Cinnamon Mini Cakes with Peach Wine Compote

Hello Lovely,

I made these mini cakes in early August for a party with some friends. Once it was time for dessert, these went so quickly, I didn't even get to have one! My friends LOVED them! I love cinnamon. It's used in so many things because it just compliments EVERYTHING! This recipe comes from the Cakes By Melissa cookbook, but I came up with the topping all on my own! I started by making a cinnamon sheet cake and I cut out the mini cakes with a round cutter. While all of this was happening, I had some canned peaches soaking in red wine. You could have a cinnamon cake with cinnamon icing, but how basic is that? Go deeper into flavour profiles and see how you can related them to people or to other delicious foods that you love. For example, cinnamon cake with a peach wine compote topping - yum!

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Cinnamon Mini Cakes with Peach Wine Compote

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup diced peaches
  • 1 cup red wine (any kind)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
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Directions

  1. Have all your ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the pan of your choice or line the pan with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Before you start mixing, soak the peaches in the wine.
  3. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Add the sugar to the butter and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  5. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the vanilla; then add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl midway through.
  6. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sea salt in a separate bowl.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture. When it's mostly incorporated, add half the milk. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press your finger against it (30-35 minutes).
  9. Let cake cool completely before cutting with round cutter.
  10. Top each cake with peaches and a little powdered sugar.
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The only thing about this recipe I changed was the amount of sugar in it. The original recipe calls for 2 cups. I can't imagine why anyone would need 2 whole cups of sugar; that's waaaaaaay too much. So I shortened it. Truthfully I may have only used 1 cup of sugar. Adjust it according to your taste and dietary needs.

How I Made My New "Kitchen" Backsplash

Hello Lovely,

A few weeks ago, I placed my first order with Wayfair. I was so excited when I saw the huge 50% off sale I rushed over to look for a few key things I needed to upgrade my food photography. I was mostly looking for a white ceramic baking dish. I found three in three different sizes and a beautiful white brick backsplash wallpaper. I was quickly disappointed when I realised that Wayfair ships everything separately. When you live in a country that requires a courier forwarding service to receive online orders, separate shipping is an expensive nightmare! I spent about $50 in shipping fees to receive a $60 order. What made it worse was the size of all of the baking dishes. The oval dish is really only big enough to be a soap dish and the Rachel Ray dish is more of a single serve. The only things I liked were the larger baking dish, which is the perfect size and the white brick wallpaper. When I unwrapped it, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it!

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I have a trifold poster board that wasn't quite what I expected so I wanted to cover that. The wallpaper isn't peel-and-stick so it requires an adhesive, which I don't have. But guess what, because I was only adhering it to a cardboard poster, I only needed regular tape. All it took was measuring, cutting (I was never good at cutting straight so that was my biggest struggle) and using tape to hold it down. I used tape in case it didn't turn out well, or I changed my mind, I could remove it without damaging it.

I love how natural it looks! My kitchen is way too small, doesn't have enough natural light and the cupboards and countertops are old and outdated. So like most food bloggers and photographers, I actually stage my photos in a "fake" kitchen. For a very long time I've used a simply white foam board, but after my cats destroyed it (they thought it was a scratching post) I needed something new. I tried buying a backsplash on Amazon, but it was NOT what I expected and probably only covered 2 square footage. The only thing I didn't like about it, is it's only about 16" wide so when you have a large space to cover, you're going to see the seems, even when it's perfectly lined up and that's what makes it look unnatural.

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Now all I need is a bigger "countertop".

Why I'm Afraid To Get Too Personal On My Blog

Hello Lovely,

In an age of oversharing, it's easy to become that person who snaps a photo of every single meal, document every part of your vacation and broadcast relationship troubles. We're encouraged to be open and speak our minds. We've learning keeping secrets can be dangerous and we've reframed many hurtful labels. All of which I'm sure has been to help society become more open-minded, uninhibited and explorative creatures. But is there a price to being so open? What are the real risks? I originally started this blog as something to do while I looked for work, but over time it's become very therapeutic for me; giving me a reason to get up, get out and try new things. And when the feedback started coming in, the positivity encouraged me to do more, share more. But lately, I haven't wanted to share as much. It wasn't until I started reading, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis that I realised how much I was really holding back and how superficial a lot of my content had become. If you want to check out the book for yourself, it's available on Amazon - I totally recommend it.

