Apple Cider Cake Donut Muffins!

Hello November! It is so nice to see you!
It’s hard to believe that it’s already November.. Considering how warm, bright, and sunny its been here. But alas, I will experience cold weather soon in my future travels. xx Baking-wise, I haven’t baked all that much this season. Suppose I need to put in some more work towards all things cinnamon, spice and everything nice! But I did manage to bake some cutesy delish muffins. Scroll down below to find the recipe!

Apple Cider Cake Donut Muffins!

– Sounds like a mouthful right? The muffies truly were! Haha!
Last week, I decided that I needed to get in some Fall baking around the house. I mean I could have just easily lit an apple spiced candle to gently experience the feeling of Fall.  🙂 But I knew the house and my family would benefit from a lovely apple cake instead. The sweet aroma of a baked and spiced cake wafted inside of the house and it truly felt as if Fall had taken a gentle glide inside the kitchen. Natural aroma’s are the best aren’t they? So warm, inviting, and cozy.

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I’ve been eyeing quite a few cider donut photos popping all over my Instagram feed these days. Its totally not fair, because I’ve never tried a cider donut let alone visit an apple stand before! These glorious yet tasty photos just make me want to pack my bags and visit the East Coast as soon as possible! Being a foodie is an understatement. I will travel halfway across the world just try to something delicious! Haha. Since I currently live in the South, cider donuts are nowhere to be found! I even searched on my handy dandy Yelp account, to see if any local business sells them, but they don’t. Guess I got to save my calories somewhere right? Haha. I could only imagine how they taste in my mind.

Luckily, I came across this one recipe, which is basically an Apple Cider Cake! I can imagine this is how cider donuts must taste, if they are baked. All cake-like, soft and dense. Bursting with the flavors of cinnamon, spice, and lightly coated with a spiced sugar crust.

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I made these into wee little donut muffins that baked far quicker than a traditional bundt cake. They were pocket sized and everyone seemed to enjoy them! This recipe has mostly been adapted by leaandjay.wordpress.com

I’m so happy to have came across this recipe. It hit the craving of a cake donut muffin lightly baked with lovely sweets and spices. Seems as if there are a lot of steps, but I assure you it doesn’t take that long to make & bake.

Apple Cider Donut Cake

  • Servings: 15 -18 slices – depending on how you cut them
  • Difficulty: easy

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider *(I used apple cider juice from TJ’s)
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure extract, or vanilla bean paste.

For the Cider Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup apple cider

For the Cinnamon Sugar Coating:

  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spray a bundt pan with baking spray and pats of flour. Or you can use a muffin pan, as I did. (The length of baking decreases with the muffin pan, so please make sure to watch your muffins as they bake). Pull the muffins out as soon as they are tender and moist from the inside.

In a medium saucepan, bring chopped apples and cider to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until apples are fork tender. About 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cool for a few minutes, then pulse in a food processor or blender until pureed. Measure out 1 cup apple mixture and stir the milk into it. Set the apple/milk mixture aside for later. (As for the remaining cider/apple puree, it is left over. I usually save it and put it over yogurt, or oatmeal. It is also fabulous heated slightly and drizzled over ice cream.)

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. Add the oil and mix well. CAUTION: If you are planning on using coconut oil, make sure those eggs are at room temperature or slightly warmer if your house is chilly. If the eggs are cold and you add coconut oil to the mixture, the coconut oil will solidify and you will end up with a clumpy mess!

Add the flour mixture and apple/milk mixture alternatively in three additions, scraping the bowl as needed and mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat once more, just to combine.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place the cake in its pan on a cooling rack for ten minutes before removing the cake itself to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, prepare Cider Glaze. Melt butter, sugar and water over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the cider, stirring to combine.

Place baking sheet under wire rack. Using a pastry brush or marinate brush, cover cake with glaze. I usually do this in several passes, letting one application of glaze sink in and then going back over the cake with another.

Prepare the Cinnamon Sugar Coating. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the warm, glazed cake with cinnamon sugar, using fingers to rub it onto the sides of the cake. (I usually place my cinnamon sugar mixture in an empty spice bottle, or salt shaker and then sprinkle it over the cake.)

