Sights, Tastes & Magic in Seattle (And How I Got Engaged to My Best Friend)

My trip to Seattle was perfect in every way. Side by side with Brayden, we dove into the world of the Emerald City.

We walked along Elliot Bay and the waterfront of the Puget Sound, tried every morsel that caught our interest at Pike Place and sipped coffee and hot chocolate with a gorgeous window view of the water. We learned about the history of Seattle: how someone spilled a can of highly flammable glue, causing the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 that destroyed an entire city and how the citizens of this lumber-industry town came together to rebuild it. We learned about the Native American tribes that inhabited this land before us and how the city of Seattle came to be named after the Duwamish chief, Seathl.

We tried foods like freshly caught king salmon, truffles (the most expensive food in the world), samosas, shots of pickle juice, Chinese medicinal tea, crumpets, clam chowder and salmon burgers. And of course, we couldn’t pass up a hot bowl of Beecher’s mac n’ cheese made with their famous flagship cheese.

At midnight, we stopped for a drink in Capitol Hill, a district teeming with an exuberant nightlife culture.

A ferry took us from the harbor of Seattle to Bainbridge Island, where we rode bikes up and down the winding slopes of the densely forested island, taking in the crispness of the open air and the vibrant autumn colors of sienna, gold, mahogany and deep red on the trees.

At the Seattle Center, we went on an otherworldly trip through the spellbinding glass art at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit.

By the end of the trip we were exhausted, but we’d had the absolute time of our lives. Unaware of what was to happen next, Brayden led me to the pier where all of the boats sat nestled in the harbor, small flickering lights gently gleaming from within them. The lights of the city and the Seattle Great Wheel shone in the backdrop like twinkling stars. It was just the two of us, and in that moment, everything else seemed to stop.

It was here that Brayden pulled out a little box, got down on one knee and asked me to be with him forever. I said yes (would it have gone any other way?). I would say yes to him a million times. He is the love of my life. It still feels as though I’m in a dream sometimes. That’s the only way I can describe the feeling of the moment and the feeling I still have now. A beautiful, magical, unbelievable dream. I will never get over how amazing he is.

So, it’s quite safe to say that our trip was an amazing adventure. I learned so many new things, tried so many new foods, saw so many new sights and went from calling by boyfriend my boyfriend, to calling him my fiancĂ©. 

Boats docked in Elliot Bay
Boats docked in Elliot Bay
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Rachel the Pig
Rachel the Pig
Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market
Freshly caught fish for sale
Freshly caught fish for sale
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Pike Place
Pike Place
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My favorite dork
My favorite dork
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Pioneer Square Totem Pole
Pioneer Square Totem Pole
Pioneer Square
Pioneer Square
Tribute to Chief Seathl
Tribute to Chief Seathl
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Locally grown vegetables and fruits at the market
Locally grown vegetables and fruits at the market
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Some awesome, jazzy musicians
Some awesome, jazzy musicians
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The historic gum wall in Post Alley under Pike Place
The Gum Wall in Post Alley under Pike Place
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A view of Seattle from the water
A view of the city from the water
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Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island
Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit
Chihuly Garden and Glass

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Bike Riding, Farmers Markets, Pumpkin Crafts & Beautiful Weather

I’m sitting in one of my go-to spots, ChopShop Co., enjoying an açaĂ­ bowl. The pleasant notes of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” dance around the shop as patrons walk in and out, letting a flood of sunlight pour in with each cling of the opening door. The floors at ChopShop are a rustic pale wood, with iron shelves along the perimeters, the walls made of brick with an accent wall of deep grey.

This has been one of my favorite weekends in a while. It was so wonderful in every way. Because the weather here in Arizona is finally starting to cool down, Brayden and I got to go on a date we’d been wanting to go on for a while now.

On Saturday morning, we stepped out of our home, where the crisp morning dew and the rain from the night before still lingered on blades of grass, large droplets on our cars, and puddles in the street. The night before, we had rode around on our bikes at dusk looking for frogs near the water. I picked up every single one we found, with the exception of a particularly big froggy dude. (Psst, I really love frogs! I had way too much fun searching for them).

