Site Redesign: Part 1, Hosting

Tech Tips: Website Redesign | Part 1, Choosing a Hosting Provider | PepperDesignBlog.com

Guys! The site has gone through a major redesign and I’ve lived to tell the tale on the opposite side (woot). I thought I’d take a moment and break down the key steps in giving this blog a major once-over for chronicling purposes, and just in case you’re considering something along the same lines yourself (if you’re a blogger or website developer).

The very first step in creating (or redesigning) a site is to choose a reputable host. A hosting company is your gateway to your site’s control panel, email, database, etc – basically access to a server where your entire site (and all of its images, content and so on) is stored and recalled for internet viewing purposes. Big companies might have their own server(s), but us little guys can share a server with 10-200 or so other little guys to split the costs of storing and maintenance. After having built a lot of websites, my favorite host is BlueHost (I have also used HostGator which is great but requires a separate login for billing and the cpanel, and that always drove me a little nutty :)).

Tech Tips: Website Redesign | Bluehost | PepperDesignBlog.com

As a WordPress user (wordpress.org and not wordpress.com), I value the ability to be able to host my own blog theme (more on that to come), my own domain (I own: pepperdesignblog.com and pepper-blog.com, both lead to here) and to customize, customize, customize as I see fit.

WordPress.org makes that happen! And BlueHost is one of my favorite hosting sites to store my websites on because they make installing WP, accessing your site and – most importantly – contacting customer service via chat, a cinch.

Choosing a plan: I know that Bluehost specifically offers several plans for several different sizes of websites. Their Starter plan at $3.95/month (that’s the usual discount that they offer pretty frequently) will be perfect for most sites. I’m actually on the Plus plan ($6.95/month) and they also offer a WordPress specific plan (~$20+/month), but that’s more for those that host multiple WordPress sites and that need A LOT of bandwidth.

How to set up a new site or transfer your existing site: the hosting site usually makes this pretty seamless. Here’s an article from Bluehost that discusses migration (and using a plugin called MigrateWP) in more detail. Bluehost also offers a feature for $99 where they’ll transfer everything (parked domains, email addresses, the entire database) for you.

Signup add-ons: as you go through the process of registering with a new hosting provider, you’ll probably be asked if you’d like a few additional add-ons such as an automated database back up and domain privacy protection. I think that having a regular backup of my site delivered to my inbox is invaluable (though there are other solutions out there other than through your hosting provider, like BackupBuddy) so I say ‘yes’ to this one. Domain Privacy Protection is at your discretion – it basically means that if someone uses the WhoIs.com directory, they’ll see your name next to the registered owner. I don’t mind that so much. I don’t use SiteLock Domain Security or Search Engine Jumpstart (or any of the add-on SEO services).

Some issues you may run into with hosting: if you have an especially large site and you are registered for a relatively low hosting plan (say, 30GB a month), you might be taking up too much room on your server (remember, you’re sharing it with a bunch of other websites) and then your host will ‘throttle’ your website. CPU throttling happens automatically, usually, and is a preemptive measure on the part of a hosting site to keep your account from dominating too much time on a shared server. What happens during throttling? The site becomes slower, the images take a while longer to load, it’s slightly harder for viewers to access your blog. Culprits can include: poorly coded PHP scripts, certain extra large themes and plugins (if your a WP user, you probably know what that means), queries that are not optimized. Yep, that’s all the fun stuff you get to deal with when you host your own site. BUT it’s so worth it and usually you won’t run into issues such as this (and then there’s the help desk or sources like Codeable), especially if you use an awesome WP theme as the frame for your blog (more on that up next!). One of the big reasons I started a site redesign was to optimize the back end of my site which was getting huge and causing throttling.

I hope this was helpful! Up next is choosing a new theme… a lot of thought and research went into that one while I was thinking about the functionality I was looking for in the new Pepper site, so I look forward to spilling the beans on my tips for sorting through the many, many different options.

PS if you’re on a tech tip kick, you can find a few more right over here.

PPS this is not a sponsored post (just a helpful one), but I am an affiliate member of the Bluehost program so by sharing the links above I do earn a small commission if you register with their services.

Burnt Sugar Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

What do you traditionally make for dessert on Thanksgiving? We always over bake with usually an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and something like a pecan pie. Here’s a recipe alternative though that I wanted to share for a less traditional Thanksgiving dessert that is perfect for this time of the year (and so, so, so good).

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’ve partnered up with Got Milk again to bring you a recipe that features milk and cream in two new ways. Last week I shared on my milk art fall leaf kid’s craft (we’re using those guys as place cards this year for the table!) but today milk plays the part of a key ingredient in one amazing dessert.

