quinoa snack bars

quinoa snack bars

quinoa snack barsSo, I will confess to you all that I haven’t been cooking up any new recipes this past month, total lazy mama here.  Hey, I’ve been trying to juggle my new full-time job, crazy kid’s schedules and basically life in general, and at the end of the day I just want to come home and whip up something quick and easy, but nutritious as the same time. I’m seriously so happy that I created this blog because all I have been doing is cooking from it this past month. Yep, Marin mama is totally cooking from her blog.

I’ve come to realize that I initially created this blog to share my favorite recipes with friends, but in the end I think I actually created this blog for me, because I’ve come to rely on it so much for easy, healthy and tasty weeknight meals.  I’ve been digging into my old archives and finding recipes that I had forgotten about, but totally love!  You’ve all been super supportive lately with my limited posting, and I’m receiving so many emails from those of you that have gone back into my recipe archives and made something and loved it!  I know lately I’ve pretty much been just posting quinoa and uber healthy recipes, but for those of you that are looking for some tasty family friendly savory recipes, I have some recipes in the work. I’m looking to make up an easy skillet rosemary chicken dish this week and plan on serving it up with some sweet potato wedges with a lime yogurt dip. So, I do have some new recipe ideas folks, but I just need the time to cook and photograph the recipes (with some natural light at night please, daylight savings can you any come faster). Ok, enough about me, lets move onto these bars.

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avocado-tahini dip

avocado-tahini dip

avocado-tahini dipThis is the tale of the salad dressing that transformed into a dip.  It sounds like the start of a fairy tale don’t you think?   Except turning from a salad dressing into a dip doesn’t sound like a great transformation, (kind of like a prince turning into a frog) but it is, so it’s a story with a happy ending.

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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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strawberry, mango & banana smoothie

afterschool smoothie

I swear May should be re-named May madness.  It’s almost worst than December.  This month has been non-stop and it’s only the middle of the month.  I seriously can’t wait for summer and this is the first year that I can truly say that.  I can’t wait to sleep in, kick back with the kids and just chill at the pool.  I may even chill out with one of these smoothies.

Anyway, amongst all this madness of racing to and from everything, I want to give my kids a healthy snack where I can. The weather has been warm and summer-like lately so smoothies are back in my kid’s radar. They love this spinach smoothie as well as this spinach one, but sometimes they want a good old-fashioned creamy smoothie. Who can blame them? This is an easy smoothie to throw together and is perfect this time of year as strawberries are at their peak!

strawberry, mango & banana smoothie:

serves two 9oz glasses (or 2 kids)

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen mango – you can use fresh as well, but make sure you throw in some ice cubes.  
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, (about 4-5) rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 large, ripe banana

Get out your blender and throw in the orange juice, Greek yogurt, mangos, strawberries and banana.

Give it a whirl until blended.

Pour the smoothie into two 9oz glasses, add a fun straw, and call in the kids!Eli gave this smoothie a thumbs up!

Summer here we come!  We love pairing this smoothie with our favorite popcorn.

Marin Mama’s popcorn

popcorn

My kids are on spring break this week and that means my popcorn popper is going to be working overtime. Vacation at the Grandy house means lots of movie nights, and movie nights are not complete without Marin mama’s famous popcorn, (at least that’s what my kids and their friends call my popocorn). In all seriousness, Zoe and Eli love and devour this popcorn, and they tell me that it’s the best popcorn they’ve ever tasted. I’ve actually been told by a number of people that I need to bag this popcorn and sell it. I decided that making and bagging this popcorn would take to much time and effort, so I’m just going to share my secret recipe with you.

I love my Whirly-Pop popcorn popper as shown below. It pops the best popcorn and my kids love cranking the handle. This popper gets used on a daily basis!

Marin Mama’s Popcorn:

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil  – see my notes below on the different types of coconut oils
  • fine sea salt

Our favorite oils to use for popcorn are listed in order of preference below:

  • refined organic coconut oilThis oil gives the popcorn a nice crisp, light and fresh flavor.  Refined coconut oil does not have that coconut smell.
  • extra virgin coconut oilThis oil is unrefined and smells like an actual coconut.  If you want and like that buttery movie style popcorn then use this. It really does give the popcorn that buttery flavor.  We’re not big fans of buttered flavored popcorn, so we prefer using the refined oil.  

Ok, lets make some popcorn!

Put the 1/2 cup kernels and 2 tablespoons oil (coconut oil is solid, but will melt immediately once heated) into your kettle popper or whatever pan/utensil you use to make fresh popcorn.  
 
Turn up the heat to medium and slowly turn the handle till the popcorn is popped.  
Toss the popcorn into a large bowl & sprinkle with fine sea salt to taste. We like to sprinkle on some salt, then shake the bowl a bit and then sprinkle on some more salt.  You get the drill!

