Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

I was recently nominated by Natascha’s Palace for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Natascha is a ridiculously talented cook (check out her “Fresh Strawberry Donuts”) and we’re lucky enough to have her share her delicious creations with us.

SisterhoodoftheWorldBloggersAward

I can’t even begin to describe how honored I am to be associated with such an awesome award that recognizes female voices in the writing/blogging world. Our thoughts, feelings, and the things that excite us can reach people from across the world because we have this platform to put ourselves out there and encourage each other. I’m proud to be a part of that.

You guys are seriously amazing. The fact that I have viewers as well as fellow bloggers who pay attention to what I am doing is really cool. And I have learned so much from reading your blogs–I especially love how they open my eyes to new cultures, foods, ideas, personal triumphs and experiences from all around this crazy, wonderful, beautiful earth. The collaboration of ideas, comments and encouragement is what makes blogging so fun. So thanks to all of my readers (bloggers or not) for your support.

Now that I’m done being all sentimental (I tend to do that a lot), let’s get to the RULES of the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award:

Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site

Include the award logo in your post

Answer the ten questions given to you

Nominate seven more bloggers and let them know

Make up ten new questions for them to answer

And now, my answers:

1. On bad days, how do you cheer yourself up?

Whenever I need a pick-me-up or just want to unwind, I grab a good book, head to a coffee shop and stay for hours. This is probably one of my very favorite things to do; simply relax in a calm, peaceful atmosphere, slowly sip a hot drink and dive into a new world. Currently, I’m reading the Lord of the Rings series. Sometimes I’ll bring a sketchbook to draw or bring my laptop along to write. Without fail, I always feel happy and refreshed.

2. What is your favorite food?

This is such a difficult question because it changes almost monthly. Food is so good. I will always love crepes and cinnamon rolls, and lately I’ve been a bit obsessed with ramen (my boyfriend and I go out for ramen weekly).

3. How do you let go?

I let go by recognizing that it’s all about your attitude. I can choose to let this thing affect me, or I can choose to let it go. Things are only as bad as you make them in your head.

4. How much do you value “silence”?

Silence sits near the very top of things I value most. In a world where we are being constantly stimulated, there are rarely times where we stop to take a deep breath and just exist. I love my quiet time–in fact, it’s silent right now in my apartment and it feels wonderful. I also have a hard time focusing when there is too much noise, so I’m often seeking a quiet place.

5. Will you tell the truth to someone even if you know it will hurt them, or lie to make them feel better?

I’m a sugar-coater. I hate seeing people upset and I hate confrontation, so it’s hard for me to be blunt with people sometimes. However, if it concerns a matter where they really need to hear the truth for their own good or safety, I won’t hesitate to say what needs to be said. But often times, people just need to feel good and have a bit of encouragement. I think it’s okay to say things to lift someone up, even if you might personally think differently.

6. Do you have faith in humanity? Why or why not?

It really teeters back and forth with all of the chaos and the negative things going on, but there is too much good in this world to lose faith in humanity completely. There are too many genuine, goodhearted people out there contributing to this wonderful world and I think they’re much stronger than the bad stuff.

7. What is one thing you really wish would come true?

I wish I could make it so that everyone I love is always happy, taken care of and having fun in life. Also, I want to travel the world with my boyfriend, the love of my life, but we’re making that one come true together. ❀

8. How would you sum up your life in ten words or less?

Laughter, uncertainty, love, silliness–never growing up completely.

9. How do you express anger?

I’ve unfortunately got that hot-blooded Italian temper in my veins, but I’ll usually get it out by venting to someone I trust. Luckily my boyfriend thinks it’s cute when I get mad at generally pointless things, so I don’t feel as rotten when I start throwing pillows or something.

10. What is one thing that will completely turn you off about a person?

I cannot stand when someone treats you as if you are lesser than they are. Inconsiderate things like interrupting you or completely disregarding you when you speak.

Here are my seven nominations (no obligation to participate):

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers

This Lucky Monkey

With All My Affection

developmentalphase

Cooking With Team J

Marisa’s Italian Kitchen

Good Food Brain

Pam’s Yarns

💛

And finally, my questions:

1. If you could live in any fictional world, where would it be?

2. Coffee or tea?

3. What is your favorite book series or geeky fandom (television/movies, included)? If you don’t have one, which one fascinates you or captures your attention most?

4. Do you have any phobias? If so, what are they?

5. Describe one of your funniest moments, or the hardest you’ve ever laughed.

6. What is one thing that can always make you smile?

7. What are your thoughts on fine arts education in schools (for kids aged ~6-18 years)?

8. Would you rather have more money or more time?

9. What is a guilty pleasure of yours?

10. If you could give a giant “thank you” to anyone in your life, who would it be and why?

Clean Eating: My Typical, Everyday Breakfast

I love (adore, obsess over) super indulgent, sweet, doughy, delicious breakfasts, but if I ate like that every single morning, I wouldn’t feel too hot for the rest of the day. So I figured I would write a bit about my everyday, go-to breakfast. This is the kind of thing I put together quickly on the way out the door on a weekday morning.

