Back-to-School Recipe: Homemade Granola Bars

September 12, 2015

Homemade granola barsMarin Mommies presents a guest article by Jennifer Tyler Lee, author of The 52 New Foods Challenge, with a kid-friendly recipe that's perfect for an after-school snack or lunch box treat. We're giving away a copy of The 52 New Foods Challenge! To enter to win, send an email to with "52 New Foods" in the subject line by Friday, September 18; we'll select a random winner on Saturday, September 19.

I’m a big fan of making your own granola bars. First, because you can control the ingredients which means healthier choices for your little ones. Second, it’s an easy way to stretch your grocery budget. Homemade granola bars are a fraction of the cost of the bars you’d buy in the box. Better for you and your budget. Love it!

Homemade granola bars are fun to make together and can easily be modified to feature your favorite fixings. When you’re done cutting the bars, the rimmed baking sheet will be filled with yummy chunks of granola. Perfect for sprinkling over yogurt parfaits!

Barbeque Ribs on the Charcoal Grill

August 31, 2015

BBQ ribsUnless you have a smoker, it can be pretty difficult to make real barbeque at home. But you can come up with something close! While it might not make for prize-winning ‘que, it’s a fun cooking project and the results are really tasty. We’ve tried it with ribs and chicken and both turned out really good! It’s perfect for Labor Day Weekend.

You’ll find a lot of recipes for ribs out there that involve boiling them or roasting them and then finishing them on the grill. This recipe uses the charcoal grill only for minimal mess.

Ingredients & Materials

  • 3–4 lbs pork back ribs or spare ribs
  • Dry rub (use your favorite or our recipe below)

Austrian Baked Ham, Cheese, and Noodle Casserole

August 23, 2015

Schinkenfleckerl Austrian ham, cheese, and noodle casseroleThe real name for this delicious baked pasta dish is Schinkenfleckerl, but since it's hard to pronounce we'll call it an Austrian ham, cheese, and noodle casserole. This dish is like macaroni-and-cheese's more sophisticated European cousin, and since it's pretty rich it's usually just served with a green salad on the side. Schinken is ham and Fleckerl are little square-ish egg noodles that are common in Austrian and German cuisine, but we use regular wide egg noodles or even broken up pieces of egg pappardelle noodle.

Despite the inclusion of ingredients like sour cream (which both my kids swear up and down they don't like) everyone thought this was delicious! This recipe is really easy to put together, and it makes quite a bit so you'll probably have plenty of leftovers for another meal.


  • 12 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/2 pound smoked ham, diced
  • 1/2 pound Emmentaler or Swiss cheese, grated

Healthy Lunch & Snack Ideas for the New School Year

August 18, 2015

Healthy school lunch ideasNo matter how prepared for the new school year you think you are, it can always be challenging to figure out what to pack for school lunches and snacks. Trying to balance healthy, nutritious food and things the kids will actually eat can be difficult, too.

Here are a few of my family's favorite lunchbox treats that are not only good for you, but delicious and fun to eat, too. The kids love to help make them—I find that they usually eat food they prepare themselves (even vegetables!), so I usually let them help out in the kitchen when I can, especially when we're making their school lunches.

Tortellini Skewers

My daughter absolutely loves cheese tortellini (and what kid doesn’t?) so we make these neat little skewers for a lunchtime treat.

You’ll need:

Fresh Summer Vegetable Pasta

August 16, 2015

summer vegetable pastaAfter our last trip to Petaluma's Green String Farm, I wanted to create a recipe that showcased some of the fantastic vegetables that we bought at the farm store there. My kids picked out a lot of cute little baby summer squash, and we had ripe red tomatoes, and a beautiful purple onion, too. Of course I wanted to make something that the kids would eat, too! We created this recipe that showcases these delicious summer vegetables.

We decided to make a creamy summer vegetable pasta with the little cheese ravioli from Trader Joes—my daughter loves them and insisted on having them for dinner. If you don't want to use the ravioli, you could use any kind of pasta shape for this recipe; penne or bow ties would be perfect.


  • 1 bag dried Trader Joe's cheese ravioli, or 1 lb pasta of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Blue Bayou Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

August 2, 2015

Disneyland chicken and sausage gumboWe just got back from a family road trip to Southern California, where we spent a couple days at everyone's favorite Orange County destination: Disneyland. (Yes, it was crowded and yes we still had a lot of fun.)

One of the things we were actually pleasantly surprised with at Disneyland was the food. Sure, much of it was overpriced, but the quality was actually very good for the most part. We also learned that if you asked for a recipe at Town Hall they gladly give it to you!

We got their recipe for the gumbo served at New Orleans Square restaurants the Blue Bayou (the one inside Pirates of the Caribbean) and Cafe Orleans. The recipe they give you is a restaurant one for making huge amounts, so we had to fiddle with it a bit to make it usable in a home kitchen. It's really good, though—simple and hearty and everyone liked it. In our version we used spicy andouille sausage and cooked chicken, but feel free to use whatever you like; shrimp would be a great addition. Take a bite and you'll be transported back to New Orleans, or at least the Disney version of it.

Easy Summer Frittata

July 26, 2015

frittataFrittatas are a great dish for a light dinner, brunch, or lunch. This Italian-style omelet is versatile—you can make it with any number of different ingredients—delicious, and inexpensive. Make sure you use good quality eggs; bonus points if you have your own backyard chickens. We used zucchini from our summer vegetable garden, but you can use anything you like. Kale and Swiss chard are really good, as are spinach and asparagus. Leave the ham out to make it vegetarian.


  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Fantastic Family-Friendly 4th of July Recipes

June 29, 2015

Tri-tipThe 4th of July is coming up, and what could be more all-American than a summer backyard BBQ. We've put together a selection of our most popular family-friendly grilling recipes, along with a few great summer sides, desserts, and other treats. So fire up the grill and cook a feast for family and friends today!

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.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken

This Mediterranean-inspired grilled chicken, marinated in fresh herbs and citrus, is a hit with everyone.

Strawberry Yogurt Sorbet Is a Healthy and Sweet Summer Treat

June 20, 2015

strawberry yogurt sorbet cone Who doesn't love a sweet, refreshing, frozen treat during the summertime? Make it a little more healthy with sweet fresh strawberries and tangy Greek yogurt. You don't even need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

It's fantastic scooped into a cone or frozen into ice pop molds—whatever tickles your fancy this summer. My kids and I made this sorbet with fresh strawberries that we picked up at the farmers market.

While our recipe calls for strawberries, you can use whatever fresh berries you happen to have. Frozen berries work perfectly well, too, so you can make this at any time of year. You can also feel free to substitute low-fat yogurt, but do try to use extra thick Greek yogurt; it makes a difference.


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