S’more Summer

Summer officially ends next week. Nooo! This time of the year always makes me a little solemn; the days get shorter, the sweet summer fruit disappears from grocery stores and we go back to school. Although I haven’t been in school for years, that feeling still stays with me. Maybe that feeling will change for the better when my kids start going back to school and I’ll have the house all to myself again.

Oreo-Smore
Hand toasting marshmallows using a small culinary torch

To celebrate the end of summer I made s’mores – the quintessential summer snack. But not just any s’mores, gourmet smores with various fillings and cookies. Oreo, lemon meringue, and fluffernutter s’mores! Yes! scroll down to see how.

Oreo-smore

As simple as a marshmallow and an Oreo cookie. The creme filling creates its own melty filling. Open up the cookie and place the toasted marshmallow inside and press together

smores-10

Andrew loves lemon meringue anything, so I made this one for him. Spread a thin layer of jarred or fresh lemon curd inside two Meyer lemon cookies. Place toasted marshmallow inside and gently squish together.

smores-11

If there is any other pairing that comes close to marshmallow and chocolate, it’s marshmallow and peanut butter. I don’t know why it’s called fluffernutter but it’s really fun to say. Go ahead, try saying it! FLUFFERNUTTER!

For this version, I used almond butter. Feel free to use anything you have on hand. Nutella or Speculoos I imagine would taste amazing on this a well.

smores-18

What I like about these unique s’mores is that they don’t have chocolate. I always find it difficult to melt chocolate over a fire without the help of some sort of specific s’more making device or foil. The marshmallow is the only thing getting toasty here.

However you want to savor summer, these treats can definitely be made in the fall as well. So, what are your plans for this last week of summer? Let me know in the comments or tag my handle, @feedmysole, on your Instagram pic!

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How to Make Baby Food

baby-food-1

Once you get your pediatrician’s approval to feed solids to your infant, it’s not difficult to make baby purees. With the right tools (and during the baby’s 30-minute nap) you can make fresh and healthy baby food for your little one. Not to mention it saves so much money, and you know that your little one is eating the freshest and healthiest food.

Tools Needed:
A food processor or blender, a saucepan, and a spoon

                         

Most likely you have these tools already. I like using the food processor over the blender because it gives a smooth consistency and it’s a great tool for home cooks because it can do several things whereas a blender just, well, blends. Which is fine for making baby food, but look into a food processor if you don’t have one already. I use mine for making pesto, salsa, nut butter, rice flour, pie crust, grating cheese, slicing veggies and so much more!

I would stay away from purchasing fancy baby food processors specifically for baby food because they have small capacities and it’s just another appliance in my kitchen that I won’t use after baby grows up. Same goes for a baby food steamer and blender-in-one. What will you use it for after the baby turns 1? Take that money and buy a real food processor or blender with a larger capacity you can use for years to come. You won’t regret it! Even this Cuisinart one is cheaper than a Baby Bullet.

Foods to Start With:
I like to introduce babies first to fruits because of the high sugar content similar to breast milk and formula. Some good ones to start off with are a banana, avocado, apple or pear, and even some sweet veggies like sweet potato and butternut squash.

Microsoft Word - how-to-make-baby-food.docx Here is a recipe chart as a guideline for how to start. I started the chart at 6 months but you can begin once your pediatrician gives the OK. Begin with 1 ingredient purees when introducing solids to infants. Switch the ingredient every 3 days to look out for possible allergies. After a couple months of trying out some new foods, add a new ingredient to the recipe. After another couple of months, you can try some proteins and nut butter. Since nuts are high on the list of allergens, start with just a 1/4 teaspoon to the recipe.

Prepare, Serve and Store: 
1. Boil hard vegetables and fruits for 5 minutes or until they are fork tender. A pinch of salt is optional but I recommend it for veggies. Never feed honey to infants under 1 year.

2. Blend ingredients with a little bit of the cooking liquid to retain as many vitamins and nutrients back into the food. For more nutrition, you can use breastmilk or formula instead of the cooking liquid. I like using breastmilk/formula with baby’s first foods because they are already familiar with the taste.

3. Serve at body temperature. If you microwave to warm the food up, do so in 20-second intervals while stirring in between.  Or place the baby’s bowl on top of the bottle warmer for a gentle heat. I check the temperature by putting the food on my inner wrist to feel for temp or taste it with a clean spoon.

