Ayannah's Kitchen

I cook in high heels and bake in pearls

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Blueberry Bars (with crumb topping!)

So today was my day to bring treats into work to share with my charming coworkers.  I painstakingly debated between Blueberry Buckle and Chocolate Chip Cookie bars as if the answer to this question would solve our nation’s debt crisis. Finally, last night, I settled upon a hybrid of the two and decided to make Blueberry Bars with a crumb topping.  Needless to say, the debt crisis has not been solved with my selection… however, I have several grateful coworkers who enjoyed a lovely snack!

  

Blueberry Bars

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 4 cups blueberries (I used frozen!)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch


Directions

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Use a pastry cutter to blend in the shortening and egg to form a crumbly dough. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In a separate bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently fold in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the blueberry layer.

Bake for 50 minutes (or 45 if you are using fresh blueberries). Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Cinnamon Rolls… The ultimate breakfast indulgence!

Cinnamon Rolls

Contrary to what the recent lack of blog posts might suggest, I am not dead!  In fact, I am very much alive.  Honestly, in addition to all the regular excuses (it’s winter so it’s too dark to take good pics of the food when I cook after work, I am super busy being awesome, and so and and so forth), I just needed a break.  When cooking/blogging starts to become a chore instead of a fun diversion, I go on a blog hiatus.  BUT for the time being, I am legitimately back! I will make an effort to cook/bake in the mornings and early afternoons on the weekends, so I can actually use natural light to get some decent pics of my food! And now, without further ado, the actual topic of today’s blog post:

CINNAMON ROLLS!

Cinnamon Roll

Cinnamon rolls remind of my childhood.  Every Christmas morning I would awake to the delectable smell of fluffy cinnamon rolls filled with sweet and buttery goodness!  This weekend, I thought I would recapture that childhood magic by surprising the hubby with a cinnamon roll breakfast!  With a few basic ingredients and a handy-dandy bread machine, homemade cinnamon rolls are a snap!  GET BAKING, PEOPLE!

Ingredients

…for the bread

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 medium egg

…for the filling

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

…for the frosting

  • 1 cup powered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons milk

Directions

In glass dish, heat ¼ cup milk, ¼ cup of water, and tablespoon of butter in the microwave until very warm (microwave at 30 second intervals). Place milk mixture, salt, flour, yeast, sugar, and eggs in the pan of the bread machine. Select the Dough cycle. Press Start.

Once Dough cycle is complete, remove the dough from the bread machine and punch down. On a floured surface, roll into a large rectangle. Brush melted butter onto the dough. Combine the cinnamon and 1/3 cup brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangle. Generously sprinkle the raisins and chopped nuts (if desired) over the top. 

Roll the dough up into a log starting at the long side. Cut into 10 slices. Place the rolls cut side down into a 9x13-inch greased baking pan. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. 

While rolls bake, combine the powered sugar, vanilla, and 1 - 2 tablespoons milk to make a frosting. Remove from oven and drizzle frosting over baked rolls.

Filed under recipe cooking food cinnamon cinnamon rolls breakfast

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Thanksgiving (the pie!)

Well, my dear reader, pre-game is over! The time has come.  Grab your aprons, canned pumpkin, and fresh cranberries.  It is GAME TIME! Thanksgiving is upon us!

Naturally, I start my Thanksgiving baking a day in advance, just to ensure that I have ample time to cook everything.  For me, Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint.  No need to rush and cook everything all out once!  It’s perfectly fine to check somethings off your to-bake list the day before.  For instance… PIE!

For me, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without apple and pumpkin pie.  I am completely serious.  It is essential to have both.  Just pumpkin? Fail.  Only have apple? Fail.  Not Thanksgiving.  You need apple AND pumpkin pie.  (Okay, okay, Thanksgiving is really about family, being thankful for everything God blessed you with, and blah, blah, blah.  I am just saying… I like my pie on Thanksgiving, okay!)

These recipes are actually excellent any time of year, so no need to limit yourself to Thanksgiving.  Get baking!

