Friday, June 24, 2016

Skating Fridays

Bobbe Shire Spin Clinic - Part 3: Final Thoughts

Here are a few additional notes that I took from the clinic.

  • The hardest thing about skating is putting your body in the right position at the right time. You essentially have 2 brains - one in your head and one in your body. Don't listen to the "body brain" because it goes against the real brain.
  • For Step 2 of the spin (see previous week's post), think of Newton's law: You want the curve to get smaller for centrifugal force ("George") to work. Feel the edge slice through the ice at an angle and press against the direction you're going.
  • The camel spin is the only spin where you can't swing your leg to get George
  • In IJS competitions, it's better to execute an amazing spin than flub up a hard jump (for example, a CCoSp4 is worth 3.5 points whereas a Double Axel is only worth 3.3)
  • Anytime you change feet in a spin, you have to start over at Step 3 (the hook) again. Find George and pull in.
I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest spin coaches in the country and hope that I can apply these techniques to my practices.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Salted caramel popcorn

A super easy, 3-ingredient caramel popcorn recipe that requires minimal effort! Make this sweet and salty classic at home at just a fraction of the cost!

One of my favorite childhood memories was receiving one of those huge tins of popcorn. I think my dad used to get one from a client every year. The tin contained cheese popcorn, plain and my favorite - caramel. I'm not sure what took me so long to finally make my own, but here I am.

Many, many months ago, I got the itch to make my own caramel corn. But time went by and the thought got pushed to the back of my mind. I don't know why.

I had some leftover caramel sauce from the 'Ohana bread pudding and didn't want to waste it. I didn't want to make the typical caramel desserts like blondies, brownies, or cake. This was one of those lazy days where I didn't want something with too much effort. Then I remembered the popcorn in the pantry.

This is probably one of the easiest treats ever. You only spend about 1 minute stirring up the popcorn and let the oven do all the work. The hardest part is waiting for the popcorn to cool down and trying not to eat the whole batch in one sitting (which I may or may not have done).

Salted caramel popcorn 
  • 1 bag microwave popcorn, freshly popped
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup caramel sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside.

Pop the bag of popcorn in your microwave. Transfer to a large bowl. Pour on the caramel sauce and stir until the popcorn is well coated.

Spread the popcorn onto your prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the top with the salt and bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes.

Allow the popcorn to cool before serving. It should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will last at least a week.

Yield:  About 1-2 servings (1 standard bag of popcorn)

Source: Inspired by Cookies and Cups

Monday, June 20, 2016

{Giveaway} $100 Amazon gift card and baking tools pack

I've teamed up with 15 other bloggers to help celebrate The Emotional Baker's 100th Recipe! We're giving away two prizes.
  • Grand Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card.
  • 2nd Place: TEB's Favorite Baking Tools Prize Pack.

The prize pack includes:
Giveaway Made Possible By:
Giveaway Rules:
  1. Enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter widget below. Earn entries by following the host bloggers on social media. (If you’ve followed in the past, that counts! Just enter the information as prompted.) All entries will be verified. No purchase is necessary to win.
  2. The giveaway is open until Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One Grand Prize winner and one Second Place winner will be chosen at random and e-mailed within 48 hours. Winners must claim prize within 48 hours of initial contact. The retail value of the prize is $75. Prizes listed above are the only ones available.
  3. Grand Prize: Open to USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom. Second Place: Open to U.S. residents with a valid shipping address only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Strawberry pistachio crumble pie

This strawberry pistachio pie is the perfect way to show off all those fresh summer strawberries. The epic pistachio crumble on top might be something you'd want to eat on its own with a spoon!

Happy Father's Day!

This is always a special time of year for many reasons. One - it's Father's Day. Two - it's my husband's birthday. Fun fact: he was actually born on Father's Day! While the two celebratory occasions don't coincide this year, I still had to bake something to appreciate my husband.

As with our tradition, I let him pick whatever dessert he wants for both days. This year he chose this pie that he saw in our Bon Appetit magazine. The only ingredients I had to buy for this were pistachios and tapioca flour/starch (they are the same thing).