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What are my insecurities? This isn't one of those posts where I can simply list the reasons. A lot of my reasons are intertwined. When I really think about what stops me from getting too personal it's one thing: fear of backlash. I wish I could share about my weight struggles without people complaining that I'm delusional because I'm skinny and there are people with real weight problems. But what people don't know is I often receive unnecessary comments on my weight with people asking if I'm pregnant. I wish I could share about my mental health struggles without fear that a future employer would see this and think I'm too unstable for the job. I wish I could share about my relationship issues without my exes feeling vindicated somehow. Or the fact that sometimes, even after undergoing surgery at 19, I still have bladder accidents and wet myself. And as much as I wanted to share that a few weeks ago I went to the police because I feared someone I only went on two dates with might have been stalking me, I just couldn't find the strength.

What makes it worse, is for the past five years, I've worked with really vindictive people. The kind who go out of their way to get you fired by setting you up to fail or outright lying on you. And if they had access to my deepest personal problems, I just knew they would find a way to use it against me. None of this has been easy to deal with. I mean what's the point of owning a personal blog if you can't truly be yourself on it, right?

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So how have I been dealing with it? I recently started sharing more Instagram stories. I realised a good way to get personal is to get more real on social media. One thing I'm secretly insecure about is the sound of my voice. I can't explain it, I just don't like the sound of my own voice. So years ago I assumed others don't either and haven't been much for speaking. (Hence why blogging is so appealing and I never tried vlogging). But by sharing videos of the various stages of recipes I try or videos of myself getting ready or hanging out with friends, I'm getting more comfortable with speaking in front of people. I always thought people would look at me strangely if I'm recording a video in public, like I would look vain or something. To challenge myself, I went to a wine tasting (where I wrote a small portion of this post) and took selfies and a boomerang while at a table with other people. Was I self-concious? Of course I was. But I knew the fear of what others think about me was crippling my growth so I had to do something about it.

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The same with working out. When I was in Houston staying with a friend, we went to the gym in his community and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't work out in front of those people, even though they didn't know me. I went back to the apartment and worked out there, but deep down I knew I was cheating myself. I started sharing more about my workouts on my IG stories as a motivation to myself to continue. But the truth is I'm so inconsistent with working out lately, my diet isn't what it was before I travelled for the summer and I actually put back on some of the weight I lost, so I feel like a failure and I hate sharing failures. (Who doesn't, right?)

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Well, those were some of the biggest and the baddest in no particular order . I genuinely feel a weight being lifted off as I close out this post. I really appreciate all of the love I've been receiving as I open up. I want you to know it really is a reminder to think positively and be grateful for how far I've come, instead of how much further I think I need to go. The truth is, everyone doesn't need to know everything about your life, but you also shouldn't be so ashamed of the truth that you create a completely false life just to please others who are probably struggling with the same shit as you.  To quote Rachel Hollis, "More than anything, I hope you’ll rest in the knowledge that you can become whomever and whatever you want to be, my sweet friend . And on the days that seem the hardest, you’ll remember that— by an inch or a mile— forward momentum is the only requirement."

How To Get My Back to School Hairstyle

Hello Lovely,

Going back to school is a HUGE event! The uniforms, the snacks, the traffic! AHHHHHHHHH! It's a nightmare. This year I changed schools so I had a lot of anxiety to deal with. Of course, I wanted to make a great first impression, so I needed the right back to school look. It took FOREVER to plan the right outfit, but with a lot of strategic pre-planning, I survived my first week on my new job! YAY!

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One of the ways I pre-planned was with a new protective style. I fell in love with this style when I saw it on Tamera Mowry on Pinterest, and thought it would be beautiful but simple! When I told my stylist she was super excited and immediately onboard. The sides are straightforward: two braids that join at the end. We weren't completely sure about the front middle section so I allowed my stylist to freestyle and she did not disappoint! I only expected this to last the first week of school, but it's still holding up pretty well thanks to my awesome stylist!

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This hairstyle is inspired by a hairstyle Tamera Mowry rocked. I scoured the internet looking for other angles of this hairstyle but found none so my hairstylist had to improvise just a little. She always gets my vision and I love her for that! After a wash and deep treatment, we stretched my hair, then started styling. Check out the video below to see the full details on my back to school hairstyle. It's super easy to do and would be perfect for semi-formal functions. After all, what's classier than a high ponytail?

