Lemon Zucchini Muffins

Muffins have become a staple in the house, well, frankly because I purchased a muffin pan this season and wanted to get my money’s worth :).  I probably rotate between muffin recipes every week with one of them being these lemon zucchini goodness.  I had some zucchini in the fridge and wanted to originally make some zucchini bread.  Instead, I stumbled upon this recipe with a lemon-y twist.  And I don’t know about you guys, but I love anything with lemon and zesting!  These were a good alternative to the bakery style banana and blueberry muffins I typically bake.

Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  •  Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • cupcake cups (optional, for easier cleanup)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Beat 2 eggs and add oil and sugar in a smaller, separate bowl, and mix well.
  4. Add milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the wet ingredients.
  5. Fold in zucchini and mix evenly.
  6. Add the wet ingredients with zucchini to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Be careful not to overtax (as with pancake batter).
  7. Pour into muffin pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes (until golden).

Switzerland Series Part III: Lucerne

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We took Switzerland’s train system to get us to Lucerne.  It was an easy and comfortable hour to Lucern from Zurich.

And upon walking out of the Lucern Train Station you see the Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) right in front of you…the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe and the world’s oldest surviving truss bridge.  It is Lucerne’s main symbol and attraction.

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Next we took a 20 minute bus ride to where you can take cable cars up to Mount Pilatus (one of the points of interest on the Alps that overlooks Lake Lucerne and the entire city beautifully!). We had no idea what to expect…and we didn’t even know we had enough time to be able to do this tour, but we did it spontaneously and it was the best decision of the trip!

Mind you, I’m afraid of heights…so I was in a bit of panic in the beginning as we just got higher and higher towards Pilatus.  There is a stop in between and you can choose to hike up and down the mountain as well.  There were locals doing so!  Crazy!  Not for me!

There is a restaurant at the half way point as well as once you reach Pilatus.  A whole building sits at Pilatus that is a hotel, restaurant, and souvenir shop in one.  The views are just a dream…and photos do not serve them justice.  Sigh…but here are some of ours:

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The waters of Lake Lucerne! 

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The hotel on top of Pilatus!

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Switzerland Series Part II: Christmas in Zurich

Zurich may not be the first city that comes to mind when deciding where to go during Christmas…because when I did my research, it was never listed under any of the “Top Christmas Cities in Europe” lists.  However, a city unexplored was just has exciting as any other city in my book.

And well, the city definitely did not disappoint.  It offers much more than just a world of banking and money (as most seem to think of it as).  It surprised us with all the character it had to offer  as we walked aimlessly throughout the city.  And the Christmas market that adorns many of the cities in Europe during this Holiday season was just as festive and full of culture.

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We walked through the Bahnhofstrasse, which is a main street full of shopping.  I mean, you think of Swiss watches, and, boy, there were watch stores and boutiques in every corner of this city.  I guess tourists often visit Switzerland and a big souvenir to purchase is a Swiss watch, and they definitely make these easily accessible for you.

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In 3 days we just walked…

To the Grossmunster:

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To the Framunster (Church of Our Lady):

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To the Limmat River to witness the lighting of thousands of candles by Zurich schoolchildren sent floating down the river at 6pm precisely annually on December 22nd.

Took a cruise on Lake Zurich where the peaks of the Alpines just give you the urge to visit them…

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Visited the Swiss National Museum and the FIFA World Soccer Museum as well.  And enjoyed some raclette and potatoes and, of course, red mulled wine!  This was my first time having mulled wine and they made theirs so strong!  Woof!

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For dinners we enjoyed some amazing meals highlighted by our Swiss fondue experience at the Swiss Chuchi restaurant in Hotel Adler.  MUST VISIT!  Cozy, casual, and so Swiss! (iPhone photos)

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In essence, we just enjoyed taking in all that the city had to offer with zero expectations or limitations.  And then we finished our trip with a day in Lucerne!

Switzerland Series Part I: Arriving in Zurich

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We just recently got some time off for the first time in years!  And most importantly, the vacation time fell during Christmas. Playing overseas rarely provides the luxury of vacation days with the only real “off” days falling in the off-season (mid/end of June through beginning of August).  With this rare opportunity, we decided to take full advantage and explore a little bit more of Europe and discover some of Switzerland!

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Of course it was an option to to go home to Family and Friends, however, the little time we had would have been spent more on planes, trains, and automobiles than with our actual family and friends.  So instead, we decided to take advantage of the short time and see Zurich and Lucerne.

