Cupcakes and Sunshine: October 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Easy Overnight Bagel French Toast Casserole


Rise and shine it's Tuesday morning time!


And boy oh BOY do I have a delicious recipe for you! This recipe is inspired by my Uncle Will, who is a genius in the kitchen. Big family breakfasts are a big thing when we all gather. I can remember waking up to the smell of crispy bacon, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and cheese grits growing up. And Uncle Will always added a dish that he would think up for each breakfast.
 

If I was to ask him for a recipe, I'm sure he wouldn't have one because he just makes delicious things off the top of his head with the ingredients he has in the house. I still remember to this day a delicious hashbrown casserole he made from scratch.



This morning, I decided to embrace my inner-Uncle Will and whip up this breakfast casserole without a guideline, but using the ingredients I had on hand.

One of my roommates, Carly, works for our church. And the benefits of having a bestfriend who works at our church means we get the leftover bagels from Panera each Sunday. (It's great for our college-student budgets!) I decided to use the bagels, some cinnamon, and a couple of eggs in this Overnight French Toast Bagel Casserole.

The best part of this casserole is that you can make it the night before. If you have guests over the next morning, you can just make it the night before and heat it before they arrive for breakfast. Easy Peezy.



First off, you will want to tear your bagels into pieces. I used an assortment of [leftover] bagels (blueberry, cinnamon, plain), but I highly recommend the cinnamon bagels. If you want a healthier casserole, you can always use whole wheat.

Next mix your vanilla, eggs, milk, butter, and cinnamon in a separate bowl.



Layer your bagels in a 9x9 buttered casserole dish. Pour the egg mixture on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cover with plastic wrap. Place in your refrigerator overnight or until guests arrive.




When ready, preheat oven to 350 and bake casserole for 25 minutes.




Ta-da! Easiest, most delicious breakfast casserole! You are going to LOVE it and your guests will as well. (My roommates are pretty excited about it.) Let me know if you give it a try!

Easy Overnight French Toast Bagel Casserole

Ingredients:
3 cups of torn/chopped bagels
1 cup of milk
3 eggs
4 Tbs. of melted butter
1 Tbs. of vanilla extract
1 Tbs. of cinnamon
1/2 cup of brown sugar

1. Tear bagels into pieces
2. In a separate bowl mix milk, eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, and cinnamon
3. Layer bagels in a 9x9 casserole dish. Pour egg mixture on top
4. Sprinkle with brown sugar
5. Let sit overnight and when ready, bake for 25 minutes at 350.


Hope your Tuesday is sweet, friends!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

My Favorite Fall Treats!


Good morning friends! It's THURSDAY! Which means...ONE more day until Friday!! Which means...we are currently celebrating and eating donuts at Ike and Jane in Athens as I post as a Yayit'salmostFriday treat! You have those too, right?



I wanted to share with you some of my favorite fall recipes and treats that I think you should add to your fall baking list this year!

Starting with...


My Mini Apple Pie Caramel Apples- these are SO stinkin' cute and tiny and delicious. They'd be perfect at a fall/halloween party! And they are covered in the most delicious white-chocolate and caramel coating. You won't be sorry if you make these this season!


Next,

I think you should definitely bake up some of my favorite Baked Lemonade Donuts. I have been craving these non-stop! I'm going to whip up a batch this weekend.


Another sweet treat fall favorite are my Coconutty Sticky Toffee Breakfast Muffins.



My roommates LOVED them. And they are made with healthy ingredients, but taste like DESSERT!

My Pumpkin Peanutbutter French Toast was a real winner last fall.


 This is a breakfast that you will want for lunch and dinner as well. Try this one! And don't forget the chocolate chips! 


And last but not least, you should make my Truffle S'more Brownies:



They taste like toasted marshmallows and are reminiscent of bonfires and cozy sweaters. Except they are super easy and no firestarter required!


I hope your Thursday is full of sweet treats and fall weather! Happy day, friends! :) 




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Eats, Treats, and Good Times


Hey, hey, hey! Happy Tuesday night, night owls! (11:30 p.m. is the start of the night-owl hour over here)

These past few days have been full of adventures and good food and good friends! (and let's not forget the good fall weather!)

Trips to the Farmer's market...


where we purchased homemade hummus, fresh okra, bean dips and mixes, brightly colored flowers, and baked goodies.

And then there were hayrides and fall festivals,


Jackson Street books- an old bookstore in downtown Athens (LOVE the smell of old books),


An un-pictured but exciting trip to the movies to see the Best of Me. It was good. You will cry. Bring tissues along with your contrabanned M&Ms and drugstore movie candy (we all do it, it's okay).

Some superfood salad making with my good friend, Ellie


We used THIS recipe with kale and quinoa, but substituted the almonds and cranberries with dried cherries and pumpkin seeds. You have to make it, I'm telling ya!

