After School Snacking: Little Bee Baking

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As I am sitting here writing about a wonderful spot to hit for after school snacking – thinking we will go there tomorrow after the school pick-up, I find out that school is out tomorrow!  Stacie who is a San Francisco native, said she only remembers schools in the Bay Area being closed for earthquakes, never weather.  Apparently there is an epic storm coming and I am a little concerned.  More so because I had a big day of work planned, and having the little monkey at home throws a bit of a wrench in my plans to get a lot of work done….

Back to Little Bee Baking on Cortland Avenue in Bernal Hill, and how much we love it for an after-school snack.  The owner was a pastry chef at Chez Panisse (instant street cred in the Bay Area) and her goodies prove that she can bake.  We LOVE their brownies – almost as good as my friend Vivian makes (even the day-old brownies are amazing).  It’s a cozy, warm and welcoming little spot and almost gives you a hug as you walk in.  They serve ice cream treats, fruit tarts, cookies, and cakes and also offer take-home and bake cookie and tart doughs, special occasion cakes, cupcakes, candies and tarts. We always end up eating some goodies right there and bringing a batch home for another day.  It’s a great stop off before you hit the amazing kids section at the Bernal branch of the San Francisco Public Library.  Little Bee Baking + Bernal Library = perfect after-school outing! Continue reading

Holiday Baking: Ina Garten’s Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Upon the kiddo’s insistence we did some cookie baking a few days ago.  These might be the only cookies I have baked all year.  We picked an Ina Garten recipe because they usually turn out great (I have all her cookbooks :) ).  We pulled out my-hardly-used stand mixer and quite easily whipped these up.  They made quite a large batch, so we saved some balls of dough for another day.  According to Ina Garten, you can place them in sealed containers and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.  Defrost and then bake – and you have yummy cookies with no mess.  Baked cookies can be stored in plastic bags and reheated for 5 minutes at 35o degrees.

We are a house divided – the hubby loves oatmeal raisin cookies and everyone else is a chocolate chunk/chip cookie fan.  This is a combo of both, and the tart cranberries and sprinkle of salt at the end make them quite divine.  Love that we have some in the freezer for when the cookie craving hits…

Since many people have holiday baking on the mind these days, below are links to some of the cookies we have baked in the past – hopefully you will try some or all of them as part of your holiday baking.

Chocolate Sables – we love, love, love these.  Stacie freezes the logs and always seems to have them on hand. :)

Breakfast Cookies – brilliant idea!

Layered Neopolitan Butter Cookies – great for the holidays and a cookie swap

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies – the chile actually works in this recipe – even though I was skeptical

Easiest Chocolate Chip Cookies – for the “baking impaired”, these are a must try

Compost Cookies - if you still have Halloween candy lying around, make these!

Bizcochitos – these New Mexican state cookies are perfect for the holidays

Pineapple Tarts – for a Malaysian twist to your cookie tin

Alfajores – we adore these cookies from Argentina

Biscotti – it never hurts to have some biscotti lying around for your cup of tea
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Thanksgiving Leftovers: Asian Rice Bowls

Thanksgiving Rice Bowl

 

Here we are with Lisa Yokota on KTVU's  "Bay Area People" turning Thanksgiving leftovers into a yummy Asian-inspired rice bowl. Click the photo to see the segment.

Here we are on KTVU’s
Bay Area People” turning Thanksgiving leftovers into a yummy Asian-inspired rice bowl.

Right now, everyone has Thanksgiving on the mind and we are already thinking about how to transform the main Thanksgiving meal into something entirely different.  We love cooking large quantities of food anyway and changing them up into a new dish the next day (or over the next few days).  Naturally, Thanksgiving is the perfect vehicle for that.  For us, I think, the holiday meal is really more about the “leftover challenge” versus the main day’s feast.  Plus, we love taking traditional leftover Thanksgiving goodies to a different part of the world and turning them into “an around the world adventure.”  Check out two of our blog posts from the years past – the first on “Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey Goes Global” and the second which was about hosting a “Global Thankgiving” with dishes inspired by different cuisines from around the world.  This year, we have vegetarian family members in town and are hosting a vegetarian Thanksgiving potluck.  I can’t wait to see what we end up with on Thanksgiving day and beyond.

