December 31, 2011

resolutions and a winter cocktail

Guess what? One of my new year's resolutions has to do with this blog. I have neglected it. I set it aside in favor of this blog, momentarily, and now we've neglected that blog, too. When will this madness stop? Well, it stops today. On this eve of 2012, I am renewing my commitment to this place called Little Bird Bake Shop and will be posting at least once a week. I don't even know if anyone still reads this, but whatever, it shall be done.

As I mentioned, it's New Years Eve. I have never liked going out on NYE (doesn't that abbreviation make it seem so official?) because it never lives up to expectations. It never has for me, anyway. This year, I'm headed to my brothers house for dinner which sounds perfectly lovely to me. You see, when you're almost 30, you lose that desire to do whatever it takes for a wild night out on the town. Zero desire. I'm not saying I never want a wild night out on the town, but just not on NYE.

My contributions to dinner tonight consist of two appetizers, a dessert, and some boozy drinks. For appetizer ideas, I consulted my dear friend Ina Garten. She's not really my friend, but I wish she was. I want to cook with her in her giant, gorgeous kitchen in the Hamptons and pretend like she's my long lost aunt.

After perusing her "How Easy Is That?" cookbook, I decided on roasted figs wrapped in prosciutto (it IS New Year's after all) and herbed ricotta on toasted sourdough bread. 

Unfortunately, figs are out of season so we'll have to settle for dried ones. I'll let you know how they turn out. This appetizer couldn't be easier. You wrap figs in prosciutto, drizzle with olive oil, bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, and you're done. Shazzam! Fancy time.

This herbed ricotta mixture is going on top of toasty slices of sourdough bread in a few hours. It's very fragrant, with dill, chives, green onions, and I added in a little fresh garlic. You can get the recipe here.

For dessert, another friend, Andres, is bringing flourless chocolate cake so I made honey lavender ice cream to serve alongside. Now, this isn't the first time I've written about this ice cream. It's that good. It has also become one of my favorite things to make because people love it so much. Can you blame them?

And finally, because it's New Years, I'm making some fun boozy drinks. I've always been a devoted wine drinker, but lately I've been enjoying this whole artisinal cocktail thing that is happening now. One of my favorite things is St. Germain, which is a lovely french liqueur that tastes of elderflower (think similar to lavender). Go on, add some to a glass of champagne. I'm also making the "before & after cocktail" that I found in the January issue of InStyle Magazine because it sounds all nice and toasty for a December evening.

Happy new year to all and to all a good night!

winter cocktail
adapted from InStyle Magazine, January 2012
2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Campari (or Aperol, as the original recipe suggests)
1/2 oz. Madeira

Mix together, serve over ice.

October 17, 2011

still recognizable

It's strange how so many things have changed in the past year, yet my life is still recognizable. I just sat and looked through all our wedding photos - laughing and maybe getting a little teary-eyed - at how amazing that day was. Is it weird to be so in love with a day?

When I see pictures of other people's weddings now, it makes me feel really emotional about our wedding. I'd marry him all over again if I could. I love love, what can I say?

It's surreal and comforting to be a in a place in my life where I truly have nothing to complain about. I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. I watch our dog getting older. I think about actual human babies. I bake when I want to and discover that adding salt to cookies is a fool-proof path to delicious. I cherish my friends more now than ever. I watch the sun set over this gorgeous city. I am lucky.

my friends came to visit and celebrate a 30th birthday
our dog is terrified of his new food bowl and refuses to eat. sigh.

September 12, 2011

food fatigue, and a word on bedding.

image: west elm

 image: Madewell

I didn't think it was possible, but something happened today that rarely ever happens. I have food fatigue. Maybe it's because we've been eating non-stop since we moved, or maybe it's because I'm feeling a little pudgy and seriously need to get some exercise around here for crying out loud. But nevertheless, I just made the saddest excuse for a dinner, probably in my history. How does one screw up brown rice? I'm not sure, but I just did. Folks, you can't win 'em all. 

You know what I do feel like writing about? Clothes and bedding. I can't blame it on Fall since we don't really have seasons here (I'm just now figuring this out), but I've got the shopping bug in a bad way. Don't you just love chevron? And a good, practical, all-weather jacket? I do. So instead of actually buying things I don't need or can't afford, I put them in my online shopping cart, walk away from my laptop, and hope that the little West Elm and Madewell fairies will deliver them to my doorstep. Thank you, and good night.

