Category Archives: Breakfast & Brunch

Mini Samoas Sticky Banoffee Cake Donuts {+ topwithcinnamon cookbook giveaway}

Looking for a special, last-minute way to say “I love you” this Valentine’s Day? Check out my selection of baked goods and other treats on Etsy!

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All food bloggers have their obsessions. The lucky ones are obsessed with things like kale, quinoa, and detox smoothies made from a combination of leafy things that should never be placed in a blender together.

What about me? I’m obsessed with donuts, toffee, coconut, salted caramel, dates, coffee, and Top with Cinnamon. So basically, everything that is antithetical to what kale stands for. And today I’m ready to share my obsessions with all of you!

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As part of a blogger-hosted Valentine’s Day Cookbook Giveaway Affair, I’m here to a) spread the Top with Cinnamon gospel, b) give you the chance to win your very own copy of this magnificently published cookbook, c) make you wish you could lick some Mini Samoas Sticky Toffee Banoffee Donuts off your screen, and d) introduce you to a group of the loveliest bloggers who are participating this month!

So let’s get started. You’re going to thank me for this, I promise…

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Have you met Izy? She’s the fabulous blogger from England who possesses some of the finest photography skills in her hemisphere and creates some damn delicious recipes to boot, tons of which are vegan/healthified/gluten-free. As if these weren’t accomplishments enough, the girl is nineteen years old. 

Yes, you read that right: this girl isn’t even two decades along, and she has already turned her food blog into a worldwide phenomenon AND published a freakin’ cookbook. She’s also one of the most hilarious writers in the blogosphere, with a totally down-to-earth sense of humor and humble, self-deprecating, but incredibly engaging set of stories to tell about her fabulous life as a teenage food blogger.

When I was nineteen, the biggest accomplishment I could claim was dragging my sorry behind around and watching reruns of Sailor Moon episodes for 72 hours straight without sleeping.… Read more

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Mickey Mouse Waffles for #SundaySupper

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Raise your hands if you love Disney!!!!

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There are few surer ways to my heart than through an enthusiastic conversation about all things Disney. Heck, if Lord Voldemort showed up on my doorstep tomorrow night and told me he wanted to chat about this 3-year old with cancer who–thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation–will now have the chance to visit Disneyland, I would invite him in and ask him whether he wanted his Mickey Mouse waffles served with maple syrup, butter, or both.

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Disneyland is very much an American institution, but it is also a distinctly Californian landmark and experience as well. Conveniently located among the sunny orange groves of Southern California, I grew up visiting the theme park at least once a year–sometimes more, and always with a churro and a chocolate-dipped waffle ice cream cone from Gibson Girl’s Parlor on Main Street. While Disneyland isn’t my hometown (sorrows!), I might as well be an honorary citizen of the old mouse’s town.

I love the whole darn place, but my favorite part has got to be that swelling feeling in your chest when you step onto Main Street for the first time that morning. There’s something incredibly magical and old-timey that just can’t be found anywhere else…especially not with a double-scoop from the parlor!

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This Christmas, for Secret Santa, my cousin gifted me this amazing Mickey Mouse waffle iron, which is ten times classier than anything I would ever buy for myself. Actually, it only costs $20–but if you know me at all, you’ll know that I am a total appliance prude. Pans? Dozens. Useless utensils and kitchen tools? By-the-drawerful. But appliances?

Every single one of my appliances has been gifted to me. Food processor, blender, hand mixer, and now……cue contented sighs, because this waffle maker is the best thing that happened to me all last month.… Read more

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Apple Pie Overnight Oats {+ a giveaway!}

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Sometimes I like to talk about food. Other times, I like to talk about deep and meaningful topics relevant to a betterment of the human mind (or something like that).

And then there come the days where I wonder where the heck my Hogwarts letter got to and mope around the kitchen, dragging my finger through every bowl of batter sitting half-heartedly on the counter.

Today was one of those days.

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This morning I woke up from one of my many recurring Harry Potter dreams. Now for most people, this might sound like a really fun dream to have–flying, playing Quidditch, exploring the secret passages of Hogwarts: but not so, my friends. Not so!

Harry Potter dreams are my version of stress dreams.