If you’ve made a batch, serve what you think your baby will eat in one sitting and throw away any uneaten food so you don’t contaminate the rest of the batch with bacteria from baby’s saliva.

4. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 2 months.

That is a basic introduction of how to make baby food. I’ve been having fun trying things on Drew lately and love watching her facial reaction when she tries something new. Peek over to my recipe for Broccoli and Avocado Baby Food to see how I make it at home.

Broccoli and Avocado Baby Food

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-1My daughter started eating baby food at 5 months. I like to make it at home because I know she is getting healthy and fresh food. Don’t get me wrong, I will buy baby food pouches for when I don’t have time to make her food or when we’re on the go, but if you have 30 mins you can make healthy baby food for the next several days or make more and freeze it to last longer.

Here’s a simple broccoli and avocado recipe I used a few weeks into starting solids. Her first food was avocado so I knew she would like this version.

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-1-2Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 5-7 mins

Ingredients:
1 half avocado
1/4 head of broccoli, stalks separated
pinch of salt

Bring water and salt to boil in a small saucepan. Boil broccoli until fork tender, about 5-7 mins. In a food processor, puree avocado and cooked broccoli. Add the boiled water a little bit at a time until ingredients come together in a smooth puree. 

broccoli-and-avocado-baby-food-2Adding the cooking liquid incorporates some of the vitamins and minerals that has seeped out of the vegetables during the boiling process back into the food. You can also use breastmilk or formula as the liquid to add even more vitamins into baby’s food, but the cooking liquid is fine as she still gets most of her nutrients through her milk when she feeds. Introducing solids is just that, an introduction to get used to all the different flavors and to practice using her tongue to move food to the back of her throat.

So far, Drew loves avocado, apples, broccoli, mango, and hates carrots. LOL, much like her dad.

What was your child’s first solid and how did they like it?

Night Market

This weekend is the 626 Night Market. Similar to the night markets in Asia with dozens of food vendors, this is the largest one in the U.S.! I’ve been going for the past few years because I’m originally from the 626 (the area code of the San Gabriel Valley) and have always found the best Asian mom and pop eateries at the Night Market. This year the 626 Night Market team opened their doors for the first time to Downtown LA and Orange County. Here’s my recap of the DTLA Night Market from a couple weeks ago.

mango macaron ice cream sandwich
chicken and lamb skewers
Thai iced tea with a cream popsicle
dragon whiskers, a Chinese dessert
grilled pork belly
melt-in-your-mouth pork ribs
Hope to see you at one of this summer’s Night Market! Oh, and word to the wise, beware of the stinky tofu stench, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the festivities =D
Santa Anita Park
285 W Huntington Dr.
Arcadia, CA 91107
July 18 & 19
Aug 15 & 16
Sep 12 & 13
4pm – 1am

Coconut Coladas

Happy Summer! (insert emoticon of sun) I’ve been going kinda emoticon crazy on Instagram lately. I’m so excited for these warm nights, eating dinner outside, drinking cocktails with friends, and sharing some of my favorite summer recipes.
My friends at Veev sent me a bottle of their new Vita Frute cocktail to try out. This coconut colada flavor is made with coconut water and pineapple juice already mixed in with their Veev Acai spirit, and it’s under 125 calories per serving. Basically you can just add ice and enjoy! But you must know me by now. I like to “shake things up,” so I made a couple summer cocktails to pair with their coconut colada.
I love pina coladas so when I got this bottle I immediately started thinking of relaxing on the beach and cocktails that I would like to enjoy while on vacation. I created a Lime & Kiwi cocktail and a Lava Flow (which is pina colada with strawberry sauce). I also tried to keep the calories low by using real fruits and a coconut milk beverage instead of coconut cream which is typically used in pina coladas.  You can find the coconut milk beverage next to the soy milk and almond milk in your grocery store.
Lime & Kiwi Coconut Colada
4 oz Veev Coconut Colada
1 kiwi, scooped 
juice of 1 lime
3 Tbs simple syrup 
ice
 
Blend the lime juice, kiwi fruit and simple syrup in a blender. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Top off with Veev Coconut Colada and stir.
 
Strawberry & Coconut Colada (or Lava Flow Colada)
4 oz Veev Coconut Colada
4 oz coconut milk beverage
strawberries with tops removed
3 Tbs simple syrup
ice
 
Blend the strawberries with 4 oz of coconut milk beverage and simple syrup. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Top off with Veev Coconut Colada and stir.
 