August 21, 2011


Well hello there! I do apologize for the lack of posting lately. The last two months have been exciting and exhausting, and well, big. City life has taken some adjusting; wearing coats and boots in August just feels wrong after a lifetime of hot Missouri summers, but I'll get over it eventually. I really love it here. The commute to work is strangely enjoyable (most of the time) and it's funny how you start to see the same people over and over again. And although I miss my friends dearly, we've made some new friends who are just delightful.

Needless to say, there hasn't been much time for baking. In fact, the only thing I've made since we became official residents one month ago was my favorite salted chocolate chip cookie recipe, and that was part of my orientation at work. "Rookie cookies", they're called. Each new hire has to do it as a way to be-friend colleagues.

As I write this we're making pho from scratch and our little cozy apartment smells amazing. You can read about all the day-to-day things we've been doing at It's a collaborative blog between Jason and I. We thought our friends and family might like to see what we're up to out here in this foggy city. It's a work in progress. Hop on over and take a look.

July 6, 2011

that's just what i do

We have been here for three weeks and it's actually starting to feel normal. We finally found an apartment. We have a place to live! Someone actually wanted our money. It was a 4th of July miracle. Last week though...last week was kinda hard. In the midst of all these major decisions we are making, I felt a little homesick. Oh, wasn't life simpler on Elm Street, with our crazy cheap mortgage and our dog and our friends and.... But then I remember that we are in CALIFORNIA! The land of sunshine, good food, culture, beaches, wine country, and my brother. Ah yes, that's why we uprooted our entire lives to be here!

So, to combat my momentary lapse, I baked. That's just what I do. I made two recipes from my favorite blogger Molly Wizenberg: french-style granola with little chocolate bits and an almost-flourless chocolate cake for my brother's in-laws who were coming over to dinner that night. That's all I needed, and I was back on track. 

Molly's French-style granola with chocolate
Adapted from a recipe by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette
Makes about 4 cups
I added extra almonds and a teaspoon of cinnamon to this recipe. You can read Molly's original post here.

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw slivered almonds
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
2 T sugar
Good pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
6 T agave syrup or honey
2 T vegetable oil
1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the oats, almonds, coconut, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

In a small sauce pan, heat the agave/honey and oil just until they are easy to combine. Stir, then remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture. Mix well to combine so that all the oats are fairly well covered.

Spread evenly on 2 large baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Take the pans out of the oven and stir the granola to help it cook evenly. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool well. This hardens the granola.

Empty granola into a large bowl or container for storage. Add the chocolate. I like to add it when the granola is still just barely warm because it really melds with the granola. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

I think this recipe would be really nice with a large pinch of finely chopped rosemary. Just so you know.

July 2, 2011


Maybe turning 29 isn't so bad after all, besides that whole lurking 30 thing. After a day of wine tasting in Sonoma County at Porter Creek and Copain, we're off to surprise dinner reservations. Happy birthday to me. 

update! the surprise dinner was at SPQR on Fillmore. we had the most amazing burrata crostini with hazelnuts, chili & honey. sooooo good.

June 21, 2011

makes all the difference

California, as it turns out, is pretty much the best to place to live, with maybe the exception of Paris. We have been basking in the sun and relative heat; even 80 degrees here feels cool compared to Missouri, where humidity makes everything 20 degrees hotter. And I've become totally re-inspired by the food here. I'm not kidding when I say that it's hard to get bad food in San Francisco. I love that. 

With all my free time lately (when I'm not desperately pleading with landlords to allow a 75 pound Boxer in one of their apartments), I actually have time to cook dinner in a relaxed fashion. It's glorious! Also, upon the recommendation of my friend Noah who is now a wine-maker extraordinaire, I'm reading Wine for Dummies because I really want to know more about wine. And because I should know more now that I'm living next to one of the most amazing wine regions on the world. 

For dinner, I made rosemary chicken burgers flavored with sun-dried tomatoes and green onions, and topped with caramelized onions and Dijon mayo. It might have been the first time I've ever made a burger, which is silly, because it was so quick and simple. On the side, I tossed together a fresh corn and avocado salad from a recipe in an old issue of Sunset Magazine that was laying around my brother's house. I'm telling you, fresh corn is so worth the extra five minutes it takes to cook it and cut it. Makes all the difference. 