Back to Saturday though, our plan was to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and cloudy skies we had so been hoping for. We live right against a park called the “Greenbelt” that spans from north Tempe to north Scottsdale in a long, thin stretch. The bike paths in the park take you anywhere you want to go, provided you’re going a significant way north/south. We also live just a few miles from Old Town Scottsdale, the lively, cultural district of South Scottsdale. We ended up riding our bikes along the pathways of the beautiful, lush green park to catch the Old Town Farmers Market.

At the Farmers Market, we sampled tons of different locally grown/made foods. Side note: I’m really proud of Brayden for stepping out of his comfort zone and trying some things I know he normally wouldn’t want to try. We picked up some organic Jonagold apples to make an apple pie with some time soon. (We have a rad, homemade apple pie recipe I’ll definitely be sharing!)

Brayden holding an apple at the market
Brayden holding an apple at the market.

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After we had finished walking around the market, we sat down for breakfast at a place called the Daily Dose, where I got a ridiculously delicious plate of Nutella french toast (um, yes PLEASE).

Spending this time with my best friend and favorite guy in the whole world, exploring outside in this gorgeous weather–it really struck me with a deep sense of gratitude for what I have. Even though it can be easy to continuously want more and more things, I’m so thankful for the things that are already in my life.

To top it all off, we just had to complete our autumn day with a pumpkin-related craft. We picked up a few pumpkins from the grocery store and spent the rest of the daytime painting them. Brayden painted a “Goomba” face from Super Mario. It’s so adorable.

Brayden's Goomba pumpkin and my mini
Brayden’s Goomba pumpkin and my mini “Day of the Dead” and gold pumpkins.

And here’s where I end up at this current moment, sitting in ChopShop on a Sunday morning, awaiting Thursday when Brayden and I fly to Seattle for our four-year anniversary. I. Can’t. Wait. ❀

xo

A Change of Seasons and Cinnamon Sugar Scones (I’m Back!!)

Wow, it’s been a while. Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me on this venture of mine. This summer I went through a lot of changes that took up nearly all of my energy and my creative flow. Because I was so consumed with my own thoughts and what was going on, I couldn’t produce anything that felt organic–that I felt proud of.

These changes, however, have brought on what I think will be a new stage in my life, and I’m really excited for that. One of those changes was finally moving in to a house instead of an apartment, and we’re completely in love with it. After all of the turmoil, the exhaustion and the tears, I’m really happy with where everything in my life has ended up. I’m ready to finally start moving forward with the things I love again, and hopefully discover new things as well.

Part of my way-too-long hiatus from blogging had to do with feeling like my work, again, wouldn’t be organic. I’ve talked about it before, that I never want to try to create something when it feels forced. I want everything I put out there to be genuine and real. You can feel that it’s coming from my heart, and I can put something out there that I am proud of. I think I’m at that point again, and I can’t wait for all of the new projects I want to work on. I have something that I think is really cool in the works, but it’s just in the wee baby stages, so we won’t talk about that just yet 😉

However, I do want to make some changes to this blog as well. Baking is my absolute favorite thing in the world, so most of my content will probably still center around baking. But I also want this blog to serve as an outlet for all of my creative projects and adventures. Adventures in travel, food, fitness, personal goals, and the like. Anything at all, really. I hope to share more personal stories and experiences with exploring my wanderlust and my dreams of seeing new places. Hopefully, I can transform this blog into a little story book of my world. I hope you will choose to come on this new journey with me.

And of course, the first post back after several months just wouldn’t be complete without a sweet, warm little baked good to bring in the autumn season. (Did I mention fall is my favorite favorite favorite time of year!? <3)

I made these cinnamon sugar scones for Brayden and I for breakfast with my go-to tea, apple cinnamon oolong. With a richly buttery flavor and just slightly sweetened with honey, maple, and a sprinkle of sugar, these scones were such a delightful treat to have on a quiet morning. Inhaling the deep scents of cinnamon and butter fill my heart with happiness. You know me, I adore a warm, doughy breakfast treat.

