Recipes

Festive Summer Almond Cake with Strawberries

June 20, 2017

almond strawberry cakeDuring early summer, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that use fresh local strawberries, which my whole family loves, but then who doesn't? I came across this recipe and it sounded fantastic, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's really easy to make, and it's light and delicious.

With its red berries and powdered sugar, it looks amazing, too, and has a certain patriotic flair. I think I'll even make it to take to the annual 4th of July party we go to.

Note that I changed the cooking time from the original recipe to 30 to 35 minutes as the cake was done well before the indicated 45 to 50 minute baking time.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Cool Off This Summer with Melon Aguas Frescas

June 19, 2017

Watermelon agua fresca

When the weather warms up, one of the things we often cool off with are aguas frescas, those refreshing traditional Mexican-style drinks made from various kinds of fruit. You don't have to go to your local taqueria to get them, either—they're inexpensive and really easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they're a healthy alternative to sodas and other soft drinks.

We often make aguas frescas with melons like cantaloupe or watermelon; whatever we happen to have on hand. It's a great way to use up all that watermelon that's been sitting in the refrigerator, which is what we made out latest batch out of. You can use other fruits, like strawberries and even pineapple, but melon is an economical choice and a delicious one, too.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

June 4, 2017

Grilled Mediterranean chicken

Summer means it's time to fire up the grill and cook something delicious for dinner. One of the hardest things to cook on the grill is whole chicken. It's too easy to end up with a birds that's charred on the outside and underdone on the inside, but I think this technique is almost foolproof and results in a perfectly cooked chicken every time. It also speeds up the cooking time.

I like to marinate the chicken for a few hours—or overnight, if I'm thinking ahead—in a citrusy, herb-laded mixture that's full of great Mediterranean flavors. I can't say that it's purely Greek or Italian, but it uses flavors common in each cuisine. It helps to have an herb garden just steps from the kitchen door, too!

Feel free to vary this recipe to suit your taste. For example, I sometimes replace the oregano with fresh chopped rosemary for something equally delicious. Whatever variation I decide on, this is one of my go-to dishes for a summer cookout.

Family Friendly Recipes for a Memorial Day Barbeque

May 25, 2017

Tri-tip

Memorial Day Weekend, that traditional kick-off to summer is coming up! Since it's traditional to have a BBQ in the backyard, we've put together a selection of our most popular family-friendly grilling recipes, along with a few great sides and warm weather treats. So fire up the grill, cook up a feast, and enjoy the weekend!

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.

Make a Classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake for Mom

May 8, 2017

This Mother's Day, why not make an old school dessert for Mom—pineapple upside down cake. Pineapple upside down cake is really old school, dating back to the 1920s when canned pineapple from was introduced to the US market by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which would eventually become Dole Foods.

Featuring moist and light cake topped with sweet pineapple and a caramelized brown sugar topping, it's no wonder this dessert has been popular for nearly a century. In our recipe, we use fresh pineapple, but you can substitute canned if you don't want to mess around with cutting up and trimming a fresh one. It's equally good with both.

Ingredients

For the topping:

Easy Individual Chicken Pot Pies

May 7, 2017

individual chicken pot pie

Use up leftover rotisserie chicken in these quick, easy, and delicious individual pot pies. The kids love getting their own little pies, and they really like both helping make them, too! Topping each pie with a square of frozen puff pastry dough makes this really easy to make any night of the week.

If you don’t have any leftover chicken you can just cook up a couple boneless skinless chicken breasts for an equally tasty dish. Full of vegetables, they're meals in themselves.

Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever you happen to have on hand—other vegetables you can use include broccoli, cauliflower, and sliced mushrooms, and you can use any kind of leftover meat (it's a great use for Thanksgiving turkey), or none at all for a vegetarian version (substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth). Dried herbs may be used instead of fresh—use half the amount indicated in the recipe.

If you don’t have ramekins, you can make one large pot pie in a casserole dish and place the puff pastry dough over the top; cooking time may vary from that indicated.

Tasty Chicken Pozole Verde

April 30, 2017

Pozole verde with chicken

Cinco de Mayo is coming up, so why not make a classic Mexican recipe for dinner? Pozole, a hearty soup based on nixtamalized corn, also known as hominy, is considered one of Mexico's national dishes. Usually you'll encounter it in its red form with red chiles and pork, but I think the green version is just a delicious.

Instead of using dried red chiles to flavor the broth, this green pozole feautures tomatillos, jalapeños, and ground toasted pumpkin seeds. This is definitely not a throw-it-together-after-work recipe. It's slow food at its best, and you can use even use your slow cooker if you like. While you can make this with canned hominy and it will still be delicious, definitely try to prepare it using the real deal, which comes dried. You need to cook it slowly for hours, but the texture and flavor are superior.

Tacos al Pastor with Homemade Corn Tortillas

April 23, 2017

tacos al pastorThere's something about authentic style tacos that's so delicious, and one of our favorite variations is tacos al pastor, which consist of pork marinated in a red chile sauce with grilled pineapple. In taquerias the pork is usually cooked on one of those vertical spits (like the ones used to cook shawarma or gyros), but we make a simplified version that we cook on the grill and I think it's a great approximation of the real deal. The enzymes in the pineapple help tenderize the pork, and the sweetness plays off the flavor of the red chile and spices.

Easy Baja Fish Tacos

April 10, 2017

Baja fish tacos

My kids love fish, so these Baja-style fish tacos are a big hit in our house. They're easy to make, and most of the work comes in prepping the add-ons: crunchy shredded cabbage, radishes, salsa, and a creamy lime-infused sauce.

These tacos are fresh and light and remind me of a day at the beach in Southern California. Take a bite and it's summertime at the beach, even if it's the middle of winter.

If you're really short for time, you can make these with frozen fried fish filets like the halibut filets from Trader Joe's, but they're so much better with delicious fresh fish. I made our last batch with some wonderful local lingcod that I got from Real Good Fish, a community supported fishery (or CSF—it's like a farm CSA but for fish) with pick up sites in southern Marin.

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