And this evening I seared up some okra and baked Naan pizzas for dinner:



Yes, this meal was in fact inspired by our most recent trip to The Pine in Athens. After trying their seared okra, I had to make it myself. (And you should make it too!) Olive oil, salt and pepper, cut okra in half, sear, serve, devour.



SO yum. For the Naan pizzas, I sliced Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Naan (SO STINKIN' GOOD. Please buy this bread if you are near a TJ's), spooned a little marinara, sprinkled some feta and broiled for 4 minutes.

Easy, breezy, delicious dinner in ten minutes. 

I hope your week has been off to a great start! We'll be halfway there and to humpday in just about 30 minutes!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Pine restaurant in Athens


Y'ALL, I'm freaking out! SO excited! Because I woke up at 11:00AM this morning! This is huge y'all! I usually wake up at 6AM...wide awake! But this morning I slept straight until 11. I did go to bed last night a little later than usual (hello, 3AM) but usually I go to bed late and still wake up at 6. This morning was a wonderful exception to my usual sleep-schedule.


I woke up, had my FAVORITE protein pancakes (2 eggs + one banana in the blender. Pour, heat, flip, devour) with a side of my FAVORITE peanutbutter (buy it HERE)...


I would say it's been a pretty good start to the weekend. And I think last night started it off great as well!

My good friend Ellie and I met up at The Pine in Athens, Georgia. We decided that we want to make it through our entire Athen's restaurant bucket list before graduating and we had heard a bit about The Pine. We had to try it out!

Upon arriving, we had already looked at the menu online, so we knew what to expect.


We started off sharing "The Ezra" Fire Flat.



It was a delicious, crisp flat with smoked salmon, capers, red onion, and cream cheese. Our waitress told us that everything was made in the woodfire oven, including the Fire Flats. I loved its crispy crust and it was so fun to share and catch up with Ellie.

Next, our waitress suggested that we share the Chicken Tikka Masandwich.


 I don't think I had ever had anything like it before! I absolutely loved the yogurt cilantro pesto with hints of Indian coriander and diced chicken. I would definitely order it again!

And finally, we tried the seared okra, which we both decided we HAD to make at home sometime. It was delicious, fresh, and perfectly sliced and seared.

It was such a great time chatting with Ellie and tasting some of the local Athens' food fare. We listed all of the restaurants next on our list and recipes we can't wait to try at home. It was a great dining experience and I would definitely suggest it if you are in the Athens area!

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend, friends! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sprinkled Chocolate Covered Pretzels


Hello, hello! How's everyone doing today? My Thursday morning started off really great because my three-hour class was canceled, which means more time for baking and messing around the house and lounging in pajamas and watching Gilmore Girls.

I have a super easy, breezy snack treat for you today. Last night, I was in charge of setting up a snack table for an event and these were THE perfect treat to bring.



3 Ingredients.




Delicious.




Sprinkled.




Chocolate.



I really don't think it can get any better! They look very fancy, but they are the easiest thing to make in the world. You'll have everyone tricked to think that you slaved away in the kitchen. But nope!

You need...

1. Pretzel Rods
2. White Chocolate or White Chocolate Almond Bark
3. Sprinkles.

YEP. That's it.

Simply melt your chocolate at 30 second intervals in the microwave, dip your pretzels rods, sprinkle some sprinkles, lay flat on a parchment covered cookie sheet, pop in the fridge for quick chocolate-setting. And ta-da! All finished.

These disappear WAY too quickly around here. But then they are so easy, I just whip another batch up!

Enjoy! Happy Thursday, friends! :) 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm 21! Birthday Weekend Continued!


Blessed. Blessed is the first word that comes to mind when I think about this past weekend, all the festivities and surprises that my friends had planned, and all the love I have been surrounded by. I think the hardest posts to write are the ones when I feel most blessed! I want to show every detail of every moment and how much each special moment means to me.

Sometimes I don't post at all about these special moments because I feel there is no way a few words and pictures can show you how grateful I am for the love, relationships, and encouragement God has put in my life.

But I do want to give you a little glimpse of how wonderful this past weekend has been and the many surprises my roommates and best friends planned for me.

Frozen on Ice with my good friend Joni...

She always plans the best surprises! 
Olaf shirts and all...


and bags....



Then my good friend Carly took me to have a very fancy dinner in Atlanta at Canoe. 




It was INCREDIBLE y'all. I ordered the Rainbow Trout and lobster ravioli.

 and haven't stopped talking about it all week.

Then my actual birth DAY came along, and I was completely surprised when we showed up at the pumpkin patch: 


Do my besties know me, or what!? 





