Category Archives: Breakfast & Brunch

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:

Quals exam good luck notes

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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Vanishing Granola (or the BEST Granola You Will Ever Make–Honey Bunches CopyBETTER Recipe)

This is going to be a very brisk LWOM post (what’s LWOM?).

First things first:

Print this recipe.

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We have to be brisk today, because–

I’m late, I’m late, for LOTS of VERY important dates!”

Why yes, because there’s the White Rabbit! And we must catch up with him.

“No time to talk, no time to chat, I’m late and later, and that is THAT!” shouted the White Rabbit as he jabbed and poked at his oversized pocketwatch.

“But I–”

“No time!”

“I know–”

“Later and late!”

“But I’m in a rush too!”

“RUN!” the Rabbit yelled. And so we ran.

Into the sunset, to be precise.

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On my kitchen table: Persuasion, by Jane Austen, and a jar of the best crunchy cinnamon granola in the world.

So that’s why this post is so short.

Because the White Rabbit was late, and because I myself was running late after an extended trip to the gym and forgot all about my outdoor food photoshoot and had to take some hasty pictures while the sun was sinking down past the horizon in about 0.5 seconds.

And also because I’m (hopefully) going to Disneyland in about half an hour to see the White Rabbit in person–er, in rabbit. Yes, I’m grinning as I type this.

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“But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the BEST granola in the world,” said the White Rabbit, who had suddenly appeared from nowhere at my left knee.

“Well, thank you for taking the time to–” I began, looking down…but he had already vanished again.

I turned around. My granola had vanished, too. So now you also know why it’s called what it’s called.

I don’t blame him, though. It is darn good cinnamony, crisp, and unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-made-before-and-I-rarely-ever-say-this granola. Think of picking out all the crunchy sweet granola clusters from Honey Bunches of Oats…only better.… Read more

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Green Eggs and (Veg)Ham: Celebrating Dr. Seuss! (March 2nd)

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He’s a good man,
Oh! a good man is he–
Who’s HE, we all said,
And HE said, who’s WE?

Green Eggs and (Veg)Ham gif“Why, don’t you know?”

“Oh, didn’t you hear?”

“Didn’t anyone say

there’s a birthday this year?”

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Was it the moose

or the duck or the foose?

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Was the snarffle–

NO

It was…

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DR. SEUSS!!!

(“A foose”–you silly goose.)

Happy yester-yester-birthday, Dr. Seuss!! (March 2nd, 1904)

A tribute to my childhood hero/children’s books idol/gibberish generator/nonsensical nobblygookie.

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You’ll love this twist on a classic storybook favorite, folks. Pesto, baked eggs, and veggie ham–even the grumpy old red-hatted creature from Green Eggs and Ham would approve!

Have you had your green eggs and ham today, Sam I am?

Ala

Is there a food that you once refused to try, but now love? What’s YOUR green eggs and ham?

(Mine is eggplant!)

Green Eggs and (Veg) Ham for Sam-I-am
Yield: 1 8×4-inch loaf pan
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3  cup cheese of your choice (I used feta)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 serving homemade pesto (recipe to follow)
  • Veggie or regular ham, to serve on the side

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 8×4-inch loaf pan. Set aside. 
  2. Over medium heat, cook onion, mushrooms, and tomato until cooked through and lightly browned.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, cheese, and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Add cooked vegetables, then pour mixture into greased pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is set and eggs are pretty nearly cooked through. (I like mine slightly runny, so I remove it a few minutes early from the oven for that nice slightly runny touch!)
  4. Serve with pesto and veggie (or regular) ham. Voila! Green eggs and ham!
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Classy Overnight Blueberry French Toast

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Every once in a while, something happens in our lives that makes us put the gear in park, turn off the ignition, and just wonder.

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I consider myself a fairly happy-go-lucky person. I am, after all, a hybrid donut and crepe type on my Breakfast Breakdown of Personality Types. That’s not my gushing description when I step into the interview room, but gloomy funks and I don’t mix-’n-match well. For better or for worse, I am no Eeyore.

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Without getting into too much detail here–the story is long, weighty, and (only for the purposes of my musings here, though certainly not personally) irrelevant–someone close and dear to me is suffering. I flew home suddenly this weekend when I heard the news, and while I’d love to say that it hasn’t thrown a complete wrench in what has already been a particularly rough school term–the wrench has definitely been chucked, toolbox and all.

I found it difficult to teach on Friday, when I was being observed by the professor in charge of teaching assistants. I’m finding it even more difficult to concentrate now, when I know I should be working and then the cycle creeps in.

Oh, come on–you know the one!

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It looks something like:

Emotionally unstable –> stress bakes instead of works –> stuffs face with freshly baked goods –> gets gloomy over indulging in so many cookies or pastry of your choice –> even more emotionally distraught –> throws shoe against wall in frustration –> makes hole in wall –> goes to fix wall instead of work –> ginormous pile of work going, “You’ll never finish me nooooooowwwwwww” –> despair dresses up in an all-consuming black hole costume.

And so on. With minor tweaks along the way.

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Despite my moment of Eeyore-like indulgence here, though, one thing that this past month has really brought to the forefront is just the undeniable fact that I am so, so incredibly lucky.… Read more

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Crunchy Cookie Butter Granola (and Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life)

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I’ll confess. I’ve been reading Victorian novels lately.

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This got me thinking about angst muffins (who I’ll explain in a second–hold onto your corsets, lady-folks, and top hats, gentlemen), which got me in turn thinking about pastries. Food. Hunger. Uneaten dinner. Growl.

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A few years ago, I stumbled across Sarah’s Snack Theory, a brilliant synthesis of three male character types that you’re likely to like, hate, or just go outright epileptic over when you meet him in the literature of your choice. Then, as if I didn’t like the girl enough already, she goes on and likens them to different types of food:

angst muffins (your brooding woe-in-soul harborers),

sandwiches (reliable boy-next-door types), and

pastries (your variegated wild cards).

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Since that glorious moment of serendipitous blog surfing, various groups of my friends and I have entertained (mostly facetious) conversations about the cuisine archetypes we’re likely to meet in life. We frequently assign code categories to mutual acquaintances, thus if you heard:

“Oh my gosh, did you see how much of a meringue ____ was being today?”

–you’ll know I mean that this person is really nice to look at but is mostly just full of air, with very little substance and a lot fluffiness for brains.

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or

“I just woke up to the most AMAZING crepe this morning”

which could mean a LOT of things, including the possibility that you got lucky last night with somebody who’s the perfect balance of sweet and satisfying without being overbearing, and then you woke up and realized it wasn’t just a dream. And maybe he/she made you delicious crepes for breakfast, too. Who knows.

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Are you loving this system as much as I am yet?

As a gentle segue into this beautiful gossip-monger’s paradise, and before I run out of words in this post, I’m going to introduce you to Ala’s Breakfast Breakdown of People in Your Day-to-Day Life.Read more

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