Sunday, March 29, 2015

My Cakespy artwork and a giveaway

I know that this isn't a recipe or a post about skating, but I just had to share. Plus I have a giveaway! You'll stick around for that, right?

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Jessie of Cakespy, but she has a wonderful blog and is an accomplished cookbook author. Jessie is also a talented baker and illustrator and creates some adorable drawings of desserts. In fact, I loved her creations so much that I commissioned her to design something for me. I wanted something that incorporated figure skating and desserts, and this is what she came up with:


Is that not the most adorable thing EVER? A slice of pie, a cupcake, a cookie, an ice cream cone and a chocolate truffle are all ice skating on a pond. Surrounded by a gumdrop wall. Talk about cuteness overload!

I'm still trying to decide where to put my wonderful artwork in the house to show it off. While I am doing that, Jessie has graciously given me a 10-pack of cards to an Eva Bakes reader! All you need to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Please be patient, as it can be slow to load sometimes. Good luck, and I hope you have a sweet day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I purchased the illustration from Cakespy and did not receive a discount. Cakespy did provide the giveaway at no additional cost to me.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Skating Fridays

Recap from Sectionals, Part 2 of 3: Highs and Lows from the Championship Event

I think I mentioned before that I skated in the Gold Ladies Championship Event at Sectionals. My goal was to place in the top 4 so I could qualify for the championship event at Adult Nationals.

Long story short: that did not happen. Not even close. In fact, I came in 2nd to last. I felt bad for the skater who came in last because it was her birthday.

Because there were 16 of us, they broke us up into 3 groups: groups of 5, 5 and 6.  I skated in the first group and was the 2nd skater to take the ice.

I felt really winded after my quick warmup. Even though there was 1 skater ahead of me, I still felt like I didn't have enough air. I was slightly nervous -- not for the performance, but because of my lack of air.

It was time to take the ice.

I put on a huge smile and tried to maintain my happy face throughout my program. The first spin went marvelously, and my first jump was perfect. My axel attempt was horrible. I two footed it, and then my following spin was not very good. The second axel attempt went as badly as the first, and then the impossible happened: I fell out of my strongest (and easiest) spin. I can do this spin in my sleep with my hands tied behind my back and in handcuffs. Somehow, I hit a rut on the ice and stopped. It was the horror of horrors, and I honestly don't know what happened.

Here is a screenshot of my protocols. I will break it down into highs and lows so you can understand what happened and how I was scored.



High: I received a Level 3 sit spin (element #1) and positive Grade of Execution (GOE). I earned 2.48 points on this spin, which is the highest element I've ever earned credit for!

Low: This spin was intended as a Level 2, and I intentionally did not want a Level 3 spin. I actually wanted a Level 2 spin because I believe I got credit for something that I did not want to earn credit for.

High: The Level 3 spin was a blessing in disguise because I was "saving" one of the difficult variations for my final spin, which I fell out of. Had I only received credit for a Level 2 spin, I probably would have wound up in last place.

Low: My axel attempt was underrotated and I only got 0.35 points. I can do this jump in my sleep.

High: My lutz attempt received full credit and 0 GOE. That means I got credit for a fully correct lutz! No edge calls!

Low: My camel-sit spin did not count because I didn't hit 2 full revolutions on my camel. This is the 2nd time it's happened in competition. Clearly I need to swap out the spin for another one.

High: I received positive GOE on my footwork sequence! This is a first for me, and I am super excited. My choreographer and I recently tweaked my footwork from January, and it looks like the newest version is a keeper.

Low: I received 0 points for my axel-half loop-salchow attempt. I two-footed the axel, so it got downgraded to a waltz jump. Not sure why the rest of the combo did not receive any value.

High: My PCS scores are up. This is a huge improvement for me!

Low: My final spin. Ugh.  Just ugh. I think I'll move this spin up to an earlier place in the program so I'm not dead tired at the end. I need the points.

