Category Archives: Food

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?

Our Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Thank you for taking the time to read our posts and click through to see our pictures.

thanksgiving-3

Papa Bird and I were feeling a little unenthusiastic about Thanksgiving this year. Neither of us have family in town, and the traditional “story” about Native Americans welcoming the English immigrants to the first Thanksgiving felt at odds with the current state of our country. But we talked about making new traditions and celebrating what we do value.

rotisserie turkey

We invited our sweet friends with a newborn over for a traditional meal at our house. At twelve pounds, the turkey was small enough to (just barely) fit on the rotisserie attachment of the grill. Thank goodness! However do you cook all the sides if there is a bird in the oven? Our friends made oven-roasted veggies and mashed potatoes with homemade creme fraiche, and even so, our oven was in full use throughout the morning and early afternoon.

thanksgiving-4

Many thanks to Sarah and the girls’ “Tio Lou” for coming over, cooking, and sending us the pictures of us at the table. Papa Bird and I had seen their newbie at the hospital, but the Little Birds were thrilled to meet baby Mateo for the first time.

Sarah and Mateo

And there was pie. And pie crust cookies made by the girls. (Not pictured: chocolate mousse made by the girls, too.) I used my all-butter crust recipe and the “Real Pumpkin Pie” recipe from a few years ago with the following improvements: I used maple syrup instead of honey as the sweetener, which mixes easily without having to be warmed up. I also ended up using mostly cream and only a splash of milk, just because we had more cream than milk on hand.

real pumpkin pie

And the day after Thanksgiving we put up our tree. Christmas and Hannukah, here we come! (Another photo courtesy the Moras, as I was covering a shift at the hospital Friday.)

picking the perfect tree