Friday, April 28, 2017

Skating Fridays

Recap from Adult Nationals


Well, friends - my 3rd Adult Nationals is in the books. If you followed me on Facebook, you'll already know the results from my two events.

The summary is that I did not skate my best and wound up placing last in both events. But, please don't feel sad or bad because I am not upset. Quite the opposite, actually. Yes, I am disappointed that I missed a few elements here and there, but I really had a wonderful time. We had a great representation from our local club, and each of us was there to cheer the others on.

I reunited with old skating friends and met new ones, and the atmosphere was overwhelmingly supportive. We also kept joking that everyone in an event should buy a drink for the person who comes in last. That means that 14 people owe me a drink in my freestyle event, and another 5 in my dramatic event. Yes!

All kidding aside, I am actually pretty energized. I am excited to work on new elements as well as fine tune and improve my skating skills. I am motivated by watching others' performances and would love to be a beacon for someone else in the stands.

Here are some highlights from the weekend:
  • I got to meet and take photographs with Charlie Tickner and "Jumpin' Joe" Jozef Sabovcik, who are both skating celebrities (I had met Jumpin' Joe in 2014 at Adult Nationals there so it was cool to meet him again):
    Charlie Tickner, 1978 World Figure Skating Championships Gold Medalist
    "Jumpin' Joe" Jozef Sabovcik, 1984 Olympic bronze medalist
  • I met Rohene Ward, who was briefly in attendance on the final day of competition. He is Jason Brown's choreographer and such a fantastic and amazing skater!
    Rohene Ward, 4-time US National competitor and Jason Brown's choreographer
  • I made the Raleigh News & Observer, which is the local Raleigh newspaper. Check out the video at the top of the page and you'll see me at 1:13 and 1:29.
  • I received a crazy amount of 'tossies,' which are gifts that fellow skaters throw on the ice after each performance. It was humbling to see how many people cared and wanted to show their love and appreciation.
  • I also got to have several heart-to-heart conversations with some pretty inspirational people, and their encouragement and advice lifted me to want to become an even better person and skater.

Next week I'd like to tell you about our new club mascots. They were quite popular and certainly made everyone laugh!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Funfetti mug cake

Got a craving for cake but don't want any leftovers? Make this single serving mug cake and satisfy your sweet tooth in about 5 minutes!

I had a craving for something sweet one lazy afternoon but did not want to bake an entire cake. Call me crazy, but I didn't want to have an entire cake sitting on my kitchen counter for the next few days. While I normally welcome that kind of thing, I wasn't feeling it this particular day. Rather, I wanted something small that I didn't need to share with anybody. You know, because I am selfish like that. So I made myself a Funfetti mug cake.

There are so many good things about this mug cake. You can make it in less than 5 minutes, there are no bowls to clean, and everything is mixed in the mug! Oh, and the best part - you don't have to share. Heck, you could eat this in a few minutes and have the kitchen all cleaned up in the time it takes to watch a commercial break.

If you want, you can always add a scoop of ice cream, some caramel drizzle or even a dollop of whipped cream on top. Whatever way you top it, this Funfetti mug cake is sure to become a new favorite!

Funfetti mug cake 
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons vegetable/canola oil or melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sprinkles
Directions
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in an 8 ounce (standard sized) mug. Add in the milk, vanilla and oil. Mix well until the batter is smooth and free of lumps. Stir in the sprinkles and add a few sprinkles on the top.

Microwave for 90 seconds and serve immediately.

You can always top with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream (and extra sprinkles of course).

Yield: One mug cake (serves 1-2)

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Caramel toffee brownies

Got brownies on the brain? These cake-like brownies contain a fun toffee layer for a more sophisticated flavor. Enjoy with a cup of milk or coffee!

Brownies seem to be a staple at our house. If it's not muffins, then it's brownies. I mean, who can resist a square full of rich, chocolate-y goodness, right?

