Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Peppermint snowball cookies

Nothing screams winter like these peppermint snowball cookies! A soft, peppermint center gets coated with a dusting of powdered sugar. These practically melt in your mouth!
How is it halfway through January already? Wasn't it just Christmas and New Year's?

Amidst my crazy holiday stress and baking-palooza, I made my peppermint fudge as our gifts to teachers, neighbors, skating coaches, coworkers and everyone else in my life. All that peppermint extract must have gotten to my head because I thought it would be a bright idea to make another peppermint treat to give to neighbors.

The treat I had in mind were these beautiful peppermint snowball cookies. They are easy to bake and even easier to eat. Just pop a few of these in your mouth and they will practically melt before you've even begun chewing. The melted peppermint baking chips will give you an extra minty burst with every bite.

These snowball cookies are perfect for a cold wintry day, and you can dress them up or down depending your mood. Change up the food coloring, the baking chips and even the dusting on top (you could do cocoa powder if you wanted a truffle-like appearance). Just make sure that you save at least half a dozen for yourself because they are addictive.

Peppermint snowball cookies
  • 2 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • red food coloring, optional 
  • 3/4 cup Andes peppermint baking chips, optional
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 powdered sugar on medium speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the flour and salt until well mixed. Add the peppermint and food coloring if using. Turn the mixer off and fold in the baking chips by hand.

Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Using a medium cookie scoop, portion out about a golf ball sized piece of dough. Roll it in between your hands to form a ball. Space them out on the baking sheet (they will not spread).

Bake in your preheated oven for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Fill a small bowl with powdered sugar. Once the cookies have cooled, dunk each one into the bowl of powdered sugar to coat completely. Transfer to whatever container you want to use to store them in. Dust with additional powdered sugar if desired.

Leftover cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for a few days.

Yield: About 24 golf ball sized cookies

Source: Mom on Timeout

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Small batch blueberry cottage cheese muffins (one bowl)

These blueberry muffins contain a secret ingredient - they are packed with cottage cheese and a punch of extra protein! Best of all, this recipe is made in one bowl and only makes 6 muffins!
Anybody else a muffin fiend like I am? While I love baking them, it gets old having a dozen of the same flavor hanging around the house all day (unless we are making these eggless chocolate zucchini muffins - in that case, we never have enough).

We have some leftover cottage cheese from making lasagna and I wanted to see if I could find a creative way to use them up. I found these blueberry cottage cheese muffins and was all over them. Even better, they were made in one bowl and only made 6. Perfect. Each of my family members could have 2 and then we'd be done. In case they didn't turn out well, then there wasn't much food to waste.

My husband got scared when I said that there was a secret ingredient in them. He got hesitant and backed away from them. I told him that they were just regular blueberry muffins with all the regular ingredients. He made a face at me. He finally tried one and wasn't too thrilled, but I thought they were fine.

The muffins were a bit on the salty side, so I recommend eliminating the salt altogether (I've reflected the changes in the recipe below). Other than the saltiness, the flavors and texture were spot on and held up to my blueberry muffin standards.

Small batch one bowl blueberry cottage cheese muffins
  • 1/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese and egg until well combined. Add in the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Fold together until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the milk and mix until just combined. Gently stir in the blueberries.

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

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-18 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 and will keep for several days.

Yield: 6 muffins

Source: Barely adapted from

Friday, January 13, 2017

Skating Fridays

Video Proof

I finally got my phone to work so I could video myself executing the 3 axels in a row. Although I didn't have the beautiful crossed legs in any of these jumps, I did land them cleanly. These definitely are not my best jumps, but I was happy to have completed the 3 axel jump challenge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

One bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie

An amazingly simple and fabulous toffee chocolate chip cookie pie that is made in one bowl! No stand mixer required! And even better - the batter comes together in about 5 minutes!

Is it me, or do you tend to get sick during holidays and breaks? I remember back in college how I'd always get sick during Thanksgiving and winter break. I think my body was so stressed out from school that I'd stay healthy during the semester and once I had a few days to breathe, my body's immune system broke down.

I returned from my parents' house over the holiday break and when I got home, I started feeling sick. My 7-month old nephew and my brother both had coughs, and Addie had a runny nose. I'm pretty sure that I caught something that one of them had.

Despite my crummy health, I still wanted to bake something for my family. I needed something that I could easily put together and didn't require me to use my germy hands. This one bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie from my friend Ashley was perfect. It didn't require a stand mixer, and everything was made in one bowl. The prep time was only about 5 minutes, so it doesn't require a lot of time to put together.

This pie hit the spot and made me feel better immediately (OK, so it made me feel better mentally but not physically). Despite my runny nose and constant sniffling, my tastebuds were having a field day. The pie is a bit on the sweeter side, so if you want to dial back the sugar, I'd recommend cutting out about 1/2 cup of it (start with 1/4 cup of each sugar). The toffee bits gave the pie a nice crunchy texture and the filling was out of this world - just like a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie.

One bowl toffee chocolate chip cookie pie
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9" pie pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugars until well blended. Add in the egg, egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. Gently mix in the flour, corn starch and salt until a few dry streaks remain (do not over mix). Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and toffee bits.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the middle will jiggle slightly. Do not over bake this pie, as it will set once it cools.

Allow the pie to cool completely before serving with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.