Simple Syrup
4 Tbs white sugar
4 Tbs hot water
 
Dissolve the sugar in the hot water. There is a little extra so you can add more syrup to your drinks to taste.
 
How are you spending your summer? This was not a paid sponsorship so you can trust that all these ideas are my own =) Show me your coconut colada creations by tagging #crazy4coconutcolada

LA Guide: Doughnuts

Today is National Doughnut Day! So I’ve rounded my go-tos for some of my favorite doughnut spots in LA. I’m a classic, chocolate doughnut lover but I really love any kind of fried dough (I mean, who doesn’t?) Where are you going to celebrate National Doughnut Day?

1. Olympic Doughnuts #14 // A classic donut shop that is open 24 hrs. They’re doughnuts are fresh and satisfy your sweet tooth without being overly sweet.
2337 E 4th St Los Angeles, CA 90033 (323) 263-2365

 

2. Frances Bakery & Coffee // I wouldn’t really consider this a donut shop but I can’t help but love their specialty, the Frances Donut. Tip: ask if they have the strawberry flavor. They slice it in half and fill it with fresh strawberries. Yum!
404 E 2nd St Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 680-4899

3. Umami Arts District // Guess what? Umami has doughnut ice cream sandwiches! This one was an apple fritter with vanilla bean ice cream, but they also have a bacon doughnut with maple ice cream. NOM!
738 E 3rd St Lo Angeles, CA 90013 (323) 263-8626

4. Donut Snob // Gourmet doughnuts made with the finest ingredients like Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and chocolate ganache made from Belgian chocolate. Seriously amazing creations like the “Campfire” pictured above, think, the best s’more you’ve ever had.
Deliveries only. Los Angeles, CA (213) 373-4898

5. DK’s Donuts and Bakery // If  you are looking for variety, this is the place to go. They’ve got raised donuts, baked donuts, bear claws, O-nuts, filled donuts, you name it!
614 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90404 (310) 829-2512

6. Cafe Dulce // They’ve got some unique flavors. I specifically like their spirulina churro which is not a churro like you would think, it’s round, fluffy, chewy and covered in sugar. But spirulina is a seaweed that’s a superfood so it’s healthy, right?
134 Japanese Village Plaza Los Angeles, CA (213) 346-9910

Honorable Mentions:
Donut Friend // Custom made-to-order donuts with lots of vegan options. Just tell them what you want in and on top of your doughnut and your wish is their command!
517 York Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90065 (213) 955-6191

The Donut Man // I would drive out of the way just to get a strawberry stuffed doughnut when they are in season.
915 E Route 66 Glendora, CA 91740 (626) 335-9111

Building the Perfect Slider

I’d like to show you how to build the perfect slider (or burger) that highlights all the great ingredients within this amazing sandwich.
Too many times I get the patty on top of the vegetables or the condiments in the middle of the ingredients that it just becomes a sloppy mess halfway through the burger.
Allow me to share with you my OCD-ness into how to build a perfect slider. With summer BBQs fast approaching, you too can share your knowledge at the grill into how to stack your ingredients and why you shouldn’t put the mayo on top of the patty.
I like to add veggies into the ground meat of my burger patties: carrots, celery, and onions. They add more flavor as well as keep the patty moist while cooking. I toss the veggies into the food processor and chop them well. Then mix in the ground meat. Add an egg to keep your ground meat held together while it cooks. Season with salt and pepper. I always taste test my patties before I cook them by just making a small meatball and cooking that first. Tasting it and then adjusting my seasoning accordingly.
The Art of the Stack:
The patty should be at the bottom as it is the heaviest ingredient. You want your burger bottom heavy. The ketchup at the base sticks the patty to the bottom bun as well as seasons your burger. If you like melted cheese on your patty, that can also act like a glue to hold your veggies still.
The next ingredient to go directly on top of the hot patty is your tomato. This is heavier than the onions (remember, think bottom heavy). Onions should go on top of the tomato. Note, that if you decide to go with grilled onions, then that should be directly on top of your hot patty as it also is hot.
Think of your lettuce and mayo as the most temperamental ingredients. If you place the lettuce (or in this case I used spinach) directly on top of the burger they wilt. Same with the mayo as it doesn’t do well in warm temperatures. The onions and tomato make a good barrier against the heat of the patty. Finally, the mayo holds your lettuce leaves in place.