Verdict, the kids love them, as well as a few of their peeps that I had be the guinea pigs.  These popovers have a touch of sweetness and are the perfect afternoon snack for the kiddos, or a great breakfast and/or brunch addition.  Serve them up warm from the oven plain, or open them up and slather their insides with some jam or butter. Yum!

orange popovers… 

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Thanksgiving faves..

Thanksgiving faves...

Thanksgiving faves...Ok, I must admit, I’m not a holiday recipe kind of food blogger. I don’t feature holiday recipes months before the holidays, unless it’s a recipe that can be used for any occasion, like the following recipes!  These recipes are not Thanksgiving specific recipes at all, but some of my favorite recipes that would pair perfectly with any Thanksgiving fare.  I know there are those of you that are still planning and figuring out what to serve up that day, or bring to a friend’s house, so hopefully one of these recipes will inspire you!… 

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for November 2nd

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for November 2nd

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for November 2ndSee the artsy photo of the above juices? That was me attempting to go on a mini one-day juice cleanse!  Maybe you didn’t catch the word attempting, because I attempted, but failed my one-day juice cleanse.  Yes, Marin mama failed a one-day juice cleanse. LAME!my mini juice cleanse failureZoe and her friend Madelaine came home as I was taking a photo of the juices for a future blog post, and they didn’t think that my cleanse looked too appetizing.  Zoe’s like, “really mom, you’re going to drink all of these juices? Have fun and good luck!” She didn’t think I would make it through the morning because she knows how much I love and crave my morning oats and coffee!… 

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5-minute roasted cauliflower

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5-minute roasted cauliflowerOk, so I know I’m going a bit crazy with this whole 5-minute skillet veggie concept, but I’ve come to realize that I tend to get a bit obsessed when I find something I like/love, and I love this new 5-minute technique.  In my last post I showed you all how to cook 5-minute roasted Brussels sprouts, and now I’m showing you how to cook cauliflower in 5-minutes, yippee, aren’t you super excited? This 5-minute roasting technique has really saved me time and hassle in the kitchen on those busy weeknights where I want to serve up a vegetable, but don’t have tons of time to heat up the oven and roast veggies for 15 to 20 minutes.  I’m a full-time working mama now, as you all know, and it’s all about efficiency in Marin mama’s kitchen these days.

This method works perfectly if you’re feeding a crew of 5 or less, as you can’t fit too much cauliflower in one 12-inch cast iron skillet.  If you’re feeding a larger crowd, then try my roasted cauliflower method, as it uses a sheet pan. This 5-minute method is perfect for those of you that have one oven. For instance, if you’re cooking up chicken or steak in the oven at a different temperature, you can take out your meat when it’s finished, turn on the broiler and pop these veggies under the broiler for 3-5 minutes while your meat rests.  As I like to say, easy peasy!

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5-minute roasted Brussels sprouts

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5-minute roasted Brussels sproutsI’m starting a new section on my blog labeled 5-minute recipes.  These are recipes that roughly take 5-minutes or less to cook, and who doesn’t love that!  This recipe along with my 5-minute hot quinoa cereal and easy overnight steel-cut oats are the first in the series of great 5-minute recipes that don’t actually taste like a 5-minute recipe. Let’s admit it, we’re all busy and looking for shortcuts in the kitchen, but shortcuts that don’t require the use of a microwave and don’t compromise quality and taste. Well, I found a winner here. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways I’ve found to roast Brussels sprouts, and honestly the tastiest. Eli even begs for these and a year ago her hated Brussels! These Brussels are charred, crispy and caramelized on the outside, and soft with a bit of resistance (not mushy) on the inside. Pure Brussels perfection for my taste buds.  All you do is set the Brussels cut-side down in a searing hot skillet and place them under the broiler to roast the tops, easy peasy.

This is a perfect and healthy side dish for the fall and winter months.  Between these sprouts and my 8-minute roasted broccoli, I’m all set for easy weeknight healthy sidedishes. I also used virgin coconut oil in this recipe, as it’s a better oil to use at higher heat temps, and gives these sprouts a touch of sweetness, perfect for the kiddos. You can use olive oil here as well, and add a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice after roasting, along with some parmesan to add a kick of flavor, like my friend Stacy does.  You could even be bad and toss in some crispy bacon or pancetta, the list goes on and on…

quick and easy roasted Brussels sprouts

5-minute roasted Brussels sprouts:

serves 4 as a side-dish

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil, melted (this is the coconut oil that smells like coconut) or olive oil
  • fine sea salt

ingredients for quick and easy roasted Brussels sprouts_… 

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for October 5th

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for October 5th

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for October 5thFirst off, I need you to all know that this is totally not a Marin mama approved cereal.  I had to post this as my opening shot though because I thought it was hilarious that a somewhat healthy food blogger like me has a photo of their son giving the thumbs up to a box of Lucky Charms.  It just makes me chuckle.  Let me give you the background on why Eli is holding up a box of Lucky Charms.  Eli is turning 10 this week, (Happy Birthday Eli) and each year for his birthday he gets to pick out one sugar cereal to enjoy and consume over the next week or so, till it’s gone (it doesn’t last past 5 days). Last year he picked Krave!
DSC_0290The year before that he picked the classic Lucky Charms, and the year prior he picked frosted flakes.  You can see a trend here, and that trend seems to be leading to more sugar and more chocolate.  I don’t know how long this tradition will last, but it’s a tradition that Eli looks forward to each year, so I will keep it going for a long as he likes. Life is all about moderation and balance, and when the simple things make you happy, then you just have to go for it! You can see how this simple treat and tradition makes my boy light up, and when he lights up I light up. I mean look at that happy little guy, can’t get a bigger smile than that!