— I’m seriously craving these again! Looking forward to baking these muffies again whenever that is. Although, there are a few other treats during the holiday that i’d love to bake. Yet at the same time i’m trying to avoid gluten! Haha. Its a tug of war between all things I love and all things I’m better off avoiding. But I strongly believe in moderation, and I also believe you should try this cider donut cake yourself!

What are your favorite things to do during the month of November? There’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Although, I wont be celebrating either this year. Nonetheless, its always nice to gather ’round with friends and family during the holidays. I’m looking forward to a new set of changes!

Tootles for now!
— Sara xox

Facts about Fall

Hello Fall.

It’s so nice to see you again. You’re like this warm visitor that decides to drop by for a bit. A charming visitor full of warmth and a touch of coziness. Whenever you’re here, we pull out our softest blankets and slip on some socks. Watching television and movies become the norm. Won’t you please stay for an extended time? Funny enough, it doesn’t feel like Fall yet in Houston — at least not yet. It’s the cool weather that i’m anxiously waiting for. When’s it gonna kick in? The world may never know. Just kidding. 😛 “Fall-ish” weather doesn’t reach Houston until late October. I guess i’ll continue to wear my summer clothes until then. Haha!

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Fall is truly one of my favorite seasons. The seasonal change often reminds me that it’s okay to let go of things. One shouldn’t hold on to old things that are irrelevant to growth. The tree’s shed there leaves – reminding us that its okay to let go of an old coat. It’s time to self-reflect and anticipate wearing a new coat – brimming with new idea’s and fresh new changes. I love calling Fall by its pompous name, “Autumn”. Here are a few interesting facts I learned about Fall that intrigued my curiosity, provided by taskeasy.com

Fact #1:  Americans typically refer to this time of year as “fall,” while the British use the word “autumn.” Both terms date back to the 16th century but before that it was called “harvest.

Fact #2:  Fall was called “harvest” because of the “harvest moon” that occurs when the full moon is closest to the autumn equinox. Before man-made lighting, this moonlight was essential to a prosperous harvest.

Fact #3:  Weight gain around this time of year may not only be due to comforting fall foods like pumpkin pie and cider, researchers have found that lack of vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage.

Fact #4:  According to The Weather Channel, pumpkins are the most craved food during the fall. Although, if you’ve left the house anytime recently, this may not come as a surprise to you.

Fact #5:  The yellow and orange colors you see actually always exist in leaves but they are overpowered by the abundance of green from chlorophyll. The amount of chlorophyll starts to decrease as the sun weakens and the days grow shorter.

Fact #6:  Red and purple leaves are only that color because of the presence of sugars and sap that are trapped within the leaves. These sugars provide plants with the energy they need to survive.

Fact #7:  Many birds will prepare for their winter migration during the fall. The distance they can travel is impressive; the Arctic Tern travels 11,000 miles each way for it’s annual migration. That’s no small feat.

Fact #8:  Evergreen trees such as pines, cedars, and spruces stay green because their leaves (needles) are covered with thick wax and they contain materials that prevent freezing when it gets cold.

— These facts seriously brought out my inner nerd! I love learning. My current dream is to visit the East Coast during Autumn and visually partake in the beauty of the season. The crispness of the air and the leaves changing colors are truly inspiring. Can’t wait to pull out those neck scarves and frock coats. A cup of homemade hot cocoa and a slice of apple cake are truly in the near future. Stay tuned! 😉

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I took this picture yesterday, upon visiting Whole Foods Market. Absolutely adore the pumpkins sprouting around throughout Fall. The pale pink and cream colored pumpkin caught my eye — I truly want to carve a pumpkin this year. Lets just see how that goes! It seems so much easier than it looks.

Are there certain foods that you crave during the Autumn season? Anything special in particular that you enjoy doing? I find myself taking outdoor strolls more often during the cooler season. Its quite unbearable to be outdoors in the summer.  I simply cannot wait for those long outdoor walks in the afternoon.

Have a lovely start of the week dearies! I’m excited about Monday – yey! No Monday blues here 😉 Just good Monday vibes.