After dinner, we went down to the beach to watch the sunset and the surfers. And guess what? Several of them were lady surfers! I think my husband wishes his wife were so adventurous. Unfortunately for him, his wife is terrified of sea creatures and of water sports. 

So far, life is pretty good in California.

Rosemary chicken burgers with caramelized onions
Adapted from a recipe in the recent issue of ReadyMade Magazine
Serves 4

1 1lb ground chicken
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/3 c. green onions, thinly sliced
2 T sun-dried tomato pesto, or chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 hamburger buns

Using clean hands, gently mix together all of the ingredients except the egg. Don't overmix or the burgers will be tough. Lightly mix in the egg. The mixture will be wet, but if it feels too wet, add a few more breadcrumbs. Form 4 patties, pressing your thumb in the middle of each one to form a little well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat your grill to medium and brush the grate with olive oil. Grill, covered, for about 10 minutes or until the centers are no longer pink, turning occasionally. Give the buns a quick toast on the grill before serving.

Top with:
1 T mayo + 1T dijon mustard, whisked together
Caramelized onions (recipe follows)
A slice of tomato, if your heart desires

Caramelized onions
3 T olive oil
1 whole yellow onion, thinly sliced

Heat olive over over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until they begin to turn a nice caramel color. Reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Serve on top of burgers.  

Fresh corn and avocado salad
Adapted from a recipe in Sunset Magazine
Serves 4
6 ears of corn
2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, chopped
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
2 T lemon juice
1 T dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook shucked corn for 5 minutes, turning once, just until corn is barely cooked through. Don't overcook. Set corn aside to cool.

Whisk the lemon juice, dijon, olive oil, s&p together in a small bowl to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.

Cut the corn from the cobs with a knife. In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and mix gently to combine.

June 17, 2011

Welcome home.

Well, we did it. We arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday evening. We are now the following things:

1. Homeless. We are currently staying with my brother in Pacifica. Bless him and my dear sister-in-law.
2. Jobless. I'm enjoying this fact for now, but check back in a couple of months and I might be going insane. Or at least driving Jason insane for sure. 
3. Missing my doggie bubby bamboozle (his nickname, of course). Also, frustrated by the lack of dog-friendly apartments in this town. Jeez, what is their problem? Why do they hate dogs?
4. Really happy we made this decision. Since we got here, we keep saying to each other, "Welcome home!" as if we are trying to convince ourselves that we do, in fact, live here. It's still so surreal, but in a good way. We did the right thing. I almost feel like we didn't have a choice; we had to do it or I would have always wondered 'what if?' and I don't like regrets.

So, for now, we search for the perfect, ridiculously expensive apartment and for gainful employment. If they knew us, the would love us, right? I'm actually ready to get to work. "Sitting" and "relaxing" have never been strengths of mine. (See, I'm already practicing for interviews!)

The Mitchells
a.k.a. California residents

May 25, 2011

Joplin needs our help.

Just 50 minutes from where I live, thousands of people lost everything. There aren't any words to make it better, but what we can do is give of our resources. Convoy of Hope is just one of many organizations collecting donations. Friends who have families in Joplin tell us that the destruction is even worse than news reports are describing. Please do what you can.

May 11, 2011

i thought you should know

So, we have some news. And it's pretty big news in the grand scheme of things. It's the kind of news that truly changes the course of life. I mean, this is kind of serious when you really think about it. And no, I'm not pregnant.

Anyway, I thought you should know that we are moving. And when I say moving, I don't mean down the street. We are moving precisely 1,911 miles away from Springfield, Missouri.

But before I tell you where, there was sort of a "Battle of the Cities 2011" that got us to our decision.

First, we considered Seattle. We loved Seattle, a lot. Jason loved the fresh seafood. And I loved the fact that seagulls fly around Downtown. I actually said several times that Seattle is the most under-rated city I've ever visited.

Drinks at Clever Bottle

Then, we spent 24 hours in Portland. Who knew it was just a quick 3 hour drive from Seattle? Anyway, Jason fell in love, hard core, with Portland. I liked it a lot, too. Portland wooed us with their incredible food scene and single origin coffees.