One lazy Sunday morning, I got a craving for brownies but didn't want to repeat a recipe. I happened to have half a bag of toffee bits left in the pantry and decided find a recipe that featured these fun baking chips. Enter these caramel toffee brownies.

This recipe makes a large 9"x13" pan so it's perfect for sharing (or not!). There are 3 layers to these brownies... a caramel/toffee middle layer that's sandwiched in between two identical brownie layers. I do want to note that these brownies are more on the cake-y side and not the typical fudge brownies that I am addicted to. Regardless, they are still awesome despite not being ooey gooey.

My family and I loved these cake-like brownies and were happy when I kept half the pan for ourselves. Although fudgy brownies are my jam, these cake-like ones were great too!

Caramel toffee brownies 
Caramel layer
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 2 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 cup toffee bits

Brownie layer
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x13" pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt 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, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, combine the caramel topping and milk. Pour this into the bowl and mix until well blended. Turn the mixer off and fold in the toffee bits. Set the batter aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate and stir until uniform. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well blended. Add in the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Slowly fold in the flour and mix until no dry streaks remain.

Pour half of the brownie batter into your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Dollop all of the caramel batter on top and smooth the top (I used an offset spatula). Add the remaining brownie batter and spread it evenly (or if you prefer, you can swirl the batter in using a knife).

Bake in your preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool before cutting and serving.

Brownies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 24-30 servings (depending upon how big you cut your slices)

Source: Taste of Home

Friday, April 21, 2017

Skating Fridays

Skating Fridays 


I don't have much of an update for you this week since I am competing at Adult Nationals. Tonight I am skating in the dramatic entertainment event.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this video of a jump sequence I am working on.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Funfetti skillet cookie

The best kind of cookies are made in one pan (or skillet). No rolling, no chilling and no cookie sheets to clean! This giant Funfetti skillet cookie is so fun to make and eat - don't forget to add extra sprinkles for a festive look!

I hope you're not tired of Cookiepalooza here at Eva Bakes. I've just got cookies on the brain thanks to Dorie Greenspan.

This is a fun recipe that Addie and I worked on together one Sunday morning before we were getting ready to attend a birthday party. She and I mixed the batter together and painted our toenails and watched Daniel Tiger while we waited for this cookie to bake.

As I was getting ready to photograph the cookie, my little Rembrandt came in and showed me her rendition of the scene I had set up:



Isn't that just precious? So back to this cookie. You can use whatever baking chips you want to jazz things up a bit and can also top your cookie with whatever makes your heart sing. I chose to add salted caramel baking chips because duh. I didn't add a scoop of ice cream this time, but I probably will the next time I bake this.

The cookie was light and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. It's essentially one giant fun-filled sugar cookie with lots of chips and sprinkles. Just the way cookies should be!

Funfetti skillet cookie
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (I used salted caramel baking chips)
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or spray a 9" or 10" cast iron skillet (if you don't own one, then use a 9" or 10" round cake pan).

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and corn starch. 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 the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in the sugar and continue creaming for 2-3 minutes until the butter is pale.

Add in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix well. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the dry ingredients. Mix until no dry streaks remain.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the baking chips and sprinkles by hand (using a spatula or wooden spoon).

Transfer the batter to your prepared skillet and evenly spread it out. The batter is fairly sticky so you could use damp hands or an offset spatula to help you.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the cookie appears lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly before serving (the top may sink a little, and that's to be expected). Top with ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce or whatever makes you happy.

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One large skillet cookie (about 8-12 servings)

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Posh in Progress

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Vegan butterscotch pudding

This smooth and creamy vegan butterscotch pudding might be better than its dairy counterpart. With just a few simple ingredients, you can have this made in no time!

My 6 year-old daughter has a few obsessions: Shopkins, reading and butterscotch  pudding. Whenever we go out to run errands, she has to bring a book to read in the car. If it's late at night, she'll turn on the light so she can read quietly to herself. She always like to point out Shopkins-branded items at stores and ooh and ahh over the newly released editions or characters while I discreetly roll my eyes and watch my bank account balance drop.