Cheers //
Sara <3

 

Health Benefits of Drinking Water

It’s still summer. At least here in Houston. 😛
Well, technically, we only have 11 more days into Fall right? At least I hope it hits Houston sooner than later! I’ve been eyeing my sweaters and jackets lately – longing to wear them. I guess you can tell that my favorite season is Autumn. Or some may call it by the name, “Fall.” Everything turns into magic. Well at least in some parts of the United States, the weather gets super crisp. Mother nature takes her paint brush and colors everything in sight! I’m dying to visit those charming parts of town on the East Coast. The one’s cluttered with pretty tree’s that are adorned with brightly colored leaves. One can dream right? But its back to summer.. at least for now. 🙂

Throughout this long summer, I’ve been finding ways to quench my thirst. I’ve been exercising as I normally do, and keeping ways to stay fit, healthy and focused. But throughout it all, my thirst has been parched. Water is one of the main liquids I stick to throughout the day. But sometimes, with the rush of errands, I forget to stop myself, pace slowly and drink a tall glass of water. You may be thinking — this is some common sense stuff right? Well here’s the thing — with modern day technology and the busyness of everyday life, we often forget to slow down and take care of ourselves. Drinking water a couple of times a day is one of the main essentials we forget about. I notice that I get grouchy, develop a headache and become super tired if my thirst is parched.

Luckily, I find creative ways to keep myself well hydrated. I’ve been making herbal tea’s overnight and chilling them in the fridge. Often I freeze a handful of berries and immerse them into my iced tea. There’s also fused water – which is basically fruit water that’s been sitting overnight in the fridge. The flavors develop overnight and the results are just amazing. I find any sort of berries and fruit that i’m munching on over the week and toss them into a pitcher of water. A handful of fresh herbs and lemon do the trick as well. Voila! The following day I have this tasty aromatic water that has a fruity and tart taste. Best of all its crisp and refreshing, especially in the heat or after a good workout. One serving of “fruit water” consists of vitamin c, minerals and antioxidants. Whats not to like?

Here’s a personal combination that I love — frozen strawberries, Thai basil, small chunk of ginger, cucumbers + 1/2 lemon juice. Stir in a tall glass and leave overnight. Enjoy the following day!

Lost Weight By Eating states, “Studies have shown that drinking water naturally boosts your metabolism among other water health benefits, and drinking fruit infused water for weight loss can be an easy way to increase your water intake.”

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Choose organic fruit + herbs and make sure to wash them thoroughly. Take advantage of seasonal fruit!

Since your body consists 60 % of water, its natural to maintain the balance of body fluids. Fluid losses escalate throughout warmer climates and especially during and after exercise. Water also helps to curb calories by keeping you full, satisfied, and content. You’re able to control your calories by choosing water over an artificial sugary beverage. Choose foods + fruits high in water such as watermelon, cucumbers, soups and oatmeal.

There is also an optimal time to drink water!
Here are some great examples — after waking up, before a meal, before a bath, and before sleep.
— These aspects help to digest your meal, as well as start the engine of your body first thing upon waking up. Your blood pressure can be lowered and the timing of water helps to hydrate you before heading off to dream land.

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What I love most about tea? It’s always in style and there are so many ways to drink tea! My personal favorite is to drink warm tea that soothes my mind. It’s what I love drinking first thing in the morning and before going to sleep. It’s as if you’re taking a relaxing sauna for the mind. Tea is a great beverage choice as its normally packed with antioxidants. During the warmer months I often choose to drink iced tea – loaded with iced berries and lemons. Again, its a great way to replenish your body with healthy fluids while maintaining your thirst. Mainly consisting of water, its the best choice to start your day. There are many detox tea’s out there as well, if you’re looking into revamping your system. Cleaning your gut ensures that your mind and body are feeling best. But that discussion can be further acknowledged through another health related post. 🙂

That’s it for now dearies. Hope your weekend was a great one! What’s your favorite beverage? Anything healthy and beneficial that you’ve been sipping on these days?

