Easy Chinese Cashew Chicken

April 20, 2015

cashew chickenWhenever we get Chinese take-out, my kids love to order cashew chicken. Like many Chinese-American restaurant staples, cashew chicken is actually easy to make at home, and requires only a couple special ingredients, which you should be able to find in the Asian foods aisle of your local supermarket. Accompany this with stir-fried green beans and steamed brown rice for a healthy weeknight meal.


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

A Family That Eats Together: Rocket Pesto with Linguine

April 13, 2015

Rocket PestoMarin 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.

Did you know that many countries around the world call arugula "rocket"? Well, that is how I sold this dish to my son. "Rocket Pasta"—he loved the name and the dish. I use baby arugula, which is peppery like its relatives but sweeter in taste. Using walnuts tones down the peppery flavor and makes it smooth like a more traditional basil pesto. Your whole family will be surprised at just how good this quick and easy recipe really is.

Serves: 4–6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


Strawberry Shortcake Is a True Taste of Springtime

April 10, 2015

Strawberry ShortcakeOne of the best things about spring is knowing that you can get fresh, sweet, locally grown organic strawberries at the farmer's market or grocery store. To celebrate, we love to make this easy and delicious strawberry shortcake dessert. This simple combination of lightly sweet shortcake, fresh strawberries, and vanilla flavored whipped cream is a hit with just about everyone, and is suitable for every occasion, from a fancy Easter dinner to a kids' tea party.

These shortcakes are kind of like sweet (but not too sweet) buttermilk drop biscuits, and don't take very long to put together. If you're really in a hurry, you can use whipped cream from a can, but it doesn't take too much time or effort to make some fresh whipped cream with your electric mixer, and it tastes so much better, too.

You can make the shortcakes and whipped cream in advance and let diners assemble their own strawberry shortcake creations at the table, if you like. It's fun for both children and adults. Whipped cream keeps fine in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you can make it extra-thick and rich by putting it in a strainer over a bowl and letting some of the water drain out.

What's for Dinner: Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

April 6, 2015

chicken and broccoli stir fryI love it when I find a dish that everyone in the family loves and that's healthy, economical, and easy to make, too. This Chinese-inspired chicken and broccoli stir fry is all of those things. Serve it with some plain rice or Asian noodles and it's a complete dinner that comes together quickly.

Serves: 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Bird's Nest Cookies for Easter

April 4, 2015

birds nest cookiesThese cute and clever bird's nest cookies are the perfect treat for Easter. Light and airy coconut-filled meringues really look a lot like birds' nests—you can complete the illusion by adding a few egg-shaped Easter candies. We like the Cadbury mini eggs, but malted milk eggs or even jelly beans will work equally well.

The kids love to help make these, and of course love to eat them. These treats are a great addition to Easter baskets, too. Give them a try, and you'll probably find that they earn a spot in your spring baking repertoire.


Classic Coconut Mini Cupcakes for Easter

March 31, 2015

Coconut cupcakesOld fashioned coconut cake is an Easter favorite. We decided to give this classic treat a kid-sized spin and made a fun mini cupcake version.

These light and sweet little cakes with a marshmallow-like frosting are great for parties, playdates, and get-togethers, and of course as dessert on Easter! Sure, you can use fresh toasted coconut on the outside, but we love the old-school white flaked sweetened coconut from the grocery store's baking aisle.

This recipe makes about three dozen mini cupcakes. You can use it to make regular-size cupcakes, too, but of course you'll need to increase the baking time by a few minutes.

Spring Vegetable Pasta is a Dinnertime Hit

March 30, 2015

spring vegetable pastaAfter seeing all the fantastic spring produce at the Marin Civic Center Farmer's Market, I've been determined to create a recipe that showcases some of the season's best vegetables. I made this spring pasta dish this weekend, and my kids loved it. It's built around the organic English peas that I picked up, and is fresh, light, and delicious. I also found the first of the season's white corn, which I usually think of as a summer thing, and I decided that would go well in this dish too (and it did).

Put the kids to work in the kitchen shelling the peas and shucking the corn. It's always fun for them to get involved in cooking a meal. If you don't have the time or inclination to deal with the fresh peas and corn, frozen would work fine, too.

Serves: 6
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Delicious Chicken, Preserved Lemon, and Green Olive Tagine

March 23, 2015

Chicken, Preserved Lemon, and Green Olive TagineI love to make different kinds of ethnic foods, and when I saw that Trader Joe's had jars of preserved lemons from North Africa on their shelves, I knew I had to make a Moroccan dish for dinner. Morocco food is full of spices but not "spicy", and combines North African and Middle Eastern flavors with influences from nearby France and Spain.

I settled on a traditional tagine of chicken, preserved lemon, and green olives. Rich with spices like cumin, saffron, and cinnamon, this stew-like dish is named after the earthenware vessel in which it's usually cooked. We don't own one, so I used a cast iron Dutch oven which works just fine for the recipe. There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, although a lot of them are the the spices, which you can combine together in a small bowl and then just add at once, so don't be intimidated.

Serve this tagine with plenty of couscous or flatbread so soak up the delicious sauce. It keeps and reheats well, too. The kids really liked this and cleaned their plates (although my daughter declared that the couscous was the best part).


  • 1 chicken, cut into eight pieces, or four whole bone-in, skin-on, chicken legs (thigh and drumstick)
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced

Three-Cheese Mac and Cheese with Cauliflower

March 16, 2015

mac and cheese with cauliflowerWho doesn't love macaroni and cheese? The stuff in the box pales in comparison to the homemade kind, which has been gracing American dining tables since Thomas Jefferson served it up at a state dinner in 1802. While it's delicious, it's not the healthiest thing you can make, but we try to make it a little more wholesome by adding fresh veggies, in this case cauliflower, which blends in nicely with the macaroni and white-cheddar cheese sauce.

My kids actually like cauliflower, so this isn't one of those "hide the vegetables and hope they don't notice" recipes, although if you wanted to cut the cauliflower up into little pieces it might work that way. You can also use broccoli or whatever other veggie you can think of. I happen to think that the cauliflower goes particularly well with it.


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or other tubular pasta
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets (about half a head)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
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