Cinnamon Sugar Scones

Cinnamon Sugar Scones

They’re also just so versatile. You could alter the recipe to make any flavor you’d like ❀

Cinnamon Sugar Scones

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, just slightly softened

1 egg, separated

2 1/2 tbs honey

1/2 tbs pure maple syrup (or 3 tbs honey if you don’t have syrup)

1/3 cup buttermilk (or 1/3 cup whole milk + 1/2 tsp white vinegar)

For the cinnamon sugar topping, use whatever ratio of cinnamon and sugar that is desirable to you. Same with the icing–simply powdered sugar, a dash of milk and just a drop of vanilla.

Grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400Âș F. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter using a large spatula or wooden spoon, then use your hands to achieve a crumbly texture.

In a separate bowl, add the buttermilk, honey and maple syrup. Separate the egg and set the whites aside for now. Add the yolk to the buttermilk mixture and stir until combined.

Then, add the buttermilk mixture to the other bowl and mix just until everything is uniform.

On a floured surface, roll the dough until it is about 8 inches in diameter and half an inch thick. Cut the dough into eight pieces like they’re pizza slices.

Transfer them to the greased pan and spread a light coat of egg white over each of them. Then, sprinkle a bit of cinnamon sugar over the top. Pop them in the oven for 10-11 minutes.

When they’re looking golden brown and smelling like buttery heaven, set them out to cool for about 5 minutes. Then, drizzle a light coat of glaze over the top of each. Pair them with a nice big mug of tea and grab someone you like to enjoy them with!

❀

Banana Nutella CrĂȘpes (and a Homemade Strawberry Jam of Sorts)

As most of your favorite foods do, these crepes have a story behind them. It’s pretty easy to see why I love this particular dish—I mean, everyone knows that strawberries, bananas and Nutella are the three perfect, godly flavor combinations. And when you pair that creamy, hazelnut cocoa with warm, fresh-off-the-pan crepes and a bit of cream cheese icing drizzled over the top, it’s practically heaven.

Banana Nutella Crepes

It’s a simple yet wonderfully delectable breakfast (or dinner), but there’s more to it for me than just it’s delicious minimalism. I kind of hold these crepes dear to my heart because they evoke the memories of a tradition my mom and I started together.

Back when I was a teenager still living under the roof of mom and pop, every Wednesday night was “Crepe Night.” My dad taught business courses at a local college on Wednesday evenings, and he’s not really the breakfast-for-dinner type. My mom and I saw that as a glorious opportunity to make whatever we wanted, and our mutual love for crepes seemed to stick. It became this very special time for both of us. We knew that no matter what was going on that week or how little we may have gotten to really sit and talk, every Wednesday we would prepare and cook our breakfast-dinner together, sit down just the two of us, and hang out.

Those were wonderful memories and we still try to bring the tradition back to life sometimes when we see each other for dinner (side note: If you’re within driving distance of your parents/kids or anyone you love and haven’t seen in a while, go share a meal with them!).

Banana Nutella Crepes

So recently I went to the parental units’ home and we cooked up some crepes (Dad wanted in on it this time so it became a wonderful little family dinner affair). We also thought it’d be fun to make some homemade jam to go with it as well, but since it was last minute and we did not quite have all the tools to make true jam, we simplified it and made more of a strawberry sauce with agave syrup and chia seeds for good measure. I am planning to try my hand at canning fruits and making jam, so be expecting an entire post about that sometime in the future.

Banana Nutella Crepes & Strawberry Jam

Banana Nutella Crepes & Strawberry Jam

I think this is something we’ll do forever, no matter how much time in between. It’s kind of our thing, and I really cherish that with her. My mom is a beautiful person to be around.

Banana Nutella CrĂȘpes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

4 large eggs

1 tbs sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine the milk, eggs and sugar and beat well. Then, simply add the flour and beat with a whisk until all clumps are gone.