Yes, read that one again. Harry Potter dreams are my mind’s freaking sadistic version of stress dreams.

….How messed up is that, right?? It’s about as fair as locking a puppy in a room with a fully-grown Blast-Ended Skrewt, in my professionally nerdy opinion.

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I’m a pretty vivid dreamer as it is, so when I have a HP dream and all my neurosensors are firing like crazy automatics in my sleeping subconscious, I remember the dreams really well. Sometimes, I am Neville Longbottom in the fifth book and am being chased by a bunch of Death Eaters who laugh maniacally whenever I try to cast a spell (presumably I have a nosebleed like Neville does in the book, so instead of saying Stupefy! and stunning my enemies, I say Stoobefy and am absolutely useless).

This morning, however, was the first day of classes with my brand new composition students. Unlike the classes I’ve taught in the past, I’m not a TA for this one: the curriculum is entirely my own, which means that the fates of 20 young, impressionable minds are completely, absolutely in my hands!… Read more

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Gingerbread Granola {Gluten-Free} for #BobsRedMill

{Congrats to Linda for winning my My Bakers Box giveaway last week! Can’t wait for you to bake up a storm, girl!}

So today I’m actually going to talk about food on my food blog (instead of completely random things like my year in Facebook statuses and goodness in this world). Imagine that.

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Exactly zero times a year before I became a food blogger, I ate gingerbread. Zero, zip, zilch.

Watch Harry Potter movies 1-7 five times on ABC Family? You betcha. But toss me the whole lot of holiday favorites–pumpkin pie, peppermint, figgy pudding, fruitcake–and you might as well be feeding your sink’s garbage disposal for all I cared.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved gingerbread in theory. And I adore the spicy smell of it wafting through the bustling supermarkets during holiday season. But gingerbread was to me what suave guys who get your number after a 5-minute conversation at Starbuck’s are to me now: romantic in theory or Hollywood rom-coms; kinda gross in real life. I may or may not be referring to a off-puttingly familiar Starbuck’s incident last Wednesday.

These days, though–boy, am I a canary singing a new tune! Ever since I bought my first jar of molasses a year ago, I’ve been scouring and searching and scavenging to indecent proportions for something to do with it. You might have seen my Gingerbread Obsessive Round-Up on Friday?

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But shopping/gifting/browsing season is inversely correlated to the amount of time any of us has in the kitchen during this busy season, meaning the more gingerbread recipes I bookmark, the less chance I’ll ever have of actually making one before next Christmas. Does anybody else face this (very real) struggle? Jeepers, I must’ve bookmarked at least 50 in the past 72 hours alone!

That’s why, when I was browsing my dear friend Kelly’s blog the other day, I was so so excited to see a recipe for gingerbread granola!… Read more

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Mini Peanut Butter Jelly Parfaits {+ My Bakers Box Giveaway!}

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What is your resting face? Do you wear a worried frown or a mild smile or a cheeky grin or–dare I say it–the classic resting bitch face? (No offense meant–some people just have it! And if you’re one of them, it’s totally okay. Seriously.)

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I ask because I like to play something called the Resting Face Game when I’m walking around the town, traveling, en route, etc. It’s the sort of zany social/mind game only somebody like me would play, but the goal is simple: break as many “resting faces” as possible. Is someone frowning? Make them smile! Is that passerby already smiling? Make them grin! Usually this involves making eye contact and doing something silly….like acknowledging the existence of a fellow human being. Sigh. I really am hopeless, aren’t I?

I was walking back home today and counted 4 cases of eye contact + smiles–but I also walked past 3 people who actively stared me down and glared at me, which seems a bit intense, even if it IS finals week (jeepers!). My friend and I compared notes a few weeks ago and we have an average success rate of about 1 in 35 people. What do you do when people pass you by?

As you might easily guess, my resting face is pretty chipper, though as the school year wears on and a bunch of random emotional stuff has come up, I find myself making an increasing effort to keep it up. So that’s the second game I play when I’m too tired to break resting faces (that sounds kind of violent, doesn’t it? Sorry). It’s called the Let’s Smile Because I’m Alive game, and you’d be surprised how many people need to be playing it right at this very moment. Do you?