Having arrived on the 22nd meant we only had 3 days to make sure we were able to explore Zurich before everything shut down for Christmas/Christmas Eve.

I obviously did some diligent research before the trip (I like to be organized and plan), I had a list of a few things I wanted to get accomplished when we landed… The first thing we did was purchase a mobile wifi called Traveler’s Wifi at the Switzerland help desk/counter at the Zurich Airport.  There, you can grab a map of the city and several other guides they had available for tourists.  I definitely took everything!  Note: The Traveler’s Wifi ends up being less costly than purchasing a SIM card for your unlocked phone.  We rented the wifi for 7 days, unlimited 4G LTE every time you turn it on, and with a battery life of about 6 hours at full charge, for 69 Euros.  This was plenty of use for us and we were gone almost all day with a break right before dinner to relax and refresh.

Next, we took out some Swiss Francs (CHF) (this is an obvious when you travel, always have the currency on you…duh!).

Because I knew we were going to be gone hours on end, we also brought a portable mobile charger.  The charger charges two devices at a time.  The Traveler’s Wifi was also able to be charged on our device.  And now we’re set to begin our adventure!

We decided to take a taxi to the hotel, which we quickly learned was not the most economical way to travel once in the city.  A 10-minute ride from the airport was 50 Euros. YIKES!  Uber is available and costs way less…but the city is a walking city taking us only 20 minutes to get to downtown Zurich.  For tourists who are not right off the Bahnhofstrasse, the entire city, at least the heart of it, is walkable!  So please walk!   The landmarks are amazing and allow you to explore corners and crevices of the city you wouldn’t notice otherwise.

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Best cinnamon rolls ever…

I have perfected these cinnamon rolls over the past year by practicing repeatedly.  I have made these more times than I can count and they’ve been a hit every time!  Not tooting my own horn, but I think the recipe was very easy to follow, which helped make these become the success that they are.

And with the Holidays coming, cinnamon rolls make the perfect, festive treat/breakfast!

The night before I decide to make these I leave 500g of butter and 1 8oz package of cream cheese out on my counter to soften.  I also use Instant Active yeast packets, which have been the easiest for me to use when making anything rise.

Full recipe found on Pinterest here: http://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2015/01/best-ever-cinnamon-rolls.html

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You begin by preparing the yeast/dough.  You gradually add flour to a sugar, milk, eggs, and yeast mixture.

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Add the flour 1 cup at a time until dough forms and flour is all incorporated.  The recipe calls for 5 1/2-6c of flour (it takes me 6c or more usually).  The right consistency is when the dough is a little tacky but can be shaped (see below).

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Let dough rise for 2 hours in a greased bowl covered with a kitchen towel or foil.

After the first rise, roll the dough out like below:

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Spread butter:

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Cover in brown sugar-cinnamon mixture:

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Roll tightly and evenly.  Then slice the rolled dough in sections (you should be able to get 16 rolls)…I use a spatula’s edge for this part.

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Let the rolls rise another hour in your baking pan:

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And then bake until golden brown (20-25 minutes)!

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I make the cream cheese glaze while the rolls are baking in the oven.  I also don’t glaze the cinnamon rolls until they are ready to be eaten in order to preserve their freshness.

Enjoy!  🙂

Mom jeans and DIY tees…

A personal favorite of mine this Fall/Winter is the emerging popularity of MOM JEANS!  Besides for being “in” fashion this season, Mom Jeans are the ultimate comfy denim (IMO).  If you haven’t tried a pair, the fit is a high waist, loose/relaxed inseam, and almost no stretch.  The no stretch is the highlight of this type of denim trend, which helps to perfectly flatter all body types, even us females with no booty and lacking some Kim Kardashian curves (me) because somehow these give my behind some shape! Stylish and eat-and-drink-a-lot friendly pair of jeans, could not get any better.  This budget-friendly pair is a vintage, acid wash from Zara (currently in stores).

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And onto my tee, which I styled on my own (and by style I mean cut up on my own).  I randomly discovered these tees on some bloggers I follow on Instagram (WeWoreWhat, B-low the Belt) and found that a clothing brand 12th Tribe sells these tees for a whopping retail price of $72 (crazy, I know, considering how easy this was to make on my own)!  Take any graphic tees you can find or already have and cut a V using the crew neck as your guide.   Can’t get any easier than that.  I bought this Rolling Stones Tee from Zara for $15, in stores now.  But I found random graphic tees, even in the men’s section of H&M for example, for between $5-$10.  Loving the DIY part of this popular tee.  And voila!!!!

