FitBloggin 2014 – Around Savannah, GA

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When I attend conferences, I almost always try to maximize my free time on the last day. Most conferences end in the morning leaving the rest of the day with plenty of time for more adventures. Since I drove to Savannah, this was especially easy to do for FitBloggin. And I’m so glad I decided to stay in town after the conference ended. I got to spend some time with some great bloggers.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

There was one shop I definitely wanted to hit up before leaving town – The Savannah Bee Company. I headed there with Shannyn, Kyra, Martinus, and Nikki. We wanted to do a mead tasting, but sadly, they weren’t able to do one until 12:30pm since it was a Sunday.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Luckily, there were plenty of other things to check out in the shop. The Savannah Bee Company not only has a wide variety of honey flavors, but they have other treats, from lotions to honey-roasted coffee.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

They have a great sample bar at the front where you can taste the honeys the shop offers. I was surprised at how much the honeys differed in taste. The tupelo and winter white were my standout favorites, so I brought a bottle of each home to enjoy later.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I also tried the honey comb, which was really good. It’s sweet, warm, and chewy. I’ve always wanted to try honey comb straight up, so this was a real treat for me! There was also bread, apples, and cheese in case you wanted to make a savory-sweet sample.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Our next stop was a cupcake shop just down the block, Sweet Carolina Cupcakes.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I hadn’t planned to eat any cupcakes since we hadn’t had lunch yet, and I was still hoping to score some macarons. But, when Martinus kindly offered for each of us to share a bite of his red velvet cupcake, I couldn’t resist. It was delicious, and the frosting was nice and buttery. Thank you, Martinus!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Blogger shenanigans}

One of my favorite things about attending conferences is how you’re around people who are just as weird as you are. Every group has their quirks, and I love the blogger ones. We totally get taking lots of photos of food, photos of people taking photos of food, selfless galore, and other randomness. I love hanging out with fellow bloggers!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

After a couple more photo ops, Martinus and Nikki headed back to the hotel to catch a tour. I wish I’d had more time in Savannah to participate in one of the many historic tours they offered. Guess I’ll just have to go back soon!

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

Kyra, Shannyn, and I had worked up an appetite, so we headed back towards the river to grab lunch. En route, we learned that the macaron shop was closed on Sunday. That was a bummer, but I was happy to at least have some delicious honey to enjoy at home later. Plus, I had one more stop I really wanted to make, and I had a good feeling they’d be open.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We hit up the Chart House, which was located in a beautiful stone building right on River Street. We had a great view of the bridge and passing boats. The weather was warm, but we opted to eat out. With the breeze, it was really lovely.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I was torn between two very different options for my lunch order – a salad or the short ribs. I’ve been on a short rib kick lately, so I figured what the heck, why not get those today. They were a little tougher than I wanted, but the flavor was delicious. It was a heavy choice for lunch outside, but it’s what I was feeling.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Shannyn, Me, Kyra}

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

For our last shop stop, we visited River Street Sweets. I really wanted to pick up some pralines for hubby, and I scored one pound to take home. The shop had chocolate and original flavors, but I opted for 100% original.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

I had to be out of the parking deck of the hotel by 3pm, and the girls had flights to catch, but we had about another hour to spend around town. So, we opted to check out some of squares in town.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We took a leisurely walk through the squares, marveling at the giant, arching trees with their sweeping branches covered in moss.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

There were historic monuments throughout. You could spend a long time wandering around, checking out all the sites and reading all the plaques. It’s a nice setup.

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

{Up}

FitBloggin 2014 - Around Savannah, GA

We made it to the location of Forrest Gump’s bench, which has since been moved to a museum, before turning back towards the hotel. Our afternoon walking around Savannah was the perfect end to a beautiful weekend. Thank you Shannyn, Kyra, Martinus, and Nikki for helping me end the conference on a sweet note! Let’s get cupcakes in Denver, too!

