Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 23, 2015

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soupWinter  to use your slow cooker, since it's perfect for making long-simmered comfort food favorites that hit the spot on a cool evening. Try out this recipe for a Mexican-style tortilla soup. The technique couldn't be easier: you just throw almost everything in the cooker and let it go all day, adding beans and corn at the end.

Everyone likes this because you can personalize your bowl with various garnishes, like avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more. Fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this soup a delicious smoky flavor, but of course you can use the normal varieties of these ingredients, too.


  • 1 32-ounce carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Make Your Own Easy Homemade Pretzels

February 21, 2015

homemade pretzelsIt's almost as fun for kids to make their own snacks as it is for them to eat them! This pretzel recipe is easy, fast, and perfect for children to help with, and the results are delicious, too. My kids love to make these tasty pretzels when friends come over. It's a great activity for rainy days and playgroups, too. Why not bake up a batch this weekend?

The only part of this recipe that's not kid-friendly is boiling the pretzels briefly in a baking soda and water solution—have a grown-up handle this part. This step gives the pretzels their characteristic crunch, brown color, and flavor. You can omit it if you like; the pretzels will still be good, but won't be quite the same.

To make the pretzels you'll need:

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta

February 16, 2015

pasta with brussels sproutsI know… it's a culinary cliché that the one vegetable kids hate most is Brussels sprouts. While some people think they're icky, our family loves them, especially if they're prepared right. I'm firmly convinced that the reason people don't like certain vegetables is because they aren't cooked properly.

This Brussels sprout pasta dish is something I put together recently in an effort to find a way to use the little guys in a main dish. I think it turned out really good, and my son even asked for seconds! There aren't many ingredients in this dish—less is definitely more in this case. Just make sure you use fresh high-quality sprouts and good olive oil.


  • 1 pound dried pasta of your choice (we used rigatoni)
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered or shredded

Valentine's Day Recipe: The Chocolate Rocket

February 12, 2015

chocolate rocketMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of The 52 New Foods Challenge, with a kid-friendly recipe that's perfect for a Valentine's Day treat.

This sweet treat was such a surprise at our family table. Like Catherine, I was skeptical that I would like the taste of avocado in a pudding. But the texture was so smooth and the combination of flavors so delicious that it won us over. Just remember not to sneak in any ingredients. Have your kids make this recipe, so they know what’s in the food they’re eating.

Tip: I use the Vitamix 750 for this recipe. You can easily double the volume to accommodate more people. It will taste better chilled, but it is not required.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Serves 4


Baked Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

February 9, 2015

spinach and cheese manicottiThis recipe for baked manicotti is an old favorite of mine, and something that my kids love to both help make and eat, too. Tubes of pasta are filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese and chopped spinach, then covered in tomato sauce, and topped with a rich béchamel sauce and parmesan cheese. It's hearty and delicious at any time of year, and the kids don't even notice that the manicotti filling includes spinach (something good for them!).

The kids like to help stuffing the manicotti tubes, so get them into the kitchen to lend a hand making dinner. If you're in a hurry, use a good quality jarred sauce and it will come together quickly. We like to make our own, and usually have a container of it in the freezer for recipes like this. (I've included my basic tomato sauce recipe below, too.)


  • 1 8-ounce package manicotti tubes
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Make Some Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

February 8, 2015

Valentine's Day cookiesMy kids love to make these basic sugar cookies and decorate them for Valentine's Day. They are easy to make and are a fun project for a rainy day. Decorate your cookies with pink and red Valentine's sprinkles or, better yet, an artistically applied drizzle of rich dark chocolate. They look festive and taste good too.

Give as a gift wrapped in cellophane bags tied with raffia or ribbon or in a heart-shaped box. Who wouldn't be happy to get these delicious and pretty sweet treats on Valentines Day?


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (you’ll need a little more for dusting your work surface, too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Yummy Winter Minestrone Soup

February 2, 2015

winter minestrone soupI love to make a big pot of soup on Sunday evenings, since it's a great weekend meal and makes for leftovers all week long. This version of the classic Italian minestrone soup uses vegetables that are available locally during the winter. It's hearty and filling and good for you, too.

Leave out the pancetta to make it vegetarian/vegan. I also like to make this soup using just water instead of chicken broth—the flavor of the fresh vegetables really comes through. I cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls when serving. That way when there are leftovers it doesn't absorb all the liquid in the soup when it sits.


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.

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