My Everyday Breakfast

On just any old Monday-Friday, I’ll usually have something that is nutrient-dense, low on wheat (or gluten-free if I can manage it), and has a good source of healthy fat or protein. What that usually translates to is a yummy, colorful yogurt parfait. Count colors, not calories 😉

I’ll usually include:

Greek yogurt, plain, vanilla or honey-flavored

Strawberries, raspberries, bananas, blueberries, blackberries or apples

Pecans or walnuts

Granola

And sometimes a sprinkle of chia seeds or coconut shavings

My Everyday Breakfast

It’s easy to throw all the fix-ins together to take on the go and I feel great for the rest of the morning, not sluggish or weighed down. Again, while I looove to indulge in a big breakfast, this is what makes me feel good on an everyday basis. I’d love to hear about what you like to eat most mornings. You can never share too much love when it comes to the most important meal of the day ❀

My Everyday Breakfast

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Lately, I’ve become incredibly interested in foreign breakfasts. It’s fun to take a peek into a morning meal the way another culture might experience it, and my goodness there are so many amazing foods to try.

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

I originally discovered aebleskiver at a cultural food festival in downtown Tucson called Tucson Meet Yourself. An eclectic mix of pop-up stands featuring foods from around the world, cultural demonstrations, performances, sounds, excitement and people, this October festival is something I look forward to every year.

During my very first time attending, I came across the “Danish Foods” booth and saw people walking away with trays of these glorious little dough balls, drizzled in jam and powdered sugar. I came to find that they were called “aebleskiver,” known also as Danish pancake balls and I fell in love from the moment I tried them. A lightly fried, crispy texture on the outside and a fluffy doughy center, they taste similar to, well, pancakes but slightly more airy. They’re typically enjoyed with a bit of jam and icing sugar, but they have been known to be paired with chocolate sauce, coulis, butter and maple syrup–really anything you can think of works.

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Originally in Denmark these little morsels were cooked with a slice of apple in the center. The word “aebleskiver” actually translates to “apple slices”, but that tradition isn’t as commonly upheld anymore, although it sounds positively delicious.

To make Danish pancake balls, you’ll need an aebleskiver pan, which you can easily find online or in specialty cooking stores.

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

So let’s get to the recipe. It’s a bit messy, but they are so fun to make.

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

2 tbs sugar

3 eggs (yolks and whites separated)

7 tbs butter

Melt the butter in a small dish and set it aside to cool. Put the egg whites and one tbs of the sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat with a hand-mixer until the egg whites stiffen. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the yolks, flour, salt, baking soda and remaining tbs of sugar. Next, with the hand-mixer on low, gradually mix in the buttermilk until the batter is smooth. Slowly add the butter to the mixture.

Then, gently fold the egg whites into the batter. The egg whites will make the batter feel bubbly and almost spongey–this gives the aebleskiver their fluffy texture.

To cook them, set your aebleskiver pan on the stove at medium heat and prepare each hole with about a tsp of vegetable or olive oil (butter unfortunately will burn too quickly).

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Now, here comes the tricky (but super fun) part. Pour a tbs of batter into each hole and wait about 1-2 min or until the sides start to brown. You’ll want something to be able to flip the balls over to check them–some people use crocheting hooks or forks. I used a kabob stick. Once it looks golden brown and crispy, similar to the way a pancake looks when it’s ready to flip, turn it 90Âș onto its side. Some of the batter will pour out to the side. Add about another half a tbs, and then flip it over completely to the other side. Adding that extra amount of batter allows them to form into balls instead of just puffy discs.

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

When both sides look thoroughly cooked and crisp, set them aside in a dish and add a bit of jam and fruit, chocolate chips, icing sugar, applesauce–whatever your heart desires ❀

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Aebleskiver (Danish Pancake Balls)

Coconut Flour Banana Bread w/ Honey Roasted Pecans (Gluten-free)

This banana bread is super easy to make, and although it’s gluten-free (yay!), it’s still moist and flavorful, very reminiscent of banana bread the way you’ve always remembered it.

Coconut Flour Banana Bread

The only difference here: this classic is made purely with coconut flour so it’s gluten-free, lower in carbs and high in fiber. Sweetened with coconut sugar and locally-sourced honey, it has just the right sweetness factor when paired with over-ripe bananas. I love to add a crunch to a lot of my breakfast foods, so I added crushed pecans drizzled with honey over the top of the bread before putting it in the oven, so the pecans roast and crystallize with the honey as it’s baking. *Mouth waters*

I’ve found that this banana bread is fantastic as a healthy, on-the-go breakfast option. My boyfriend usually skips breakfast, but whenever we have any around I remind him that he has no excuse not to grab a slice on the way out the door.

