Homemade Pizza Night with Chef Daddy

February 4, 2017

homemade pizza

I know some people who say that pizza is one of those dishes that's always better when you dine out. I respectfully disagree! While that might be true for topping-laden old-school American pizza, we've been successfully making some pretty wonderful Italian-style pizzas right here at home. Unfortunately, we lack a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard (someday…), but we get some good results in a regular home oven with a little preparation and a few tricks.

Make a Bowl of Guacamole for Game Day

February 4, 2017

Guacamole

For some reason, guacamole seems to be perpetually linked to the Super Bowl. Come February, the pebbly-skinned green fruits go on sale at the supermarket, inviting you to make a big bowl of delicious creamy guacamole to snack on or add to recipes.

When it comes to guacamole, I think simpler is better. There are so many recipes out there, often including ingredients ranging from tomatoes to mayonnaise (yuck!) to those seasoning packets you find in the supermarket containing who-knows-what. The New York Times cooking section even recently published a recipe that included green peas! Most traditional guacamole recipes eschew these ingredients in favor of simplicity, allowing the flavor and unctuous texture of the avocado to be the star. I think my favorite guac recipe which I'm sharing here does just that.

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 3, 4 & 5

February 3, 2017

Put on your rainboots and take avantage of one of the many family waterfall hikes this weekend.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Event Calendar.

Friday, February 3

  • French Storytime (L'Heure du Conte)
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 11–11:30 am

    For children of all ages and their parent or caregiver. Talk, sing, read, and play together. Share books, stories, rhymes, music in French. No registration required. Parents/caregivers are expected to stay with children during all storytime sessions. Free. Location: 110 Tunstead Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Friday Fun Days
    South Novato Library
    Friday, 3–4 pm

    Enjoy an afternoon of fun with the family at the South Novato Library. Whether it’s story, art, music or science, this drop-in program promises to be packed with fun! Location: 931 C St., Novato. For more info, visit their website.
  • Kids' PJ Party with Sandra V. Feder!
    DIESEL, a bookstore, Larkspur

    Friday, 6–6:30 pm
    Pull on your PJs and bring your teddy bear to the bookstore! Author Sandra V. Feder will be here to read you a bedtime story. Get cozy, listen to a story or two, have some milk and cookies and get your books signed. Then head home for bed. Location: Marin Country Mart, 2419 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur. For more info, visit their website.
  • Free Movie Night: The Nut Job
    Mathnasium of Mill Valley
    Friday, 6–7 pm

    Stop by Mathnasium on the first Friday of the month for movie night. Free pizza and soda will be served. Students, parents, and friends welecome. Location: 247 Shoreline Highway, Suite A3. For more info, visit their website.
  • Montessori de Terra Linda Presents: Annie, Jr.
    Showcase Theater, San Rafael

    Friday, 7 pm
    Join the upper elementary class from Montessori de Terra Linda for a theatrical performance. Students aged 9–12 have worked to develop a show with action and song that will be performed one night only. Tickets: $12 per person. Purchase tickets here. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • Father Daughter Valentine's Dance
    Belvedere Community Center
    Friday, 7–8:30 pm

    This special Father Daughter Valentine's Dance includes dessert buffet, cookie decorating, music, dancing and father-daughter photos. Semi-formal attire is encouraged. Cost: $50 per couple/ $15 per additional daughter. To register, call The Ranch, Belvedere-Tiburon Recreation at (415) 435-4355 or visit their website.

Saturday, February 4

  • Free Access to all Parks
    Marin County Parks
    Saturday, All Day

    Starting this January, Marin County Parks is offering free access to all parks on the first Saturday of the month all year long! Includes Blackpoint Boat Launch, McInnis Park, McNears Beach Park, Miller Boat Launch, Paradise Beach Park, and Stafford Lake Park. For more info, visit their website.
  • Museums on Us Free Day
    Various Museums
    Saturday & Sunday

    Bank of America cardholders can visit the following Bay Area museums for free! Enjoy the Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. Photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card must be presented. For more information, visit their website.

Four Fun and Easy Homemade Valentine's Day Cards

February 2, 2017

Butterfly valentine's day card

My kids always love to make their own unique Valentine's Day cards to give to friends and classmates every February. Here are four fun and easy card projects to make at home with common craft supplies that you probably have on hand already. We think these really beat the store-bought Valentines, since they're handmade, beautiful, and "from the heart."

