Saturday, October 29, 2011

Baked Pumpkin Pie French Toast

I never realized how much I like fall: the leaves changing color (not so much here in San Diego, but still!), the crisp air, pulling out the warm scarves and sweaters. It's so much fun! After living in New England for two years, I miss that real feeling of fall with the temperature dropping, the wind picking up, and cranking up the thermostat. (The snow...not so much.)  Of course, I couldn't forget about all the fall foods I love: pumpkin, squash, cranberries...but especially pumpkin. I could eat pumpkin all year long and be perfectly happy.

With that crispness in the air, I'm more inclined (like I'm sure many of you are) to eat "cozy" foods that warm and fill you up. Breakfast is a great time for this. Since Hubby and I don't have a lot of free weekend mornings (he works at a church and we're both up early on Sunday morning to go to church at 8:30), I jump at any chance we get to have a lazy breakfast. Last Saturday was our chance! :) We both love French toast (and Hubby makes a mean version of it), and since my recent trip to Costco left my pantry running over with canned pumpkin, I decided to go for it.

This French toast is prepared the night before and sits in the fridge overnight. In the morning, just preheat your oven, pop in the dish to bake, and by the time you rub the sleep out of your eyes and have the coffee made, it's ready.

Even better, I love that this recipe is healthy. It tastes totally decadent (it tastes like pumpkin pie filling if you close your eyes), but there isn't any weird stuff in it. Plus, leftovers! Hello, microwave French toast for the next 2 days :)

So, enjoy this recipe on a lazy weekend morning with your loved ones, some fresh coffee, and the newspaper. Oh, and please, stay in your jammies :)

Warm out of the oven...mmm!

Baked Pumpkin Pie French Toast
adapted from Stolen Moments Cooking - original recipe here

  • 6 small slices from a loaf of whole wheat bread (I used Nature's Own)
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups almond milk (or your choice of non-/low-fat milk)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (NOT packed)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional garnishes: a few tbsp. of brown sugar and/or chopped nuts, sprinkled over the top after baking
  • Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in a single layer (6 small slices should fit just right if you squish them a little bit)
  • In a bowl, combine pumpkin puree, egg whites, almond milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk until smooth and fully combined. Pour evenly over the bread slices.
  • Refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
  • In the morning, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take the baking dish out of the fridge while the oven is preheating, so it can warm up a bit.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Sprinkle garnishes over the top after taking out of the oven, if you wish.
  • This is also delicious with a drizzle of real maple syrup on top. I bet whipped cream would be good, too :)

Ready for breakfast!

Who gets the last bite?

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Good Living

Good living encompasses so many things for me. It's about finding balance, living in the moment, and enjoying each opportunity that comes my way.

Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program and FAGE Total Greek Yogurt offered the opportunity to Featured Publishers to write about how they "combin[e] good food and fine taste for a positive, healthy life." This was not just an opportunity to win a trip to Greece (hello, dream trip!), but also a chance to reflect on my blessings and be grateful for everything good in my life.

With that, here are just a few things that keep me grounded and feeling good! I'm taking a cue from Foodbuzz and FAGE and making everything begin with the letter "F". :)


Not true! Had to throw that funny picture in for a few laughs :)

That's right, failure. As a child my perfectionist tendencies got the better of me ALL the time. I'm an only child and I thought I had to be the best at everything since, well, who else was there to do it? Growing up in a competitive school environment was challenging too (seriously - there was a kid in my grade whose parents made him take the SATs over again because he didn't get a 1600 [I think he scored 1580 or something ridiculous like that ]). It took a long time for me to realize that hey, I'll never be perfect, and that's okay, and I need to cut myself some slack. It's okay to ask other people for help, and people really do not care that much about what I'm doing despite that societal idea that makes us think they do. Failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and try again next time!

My mom's side of the family.

My sweet hubby. He's the best :)

Hubby's extended family at my sister-in-law's wedding

I feel extremely fortunate to have a wonderful family. They mean everything to me! They are scattered all around the country (and other countries!), but anytime I get to see them, I'm happy :) 


My Christian faith is the foundation of my life. I don't talk about it a lot because I don't like to get preachy, but my faith has kept me grounded through everything. I don't know where I would be without God in my life. I am thankful for opportunities to be stretched, get out of my comfort zone, and explore ways to grow. It's a blessing to me to talk to others about their faith journeys, regardless of what religion they practice. My last year of graduate school (where I studied theology), I helped lead an interfaith group at my university as part of my field education internship. I learned so much and had a wonderful experience visiting other worship services, learning about different religions, and finding common ground with others. I truly appreciate the beauty and depth that the practice of religion brings to a person's life.