Her newest obsession is butterscotch pudding. I've made it for her before, and she was so smitten with it that I hear about it on a weekly basis. "Mom! Can we make butterscotch pudding?" I finally gave in one Sunday morning but didn't realize that we were out of milk. All I had left in the refrigerator was soy milk.  No problem - I decided to make an almost vegan version instead.

Addie was so excited about her butterscotch pudding that she stopped reading her book and came over to help. She's all enough where she can reach the stove without using a step stool so she helped me mix all the ingredients together. I'd stop and ask her if the pudding was ready yet, and she astutely would tell me no and that the pudding was too watery. I took over the stirring and told her once the pudding had firmed up. Her little eye lit up and she was super excited.

After we stirred in the (regular) butter and vanilla extract, I poured the pudding into mini bowls to place in the refrigerator. There was a little bit left over so I made her a little bowl for being such an excellent helper. She ate this up in about 1 spoonful and was happy to brag to her daddy about her new dessert.

My husband tried some later that evening and remarked that this actually tasted better than the non-vegan version. That's a pretty bold statement since he gets a bit weary about my healthy substitutions in desserts. I hope you enjoy this and get to make it with a loved one - I had a blast making this with Addie and look forward to sharing more time with her in the kitchen.

Vegan butterscotch pudding 
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and ¼ cups milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy milk), divided
  • 1 Tablespoon dairy-free soy margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
In a medium sized saucepan, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and ¼ cup of the milk until well blended.

Place the saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly stream in the remaining milk. Keep stirring until the mixture starts to thicken, at least 3-5 minutes.

Turn the stove off, remove the pan from the heat and add in the margarine and vanilla. Whisk thoroughly until the pudding is smooth and uniform.

Transfer the pudding into individual ramekins or cups and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cool before serving.

Keep leftover pudding, covered, in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 6 servings

Source: The Spruce

Friday, April 14, 2017

Skating Fridays

Prepping for Nationals


I've been busy prepping for Nationals, which is next week--AHHHHH! We are still tweaking my program as I type, so it's been crazy trying to get all the new steps and transitions memorized and be able to get it comfortable enough to perform.

I just want to skate my best and feel like I left nothing (in terms of points) on the table. Regardless of how I do, I am excited to see my skating friends, especially those who do not live in the same region as me.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook, as I am sure I'll be posting updates there.

PS. Today is my baby girl's 7th birthday. I can't wait to celebrate with her!


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dorie's chocolate thumbprint cookies with fruit jam

These chocolate thumbprint cookies with fruit jam from Dorie Greenspan would be great for a cookie exchange or your next get together! The chocolate-y cookie has the perfect texture and complements the melted fruit jam. Drizzle on some melted chocolate for an even more fabulous presentation!
It was time. We got the email from the library that it was finally time to return our copy of Dorie's Cookies. My husband was sad once he received the email and insisted that he flip through the cookbook one more time. You know, just in case there was another recipe that we absolutely had to try.

There was. And it was these cookies. He convinced Addie that I had to bake these and to do it soon because you  know - chocolate cookies. I guess that's why we get along so well.
I wanted to fill these with raspberry jam but didn't have any, so I substituted with a triple berry jam that we already had in the refrigerator. You can use any fruit jam that you have. If I hadn't have seen the berry jam in the fridge, I was ready to use fig jam. Mmm, fig jam.

These cookies were wonderful - they were soft with a slight crunch. The cookies weren't as chocolate-y as I was hoping but it was nicely balanced with the melted fruit jam and drizzle of chocolate on top. I'd highly suggest you double the recipe below because these will get eaten really quickly.

Dorie's chocolate thumbprint cookies with fruit jam
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 16 Tablespoons (1 cup or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fruit jam (I used fig)
  • 2/3 cup milk or white chocolate chips, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease or line two standard baking sheets and set them aside. 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa 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, cream the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Turn the mixer down to low and add in the egg white and vanilla. 
 
