Category Archives: Food

Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie [New Recipe]

The fall flew by! Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving? I am thankful for extra time off with my children. We love to get creative in the kitchen, especially when it comes to sweets. We were talking with our friend from the San Diego Honey Company about how we like to bake with unrefined sugars, such as local honey. We put our brains together and collaborated on this Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie. See if you might like to try it for Thanksgiving dessert!

honey bourbon pecan pie

If you have seen my recipes for Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie or Pumpkin Pie, you will know that I try to steer clear of corn syrup. I also often reduce sugar in my recipes. Honey adds subtle layers of flavor that compliment the other ingredients. Why not add flavor and avoid GMO’s?

honey bourbon pecan pie

To be honest, I bake the Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie every year. It’s just a winner. But this year I wanted to experiment with something new. Since bourbon goes so well with honey and pecan, I figured this one couldn’t go wrong.

baby birds farm eggs

To select which honey to use, I picked the brain of Lisann, who owns the San Diego Honey Company, and makes the infused flavors herself. You can talk to her directly at the Solana Beach Farmers market every Sunday. I also pick up her honey at Specialty Produce or Sprouts. (The super fresh pecans were from Specialty Produce.) I asked her which honey would go best in this recipe. “Vanilla Bean!” she said. The vanilla bean honey has a ton of flecks of real vanilla, which compliments the sweet custard of a pecan pie.

honey bourbon pecan pie

Next, I thought about my mom’s classic pecan pie recipe. It uses half a cup of light corn syrup and half a cup of dark corn syrup, as each have their own flavor notes. To mimic the match, I used half vanilla bean honey, which is in a light honey base, and half avocado blossom honey. If you have never had the pleasure of tasting avocado blossom honey (sounds like a total San Diego thing), it is super dark and tastes like molasses. For reals.

honey bourbon pecan pie

The only difference in baking with honey vs. corn syrup or maple syrup, is that you will want to heat it up slightly. This helps it to mix much easier, especially if other ingredients are cold. I warmed the honeys, brown sugar, and butter until just melted, and then let them cool before mixing with the rest of the ingredients. Do you bake or cook with honey?

honey bourbon pecan pie

Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie [New Recipe]
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Try this twist on a classic American pecan pie this Thanksgiving. Honey replaces corn syrup and adds extra flavor, complimenting the sweet bourbon.
Ingredients
All Butter Pie Crust
  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ice water, about ½ cup
Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie Filling
  • ½ cup dark honey, such as avocado blossom honey
  • ½ cup light honey, such as vanilla bean honey
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 T butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 T bourbon whiskey
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
  • (optional) dash of cardamon bitters
  • 2 cups of raw pecan halves
Instructions
All Butter Pie Crust
  1. Cut the butter evenly into small pieces, place on a plate in the freezer, and chill for about 30 minutes. Put ice and cold water in a measuring cup and chill.
  2. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a Kitchen-Aid mixer. When butter is frozen, use paddle attachment with mixer on the very lowest setting, and drop butter in a few pieces at a time. Stay close by. When the chunks of butter are slightly larger than pea size, dribble in the ice water until dough does not appear dry and JUST begins to come together.
  3. Move the dough to a dry surface and push together with the heel of your hand. Try not to knead or overwork the dough, you want it to come together so you can roll it out. This dough can be used right away! This amount makes enough for a top and a bottom, or two bottom crusts. You will only need one half for the pecan pie. If you are not going to use it right away, double wrap it in plastic and refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze for up to a month.
  4. After rolling out the crust and gently placing it in your pie dish, place it back in the refrigerator until it is ready to be filled.
Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.
  2. Place the honeys, brown sugar and 3 T of butter in a saucepan on medium heat. Tip: you will want a spatula to scrape all of the sticky honey out of your measuring cups. Heat, stirring occasionally, until butter and sugar and just melted. Take off heat and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Lightly beat eggs by hand. Add bourbon, vanilla and bitters. (Use the larger amount of vanilla extract if your honey doesn't have awesome flecks of vanilla already in it.)
  4. Once the honey mixture has cooled, gently stir it into the eggs and pecans, until just combined. Pour into the prepared, unbaked, half pie shell.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until just set in the middle (meaning there is no jiggle when you wiggle.)
  6. Let cool completely.
Notes
For more photos of and tips on this crust and baking pies, see this post.

Pin this Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie Recipe

Save this, or other Thanksgiving favorites, to Pinterest!

Honey Bourbon Pecan Pie Vertical

 

Kid-Made Almond Pulp Granola

Any time you cook with kids expect a mess. Multiple your prep time by three. Your results may not be as pretty or as perfect. Then again, kids cooking means kids more likely to try new food, having fun/bonding, and absorbing math and science!

Almond Pulp Granola with Mixed Nuts and Cinnamon

Would you like to see our last project? We made homemade almond milk. And with the unanticipated byproduct of leftover almond pulp, the kids made the most delicious almond granola — too tasty not to share.

