Recipes

Light and Delicious Chinese Chicken Salad

April 21, 2014

Chinese chicken saladAfter any holiday that involves a lot of eating (like Easter), 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 dressing ingredients sound exotic but you should be able to find most of them at the grocery store. Feel free to omit the sriracha sauce if you think you need to, but my kids didn't mind the spicy notes it added. In fact, both had multiple servings of this the last time I made it, so I decided it was a success!

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes, plus at least 15 minutes cooling time

Ingredients

for the marinade and dressing

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (reduced sodium if possible)
  • 3 T finely chopped fresh ginger

Strawberry Shortcake Is a True Taste of Springtime

April 20, 2014

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.

Bird's Nest Cookies for Easter

April 15, 2014

Bird's Nest Cookie These 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.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar

Classic Coconut Mini Cupcakes for Easter

April 14, 2014

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.

A Family That Eats Together: Thai Chicken and Basil Stir-Fry

April 14, 2014

Thai basil chickenMarin 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.

This recipe makes cooking Thai more simple than you can image. In less than 20 minutes dinner is served and it is sweet, savory and delish! Did I mention it’s also healthy? After you make this, you will wonder why you ever ordered out for Thai food. Serve with brown rice.

Serves: 3–4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless cutlets, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced

When Life Hands You Meyer Lemons, Make Lemon Bars

April 12, 2014

Lemon barLemon bars have to be one of my all time favorite desserts. I usually reserve lemon bars for special occasions, because they are so sweet and rich. They are great for a special treat, party or a school event.

When a friend gave me a big bag of Meyer lemons from her tree and mentioned that they make spectacular lemon bars, I just had to try them out with this recipe. If you're not familiar with Meyer lemons, they're a seasonal citrus fruit that's similar to the regular Eureka lemons that you find in the grocery store, but with a thinner peel and sweeter and more aromatic. The lemon bars they made were truly fantastic, with an amazing citrus flavor that you simply won't get from grocery store lemons. If you don't have a Meyer lemon tree yourself (or have a friend who does), you can find them Trader Joe's or at one of the local farmers markets—while they're in season.

Here is the recipe I used for lemon bars. Yes, it seems like a lot of sugar, but you have to offset the tartness of the lemons. If you don't have Meyer lemons, that's OK. This recipe is still fantastic with regular lemons, too.

A Family That Eats Together: Butternut Squash Risotto

April 7, 2014

butternut squash risottoMarin 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.

Finding Butternut Squash puree in the freezer section at the grocery store last week was like finding gold. I don’t know why I never knew about it but, boy am I happy I found it.

In our house butternut squash might be one of the most adored veggies. We love it in ravioli, pasta, soups, and alone as a side dish. One of our favorite comfort foods is risotto and I am always looking for ways to make it as healthy as possible so when I found the butternut squash puree in the freezer section, I knew exactly what to do with it.

Serves: 6
Prep time:
5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Arborio rice

A Family That Eats Together: Pasta with Spring Peas and Pancetta

March 31, 2014

Pasta with spring peas and pancettaMarin 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.

There is something about Spring Peas and Pancetta that ring in springtime for me. This dish is a perfect marriage of the two with pasta and Pecorino-Romano cheese. It is something like a modern day mac and cheese kicked up a notch!

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

Ingredients

  • 1 pound your favorite pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

A Family That Eats Together: Shaking Beef

March 24, 2014

shaking beefMarin 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.

Charles Phan of the Slanted Door made Shaking Beef famous. Its succulent sauce, a perfect salty/sweet combination, is tossed with filet mignon. It might be one of my all time favorite dishes to eat at his restaurant and to make at home. You won’t believe how simple it is to make and your family will go crazy for it! Serve with rice.

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

Ingredients

  • 1½ pounds filet mignon or top sirloin, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 ½ tablespoons sugar
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