Slowly add in the dry ingredients in three additions, making sure the batter is even and the dry ingredients have been fully incorporated before adding the next portion. 

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop the batter into golf-size ball sizes and roll them into balls using your hands. Gently press down on top of a cookie ball to make an indentation and fill with your fruit jam.

Bake the cookies in your preheated oven for 16 to 18 minutes, or until they feel firm and the jam is bubbling. Take them out of the oven and allow them to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to finish cooling completely.

If desired, you can drizzle the tops with melted chocolate. Simply place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each time. Use a fork or a pastry bag and drizzle the melted chocolate over the tops of each cookie.

Let the chocolate set by placing the cookies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Allow the cookies to come back to room temperature before serving.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for several days. Cookies can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 24 cookies

Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Dorie's pecan cake fingers with brown butter icing

Crunchy, meringue-like cake fingers are topped with an unbelievable brown butter icing. This recipe from Dorie Greenspan will surely knock your socks off!

Hey look - a recipe with nuts! Those of you who have been around here a while know that I am not a fan of nuts, so I don't to feature many recipes with them. As my husband was browsing through Dorie's Cookies, he saw these and asked me to bake them. I happily obliged, knowing that this would be a great dessert for my waistline since I wouldn't really partake in the quality control process.

I found it interesting that the cookies were essentially a meringue. We whip the egg whites like a meringue and bake it low and slow. The resulting cookies had the signature crunch like a meringue, yet was soft and chewy on the inside. The cake fingers are topped with a thick brown butter icing, which I could easily eaten with a spoon (or a fork, since it was so dense).

Both my husband, Addie and my skating friend really enjoyed these cookies. The brown butter made the entire kitchen smell amazing so making the icing alone was totally worth it. The recipe did make a fairly large batch, and you can customize the bar size to whatever floats your boat. If you're hosting a party with lots of finger foods, you can cut these a little bit smaller. Or, you can make them larger and just enjoy them yourself!

Dorie's pecan cake fingers with brown butter icing
Cake fingers
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (120 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (180 grams) finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons (425 grams) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Icing
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat your oven to 275 degrees F. Generously grease a quarter sheet pan (you can use a 9"x13" pan if you don't own a half sheet pan) and set aside.
  
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

Place the chopped pecans in a small bowl. Measure out 1/4 of the flour/baking powder mixture and toss into the pecans so they are evenly coated.

Push the brown sugar through a fine mesh strainer onto a piece of parchment paper. Do not keep any brown sugar lumps.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whip the egg whites on medium high speed until you achieve soft peaks. Gradually add the strained brown sugar and turn the speed to high. Your egg whites will appear to be a caramel-toned meringue. Whip in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer off and gently fold in 1/3 of the flour mixture. Add in the next 1/3 and gently fold until well incorporated. Add in the final 1/3 of the flour mixture until a few meringue-y streaks remain. Gently fold in the reserved pecans in 3 additions. Be as gentle as you can so you don't deflate the egg whites.

Gently spread the batter into your prepared sheet pan and bake in your preheated oven for 50-55 minutes or until the tops appear dry, dull and pale. If you press on the bars, nothing will bounce back.

Allow the bars to cool for about 3 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely. Once the bars are completely cooled, transfer to a cutting board and using a sharp, long knife, cut the bars into fingers - about 3" by 1".

To make the icing, put the powdered sugar into a medium heatproof bowl. Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to melt but do not stir. Keep an eagle eye on the butter as it slowly starts to brown. The butter will darken but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn (you'll start to see brown flecks). Feel free to swirl the pan around but do not touch the butter with any utensils. Once the butter produces a nut-like aroma and is lightly brown, turn off the heat and take the saucepan off the stove.

Pour the browned butter into the bowl with the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and stir. The icing will be slightly stiff and clay-like.

Using whatever method works for you, dollop about a Tablespoon of the icing over the middle of a cake finger and spread across the top as evenly as you can. You may need to use your fingers. The icing may crack and will not look perfect, and that's OK.