Quick and Easy Back to School Lunches

Hello Lovely,

So the kids are back to school and you're back to standing in the kitchen every morning scratching your head. What in the world are the kids going to eat for lunch? For many parents the answer is simple: the kids can buy lunch at the cafeteria. But for others who don't go that route, coming up with a lunch item every day for their kids can be a real task. No one wants to hear, "That again?!" from their kids. And even as adults, you want to be excited about what you're going to have for lunch. So here are five quick and easy lunch recipes I've tried over the years, that I've rounded up for you to make that morning prep a little easier.

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Make Healthy Lunches Exciting with These Chickpea Sandwiches

These easy chickpea salad sandwiches will definitely shake things up a bit and keep you full all day long! This creamy chickpea salad can be made in advance and stored in the fridge, so its ready to go whenever you need to pack a quick lunch. The salad is also really easy to customise so feel free to use whatever veggies you have in the fridge and add fresh herbs, spices, cheese and whatever else you need to see you through the work week.
 

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CALIFORNIA INSPIRED CHICKEN FLATBREAD

This recipe mimics a California chicken flatbread with juicy chicken, bacon, mushrooms, tomato, cilantro, and sweet yet savoury balsamic vinagrette! 

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Vegan Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There's no beating the classic grilled cheese sandwich for lunch. But trust me, this is not your mama's grilled cheese! It's fresh, fun and cheesy! It's a great combination of flavours. Imagine a spinach dip between two buttery slices of bread. Absolute bliss!
 

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Turkey Burrito Lunch Bowls (Meal Prep)

Trust me when I say you will not have time to prepare food every single morning if you expect to make it to school and work on time without sacrificing some major sleep. But fear not! This lunch recipe can be meal prepped and is super easy to put together. All you'll need is ground turkey, brown rice (or cauliflower rice) and a vegetable. You can even add cheese if you want.

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Grab-and-Go Salad

Rushing through the usual morning routine, we often have to choose between healthy and fast when it comes to our meals: especially lunch.  An easy way to combine both ideals is to prep a salad the night before and place it where you can have quick access the next day. Using the basic lettuce and tomatoes, you can add fun ingredients such as cranberries, carrots , celery and cheese with the added protein of chicken , turkey or ham.  One of the best parts of this salad: Shaking it up!  By adding a vinaigrette based dressing the night before or right before eating the salad, you can quickly combine the salad and dressing in 3 – 4 quick shakes.
 

Quick and Easy Back-to-School Snacks For The Kids

Hello Lovely,

Kids are back to school and you’re back to your routine. Even though I'm a full-grown, college-educated adult with no kids of my own, the start of September is still back-to-school season for me, because I'm a school counsellor. All three recipes below are healthy, nutritious and most importantly, tasty enough for even the pickiest eaters. These are convenient make-ahead recipes even for the busiest parents!
 

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Beck's Crackers

Seasoning saltines using an altered method from Joanna Gaines friend Beck, makes crisp, buttery crackers that are great with creamy dips like my hummus. They're also really yummy on top of soups or salads. I like them for parties and kids school snacks because they're easy to make and can be prepared in advance. In fact, these taste better if you eat them a day or four later. And they can be so filling, they're sure to be a huge hit!

  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 0.7 ounce envelopes dry Italian or Mediterranean dressing mix
  • 1 tablespoon crush red pepper flakes (leave out if you or the kiddos don't like pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill (not necessary if you use the Mediterranean mix)
  • 1 1lb box saltine crackers
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large (14-16 cup) deep container, with a tight-fitting lid, combine the oil, lemon juice, dressing mix, pepper flakes and dill. Whisk to combine.
  2. Add the crackers and turn them over a few times to ensure they are fully coated. Let stand for 5 minutes, turning the crackers over twice.
  3. Place the crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, allow to cool then store for tomorrow's snack!
  4. To make the hummus, mix one can of chickpeas with remaining oil mixture (about 1/4 cup) and 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese in a food processor.
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Apple Cheese Wraps (serves 4 )

Do you remember eating Lunchables as a kid? I never liked them. I liked the idea behind it but it always tasted fake (not to mention my parents complained about the price). If you have kids who love Lunchables, why not save money by making it yourself? It's so easy and so much healthier because you'll know exactly what's in it. This snack covers all of the critical food groups with fibre, protein and good carbs. The best part? It's fully customisable. Add nuts or grapes or whatever else you like for added health benefits.
 