My husband absolutely loved this pie and couldn't stop talking about it. He said that it wasn't too sweet and even slightly tart from the strawberries that we had bought for the recipe. He's been eating this with a scoop of ice cream on top too.

I'm not normally a nut type of person but also enjoyed the pie. It was nice to have a crunchy crumble on top of a sweet and tart fruit pie. We're visiting my in-laws later this summer, and my husband is already lobbying for me to bake this for them as well. I'm sure he'll find a way to make it happen.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, father figures and awesome men out there!

Strawberry pistachio crumble pie
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted toasted pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose four
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled, and cut into halves or quarters
  • 5 Tablespoons tapioca flour/starch
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Pie base and topping
  • 2 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pistachios
Make the pie crust: In a food processor, pulse the salt, sugar and flour together to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to a bowl and freeze for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and 3 Tablespoons ice water and sprinkle over flour mixture. Knead with your hands until the dough comes together. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours (dough can be frozen for up to a month).

Let the dough thaw for at least 5 minutes at room temperature before rolling onto a lightly floured surface or parchment paper. Transfer the dough to a 9" pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the top and weigh it down with pie weights (or beans or rice). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges turn a pale golden color. Remove the pie weights and aluminum foil and bake for an additional 7-12 minutes or until light golden. Cool and set aside.

Make the crumble: In a medium sized bowl, mix the chopped pistachios, flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest, poppy seeds, cardamom and salt together. Add the butter pieces and mix everything together with your hands until no dry ingredients remain. The crumble should hold its shape if you squeeze it. Chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, tapioca starch, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt. Set aside.

Assemble the pie: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the cream cheese onto the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Add the strawberry mixture (minus the juices) and pile it into a dome shape. Then evenly spread the crumble on top. Be sure to place a rimmed baking sheet underneath the pie in case juices drip out. Bake in your preheated oven for about 1 and 1/2 hours or until the filling is bubbling around the edges.

Allow the pie to cool completely before serving, about 4 hours. Then top with the remaining chopped pistachios.

Leftover pie should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for a few days.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 6-8 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2016 issue, pages 148-149

Friday, June 17, 2016

Skating Fridays

Bobbe Shire Spin Clinic - Part 2: The 5 Parts of a Spin

This is a continuation of the notes I took from the Bobbe Shire spin clinic. Last week I talked about some tips that Bobbe had during a shared private lesson. This week I am going to share Bobbe's thoughts on the 5 parts of a spin.

Bobbe said that all spins should be practiced in the same way. This makes the spins more consistent, and it also gives you the ability to isolate errors while eliminating chance. According to Bobbe, all spins have 5 parts. See the graphic below for counter clockwise skaters.

  1. Presentation Edge. This is done on a half circle (use a line) with the 3-turn done at the halfway mark on the other side of the line. Then you do a backwards crossover, which should take up the other half of the circle. Hold this edge until the end makes a curly-cue.

  2. Push onto the spinning foot. Hold this forward outside edge until you reach the other side of the line.

  3. Hook. This is actually a 3-turn and is the first turn in your spin. Think about your axis (toe, knee, belly button). Pretend like you have a skewer from our ankle to your knee through your belly button. Keep this line intact. You should be able to put a mitten on your hip bone and not drop it (she calls this the "mitten crunch"). Your arms and legs need to go as far away from the axis as possible. The centrifugal force generated from a spin is something that Bobbe names "George." Once you hit the hook in the spin, stay down in the knee and let George settle down before you squeeze him.

  4. Spin. If you do steps 1-3 correctly, the spin will center. Make sure you are in proper alignment and focus on speed.

  5. Exit. Finish the spin like it was the best thing anybody ever saw. Push away from the spin to exit - like it has bad breath. You shouldn't be able to tell a spin exit from a jump landing since they are in the same position.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

'Ohana bread pudding with spiced rum caramel sauce

Recreate the epic bread pudding from Disney World's Polynesian Resort. This dessert is a fan favorite from the 'Ohana restaurant!