I love exercising, not just for the health benefits, but because it makes me feel good. There's nothing better than a rush of endorphins after finishing a hard workout. Over the past year I've incorporated more interval and strength training into my routine, especially using my own body as resistance (planks, yoga, squats, you name it!). I feel strong - my body is a powerful tool and that does wonders for my mental health, too. I am also proud that I've accomplished this without going to the gym. I don't have a gym membership and have done all of this working out in my living room. So, no excuses, all you out there who sit on your butts and don't work out! You CAN do it without a gym. Get some hand weights, a mat, and stock up on your exercise DVDs (I give much credit to Jillian Michaels and Jackie Warner) or Netflix/ExerciseTV videos. Push yourself and see what you're capable of!


Of course, good food :) You already know that. Food is fuel to keep my body healthy, and food is also fun! I enjoy balancing healthy eating with an everyday treat. That keeps my mind and body happy.

A toast at my bachelorette party

I heart my girlfriends. They keep me sane, laugh with me, and deal with me through the thick and thin. Thank you ladies!

Fresh Air

Okay, so I couldn't think of a better word starting with the letter F and relating to the outdoors. Being outside helps me breathe easier and stay centered. I love the smell of fresh air, the colors of nature, and the beauty of creation. Another reason I love living in San Diego - being able to visit the beach any day of the year, and enjoying its beauty.


Every day must involve dessert. That's just me. I like my sweets, and I enjoy them in moderation. For me that means a cookie after lunch and a few Hershey kisses after dinner. If there's cake at home, well, then, it's cake for dinner. That's why I take baked goods to the office - so I don't eat them all!


Life is meant to be enjoyed. That means going against the grain sometimes, taking a risk, and remembering to laugh along the way. Why, you ask? "'Cause I'm keepin' it real!" Any other Clueless fans out there?

"It's da BOMB!" :)

Thanks, Foodbuzz and FAGE Total, for giving me the chance to reflect and remember what good living is all about!

As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fun Fondant

I completed the Wilton Gum Paste and Fondant class last night. It was a lot of fun! I have never been a huge fan of the taste of fondant, even though it looks beautiful. Now that I've experienced how much work goes into rolling, cutting, and shaping fondant, I have incredible respect for the chefs that work with it regularly and make intricately detailed sugar creations. It's very time consuming, but when you get it right, it looks fabulous!

Below are pictures of my fondant-decorated cake. I rolled out white fondant and covered the cake with it, then added a rope of fondant pressed with the shell design as my border. The stars are cut out of colored fondant and attached with gum paste glue. I came up with the design since I wanted something fun and (admittedly) easy. The bright colors make me smile and I think this would be a fun cake for a birthday!

For the cake itself, I baked The Grit's caramel cake from scratch. It's super moist (thank you, shortening!) and quite tasty. The filling and outside frosting is vanilla buttercream, and there is a layer of raspberry jam on the outside to help the fondant stick. Mmm, yummy! My hubby and coworkers approved :)

Does anyone know of an alternative to shortening that works similarly? I've noticed my body's averse reaction to it the last few times I've eaten food made with it. Or am I dreaming for something that doesn't exist? :)

Coming soon: royal icing flowers!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mayo-Free Tuna Salad

I was in a dinner pinch last night on my way home from work. Hubby was working late so this girl was fending for herself. I did a mental inventory of our pantry and decided tuna it would be.

I've loved tuna salad since I was a kid, but I have a hate-hate relationship with mayonnaise. Seriously - the thought of eating tablespoon after tablespoon of pureed egg yolks and hydrogenated soybean oil makes me want to barf.

So, I decided to improvise and use honey mustard instead. It's just sweet enough and its creamy consistency fills in the mayo void for a lot less calories and no fat. Add some relish, salt and pepper, and you're done! Score.

No picture this time, but tuna salad isn't the prettiest thing to photograph. You know what to expect! :)

Mayo-Free Tuna Salad
Makes 2 small portions or 1 large portion


  • 1 regular-sized can chunk tuna in water (you could also substitute canned chicken if you want a different flavor)
  • 3 tbsp. honey mustard
  • 2 tbsp. relish
  • salt and pepper
  • Open can of tuna and drain water out. Dump into a large bowl.
  • Flake tuna with a fork.
  • Add honey mustard and relish - you can use more or less depending on how creamy you want it to be.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Eat right away, or chill and serve later.
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