Recipes

Easy Gravenstein Apple Dumplings

September 9, 2016

Apple dumplings

With all the apple picking we do in the late summer and fall, I find myself looking for apple related recipes of all kinds. This is one of my family's favorites: old fashioned apple dumplings. They're basically peeled and cored whole apples stuffed with butter, sugar, and cinnamon, wrapped in pie dough, and drizzled with a syrup that turns into a gooey caramel in the oven. This is a perfect dessert for upcoming cool fall evenings, and it makes the house smell wonderful when it bakes.

You can make these using your own favorite pie dough recipe, but I usually opt to save some time and effort and use the frozen pie crusts from Trader Joe's. They're really very good and as far as I can tell are indistinguishable from homemade!

Make Your Own Easy and Delicious Applesauce!

August 25, 2016

ApplesauceAfter apple picking, and having a surplus of apples, I love to make this easy and delicous applesauce. My daughter loves to pack this in her lunch box. Homemade applesauce is very easy to make, and really beats that stuff you get in a jar at the supermarket.

Serve it to the kids as a snack, or as a side dish with potato pancakes, pork roast, and more. You can also use it as an ingredient to make other tasty treats like applesauce muffins.

Ingredients

Sopa de Albondigas - Mexican Meatball Soup

August 21, 2016

sopa de albondigas - Mexican meatball soupWith fall coming and the evenings getting cooler, it's time to make some delicious comfort food for dinner. This classic Mexican soup features little meatballs cooked in broth with tons of fresh vegetables. It's tasty and healthy, too!

For this version, I added some fresh summer green beans, chunks of zucchini, and tomatoes to complement the usual carrots and potatoes. One of the great things about this dish is that you can vary the vegetables depending on what's in season or what your family likes. Cabbage, kale, corn, and peas would all be welcome in the pot.

We used lean ground grass-fed beef for the meatballs, but you can use half beef and half ground pork, ground turkey, or even chicken. My kids love to get involved and help make the meatballs, too.

Apple Walnut Bread is Delicious and Easy to Make

August 21, 2016

In the late summer and fall we love to go apple picking at farms in Marin and Sonoma County. It's so much fun to choose and pick your own fruit, but sometimes you end up with more apples than you know what to do with. I've been trying to figure out different creative ways to use apples, since I hate to see any go to waste.

Fresh-baked apple walnut bread is delicious, easy to make and a great way to use up extra apples. It also makes the house smell amazing while it's baking. It's good as part of breakfast, as a snack, or even dessert. My kids love to get a slice in their lunchboxes, too.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Our Favorite Homemade Apple Pie

August 16, 2016

apple pieAfter all our apple picking excursions to Chileno Valley Ranch, we decided to make our favorite apple pie. This is my go-to recipe for this treat. It's an adaptation of the recipe that used to be on the back of the box of Trader Joe's frozen pie crusts. I don't know what it is about it, but it makes what my family thinks it the best apple pie ever. I still usually use the Trader Joe's pie crusts for this, since they're really good quality and make for a lot less work. Feel free to make your own pie crusts or to use a different brand, though.

I made this pie with Mutsu apples from Chileno Valley Ranch, but any good baking apple, like Gravenstein or Granny Smith, will work equally well.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 package Trader Joe's pie crusts, thawed

Chef Daddy Makes Pizza al Taglio

August 14, 2016

pizza al taglioThe other day I was craving really good homemade pizza, but I was also feeling kind of lazy and didn't want to deal with making dough, trying to get the pizza onto the pizza stone intact, and the rest of the work that comes with my other homemade pizza recipe. In a moment of inspiration, I thought about pizza al taglio, the thicker pizza that's cooked on a baking sheet and popular as a street food in Rome. What if I tried to make it with Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough?

I ran over to our local TJ's and picked up two packages of their very good and inexpensive refrigerated pizza dough, as well as some fresh mozzarella and of course a bunch of other stuff that I probably didn't really need. At home, I picked some plum tomatoes from the garden and grabbed some fresh oregano and basil, too, and decided that I had everything I needed.

Here's the recipe that I came up with for a simple margherita style pizza al taglio:

  • Two bags Trader Joe's refrigerated pizza dough
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded (canned are OK, too)

Recipe from Pernilla's Pantry: Deconstructed Cheeseburger Salad

July 31, 2016

deconstructed cheeseburger salad When things get busy, especially at the start of a new school year, I place an order to Pernilla's Pantry, a mom-run business here in Marin that offers creative healthy meals for busy families. When your order arrives, you'll receive recipe cards and all the ingredients that you need to make three or four fantastic family meals for the week.

Pernilla's Pantry was created by Pernilla Sumner, a Marin mom and Swedish native who loves to share her passion for food and good cooking with others. Pernilla shared one of her most popular recipes with us: Deconstructed Cheeseburger Salad.

Ingredients

Salad

Keep Cool with Frozen Watermelon Pops

July 26, 2016

When the temperature rises in the summer, we like to make these frozen watermelon pops to help beat the heat. They're easy to make, delicious, healthy (they're all fruit, after all), and fun to eat on a hot summer day.

You don't need much to make these, just the watermelon, a little sugar (if needed), a blender or food processor, and ice pop molds. You can use other fruits to make these, too—fresh strawberries are particularly good—but the classic summer flavor of watermelon just seems to be perfect for a frozen treat like this.

The kids like to pitch in and help make these, too, although it can be hard for them to wait while the pops firm up in the freezer. Needless to say, grownups may want to take charge of the blending, for safety's sake.

Ingredients

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!

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