Feelin’ Brunch-y (& Lego Eggs, Bacon & Pancakes)

Happy Sunday! Here’s a food-inspired minimalist lego creation by Luca: “I thought it would be interesting to create items in the least amount of pieces. A whole breakfast in 8 pieces! Enjoy!”

Lego Bacon & Eggs by Luca_A Little Yumminess

……. and while you’re enjoying this brunch creation, browse these brunch-y links from the archive. [Geez — I’m getting hungry, I think I’m in dire need of some shakshuka! :)]


Liz Prueitt’s Healthy Flax Muffins (gluten free)

Liz Prueitt's Healthy Muffins

One of the best Instagram accounts I have come across belongs to Liz Prueitt of Tartine Bakery fame. Via her Instagram feed you can follow along with her as she tests and develops recipes which is pretty cool if you’re interested in how that process happens and getting inside the mind of a chef. Most recently she’s turned much of her attention to gluten free baking where she’s been exploring GF twists on classics as well as new, creative inventions, comparing different substitutions and combinations. (She’s got savory cooking projects going on as well). Some posts share the refined, end result of many cycles of testing, other times you get to see the trials and errors along the way. The very best part is that she often throws shorthand recipes onto her posts so you can cook along at home. And since she’s sharing in real-time, her posts always reflect what’s in season right now.

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Dinnertime Journaling: “I Would Totally Eat that for Breakfast”

We’ve been posting some breakfast makeover ideas this week in honor of the return of rushed school day mornings (here’s a link to the article we wrote for the San Jose Mercury News on this topic). As they kids get older, I realize more and more how important it is to start the day off with a nourishing meal and a full tummy (especially given the shrinking lunch periods at school).

With breakfast on our minds, we even found ourselves talking about it at the dinner table recently. We were eating Chinese jook which is a simple, thick rice soup that you dress up with lots of yummy condiments (I will post a recipe next time we make it).  The kids were intrigued and surprised when I told them that jook is actually considered a breakfast food across Asia since we always eat it for lunch or dinner. It’s not unlike a savory variation of oatmeal, but I guess jook is enough of a departure that the kids found the idea quite intriguing. Our conversation about jook got us thinking about other things we would like to eat for breakfast that are not on our typical morning menu of cereal, toast or eggs here in the US. Without hesitation they shouted out things like “quesadillas”, “fish”, “crackers”.

I Would Totally Eat this for breakfast_Catnip Infused wine.jpg

We cracked up at this non alcoholic cat-nip infused wine for cats, so that of course made it into our journal as well.

Again and again my kids demonstrate that they’re often more creative thinkers than us adults when it comes to food (and this proves itself over and over again in our kids’ cooking classes too)… it also reminds me that I should remember to get their input more often!!

I’m curious to know how other kids and families would answer the question “what would you eat for breakfast?”

[My family has been doing this simple dinnertime journaling project for the last 3(!) years. Whenever we sit down at the table for dinner we pull out an index card and draw and write together. We capture a few highlights from the day, ideas, funny thoughts, or just some crazy drawings. It’s been a lot of fun an]

Breakfast Makeover: Smoothie Collection

Everyone loves smoothies! They’re super quick to make when you keep basics on hand, and they’re wonderfully portable for when you’re in a rush to get out the door (we’re always in rush on school mornings). Lately we’ve been making a big batch for breakfast and refrigerating the leftovers for an after school snack. I’ve also started adding smoothies to the lunch box this year (cleaned up, recycled small Odwalla containers work perfectly). As school lunch periods get shorter and shorter (don’t get me started!), this seems to be something my kids can successfully eat (along with a few other tidbits) in the teensy amount of time allotted for lunch.

If you start searching around for smoothies on the internet you’ll find tons of info– recipes, special containers, little tips and tricks. So…. to the collective oeuvre of smoothies out there I add our list of favorites with an international twist.

Mango Lassi_India Playdate

Mango lassis are by far the most requested smoothies in my house. We all love the creamy, sweet mango flavor, but that pinch of cardamom is what makes it special. For kids who insist they don’t like spices — this is a good place to start. Here’s our previous post with the recipe.

