apple crumb cake

Added on by Allie.

You guysssss. I recently discovered Figgy Bakery, a gem of a blog/bakery, and have not been able to get enough of her recipes. They're an amazing take on whole foods and clean eating and she has a knack for making vegan baked goods and seemingly indulgent desserts just a bit healthier than they typically are. Anyways! I've made the below recipe a few times, modifying it a little each time, and this is what I've come up with:

Adapted from Figgy Bakery's recipe

Ingredients:

[topping:]
a 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 cup Earth Balance melted, 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup rolled oats

[cake:]
3 cups chopped apple, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup Earth's Balance, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon agave

Disclaimer: You need four separate bowls for this concoction as well as an 
8x8 glass baking dish and perhaps a small loaf pan.

Begin with the topping. Melt Earth Balance (1 cup) in a medium-sized bowl. Add all other topping ingredients, mix and set aside.

Chop three apples into cubes, put into a bowl and add cinnamon. Set aside.

In another bowl, add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt and mix.

In a fourth bowl, beat Earth Balance (3/4 cup) until smooth. Add sugar and mix. Then add the eggs and mix. Next, add the Greek yogurt and agave. Once all of these ingredients are incorporated, add the flour mixture, little by little, until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together. Finally, fold in the apple-cinnamon combination and transfer to an 8x8 greased baking dish.

You may have left over batter (I did), so I made an extra little loaf. 

Add the topping and bake on 350 degrees for about an hour, testing with a toothpick to make sure the cake is done.

Note: mine took probably an hour and fifteen minutes to cook. I'd recommend setting the timer for 50 minutes and checking periodically after that.

madison, wi: part two

Added on by Allie.

One of my favorite things about Madison is that you can basically walk anywhere. There's a co-op in the middle of town, which I visited at least three times during my four day stay (they also make the best smoothies in the whole world at a strangely affordable price. The Green Dream... holy crap). But besides the co-op, one of our favorite meals was at a quaint and eclectic eatery called a pig in a fur coat.

In typical form, we ordered one of each menu item (I'm hardly exaggerating). But the dish to write home about was the ravioli: one giant pillow of heavenly goodness filled with ricotta cheese, egg yolk, crispy kale, fried bacon and topped with brown butter. It was the dreamiest. 

madison, wi: part one

Added on by Allie.

Over Labor Day, my two best friends and I headed to Madison, Wisconsin to visit our fourth pal in her new habitat. I didn't know what to expect, but it's needless to say Madison surpassed all of my expectations. In fact, I think I'd be pretty happy to move there one of these days.

Cheese curds, good coffee, New Glarus Brewing... all the essentials.

san francisco dwelling + things i dig

Added on by Allie.

Oh hello there, world! So much has gone on in these past few weeks months, I don't even know where to start. Probably the most notable step is that I've finally moved to San Francisco, my dream city for about the past five years. To say that it's been fun and exciting is an understatement. There's nothing quite like having your own place and in a city like this one, I feel constantly motivated, eager and all around ready for a new adventure. I feel like I have so much to say and so much to write about, but I'll save those thoughts for another day. For now, I'd like to share a few decorative items that I've been pining over:

writing as a hobby

Added on by Allie.
above the fog | marin county, calif.

I write a lot about balance. You can find those posts here and here. And lately, for probably the first ever in my 24 (almost 25, ew) years of life, I can feel things coming together. I feel content. I have a job that I like working for a company I love. My friends are above and beyond amazing. I've started reading again (Gone Girl... holy crap. So. Good.) and most importantly, I've started writing again. When I was writing as a career, I often felt uninspired or forced to produce something I wasn't quite proud of.

But once my career no longer consisted of writing and it became 'just a hobby,' writing was pushed to the back burner.

When I don't write, I feel a little empty inside. Even if it's writing for no one to see, writing even the shortest bit makes me feel happy.

Recently, especially with the wonderful Laura's new writing workshop, I've been dying to try writing fiction. But for some reason, I'm just a little apprehensive.

I'm curious, have any of you ever tried or succeeded in making the jump from blogging about what you know to blogging about what you've made up?

outerlands

Added on by Allie.

Nestled on a corner in the Outer Sunset, Outerlands has been on my list for a while. With walls covered in the world's most beautiful wood, light fixtures burrowed into various types of plants hanging from the ceiling and an all-around intimate atmosphere (including blankets in case you get cold), I decided immediately that Outerlands could very well be my new favorite spot.

