Blue Bayou Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

August 2, 2015

Disneyland chicken and sausage gumboWe just got back from a family road trip to Southern California, where we spent a couple days at everyone's favorite Orange County destination: Disneyland. (Yes, it was crowded and yes we still had a lot of fun.)

One of the things we were actually pleasantly surprised with at Disneyland was the food. Sure, much of it was overpriced, but the quality was actually very good for the most part. We also learned that if you asked for a recipe at Town Hall they gladly give it to you!

We got their recipe for the gumbo served at New Orleans Square restaurants the Blue Bayou (the one inside Pirates of the Caribbean) and Cafe Orleans. The recipe they give you is a restaurant one for making huge amounts, so we had to fiddle with it a bit to make it usable in a home kitchen. It's really good, though—simple and hearty and everyone liked it. In our version we used spicy andouille sausage and cooked chicken, but feel free to use whatever you like; shrimp would be a great addition. Take a bite and you'll be transported back to New Orleans, or at least the Disney version of it.

Easy Summer Frittata

July 26, 2015

frittataFrittatas are a great dish for a light dinner, brunch, or lunch. This Italian-style omelet is versatile—you can make it with any number of different ingredients—delicious, and inexpensive. Make sure you use good quality eggs; bonus points if you have your own backyard chickens. We used zucchini from our summer vegetable garden, but you can use anything you like. Kale and Swiss chard are really good, as are spinach and asparagus. Leave the ham out to make it vegetarian.


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Make Your Own Summer Sun Tea

July 21, 2015

Sun TeaNow that we are in the middle of summer and temperatures climb, it's the perfect time to not only enjoy a cold glass of iced tea, but to make your own sun tea, too. I've found myself drinking a lot of iced tea over the past few years (it probably has something to do with parental sleep deprivation). I usually buy bottles of Tejava tea, which I love because it's unsweeted and has a good strong tea flavor.

I decided to try making my own and maybe save a little money in the process. I remember my mom making sun tea way back when, and thought I'd give it a try. The results were really fantastic, so I thought I'd share them here. It's really easy to do, really inexpensive, and the kids actually had fun helping make it.

You'll need:

Slow Cooker Chicken Pho

July 19, 2015

Chicken phoI love my slow cooker, but I really don't use it much during the summer, because, after all, who wants to eat hearty soups and stews on a hot day? Lately, however, I've been trying to think about how to use the slow cooker to make more warm-weather kinds of dishes. One of my successful recipes is for a slow-cooker version of chicken pho, that delicious Vietnamese noodle soup. Simmer the broth all day in the slow cooker, then prep the garnishes and noodles and dinner is ready!

Pho is usually associated with beef, but this chicken version is a little healthier and easier to make. It's probably not 100% authentic, but it tastes pretty darn close to the real thing, without the need to pay a visit to your favorite Vietnamese restaurant (and there aren't too many of them in Marin). One of the great things about pho is that you can vary the taste to your own liking by adding traditional garnishes like fresh herbs, bean sprouts, and chiles. If you (or your kids) like it plain, that's fine, too!

Keep Cool with Frozen Watermelon Pops

July 11, 2015

When the temperature rises in the summer, we like to make these frozen watermelon pops to help beat the heat. They're easy to make, delicious, healthy (they're all fruit, after all), and fun to eat on a hot summer day.

You don't need much to make these, just the watermelon, a little sugar (if needed), a blender or food processor, and ice pop molds. You can use other fruits to make these, too—fresh strawberries are particularly good—but the classic summer flavor of watermelon just seems to be perfect for a frozen treat like this.

The kids like to pitch in and help make these, too, although it can be hard for them to wait while the pops firm up in the freezer. Needless to say, grownups may want to take charge of the blending, for safety's sake.


  • Watermelon
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • Ice pop molds

Fresh and Healthy Summer Garden Chili

July 5, 2015

summer chiliChili is one of those meals that can be on the hearty, heavy side and not something you necessarily want to serve for a summer dinner—except for this fresh and healthy version. For this summer chili, I lighten things up considerably and take advantage of fresh summer produce like the zucchini growing in our backyard garden and sweet corn.

Serve this chili with a variety of toppings and add-ons so each diner can customize it to his or her taste. You can make it vegetarian (or vegan) by omitting the ground turkey and doubling the amount of beans, corn, and squash. Either way, it's delicious! And our kids even eat it, too. There's probably no reason you couldn't make this year-round, either, although you'd have to subsitute frozen corn for the fresh.



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

Fantastic Family-Friendly 4th of July Recipes

June 29, 2015

Tri-tipThe 4th of July is coming up, and what could be more all-American than a summer backyard BBQ. We've put together a selection of our most popular family-friendly grilling recipes, along with a few great summer sides, desserts, and other treats. So fire up the grill and cook a feast for family and friends today!

Santa Maria-Style Tri Tip

Cooked slowly over charcoal with plenty of wood smoking chips, this traditional Santa Maria-style tri tip is simple to make and really delicious.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

This Mediterranean-inspired grilled chicken, marinated in fresh herbs and citrus, is a hit with everyone.

Hawaiian Style BBQ Short Ribs

June 22, 2015

Hawaiian style short ribsThese marinated and grilled short ribs are the perfect thing for a summer backyard BBQ. They only take a few minutes to make and cook (outside of the marinating time), and the sweet-salty soy sauce-based Hawaiian marinade delivers a taste of the islands without having to get on a plane.

You can serve these short ribs in classic Hawaiian plate lunch style, accompanied by two scoops of rice and macaroni salad, but we opted to be a little healthier and make an island-style sesame-cabbage slaw that has added texture from crumbled dry instant ramen noodles.

You'll want to get Hawaiian-style—also called Maui- or flanken-style—short ribs, which are cut in thin strips across the bone. These don't need to be marinated all that long, and only need to be grilled a few minutes on each side. The marinade works great with chicken or pork, too.


for the ribs

Strawberry Yogurt Sorbet Is a Healthy and Sweet Summer Treat

June 20, 2015

strawberry yogurt sorbet cone Who doesn't love a sweet, refreshing, frozen treat during the summertime? Make it a little more healthy with sweet fresh strawberries and tangy Greek yogurt. You don't even need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

It's fantastic scooped into a cone or frozen into ice pop molds—whatever tickles your fancy this summer. My kids and I made this sorbet with fresh strawberries that we picked up at the farmers market.

While our recipe calls for strawberries, you can use whatever fresh berries you happen to have. Frozen berries work perfectly well, too, so you can make this at any time of year. You can also feel free to substitute low-fat yogurt, but do try to use extra thick Greek yogurt; it makes a difference.


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