Coconut Flour Banana Bread

Don’t be surprised if your bread doesn’t rise too much–it will rise slightly, but expect to have a more dense bread. These also work great as muffins; simply reduce the baking time to about 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut Flour Banana Bread w/ Honey Roasted Pecans

3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

3 eggs

3 tbs coconut sugar

1 tsp honey

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tbs pure vanilla extract

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup + 2 tbs coconut flour

About 1/3 cup crushed pecans (or however much you’d like)

Prepare a standard 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with oil (I used my trusty coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s) and preheat the oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas until smooth. Then, add the eggs, coconut sugar, honey, vanilla and cinnamon, mixing until completely combined. Next, add the baking soda, salt and coconut flour into the liquid mixture and blend well. It may be slightly clumpy–continue to whisk until the batter becomes uniform, but don’t use an electric mixer.

Allow the batter to sit for 5 minutes so the coconut flour can react with the liquids. After that, pour the mixture evenly into your loaf pan. If you’d like, sprinkle the pecans over the top and drizzle with honey. Set the pan in the oven for 45-48 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with a nice, hot chai-spice latte or apple cinnamon oolong tea. Enjoy!

Coconut Flour Banana Bread

Why I Love the Morning

I don’t fit the typical definition of a “morning” person. I (usually) hate getting up early, I sleep in late most of the time and I can’t function until I’ve gone through all of my morning phases and have had a good breakfast. Yet, I love morning. The air is clearer, fresher, and there is a feeling of tranquility that no other time of day can truly bring. And sunrise is one of the most gorgeous phenomenons I think we ever get to see.

Morning Sunflower

It seems strange that while I’m always told, “Alyssa, you are not a morning person,” it’s a time of day I still hold so dear. The thing is, I just need the time to really come into my own in the mornings–to actually wake up, ease into the day, and fully soak up every aspect of it. I’m not a quick, grab-and-go kind of person. I’m slow. I like to enjoy things fully. That’s why waking up early, popping out of bed and heading out the door is almost a complete nonoccurrence for me.

But sitting here out on my balcony just after sunrise, I feel at peace, happy and refreshed. My world is undisturbed. It only exists of the spell of the morning, the trees, and the three or four hummingbirds that catch my attention for the next half hour.

Morning Coffee

On those rare occasions when I choose to get out of bed very early (this morning because of sore muscles and a stomach ache), I make sure to enjoy the magic of morning. There is a sweetness to the air, a crisp coolness that feels revitalizing. You’re more in tune with the world in the early morning–with nature, I think. Especially on a  Sunday morning, not everyone has quite begun their day yet. Instead of the rumble of cars and shouting of voices, I hear the chirping of birds, and the sound of rustling wind. I notice the vibrance of green on the leaves and I take the time to look up at the clouds in the sky, like dense, puffy marshmallows hanging on invisible strings. In these simple moments, I cannot help but become shrouded in nature’s spell.

Above all else, stopping to see and feel the true beauty of a quiet morning, a foggy mountaintop or a trickling stream, can bring such warmth and goodness to our souls. Whatever it may be that brings you peace and calm–whatever it is that makes you feel refreshed, embrace that thing. Don’t neglect, but rather, take care of yourself and feel peace.

Glazed Baked French Toast

This breakfast just feels like cozy. It feels like happiness. It’s warm, sweet, crunchy on top and absolutely melts in your mouth.

Warm Glazed Baked French Toast

Quite a lot of my love for it has to do with the memories associated. On my first white Christmas and the first holiday spent in Utah with my boyfriend Brayden’s family, we had baked french toast for breakfast. His grandma had made several pans and invited everyone over to her house for a Christmas brunch. Family, chatter, clanking of kitchenware and all of the wonderful breakfast smells of cinnamon, syrup and honey-cured ham.

One of my favorite parts of that day was simply sitting on the couch with a hearty slice of baked french toast, looking out the window at the falling snow. Since then, I’ve wanted to create a baked french toast that invoked that same warm, comfy, happy feeling.

This recipe is so easy to make–the hard part is waiting around while it bakes in the oven. Have fun! And be sure to invite lots of people over to share it with 💛

Warm Glazed Baked French Toast

Glazed Baked French Toast

For the French Toast Mixture:

1 loaf french bread, or other crusty bread you like

6 eggs

1 3/4 cups milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Crumble Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

3 tbs butter, cool

For the Glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tbs milk

1 tsp heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350ÂȘ and butter a 9×13 inch pan.

Rip the bread loaf into medium-ish pieces and toss them into the pan. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and cover it with foil, then set it aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

In the mean time, start making the crumble topping by cutting the butter into small pieces and setting in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon and mix with a fork until everything becomes nice and crumbly.

After the bread has had a bit of time to soak up the mixture, uncover it and sprinkle the cinnamon crumble over the top. Bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown. You can cook it for slightly less time (around 45 min) if you want it to have a more bread pudding-like texture.

Once it’s finished, give it about 5 minutes to settle, then drizzle the glaze over the top. And of course a generous amount of hot maple syrup is always the way to go.

Warm Glazed Baked French Toast