I felt ready to head home but also like I wanted the FitBloggin fun to continue. I’d met so many great people throughout the weekend, and I look forward to keeping up with them over social media and potentially to even seeing them in person! As you may have read on other FitBloggin posts, the event was really great for a blogger recharge. I spent the drive home feeling really appreciative for the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful event. I was also really inspired by so many of the other bloggers who attended. I could spend all year hearing their stories about their healthy living journeys.

With my batteries feeling super-charged, I also brainstormed how I could apply the inspiration and learnings of the weekend to make both my blog and life better. I must say, I’m especially inspired to start blogging about healthy living again. That used to be a big focus here on The Chic Life, and I’ve dialed back in recent years. Well, I’m ready to bring that back to the blog with renewed energy. I also want to do more posts to give back and share some of the things Ive learned over the years to help my fellow bloggers as others have helped me. So, long story short (TL;DR) stay tuned for some posts on health & wellness and some tutorials coming up!

Thank you to Roni and everyone who helped make FitBloggin another success! I met so many great people over the weekend, and I wish I had gotten more photos with all of them. To those I met, please know I really enjoyed meeting and chatting with you, even if only for a short time. Hope to see everyone in Denver in 2015!

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Here are my other FitBloggin 2014 recap posts:

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Thanks for stopping by!

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}

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Snowed in? Here’s an idea…

Healthy Hot Chocolate (made with only four ingredients)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

I used hot chocolate packets for many years. They were just too convenient. Open, add to hot milk or water, stir, drink. So simple, right? But not only can you make from-scratch hot chocolate with the same simplicity, you can also control the quality of ingredients and make it a little healthier.

Plus, have you seen what they put in some conventional hot chocolate packets? Here’s an example from one popular, unnamed brand:

SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.

What is all that stuff? There are more than a dozen ingredients in that list, and if you’re a Michael Pollan fan like me, you’ll notice you can’t pronounce many of them. Food Rules fail. On top of that, who puts vegetable oil in hot chocolate? I mean, can you imagine making hot chocolate and stirring vegetable oil and corn syrup into your mug? And instead of sprinkling in cinnamon, you sprinkled in a dash of sodium aluminosilicate or sodium caseinate. Yum?

You know what the ingredient list is for the Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder I used? It’s:

Cocoa

Yup, that’s it.

Healthy Hot Chocolate

But, then, I started thinking, well maybe they used semi-sweet chocolate pieces that were melted down?

However, here’s the ingredient list for a Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar:

Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin – an emulsifier, vanilla)

I’m not saying the long ingredient list is bad, it’s just…why would you want to eat that when you can eat hot chocolate made with only four simple ingredients?

(I keep referencing Ghirardelli because I bought a bunch on major sale awhile back, but there are lots of good, pretty clean chocolate producers out there. Check your local health food store.)

Healthy Hot Chocolate

My healthy hot chocolate ingredient list contains the following:

Milk, cocoa powder, raw sugar, vanilla extract

It’s a simple list and pretty much just as easy to make as the kind that comes out of a box. I wrote the recipe for heating the milk on the stove because I’m one of those hippies who doesn’t like using the microwave. But, you can use whatever you want to warm up your milk.

Bottom line – you don’t need those packets once you know how easy from-scratch hot cocoa is!

Healthy Hot Chocolate

Healthy Hot Chocolate {Clean Eats}
 
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Ditch the packets of hot chocolate that come out of a box! Clean eats hot chocolate is just as easy and a thousand times better. Here’s a simple recipe that uses only four primary ingredients.
*Vegetarian, Vegan*
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice (I used rice milk, vegan)
  • 2 rounded teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon raw sugar (or sweetener of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, optional
Instructions
  1. Place milk in a small pot over medium low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cocoa powder, sugar, and extra tablespoon of rice milk in a small bowl. Whisk until a paste/thick mixture forms and powder is absorbed. Add additional tablespoon of rice milk, if needed.
  3. Whisk cocoa mixture into milk mixture. Heat till hot but not boiling.
  4. Pour into a mug and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using.
  5. Serve and enjoy once the drink is cool enough to safely drink.
Notes
The directions above are for a stovetop preparation, but you can just as easily make this in the microwave.

