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.
Marin families now have yet another place to get their burger fix: Smashburger in Novato. The Novato location is the Denver-based chain's first Bay Area location, and it serves up a variety of innovative burgers, chicken sandwiches, and salads using fresh ingredients.
I had the opportunity to attend a media preview of the Novato Smashburger last week, where I tried a selection of their food. Smashburger offers an array of specialty burgers, including the Bay Burger (with arugula, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and truffle mayo); BBQ, bacon and cheddar; and spicy Baja.
Each burger is also available as a grilled chicken sandwich—my favorite of Smashburger's offerings was the chicken avocado club, with avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, and ranch dressing. You can also create your own burger or sandwich from the variety of toppings, sauces, and add-ons ranging from grilled onions and "Smash sauce" to guacamole and a fried egg.
We were craving a creamy pasta dish but since we are cutting back on our calories I needed to look at the creamy craving a little differently. This recipe makes a creamy sauce without the cream using feta cheese to trick your palate into thinking you are eating a decadent pasta dish but without all the fat. The jarred roasted red peppers make this a snap to put together on a weeknight. My son couldn’t get enough of it and we all loved the sweet yet smoky pepper taste.
This puffed pancake is a favorite in our house for breakfast. We make this puffy, custardy pancake with apples since we usually happen to have some on hand, but it's equally good made with fresh berries, too. This big pancake is also called a "Dutch Baby", which my kids think is funny. The kids love to watch this pancake cook through the oven window, since the batter puffs up dramatically as it bakes.
It's actually quite easy to forget to put on your oven mitt when you're moving the hot pan in and out of the oven—I know this from painful experience—so always make sure you have one on you hand before you reach in to grab the skillet handle. Needless to say, this probably isn't a recipe for little ones to help with, other than with mixing the batter.
As we approach summer and temperatures climb, it's the perfect time to not only enjoy a cold glass of iced tea, but to make your own sun tea, too. I've found myself drinking a lot of iced tea over the past few years (it probably has something to do with parental sleep deprivation). I usually buy bottles of Tejava tea, which I love because it's unsweeted and has a good strong tea flavor.
I decided to try making my own and maybe save a little money in the process. I remember my mom making sun tea way back when, and thought I'd give it a try. The results were really fantastic, so I thought I'd share them here. It's really easy to do, really inexpensive, and the kids actually had fun helping make it.
A two-quart sealable glass jar.
Four to six black tea bags
Sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
Place tea bags and mint (if using) in a clean glass jar. Fill the jar with water and seal.
I have fallen in love with grilling over all different kinds of woods, which impart their smoky goodness into meats. In this recipe, I have used apple wood on my gas grill (because I am too lazy to use a non-gas grill). It is really simple. All you need to do is soak the wood for 30 minutes prior to grilling. Then lay them down over hot lava rock* which is usually placed at the bottom of gas grills. The lava rock creates a more even heat and the soaked wood chips release the fragrant smoke. This time of year, all different types of grilling woods can be found from your local hardware shop to big box stores. Apple wood is nice because it does not impart such as intense smokiness as mesquite but choose the grilling wood you prefer.
Mother's Day is on Sunday, May 12. Brunch is always a popular outing in honor of mom, and here our a few of our favorite family friendly spots for a Mother's Day brunch in Marin.
All information is correct at time of publishing, but please check with the restaurant to confirm. You should also make your reservations soon, as Mother's Day brunches fill up pretty quickly.
Click on highlighted links for more info.
Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera features a Mother's Day buffet brunch from 11 am to 2 pm. Brunch items include eggs benedict, brioche French toast, smoked salmon, mac and cheese, rotisserie leg of lamb and chicken, and their signature rum cake. $40 for adults and $17 for kids 12 and under. Reservations recommended: (415) 924-3366 or online. Brick & Bottle is located at 55 Tamal Vista Boulevard, in the Marketplace shopping center.
Cavallo Pointin Sausalito offers its Mothers Day brunch buffet from 10 am–6 pm. Stations include a raw bar, omelets, prime rib, and more. $75 adults, $30 kids. Make reservations online or by calling (415) 339-4700.
The Club at McInnis Park hosts a Mother's Day brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm. Enjoy brunch right on the golf course and then play a game or some mini golf. The menu includes roasted New York strip st, leg of lamb, grilled salmon, baked honey ham, eggs benedict, eggs florentine with smoked salmon, waffles, French toast, omelette station, carving station, salads, and desserts. The cost is $29.95; children 10 and under are $14.95. They are located at 350 Smith Ranch Road; (415) 491-5959.
Our friend Chef Scott Howard, of Brick & Bottle restaurant in Corte Madera, offered us this fantastic family-friendly recipe for Mother's Day. This special version of French toast is something that kids can help prepare, and would make a great centerpiece to a Mother's Day brunch or breakfast.
If cooking (and cleaning up the kitchen) on Mother's Day is not your style, Brick & Bottle is offering a fantastic Mother's Day brunch buffet on Sunday from 11 am to 2 pm, featuring treats like smoked salmon, beet salad, eggs benedict, rotisserie leg of lamb, honey clove roasted ham, Scott's famous rum cake, and of course this brioche French toast.
Call Brick & Bottle at (415) 924-3366 for information and reservations, or visit www.brickandbottle.com. Brick & Bottle is located at 55 Tamal Vista Boulevard, in the Marketplace shopping center, in Corte Madera.
My all time favorite Mexican Restaurant is La Taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District. They make the best carne asada taco I have ever had. My husband and I were in the city a week ago and decided to drive another 30 minutes out of our way just to go eat tacos at La Taqueria. While sitting there gorging on our tacos my husband looked up at me and said that I need to recreate these at home. So, here is my recipe for Carne Asada tacos—La Taqueria style.
This guest article is by my friend and Marin mom Nancy Grossi, author of the award-winning blog The Wife of a Dairyman. Nancy started her blog at the beginning of 2010, and offers a look into life on one of Marin's many dairy farms. One of her loves is cooking, and here's her recipe for healthy BBQ chicken enchiladas, perfect for Cinco de Mayo dinner on Saturday!
When you have a bunch of leftover BBQ chicken like we did, what do you do with all the extra chicken? I can only eat chicken prepared the same way about five times in a row… no more!
So, I pulled the meat off of four halves and cut it up into chunks to make BBQ Chicken Enchiladas, which was about one pound of meat.
Saute 1/2 an onion with 2 garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Then remove from heat.