Cheers //
Sara 

Moroccan style meat sauce with spaghetti

Hello all! I know its been about two weeks since I last posted — how time flies! Speaking of that, I can’t believe today is the last day of August. Yippie! I’m anticipating cooler weather and cozier days, although that’s not for another two months. At least for Houston’s standards, cooler weather doesn’t appear until mid – late October. Oh well! 🙂
I’m already dreaming about some of the baked goodies soon to come. Apple tarts, pumpkin spice bundt cakes, and more! Oh my. But for now, I have a savory meal to share with you all. Just the other day I was thinking of spaghetti with meat sauce. I find it to be a complete meal packed with protein, lycopene and fiber. It seemed forever since I had a meal such as this, so I decided to whip up a batch — but with a twist! Instead of the usual Italian route that most enjoy, I decided to bump it up a notch with Moroccan flavours. Think of cumin, turmeric, and all things exotic! I present to you a hearty recipe of Moroccan style meat sauce with spaghetti.

Moroccan Style Meat sauce
* 6 juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
* 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
* 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
* 1/2 tsp turmeric
*  1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
– salt to taste
* 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
* 1/2 diced onion
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 pound ground lamb or beef
* 2 tbs. olive oil
* 1/2 cup water
* 1 tbs. tomato paste
* 1 tbs. red pepper paste
* 2 tablespoons each – flat leaf parsley & coriander, chopped, for garnish

— In a medium sized pot, saute diced onions with olive oil until translucent. Add chopped tomatoes and garlic into the pan and stir for one minute. Once the fragrance releases, toss in the ground lamb or beef. For this recipe, I used lean ground lamb and the results were lovely. Toss in the diced yellow pepper. Cook the ground meat until the color darkens. Add in all of the spices + salt and stir well. At this point, the flavours are bubbling and the sauce is emerging. But you’ll need more sauce, so combine 1/2 cup of water with two tablespoon tomato paste and red pepper paste. Both of these ingredients can be found in Middle Eastern Markets.
— You’re basically creating a home made tomato sauce, so adding water is necessary. The water will also help to properly cook the meat. At this point, simmer the meat sauce with a nice tight lid. Add a bit more water if the sauce is too thick. Adjust seasonings + salt to your liking. Want it spicier? Add cayenne. Need more salt? I suggest pink Himalayan salt. It truly brings out the flavor. Make sure to cook the meat sauce thoroughly. It roughly takes about 30-35 mins to come together. At this point, make sure you have a pot of boiling salted water for the pasta of your choice. I used a package of organic brown rice pasta. The flavorful meat sauce combined quite nicely with the brown rice spaghetti. I didn’t use the whole package, but if you have many to feed, then i’d suggest to use the whole pasta package. You can serve this alongside crusty french bread as well. Garnish with parsley + coriander. Serve with some spicy Harissa! It’s basically a lemony and spicy Moroccan style hot sauce and it truly comes together with this meal.

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This juicy home-made tomato sauce soaked up the chewy brown rice pasta. Each bite was bursting with flavor. There was no need for Parmesan cheese, which the the typical Italian meat-sauce consists of.

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I really enjoyed this meal and so did my family! It was something different.. exotic.. and unique. That’s how I like my food. The ability for it to take you away.. to another cultural realm. That’s the beauty of home-made cooking! This dish didn’t long to prepare and there was plenty of leftovers for the next day. Have any questions on this particular recipe? Just let me know! Other than that, enjoy your Thursday, ’cause its almost the weekend. 😉 Labor day weekend that is! Have a great rest of the week & make it eventful!

// Cheers,
Sara <3

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberries, blackberries, blackberries!
These juicy little brambles are heavily growing in season right now & I simply can’t get enough! There is something magical about summer and its seasonal bounty. These lovely fruits crowd the shelves of some of my favorite food markets. They often pack a variety as well – such as white peaches, watermelon, pineapples, strawberries, and blueberries. To my surprise, I was able to score a great deal on some blackberries at my local Whole Foods Market.
Immediately, I took a bite upon bringing two little cases of blackberries home. These little black beauties were juicy, plump and brimming with freshness! Unfortunately, they were way too tart for my liking. 🙁 Funny enough, this is coming from an individual that loves all things tart! They might have mellowed out in taste after a few days – but my baker brain decided to bake these little gems into something yummy! “Okay, I said.. Blackberry muffins it is.. I’ve been meaning to make fruity muffins for awhile.. let me have a take on it!” There is always a next time into recreating blackberries into an epic smoothie. But that can be postponed for next time. Sometimes you just need a cute little muffin in your life. Am I right? 😛

Blackberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk + 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

    Directions
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually stir into creamed mixture alternately with milk. beating well after each addition. Fold in blackberries.
  2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffins cups two-thirds full. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.Yield: 1-1/2 dozen.