Multiplies easily if you need more than a single serving.

 

Enjoy your hot cocoa!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding {Recipe}

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I haven’t made chia seed pudding since 2009. The first experience was okay, but I’m not sure if I’m liking it more this time around because I like it better with rice milk or because my palate has changed. I’m thinking the latter is the reason. My love of desserts has stayed strong over the years, but I find myself looking for different kinds of desserts – more made from scratch and Not So Sweet.

I whipped this up on a whim not expecting to enjoy it much, but this was a time that curiosity paid off. From the first bite, I knew I’d made something to enjoy for the next few days. Seriously, I remember taking the first bite and being pleasantly surprised. Like “Heyyyyyy…this is pretty tasty!”. So far, I’ve eaten it straight up, with fruit, with nuts, and as dessert and a pre-workout snack (though I think it would make a great breakfast, too). I love a multi-purpose recipe.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Did you know chia seeds come in two colors? If you’re a chia seed expert, you probably already have both types and are rolling your eyes. But, for those new to the ingredient, it comes in white and black. According to this chia seed article on ehow.com, there is no nutritional difference between the two, so you can get whichever you prefer or can more easily find. I usually get mine from the bulk bins at my local health food store, but they’ve grown in popularity over the years, so you can find them almost anywhere. And then there’s Amazon prime…which may be going up $20-40. Doesn’t that stink?

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Anywho, whichever color you end up purchasing, be sure to not skip the step below asking you to stir shortly after mixing up the ingredients. Those little chia seeds just loooove to stick together. If you leave the mixture for 20-30 minutes, it will look like the above left photo. After you stir it, it should start looking more like the right one. Much better!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

This pudding is really versatile. The simplest serving I enjoyed was with sliced almonds.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

My favorite was the chia seed pudding fruit parfait. Yum! I layered the chia seed pudding in between layers of fresh kiwi with some vibrant raspberries on top.

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

I also meant to stir some of the chia seed pudding into a smoothie, but I never did get around to making that smoothie. Maybe I’ll make it for breakfast today? I usually soak my chia seeds in a smoothie liquid for at least 10 minutes, so this is practically a short cut when it’s already made!

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding

Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding {Recipe}
 
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Chia seed pudding is a versatile dish that’s super easy to make. Just mix, give it a stir, and then wait overnight…or at least for a few hours. You can serve this any number of ways – with nuts on top, as a fruit parfait, or mixed into smoothies. Get creative! You can enjoy this for breakfast, dessert, or even as a pre-workout snack!
*Vegetarian, Vegan options below*
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened rice milk (or milk of choice)
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or use agave or maple syrup for a vegan pudding)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a mason jar or medium sized bowl, add rice milk, chia seeds, honey, and vanilla. Whisk well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Cover jar or bowl and place in the refrigerator.
  2. After about 20 minutes, remove the lid and give the chia seed mixture a good stir. They like to stick together, but if you stir them now, they’ll stay pretty evenly spread out.
  3. Wait overnight (or at least until the liquid has been soaked up enough, about 4 hours). Serve and enjoy!
Notes
This recipe makes a small serving size. I don’t usually eat a large serving, so I’ve been able to enjoy this a few times already. The recipe easily multiplies if you’re looking for bigger portions or you’re serving others.

 

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Chia seed pudding seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it kinda thing. Personally, I’m a new fan. What about you?

Healthier Baked Cinnamon Spelt Doughnuts {Recipe}

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When reader Meg wrote in asking if the substitution on the all purpose flour to spelt flour was one-to-one on my baked apple cider doughnuts, I was reminded that I haven’t baked with spelt flour in awhile. I definitely picked up a small bag the next time I was at the health food store. Spelt doughnuts sounded like a pretty good dessert for this past weekend, so I came up with a couple simple changes based on some of the other doughnut recipes here on The Chic Life to make a recipe specifically for spelt flour. The flavor – simply cinnamon.