High: I smiled the entire 2 minutes and 40 seconds of the program, and my teammates were pleased with that. They said that despite my errors, I skated really well. This is only the 4th competition I've ever entered, so I have a lot to be proud of.

Although this wasn't my best skate (not even close), I had fun and learned a lot. I am sorely disappointed with my performance, but still proud of how far I have come and the progress I have made since last year.

One thing that really made an impact to me was a comment that I received from a fellow Gold lady. She said (and I am paraphrasing here), "No matter how down you are on yourself, just remember this. There are lots of skaters who wish that they could skate like you. They are watching you and wanting to do what you can do."

I am humbled to think that there are others who might be inspired by me. This really encourages me to want to improve and become a better skater.

Despite my 2nd to last place showing, I am still proud of the big improvements I have made, and I hope to continue to progress.


Next week: recap from the Gold Ladies Dramatic event


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bakery style chocolate chip muffins

These thick and fluffy muffins will remind you of those from your favorite bakery. You'll want to eat the entire batch yourself!
It's muffin time (again)!

This muffin is brought to you by my almost 5-year old, who is constantly asking for chocolate or chocolate chip muffins.

I'm always tempted to buy muffins from bakeries because I love how huge and fluffy they are. But part of me is cheap and doesn't want to pay upwards of $3 for a muffin when I can make an entire batch for that price.

I opted to make these muffins slightly healthier by using applesauce as my liquid ingredient rather than oil. Nobody knew the difference, and that made me happy. These were one of the quickest muffin recipes to get eaten around the house, and Addie was extremely sad when I told her that we had eaten the last one.

Guess I'll need to look for another chocolate muffin recipe to bake next since I've got myself a little chocoholic in training.

Bakery style chocolate chip muffins
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside (I used a silicone muffin pan and did not grease it).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, applesauce, milk and vanilla until well combined.

Transfer the applesauce mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix it until a few flour streaks remain. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until everything just comes together - do not overmix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well at least 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven temperature down to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days. Muffins can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: I got 17 muffins (original recipe claims 12)

Source: Slightly adapted from Little Sweet Baker

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Momofuku Milk Bar confetti cookies

Make Momofuku Milk Bar's famous confetti bar cookies at home! Each cookie contains birthday cake crumbs, which takes ordinary "funfetti" cookies to the next level. A longer creaming process also makes these a soft and fudgy cookie.

How soon is it to start thinking about what cake you want for your birthday? Two weeks? Two months? Apparently in the mind of a 4 year old, 2 months is appropriate. Addie turns 5 (!!!) in April, and she started brainstorming her birthday cake about 2 months in advance. Sprinkles have been a non-negotiable requirement for this girl, so I'm thinking about fun ways to incorporate them into her cake.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to bake a Funfetti cookie. Rather than use a cake mix or even a homemade version, I thought I'd turn to the expert this time - Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. She is the genius behind their best-selling "crack pie" and "cereal milk" creations. My brother bought me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook a while ago and I have honestly been too intimidated to try any of the recipes until now.

The recipes look easy at first glance until you really start to read the ingredients. They usually call for one recipe of this, and another of that, and by the time you read what those sub-recipes are, you are committing to make several separate recipes that roll up into one. This cookie recipe, however, seemed manageable and not too difficult to try.



I made the birthday cake crumb the night before, and that only took about 5 minutes to prep. I threw everything into my stand mixer, baked for 20 minutes and allowed everything to cool overnight. The next morning, I started on the cookie dough and that wasn't too much different than any other cookie dough I've made. The dough does require at least 1 hour of refrigerator so make sure you take that into consideration before you start baking these.

Since the official recipe calls for some ingredients that the average cook/baker doesn't have (like glucose or grapeseed oil), I subbed them with some of the standard ingredients that Christina Tosi recommended.

These cookies were downright amazing. As pastry chef Christina Tosi promised, the exteriors of the cookies were nice and crispy, while the interiors were thick and almost fudge-like. The cake crumbs also added a fun, crunchy texture.