Traditional Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Combine sugar mixture and eggs, stir in pumpkin. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour pie filling into pie shell.

 Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 50 minutes, until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. 

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

 Combine 3/4 of the sugar-butter liquid with the apples.  Place coated apples in pie shell. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the remaining sugar-butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

 Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40 minutes, until apples are soft.



Filed under recipe cooking food food blog pie Thanksgiving pumpkin pie apple pie

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Man Up! Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce…

Good evening, dear reader.  For those of you who do not already know, I must confess, I am a vegetarian.  I know, I know.  I have not always been a vegetarian.  Honestly, I have only been a vegetarian for about 6 months.  But I can blog about my decision to not eat meat another time, the story is actually completely ridiculous… anyways, my point is that just because I am now a vegetarian, does not mean I forgot how to cook meat.  My hubby remains as big a carnivore as ever, so I still grill a mean steak every now and then to keep him happy. 

For the most part, Michael is a bit like Garfield: he would prefer to hide under the covers every Monday and refuse to come out until Tuesday.  Thus, yesterday (which was, of course, Monday) I decided to surprise him with a luscious steak dinner!  The secret to this melt-in-your-mouth steak is a quickly searing the meat on a hot, HOT grill and then smothering the steak with an outrageously decadent garlic butter sauce!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 pounds sirloin steaks (or any other high quality steak of your choice)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions 

Preheat grill for high heat.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, stir in garlic powder, minced garlic, and parsley and set aside.

Liberally sprinkle both sides of each steak with salt and pepper.

Grill steaks 5 minutes per side (or to desired doneness). When done, remove from grill and brush tops liberally with the garlic butter, and allow to rest for about 4 minutes before serving.

Filed under recipe cooking food food blog steak garlic butter

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Thanksgiving Pre-Game… Pumpkin Muffins

Can you believe it is November already?  Honestly, where did October go?  For me, November means one thing… Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving really marks the beginning of the winter holiday season!  In Michigan right now, the leaves are falling off the trees, an icy cool breeze is blowing from the north, and a plethora of pumpkins are sitting in various patches across the state, patiently waiting for you to take them home and create culinary magic with their delicious pumpkiny insides.

This very moment, dear reader, is Thanksgiving Pre-Game.  The time has come to stretch our holiday pumpkin wings and attempt something not quite as ambitious as pie, but still a celebration of pumpkin and cinnamon awesomeness.  Yes, dear reader, I can see you agree emphatically. The time for the pumpkin muffin is now!  Quick! Grab your pumpkin puree and lets make something delightful!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a standard size 12 cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, honey, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Gently fold in the cranberries and walnuts.

Divide batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing the muffins from the muffin tin.

Filed under recipe cooking food muffin food pumpkin

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Mexican Tortilla Pie (release your SPICY side!)

So the hubs has been literally begging me for Mexican food. For dinner each night this week I presented him with a stunning (non-Mexican) dish, which I assure you was quite delicious, and he just looked at me with sad eyes and asked hopefully, “Can we have Mexican tomorrow?”  I mean honestly, from the way he was behaving you would think I fed the man something ridiculous like cereal or pop-tarts every night.

Oh well, the way to a man’s heart… and all that.  So I decided to try something a little different, a bit Tex-Mex, if you will.  Think Taco Bell ‘Mexican Pizza’, only classier, healthier, and tastier.  The nice thing about the recipe is that you can make it just as spicy (or mild) as you wish.  If you are feeling adventurous, sub serranos for the jalapenos, and if you are spice-shy, just leave the jalapenos out all together.

Ingredients 

  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can refried beans (low sodium, if available) 
  • 1 cup salsa, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 jalapenos, diced 
  • 7 (8 inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  As oven preheats, toast tortillas in oven until slightly crispy (about 5 minutes).

In a large bowl, combine pinto beans and refried beans. Stir in 3/4 cup salsa and garlic. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining salsa (1/4 cup), cilantro, black beans, tomatoes, and jalapenos.