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Breakfast Cookies

breakfast cookie by A Little Yumminess

I got interested in the idea of breakfast cookies one day when I came across a recipe while wasting time on my iPad. Cookies for breakfast? Yes please and a double yes please from my kids. I suppose it’s part of the psychology of eating that you can call anything cookie-shaped a cookie and you’ve automatically got most people’s interest. (Perhaps that phenomenon explains the growing number of circle shaped things with a hole in the middle masquerading as donuts.). I would classify the various breakfast cookies we’ve been experimenting with as not too sweet, “almost” cookies. They work from a healthy food perspective but somehow do not possess the soul of a cookie, landing somewhere between a true cookie; a soft, a crumbly granola bar; and a flat, squat muffin… but still close enough to be worth making.

While we wait to discover a true breakfast cookie, we’ll happily keep using these recipes because they turn out tasty “almost” cookies which the kids happily gobble up and they’re full of fruit, nuts and whole grains to start your day off right.

* Ellie Krieger’s breakfast cookies (pictured above) use bran flakes which we sometimes buy and carrot puree (more veggies is always good)

* King Arthur Flour’s recipe brings in a little peanut butter and some chocolate chips

* Bon Appétit’s “Almond, Cranberry and Quinoa Cookies” recipe makes use of leftover, cooked quinoa

You might also like these breakfast-y posts: Cozy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls; Breakfast for Dessert Sundaes; Ria’s Breakfast Invention; Simran’s Mango Coconut Pancakes

Cozy Pumpkin-Cinnamon Rolls for Lazy Weekend Breakfasts

Adieu for now to our beloved chocolate cinnamon babka…. as much as we have enjoyed justifying all that chocolate on our brunch table, the feeling of fall in the air has turned our cravings in another direction.  The sun’s autumnal slant and the rustle of dry leaves along our walk to school have got us dreaming about sweet pumpkin and big pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg. These pumpkin-ed up cinnamon rolls cozily knit our favorite fall flavors  together and add a decadent glug of icing for good measure.  I know these so totally do not qualify in the “healthy eats” category, but we think they’re just the thing real when gray skies call out for cozy weekend family breakfasts in your pajamas.

This recipe requires a running start ….so for anyone with visions of cinnamon rolls on Saturday morning, you’re going to need to get to work Friday. Luckily for you, it’s only Thursday… there’s still time!!!!

The two dough rises take some time — so no instant gratification here — but none of the steps are too hard and the “hands on” time is definitely not hardcore. And somehow in the end the fact that you have to wait while the yeast does it’s thing maybe, just maybe, makes these taste even better in the end. A little anticipation becomes it’s own kind of “secret ingredient”. We could all use an excuse to slow down and practice a little patience, right? Especially if there’s cinnamon and icing waiting around the corner.

This recipe is like the poster child of blogosphere recipes, coming to you via recipe I spied on the ever-popular Smitten Kitchen who tweaked it from a recipe from the “Baked Elements” cookbook.  Smitten Kitchen has an even more detailed write up which you should check out as well as some pictures so gorgeous they will make you get up from your computer right now and run to the store to grab the ingredients for this recipe.  In following Smitten Kitchen’s version of the recipe, I did come up with a few modifications that were more to my liking, like halving the recipe because there is such thing as too much of good thing. How could any family possibly eat two pans of cinnamon rolls especially when they are really only at their most awesome when they’re still warm from the oven.  A re-heated cinnamon roll doesn’t do any where near as good a job at convincing me it’s worth all those sugary calories. I also swapped in half the flour with whole wheat, increased the spices and and made a few other adjustments here and there. For a less guilty version, you might try using our favorite spiced apple-pear butter, instead of the icing.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

(by way of Smitten Kitchen, by way of the Baked Elements cookbook)


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/8 cup for the dough, the rest for brushing when you assemble the rolls)
  • 1/4 cup milk, warmed to 120 degrees or about the same temperature as a baby’s bottle
  • 1  1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (half of a 0.25 ounce packet)
  • 1  cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin (canned works great)
  • 1 egg