DSC_0001-2Before I move onto the weekly menu post, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your sweet emails.  A lot of you have been checking in with me to make sure I’m ok, as I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Everything is good. I’m super slammed with work right now, which is great because I’m loving my job, and it’s wonderful to see our catering business grow.  I’m also dealing with some personal stuff, which is not fun, so I’m really trying to be present with the kids and myself right now.  At some point in the near future, I will share with all of you what’s happening in my life, but for now, I’m just keeping it on the lowdown. I really enjoy this blog, and I enjoy connecting with all of you, so I’m not going to stop blogging anytime soon, but my posts may be a bit more infrequent until I get back into a groove and rhythm again!  Thank you for all of your patience and support, I really do appreciate you all!

So, let’s move onto some healthier things that I’ve been enjoying lately!  I’m SO loving heirloom tomatoes right now.  I’ve been eating this below sandwich everyday for the past 2 weeks.  I’m topping one of my favorite breads, Dave’s Killer bread (for those of you that are local, you can get this bread at Paradise Foods or Whole Foods) with smashed avocado, heirloom tomatoes and some coarse sea salt. If I have leftover roasted chicken then I will add some of that to the sandwich. There’s seriously nothing quite like a ripe heirloom tomato! They honestly taste like candy, they’re so good!  Since they’re so amazing and ripe right now, I made a vow to use them this whole week in all of my recipes!  Luckily my kids like these tomatoes, because they’re going to be eating a lot of them this week.

Dave's Killer bread topped wtih smashed avocado, heirloom tomatoes and coarse sea salt

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almond flour pancakes

almond flour pancakes

almond flour pancakesOh my gosh, these pancakes are my newest breakfast obsession, (alongside my overnight steel-cut oats and my 5-minute hot quinoa cereal) and that’s strange coming from a gal who has never been a huge fan of pancakes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of pancakes, but I always felt like they were a breakfast indulgence and not the sort of breakfast that would provide me with fuel or the power needed for a trail run or long mountain bike ride. Also for some reason, pancakes totally zapped me of energy.  I would eat a pile of pancakes and within an hour I would want to take a nap?  Weird right?  Well, all of that changed when I tried these pancakes, not only are they a guilt-free breakfast treat, but they are packed with fuel to keep you going for hours.

A friend of mine surprised me with these for breakfast one morning before we were to head out for mountain bike ride.  I was a bit skeptical and nervous that I was not going to have any fuel to power up the mountain, and that I would fall flat within an hour, but you know what, I tore up the mountain and had energy to boot.  I was also full for hours, which is very rare for me because I’m a gal who eats a meal every 3 hours.

These are pancakes that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating because they’re made with almond flour, (which is basically ground up almonds) honey for the sweetener and coconut oil as a substitute for butter or vegetable oil.  They’re also lower in carbs than traditional pancakes, and gluten and dairy free as they’re made with almond flour and almond milk. Top these with some plain Greek yogurt, toasted almonds, fresh fruit and you have yourself one power house of a breakfast that not only tastes great, but will give you the fuel to power through your day.

almond flour pancakes… 

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Marin mama’s weekly dinner menu for August 24th

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for August 24th

Marin mama's weekly dinner menu for August 24thSorry I’m a bit late (oops, it’s 10:00 on Sunday evening) in my posting of the weekly menu today, but we were awakened at 3:30 in the morning by an earthquake, and needless to say we’re all a bit rattled over here.  The good news is that there wasn’t any damage and we’re all ok!  Whew!  I definitely don’t want to experience another one of those anytime soon.

So the kids and I took a mini vacation recently to Carmel Valley to visit our girlfriend Hilary and her family.  It was a wonderful mini vacation, and even though it was short, it totally re-charged my batteries.  The best part was that we all got to spend some quality time together, as we all bunkered down at Hilary’s casa for 4 fun-filled days!  Yep, hotel Hamilton is where we stayed, and the views and accommodations were amazing!  Thanks so much for having us Hilary. By the way,  I left a big tip for you in the guest room!  Eli was super psyched as he got to spend 4 days with his bestie, Sawyer.  These two boys have known each other since they can remember, and they are bonded like brothers.

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Anyway, we ventured down the coast to Big Sur for the day and had to hit one of our favorite restaurants, Nepenthe!  I’ve seriously been craving their tofu burger ever since we visited there last year, and I have to say it was totally worth the trip just to eat that burger. Here’s Eli giving me a smile right before he devoured his burger.  The gentleman in the background doesn’t look to psyched to be in the photo, or maybe he just wasn’t a fan of his burger ;)

IMG_0537I love this picture of the kids on the deck of the restaurant.  The burgers are amazing, but the view is even better.  It was a bit foggy, so I can’t really show you how majestic the views are, but trust me they’re truly breathtaking!  There’s just something so spiritual and calming about Big Sur. I mean look how happy and calm the kids look!

IMG_0526and check out the views of the California coast we got to see along the way….IMG_0500We also hit Earthbound Organic Farm for lunch one day, as I was told they had an amazing salad bar (no kale in sight, but that was ok).  The salad bar may be tiny, but it’s filled with the best of the best, and the beets were amazing, so sweet and cooked to perfection.  They were my favorite part of the salad, and I’m totally craving them now as I type up this post. Little Hadley is the perfect model to showcase the salad bar, don’t you think?  I mean how adorable is she with that HUGE carrot in her mouth, and yep, she ate the whole thing!  Go Hadley!!!

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