Upon first glance, not much stood out on the menu (except for the homemade bread and butter, obviously). But as always, I appreciate a menu that surprises me. Since my heart wasn't set on anything particular, we blindly ordered and were truly blown away by the flavors and creativity of each dish.

i dream of cocktails: wilson's smash

Added on by Allie.

In celebration of one of my newest and most favorite friends' birthday, we checked out 15 Romolo in North Beach, right in the heart of all the strip clubs (convenient, right? just kidding). With menus that look like old newspapers (swoon), an old school photo booth, juke box and all around spiffy decor, I couldn't help but fall in love. Though we ordered a bevy of appetizers - all of which were pretty good - the real winner was a certain cocktail, Wilson's Smash. Created by one of their bartenders, Wilson's Smash combines a hefty serving of rum with caramelized pineapple, absinthe and bitters and is topped with just the right amount of mint leaves. 


It was so good we ordered two pitchers and never looked back.

{15 Romolo: 15 Romolo; North Beach, San Francisco}

spinach dip grilled cheese

Added on by Allie.

I had no idea what to call this gluttonous creation and spinach dip grilled cheese is the only thing that made sense. Inspired by my new idol Joy the Baker, this sando is far from healthy but absurdly satisfying, which counts for something, right?


Ingredients:
Sourdough bread, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, jack cheese, plain Greek yogurt, two cloves of garlic, fresh spinach, butter, olive oil

First, sautee spinach with crushed garlic in a bit of olive oil until wilted. Transfer to a bowl. Add parmesan cheese, cream cheese and Greek yogurt and mix.

Butter bread. Place spinach and cheese mixture in the bread and top with slices of jack cheese. Grill in a small, buttered pan on medium heat until golden brown on each side. FEAST.*

*Caution: Feast in moderation. It's quite rich and cheesy.

looking back

Added on by Allie.
fourth of july | 2013

For some reason, every Fourth of July, I find myself looking back on where I was the year before.

Whilst in India, Fourth of July 2011, I remember being really proud to be from the U.S.A. I remember the nuns at the orphanage wishing me a Happy Independence Day and making pizza for them to honor my home country. I remember this Fourth being the first that I actually felt a connection to the holiday, which was previous just centered around barbeques, fireworks and friends.

Last year, Fourth of July 2012, I was in the midst of a sad period of my life. Despite all the things and people I had to be thankful for, I wasn't a very happy person. Nonetheless, I put on my favorite polka dot shorts, tried red lipstick for the first time (it was a keeper) and spent the day frolicking around Mission Beach, San Diego, one of my favorite places in the world, ending the day at In-n-Out with my then roommate.

This year, I felt on top of the world. I woke up at my best friend's house and we ventured into San Francisco to join our friends for a picnic of sandwiches, cupcakes and beer. The sky was cloudless and blue; the weather was warm; the air, brisk; and the laughter between my friends and I was endless. I felt  free from my own insecurities and free from the sad place I was trapped in just a year before.

For the first time in a long time, on the Fourth of July 2013, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

pretzel crisps + the fourth of july

Added on by Allie.

As the Fourth of July quickly approaches, I find myself brainstorming red, white and blue treats to share with my friends on the festive holiday. Besides raspberries, blueberries and the classic hotdogs and burgers, pretzels come to mind when I picture a Fourth of July BBQ or picnic.

Pretzel Crisps, quite the tasty and low-cal snack, was kind enough to provide the pretzels for this recipe and obviously, it was inspired by incredible Emily from Cupcakes and Cashmere.

With just three ingredients and a prep time of only a few minutes, these chocolate covered Pretzel Crisps are a delicious and easy treat and can be tailored for any holiday.

What you'll need: 
Pretzel Crisps (original flavor), one cup of chocolate chips and sprinkles of your choice.

Simply heat the chocolate chips in the microwave until they melt, dip Pretzel Crisps in the chocolate and while warm, add the sprinkles. I recommend putting these on wax paper and popping them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to set.

Thanks Pretzel Crisps for the fun challenge!


in honor of father's day...

Added on by Allie.
...what I've learned from my dad.

Lotus Temple | New Delhi

Live in Spain. Live in India. Travel the world.
Making friends every where you go is never a bad thing.
Do what you love. Live with passion.
Italian food on Sundays will always be comforting (and delicious).
Nothing quite beats a day soaking up the sun with a good drink. 
Be it on a cruise, on a remote beach or in your backyard.
Spicy foods are the best foods.
There's no such thing as too much wine. 
Hard work will always pay off.
First and foremost, always take care of yourself.
That being said, don't be afraid to follow your heart.