Stewed rhubarb for brunch at the Daily Cafe

Dinner at Biwa
Seattle and Portland tried very hard to win our love. It was a fierce battle, but there was a third contender, and she drove a real hard bargain. The 1st place gold medal champion of the Battle of the Cities 2011 is....

San Francisco!!! 

If you recall, I have had a love affair with that city for quite some time. And now I actually get to live there, with my cute redhead and our goofy dog. It's almost too good to be true, I tell you!

Anyway, I thought you should know. The Mitchells are headed West.

April 25, 2011

tastes like summer.

Life has been, well, just a tad overwhelming lately. I am two weeks away from finishing my masters degree, we have been feverishly getting our house ready to sell, and trying to make some major life decisions that are incredibly exciting but enough to hurt my brain. It's enough to drive a girl to drink and what not. As I write this, our basement is probably flooding because it Won't. Stop. Raining. What to do? Make a batch of soothing, coconut lime sorbet, of course. Duh!

I came across this recipe somehow and it caught my eye because it doesn't have dairy, which is something  I'm trying to avoid these days. Also, I noticed it because we have a slight obsession in our house with Sharon's coconut sorbet from the grocery store; one pint lasts about 30 minutes or less, usually. Plus, it has only three ingredients. Three!

I decided to substitute limes for lemons because I had them on hand and it seemed more exciting to me. I've gotta get my thrills when I can, right? It turned out really nicely, very zesty and citrusy. Actually, it tastes like summer, which is exactly what I was hoping. 

Coconut Lime Sorbet
Makes about one quart

2 12oz cans of light coconut milk, shaken well
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lime juice & 1 T lime zest

Whisk all three ingredients together in a medium bowl. Chill for a couple of hours, or overnight. 

Pour into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Enjoy while picturing yourself on a nice sunny beach like I did.

P.S. I'll let you in on those major life changes soon...

April 14, 2011

Yes, please.

I found this photo from Flour Child while doing my daily Tastespotting perusal. French toast, with spiked cream cheese, and then caramelized. Wowza. 

Photo courtesy of Flour Child

March 21, 2011

kinda weird, but good.

Has anyone else noticed that it's all "wheat-free" this and "gluten-free" that lately? My prediction: this is a trend that isn't going away anytime soon. You heard it here first, people (not really).

I'm sort of fascinated by learning how foods interact with our bodies. I already know that dairy is not my friend but I've always wondered about wheat. I really do try not to jump on the food fads band wagon, but I have my moments. I am especially easily influenced when someone like my girl crush Gwynnie proposes something crazy. And that crazy thing is called a cleanse.

I just finished two weeks on the Clean program (I was actually supposed to do three weeks, but hell, I'm no Gwyneth Paltrow). I'll spare you too many personal details about why I decided to do it, but I will tell you that I'm glad I did and it was all worth it because I feel better than I've felt in a long time. And the great news is I'm experimenting with some new kinds of baking that are a little easier on the tummy and the stuffy nose. I never thought I would do this, but I made my first foray into gluten free baking this week. And it was kinda weird, but good. Not too bad at all...I mean, they're no butter-and-cream scones, but when you've been eating two shakes a day for two weeks, your standards are a little different. 

In all seriousness, I would highly recommend the cleanse to anyone who feels sluggish all the time (like I did) or has some chronic problems that never seem to go away. It will change your whole outlook on eating, I promise.

Chocolate Walnut Scones (gluten and dairy free)
Adapted from the Clean recipe by Jenny Nelson
3/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dates, pitted, chopped, and smashed into a paste

1 T agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mills) +1 T for dusting
Pinch sea salt
2 oz organic dark chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking sheet with a dab of coconut oil, or use a silicone baking mat. 

Heat the coconut oil in a medium bowl until liquid. Add the water, agave, dates, and vanilla and whisk well to combine (there will still be little chunks of dates). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. 

Add the coconut and date mixture to the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate and walnuts. Sprinkle some flour on a cutting board and turn out the batter onto the board. Shape the batter into a large circle; cut the circle in half. Arrange each half into a smaller circle. Cut each circle in half, and then in thirds so that you have six little triangles from each circle, or 12 total. 

Spread the scones evenly across a large baking sheet. Bake for 16 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool, enjoy, and congratulate yourself on being so resourceful.