After that, heat a large, shallow frying pan over medium heat with coconut oil or a nonstick spray. Before you add the batter, take the pan off of the heat. Crepes are meant to be thin, so add only about a 1/2 cup of batter to the pan and make sure the mixture distributes across the entire surface so you get an even crepe. If you need to add a bit more, go for it. Taking it off the heat for a moment allows the batter to spread out across the pan rather than start cooking right away in one spot. We don’t want clumpy crepes!

If you have a tool that allows you to distribute the batter evenly over the pan, then by all means use that. Then, just watch for one side to barely begin to get a golden hue to it. Crepes should be a little on the softer, more malleable side, so don’t let them get too crisp.

Once it looks thoroughly cooked, set it onto a plate and adorn it with all of the scrumptious fillings you can imagine. We, of course, love thinly sliced bananas, a generous amount of Nutella and a bit of whipped cream. We also put a bit of our “strawberry jam” in them along with fresh berries and it. was. wonderful.

Other Topping Suggestions: Toasted pecans or walnuts (crushed), cream cheese icing, caramel sauce, dark chocolate, blueberry coulis… Ahh the list could go on and on. And we’re just talking sweet crepe ideas–imagine how the world will open up when we explore savory options. â€Â đŸ˜

Oatmeal Cream Pies (and the Allure of Summer & Childhood)

June felt like such a crazy month, and July is going to be even busier. I can’t believe how quickly the months are flying by. The summer has this sort of allure where anything and everything somehow feels more exciting. More possible. Like life was previous at a standstill and summer was that awakening change. Summer brings about adventure–it’s as if the world is giving you permission to explore it with more curiosity and vigor than ever before (you always had that permission, but for some reason, during the summer, it’s bigger. It’s louder).

Well anyways, I think because of the mysterious aura of summer, it’s easier to lose track of time as well. I had kind of worried in the past that when I was no longer a student, summer would not feel the same. There would be no more “summer vacation.” There would be no more amazing adventures and days spent laughing and playing in the sun. But I have to say, summer feels just as wonderful as it always has.

This past weekend in particular, it really hit me though the importance of making time for the things you love and the things that truly reenergize you. While being out and about seeing people and doing things constantly is exciting and fulfilling, it’s also draining for an introvert like me. Baking, of course, is my respite.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

This weekend, as I sat in my bed, unrelentingly exhausted, all I could think that I wanted to do was light a few candles, maybe put on a little piano music and bake something delicious. That something delicious that captured my heart ended up being oatmeal cream pies. Aren’t they just pure perfection? Oatmeal cream pies manage to elicit both the nostalgia of childhood and the joy of the present moment as you bite into these soft, chewy cookies, filled with that fluffy, vanilla buttercream center.

As I enjoy one right now, I’m reminded of school field trips and sports team parties. I’m reaching back into my childhood and setting a giant plate right in front of 23-year-old me.

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

Granted, homemade oatmeal cream pies are wayyy better than the “Little Debbie” packaged ones could ever dream of being. Get out of the way processed nonsense–homemade is where it’s at. This recipe comes from mybakingaddiction.com.💛

Oatmeal Cream Pies 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Vanilla Buttercream

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (don’t melt)

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tbs milk (optional, depending on how thick you’d like your frosting to be)

Preheat the oven to 350Âș F and grease a cookie sheet.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugars and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat just until combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Little by little, fold the dry mixture into the butter mixture until everything is uniform. Add the oats in one cup at a time and stir until combined.

I found that using about a tbs of dough for each cookie was a good size. Roll them into balls and pat down just slightly. Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes or until they start to turn a nice golden brown along the sides.

While the cookies are baking, we can get started on the buttercream frosting. Beat together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until you get a fluffy, whipped texture without any clumps. If you’d like the cream to be a little thinner, add 1/2 tbs of milk at a time.