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If that’s the case, let me help give you a reason to smile!… Read more

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Strawberry Smoothie Cubes {+ 3 Ways to Enjoy Them} for @WilliamsSonoma Smoothie Week

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Winter is coming!

Here in California, we’ve been saying this for about 11 months now, and winter still has not come. I don’t think it has visited our neck of the woods since about the Ice Age, and even then I suspect it let us off easy.

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This is lucky because my running shoes have been pounding the pavement quite a bit lately. Yesterday, I did a(n excruciatingly mellow) 13-mile run through Beverly Hills, jogging through posh Museum Row, the highly upscale Rodeo Drive, and making a pit stop at my favorite Harry Potter and Dr. Who-themed store, Whimsic Alley. I even ran a few circles around neighborhoods where celebrity homes are reportedly nestled–I did a Google search for fun and found that the web actually does a surprisingly good job keeping their exact locations Unplottable, probably for the better.

The most exciting creature I encountered was a black cat blinking at me from inside a gated house that looked like a 15th-century Spanish castle–though I did keep pretty good pace when another runner and I kept hitting the same traffic lights….until he turned around at mile 3 after informing me that “that was about as much as he was good for, though being chased by a pretty girl made him wish he could go further.” Don’t we all, chump. Don’t we all.

By the end of my run, I was sweating bullets and infinitely glad I’d donned a sleeveless. I’m not sure my tank top/beach shop attire would stand the 30-below weather some of you are experiencing right now, though. What’s it like in your neck of the woods? Feel free to shame my sun-tanned California bum…

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The delay of true winter can only mean one thing around here: smoothie season. When Williams-Sonoma reached out to me asking whether I’d like to participate in their Smoothie Week–and to create the weirdest or most unconventional smoothie I could come up with–of course I was all hands on board!… Read more

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1-Minute Coconut Granola for Two (No-Bake)

Okay, so deal: why am I baking making granola for two when I’m only one?

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No, I’m not preggers, you sick Sherlocks, I know who you are and this isn’t a British teledrama episode called The Sign of Three.1-minute Coconut Granola 4--102614It’s the start of a new swim season around these parts, where outdoor pools reign supreme and the scent of chlorine wafts off my saturated skin in noxious waves. Our greatest fear is that winter is coming and heaven forbid the temperature drops below a chilly 68 degrees at night.

So naturally, I’m following Manatee Survival Rule #1 and storing up body fat for the winter months. Duh.

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Life has a funny way of crumpling all our life plans into a wad of week-old newspaper and chucking it in a whole new direction. I started swimming when I was 3, but it wasn’t until 9th grade–right after I quit my competitive swim club–that I actually fell in love with swimming as a sport.  As luck would have it, I failed to make the school volleyball team (in hindsight, a good thing) and then I got cut from soccer tryouts (a very good thing–I loved playing soccer, but oh dem soccer Mean Girls), so I ended up in normal-people fourth-period PE instead.

Gym was–there’s no way to say it nicely–a waste of time. I was an athletic kid in a pool of floundering, I-don’t-do-movement types–literally. During our swim unit, they forced us to stand in the shallow end of the pool and swim across the short length of the pool, which is like asking a cheetah to sprint across a sandbox. Not that I’m a cheetah, because then cross-country would probably have wanted me and that’d be a whole different story, but you get the point.

And in that lackluster, dingy family pool was where I first met Mike

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Mike found me as I was streamlining underwater.… Read more

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Guest Post from Jessiker Bakes: Healthier Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

So about three weeks ago I reached out to the inestimable Jessica from Jessiker Bakes about doing a guest post for me because I was going a little cray-cray with my personal life. Two weeks later, I click through my blog feed and read this post and immediately start shrieking at my computer, “Oh my gosh, girl, CONGRATS. AHHHH!!!” (For those of you who didn’t click through the link: yes, Jessica is ENGAGED!)

So that’s the sort of relationship I have with her blog. Unparalleled and borderline hysterical adoration.

I’m so lucky to bring her over today to post for you guys! She is a psychic superstar because I have had lemon on the mind all. Week. Long. No joke. And she’s one of the most personable folks on the blogosphere ever, period, so you definitely need to check out her blog if you know what’s good for you!