Prep Time: 2 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 apple
  • 1 slice lemon
  • 2 slices cheddar cheese, cut in half
  • 2 slices pre-sliced deli turkey or ham, cut in half

Preparation

1. Slice the apple into 1/2 inch thick slices. Rub the apple with the lemon wedge to prevent from going brown.

2. Slice the cheddar cheese into 1/2 inch wide slices and the ham in 1/2 or in 1/4 (the ham needs to be large enough to wrap around the apple). 

3. Place an apple slice and a cheese slice on top of the deli meat and fold over deli meat to wrap.

4. Serves with crackers and a dip of your choice for a satisfying on the go snack.

 

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Gluten Free Sandwich on a Stick

It's the kids' turn to pack their own lunches. Introduce them to this submarine skewer and they'll have a blast expressing their creativity and sliding on their favorite sandwich ingredients. Best of all, it's practically mess-free since the dressings will have to be on the side—no knives, squirting, or spreading required.
Prep Times:

20 minutes

Yield:

4 servings

Ingredients:

8 (6-inch) skewers
4 oz. deli sliced lemon chicken or smoked turkey breast
1 cup chopped arugula or spinach
4 oz. your favourite cheese, cut into small squares
1 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup small dill pickles
3/4 cup ranch dressing or deli mustard (optional)

Preparation:

1. Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes.

2 Thread skewers with chicken (or turkey) arugula, cheese, tomatoes and pickles. Serve with ranch dressing or mustard for dipping.

 

5 Things I Need To Do Before Summer Ends

Hello Lovely,

Can you believe summer is almost over? I went back to work on Monday and next Monday, school officially starts for us. I am SUPER excited about this. I know a lot of people love summer, but I'm just not one of them. Sure, I love the beach, vacations and festivals, but one thing I don't love is the heat. Summers get hotter and hotter every year. And in The Bahamas we have summer 98% of the year. Some people envy that, but weather that almost never changes can get depressing after awhile; leaving me longing for sweater weather and steaming mugs of cocoa. If you've been living it up this summer, that's awesome. But if you're like me and mostly stayed in to avoid the heat, then you may feel like you missed out. So here's 5 things I want to do before summer officially ends.

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1. Go To The Beach

Can you believe that I didn't go to the beach even once this summer? How crazy is that? I live on an island and visited 4 other islands this summer and still never went to the beach! I'm ashamed!

2. Go To The Movies

I am not in any way a movie person! I have a pretty short attention span but if I go to the movie theatre and it's a blockbuster movie, I'm all in. The movies I have my eyes on are The BlackkKlansman, which is already out and The Hate U Give and Operation Finale. If I'm going to watch a movie I like Marvel comics, Star Wars, psychological or racially drive/historical movies. I finally got to go to see The BlackkKlansman this weekend but I won't go on about how horrible that movie was.

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3. Grab Ice Cream with a Friend

I love Froyo but the last time I had it was November of last year because the next day I was terribly sick. I was afraid to go near it again because that nightmare was not worth repeating, but I think I've learned my lesson and I'm ready to have a small amount of it (as long as it's dairy free). I also got some this past weekend after the movie. I stuck to Red Velvet, which a teaspoon of graham crackers and granola, you know, to make it healthy.

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4. Try a new lemonade recipe

I think the last lemonade I made was Martha's Spiced Lemonade and that was two years ago! So I can't wait to try my hand at a new lemonade recipe like this Sparkling Mint Peach Lemonade, Mango Ginger Lemonade, or these Coconut Peach Lemonade Slushies

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5. Go to a Summer festival

I have not been to a single party this summer season. Between travelling and my anxiety from changing jobs, I just haven't been on the social scene much this summer and I know, that's terrible. I've been to small gatherings at friend's homes for drinks but I haven't actually been to a PARTY and that definitely needs to change before summer ends.

What's on your summer bucket list? Did you complete everything or are you missing a few things like I am? Let's chat about it in the comment section below!

My Current Health and Fitness Routine

My Current Health and Fitness Routine

Read on for my plan on how to get back in shape. This is a lifestyle change so don’t think of it as a diet. I’m offering diet tips for healthier eating and exercise plans. If you follow this plan strictly for the next few weeks, you will definitely see some positive changes in your physique and overall health. Stay focused and buddy up, if you can. You can do this! Will you join me?

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