For some reason, guacamole seems to be perpetually linked to the Super Bowl. Come February, the pebbly-skinned green fruits go on sale at the supermarket, inviting you to make a big bowl of delicious creamy guacamole to snack on or add to recipes.
When it comes to guacamole, I think simpler is better. There are so many recipes out there, often including ingredients ranging from tomatoes to mayonnaise (yuck!) to those seasoning packets you find in the supermarket containing who-knows-what. The New York Times cooking section even recently published a recipe that included green peas! Most traditional guacamole recipes eschew these ingredients in favor of simplicity, allowing the flavor and unctuous texture of the avocado to be the star. I think my favorite guac recipe which I'm sharing here does just that.
It's almost a shame that we all feel the need to make guacamole during the Super Bowl, given that California's avocado season runs from March through October. The imported Mexican ones seem to be a decent substitute, but I've found that the avocados from Peru and other South American countries aren't as good.
Chinese New Year starts next Monday, February 8, so we are making some of the traditional foods associated with the holiday. Foods that are made and eaten during the new year celebration often have symbolic meanings meant to invoke prosperity and good fortune. In this case, the name "longevity noodles" is self-explanatory: the long noodles symbolize a long and happy life. Don't break them up when you're cooking, and try to eat them all in one piece!
This recipe is our adaptation of the traditional dish. We included a variety of kid-friendly Asian veggies like snow peas, napa cabbage, and bean sprouts, and left out the black mushrooms at the request of my daughter, who helped shop for the ingredients. Feel free to vary the ingredients depending on your family's preferences. Our kids both asked for seconds (and ate the vegetables and chicken, not just the noodles).
On 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.
Winter 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.
For 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.
A classic central European comfort food dish, chicken paprikash is a great recipe to add to your winter cooking repertoire. Essentially chicken braised in a paprika-laden sauce finished with some sour cream, chicken paprikash is popular in Hungary and its neighbors like Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia.
Make sure you use sweet paprika—preferably Hungarian or Hungarian-style, not the hot or smoked varieties. Dark meat chicken pieces, bone-in and skin-on, work best in this slow-cooked dish. You can use bone-in chicken breasts, too, if you like or even a whole cut-up chicken. Also make sure you serve this with lots of noodles, mashed potatoes, or spätzle to soak up the delicious sauce (it's the best part).
2–3 lbs chicken thighs or leg quarters, bone-in and skin-on
A 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.
It'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.
Marin 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.