Once the cookies have finished baking, transfer them to a cooling rack and wait about 15 minutes. Then, simply sandwich a big dollop of frosting between two cookies and enjoy! Try not to eat a million at once (I totally did). A classic suggestion, but these go splendidly with a big glass of milk. 💛

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

Liebster Award

One of my very favorite things about the blogging community is the friendship and support I’ve come to find from so many wonderful bloggers. I was nominated for the Liebster Award by Smiling Notes and mypinchofyum.

liebsteraward

Smiling Notes blog is a delightful ray of sunshine, full of fun adventures and delicious recipes. And Priti at mypinchofyum definitely opens up my world to new foods I wouldn’t normally be exposed to. Thanks to both of you for thinking of me.

I really enjoy writing these kinds of posts because they’re like a little glimpse into who I am.

Here are the rules for the Liebster Award:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their site.

2. Include the Liebster award sticker in your post.

3. Nominate ten other bloggers who you think are worthy of this award.

4. Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you and make ten questions of your own for your nominees.

Questions from Smiling Notes

1. What inspired you to start your own blog?

This was something I’d been contemplating for a long time. I studied creative writing in college, so having a blog always seemed like a natural thing I should just do. But every time I tried it felt forced, and when creativity isn’t organic, it doesn’t come out right. Honestly, the spark that finally made it happen came about one day when a coworker of mine said something about following your true passions. While I knew turning around and simply opening up a bakery wasn’t exactly going to happen, I knew I could immediately do this (a virtual cafĂ©) and start putting myself and the things I love out there. I don’t even remember exactly what she’d said, but it struck me hard, and as soon as I got home I created the site. It felt organic. It felt natural.

2. Who is your No.1 Support system in your life?

Different people support me in different ways. My parents have provided unrelenting support for me throughout my entire life. Their love has never once wavered. They are incredible and I love them dearly.

I have to say that the one person in my life who I can open up every single part of myself to–every thought big or small, every quirk, every delight and every mistake is my boyfriend, Brayden. He supports me no matter what. I’m lucky. I found my soul mate.

3. Do you speak any other languages apart from English?

Brayden and I are planning to start taking German classes soon. And I think Japanese is the most beautiful language.

4. One thing you cannot live without?

Right now, boba tea. Obsessed.

5. What is your favorite place/ destination that you have visited?

This one is tough. I’m torn between Ireland and Seattle, WA. Visiting Ireland was like a fairy tale; sometimes I can’t believe it even happened. Seattle is where I want to live my life every day.

6. Do you have any pets?

We’ve got plans for some fur babies!

7. Which is the best post that you have written so far? (please link it)

Rather than best post, I’d say the one I’m most proud of is my Homemade Brioche French Toast. It has certainly been the most fun to make and it really pushed me with my baking.

8. Which quality in people do you appreciate the most?

The first thing that comes to mind is “empathy.” I truly enjoy being around people who have the wherewithal to think outside of their own boxes, and in turn make the people around them feel at ease. It’s honestly more of an aura about a person. Almost as soon as I’ve met you, I know if we’ve made a connection or we haven’t.

9. What is your comfort meal on a lazy/ sick day?

Whatever’s currently baking in the kitchen!

10. What is your motto in life?

There is something good in every day. Enjoy the present moment.

Questions from mypinchofyum

1. What do you value most in your life?

My family of course, but also my freedom. I couldn’t imagine having that taken away. I also value food. A lot. Meal times are, like, the highlights of my day.

2. What inspired you to start your blog?

See question #1 from the previous set 😉

3. Do you speak any other language apart from English?

This feels like deja vu. See #3 from the previous set.

4. What do you like the most – vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, lamb or seafood?

Vegetables for sure. There are so many to choose from and they are sooo good!

5. Which is your favorite spice?

Cinnamon

6. Best moment in your life?

Summer of 2012. Brayden and I were still in college and not yet living together, but I stayed at his apartment with him while I worked a summer job on our university campus. It would take a long time to explain why, but it was simply the best time of my life. We hiked mountains, played in the pouring rain and baked all the time. Now I get to live with him every day, and that’s pretty much the best time of my life, too.

