A Family that Eats Together: Lamb Biryani with Raita

November 29, 2011

lamb biryani with raitaMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike. Nicole is also the creator of the new Little Froglet line of children's activewear.

Nicole's meal plan for this week features spaghetti bolognese, orecchiette with sausage, tomatoes, and peas, quick-and-easy shrimp and green bean stir fry, and this one-pot lamb biryani with a creamy raita.

Family Friendly Wineries: Larson Family Winery in Sonoma

November 28, 2011

Larson Family Winery in SonomaRemember back before you had kids when you used to head up to the Wine Country for a day of fun and wine tasting? You'll find that there are plenty of family-friendly wineries up in Sonoma and Napa counties, so don't stop just because you have kids in tow. Kid friendly wineries are also great places to take out-of-town family and other visitors, especially during the holidays.

What do we look for in a family-friendly winery? First and foremost, there has to be something that kids can do, other than just hang out in the tasting room and wait for mom and dad. Second, the winery should be openly child-friendly and relaxed, both for the comfort of families and for other grownups who probably don't want the disruption of kids to interfere with their Wine Country experience. Last, there should be plenty of space and somewhere to relax and have something to eat, whether you pack it in yourself or buy it on-site.

Who's Nibbling at My (Trader Joe's) Gingerbread House?!

November 27, 2011

Trader Joes gingerbread houseIn case you miss out on one of the gingerbread house workshops (at the Bay Area Discovery Museum, for example) this Holiday season and still want to get in on the action, you can head down to your local Trader Joes and pick up one of their bargain priced gingerbread house kits.

For $7.99 you get a nice quality, German-made gingerbread house kit that includes the house parts, base, a tree, and enough chocolate buttons, gumdrops, and pink and white candy sprinkles to decorate a house worthy of being devoured by Hansel and Gretel. Speaking of them, the kit also comes with a little sugar Hansel and Gretel and a witch, as well as a little candy cat (or is it a pig?) that sits on the rooftop or anywhere else you like.

They also throw in a half-pound box of powdered sugar with which to make the royal icing that glues the thing together. You supply an egg white, lemon juice, and imagination. It's also helpful to have a pastry bag to pipe the icing, although a garden-variety ziplock bag with one of the edges snipped off makes a dandy substitute. It's not the most architecturally complex gingerbread house we've seen—it looks kind of like a Tahoe A-frame—but it's a lot of fun to put together. Just watch out for little nibblers who try to eat the candy and cookies before they have a chance to go on the house!

Make Colorful Turkey Handprint Placemats for Thanksgiving

November 22, 2011

Since we'll have quite a few children over for Thanksgiving this year, we've been busy coming up with easy and fun craft ideas to keep everyone busy before the feast. One of the projects that we came up with, based on something by daughter did in kindergarten, is creating colorful festive Thanksgiving turkey handprint placemats. Since you'll need one for everyone at the dinner table, this project should keep the kids busy for a while.

Here's what you'll need:

Civic Center Farmers' Market on Wednesday this Week

November 22, 2011

Marin County Farmers MarketDue to the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24, this week's Civic Center Farmers Market (normally every Thursday) will take place on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 from 8 am to 1 pm. Head down to Marin's biggest and most happening farmers market to pick up some locally produced goods from nearly 100 local farmers for your Thanksgiving feast: farm fresh produce, bread, eggs, cut flowers, and more.

The farmers market is located in the parking lot of the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium, off Civic Center Drive near the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael. Find out more about it and other markets in the county at www.marincountyfarmersmarkets.org.

Adventurous Birthdays at Expedition Island (CLOSED)

November 16, 2011

Expedition IslandExpedition Island is closed.

My kids and I have been wanting to visit Expedition Island, the exciting indoor adventure play space up in Petaluma. We recently had the chance to check it out when my five-year-old daughter was invited to a birthday party there. I wasn't sure if my daughter was too young for the daring activities offered there—like zip lines, rope swings, a climbing wall, and a wobble bridge, but she and all of her friends couldn't get enough!

When partygoers arrive, they're fitted for safety harnesses and informed of the house rules, and are then ushered into the large, warehouse-like space of the Island, which is decorated in a tropical motif. Here they're free to play and have fun.

Kids climb the stairs to the upper level, where helpful attendants guide them through the activities they want to participate in, and make sure that everyone has a good safe time. If a zip line stops mid-trip, helpers down below make sure everyone gets to the other side. After our play session on the Island, we headed to a private party room for pizza and cake.

A Family that Eats Together: Chinese Roast Chicken Whole Wheat Buns

November 14, 2011

Chinese roast chicken bunsMarin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike. Nicole is also the creator of the new Little Froglet line of children's activewear.

Nicole's meal plan for this week features roasted winter squash risotto, lamb and pork kefte with late summer grilled vegetables, quick-and-easy homemade pizza, smokey tomato bacon soup with grilled cheese, and these Chinese whole wheat steamed buns with a roast chicken filling.

Servings: 4
Prep time: 25 minutes
Inactive time: 2 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients for the buns

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105ºF)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (plus more for brushing)

Mini Chicken or Turkey Pot Pies with Biscuit Topping

November 9, 2011

Biscuit topped chicken potpieUse up leftover rotisserie chicken or Thanksgiving turkey in these quick, easy, and delicious individual pot pies. Top each pie with a round of refrigerated biscuit dough, which bake up rich and flaky and golden. If you don’t have any leftover chicken you can just cook up a couple boneless skinless chicken breasts for an equally tasty dish.

These little pot pies are complete meals in themselves, with fresh vegetables and chicken or turkey in a creamy gravy. When we make this recipe for dinner everyone cleans their plate!

Feel free to adapt this recipe to whatever you happen to have on hand—other vegetables you can use include broccoli, cubed new potatoes, and sliced mushrooms. Dried herbs may be substituted for 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 layer the biscuits over the top; cooking time may vary from that indicated.

Studio C Ballet Now Open in Fairfax for Classes, Parties, and More

November 8, 2011

Studio C BalletStudio C Ballet is now open in Fairfax. Offering professional ballet training for all ages and abilities, Studio C Ballet was founded by Marin mom and professional ballet dancer Claudia Alfieri-Wallace, a veteran of esteemed dance companies including San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and Baryshnikov's American Ballet. Classes are available for all ages, from pre-ballet (ages 3–5) to adult instruction. Private ballet coaching is available as well.

Studio C Ballet also offers Ballerina Birthday Parties in the delightful setting of its pink-curtained ballet studio. Contact Claudia directly for prices and availability at (415) 297-6897 or claudia@studiocballet.com.

You'll find Studio C Ballet in Fairfax at 12 School Street Plaza Suite 12D (near Central Field). For more information, including class schedule and tuition information, call (415) 297-6897 or visit www.studiocballet.com.

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