Place 1 tortilla in a pie plate (I used a spring-form pan). Spread 1/2 cup pinto bean mixture over tortilla to within 1/2 inch of edge. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, and cover with another tortilla. Spread with 1/2 cup black bean mixture, and top with 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering twice. Cover with remaining tortilla, and spread with remaining pinto bean mixture and cheese.

Cover with foil, and bake in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Cut into 6 wedges, and serve with salsa and sour cream if desired.

Filed under recipe cooking food food blog spicy mexican pie

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Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookie Dough

Happy Friday!  So, earlier this week one of my friends at work had a birthday!  He told me that he hated nuts and chocolate.  Who hates nut and chocolate?  I mean, seriously.  Nuts and chocolate compose two of my basic food groups.  Luckily, he told me that both oatmeal and raisins were acceptable, so I thought the only thing to do was to make classic oatmeal raisin cookies!  

Dough Balls

Oatmeal cookies are simple, delicious, and make your house seem like Fall! Check out my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipe here

Cookies

Filed under recipe cooking food cookie oatmeal raisin cookie dessert

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Basil Pesto

Pesto

Good evening, Dear Reader!

How was your work week?  Hectic? Busy? Stressful? All of the above?  Well, stop your worries.  Pull up a stool and together we can shake off those work week blues in the kitchen! How about some basil pesto?  I just adore pesto! The other week I made a tasty pea pesto, but today I was feeling a bit more traditional.  

Pesto is fresh, tasty, and laughably simple!  Basically, all you need to do is throw a few basic ingredients in the food processor and tada! A delicious pesto sauce perfect for pasta, bread, or savory tarts.  Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano-reggiano (grated)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse to combine.

Filed under recipe cooking food pesto basil pesto

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Tomato-Pesto Tart

Tomato-Pesto Tart

The other night I was in the mood to bake something flaky, fresh, and savory for dinner. I love the bright, summery taste to basil adds to any dish, so I decided to make a tomato-pesto tart! Yum!

This tart has very simple ingredients and comes together in mere minutes!  Seriously, you can get this beautiful dish on the table within 30 minutes.  This tart is guaranteed to delight even your toughest food critics!

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff thawed puff pastry 
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Roll the puff pastry into a large rectangle. Score a line around the puff pastry about an inch from the edge.  Spread the pesto over the center of the dough and top with the grated parmigiano. Place the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the pesto and parmigiano reggiano.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

Filed under recipe cooking food pesto pesto tart vegetarian

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Left over pizza dough? Make Herbed Flatbread!

Herbed Flatbread

The other day when I made pizza, (check out my old school pizza sauce recipe) I had some left over pizza dough.  Pizza dough is so versatile. Your left-over repurposing options are practically limitless!  I decided to “free-style” it, so to speak, and bake a scrumptious herbed flatbread.

This flatbread is absolutely perfect fresh out of the oven.  The outside crust is crisp and crunchy, but the inside has a soft cloud-like consistency!  Feel free to use any herbs that tickle your fancy, it is nearly impossible to go wrong!

Ready for the oven!

Ingredients

  • Left-over pizza dough
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dried Basil (to taste)
  • Dried Rosemary (to taste)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently roll pizza dough on lightly floured surface until dough is about 1/2 inch thick.  Transfer dough to lightly greased baking sheet.  Lightly brush dough with olive oil.  Liberally sprinkle basil, rosemary, and sea salt on top of dough.  Bake in preheated over for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

Filed under recipe cooking food bread flatbread baking herbed flatbread

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Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup

For me, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of thick, rich soup on a chilly day.  I just love dunking warm, crusty bread into piping hot soup and savoring the flavors after a long day.  One of my personal favorite soups is split pea soup.  I know, I know, please spare your judgement.  I can practically see you turning up your nose at the mere thought of split peas!

