Anniversary Staff Recipe Picks

We’re Celebrating!

North State Parent magazine has a small and friendly staff of local parents, who, like many of you, are committed to nurturing families. Thank you for 23 years and growing strong! Our mission continues: To provide healthy, educational and timely information to connect families with their community resources. Meet just some of our team members doing one of their favorite things…cooking!

art-1016-pnHomemade Corn Tortillas

These are so easy and kids usually love helping, especially when you purchase a wooden or metal tortilla press that will help flatten the dough very consistently.

Use Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina golden corn flour, or try to locate an organic, GMO-free source of masa.

  • 2 cups masa corn flour (not corn meal)
  • 1½ to 2 cups hot water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of chili powder
  • Squeeze of fresh lime

In a large bowl, mix salt into the masa, then s-lo-w-l-y pour in the water while mixing to create a non-sticky consistency dough.

Add the chili powder – just a pinch!

Splash in the squeeze of lime juice. Knead dough on a countertop for a few moments (it should not be too dry or too sticky), then place back into the bowl and cover with a towel. If possible let dough rest for one hour.

Preheat pan or griddle. Divide and shape dough into 2” balls. Line inside of tortilla press with plastic wrap to make dough peel off easier. Place dough balls one at a time on the press and flatten – this is the fun part for kids!

Cook on the griddle until browned and slightly fluffy – usually about 1 minute. Flip over and heat for 1 more minute. Makes about 1 dozen 6” tortillas.

Homemade corn tortillas are one of the fun things to make from scratch! My son Jonas is much better than I am at preparing them; we enjoy making them together at our family gatherings.


art-1016-lsCreamy Zucchini Soup

The secret is in using potatoes to thicken…

  • 6 medium zucchini; unpeeled & sliced into rounds
  • 2 large onions; sliced
  • ⅓ bunch parsley; roughly chop the leaves (discard stems)
  • 1 tablespoon dried shallots
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (can substitute  additional oil)
  • 1½ cups broth (chicken or veggie)
  • 2 potatoes; peeled & boiled; allow to cool then finely chop
  • 1 pint half & half, milk or unsweetened dairy-free milk substitute
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of dill weed

Combine first six ingredients and sauté slowly until vegetables are tender (don’t brown). Place the mixture into a food processor or blender. Blend using some of the broth until pureed to the consistency you prefer. For a chunkier soup, don’t blend all the zucchini; for a smoother soup, blend part of the potatoes with the zucchini mixture. 

Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan, then add the remaining broth, potatoes, and half & half (or substitute). Add salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill to taste. Simmer 5 minutes (just until heated through) and serve. Enjoy!

Serves approx. 4.

Note: This time of year the abundance of zucchini is perfect for the beginning of “soup season.” As a former retreat cook, I can attest that the vegetarian version of this soup was always a hit!


art-1016-tgWaldorf Salad

  • 2 cups red apples, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup tiny marshmallows
  • 1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whipped cream
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 10-15 whole walnuts for garnish
  • 1 lemon for juice

Prepare your cutting board with a splash of lemon juice to keep the apples from turning brown as you chop them. In a mixing bowl, toss apple pieces with another splash of lemon juice. Add the whipped cream and mayonnaise, then stir in celery, marshmallows, grapes and chopped walnuts. Mix well and transfer to serving bowl; garnish with whole walnuts as a finishing touch. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. This makes 4-6 side-dish servings. I usually double this because my family loves it, and it’s even better the second day!

Hint: For a beautiful, fun presentation that kids will love, serve Waldorf Salad in hollowed out apples similar to the way you cut a pumpkin. Leave the top on complete with stem. The giggles are priceless when the kids discover what’s inside!

(Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, a comforting old relic in my kitchen!)


art-1016-tmHidden-Veggie Burritos

  • 1 carrot
  • ½ onion
  • ½ bell pepper (any color)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 3 diced fresh tomatoes (or one can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small can diced green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cilantro (optional)
  • flour tortillas
  • your favorite burrito toppings

Put the carrot, onion, bell pepper and garlic in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan, coated with cooking spray, on medium high heat.  When pan is hot, add the chopped veggies.  Sauté  until tender; 3-5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up large chunks, until nearly done.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until hot and most of liquid has evaporated.  Place mixture in a warm flour tortilla and add your favorite burrito toppings!