  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt


  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  1. Activate the yeast by adding it to the warm milk. Give it a quick stir and then let it sit about 5 minutes. It should smell “yeasty” and look clumpy and foamy, that’s how you’ll know it’s alive and kicking. The yeast will not be happy if the milk is too hot (you can kill it), or too cold (won’t activate).
  2. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. I recommend taking Smitten Kitchen’s advice to cook it for a minute or so past when it melts so that it turns a light brown. Be careful not to let it get too dark, so pour the browned butter into a cool bowl once it’s as brown as you like.
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine all the dough ingredients (flours, sugars, spices, salt, yeast/milk mixture, and 1/8 cup of the browned butter — save the rest for brushing on the dough later).  Knead for 5 minutes with a dough hook. [You can do this by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer]. NOTE: the dough will be pretty sticky.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm part of your kitchen for 1 hour during which time it will puff up and double in size.
  5. Meanwhile prepare a baking pan (9″ round or 8″ square). Cut a circle of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan, then butter the sides and parchment lightly (or use cooking spray).
  6.  After the dough has risen for one hour and has puffed up, flour your rolling out area well. Use your hand to flatten the dough and sprinkle a little flour on top and roll it out  into a rectangle about  8 1/2″ x 11″ (or the size of a sheet of paper). Use enough flour to keep it from sticking.
  7. Mix the filling ingredients, then brush your dough rectangle first with the remaining browned butter, then the filling. Roll it jellyroll style along it’s longer edge, then cut it into 1″ rounds. Use a sharp knife and light pressure to avoid smushing the rounds. Place the rolls into the prepared pan.
  8. If making right away, let them rise in the pan for 30-45 minutes before baking at 350 F degrees for 25-30 minutes. If making the day ahead, cover with plastic after putting the rounds in the pan and refrigerate overnight. Give them 45 minutes to an hour to rise before baking them from a refrigerated state.


  • Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk until smooth. If you want to be fancy about it, sift the powdered sugar before adding it to the bowl to get rid of any lumps. While it has no impact on the flavor, the lumps aren’t so pretty and they’re nearly impossible to get rid of them later.
  • Add a little more powdered sugar or milk to thin or thicken the glaze as needed. Spoon the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls and devour!

Cherry Cornbread Muffins (and congratulations Andrea G. our giveaway winner!)

It’s been pretty eventful over here at A Little Yumminess HQ. Over the weekend, Simran and I had a chance to teach an Indonesian homecooking class at one of the coolest culinary venues in San Francisco. 18 Reasons (the nonprofit arm of the always awesome Bi-Rite market and creamery) is located on 18th and Dolores streets, smackdab in the middle of food heaven. You can walk out the door of 18 Reasons and literally stumble into such drool-worthy spots as Tartine, Delfina, and Namu. Just driving through that neighborhood makes my stomach growl! 18 Reasons organizes a fantastically diverse line-up of events — you can pop in for their regular soup suppers, bring a homemade topping to share at a community ice cream social, learn how to make cheese, taste artisan whiskeys, or practice the art of Japanese knife skills and sharpening….. To say that we are honored to be a part of their community is a major understatement. In about a month we’ll be back at 18 Reasons to kick off our first ever “A Little Yumminess Around the World” summer camp, where we’ll cook, eat and craft our way around the world with a dozen 6-8 year olds. Talk about a food adventure — and we couldn’t be more excited.

But where does one’s mind wander after weeks of obsessing about curry pastes and fiery sambals? In this case, sweet summery cherries and crispy-edged cornbread — two of my family’s absolute favorites rolled into one perfect little muffin. As these things often go, we lucked onto this recipe while searching for something else (a recipe for pumpkin muffins from Arizmendi Bakery). We never did find that one, but came across a fellow Arizmendi fan, Andrew Molitor, on The Fresh Loaf blog who tinkered until he was able to re-create their also delicious blueberry-corn muffins. [Sadly neither of these muffin recipes appear in the Cheese Board Collective Works cookbook.] These cornbread-like muffins are not too sweet and manage to be both crispy and moist at the same time which makes them pretty near perfect. You could use any kind of fruit (fresh or dried), but we really like them with fresh cherries and the mini muffin size is just right for little snackers. These are really (really!) good and I hope you have the chance to give them a try.