(By the way, the substitution for all purpose to spelt is one-to-one in the other doughnut recipes)

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Healthier Baked Cinnamon Spelt Doughnuts {Recipe}
 
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Spelt flour gives these doughnuts a heartier texture that is somewhere between what all purpose and whole wheat flours would yield. If you’ve never baked with spelt flour, this would be a great introductory recipe. Easy, fast, and satisfying, these doughnuts are a no brainer. You could add a simple glaze on top, but when I’m feeling lazy, a quick dip in cinnamon sugar adds pizzazz without much extra effort.
As with my other recipes, I call this “healthier” instead of “healthy” because I’m not sure what would make a dessert healthy unless it was comprised of fresh sliced fruit. So, let’s just agree this is a “healthier” than traditional fried doughnuts…and even lighter and less sweet than some baked versions!
*Vegetarian, Vegan options listed below*
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup spelt flour (or sub all purpose flour if you’re not feeling the spelt flour)
  • ¼ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons (preferably raw sugar)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon, plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons milk (or sub vegan milk substitute)
  • 1 large egg (or sub flaxseed egg)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush a 6-count doughnut pan lightly with melted butter (or spray with non-stick spray).
  2. In a medium-large bowl, add spelt flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. In another medium-large bowl, whisk together ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk, egg, canola oil, and vanilla extract to combine.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and gently mix until just combined (careful to not over-mix).
  5. Evenly distribute in doughnut pan. Tap pan on counter to release air bubbles. Bake for 7-9 minutes, until doughnuts are cooked through (when a toothpick inserted into the doughnut comes out clean). (Mine were perfect at 8 minutes, but oven temperatures can vary, so check at 7 minutes)
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together (or stir with fork) ¼ cup granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon until cinnamon is evenly mixed in. When doughnuts are safe to touch, but while they’re still warm, dip each side into the cinnamon-sugar mixture, pressing and twisting to get good coverage.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

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You may also like these other The Chic Life recipes:

And here are more great spelt recipes from around the web:

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Thanks for stopping by!

Just Right Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Recipe}

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A new cookie has taken the lead as my favorite cookie – oatmeal chocolate chip. The old favorite was chocolate chip. I know, it’s not much of a difference. And yet, that simple addition of oats gives the texture and flavor something special that I just love.

Of course, this meant I needed to come up with a recipe so I could make the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies just the way I like – a little chewy. I started with this recipe for butterscotch oatmeal cookies that I made a couple years ago with good success, but I made a couple changes, also looking at my dough ball recipe for some ideas. I liked the flavor and chewiness of those butterscotch cookies, but I wanted to reduce the sugar and make them less flat, plus I wanted to make far fewer cookies. I played with the recipe over several batches, about 8 or 9 over the last couple years. I started by halving the butterscotch cookie recipe, adding flour, and reducing the sugar amounts. The first couple tries were decent but not great. I thought simply adding flour would make the cookies less flat, but it didn’t work as I expected. I tried some batches with far less sugar, far less flour, different amounts of butter, using baking powder instead of baking soda, and many other variations. Each try was just okay but not just right. I tracked my adjustments and made notes along the way. Most recently, I tried doing some google research.

I did some online searching for how to make cookies chewy, and it turns out sugar is one thing that that helps make them chewy (so much for reducing it lol). Apparently using melted butter and baking soda instead of baking powder helps, too. So, I tried a couple more times, tweaking things all along the way. The final result is what I’d consider a “just right” oatmeal chocolate chip cookie – a little chewy, a little soft, and a little crispy all in one delicious package.