I LOVE bread pudding. There’s something about the caramelized, melt-in-your-mouth flavor plus that delicious, creamy custard that makes it one of my very favorite-ist desserts. But, I might ask, what’s better than bread pudding? Croissant bread pudding with a slightly burnt sugar crust. And better than croissant bread pudding? Burnt sugar croissant bread pudding covered in a gooey, homemade caramel sauce & toasted pecans. Oh man, home run.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Today’s recipe is a pumpkin + carmel sauce croissant bread pudding that probably packs a day’s worth of calories in one bite. But I invite you to not consider that. This recipe is so over-the-moon-good with it’s toasted, flakey croissant base, caramelized crust and pumpkin custard filling that it just about makes you keel over. Did I mention that I also spoon hot caramel on top, too, just before serving? Oh yeah.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

The best part is is that bread pudding is not terribly fancy to make. In fact, it’s actually pretty easy! Past-shelf life bread + butter + eggs + milk, and the possibilities are endless.

Burnt Sugar Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
6-7 cups torn up croissants (about 6 small croissants)
3 T butter
1/4 c sugar
16 oz can of pumpkin
3 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c pecans chopped

Caramel sauce:
1/2 stick (4 T) of butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cream or half & half
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/4 t salt

The first step in this recipe is optional but I highly recommend it. In fact, it makes store bought croissants so delicious that it’s totally one you can steal for serving croissants at brunch, as a sandwich and so on (just skip the ‘tearing up’ part).

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Croissants fresh from the bakery should be a little crispy on the outside and very soft and flakey on the inside. Often store-bought croissants are soft all over and are missing even that tinged brown color on the crust though. They are usually definitely not flaky or crispy. Before adding the croissants to the bottom of my bread pudding dish, I love to caramelize and crisp them up in the oven (and it’s a much cheaper alternative to buying a half dozen top-shelf bakery croissants for this recipe).

To do this, preheat oven to 450 degrees and spread the bite-sized and torn up pieces of croissant across a baking pan lined with parchment paper (to help prevent a big mess) Lightly sprinkle melted butter on top. Gently coat the croissant pieces in sugar by sprinkling raw sugar over the torn up pieces and then hand tossing them. If the oven is hot, add baking sheet and leave the door ajar to watch the croissants carefully. Pull them out when they are toasted brown. Mmmm the sugar on top is now a crystalized, burnt sugar covering over the little bite-sized pieces. The croissants should be crispy, too. When cool, pile croissant bites into the bread pudding oven-safe dish until the pieces stack 2-3 high (you should have 1-2 cups left over). Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Next up is preparing the caramel sauce. This recipe is fantastic because no candy thermometer is required. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat and add brown sugar, stir with a wooden spoon for about two minutes. Pour in cream, stir for another two minutes. Remove pan from heat and add vanilla and salt, stirring in the final ingredients as the pan begins to cool. Let sit (to thicken up) for 5-10 minutes.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Back to our pudding. Beat three eggs in a bowl, add pumpkin and milk and continue to stir.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Layering time. Lightly pour the pumpkin mixture over the layers of croissant, follow by drizzling the caramel sauce as well until all of the croissant layers are coated. Sprinkle half of the chopped pecans on top. Add the last of the leftover croissant bites to the top and again lightly coat in pumpkin and caramel (this last coat should be a very light coat so that some of the crystalized and crispy croissant pieces are left as-is). Sprinkle the rest of the chopped pecans.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

By now the oven should have reduced its heat to 350 (from 450 for toasting the croissants). Add the bread pudding dish and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. As I’m plating each scoop of the warm finished bread pudding, I love to drizzle with even more caramel for a finished look. Yum.

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Caramelized Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding | PepperDesignBlog.com

Enjoy!

More good eats over here. Some favorites include a gooey, flourless chocolate cake and these maple oat bars.

I partnered with Got Milk on this post today, the recipe (and opinions shared) are all my own. Milk fuels our bodies and our minds, and is an important component to our family’s daily diet (we love the stuff). Thank you for allowing me to share more on the companies that support this site :).

 

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Wardrobe Style Board: Oversized Cardigans & Sweater Jackets

Wardrobe Style Board: Oversized Cardigans & Sweater Jackets | Grey Wool, Drape Cardigan, Belted Sweater, Plaid, Black & White, Cocoon Cardigans | PepperDesignBlog.com

plaid coatigan | belted merino wool cardigan | long grey sweater | cocoon sweater
dark grey drape cardigan | b&w cocoon cardigan | mottled grey loose sweatermason wool plaid

There’s nothing quite like a great layering piece on a crisp day. Perfect for throwing over a tee + leggings + boots or even under a larger winter coat as it starts to get really cold. I love the cut of cocoon sweaters and think that they’re especially amazing right now :).

More fall! and more wardrobe fall finds: red plaid + cognac leather and hunter green + soft suede.

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