Last, but certainly not least… congrats to Andrea G. who won our giveaway of the “Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids” by Helen Olsson and muchas gracias to everyone who chimed in with camping-related comments and tidbits. Stay tuned for our camping and trail food recipe collection — coming soon!

Muffin Time!

Cherry Cornbread Muffins

Adapted from the Arizmendi Bakery-inspired recipe by Andrew Molitor. Makes 2 dozen mini muffins.

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and mist your mini muffin pans with vegetable oil (if you don’t have cooking spray, you can grease the muffin tin with butter)

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix them well:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups cornmeal
  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

3. Cut 5 tablespoons of butter into pieces and use a pastry cutter to blend the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture will be clumpy and crumbly and the butter should be fairly evenly distributed into the dry ingredients.

4. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients and whisk well:

  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5. Fold the wet and dry ingredients together until just blended but don’t overmix. Scoop batter into prepared mini muffin tin, sprinkling a few fresh, sliced cherries into each muffin as you go.

  • Fresh Cherries: I used about 1 pitted, quartered cherry per muffin, so you’ll need about two dozen whole cherries which should be about 1 heaping cup of fruit before pitting and quartering.

6. Bake at 425 degrees until deeply golden on top (about 20 minutes for mini muffins in my oven, but start checking them after 15 minutes).

DIY Instant Oatmeal

Both my little guys love oatmeal for breakfast, and for that matter so do their parents. There’s something about eating a warm meal to start your day that just can’t be beat. And it’s nice to know that you’re feeding your children something that will stick with them… at least until snack time. I do love the convenience of those little oatmeal packets — especially on days when I am called upon to make breakfast while still half asleep — but I don’t love all the sugar and what-cha-ma-call-it contained inside. Take a look at the ingredients sometime, you might be pretty surprised.

It turns out that making your own super yummy, customized, much better than the store bought stuff, instant oatmeal at home is a pretty darn easy. I’ll call this one “an hour and you’re done”- type activity which makes it perfect for an afterschool project or a weekend quickie. It would also be a great one to do as a foodie playdate with a few buddies. Even though ziplock bags or old yogurt containers will do just fine for storing your awesome artisan oats, we highly recommend going the extra mile and making your own groovy DIY packets from recycled lunch bags — that is if you don’t find a few zips on a sewing machine off-putting. We loved the oatmeal we made, but in the end I think we loved our handmade packets even more.

Gather your ingredients:

  • Oats — plan on 1 cup of oats per ~8 packets . Quick oats will be most like the instant oatmeal you know and love, but you can use rolled oats too. We found we needed to give rolled oats a little zap in the microwave after adding hot water to really soften them up to our liking.
  • Dry nonfat milk powder
  • Other no-cook or quick cooking whole grains and seeds (optional): puffed rice or wheat, whole wheat couscous, bulgur wheat, amaranth seeds, flax seeds, etc.
  • Dried or dehydrated fruit, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, etc. Scissors work great for snipping larger pieces of dried fruit into small slivers.
  • Spices and Sugar (we like a sugar with some flavor like turbinado or vanilla sugar made by storing a vanilla bean in  small jar of sugar)

If you are making your own packets:

Grab some old lunch bags and for each packet, cut a rectangle 10″ x 7″. Fold the rectangle in half so you have a 5″ x 7″ rectangle doubled over. [We used a 4″ x 6″-sized packet which worked for the amount of oatmeal described here, but it was a little tight.]  Sew a straight stitch along 2 of the open sides, leaving one side open so you cal fill your packet (this took me less than a minute per packet). Decorate your packet and then fill it up. To close up your filled packet, push the oatmeal away from the open side and hold it there while you make a quick seam along the open end (sounds harder than it is). You’ll be able to tear into the un-sewn side when it’s oatmeal time.

