Food and Cooking

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

Kids Eat for Free in Marin

February 21, 2017

kids eat free in marinLike many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of Marin restaurants with kids-eat-free offers, broken down by the day of the week. Please note that all information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of posting, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

Baked Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

February 20, 2017

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

Healthy Carrot-Walnut Cookies

February 16, 2017

Carrot Walnut Cookies

Marin Mommies presents a sponsored recipe from Whole Foods Market.

These moist, flavorful, not-too-sweet cookies are excellent for snacks, breakfast or dessert. Full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, your kids probably won't even realize they're snacking on something that's good for them!

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

Weeknight Recipe: Easy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

February 12, 2017

Mexican chicken and rice soup

At 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.

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.

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

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.

Slow Cooker Chili for a Cool Evening

January 30, 2017

slow cooker chiliWinter is the perfect time to fire up the slow cooker and make some long-simmered comfort food. Chili is a perfect food for a cool winter, fall, or early spring evening. Everyone in our family likes it, and you can offer a variety of different condiments so everyone can customize their bowl to their own liking.

Here, I’ve adapted my go-to chili recipe for the slow cooker. Put all the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and let it go and it will be hot and ready in time for dinner. You can also chop up the vegetables for the recipe—onions, garlic, and green peppers—in the food processor, saving a little more work in the process.

Wonton Party for Chinese New Year

January 28, 2017

Fried wontons

Today, January 28, marks the beginning of the celebrations for Chinese New Year: the Year of the Rooster. It's a tradition in our house to make wontons, as dumplings are traditionally associated with the holiday. Wontons are easy to make, tasty, kid-friendly, and you can get everything you need at your local grocery store. Furthermore, they're something children can help make with minimal effort, and they even have a lot of fun folding the things.

So, pick up a pack of pre-made wonton wrappers and other ingredients and get ready to start your Chinese New Year wonton party! Our recipe is for chicken wontons, although you can use pork, shrimp, or other fillings, depending on what you like or happen to have on hand. Wontons can be prepared in a number of different ways, including steaming, boiling, frying, and can even be served in soup (our favorite).