Our kids love rice bowls and they also love the idea of designing their own rice bowl.  The possibilities with Thanksgiving and turning what’s left of your Thanksgiving meal into a rice bowl are endless – you can stir-fry combinations of leftovers, make spiced potato patties with leftover mashed potatoes, dress leftover salad with an Asian vinaigrette and so on.  For these rice bowls, pull out all your Asian condiments, sauces and seasonings and let your imagination run wild!  Below is just some inspiration to get you started.

Toppings

  • Teriyaki-glazed turkey (recipe below)
  • Flash-fried brussels Sprouts with Oyster Sauce Glaze (recipe below)
  • Oi Sobagi / Korean quick cucumber pickle (recipe below)
  • Bean sprouts, blanched and drizzled with sesame oil
  • Diced Avocado
  • Crispy Shallots
  • Chopped Peanuts
  • Chopped Herbs (mint, cilantro)
  • Poached, fried or soft Boiled Egg

We recently taped this recipe for the show “Bay Area People”, here’s a link to the video segment on KTVU:

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Kitchen Playdate: Banoffee Pie

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Banoffee Pie Collage_A Little Yumminess

It’s hard to go wrong with a concoction that includes sliced bananas, dulce de leche, pie crust, whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  We are a little obsessed with this British treat and made it recently after school with a friend as part of a super fun kitchen play date.

The whole pie making process can me made easier and less daunting if you use store bought pie dough. (Making your own is easy enough, but in a pinch, store bought works just fine!) The kiddos had a blast whipping the cream, cutting the bananas, baking the store bought pie dough, shaving the chocolate (fun and messy!) and spreading the dulce de leche.  It is basically an assembly project, but the end result is ridiculously yummy. Continue reading

Apple Tasting for Fall

Apple Tasting 1Inspired by all the colorful varieties of apples in the market right now, we did our own apple tasting this week. There are a lot of lesson plans and educational exercises for apple tasting (google “apple tasting kids” or search on Pinterest — you’ll find a ton). You can make predictions, comparisons, even weave writing and graphing into it if you like. Maybe one day we’ll do a more scientific version of this, but for now we were happy just to keep it simple. We cut up our apples, labeled them A, B, C, D, E and captured a few broadstroke impressions as we sampled and each picked our favorite at the end. The kids absolutely loved it and it sparked some really fun and interesting conversation. My little guy has already asked when we are doing this again. Continue reading

A Little Kitchen Magic….

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This blog is usually about our adventures with our kids, but today I am (strangely) inspired by what Stacie and I recently created in the kitchen, as she was teaching me how to make pie dough.  We had a very “Nigel Slater” moment – though I really shouldn’t compare to him.  He is a hugely talented cook and an epic writer, and well, we are just regular people.  We opened the fridge – pulled out what we had and came up with this thing of beauty and great taste –  a delicata squash tossed in pesto, caramelized onions with thyme, goat cheese and shavings of aged gouda galette.  A little kitchen magic, in my humble opinion.  And a smile I can’t seem to wipe off my face.  Perfect day spent cooking with a good friend.  There isn’t much better.

And yeah, pie dough isn’t that hard to make.

Kitchen Playdate: Raspberry Crumble Bars

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These days kitchen playdates and food adventures with our kids are harder and harder to schedule given the demands of school and after school activities.  Whenever we have a day off school, Stacie and I try to relive the days when the kids were with us a lot more and we would go explore all things food related.  In fact that was the genesis of this blog – the food adventures we shared with our kiddos.  We have come a long way since then, but whenever we can spend a day recreating those carefree (and delicious days), we do just that.

This past Monday, we spent the day exploring the Japanese Tea Garden on a San Francisco City Guides walking tour, and then eating some yummy Chinese food at San Tung, checking out multiple other shops and food spots in the Sunset and finally ending the day by making some delicious raspberry bars together.  A little ambitious perhaps, but we had a super fun day!

And these raspberry crumble bars are “idiot-proof”, which means even I can make them again without Stacie and the kids helping me.  Luca and Ria could probably have made them all by themselves.  Matteo, I have decided is my twin (though far more adorable) – he was just hanging around to get his fingers into to everything to get a taste!!

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