Split Peas

But I urge you to reconsider!  Trust me, this is not your mother’s split pea soup (unless, of course, your Mother makes a delicious pea soup, than in which case, this is very comparable).  This soup is savory and spicy!  What really sets this soup apart is the little pinch of curry that adds just the right amount of kick.  But don’t worry, if curry scares you, just leave it out!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound green split peas, rinsed and picked over
  • 4 cups veggie stock 
  • 2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dired rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat oil in a large stew pot over medium heat. Stir in vegetables and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas, veggie stock, thyme, rosemary, curry powder, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat so liquid is simmering. Cook on low for about an hour and 15 minutes, until peas are very tender.

Remove bay leaf. Transfer mixture to a food processor, and pulse until desired consistency is achieved.

Return to pot and heat until hot.

Split Pea Soup on Spoon

Filed under recipe coooking food soup pea soup

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Pumpkin Pancakes

Good Morning, Dear Reader!

Congratulations! You made it to the weekend.  For making it through that hectic work week, you deserve a treat. It is time to pause, take a deep relaxing breath, and pull out your favorite skillet because we are making pumpkin pancakes!

Pumpkin Pancakes

I just love autumn. The leaves begin to turn stunning shades of yellow and orange, the air has a delicious crisp bite, and perhaps most importantly of all, pumpkins are in season! Cooking with pumpkin is such as seasonal delight!  

If you also love pumpkin and adore pancakes, why not marry the two and spoil yourself with a breakfast fit for a queen, pumpkin pancakes!

Pumpkin Pancake on Skillet

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg). In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, oil, vanilla, brown sugar).

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and gently mix together with a large spoon until combined. 

Drop batter (1/2 cup per pancake) onto a medium-hot skillet. Pancakes are ready to turn when you can see small bubbles forming on the surface. Enjoy!

Filed under recipe cooking food pancakes pumpkin pancakes breakfast

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Old School Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce

This afternoon at work while I was frantically typing away at my computer, my stomach started make that whining noise that could only mean one thing.  I needed pizza.  And not just any pizza - a homemade pizza with a rich, thick, delicious sauce! 

Now, all pizza sauce is not created equal.  The perfect pizza sauce is slightly sweet, with a hint of garlic, and a pleasing tangy aftertaste.  This recipe is not only easy to whip together, but will have your family insisting that you were raised in Italy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together to combine.  Perfect for pizza and breadstick dipping sauce.

Pizza

Filed under recipe cooking food pizza pizza sauce

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Pasta with Green Pea Pesto

Pasta with Green Pea Pesto

AND, I am back!  Did you miss me?

Tonight for dinner I wanted to make something fresh tasting, delicious, but simple!  I mean, I am a full-time working girl.  Most weeknights I simply cannot dedicate 2+ hours to the (albeit honorable) pursuit of cooking.

Thus, tonight I decided to make a scrumptious homemade pesto.  But, dear reader, I must ask you, why make plain old boring basil pesto when you could make an exiting new sweet, tangy Green Pea Pesto?

Green Peas

Green Pea Pesto

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup cooked peas
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil; add the peas and cook until softened. Drain.

In a food processor, pulse garlic cloves until ground into small pieces.  Add fresh basil and pulse to combine. Add peas, cheese, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil. Pulse all ingredients until smooth sauce forms.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Green Pea Pesto

Filed under recipe cooking food pesto

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An Officially Apology for Lack of Recent Updates…

Good Afternoon, my dear reader!

I thought I would take this time to issue a formal, heartfelt apology for my lack of updates. But never you fear, the lack of updating stems from exciting news! My husband and I have just leased a brand new HOUSE!  No more teeny, tiny apartment for us.  The new kitchen is simply lovely!  It has TWO windows!  Okay, so it might not be a 5 start kitchen, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. (I will post pics soon!)

Anyways, all this just goes to say that in all the moving chaos, I simply have not had time to blog about my cooking exploits.  But never fear!  I predict that within the next two weeks or so, we just be up and running again.  Until then, I suppose you will have to content yourself with old posts from the archive. 

Until we meet again, dear reader!

Besos,

Ayannah