{Dad, I think it's safe to say that I've inherited your gypsy soul. 
Thanks for the endless support... I love you!}

the best thing i ate this week: sushi zone

Added on by Allie.
albacore stuffed jalapeños, baked

I'm the kind of person that could eat sushi everyday. For every meal. I really never get sick of it. So when I heard about Sushi Zone, off the beaten path in the Mission, I knew I had to try it. With only 10 seats and a notoriously long wait, Sushi Zone was worth it.

We started with the albacore stuffed jalapeños and they were pretty much amazing, as you can tell by the photo above. A generous serving of albacore stuffed into a hallowed out jalapeño and topped with an insanely flavorful sauce and scallions. We were beyond pleased. 

Then, of course, we ordered a million sushi rolls, all standard but perfectly fresh and some of the best sushi I've ever had.

Despite the wait and tiny space, I'll be back sooner rather than later.

Sushi Zone: 1815 Market Street; San Francisco

sometimes all you need is to reset

Added on by Allie.
sometimes that reset is in the form of a beer at your favorite bar

I spent this past weekend in San Diego, having just the best time with many of my favorite people. In typical Allie fashion, a Google doc was created to ensure that Lori and I got to all of our favorite spots. 70% food and 30% bars, we definitely conquered a lot.

But besides being a good time with great people, the weekend truly served as a reset for myself. Since starting a new job, making new friends and being in an new city, so much lately hasn't felt entirely comfortable, mostly due to my nerves and self consciousness. San Diego, however, is such a familiar and comfortable place to me. San Diego's the city I became my best self in. The place I realized what I want to do with my life, what my priorities are and what I stand for. Being there reminded me of all of these things and let me tell you, it was a much needed reminder.

a lovely quote

Added on by Allie.
North Park mural | San Diego

"Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken or betrayed or left or hurt or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could."
-Louise Erdrich

trouble coffee

Added on by Allie.
Let’s talk about toast. It’s one of my most favorite snacks/meals of all time. When I was sick as a little kid, my mom would make me a buttery, cinnamon and sugary piece of toast and it would almost certainly make me feel better. When money was tight in college (and even after), a piece of toast always hit the spot and was gentle on the wallet.



As I continue to explore every small detail of San Francisco, recently I stumbled upon Trouble Coffee in the very Outer Sunset. Run by a bevy of attractive men (no complaints here), Trouble Coffee makes the best piece of toast I’ve ever had (disclaimer: I have not yet tried The Mill - I hear it's great). It was almost equal parts butter and bread and the cinnamon and sugar coated it quite nicely.



Another nice surprise at Trouble was a tea latte the baristas told me I had to try. Usually, I’m quite loyal to a good cup of coffee, but The Girlfriend (a honey and lavender tea latte) stole me away from my usual and I definitely didn’t look back. It was amazing.

Check out Trouble Coffee at 4033 Judah St., San Francisco


that time my day instantly turned around

Added on by Allie.

As many of you know by now, this blog started because of a trip to India. For years, I read my friend, Sam's blog, wishing I had the courage to write like she did. When I decided to move to India for five months after college graduation, a blog proved to be the perfect excuse to start writing for all to read.

Living in a country so different than the United States was the most challenging thing I've ever done. I was alone, hungry, beyond hot, uncomfortable and nervous a lot of the time. But having the chance to live among a society of people with such faith and hope that everything in life will be all right taught me so much.

I learned to manage my stress because no matter what I'm experiencing here, it's never going to be as stressful as trying to feed a family every night when funds are non-existent.

I learned how to write with ease about a country and cause I'm desperately passionate about, even though in the beginning, I was terrified to write anything at all.

I learned that, as much as I say time and time again, I don't care for kids, that's just not true. Those 100 plus kids took my heart and ran for miles. One in particular.

Santhosh | 2011

But most of all, I learned how to embrace and love life no matter what. And I learned that from children; children growing up in a tiny village in the middle of no where in Southern India; children who laugh and dance and sing despite not even having shoes to do so in; and children who still ask about 'Miss Allie.'

And that's how my day instantly turned around. I woke up with a killer stomach ache. I felt tired and cranky for no real reason but after a brief phone call from the non-profit who took me to India, with a stellar report that my kids are not only growing into amazing young people but still, almost two years later, remember me, my day took a turn for the better.

How could it not?