Special note: Most of the recipe amounts are personal preference.  You can substitute chicken for beef, add more veggies or seasoning, and if your family likes the heat, add red pepper flakes and jalapenos!


art-1016-cgSpinach & Banana Mini Muffins

Prep Time 15 min. Bake Time 15 min.

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil, yogurt and vanilla. Mash the banana and add to wet mixture.

Blend the spinach leaves in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add to the wet mixture and mix to combine everything well. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir until just combined. Don’t over mix.

Spray a large mini muffin tin with cooking spray. Spoon the batter into each cup, filling them all the way to the top. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe makes 36 yummy mini muffins. I like to wrap extras in aluminum foil individually and toss them into a freezer bag to freeze for easy weekday snacks for my family… quick, easy, nutritious, and toddler-friendly!

(This family favorite was adapted from familyfoodonthetable.com)


art-1016-msLomo Saltado (Peruvian Stir-Fry)

Peruvian rice:

  • 1 ½ cups of jasmine rice
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • pinch of salt

Rinse and drain the rice. Mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic. Fry the garlic until just golden brown; stir it now and then to not let it burn. When garlic is browned add the rice. Stir until all rice is coated and add water and salt. Bring to a boil and cover; let it boil for 15 minutes and turn off the heat.

Lomo Saltado:

  • 1 lb. beef tenderloin or sirloin cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into half circles
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • cilantro or parsley chopped
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 large russet potatoes, cut into fries
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Ají Amarillo paste, or 2 Ají Amarillo peppers, seeded and cut into thin strips

(You can leave this out, but it does give the traditional flavor to the dish. You can purchase Ají Amarillo paste online or find it at Latino grocery stores)

Cut the steak in strips and season with a little soy sauce and pepper.

Cut the potatoes into fries and fry them in hot oil on the stove or in a deep fryer until golden brown, then drain on a paper towel.

Heat olive oil in a skillet to medium heat. Stir-fry the beef until browned. Add the sliced red onions and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for a minute longer. Add the tomatoes, vinegar,  a splash of soy sauce, Ají Amarillo,  and cook for a few minutes more.

Remove from heat, add the fries to the skillet, and mix with the beef-onion-tomato mixture. Sprinkle chopped cilantro or parsley on top. Serve with the rice. Serves 4.


art-1016-etCurly Zucchini Noodles With Creamy, Vegan Red Sauce

Serves 4-6.

Cashew “cheese” (non-dairy option my family loves):

  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • ½ cup unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Soak the cashews in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Add all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process/blend until smooth.

Zucchini noodles:

  • 6 small zucchini or 3 large zucchini
  • Vegetable spiralizer or spiralizer attachment for electric  mixer

Spiralize your zucchini into a large bowl and set aside.

Vegan red sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1½ ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Chop and add any in-season vegetables
  • Veggie broth (for desired thickness)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and cook very low for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil leaves and remaining veggies. Allow veggies to soften slightly before seasoning with red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on low heat for 15-30 minutes. The longer you simmer, the longer the flavors will have to meld. Add veggie broth to reach desired thickness. Simmer for 5 additional minutes. Add ½ cup cashew cheese and stir until smooth.

Place noodles on individual plates, top with hot, fresh sauce, a dollop of cashew cheese, and a small basil leaf for garnish. Enjoy!

Variations: Add one pound of browned Italian sausage, ground bison or ground beef to the sauce before adding the cashew cheese.  Add 1 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce for heat before adding the cheese. Substitute salted butter for the avocado oil for robust flavor.


art-1016-ksDisappearing Guacamole

  • 3 avocados, peeled, pitted and smashed (I use a fork so it has a little texture)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh Pico de Gallo (if you like it chunky)
  • Cotija cheese to sprinkle on top

SECRET ingredient: 5 or 6 drops of toasted sesame oil – gives it a nutty, smoky taste

Mix ingredients well and serve with your favorite chips. My family likes Juanita’s Corn Chips (thick) or Trader Joe’s Corn Chips (thin and crispy). You will have a crowd pleaser and this guacamole will disappear right before your very eyes!

North State Parent
About North State Parent

North State Parent is a free monthly publication that circulates within five California counties: Butte, Glenn, Shasta, Southern Siskiyou and Tehama. Our pages are filled with family-oriented places to go, services and products geared for women and things to do; a focus on parenting, community, health, education, teens, youth, and much more.

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