    – Slightly adapted from Taste of Home. I made sure to kick in a notch of flavour by adding 1 tablespoon of quality vanilla extract. Suppose you can sub 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon as well. I  slightly lowered the amount of sugar in my own muffins by two-three tablespoons. But you can always use the exact measurement described above. Furthermore, I lowered the temperature down to 350° – simply because I wanted the muffins to bake nice and slowly. They developed a light golden top without becoming too dry or hard. This recipe makes about 18 servings & doesn’t take too long to whip up.Snapchat-6895316297190003390-600x1067
    Have your mise en place ready! One of the best tips I’ve acquired is to have everything ready and correctly measured. That way you’re ready to prep, mix, stir and bake! Another great tip? Make sure your cold ingredients come down to room temperature – such as the eggs, milk, yogurt, butter, etc. This will yield a better tasting baked product!

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Super smooth and silky product. This is a good sign of a truly creamed and well mixed batter.

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The end result? Lovely muffins packed with juicy blackberries with a smooth sweet flavour.

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I enjoyed these muffins with a hot cup of tea with milk (chai). They are simply delicious on their own as well. You can easily adapt this recipe to your liking – by swapping out blackberries for blueberries, raspberries, or even chocolate chips! Try out this lovely recipe and tell me what you think! My cravings for a tender, buttery, and fruity muffin was truly satified. Thank you summer, for your bountiful heaps of fruit! What are your favorite summer fruits to eat during the summer? Do you prepare them into a recipe or devour them simply as is?

Until next time dearies!
Cheers // Sara x

Nor’Cal Eateries!

Hello there!

I’m writing this blog post while enjoying myself inside of a lovely French/European style Cafe in San Jose, CA. A slow start to the day was needed and its been a relaxing day thus far. This past week has been all about exploring, taking snapshots, eating everything in sight, and simply relaxing with family and friends. These warm summer days have been needed and visiting my home town has been great! Each town that I have visited has brought its own unique taste, sights, smells and sounds. I can never get bored of visiting these towns that truly exhibit their own charm and characteristics, such as The Mission, Fischermans Wharf, Berkeley, & the Silicon Valley. There are many area’s to explore and visit and these are just a few of the places I often find myself rummaging and exploring through. I’m big on eating, enjoying delicious food, and supporting local business. Here are a few spots to grub’ on when visiting the Bay Area / Nor’ Cal.

1) Flower Flour, European Bakery and Floral Cafe // Address: 896 Willow St, San Jose, CA 95125
– Try the crepes! They are freshly made to order. My favorite was the herbed chicken crepe and the roasted vegetable crepe. Both of the savory crepes display a delicious flavor and have some of the freshest and tastiest ingredients. Flower flour bakery uses seasonal ingredients and you can most certainly taste it in the crepes. I am sure the sandwiches and soups are lovely as well. Their cafe latte and European style style pastries are also nice – give’ em a try if in the San Jose area!

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2) House of Bagels // Address505 E San Carlos St, San Jose, CA 95112
– What a lovely and quaint little bagel shoppe! Tucked in a quiet little neighborhood in San Jose. Their are many locals and college students that flock over here to grab some delish bagels. The shoppe itself displays itself in a cosy little brick looking home, with many people waiting in long lines to get the good stuff. Luckily, when I visited, the lines weren’t too long. Many of the locals were super friendly and did not hesitate to chat up a good storm. So on to the food! Try the pesto bagel with lox! Have ’em make it toasty. Its super delicious, creamy, hefty and you simply cant go wrong with this delicious bagel sandwich. The smoked salmon is fresh tasting and complements well with the pesto bagel. Their are many cream cheese spreads to choose from as well. Try the chive cream cheese spread! Yumo!