Homemade Almond Milk Adventures

When the girls and I decided to try making almond milk at home, we picked up raw almonds at Specialty Produce. After soaking for a day, we ground the almonds in a Vitamix and strained it through cheesecloth leftover from my cheese-making days. If you are serious, you can buy a nut milk bag. If you just want to experiment, you can even use an old pillowcase or dishtowel to strain. It tastes really grainy if you don’t strain. But if you would like to try a nut milk that doesn’t need to be strained, I recommend cashews, like this raw cashew “horchata” recipe.

Vanilla Honey Almond Milk and Dark Chocolate Milk

We made a batch of vanilla bean honey almond milk (sweetened with the vanilla bean honey from San Diego Honey Company) and a dark chocolate almond milk. The basic vanilla recipe I found here and would make again. The chocolate recipe used melted chocolate, and wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked. Next time I’ll try raw cacao instead.

Watch this video of me milking nuts, lol…

 

Straining the almond milk through the cheesecloth reminded me so much of making cheese back in the day! It’s been nearly five years since I posted this step-by-step pictures guide to making fresh goat cheese (chèvre) – one of my most comprehensive posts ever. Little Bird used to help add the chèvre culture and roll the logs before she was even two.

Except when you make cheese, the liquid, or whey, is the waste, and the solid is the good stuff you are going for. Making almond milk, the reverse was true. In fact, the leftover almond pulp – which could’ve been just discarded, reminded me in texture of fresh ricotta. Which got me thinking…

Leftover Almond Pulp Makes Great Granola!

We ate a bunch of the almond pulp – which really needs salt – as a snack. I thought it could be interesting as a vegan stuffed pasta filling. Not to mention, it’s a fresher version of the almond meal I buy for baking. However our winning idea was granola!

Almond Pulp Granola with Mixed Nuts and Cinnamon

Drying Out the Almond Meal – Edible Kinetic Sand

Almond pulp leftover from making almond milk makes great granola

The girls had fun spreading out the almond pulp on a baking sheet to dry it out. Use your hands! Such good sensory fun and… it totally feels like kinetic sand! Seriously, you have to try it.

You dry out the pulp in a 200° oven for a few hours, checking it and stirring and breaking it up once an hour. You want the moisture mostly gone. A little browning is fine, but don’t burn any of it.

The result is “healthy looking” aka kind of a bland, crunchy thing. But once you add all the good stuff, it blends right into the granola, giving it extra body.

Making Almond Pulp Granola

Almond pulp granola

Please improvise with your favorite ingredients. We threw in whatever nuts we had in the freezer! Have fun with it.

Kid-Made Almond Pulp Granola
 
Author:
Recipe type: Easy
Cuisine: Vegan, gluten-free
 
Don't throw away the leftover almond pulp when you make homemade almond milk! It gives body to the most delicious granola. Not to mention, the granola and homemade almond milk taste amazeballs served together!
Ingredients
  • Approx 1 cup of pulp from making almond milk from raw almonds
  • 1 cup of rolled oats or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup to 2 cups of raw nuts and seeds (we used a mix of walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, slivered almonds and chia seeds)
  • ¼ cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
  • ¼ cup of melted coconut oil
  • 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
Instructions
  1. First, if using leftover almond pulp from making almond milk, spread out the pulp in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Bake in a 200* oven. Check it after two hours, breaking up, stirring and flipping the pulp. Bake for another 1 to 2 hours, checking and stirring periodically, until mostly dried.
  2. Next, allow the almond meal to cool, then add it and all of the rest of the ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir.
  3. Finally, spread the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. This time bake at 275* for 15-25 minutes, or until lightly brown and toasted. Let cool.
  4. IMPORTANT: Don't mess with it or break apart the giant granola bar until it has cooled for one hour. Then break it up into big chunks and store in an air-tight container.

Have you ever made homemade almond milk or granola?

Restaurant Feature: Red O in La Jolla, CA

“The best Mexican food I’ve had came from a white guy in Chicago.” –My sister, Claire, after eating at Frontera Grill

Red O Restaurant - Mariscos Chile Relleno

If you have seen the recipe posts for Cajeta and Tres Leches with Strawberries, then you know I have been a fan of Rick Bayless for most of my life. Papa Bird and I had a fantastic meal at the Red O Restaurant in Newport Beach two years ago.

Red O Restaurant - Guacamole, plantain chips and shrimp ceviche

Back then, I posted a picture of the light as air corn and goat cheese tamales from Red O on Twitter, and Rick Bayless (or whoever does his Twitter) ACTUALLY responded. I was starstruck. And upon hearing that La Jolla was tapped for the next location, I knew I wanted to do a feature on this blog. I’ve been bugging them since!

Red O Restaurant - Moscow Mule

We may live in San Diego with an abundance of excellent, authentic Mexican food… but it’s not Portland. There is no need to stone anyone for cultural appropriation. Not when they study a cuisine with the attention of a professor, scholar, and master. And not when the food is delicious!

