Light and Delicious Chinese Chicken Salad

January 27, 2015

Chinese chicken saladAfter any holiday that involves a lot of eating (like Christmas), I'm always on the lookout for recipes that are on the lighter side, but still tasty and family friendly. One of my all-time favorite dishes is Chinese chicken salad, a ubiquitous restaurant menu item that's actually really easy to make at home.

I've experimented with a variety of recipes for this main-dish salad, some involving ingredients like crumbled Top Ramen noodles, but my new favorite version is this one, inspired by a recipe from chef Curtis Stone. It doesn't have any crunchy noodles (but you can add them if you want), but it does have plenty of grilled chicken, crunchy napa cappage, and a sweet/spicy Asian inspired dressing, which does double-duty as a marinade for the chicken.

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

January 25, 2015

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookiesFor many years, I've been on a search for the best-ever chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I think I've found it! These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have crisp edges and chewy centers and taste and look fantastic. The addition of oatmeal gives these cookies a nutty taste, too.

They're based on the recipe published by King Arthur Flour, who in turn got it from the Cookies for Kids' Cancer non-profit. It's King Arthur's 2015 recipe of the year—make a batch and you'll see why.

This recipes makes approximately 20 large cookies if using a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out the dough. You can use a smaller size to get more cookies, but keep in mind that baking times may vary.

Chef Daddy Cooks Food Your Kids Will Eat: Beef Bourguignon

January 19, 2015

Beef BourguignonOn cool winter nights, it just seems right to make some stick-to-your-ribs comfort food classics. One of my family's favorites is beef bourguignon.

This timeless dish of beef braised with red wine and vegetables is easy to make and I have yet to find anyone who doesn't love it. It's one of my dinner party staples, since you can throw it all together in the early afternoon and just let it go on the stove so you can socialize instead of slave away in the kitchen.

One of the other great things about beef bourguignon is that you can make it from an inexpensive cut of meat like chuck, which the long braising time renders tender and delicious. I like to buy locally raised grass-fed beef from Marin County producers like Stemple Creek Ranch and Marin Sun Farms when I can, and this is a great way to prepare a quality ingredient without breaking the bank.

Easy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

January 17, 2015

cinnamon rollsSometimes a hot fresh cinnamon roll really hits the spot, especially as part of a weekend breakfast or brunch. We usually buy a package of refrigerated unbaked cinnamon rolls from Trader Joe's, but we recently tried making our own from scratch. At first the idea seemed a little daunting, since it involved yeast, letting the dough rise, and making a sugary glaze, but you know what? It really wasn't that difficult at all!

Since you do have to let the dough rise a bit, you have to plan making these a bit in advance, but it stil goes fairly quickly. You can also make the glaze with either freshly squeezed orange juice or even coffee in place of the milk. It all depends on what you're in the mood for. This recipe makes 10 to 12 sticky, sweet, and delicious cinnamon rolls. The kids love to help make these, too, so have them lend a hand in the kitchen!


for the cinnamon rolls

Slow-roasted Rotisserie-style Chicken

January 12, 2015

faux-tisserie roast chickenA roast chicken can be satisfying and delicious, but it can be deceptively difficult to make. I've been experimenting with trying to make the perfect roast chicken (I'm getting there, I think), and have been using different techniques to see how they turn out. One of the more successful ones is a "faux-tisserie" chicken, which attempts to develop the same fall-off-the bone texture that you get from your favorite rotisserie-cooked bird.

The general technique comes from Bon Appetit magazine, which advocates cooking the chicken low and slow for hours. I decided to flavor it like they do at Gira Polli in Mill Valley, whose wood-fired rotisserie chickens I think are some of the best in Marin. While this is not a whip-it-up-after-you-get-home-from-work recipe, it's really pretty easy. You just need to be around for the 3 hours it takes to cook it.

Dutch-Style Split Pea Soup Warms on a Winter Evening

January 5, 2015

Dutch split-pea soup or snertNothing beats a hot and hearty bowl of soup on a chilly winter evening. In the Netherlands, a favorite winter dish is split pea soup, known in Dutch as erwtensoep or snert. It's similar to its American counterpart, but differs a bit in that it uses a variety of vegetables as well as smoked pork like bacon and ham. The Dutch also prefer to use yellow split peas over the green ones we usually associate with the dish.

We had a hambone left over from New Year's Eve dinner and decided to make a pot of snert this weekend. If you don't have a hambone, use a smoked hamhock instead. In the Netherlands they often add slices of smoked sausage, so feel free to add some kielbasa or smoked bratwurst to the pot.

Among the veggies that go into the pot is celery root, also known as celeriac. It's that ugly knobby thing that you may have run across in the produce section, and if you're not familiar with it it can look a little scary. It's delicious, though, and adds a distinctive flavor to the soup, so don't leave it out! It's probably easiest to peel with a sharp paring knife rather than a vegetable peeler.

This recipe makes enough for two meals, if not more. It thickens up quite a bit when it cools, so you can add a bit of water to it when reheating. Also, make sure you reheat the soup slowly as can burn easily.


  • 1 hambone or meaty smoked hamhock
  • 1 16-ounce bag yellow or green split peas

Family Fondue Party for New Year's Eve

December 29, 2014

fondueNearly everyone I know (us included) received a fondue pot as a wedding gift. If you don't have one, then your parents most certainly do, since fondue was a huge deal in the 1960s and '70s. Fondue is easy to make, if you follow the directions closely, and makes for a fun social meal—the perfect thing for a family New Year's Eve party.

On New Year's Eves past we've made the traditional Swiss style fondue using Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses and white wine. With its blend of wine and strong-tasting Swiss cheeses, It's never been a big hit with the kids, so last year we crafted a new, more kid-friendly version using cheddar cheese. Needless to say, it was a big hit, and ended up being a lot less expensive to make than the authentic version, too.

Easy Individual Chicken Pot Pies

December 22, 2014

individual chicken pot pieUse up leftover rotisserie chicken in these quick, easy, and delicious individual pot pies. The kids love getting their own little pies, and they really like both helping make and eating them! Topping each pie with a square of frozen puff pastry dough makes this really easy to make any night of the week.

If you don’t have any leftover chicken you can just cook up a couple boneless skinless chicken breasts for an equally tasty dish. Full of vegetables, they're meals in themselves.

Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever you happen to have on hand—other vegetables you can use include broccoli, cauliflower, and sliced mushrooms, and you can use any kind of leftover meat, or none at all for a vegetarian version (substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth). Dried herbs may be used instead of fresh—use half the amount indicated in the recipe.

If you don’t have ramekins, you can make one large pot pie in a casserole dish and place the puff pastry dough over the top; cooking time may vary from that indicated.


A Family That Eats Together: Ziti Frittata

December 16, 2014

Ziti frittataMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike.

Hummm… bacon and eggs for dinner? Count us in! Sometimes it just seems right. Think of this dish as a take on quiche but instead of a crust I use cooked pasta. Add in some veggies and the kids will never know that you sneaked them in because my frittata is just that good. The best part is that this recipe is so quick and easy it is a perfect weeknight dinner. It can also easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the pancetta.

Servings: 8–10
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes


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