Children of all ages can do most of the steps in these crafts, but grown-ups may want to help with cutting and gluing, depending on children's ages and skill levels.

Butterfly Valentines

This butterfly-shaped card that we made is designed to hold either a candy stick or a pencil, and is easy to make and decorate. We cut out the butterfly shape with scissors and decorated the card with stickers. You can embellish yours with whatever you like, such as crayons, markers, glitter, or paint. You'll need:

Make Some Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies

February 2, 2017

Valentine's Day cookiesMy kids love to make these basic sugar cookies and decorate them for Valentine's Day. They are easy to make and are a fun project for a rainy day. Decorate your cookies with pink and red Valentine's sprinkles or, better yet, an artistically applied drizzle of rich dark chocolate. They look festive and taste good too.

Give as a gift wrapped in cellophane bags tied with raffia or ribbon or in a heart-shaped box. Who wouldn't be happy to get these delicious and pretty sweet treats on Valentines Day?

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (you’ll need a little more for dusting your work surface, too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Groundhog Day Results: 6 More Weeks of Winter

February 2, 2017

Ground HogThis just in: Famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, meaning that winter will be here for another 6 weeks or so. All the alternate, less noteworthy groundhogs, such as Atlanta's General Beauregard Lee did not see his shadow, which means an early Southern spring.

Groundhog Day has always been America's most underappreciated holiday, but not in our house! Our kids saw it on the calendar and have been eagerly anticipating the great day for weeks. We're extra lucky this year in that Groundhog Day coincides with that other unofficial American holiday—the Super Bowl.

Hiking, History, and Nature at Olompali State Historic Park in Novato

January 31, 2017

Olompali State Historic Park

Just north of Novato, on the eastern slopes of Mount Burdell, lies Olompali State Historic Park. This gem of a local resource is often overlooked by families as they drive by on Highway 101, but it's well worth a visit. With miles of hiking trails, historic sites spanning 8,000 years of human habitation, and sweeping views of the Petaluma River Valley, Olompali has much to offer for visitors of all ages.

The story of Olompali starts with the Coast Miwoks, who lived on the site for thousands of years. Olompali was one of the primary Miwok settlements in Northern California until the 1850s. At the park, you'll find evidence of their presence here in the form of a "Kitchen Rock", a large stone used as a mortar by the Miwok people to grind acorns and seeds, and a reconstructed village with redwood bark and tule reed kotchas—traditional Coast Miwok dwellings. There's also a native plant garden with educational panels describing how the Miwok used each plant for food or medicinal purposes.

When Life Hands You Meyer Lemons, Make Lemon Bars

January 31, 2017

Lemon barLemon bars have to be one of my all time favorite desserts. I usually reserve lemon bars for special occasions, because they are so sweet and rich. They are great for a special treat, party or a school event.

My mom gave me a huge basket of Meyer lemons from her tree, so naturally I used them to make some lemon bars. If you're not familiar with Meyer lemons, they're a seasonal citrus fruit that's similar to the regular Eureka lemons that you find in the grocery store, but with a thinner peel; they're sweeter and more aromatic, too. The lemon bars they made are truly fantastic, with an amazing citrus flavor that you simply won't get from grocery store lemons. If you don't have a Meyer lemon tree yourself (or have a friend who does), you can find them Trader Joe's or at one of the local farmers markets—while they're in season.

Here is the recipe I used for lemon bars. Yes, it seems like a lot of sugar, but you have to offset the tartness of the lemons. If you don't have Meyer lemons, that's OK. This recipe is still fantastic with regular lemons, too.

10 Wonderful Valentine's Books for Children

January 30, 2017

My kids have always loved to go to the library and check out a big stack of books that relate to the current holiday or season. Valentine's Day of course is no exception, so here are some of our choices for great kids' books to read this week. Find them at your local library or bookstore. The links on each title take you to that book's listing on the Marin County Free Library website.

Llama Llama I Love You by Anne Dewdney
In this board book, little llama shows his friends and family how much he loves them with heart-shaped cards and lots of hugs. It's a perfect introduction to Llama Llama for babies and toddlers.

Groggle's Monster Valentine by Diana Murray
Groggle has been up all night making a Valentine’s Day card. This isn’t just any Valentine, though, and it has to be perfect—it’s for Snarlina, his beast friend in the whole wide world. Will Groggle's monster impulses foil his plans? (The library doesn't have this book yet, but you can suggest it to them.)

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