March 15, 2011

i love my husband.

He cooks:

He makes one hell of a hipster:

He knows how to fix stuff:

He's all-around dreamy:

I mean, the man can dance:

And he loves our dog:

Sigh. Eat your hearts out, ladies. 

March 14, 2011

a really good meal.

I wanted to share one of our favorite go-to dishes that I've been making a lot of lately. It's sort of a different take on a stir fry, but without a lot of the traditional Asian flavors you would expect. This one is made with lots of lemon juice, garlic, toasted pecans, walnuts, and pine nuts, and whatever veg you prefer. This weekend, I made it with broccoli, fresh shitake mushrooms, and zucchini. Top it with some fresh chopped green onions or minced shallot, and a little swig of sriracha, and you've got yourself a really good meal. I made mine vegetarian, but I also love this dish with shrimp or grilled chicken.

Veggie Rice Bowl with Lemon & Nuts
Serves 4

1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
3 T olive oil, divided
1 large head of broccoli
1 cup shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup zucchini squash, cut into large chunks
1 lemon, juiced
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup each of walnuts, pecan, and pine nuts, toasted
salt + pepper to taste
green onions, diced
dash of sriracha hot sauce (optional)
Cook the rice and the water in a rice cooker or over the stove until nice and tender. 

In a large wok or frying pan, saute the broccoli over medium-high heat until it starts to lightly brown. Add in the shitake mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, half of the lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, toast all the nuts either in the oven for 7 minutes at 350 degrees, or in a small pan on the stove over medium heat. Once the nuts are nice and toasty, let them cool and then give them a rough chop.

Once the veggies are cooked through, add in the warm rice and turn the heat to low. Squeeze the remaining lemon juice, one T of olive oil, and more salt and pepper to taste. Add in most of the chopped nuts, saving a handful to sprinkle over the top. 

Serve with chopped green onions, more nuts, and a hit of sriracha sauce. 

And now for some cute doggie pictures. 

My second-in-command man, Mater James The Boxer spent the whole weekend with just me while Jason was in Boston visiting a friend. I love this dog. He has such a serious, thoughtful face like he's really trying very hard to understand everything I say because he really just wants to talk, you know? There is a human inside that dog body, I have no doubt about it.

March 5, 2011

Dreams do come true.

There are times in life when you realize how lucky you are. For me, it was last weekend while wandering around on a beautiful beach, stuffing my face with food and sampling wines from all over and meeting famous celebrity chefs. What was this utopia, you ask? The South Beach Wine &Food Festival. And it was heaven, to me. Dreams really do come true.

Thanks to my friend Nicole who works for an advertising agency here in Springfield and had tickets to the event (ever heard of Plugra butter? she's their PR gal) so I got to tag along and pretend like I was all rich and fancy for a weekend. I ate really good food, drank wine and champagne like it was going out of style, and even got a tiny hint of a tan. It was about as much excitement as this Missouri girl could handle.

Ok, get ready for a barrage of photos of me grinning like a 12 year old school girl:

My friend Nicole, the dreams-do-come-true maker

Walking towards the huge tent that was the Bubble Q party (barbecue and champagne)

Teeny tiny Iron Chef Cat Cora

Rick Bayless. Le sigh.

 Let Them Eat Cake Party
 Ace of Cakes!

Geoff of Ace of Cakes, my fave person on the show.

I was third in line for Giada to sign my cookbook. She was adorable and as sweet as could be.
 Shrimp and grits under one of the Grand Tasting tents

 Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Beach Party
 Claire Robinson of Five Ingredient Fix

 The Grand Tasting Village, before the masses of people

The legend himself, Anthony Bourdain. I don't think he was very excited about signing cookbooks.

Did I really get to do that? I also saw cooking demos by Jamie Oliver (!), Bobby Flay, sailor mouth Bethenney Frankel, a slightly belligerent Paula Deen, and Tyler Florence. I can't say that the food they made blew my mind but they were incredibly entertaining. One of the standouts was Claire Robinson's blood orange cake made with only! five! ingredients! If you haven't seen her show, you should really check it out. She's super charming and I love the philosophy behind simple recipes. 

So, in conclusion: beach + sun + food + wine + celebrity chefs = HEAVEN.