Food and Cooking

Delicious recipes, family friendly dining news and reviews, and resources for foodie families in Marin and the Bay Area

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Spiced-Cider Braised Winter Squash

November 9, 2015

Apple cider braised squashThis delicious Thanksgiving side dish has the flavors of fall—winter squash and spiced apple cider. It's easy to make, and looks pretty on the holiday table, too. If you use Delicata squash, those orange- or green-striped cream-colored oval winter squash, you don't even need to peel them, and the colors look great, too. You can also make this with cubed butternut squash or pumpkin.

I adapted this from a recipe in the New York Times but used the spiced apple cider from Trader Joe's. The spice flavors are subtle and really enchance the flavor of the squash. Feel free to substitute regular apple cider.

Weeknight Recipe: Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

November 2, 2015

Mexican chicken and rice soupAt this time of year, my family and I love making a warm pot of comforting soup for dinner. The kids love chicken soup in all its forms, so I created this Mexican-inspired version of chicken and rice soup to mix things up a bit.

This definitely isn't your run-of-the-mill bowl of chicken soup—it's simple but delicious and everyone loved it. Filled with chicken, rice, and vegetables, you can also mix in garnishes to personalize your bowl.

While the "right" way to make this is probably to simmer a whole chicken for a long time, this weeknight one-pot-meal is easy and quick to put together with boneless skinless chicken breasts and good quality chicken broth.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders (frozen is OK)
  • 2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth

Easy Individual Chicken Pot Pies

October 25, 2015

individual chicken pot pieUse 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. It's classic comfort food that's especially welcome on a cool fall evening.

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.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced

Baked Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

October 19, 2015

spinach and cheese manicottiThis recipe for baked manicotti is an old favorite of mine, and something that my kids love to both help make and eat, too. Tubes of pasta are filled with a mixture of ricotta cheese and chopped spinach, then covered in tomato sauce, and topped with a rich béchamel sauce and parmesan cheese. It's hearty and delicious at any time of year, and the kids don't even notice that the manicotti filling includes spinach (something good for them!).

The kids like to help stuffing the manicotti tubes, so get them into the kitchen to lend a hand making dinner. If you're in a hurry, use a good quality jarred sauce and it will come together quickly. We like to make our own, and usually have a container of it in the freezer for recipes like this. (I've included my basic tomato sauce recipe below, too.)

Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce package manicotti tubes
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Delicious Pumpkin Waffles for a Fall Breakfast

October 18, 2015

Pumpkin WafflesWe always experiment with a lot of pumpkin recipes every fall. The hands-down favorite of all our pumpkin creations has to be these pumpkin waffles. With a subtle spice flavor, they're moist on the inside with a crisp exterior, just like a waffle should be.

Serve them for breakfast with butter and maple syrup, or even for dessert topped with vanilla ice cream. They're a great fall treat that's so good we'll probably start making these year-round, since canned pumpkin is easy to come by!

They're easy to make, too, and you probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry already.

Easy Baja Fish Tacos

September 28, 2015

Baja fish tacosMy 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.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lingcod, rockfish, or other whitefish filets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile

Oven-Baked Chicken Strips

September 14, 2015

baked chicken stripsChicken strips are ubiquitous on restaurant children's menus, but that's probably because almost everybody likes them. This healthier oven-baked alternative to the deep-fried kids' staple is perfect for school lunchboxes (it's good cold) and tasty enough for an easy weeknight meal. Serve them with dipping sauces like BBQ sauce and ranch dressing.

The kids can pitch in and help make these, too. Have them assemble the ingredients and shake the chicken in a bag to coat with breadcrumbs. Using chicken tenders means you don't have to cut anything, too. Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs make these nice and crispy, but regular breadcrumbs will work as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (whole milk is best)

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 contests@marinmommies.com 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)

We All Scream for Amazing Organic Ice Cream at Fairfax Scoop

August 27, 2015

Fairfax ScoopWhenever we're in (or near or driving through) Fairfax, we try to stop at Fairfax Scoop, the awesome ice cream shop on Broadway right downtown. It's a tiny little place, but you can't miss it—it's the bright yellow storefront with a line of people snaking out the door.

Fairfax Scoop makes fantastic handmade organic ice cream using locally sourced ingredients. The day's flavors are written on a whiteboard, and can include innovative flavors like vanilla honey lavender, toasted hazelnut, Mexican chocolate, Buried Treasure (peanut butter, chocolate, and Newman-O's), and Controlled Burn (cinnamon with crystallized ginger and red chile!), as well as the usual ice cream parlor suspects like peach, strawberry, chocolate, and mint chip. Vegan-friendly sorbet and soy options are always offered, too. Flavors rotate, so there's usually something new whenever you visit.

Kids' scoops will run you $1.95, a single scoop is $2.85, and a double is $3.95. Portions are really generous, so be sure you're really hungry before you order that double scoop! There's a 25¢ discount if you bring your own reusable container, but we always opt for their fresh-baked waffle cones, which are actually the only kind of cones they have (and they don't cost extra, like at other ice cream shops).