The recipe below makes 12-13 giant-sized cookies. Each was bigger than the palm of my hand and was at least 4 inches in diameter. Make sure you only put 6 cookies on a baking sheet or else they will run into each other.

Now to decide which one of Momofuku's recipes to try next...

Momofuku Milk Bar confetti cookies
Birthday cake crumb
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/3 cup cake flour (If you don't have cake flour, simply take 1 cup of all-purpose flour and replace 2 Tablespoons of it with cornstarch. Store the extra flour in your pantry for next time)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Cookies
  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
Directions
Make the birthday cake crumb:  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt and sprinkles on low speed until everything is well combined.

Add the oil and vanilla and continue to mix until everything is well mixed. The batter will start to clump up a bit - this is what you are looking for.

Stop the mixer and evenly spread the clumps out on your prepared cookie sheet. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes and occasionally break up the clusters. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. The clumps will be slightly wet when baked but will harden as they cool. Set aside until you are ready to bake the cookies (alternatively, they can be stored in an airtight container and will keep for a week at room temperature or 1 month in the refrigerator or freezer).

Make the cookies:  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar and corn syrup together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and the vanilla and continue to mix on medium-high speed for another 7-8 minutes until the batter almost doubles in volume (Note: do not skimp on the mixing time for this. The extra mixing will yield a better cookie.).

Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and rainbow sprinkles and mix for 1 minutes or until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix. Add the birthday cake crumbs and mix for 30 more seconds.

Using an ice cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure, portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or line it with a silicone mat). Leave at least 4 inches in between each cookie since they will flatten and spread out. Roll the dough out into a ball and flatten the tops. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (and up to 1 week) in the refrigerator. Do not bake your cookies at room temperature - it will not work!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the cookies for 18 minutes. They will spread, puff and crackle on top. The cookies should be very lightly browned on the edges and the centers will have just a hint of color.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans before transferring to wire rack to cool.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

Yield: About 12-13 large cookies

Source: Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, pages 100-101

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Skating Fridays

Recap from Sectionals, Part 1 of 3: I am Yuzuru Hanyu


I am back from a fun-filled weekend at Sectionals. I drove with my training partner and best skating friend, K. There were a total of 3 ladies from my rink attending and competing, and it was fantastic having such a strong support group with me.

We arrived late on Thursday night and I had an unofficial practice on Friday around noon. There were about 20 total skaters on the ice, which made the practice very challenging. Since I jump and spin "the other way," I had to be extra careful on the ice to make sure I wasn't going to collide with someone. My session was filled with Gold and higher level skaters, so everyone was moving around very quickly.

At one point during my practice, I was setting up for my lutz jump. My entrance is the same as the majority of skaters: I do backwards crossovers, skate on my outside edge (on one foot), look behind me and jump if the coast is clear. In fact, Coach B has me looking behind me during the entire jump so I can make sure I am gliding on the correct edge.

This particular attempt was no different. I did my backwards crossovers, looked behind me for a good 5-10 seconds and skated on my backwards outside edge. I saw another skater about 5-10 feet from me and thought nothing of it. I wasn't even ready to attempt the jump when out of nowhere, this skaters plowed right into me... HARD. Both of us fell, and my left elbow and arm were throbbing with immense pain. Both of us got up and asked if the other was OK, and we went on our way.

I didn't anticipate that this skater would make such a sudden change in her pattern. I was watching her the entire time as I was setting up for my jump so I could make sure I didn't run into anybody. She was moving so quickly and didn't pay attention around her and literally skated right into me. Ironically, she jumps and spins "my way" so this was quite odd.

This collision really shook me up. I felt like Yuzuru Hanyu when he and Han Yan collided at the 2014 Cup of China:

I was like the guy on the left, laying on the ice
After the hard impact, I realized that my entire left elbow had become swollen, and that I was bleeding. My jumps and spins did not go well after that practice session, and my confidence was definitely gone.

