Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pumpkin S'mores Bars & A Recap of Blog Brûlée

My attendance at Blog Brûlée was partially funded by the Sponsors of the event. I was not compensated to write this post, and all opinions are my own.

You can’t beat the fresh air in Vermont. I discovered this during my 45-minute car ride from the airport to the hotel in which I kept the car windows down the entire time. And the people in Vermont are the sweetest. I had this realization when I made immediate friends with the girls at the check-in counter at Smuggler’s Notch, the beyond gorgeous resort I stayed at last weekend.
on a walk at Smuggler's Notch

taking the road less traveled

And Vermont is now so special to me because it is home to the first ever Blog Brûlée, a healthy blogger conference that gave this blog a new spark of creativity and a stronger sense of community.

I reconnected with old friends and built new friendships with some truly amazing bloggers – friendships that I think will be ongoing both online and off. Take a peek at their blogs!

Jessica of Nutritioulicious
Kylie of Immaeatthat
Danielle of Food Confidence
Kristina of Love & Zest
Ashley of The Fresh Beet
Rachel of An Avocado a Day

The conference was educational. I learned a lot from some of the writers, recipe developers, and photographers I admire most, including:

EA Stewart, The Spicy RD
Brierly Wright, editor of Eating Well Magazine
Anne Mauney of FANNEtastic Food
Carolyn Ketchum of All Day I Dream About Food
Janice Bissex and Liz Weiss of Meal Makeover Moms

And the amazing Blog Brûlée founders:

Gretchen from Kumquat, a gluten-free blog with photos so beautiful, I could look at them for hours.
Deanna from Teaspoon of Spice a food-loving blog that makes me inspired to whip up something new every time I read it.
Robin from Robin’s Bite, a blog I fell in love with a few years ago for making healthy eating fun and approachable.
Reagan of Healthy Aperture, with food photos that are beyond drool-worthy.

I laughed. My roommate, Jen (who I adore) and I hit it off right away and found ourselves bonding over Davidson Safe Eggs in the morning and giggling uncontrollably at Jimmy Fallon videos at night.
And this Lip Sync Battle with Paul Rudd was mine.

The conference was delicious. We shared stories while enjoying jicama salad and shrimp skewers for lunch, sesame-crusted salmon for dinner, and chocolate, Cabot Creamery cheese, and Boyden Valley Wine in-between.

But, most of all, I left feeling happy and connected. I left with a better understanding of the things I’m good at, and the things I’m not so good at – not from a judging perspective, but from the perspective of a friend that wants me to do my best.

It also served as a good reminder that life is really what you make it. And if you have good food and good people around you, life is pretty sweet.

I’m already missing the Blog Brûlée crew but am so thankful to have them as our new friends and part of our blogging community.

A HUGE thank you again to the incredible sponsors who made the Blog Brûlée weekend possible:

And now for a recipe inspired by the pure joy I felt while roasting marshmallows with new and old friends last weekend.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin S'mores Bars from NourishRDs

(We may be in a serious heat way in Southern California, but it’s not stopping me from welcoming autumn with full-force. I got my first taste of autumn in Vermont and I’m just rolling with it.)

Whole Wheat Pumpkin S’Mores Bars

Whole Wheat Pumpkin S'mores Bars from NourishRDs

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 cups whole wheat flour
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups marshmallows

Whole Wheat Pumpkin S'mores Bars from NourishRDs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla. Stir until well-mixed.
  3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, flour and salt. Stir until well-mixed.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Stir until well-mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into a pre-greased 9 x 9 baking pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Take out of the oven and pour the chocolate chips and marshmallows onto the warm bars. Place in the oven for 2 more minutes. For 1 more minute, turn the oven to broil so the marshmallows turn golden brown (keep on an eye on them so the marshmallows don’t burn!).

Whole Wheat Pumpkin S'mores Bars from NourishRDs
Enjoy, preferably with those you love.


  1. Ok, those Pumpkin S'mores Bars look and sound way too good! Was amazing meeting you and getting to know you better last weekend! Hope to see you again soon!

    1. Aw, thanks so much Jessica! It was so, so wonderful to finally meet you! And I'm looking forward to staying in touch :)

  2. Get out of here with these bars!!! These look amazing. And I'm digging your photography - noticing a lot of Gretchen's recos here :). SO great catching up, McKenzie!

    1. Aw, Kara! Thank you!! The conference had such an impact on me -- really trying to use some of Gretchen's tips. Seeing you made me so happy! Let's keep in touch :) xo

  3. Love this post McKenzie! And it was SO wonderful meeting you at Blog Brulee, and chatting on our way back to the airport. I hope we both get to enjoy some cooler weather soon, but in the meantime, I'd love to make a gluten-free version of these yummy Pumpkin S'mores Bars, and, like you suggest, share them with my family & friends :-)

    1. Aw, thank you EA! It was SO wonderful to meet you as well! Thank you for letting me tag along with you to the airport! I've been reading your blog and loving your recipes for years, so it was so great to meet the incredible woman behind the blog :) Hope to stay in touch!

  4. OK, first off - did you know we were watching Melissa McCarthy videos at night in our condo and also totally watched the Adam Levine/Jimmy Fallon one too?? I knew I liked you guys :) That Paul Rudd lip sync to Queen is beyond hilarious.
    Love love these s'mores - which will always remind me of Blog Brulee now. Can't wait to see your new video series someday "In My Little Kitchen!"

    1. Great minds think alike!! Deanna, it was so wonderful to meet you! Even though we just met face-to-face, I've always sensed your support and encouragement through email. Thank you for an amazing weekend :)

  5. I love that you guys were watching videos for entertainment, too! I don't think we ever even turned on our TV. We were too busy -- as Deanna said -- watching Melissa McCarthy videos :) So glad you enjoyed your time in Vermont. Maybe next year, we can all join YOU on the West Coast :) ~Regan