Happiness Project#57: Aloha Lemonade!

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One word. Maui. I can’t say enough of how dearly I adore Maui. Thanks to catering a friend’s STUNNING wedding, my Husband, Daughter & I were able to take our very first Family Vacation! And it was beyond just perfect. Starting from the very beginning, due to all of my not-so-lovely menopause symptoms, I truly believed that I was going to be MISERABLE. Because, let’s face it, heat AND humidity?? Save me. However, despite preconceived notions, something happened as soon as I stepped off that plane. Something magical. I fell in love. Within my heart and my soul. Nearly instantaneously. Which is, well, kinda miraculous for me. The me who had been 100% positive that the only place I would ever feel truly comfortable and happy in, was somewhere high up in the mountains, surrounded by the towering trees and looming stars and winter snow. Yet, somehow, against all of the odds, Maui happened. Truth happened. Where amid the sweeping beaches, and endless blue skies and the unfathomable sea, everything clicked. And I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that this island was where my Little Family was meant to be. No more of the rushing and business and bleakness of the Bay Area. No. More. No more for this Family of mine.

7 days later, while driving back to the airport, amid the flashing blues and greens surrounding us, I looked over to my very quiet Husband and saw something that I’ve only seen on 4 other occasions within our nearly 11 years together. Tears. Tears over leaving an island that felt like our true HOME. And since we’ve been back in the Bay Area for nearly a week now, we’ve already decided that we’re ready to move back to this island. To start over. To be where the both of us left a huge chunk of our heart and soul. The plan? 1 year. In 1 year we will leave this horrible place of TOO much of everything and go HOME. To Maui. To TRUTH. To US.

So to celebrate our 1st Family Vacation and destined move, I wanted to try to replicate one of the island’s famous drinks: Maui’s Blackberry Lemonade! Which is beyond DELICIOUS! Truly! Which you MUST try! Because, yes, it is THAT good! You ready for some Island BLISS? Let’s GO! You’ll need…

2 cups fresh blackberries

Simple Syrup (recipe to follow)

2 cups fresh lemon juice

2 cups cold water

Firstly, to create the Simple Syrup, bring 1-1/2 cups of granulated sugar and 1-1/2 cups cold water to a boil, in a large pot. Stir until fully dissolved. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

With the two cups fresh blackberries, using a small blender, liquify the blackberries until smooth and fully crushed.

In a pitcher or refrigerated container, combine the Simple Syrup and liquified blackberries with two cups fresh lemon juice and 2 cups cold water. Stir the entire blend together for a few minutes before adding in a couple of ice cubes. AND serve!

SO easy! And SO DELICIOUS!

Now you too, can taste a little bit of Aloha!

Thank you, Meghan & Travis for inviting my Little Family to your STUNNING special day! Thanks to you, we have found our home and I can’t express enough of how dearly this means to us! We love you! xoxo

Happiness Project#52: Raspberry French Toast Rolls!

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It’s been a rough week. Or in all actuality, a rough month. From the day I was born 3 months premature, I fought for my lungs. My breath. My Life. And 36 years later, I’m still fighting. For my lungs. My breath. And my Life. In more ways than ever before. And although I am immensely blessed to be surrounded and uplifted by a very strong, loving group of Family & Friends, there are still days and nights where I feel very alone in this battle of mine. Because the truth? Unless you’ve been there, and walked in my shoes, particularly within the last 4 to 5 years, there’s only so much that anyone else can truly understand. And only so many ways that I can try to vocalize the things that I feel and think. Which leads to this week’s struggle with myself and my lungs. Resulting in 2 new inhalers, which leave me shaky, dizzy and horribly tired. As in “I can’t even see straight, more or less stand upright” shaky, dizzy and tired. So needless to say, it’s been one of THOSE weeks for me. One of which I cannot wait to be done & over with.

Anyhow, since you all know that baking is the one form of therapy that keeps me going, when I’m at my lowest, I desperately wanted to whip up something quick & pretty, with lots of taste. With fruit. Because holy geez, am I so READY to indulge in my favorite fruits this season! So. Ready.

Pinterest, apparently, is just as ready as I am, too. Umm, have you SEEN all of the newly pinned fruit recipes this year?? It’s bananas! Literally. Thanks to a newish Blueberry French Toast Roll Ups recipe from Damn Delicious, I was overjoyed to break out the frying pan and whip up my own breakfast dish. With raspberries and strawberries. And more cinnamon-y goodness than you’ve ever beheld. Ready for some fruity happiness in a pan? Here we go…

4 tablespoons salted butter

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

8 slices white bread, crusts removed

3 ounces cream cheese, softened slightly

1/2 cup raspberries, mashed up with a fork, OR 1/2 cup cored and finely diced fresh strawberries

Firstly, after removing the crusts, gently roll flat each bread slice, using either a rolling pin or the flat palms of your hands. Line up each flattened slice onto a flat plate and set aside.

Place the half cup of raspberries into a small bowl and flatten (or crush) each of them up with a fork, until the texture is pulpy and nearly smooth.

Using a small butter knife, spread out about a tablespoon & a half of cream cheese onto each bread slice. Try to spread on the cream cheese as evenly as possible. Now, on the bottom lip of each bread slice, spoon on up to 1 tablespoon of the crushed raspberries. With the tips of your fingers, firmly but gently roll up the bread slice, starting with the bottom lip (with the raspberries), all the way to the top. Once each slice is rolled up, set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Dredge each roll up in the egg batter, covering throughly.

Now to the frying pan! In a medium sized frying pan, on meduim-high heat, drop 2 tablespoons of butter into the pan, letting the butter coat the entire pan. Once the melted butter starts bubbling slightly, drop 2 to 3 french toast roll ups into the pan, turning the roll up over once or twice to create an evenly fried skin. If there’s not enough butter on the pan while you’re working through each set of 2 to 3 roll ups, add in another tablespoon of butter between each set.

While each roll up is still hot from the pan, transfer each piece to the bowl with the cinnamon & sugar mixture and generously coat. Because what’s french toast without a lovely helping of cinnamon-sugar?? Not French Toast, I believe.

Serve immediately. With MORE fruit. Because there’s no such thing as too much fruit for breakfast. Well, to me there isn’t.

*Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious

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