We picked out some good ones for carving and painting...



 and then we were headed off to dinner at Last Resort in downtown, Athens...


where I was then treated to some of Athen's finest cuisine! (I ordered the Chicken in Parchment. GET IT. Seriously) 

Please excuse the following fuzzy picture... the lighting was terrible and we were too excited to turn on the flash:


Afterwards, we headed off to Trader Joe's to pick up dessert! I chose a cheesecake and TJ's newest Cookies and Cream Cookie Butter (Yep, you need to try this one too!) 

It was an INCREDIBLE weekend full of my favorite things and my favorite people. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but I don't feel there are enough pictures or words in the world to say how incredibly blessed I am for these friends! 21 is the best year yet!

I hope your weekend was great as well! 

Happy Tuesday, friends! 







Thursday, October 9, 2014

Birthday Weekend and Whole Wheat Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins


Wooo! Tonight starts the first night of birthday weekend! I know it's only Thursday, but I don't have Friday classes and tonight is when the festivities begin. My sweet friend Joni is taking me to see Frozen on Ice. And we are ALL prepared. Frozen bags, Frozen shirts. We may even have to get some frozen yogurt or ice-cream on the way there. For frozen sake, right?

Yes, I know I'm turning 21. But when Joni asked me to head with her to Atlanta to see the show, I could not say no! Total Frozen fangirl. Forever young at heart!



Tomorrow evening, I'm heading to a corn maze with roommates and CAN NOT WAIT. And then I get to check it off my fall bucket list! Hooray! I do believe corn mazes and fall activities are my favorite kind of activities.

Saturday, I've been told not to make any dinner plans. My good friend Carly is surprising me with dinner. I can't wait to see what she is up to. I LOVE SURPRISES! Especially birthday surprises. And food surprises. This is all too fun!

And Sunday is my actual birthday. Hooray! I don't know how the day is going to go, but based on the weekend build up of excitement, I know it is going to be such a fun day.




And of course, there will be lots of eats and treats involved with this weekend, so I decided to start this morning off healthy with my favorite Whole Wheat Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins. These breakfast muffins are full of healthy whole grains, a little bit of protein from the Greek yogurt, and aren't too sweet. Perfect for breakfast.




Plus you get to add your own fun toppers to them! This time, I added white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips to half of them, and oats on top of the others. But you can add nuts, almondbutter, diced apples...you can personalize them for each of your friends or family members! I love 'em. They're the perfect goodmorning treat that you don't have to feel guilty about!

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pumpkin Muffins
makes 6 muffins

Ingredients:
3/4 cup White Whole Wheat flour
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar!)
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 4-oz. cup of apple sauce (or 1/2 cup of applesauce)
1/2 cup of greek yogurt
toppings of choice! (I used oats and choco.chips!) 

1. Combine all ingredients, mix until moist,  spoon into 6 muffin cups, top with toppings
2. Bake for 16 minutes at 350 degrees.

Easy peezy! You'll love them! Let me know if you give them a try!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fall Weather and Birthday Wishlists


You guys!! This fall weather has been incredible. I have been going on mini morning jogs and walks so that I can soak it all in right when I wake up! This past weekend, the weather was absolutely perfect as we cheered on our dawgs...


We came home early from the game to wrap up in blankets, watch Modern Family on repeat, and you better believe our Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin candles were burning! (There may or may not have been apple cider involved as well.)


Fall is our guilty pleasure.

Also a guilty pleasure: creating lists. I make lists for anything and everything. To-do lists, things-to-buy lists, grocery lists...and as you know, I've already started working on my birthday list. (one week birthday count down!) I've added a couple more things that I think would be really fun:



Last week, I wrote about these Ashley Brooke Design's mugs that I absolutely love. They had to go on my wishlist:




I think they'd start mornings off pretty well, don't ya think?

Also on my wishlist: a Clarisonic.


 I've been wanting one of these for a while and I've heard nothing but good results from them. I feel taking care of your skin at an early age is so important. Yes, I use wrinkle cream, sunscreen, and moisturizers because our skin is the only skin we get!

Next on my birthday wishlist: ADVENTURES. Okay, I know this is a pretty broad item to add to my wishlist, but my goal for this year was for it to be the year of adventures. I think it would be so much fun to receive handmade coupons to different places throughout town: trying out new restaurants, a trip to the movies, a hike somewhere beautiful, a pottery class with friends. This year, I want less "stuff" and more adventures and time and memories!

Adventures from this summer^^

And finally on my birthday wishlist: Mission Funds! The Lord has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to travel with CRU ministries to New York this spring break on a mission trip to share the gospel with those in the city.




I am super excited about this trip and can't wait to build relationships with those in the community, those on the trip, and to share what the Lord has done for me and the hope and healing He brings! This is a BIG one on my birthday wishlist and if you feel called to donate, you can click right HERE to my fundraising site.

And that just about covers everything on my birthday wishlist.

I hope your Sunday is full of fall and happiness!

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