Pie should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8-10 servings

Source: Baker by Nature

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lemon yogurt cake

This wonderfully tart lemon yogurt cake contains no butter or oil and does not require a mixer! You'll want to snack on this cake all day long!
Addie and I have a weekly girls' night. It probably isn't what you think. We don't go to the nail salon or rent a movie. Instead, we go to the library. She and I have been going since she was about 2 years old. We know all the librarians in the children's wing and attended the weekly story time for 3 years.

One day, she exclaimed, "Mommy. I don't want to go to story time any more. I'm too big." I had warned the librarian that this day was imminent, but it came sooner than expected. She and I stopped attending story time a few months before she began kindergarten. Addie was a full-blown reader at that point.
The librarian was very fond of my daughter and said that of all the children that have attended story time, Addie is the first 'graduate' who fully learned how to read during their stint in the Wednesday evening program. Despite not attending the weekly story times, Addie and I have continued to go to the library on Wednesday nights to borrow books. She is now avidly into chapter books.

I almost forgot that the library also contained books for adults, and that collection included cook books. I had wanted to borrow a slow cooker book but wasn't able to find it. I found an Ina Garten cook book instead and this recipe jumped out at me.

The yogurt cake, as Ina claims, is originally adapted from Dorie Greenspan but made healthier since it contains no oil or butter. It's wonderfully lemony and tart, and the lemon glaze make it extra special.

I'm looking forward to borrowing more cook books from the library since my kitchen is already overflowing with some of my own!

Lemon yogurt cake
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1 and 1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the yogurt, 1 cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla until well blended. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the applesauce and mix until just incorporated. It will be a bit clumpy, and that is OK.

Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Turn the oven off and allow the cake to cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar with the 1/3 cup of lemon juice over the stovetop in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Once the cake has cooled slightly, pour the lemon juice/sugar mixture on top of the cake and allow it to soak in. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest together. Once the cake is cool, pour the glaze over the top. Slice and serve.

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

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten

Friday, January 6, 2017

Skating Fridays

Challenge Accepted 

One of the teen skaters at my rink (whom we've given honorary "adult skater" status) came up to me this week. She wanted to ask for a favor, to which I happily obliged.

She asked me if I could join her in a skating challenge that her coach offered. She was tasked to practice landing 3 axels in a row (with no break in between the landing and takeoff of each). I said that I'd be more than happy to do it. After all, I have already been practicing my axel-tap toe-axels. Adding another one would be another fun challenge to try.

Shortly after my on-ice warmup, I attempted the 3 axel challenge, and I am happy to report that I was able to land all 3! Unfortunately, my phone zonked out at the time and didn't capture it on video. I've been having phone issues all week where my battery thinks it's at 9% so it doesn't record video.

Once I get my phone back to normal, I'll try to see if I can get this on video.  I did take a few hard falls this week on double salchow attempts, and thankfully I couldn't get those on video for you to see!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cinnamon apple pie

A classic cinnamon apple pie with a slightly different crust - it uses cream cheese for a slightly tangy flavor. This is one apple pie that you'll want to add to your baking rotation!

I remember being overwhelmed at Thanksgiving last year. My husband's aunt is a phenomenal pie maker and had 4 different types of pie for dessert: cherry, pumpkin, pecan and apple. The apples came from her backyard and the cherries from her cherry tree. She truly is a gem.

With so many choices, what did I end up picking? Apple. There's just something about a classic apple pie that I can't resist. What can I say? I love sweet pies. I'm not a nut fan, so pecan wasn't the best choice for me. And I'm not a huge fan of tart cherries so I didn't choose that one either.

I've made plenty of apple pies before (see here, here, here and here), but I wanted to try another one. What's one more, right? The crust on this pie was intriguing - it uses cream cheese. I was skeptical at first but then realized that the cream cheese was the secret ingredient that made this crust pretty awesome. It provided a tiny bit of tang and kept the crust together.

The apple filling was wonderful, as expected, and I could hardly believe that 3 pounds of apples fit into my dish. I let my filling sit for a few hours in the refrigerator to marinate a bit, and during that time the apple slices soaked up their own juices and the cinnamon sugar mixture.

This apple pie was love at first bite. Both my husband and I really enjoyed it and would definitely make it again.

Cinnamon apple pie
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, COLD
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons cold water

  • 3 pounds (about 9 cups) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • squeeze of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar and salt together until well mixed. Add in the butter and cream cheese and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand (it should be a bit clumpy). Add in the water and pulse until a dough ball forms.

Divide the dough in 2 and roll each half out to a large circle. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days in advance.

Once the dough has chilled completely, roll out one of the dough circles large enough to cover a 9" pie pan. Place it in the pan and fold any excess under the edge of the pan. Place back in the refrigerator and chill for at least another 15 minutes.

Make the filling: Toss the apples with the sugars, lemon, cinnamon and salt. Then add the flour and mix well. Allow the filling to sit for at least 15 minutes and mix it at least once.

Assemble and bake the pie: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Take the pie crust out of the refrigerator and transfer the apple mixture (including the juices) into the pan. Smooth out the top. Roll out the other piece of dough so it's large enough to cover the top of the pie. Tuck any excess dough underneath and pinch the top and bottom crusts together to seal. If desired, flute or crimp the edges for a nicer look.

Sprinkle the top of the pie with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cut 6-8 slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes. Then turn down the oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes.

Pie needs to rest for 2-3 hours to fully set. It can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days or a few additional days if stored in the refrigerator.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8-10 servings

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Natasha's Kitchen


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