Recipes

Slow Cooker Chicken Pho

June 26, 2016

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!

Make Your Own Summer Sun Tea

June 23, 2016

Sun TeaNow that summer is here and the weather is warm, 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:

  • A two-quart sealable glass jar.
  • Four to six black tea bags
  • Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
  • Water

Place tea bags and mint (if using) in a clean glass jar. Fill the jar with water and seal.

Hawaiian Style BBQ Short Ribs

June 12, 2016

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.

Easy-to-Make Peach Crumble is the Taste of Summer

June 3, 2016

Summer peach crumbleFew things signify that summer is finally here as much as the easy availability of fresh and juicy stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, and apricots. Now that we're seeing delicious peaches at the farmers' market and in the produce section of the supermarket, why not make a fantastic dessert like peach crumble? This recipe is a summertime staple in our house, especially when my mom brings over a load of peaches fresh off the tree in her front yard.

Fruit crumbles don't look as pretty and require less work than pies, but are just as delicious. Born out of the need for rationing flour and sugar during World War II, crumbles, in their basic form, involve a fruit filling covered with a crumbly flour, sugar, and butter topping. It's something that's easy enough for the kids to help make, too. They love to mix up the crumble topping and spread it on top of the fruit filling.

Cool Off This Summer with Melon Aguas Frescas

May 31, 2016

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.

Easy Chinese Cashew Chicken

May 9, 2016

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.

Ingredients

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

Raspberry Almond Oatmeal Bars

April 5, 2016

raspberry almond oatmeal barsMy kids love to have a sweet treat when they come home from school, and I always try to make them as healthy as I can. These berry-filled oatmeal bars are really delicious, and I sometimes even use whole-wheat flour in them. Use either strawberry or raspberry preserves—they're both equally delicious. Even apricot would work! The sliced almonds can be replaced with chopped walnuts, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into pieces (plus more for greasing the pan)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Spring Vegetable Pasta is a Dinnertime Hit

March 28, 2016

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

Ingredients

  • 1 lb farfalle or other pasta shapes
  • 1 lb English peas in the pod (or 1 cup frozen peas)

Inside-out Chicken Pot Pie with Buttermilk Biscuits

March 21, 2016

inside-out chicken pot pie with buttermilk biscuitsThis dish subverts the traditional chicken pot pie and makes it into an easier but no less delicious weeknight meal. Make a chicken pot pie filling, with plenty of chicken and vegetables, then spoon it over buttermilk biscuits. It's a dish that everyone in the family loves!

You can use either homemade or refrigerated biscuits to make this—it's great with either. Feel free to mix up the vegetables in the "filling"; broccoli and mushrooms are great additions. This recipe makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken (leftover rotisserie or roast chicken works great)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
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