That’s all there is to it folks!We love to throw treats in our popcorn such as m&m’s, candy corn, (Eli’s favorite around Halloween) and twizzlers. The sweet mixed with the salty is a winning combination.

This popcorn is not just for movie nights, it’s also the perfect popcorn to pack for your child’s snack at school or to serve up as an afternoon snack.  I pack Zoe a container of this popcorn every day for her school snack, and believe me she only gets a handful, as it’s instantly consumed by the masses. Once you pop your own popcorn, you’ll never go back to the microwave stuff again. I guarantee it!

Marin Mama’s popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil - see my notes below on the different types of coconut oils
  • fine sea salt

Instructions

Our favorite oils to use for popcorn are listed in order of preference below:

refined organic coconut oil - This oil gives the popcorn a nice crisp, light and fresh flavor. Refined coconut oil does not have that coconut smell.

extra virgin coconut oil - This oil is unrefined and smells like an actual coconut. If you want and like that buttery movie style popcorn then use this. It really does give the popcorn that buttery flavor. We're not big fans of buttered flavored popcorn, so we prefer using the refined oil.

Ok, lets make some popcorn!

Put the 1/2 cup kernels and 2 tablespoons oil (coconut oil is solid but will melt immediately once heated) into your kettle popper or whatever pan/utensil you use to make fresh popcorn.

Turn up the heat to medium and slowly turn the handle till the popcorn is popped.

Toss the popcorn into a large bowl & sprinkle with sea salt to taste. We like to sprinkle on some salt, then shake the bowl a bit and then sprinkle on some more salt. You get the drill!

That's all there is to it folks!

We love to throw treats in our popcorn such as m&m's, candy corn, (Eli's favorite around Halloween) and twizzlers. The sweet mixed with the salty is a winning combination.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2012/04/marin-mamas-popcorn/

spinach, blueberry & pomegranate smoothie

DSC_0475
Its ski week here in California and instead of skiing we are hanging by the pool enjoying this blissful 80 degree weather.  
Whoo hooo!!!
This is a short but sweet post as I am taking a break from cooking and the computer this week to spend some quality time outdoors with the kids.  I am showcasing a smoothie rather than warm comfort foods as it feels like summer over here and honestly because I have been feeding my kids to much of this.

We made an afternoon pit stop at Ghirardelli the other day.

I figured a healthier mid-afternoon snack was in the works for the kids.  I saw this smoothie recipe the other day at Yummy Mummy and knew it would be something sweet to take care of my kid’s sweet tooth but also healthy at the same time.   

It got the kid approval so here you go…
Spinach & Blueberry smoothie:
Recipe from Yummy Mummy
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries- if using fresh then you will want to add some ice
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice – I used 3/4 cup as I used 2 cups of spinach in the smoothie rather than 1 cup 
  • 1 cup spinach - I used 2 cups of spinach here
  • 1 banana 
Here’s to a taste of summer wherever you are!
Don’t blink!
I had to close with this photo.  
If you’re a fan of Doctor Who you will get this.
Are there any Doctor Who fans out there?

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Bread

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt bread

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt breadI don’t know about you, but when my kids come home from school, they are HUNGRY! The first words out of their mouths are, “Hi mom, what’s for snack?”  I get it, they’re growing and had lunch a couple of hours ago, and so they need some fuel!  When Zoe gets home and smells something baking in the oven, she does her leap of joy and yells a big “Yippee!”  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Here’s a great fall afternoon snack, or anytime of the year snack.  It almost qualifies as a dessert, it’s that yummy.  I serve this up for the kids with a tall glass of milk, and after its devoured, I get that sigh of contentment and the rubbing of the belly!  I made a few variations to the original recipe to make it healthier.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. I’ve replaced it with 1/4 virgin coconut oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce.  I’ve also tried it using 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup unsweetened applause. I’ve also added in 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt at times to give it a bit more moisture.  All 3 variations have been wonderful,  so play with this bread and make it your own, and let me know your favorite way to enjoy it!  chocolate chip pumpkin bundt bread

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Bread:

If you want to add a bit more moisture to this bread, then you can add in 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt to the wet ingredients.
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree – my favorite brand is Farmers Organic Pumpkin and I love that the cans are BPA free.  
  • 1/4 cup fresh-pressed virgin coconut oil, (the coconut oil that actually smells like a coconut) in liquid form (I show you how to melt the coconut oil below) or 1/4 cup vegetable oil – Note: the old recipe called for 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and if you like and want that version, then just use the 1/2 cup vegetable oil and omit the unsweetened applesauce below as well as the 1/4 cup coconut oil.  
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips – I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease up a Bundt pan.  I always use a paper towel and some room temp butter to grease up my Bundt pan.  Make sure that you grease the pan up along edges and middle.