We recently returned from a surprise trip to Disney World with Addie. This was a vacation we had planned way back in November, but we never told her about it. One of my closest friends was celebrating her 10 year wedding anniversary and booked her vow renewal down in Orlando. She invited us to be part of the celebration, so we happily agreed to go.

Keeping this secret was hard. The day of the trip, we woke Addie up about 45 minutes earlier than normal. She asked me to take her to the bus stop but got confused when we got into the car. Then she asked why there was a suitcase in the back seat. She curiously asked, "Am I going to miss the bus today?"

I didn't tell her about out destination until we sat down in the terminal to wait for our boarding time. She was still half groggy at the time and wasn't as excited as I had expected. But, once we got down to Orlando, Addie's eyes lit up.

We had a fantastic time at Disney World and enjoyed a fantastic meal at 'Ohana (in the Polynesian Resort). One of their famous dishes is their bread pudding. It was served with a caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. I kept thinking about this dessert when I got home and wanted to recreate it so here it is.

I brought this to my friend's cookout and shared it with all the family and friends she had invited to the vow renewal. They all said that this was better than the original, and that made me happier than a clam. I'm on a mission to make more dishes from our memorable vacation. Hope you come back soon to see what those are!

'Ohana bread pudding with spiced rum caramel sauce
Bread pudding
  • 8 cups French or Italian loaf bread
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
Spiced rum caramel sauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup spiced rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the bread pudding: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the bread into 1-inch pieces and spread it out on a baking sheet. Bake in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes until lightly toasted. Generously grease a 9"x13" baking pan and place the toasted bread cubes into the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, nutmeg and sugar. Pour this over the bread and make sure to get all of the pieces soaked with the egg mixture. If you have time to spare, cover and refrigerate this overnight so the bread has time to soak up all the egg mixture. If not, go on to the next step.

Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for about 60 minutes and then uncovered for another 10 minutes. Allow the pudding to cool slightly before serving.

Make the caramel sauce: In a medium sized, heavy bottomed and high sided pan, mix together the sugars, corn syrup and butter. Melt this over medium high heat and allow it to boil. Add half of the heavy cream (it will bubble vigorously) and continue to boil until the mixture starts to become golden brown. Add the spiced rum. I used a candy thermometer and let it get to 240 degrees F (soft ball stage). Then I added the remaining heavy cream and vanilla extract. If your caramel seizes and hardens, add more heavy cream or milk to thin it out.

Serve the bread pudding warm and top with caramel sauce and a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.

Yield: About 16 servings

Source: Slightly adapted from Disney Food Blog

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Eggless salted caramel brownies

These super dark and fudge-like brownies contain no eggs, butter or oil! I added a layer of salted caramel sauce for some added decadence. You can omit the caramel sauce to make these vegan!

I had a total first-world problem one day (major sarcasm for those who can't tell my tone of voice). I only had one egg left in the refrigerator but had an itch to bake some brownies. Not just any brownies. Salted caramel brownies. I had a batch of salted caramel sauce sitting on the counter that were just screaming to be used.

I found a vegan brownie recipe that seemed promising, so I made a few tweaks here and there to suit my tastes. If you need a vegan brownie recipe, you can omit the salted caramel sauce and bake for about 25-30 minutes.Your brownies will be a bit on the gooey side, so if you like them firmer, bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.

These brownies were gobbled up in no time. Even after placing them in the refrigerator overnight, they were still nice and gooey the next day. Make sure you hide a few of these since they are so amazing. You'll be surprised that these don't contain any eggs too!

Eggless salted caramel brownies
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce, store bought or homemade
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside (I used a silicone pan and did not grease or line it).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add in the water, applesauce and vanilla extract and mix until just combined.

Transfer half of the batter into your prepared baking pan. Then add the salted caramel sauce. Top with the remaining brownie batter. Swirl with a knife if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until the brownies no longer jiggle when you shake the pan. Allow the brownies to cool before serving.

Brownies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan, about 16 servings

Source: Adapted from


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