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Just Right Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies {Recipe}
 
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The ingredients are simple and the results are delicious. They whip up pretty quickly, too! I started with this cookie recipe and experimented, analyzed, and re-experimented, and re-analyzed over several batches until I was happy with the results. According to some google research, melted butter, sugar, and baking soda help give the cookie a chewy texture, so keep that in mind if you modify the recipe at home, especially if you like chewy cookies, too. Be sure you use kosher salt or reduce the amount if you use table salt instead. And mini chocolate chips distribute better than large ones, so I was able to reduce that amount versus the ¾ cup of the regular size chocolate chips I’d recommend. Hope you like these cookies as much as I do!
*Vegetarian, vegan options listed below*
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup quick-cooking oats (old-fashioned would probably work just fine, too)
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (reduce amount if you use table salt, maybe ¼ – ½ depending on how you like your cookie flavor)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly (vegan – sub Earth Balance or similar product)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (vegan – sub a flaxseed egg)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips (or use ¾ cup regular sized chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three baking sheets with parchment paper. Note: I could bake all the cookies in one batch with 2 shelves and 3 baking sheets.
  2. In a large bowl, add oats, flour, salt, and baking soda. Whisk to evenly combine.
  3. In a medium bowl mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Make sure butter mixture isn’t too hot so it doesn’t cook the egg when add it, and add the egg and vanilla. Whisk to evenly combine.
  4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and gently mix with a large spatula. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Using a medium sized sorbet scoop (2 tablespoon), scoop dough and evenly distribute on baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches of space in between each ball of dough.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets to room temperature. Enjoy!

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Happy baking! Thanks for reading!

Which do you prefer: regular chocolate chip or oatmeal chocolate chip?

Individual Challah Breakfast Bread Pudding {Recipe}

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{New to The Chic Life? Welcome! Thank you for stopping by. You can click here to get free updates delivered to your inbox, and you can also find me on Facebook, twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.}

Looking for something new to try for breakfast this weekend? I may have an idea you’ll enjoy. This recipe was inspired by a recent conversation with my husband. We were out to eat with friends on New Year’s Eve, and someone at the table ordered bread pudding. We started talking about how I never make bread pudding (or something to that effect), which inspired me to put “bread pudding” on the list of recipes to play with soon. I’ve never been a big bread pudding fan, myself. I don’t typically like soggy bread (or soggy anything…especially cereal!) and most bread puddings have raisins in them. Though I like dried cranberries quite a bit, I can’t seem to get into raisins.

With a couple day old pieces of challah in the house, I decided to get creative one morning. Not only would I make him a bread pudding, I’d make one that was breakfast-friendly (and sans raisins)! The result was a hit that both of us enjoyed.

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Individual Challah Breakfast Bread Puddings (for Two)

If you’ve ever had just a couple pieces of challah left, maybe just the ends, save them for this fun breakfast. Treat yourself to Challah Breakfast Bread Pudding first thing in the morning. I tweaked the recipe to be a little more breakfast friendly. You’ll get one whole egg in each serving, I went low on the sugar, and there’s no added butter or oil (besides whatever was already in the bread). Go with the raspberry sauce option mentioned below for a healthier topping option. Life’s short. Eat dessert…for breakfast!

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 32-38 minutes
Total time: 37-48 minutes

Ingredients:

  • non-stick spray
  • 2 cups challah, cubed small (about 1/2″ pieces)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • maple syrup or raspberry sauce (click for easy recipe), optional topping
  • sliced almonds, optional topping

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two ramekins with non-stick spray.
  2. Evenly distribute bread into the ramekins.
  3. Add eggs to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk eggs lightly. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt and whisk till combined.
  4. Evenly distribute egg mixture into the ramekins. Press bread into the egg mixture until all the bread pieces are no longer dry.
  5. Bake for 32-38 minutes, until bread pudding is puffed up and cooked through. (A toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the pudding springs back when you tap the top lightly).
  6. Cool till safe to touch. Top with maple syrup or this delicious raspberry sauce (click). I also added almond slices for some extra crunch.

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Anyone doing anything fun this weekend? After all the craziness lately, I’m laying pretty low this weekend. It will be good to catch up with things in the house. I’m also trying to do some spring cleaning in my wardrobe – more purging, etc. I really need to downsize my clothes collection. I wear such a small percentage, and yet, I can’t seem to let go of things very easily. C’est la vie.

Thanks for reading!

Reader question: Are you anti-soggy-foods or do you love them?

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