7. Is there any food ingredient or dish that you will never eat?

Sorry to all you sushi fans out there (I know your love for it is fierce!), but I just can’t do it. I have tried it before, but the mere smell of sushi and rice wine makes me queasy 😩

8. Which is your favorite cuisine in the world and why?

Am I allowed to say pastries, breads and cheeses? I love all kinds of foods, but baked goods, particularly on the slightly sweeter side, make my heart sing.

9. What is your signature dish?

I feel so serious answering this question for some reason. I don’t know that I have a “signature dish”, but I think my muffin game is pretty spot on.

10. Where would you live if you could live anywhere you wanted on the Earth?

This is another really difficult one because there are so many amazing places. I feel this deep-seeded connection with docks, harbors, boats and large bodies of water, so I know I would want to live in a port city. As I mentioned above, Seattle is one of my favorite places in the world.

liebster-award

And now my questions:

1. What is your favorite taste: sour, sweet, salty, bitter or umami?

2. Describe a weird quirk of yours.

3. If you could be a part of the first society to colonize on Mars, would you do it?

4. Who is your favorite author?

5. What is your favorite season (time of year)?

6. Who would you rather be, Gandalf or Dumbledore?

7. What is your favorite meal of the day? (c’mon, you know it’s breakfast)

8. If you could live either in the mountains, near the ocean, in the countryside or in the city, which would you choose?

9. How do you get your emotions out?

10. What is your favorite smell?

❀

My super awesome nominees:

love the little bakery

Stylebychia

Crumbs and Tea

The Sugar Tin

Cozy Eats

Lifestyle Pastry

Milk, Chai & Honey

The Cinnamon Scrolls

ginandmorecake

Tragic Girls

The Messiest, Most Delicious S’mores Hot Chocolate

We’re bringing a night in front of the campfire indoors for this one. The simplicity of roasting s’mores over a fire is one of my favorite things about summer time. I also love hot chocolate (who doesn’t?), so I came up with something that I think captures the essence of that classic treat but in a breakfast-y drink form.

S'mores Hot Chocolate

It turned out pretty gooey and messy, and so I ended up with “The Messiest, Most Delicious S’mores Hot Chocolate.” Prepare your sweet tooth for this heaping cup of marshmallowy chocolate. Of course, simply putting marshmallows over hot chocolate and letting them melt isn’t enough to elicit that campfire feeling, so I used a marshmallow “roasting” method in the kitchen that I think worked out well.

This decadent drink has all the fix-ins of a traditional s’more. The graham cracker crumbs, roasted marshies and chocolate mix together for a sweet, rich drink that’ll feel reminiscent of those good times roughing it out in the woods (except you’ll be at home under a blanket).

S'mores Hot Chocolate

This recipe makes two cups of hot chocolate. The amount of marshmallows used are meant to be split between two cups, or you know, you can make one giant mug for yourself. 😉

The Messiest, Most Delicious S’mores Hot Chocolate

2 cups whole milk

60 g Symphony Bar milk chocolate (or 1/2 a standard-sized candy bar)

1 heaping tsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1 tsp Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread

About 10 large marshmallows (more or less depending on your preference)

About 4 graham cracker squares

Chocolate Syrup

Caramel Sauce

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs using a rolling pin and bunch them up in a nice, large pile. Prepare your mugs by pouring a bit of chocolate syrup on a plate and dipping the rim of each mug into the chocolate. Then, dip the rim of the mugs again into the crushed graham crackers.

In a medium-sized pot, pour the milk over medium-low heat and add the Symphony Bar, cocoa powder and Nutella. Whisk until everything has melted. Be sure the milk does not get too hot.

Let the hot chocolate sit at low heat while you prepare the “roasted marshmallows.” Set your oven to broil-high, and place the marshmallows on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put them in the oven and watch very closely. The marshmallows will start to roast quickly. Take them out when they’ve reached your preferred level of toastiness. I took mine out after about 1 1/2 to 2 min.

Carefully pour the hot chocolate into each mug, followed with the roasted marshmallows. Sprinkle some of the extra graham cracker crumbs over the top and generously drizzle with caramel and chocolate sauce. Happy sipping!

S'mores Hot Chocolate