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And for the rest of my outfit, my B-Low the Belt Bri Bri belt is my favorite accessory this season (and probably for the rest of time, I’m really obsessed).  White booties, a leather jacket, and some Ray-Ban aviators to complete the look.

Matt and I enjoyed an unusually warm fall day (25 Celsius this particular day) in the center in these photos and had lunch at a new restaurant after grabbing some Holiday lattes at Starbucks.  🙂

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My fall wardrobe…

Fall has become my favorite season.  I love wearing layers, hence my love for jackets and coats.  I am super excited for my first style post and for continuing to show you guys my love for fashion and just looking and feeling great in the clothes that I choose.  Friends have been asking me for this for a while now, but I struggle with taking (mostly liking) any pictures of just myself…so with patience I’m hoping to gain some camera confidence and post more frequently.

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Last weekend the other basketball ladies and I decided to do some exploration in downtown Krasnodar.  We had some coffee, walked along the main street, and had a yummy lunch at Bellini Restaurant.

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 With the temperature being in the 50s I decided a skirt would still be appropriate to wear with just my Stuart Weitzman Lowland boots.

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Wearing:

Zara coat (this season, but not online)

Zara cropped chenille sweater (no longer available, but similar)

Zara leather skirt

Chloe – “Marcie Small Leather Crossbody, Tan” 

Stuart Weitzman Lowland in Black Suede 

Celine Marta Sunglasses in Havana/Grey Green

The best fluffy pancakes! …

Pancakes are a staple in our household.  And with plenty of practice over the years, I’ve gotten to perfect my recipe based on an All Recipe recipe I found.  With pancakes, always start by mixing  your dry ingredients separate from your wet ingredients.  Then combine.  With this recipe, you can add bananas, blueberries, or even chocolate chips to make whatever pancakes you’re craving.  Sometimes I just add a little bit of cinnamon for a vanilla, cinnamon-y plain pancake. I made homemade whipped cream and topped with coconut shavings and berries for this recipe’s photos.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • room temperature butter (for cooking)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs and butter into milk.  Add vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until lumps are gone.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with butter.  Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter onto the skillet.  Brown on both sides.
  5. Enjoy!

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Oven baked ribs…

Given that we are rarely (if ever) afforded a grill in the apartments we’re provided in this overseas basketball life, ovens must suffice when cooking meat (e.g. steaks, and in this post, ribs).  Because of this, I was always a little weary of cooking ribs for fear that they would not turn out how my Dad’s always do: juicy, tender, and fall off the bone nicely.  Well, I took the plunge recently and I was so pleasantly surprised.  They turned out just like my Dad’s.

Ingredients:

  • A rack of ribs (or as many that is fitting for the amount of mouths you’re feeding)
  • dry rub (you can purchase a dry rub readily at the store in the seasonings aisle or create your own using salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, etc)
  • BBQ sauce of choice
  • baking tray
  • foil

 

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 300F (150C).
  2. Coat your ribs with the dry rub you’ve purchased or made.
  3. Wrap your ribs with foil covering all of your ribs, like creating a pouch for them.
  4. Place on a baking tray and leave in the oven for 3 hours.
  5. After 3 hours have passed, take your ribs out and uncover.  Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce on all sides.
  6. Change the oven to the broil setting and broil the ribs for another hour.
  7. With 15 min left of your hour broiling time, brush the ribs with more BBQ sauce and place back into the oven for the last 15 minutes.

 

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Futbol Sundays…

Over on this side of the Atlantic it’s futbol Sundays…a stark difference from my favorite season in the States: Football season!  But my interest in futbol has certainly peaked while living over on this side where futbol is literally life. 



Krasnodar built an amazing stadium that certainly made me feel like I was no longer even in the city. Brand spanking new with a nothing-short-of-spectacular video board spanning the entirety of the stadium’s inner walls. 

The crowd roared and chanted over a friendly game between Russia and Costa Rica. 


Most of the time goals in the sport are rare…but this game ended with a PK win by Costa Rica making the final score 4-3. 


Quite exciting and definitely worth the trip. 


A soccer game is a must if you ever get the chance to live or travel abroad!  The love for the sport is passionate, inviting, and invokes a unique rush of competitiveness!