But let me shut my drooling trap before I get myself into a wagonful of trouble. Here’s Jess for ya, folks!

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Hey there, I’m Jessica from Jessiker Bakes! Over on my blog I love sharing simple, healthy and delicious recipes. I’ll be sharing one of my favourite scones with you that I managed to cut the fat in half but keep the ridiculously delicious flavour – these Healthier Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze. These scones mean business. They are so moist, and packed with the flavours of lemon and blueberries. And I love me some lemon. I think the addition of the yogurt in place of fat made a huge difference in the moistness level that I loved completely, as well as making this seem even more suitable to chow down on of breakfast.

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I used half whole wheat flour and half pastry flour, which I think added even more to the feel of a breakfast pastry over cake, making this a hearty and delicious meal.… Read more

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Cookie Butter Pancakes–And, the Big News……

I can’t believe I’ve waited 8 months to type this.

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I have a Master’s degree in English Literature.

And I passed my qualifying exams.

And while I’m standing here writing “me, me, me,” what I really mean is: thank you, you, you.

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To all who have been a part of my life for the past 8 months: English may be my specialty, but right now words cannot express how absolutely indebted I am to each and every one of you for your support, your encouragement, and your faith in me through this incredibly intense time. Up until 3 minutes before the start of my exam, I was still receiving your amazing, inspiring messages of cheer and kick-butt-attitude, and they carried me through those quals like the eagles flew Gandalf. Well, perhaps not quite so gracefully–but then again, who can compare to Gandalf? If he had a PhD, it would be in Awesome, and I’m not sure I’m there just yet, even if I’m definitely somewhere further along than I was two days ago.

I even copied all of your messages onto a little Inspiration Page so I could carry your thoughts around with me on Friday:

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Quick note: If my thoughts feel a bit heavy-handed for a while, it’s because a) I was writing at 4 AM and b) writing is my catharsis–I promise it’ll have an positive ending! :)

As I mentioned before, I’ve waited nearly 8 months for the moment when I would be able to look back safely from the other side of quals and type my thoughts, my feelings, my story. Relief, wild celebration, euphoria seeping in at every pore–I was expecting all of these things, and I will be completely honest with you. All I want to do at this moment is lie down in my jammies, put on “Everything is Awesome”, and stare at the ceiling so long that dust accumulates in a little mound on the very tip of my nose.… Read more

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Crunchy Cookie Butter Espresso Granola

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If life milestones were potluck dishes, moving would be a crusty dry loaf of fruitcake. I’m sure somebody out there appreciates fruitcake, and likewise I’m sure somebody loves the nonstop hubbub of moving residences. That person is not me. Especially not Studying Me, which tolerates everything at a 50% lower threshold than Normal, Socialized Me.

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In case you missed it previously, here’s the rundown: Studying Me is extremely grateful to her parents, who basically magicked her entire store of belongings into her new apartment this weekend while she guiltily (I mean, really guiltily) shuffled her feet and finished speed-reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Studying Me also LOVES the new place, which has a kitchen that takes up 40% of the apartment and contains 75% of all my belongings. But Studying Me is currently typing this blog post on an unhappy stomach full of emoteating (read: emotionally-induced eating) because apparently she doesn’t cope well with stress, separation, and studying all in one fell swoop. So it’s been 12 whole hours and I’m short half a jar of peanut butter already.

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Three hours after leaving, my mom called and asked me how I was doing, and if I was making brownies already. I was not. I was too busy emoteating, writing this post, and wishing really hard for this granola to pop out of my screen a la Willy Wonka’s Television Chocolate Room to make the damn brownies. #yeahwhatjusthappened

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Studying Me and Normal Me both love this brand new, bold King of Crunchiness cookie butter and espresso-flavored granola I invented in my pre-move procrastination. It is insanely crunchy, coffee-y, cookie-y. It is also based on–and probably rivals–the Honey Bunches of Oats Copy-Better Recipe that all of you loved and repinned like mad last year. It’s the perfect breakfast-on-the-go food in a smokier, sexier, adult-ier kind of way.… Read more

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