Mix up the oatmeal base for each packet:

After some tinkering, we decided that we like this base for for our oatmeal packets. This is just the right size for a kid-sized portion:  1 TBL whole oats, 1 TBL oat powder, 1/2 TBL dry milk powder, 1 TBL whole grain of your choice (we used a combination of bulgur wheat and puffed wheat). To make oat powder, just pulverize whole oats in your blender or food processor.  If you like more texture, just increase the ratio of whole oats to oat powder. Definitely mix one up and doing a taste test before assembling the rest of your packets.

To each packet add your favorite extras. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Tropical Fig: slivers of dried fig, toasted coconut, toasted sliced almonds, turbinado sugar, a pinch of ground ginger (pictured below, topped with cara cara oranges and a splash of milk)
  • Apricots, Apricots: tiny slivers and bigg-ish chunks of dried apricot, vanilla sugar
  • Strawberries n’ Cream: dehydrated strawberries, brown sugar, and a little extra dry milk powder
  • I Love Apples: tiny pieces of dried apple, cinnamon, teensy pinch of allspice, brown sugar (mix in apple sauce and a dash of apple cider syrup after adding hot water)
  • “Hi Mom/Hi Luca”: dehydrated strawberries, dehydrated blueberries, vanilla sugar, chopped up dried cherries (and a tiny pinch of coconut thrown in while Luca wasn’t looking)

Hungry for more? You might also like these other breakfast favorites: Granola-yogurt Fruit Towers, Snack Attack (or Anytime) Granola, Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Smoothie, Becky’s Carrot Zucchini Pineapple Muffins

Cozy Up with Apple Cider Syrup

Apple Cider Syrup by A Little Yumminess

Here’s an easy little cooking project to start the new year that will sweeten up your pantry: old-fashioned apple cider syrup. It’ got all the cozy, sweet-tangy flavor of apples wrapped up in a gorgeously glossy, caramel-colored, drizzle-y package.

We love apple cider syrup as an alternative to the usual sweeteners because it satisfies our sugary cravings while packing in a lot of rich flavor. We’ve been loving this as an accompaniment to oatmeal and on our pancakes (mixed with maple syrup or on it’s own). It’s delicious swirled into yogurt or as a sugar substitute in our favorite muffin recipes. We’ve used it to sweeten our granola and have even called it into service in a sweet- sour reduction (alongside dijon mustard and apple cider vinegar) for pork chops. As I write this I’m imagining an apple-cider-salted-caramel dipping sauce for apples or pears, and apple cider syrup dappled on one of Anya’s Farmhouse Cheddar Muffins or brushed over the top of a tarte tatin. This would be a great foil for a sharp, salty cheese on a cheese plate on tucked into a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m officially drooling now!

Apple Cider Syrup

This one is so easy, I don’t think it even qualifies as a recipe. Buy a jug of apple cider. Bring the cider to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer it slowly until you have a thick syrup. It will take anywhere from one to two hours. You don’t have to hover over it, but do give it stir every 20 minutes or so to avoid any scorching on the bottom of the pan.

That’s all there is to it. Starting with 8 cups of cider you will end up with about one to two cups of syrup depending if you want something the consistency of honey, or more like jam. It will keep in your refrigerator in a well sealed container for at least a month.

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Snack Attack: Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Smoothie

A yummy one for breakfast, snack time or dessert. It’s always a good time for a smoothie at Casa Stacie. This happens to one of our current faves and we almost always have the ingredients on hand. I keep some frozen OJ concentrate in our freezer for this express purpose.

We are always looking to tread new smoothie territory. What are your favorite combos?

  • 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yogurt (if using plain yogurt, you may want to add a dash of honey, sugar or agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Ice Cubes

You might also like these snacky favorites: Luca’s Favorite Pink Milk, Banana-Avocado Bread, Smørrebrød, Just Banana Ice Cream, Charred Green Garbonzos