ingredients for chocolate chip pumpkin Bundt breadMeasure out 1/4 cup coconut oil using a dry measuring cup.  Add the solid coconut oil to a small pan and turn the heat to simmer.  Simmer the oil, using a spatula to stir it occasionally, until it melts.  Set it aside to cool a bit.  It won’t have to cool too much as it won’t be that hot.

melting coconut oilWhisk together the 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup applesauce, 2 large eggs, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice and the 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice until well combined.Whisk together the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda until combined and then add in the 1 cup of chocolate chips and give it another stir. A note about chocolate chips, my family prefers dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so we use these Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips.  They are amazing, and they do say that dark chocolate is good for you, so that may help take some of the guilt away.  Try them in your next recipe that calls for chocolate chips. Using a spatula or wooden spoon mix the dry into the wet until JUST combined. Spoon into the Bundt pan and even out slightly using a spatula.  Give the bundt pan a slam on the counter to release any trapped air and to help the batter get a bit more even. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 42-46 minutes.  Different ovens have different baking times, so the baking time is just an estimate here.

Baking tip: It’s hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time. A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test as well as the standard toothpick test. To do the finger test, press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.Cool briefly and turn out onto a plate or rack.Enjoy this as a snack with a tall glass of milk, some tea or coffee, or add some vanilla ice cream and have it for dessert.

chocolate chip pumpkin bundt bread

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Bread

Rating: 51

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bundt Bread

If you want to add a bit more moisture to this bread, then you can add in 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt to the wet ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree - My favorite brand is Farmers Organic Pumpkin and I love that the cans are BPA free.
  • 1/4 cup fresh-pressed virgin coconut oil (the coconut oil that actually smells like a coconut), in liquid form (I show you how to melt the coconut oil below) or 1/4 cup vegetable oil - Note: the old recipe called for 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and if like and want that version, then just use the 1/2 cup vegetable oil and omit the unsweetened applesauce below as well as the 1/4 cup coconut oil.
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup chocolate chips - I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease up a Bundt pan. I always use a paper towel and some room temp butter to grease up my Bundt pan. Make sure that you grease the pan up along edges and middle.

Measure out 1/4 cup coconut oil using a dry measuring cup.

Add the solid coconut oil to a small pan and turn the heat to simmer. Simmer the oil, using a spatula to stir it occasionally, until it melts. Set it aside to cool a bit.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup applesauce, 2 large eggs, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon allspice and the 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice until well combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda until combined and then add in the 1 cup of chocolate chips and give it another stir.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, mix the dry into the wet until JUST combined.

Spoon into the Bundt pan and even out slightly using a spatula. Give the bundt pan a slam on the counter to release any trapped air and to help the batter get a bit more even.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 42-50 minutes. Different ovens have different baking times, so the baking time is just an estimate here.

Baking tip: It’s hard to give an exact cooking time when it comes to baking because every oven, pan and even geographic locations, can command a slightly different cooking time. A great way to know when a cake is done, is to do the finger test as well as the standard toothpick test. To do the finger test, press your finger down gently in the middle of the cake, if it’s done, it should puff back up automatically on it own. If it stays dented, then the cake is not ready to come out yet. Also, a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean as well.

Cool briefly and turn out onto a plate or rack.

Enjoy this as a snack with a tall glass of milk, some tea or coffee, or add some vanilla ice cream and have it for dessert.

http://www.marinmamacooks.com/2011/10/chocolate-chip-pumpkin-bundt-bread/

Spinach Smoothie! Kid rated 10!

kidssmoothie
Want you kids to get more greens in their diet? Here is a smoothie recipe that is rated a 10 in this household, yes a 10.  I make this for the kids to have with their lunch on the weekend or just as a healthy after school snack.  This is similar my kale and spinach smoothie, but it doesn’t have the kale or the flax seed in it.  I did try to sneak in the flax seed one day, but the kids noticed and didn’t like it.  Oh well, I should be thankful that they love this smoothie though!  BTW, this just isn’t a smoothie for kids, John and I drink this all the time after the gym.  We just throw in 2 tablespoons of flaxseed in ours.

 Spinach Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup cold filtered water
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup organic grapes
  • 2 fully packed cups of spinach - I really pack the spinach in, so I’m sure it’s more than 2 cups
  • 1/2 banana
  • optional for adults – 2 tablespoons flax seed

See, they are really drinking it and loving it.  I did not instruct them to pose for this picture!

A smoothie mustache is the sign of a good smoothie, wouldn’t you agree?