I had another official practice on the day of the championship event, and that didn't go well either. The collision really made a negative impact on me for the entire day, as I did not skate well during my event. The same skater (who ran into me) had another near-collision with me during the official practice ice.

I'll recap my performance in the next post.


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bakery style buttermilk blueberry muffins with crumb topping

Why pay good money for a bakery style muffin when you can make your own? These big and beautiful blueberry muffins will give your local bakery a run for their money!


Who's ready for more muffins? If you raised your hand, you have my husband to thank for this recipe. He and I both realized that my muffin stash had been depleting rapidly, so it was time to make another batch. When I asked him what kind I should make, he immediately said that he wanted blueberry ones.

Yes, I know that I have tons of blueberry muffin recipes on the blog, like this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one, but it was time for a change. I wanted a big, fabulous blueberry muffin like the kind you'd find in a bakery. Something substantial.

Enter these muffins.


The original recipe made six giant muffins, but since I don't own a jumbo muffin pan, I made 9 standard ones instead. My muffins were big and beautiful. I made them a tad bit healthier by substituting the canola oil for some homemade applesauce. Just pretend that the crumb topping wasn't there to cancel out the healthy part of the muffins, mmmkay?


My husband said that these were the best blueberry muffins to date, and he even compared them to the ones you'd buy at a specialty breakfast restaurant. Addie and I also loved them, so I think these will be added to our muffin rotation.

Bakery style buttermilk blueberry muffins with crumb topping
Muffins
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (I used 2% milk with a splash of white vinegar)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, do not thaw)
Crumb topping
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons, or half a stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a muffin pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, measure out the 1/3 cup of applesauce. Add the egg and vanilla. Then add enough buttermilk until the contents reach 1 cup (you'll need about 1/3 cup of buttermilk). Mix everything together very well.

Add the applesauce mixture into your large bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir until everything is almost completely mixed together. Slowly fold in the blueberries and do not overmix the batter. Evenly transfer the batter into your prepared muffin pan.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a fork or use your hands until the mixture resembles wet sand. (Note: I tried cutting the butter in with a fork, but the mixture didn't come together. Once I rolled up my sleeves and used my hands, everything came together very quickly and easily.)

Generously top each muffin well with the crumb mixture.

Bake in your preheated oven for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine baked for 25 minutes).  Allow muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: Recipe claims it will make 12 muffins, but I only got 9

Source: Barely adapted from Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy; originally adapted from Allrecipes.com

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mint cookies and cream blondies

Take blondies to the next level by adding mint sandwich cookies and peppermint extract. 
These would be perfect for a St. Patrick's Day party!


It's been a while since I made bar desserts. I've been so focused on homemade ice cream (and muffins, naturally) that my square baking pan has been ignored.

This is one of those super easy, festive desserts that you can customize to your liking. I used mint chocolate sandwich cookies for mine because that is what I had in the pantry. You can different types of flavored sandwich cookies depending on your tastes.

I took these to the rink one afternoon and they were a huge hit. One of the ice dance coaches (whom I don't work with) had one and promptly asked when I wanted to start taking lessons with him. He said he'd be willing to trade lessons for desserts. Hmm, I may take him up on that offer once my body starts to give out on freestyle.

Mint cookies and cream blondies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup mint sandwich cookies, chopped and divided
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and line an 8"x8" pan with two sheets of parchment paper (criss-cross them), leaving overhangs on both sides so you can easily lift the bars out once baked. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the egg, vanilla and mint extracts and beat until well incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is just incorporated. Turn the mixer off.

Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in about 3/4 cup of the chopped sandwich cookies and the white chocolate chips by hand.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and press the batter down so it is even. Add the remaining chopped cookies and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Allow the bars to cool completely before cutting and serving. To cut, simply lift the parchment paper from the pan, transfer to a flat surface and slice.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days, if they even last that long.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 bars

Source: Barely adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventures

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