Red O Restaurant - Combination Plates

During our first visit, I was struck with the attention to ingredients… heirloom beans and the freshest of produce. The same holds true in the San Diego/La Jolla location. The shrimp in the ceviche was plump and perfect, the flavor refreshing and addicting, served with plantain chips.

Red O Restaurant - Sun Burn Margarita

The management at both Red O’s corporate office and locally in San Diego where super accommodating and helped me organize a lunch for the San Diego Food Blogger crew. Disclaimer: they treated us to the lunch. Photos, descriptions, and opinions are mine.

Red O Restaurant, La Jolla, CA

Highlights at Red O La Jolla

The Sauces 

Continue reading

Easy Mole and Shredded Chicken Recipe

A new recipe post! Today’s recipe combines two things I love… an easy shredded chicken recipe that is part of our weekly rotation and a prepared mole sauce from a small, female-owned business in Mexico that elevates leftovers into a semi-homemade meal in a snap.

easy chicken and mole plate (recipe)

I have used the Seasons of my Heart black mole and red mole and both are delicious. Here in San Diego, they are found in the retail section of Specialty Produce. I’ve thrown it on leftover Thanksgiving turkey, rotisserie chicken from the store, and our home cooked chicken (recipe follows.) Being a busy, working mom, I love having premade sauces I can throw on a protein and call a home cooked meal.

Seasons of the Heart Mole

If you want to doctor up the sauce, you can add extra unsweetened chocolate, chicken broth, almond butter, a tablespoon of butter… The instructions on the black mole actually call for a lot of ingredients and steps, including sautéing and chopping veggies, plantains, bread and pureeing in a blender. Ain’t no one got time for that. I usually just add a little of the cooking liquid from the chicken and call it a day. It’s that good as is!

Don’t have a Mexican mama in your kitchen using the 900 gagillion ingredients that go into mole? Don’t worry. You can have Susana Trilling as back up in your cupboard. She makes her moles and jellies in Oaxaca in small batches, certified slow food. And yummy.

easy chicken mole recipe

I also want to share Papa Bird’s new toy. I recently signed up as an affiliate with the Grommet, primarily because I saw the Bear Pawicon and thought it would be a perfect gift for my husband. Part meat shredder, part heat-proof food lifter, it makes him feel like Wolverine while prepping his weekly shredded chicken.

iconicon

My serving suggestion for the mole is a plate with brown rice, black beans, cotija cheese, cilantro, avocado, tomatoes, and (go for it) a fried egg. You might not even need the meat…

Easy Shredded Chicken Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
An affordable, quick way to have chicken ready to go for multiple recipes.
Ingredients
  • 1 package of chicken thighs (we use boneless/skinless)
  • 1 quart of chicken broth or water
  • 1 onion
  • 5 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • herbs/seasonings such as Mexican blend, or at least oregano and a bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Rough chop veggies. Throw everything in a pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and up to pressure. Cook for 7-10 minutes, depending on your machine, or until done and fork tender. If starting with frozen chicken (totally works with a pressure cooker) increase cook time at pressure to 10-15 minutes, depending on your machine.
  2. Use the bear paws or two large forks to shred. Reserve the cooking liquid for broth.
Notes
If you don't have a pressure cooker, simply simmer for an hour.

Disclaimers: as mentioned, I am an affiliate of the Grommet, which means that if you purchase something off their site through a link on my site I may receive a small percentage for the referral. This particular product I personally bought and sincerely recommend. I am not an affiliate per se of Specialty Produce. If you go, please mention that “Baby Birds” sent you, but I don’t get paid per person. Full disclosure, they do hook me up. In fact, the first time I tried the mole sauce it was given to me for free. But I have since purchased it multiple times again!

A Fruit and Cheese Plate for Friends

Life can be so hectic. We are all so busy. I am grateful for the time we share with friends. I’m a little late in posting my most recent cheese plate, devoured at a Friendsgiving. This one overflowed with fall fruit…

Fruit and Cheese Platter

I broke with my cheese cutting trend. You can review how I cut the cheese here and here. Yes, my Instagram is filled with cheese. I decided to leave most of these cheeses whole because they were soft, semi-soft or spready.

How will you be cheesing it up this holiday season? Please tag me on Instagram with #BabyBirdsFarm if you post anything yummy!

fruit and cheese plate

Clockwise from 12 o’clock: persimmon, grapes, pomegranate, dragon fruit (pitaya), Époisses de Bourgogne, marcona almonds, honeycomb, pistachios, Cypress Grove Humbolt Fog, Cypress Grove Purple Haze, strawberries, tangerines, blackberries, Camembert. The Époisses, a famously stinky French cheese I discovered through the Cheeses of Europe Cheese Pop Up, I acquired as a hand me down, of sorts. But the rest of the cheese, fruits and nuts are from Specialty Produce.

Shopping notes: the berries are from the organic cooler at Specialty, the persimmon and dragon fruit from the Farmers Market cooler, and be sure to check out the cheese section along the South wall of the main cooler. You can find the honey comb up at the retail checkout counter. The nuts are from the bulk section. Did you know that they will open up any large box of nuts (or anything, really) and let you buy just a handful?