Food and Cooking

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Delicious recipes, family friendly dining news, reviews, and resources for families in Marin and the Bay Area. Sponsored by Whole Foods Market

Dutch-Style Split Pea Soup Warms on a Winter Evening

January 15, 2017

Dutch split-pea soup or snert

Nothing beats a hot and hearty bowl of soup on a chilly winter evening. In the Netherlands, a favorite winter dish is split pea soup, known in Dutch as erwtensoep or snert. It's similar to its American counterpart, but differs a bit in that it uses a variety of vegetables as well as smoked pork like bacon and ham. The Dutch also prefer to use yellow split peas over the green ones we usually associate with the dish.

We like to make this if we have a hambone left over from a holiday dinner. If you don't have a hambone use a smoked hamhock instead. In the Netherlands they often add slices of rookworst, a smoked sausage, so feel free to add some to the pot; kielbasa or smoked bratwurst are good substitutes.

Among the veggies that go into the pot is celery root, also known as celeriac. It's that ugly knobby thing that you may have run across in the produce section, and if you're not familiar with it it can look a little scary. It's delicious, though, and adds a distinctive flavor to the soup, so don't leave it out! It's probably easiest to peel with a sharp paring knife rather than a vegetable peeler.

Make Your Own Easy Homemade Pretzels

January 8, 2017

homemade pretzels

It's almost as fun for kids to make their own snacks as it is for them to eat them! This pretzel recipe is easy, fast, and perfect for children to help with, and the results are delicious, too. My kids love to make these tasty pretzels when friends come over. It's a great activity for rainy days and playgroups, too. Why not bake up a batch this weekend?

The only part of this recipe that's not kid-friendly is boiling the pretzels briefly in a baking soda and water solution—have a grown-up handle this part. This step gives the pretzels their characteristic crunch, brown color, and flavor. You can omit it if you like; the pretzels will still be good, but won't be quite the same.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

January 8, 2017

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soup

Winter  to use your slow cooker, since it's perfect for making long-simmered comfort food favorites that hit the spot on a cool evening. Try out this recipe for a Mexican-style tortilla soup. The technique couldn't be easier: you just throw almost everything in the cooker and let it go all day, adding beans and corn at the end.

Everyone likes this because you can personalize your bowl with various garnishes, like avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more. Fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this soup a delicious smoky flavor, but of course you can use the normal varieties of these ingredients, too.

The Best Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

January 7, 2017

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookiesFor many years, I've been on a search for the best-ever chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I think I've found it! These oatmeal chocolate chip cookies have crisp edges and chewy centers and taste and look fantastic. The addition of oatmeal gives these cookies a nutty taste, too.

They're based on the recipe published by King Arthur Flour, who in turn got it from the Cookies for Kids' Cancer non-profit. It's King Arthur's 2015 recipe of the year—make a batch and you'll see why.

This recipes makes approximately 20 large cookies if using a 1/4 cup scoop to measure out the dough. You can use a smaller size to get more cookies, but keep in mind that baking times may vary.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed

Family Fondue Party for New Year's Eve

December 29, 2016

fondue

Nearly everyone I know (us included) received a fondue pot as a wedding gift. If you don't have one, then your parents most certainly do, since fondue was a huge deal in the 1960s and '70s. Fondue is easy to make, if you follow the directions closely, and makes for a fun social meal—the perfect thing for a family New Year's Eve party.

On New Year's Eves past we've made the traditional Swiss style fondue using Gruyère and Emmenthaler cheeses and white wine. With its blend of wine and strong-tasting Swiss cheeses, It's never been a big hit with the kids, so last year we crafted a new, more kid-friendly version using cheddar cheese and apple cider. Needless to say, it was a big hit, and ended up being a lot less expensive to make than the authentic version, too.

Fondue is definitely a kid-friendly kind of dish, and they love being able to choose their foods and dip them into the molten cheese. Just make sure to keep little hands clear of the fondue pot, since flames are involved and metal parts can get hot.

Easy Holiday Recipe: Peppermint Bark

December 15, 2016

peppermint barkIn my opinion, peppermint should be the official flavor of the holiday season! This white chocolate peppermint bark candy is a holiday staple in our house, and is quick, delicious, and kid-approved. My kids love the fact that smashing up candy canes is part of this recipe.

Peppermint bark is really easy to make, and doesn't mess the kitchen up nearly as much as making cookies does. Feel free to omit the nuts or mix in something else that you think would be tasty. My mom makes hers with both the almonds and dried cranberries.

Ingredients

Make Your Own Holiday Gingerbread House

December 5, 2016

Gingerbread House

Every year we create a gingerbread house using the nice kit sold by Trader Joe's, but last year, after constructing a house from the kit, my daughter decided she wanted to take our gingerbread house building experience a step further and create another one—this time from scratch! Fortunately, as we found out, it's easy to do and fun.

First thing you have to do is come up with a design for your house. We created a template for a basic gingerbread house that's simple to create and put together. (You can download our template, formatted for two letter-size sheets of paper; get page one here and page two here.) You can embellish and elaborate on this little house and make it your own special creation.

Yummy Fall Minestrone Soup

November 7, 2016

winter minestrone soupI love to make a big pot of soup on Sunday evenings, since it's a great weekend meal and makes for leftovers all week long. This version of the classic Italian minestrone soup uses vegetables that are available locally during the fall months. It's hearty and filling and good for you, too.

Leave out the pancetta to make it vegetarian/vegan. I also like to make this soup using just water instead of chicken broth—the flavor of the fresh vegetables really comes through. I cook the pasta separately and add it to the bowls when serving. That way when there are leftovers it doesn't absorb all the liquid in the soup when it sits.

Ingredients

Halloween Candy Corn Fruit Parfaits

October 28, 2016

candy corn fruit parfaits I love candy corn, that quintessential fall candy. Wouldn't it be great if it was actually good for you? My kids and I made these cute "candy-corn" style fruit parfaits, with layers of yellow pineapple, orange mandarin slices, and white whipped cream. They're perfect as a sweet but healthy treat for a Halloween party or autumn snack.

You can use either fresh or canned fruit. We tried making these with both fresh mandarins and canned mandarin oranges, and the kids like the sweeter and more tender canned version better. You can also substitute thick vanilla Greek yogurt for the whipped cream.

If you're making them for a Halloween party, assemble the fruit in advance in containers (we used 8-ounce mason jars) and refrigerate, then add the whipped cream or yogurt just before serving.

Ingredients

Makes one parfait

Healthy Slow-Cooker White Bean Soup with Ham

October 17, 2016

Slow cooker ham and bean soup

This healthy and tasty white bean soup with ham is a hit with everyone in our family. It's also a breeze to make; one of those slow-cooker recipes that's truly easy.

Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning, set it on "low" and walk away. Then come back later to dish up a delicious hearty soup at dinnertime, one that's perfect for these chilly winter evenings. It freezes well, too.

This version includes smoked ham, which you could easily leave out for a vegeterian or vegan version.