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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Sketchbook: Afterschool Snackin at The Mill

A Little Yumminess_The Mill_San Francisco.jpgToast and Jam at the Mill SF.pngSummer’s gone and school is back in session once again. As life keeps getting busier and busier and it seems like our foodie wanderings — those opportunities to just follow our tummies — are harder and harder to find. Ahhh… those lazy days of long walks with sleepy kids in strollers and copious hookey days from preschool are a thing of memory at least for my oldest. So on those precious days when we don’t have a lot going on afterschool, I find myself even more determined to keep on squeezing in little food adventures where we can. For me, those little moments of nibbling on something new and delicious with my guys are golden.

Last week, sunny weather and a random turn off onto Divisadero Street landed us at long last at The Mill. Simran and Ria are enthusiastic fans of Josey Baker Bread at The Mill (especially the cinnamon toast), but this gem of a bakery and coffee shop had somehow gotten stuck at the the top of our “to do” list and lingered there for way, way too long. It’s all about great bread made with lots of TLC here and the ambiance is pretty fun too. The room is big, open, and airy with cool art and long communal tables. We swooped into a fat slice of toasted wheat bread with a thick, glossy layer of homemade strawberry jam and refreshed ourselves with cold glass of milk (and a cup of Four Barrel coffee for me). Racks of deep brown crusty loaves are a happy sight on their own but in combination with a giant batch of strawberry jam bubbling away in a big copper pot — we were transported to toast and jam nirvana. As we fetched our snack from the pick up area we couldn’t help but pause an extra minute or two to take in deep, heavenly breaths of berry-scented air. I dare anyone not to smile and do their happy dance in the midst all that strawberry goodness. Under normal circumstances, I almost always prefer to eat my toast and jam in PJs but The Mill’s extra yummy version is definitely worth venturing out for.

The Mill, 736 Divisadero Street, San Francisco (www.themillsf.com)

 

The Mill_San Francisco.jpg

A few friends dropped by to join us for snack time.

A few friends dropped by to join us for snack time.

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes & Japanese Yaki-Imo Daydreams

Yaki Imo Truck, Tokyo (by Amehare, Flickr Commons)

Yaki Imo Truck, Tokyo (by Amehare, Flickr Commons)

Okinawan Sweet Potato | A Little Yumminess

This purple Okinawan sweet potato was just too pretty not to share. I mean just look at that color….too gorgeous! We come across these from time to time at the farmers market or at our favorite ethnic produce stores. Intrigued about this ingredient and what to do with it, I did a little reading up about the Yaki-Imo trucks in Japan that roam the streets in the fall and winter months selling Japanese yams roasted over charcoal. The thought of bundled up kids swarming around for warm sweet potatoes for their afterschool “oyatsu”  is a good thought indeed and with the gray, damp chill in the air the last few days it really does seem like the perfect kind of snack for warming up and filling up. There are even school yaki-imo festivals where kids and parents gather to build a big fire out of firewood and fallen leaves and bake tons of sweet potatoes and play games. My kind of party!

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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).

A Snack for Your Next Epic Adventure: Hero Milk (aka Banana-Cashew Smoothie)

Fresh out of monkey skulls, the islanders sip their hero milk from the shell of a rare species of coconut which has been dried for exactly 17 days. The elusive gold-finned pyramid fish lurks out in the distance.

Did you ever find yourself canoeing rough seas amongst a horde of hungry sharks in search of gold-finned pyramidfish? Then you’ll certainly need this recipe for “Hero Milk”. Sometimes it’s the backstory that makes the dish, but in this case it’s also a healthy and super delicious snack — even for days when you’re not climbing a volcano. [Find the whole story by Eric Wolfinger & Mac Barnett on the blog, “The Daily Monster“.]

By the way…. experts say “one skull-full fuels three days of heavy paddling”. Good to know.

Hero Milk

Blend the following:

  • 1 Frozen Banana (if you don’t have time to fell a banana tree and drag it up the snowy peak of a volcano, your freezer will do)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Spoon Flaked Coconut
  • 2 Pitted Dates
  • 1 Spoon Honey
  • A Handful of Salted Cashews
  • A Thimbleful of Vanilla Extract

Islanders bring bananas up the snowy peaks of the volcano using funicular carts. Down below, they guard their lava rock mortar and pestle.

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

Banana-Avocado Bread

Stay with me here….. You might be as dubious as I was to see an avocado infiltrating a harmless banana bread, but this is one of those healthy “recipe makeover” substitutions I can whole heartily endorse. I’m all for healthy food of course, but I’m not a big fan of healthy versions of not-so-healthy things if they fall short on the yumminess factor.

It turns out you can substitute avocado for half the butter in many baking recipes. So you’re not only replacing bad fat with a healthier one, you’re also adding some extra nutrients. In our banana bread test, the avocado didn’t end up altering the flavor or color significantly and the end result was as moist and tender as the original. This is excellent news since my family has a major addiction to banana bread and I have become “the banana bread lady” at my son’s preschool. So now we’re eager to see how the avocado fares in some of our other favorite baked goods.

We decided to put this “healthier banana bread” experiment to the ultimate test by making it for a recent family soiree put on by the awesome folks of SF Music Together. [If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, Music Together is a fabulous children’s music program not only here in San Francisco, but around the world, where families can share and create music.] The party was tons of fun with face-painting, singing and tambourine shaking galore — Simran even snagged some totally cute hair clips from Made in the Haight.  The banana-avocado bread was a big hit across the board and there wasn’t a crumb left to take home. We heard many a “yum” which is definitely music to our ears.

Banana-Avocado Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (half a stick)
  • Half an avocado (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 1/4 cups app purpose, and 3/4 cup whole wheat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 very ripe bananas (this is not worth making if your bananas aren’t super ripe)
  • 3 TBL milk
  1. Cream together sugar, butter and avocado.
  2. Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt until well mixed.
  4. Fold together the butter and flour mixture until well incorporated.
  5. Mash 3 very ripe bananas. Mix in the mashed bananas and milk.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the top springs back when you press it.