Once something found mainly in health food stores and Middle Eastern restaurants, hummus is now pretty much mainstream and available in nearly every local supermarket. I've found most of the grocery store versions of this garlicky, lemony garbanzo bean paste to be uninspired and not all that authentic, but fortunately it's really easy to make your own hummus at home, and we make sure to have the ingredients on hand for whenever a hummus craving hits!
My kids love hummus (my daughter's been a certified hummus fanatic since she was a toddler), which is fantastic, since it's both tasty and healthy. I like to serve it with homemade whole wheat pita chips, but it's also great with carrot sticks and other dipable veggies. I even pack it into my kids' school lunches. This recipe involves no cooking, and the kids can help out with it, too.
I make this with good quality canned garbanzo beans, but you can of course cook dried ones too and use those. Sesame tahini is usually available at health food stores or in the nut butter aisle of markets like Whole Foods. It's a peanut-butter-like paste made from sesame seeds and a must-have ingredient in hummus. Make sure you stir it thoroughly before using as the oil seperates.
Simplicity at this best describes this classic Tuscan dinner. The key is using the freshest, organic ingredient you can find. With only a few basic ingredients this quick and easy dinner will wow your family and friends. Serve with your favorite side salad.
I 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!
This is an easy summer grilling recipe for chicken done right in a matter of minutes. With a little prep work early in the day or the night before, you can toss this dinner on the grill and have it on the table in no time. We prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs but this would work on breasts or with the skin on if you prefer.
When the temperature rises, one of the things we often cool off with are aguas frescas, those refreshing traditional Mexican-style drinks made from various kinds of fruit. You don't have to go to your local taqueria to get them, either—they're inexpensive and easy to make at home. Kids love them, and they're a healthy alternative to sodas and other soft drinks.
We often make aguas frescas with melons, usually canteloupe or watermelon; whatever we happen to have on hand. It's a great way to use up all that watermelon that's been sitting in the refrigerator, which is what we made out latest batch out of. You can use other fruits, like strawberries and even pineapple, but melon tends to be an economical choice, and a tasty one, too.
Here's what you need to make melon agua fresca:
8 cups of canteloupe or watermelon, including seeds, cut into small cubes
This is not your average chicken recipe. It is loaded with tons of flavors but made with simple ingredients your kids will love. If they don’t like eggplant they will after this recipe. The key is the sweet and sour taste of balsamic vinegar, which marinates the eggplant. With a little fresh mozzarella cheese this dish will be a family hit.
Right about now is the peak of California's strawberry season. It's a great time to get fresh sweet strawberries at the farmer's market, a local strawberry farm, or even the supermarket if you're in a pinch.
We like to visit farm stands like Stony Point Strawberries just north of Petaluma on Stony Point Road (you can't miss it—It's a little shack sitting out in the middle of a strawberry field). We love to try samples and always end up buying a huge amount of wonderful bargain-priced strawberries.
After eating our fill last weekend, we found that we still had plenty of strawberries left over. The presence of vanilla ice cream in our freezer led us to our course of action: make fresh strawberry milkshakes.
Making strawberry milkshakes couldn't be easier, and everyone loves them. Using fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream instead of just strawberry ice cream give the shake a fresher, fruitier flavor that really captures the essence of the strawberries.
On Memorial Day Weekend, or on any special occasion that warrants a backyard barbeque, one of our go-to dishes is grilled tri tip, cooked in the style of Santa Maria on California’s central coast. There, this triangular cut of beef is simply seasoned and cooked slowly over an oak-wood fire, in the traditional manner of the old California ranchos.
It’s easy to make a pretty authentic version on your grill, and it doesn’t need a lot of attention, so you can mingle with your guests and not spend all your time in the kitchen or tending the barbeque. My kids absolutely love this, and never seem to get enough when we make it. We always say that the leftovers make for great sandwiches, but truthfully we have no idea if they do because we never have any leftovers!
This recipe feeds 4–6; double or triple the recipe to feed more guests. (In Santa Maria, they say it isn’t authentic unless you’re cooking for at least 100 people!)
One of the best things about spring is knowing that you can get fresh, sweet, locally grown organic strawberries at the farmer's market or grocery store. To celebrate, we love to make this easy and delicious strawberry shortcake dessert. This simple combination of lightly sweet shortcake, fresh strawberries, and vanilla flavored whipped cream is a hit with just about everyone, and is suitable for every occasion, from a fancy dinner to a kids' tea party.
These shortcakes are kind of like sweet buttermilk drop biscuits, and don't take very long to put together. If you're really in a hurry, you can use whipped cream from a can, but it doesn't take too much time or effort to make some fresh whipped cream with your electric mixer, and it tastes so much better, too.
You can make the shortcakes and whipped cream in advance and let diners assemble their own strawberry shortcake creations at the table, if you like. It's fun for both children and adults. Whipped cream keeps fine in the refrigerator for a few hours, and you can make it extra-thick and rich by putting it in a strainer over a bowl and letting some of the water drain out.