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3) Millbrae Pancake House // 1301 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030

– Such a cosy and lovely little breakfast cafe tucked in the neighborhoods of Millbrae. Their are many options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tried their Swedish Pancakes served with lingonberry butter. It was different yet tasty. Scrambled eggs were fluffy and the fruit cup was fresh and crisp. Not into pancakes? Try their tuna melt! It was heavenly. Savory, cheesy and melty! Grab yourself a hearty meal before venturing out into the city.

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🙂 That’s it for now my dearies! Their are many other places that I tried which were just as delish. Although these spots hit up some memorable moments for me. Are their any diners, bakeries or cafes that you just love to visit? Any places in particular that you visit when traveling to your favorite cities?

Cheers // Sehrah x x

California – The Golden State!

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I am thrilled to visit California in just a matter of a few days! I think it’s about time I head out somewhere a bit fun during the summer. 🙂 The anticipation of visiting my friends and some of my family members has got me excited as well. I have lived in Texas most of my life – but my real and true home will always be California. Having been born in Northern California, I mostly grew up exploring the outdoors. Fond memories of my childhood are clearly represented in my mind. Lovely times with my sisters, brother, and our neighborhood friends and family. The mountainous landscape, rolling hills, sand beneath my toes and the fresh and salty sea air brings back nostalgic memories. Nature and I are one and my mood instantly lifts when surrounded by the natural beauty around me. There are many parks to wander and rummage through in San Francisco. Just sitting on the grass in a random park and admiring nature’s beauty makes me feel relaxed. It will be a good couple of days that have been needed during this busy summer season. As a traveler, photographer, and food enthusiast, I easily get lost in the sea of many aesthetic choices. My passion gets fulfilled and my senses truly awaken. Anyways, enough about my excitement 😉 here are some fun and interesting facts about the Golden State!

1. The Chinese fortune cookie was invented by a Japanese resident of San Francisco.

image2. The neighborhoods of Marina, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point are all built atop a landfill.

3. The bear on California’s state flag is modeled after a California grizzly named Monarch, who was held at Golden Gate Park.

image4. The city’s cable cars are the only National Historical Monument that can move.

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Are there places that you love to visit or travel during the summer? Are there any special travel spots that just take your breath away or leave you nostalgic… Wanting more? Comment below and let me know! 🙂

Thats it for now folks! Stay tuned for some photography + adventures once I land on the West Coast!

Cheers
// Sara <3

Double chocolate chip cookies

Hello there! Welcome to my lifestyle blog and my very first blog post. To celebrate I had to make these delicious double chocolate chip cookies. You will love them — so go try them for yourself! Betcha just can’t have one. 😉


Here is the recipe by Jennifer Segal:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans

Servings: About 60 cookies

Cook Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 30 Minutes, plus 30 minutes to chill the dough

Ingredients:

2¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off with knife

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (see note)

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, best quality such as Ghirardelli or Guittard

1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions:

Set the oven racks in the middle and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Pass the cocoa powder through a fine sieve into the bowl; whisk the mixture until evenly combined.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and beat for about 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined (the batter will look crumbly at first; don’t worry, it will come together). Mix in the chocolate chips and pecans. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, until firm enough to handle. Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place on the prepared baking sheets abut 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are puffed. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

Note: I prefer Dutch processed cocoa powder for this recipe, but natural cocoa powder works very well too.

Link to recipe: www.onceuponachef.com/2015/08/double-chocolate-chip-cookies-pecans.html

So I thought these cookies turned out well. But I may omit the extra two tablespoons of flour. I felt as if the cookies turned out a bit cake-like. With less flour, they may obtain more of a crisp texture. I also decreased both the brown sugar and white sugar, because I did not want strikingly sweet cookies. Swapped the pecans for crushed walnuts. Maybe I’ll add a teaspoon of instant espresso powder next time around. That way, the flavor of the cocoa power will shine through. Let me know how these cookies turn out for you! This recipe makes a huge batch of cookies,  so go ahead and half the recipe if you’d like. Maybe it’s a good thing to have extra cookie dough in the freezer. You never know when unexpected guests may arrive. 🙂 

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Owl paying attention. Understandable, who doesn`t like double chocolate chip cookies? 😉

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Nicely rounded shape. Go ahead and roll your cookie dough. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

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Cheers! <3

// Sehrah