Let the cookies rest for about an hour before serving. These should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about a week. They will continue to harden after each day.

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 48 bars

Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Friday, April 7, 2017

Skating Fridays

Thoughts From a Judge 


At my Sectionals event a few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the judges on my panel was a skating friend of mine. I met her at Adult Nationals a few years ago and I've made sure to throw her a tossie during competitions. I reached out to her to see if she would be willing to provide me some feedback on my performance.

She happily agreed and spent over half an hour on the phone with me. She had taken copious notes during my 2 minute and 40 second program. It was fascinating to see what types of things (good and bad) stood out to her.

Since there was a lot that she covered, I will only note some of the highlights in hopes that this will help somebody else out there. Even if you are not an IJS level skater, many of these themes should apply. Keep in mind that this is only from one judge's perspective so it might not be true for all judges.

Skating Skills
  • This judge was looking for speed, acceleration, balance, cleanliness of steps and being multi-directional
  • She noted that Skating Skills determines her baseline for judging and then she assigns scores from the other portions of PCS from there
Transitions
  • "Transitions are the threading of elements from one to the other"
  • She is looking for the difficulty and quality of transitions 
  • Examples: Twizzles, counters, rockers, chocktaws, spread eagles, spirals, split jumps, Ina Bauers, mazurkas, bunny hops
Performance
  • Delivery and emotional involvement - are you smiling? Are your eyes up? Are you relating to the audience? Do you have personality?
  • "Make me believe that you love this program"
Composition
  • Cover all ends of the ice. Seriously. Do not fall a few feet short.
  • Are all your spins in the same place? Are all your elements towards the middle of the ice? If so, move them. 
Interpretation
  • Are you effortlessly moving?
  • Do the judges know your music?
  • Are you changing your body with the music? Are you doing something with your arms with every crescendo? 
  • You must show the judges that you know the music is playing! Otherwise, if they played someone else's CD, it wouldn't make much of a difference.
Based on this judge's very helpful and specific feedback, we've been making major edits to my transitions. The overall structure of my program is still the same, but now it should flow better for my skating style and ability.

I'm excited to put this together and hope that I perform better at Adult Nationals in a few short weeks!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dorie's brownies

These ultra chewy brownies from Dorie Greenspan are sure to make your favorites list. It uses a whipping technique to make the batter super light and fluffy. Cocoa powder (not chocolate) gives these brownies their extra chocolate-y flavor.

You're probably thinking... "Yawn. Another brownie recipe." But hold on, my friends! This is a brownie from Dorie Greenspan, who is pretty much a rock star in the cooking and baking world. Before you pass judgment on yet another brownie, listen up,

The secret to these superbly chewy brownies is how they are mixed. Dorie asks us to whip the butter, sugar and salt together for 5 full minutes before adding other ingredients. The brownies are mixed for almost 10 minutes before baking, so they are light, fluffy, chewy and oh-so-amazing.

Prior to these, my favorite plain brownies have been these salted fudge ones from Kate Krader. Dorie's definitely gives Kate's brownies a run for her money. My husband actually said that Dorie's brownies are his all-time favorite so that's definitely saying something. He couldn't stop eating these and I noticed that the entire batch had been eaten in a matter of a few days. We didn't give many of these away because we wanted to save them all for ourselves.

Dorie's brownies 
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/3 cups (112 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick plus 3 Tablespoons (11 Tablespoons total) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
Directions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour and cocoa powder together 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, cream together the butter, sugar and salt on low speed for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla.

Turn the mixer off and switch to the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add in the eggs and beat for 5 full minutes. The mixture will double in size. Turn the mixer off and switch back to the paddle attachment. Gently fold in the dry ingredients (using a spatula) and then turn the mixer on low to mix until everything just comes together. Your fluffy batter will collapse, but that is expected.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the brownies to cool before cutting and serving.

Brownies should be stored in airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 24 brownies (more or less, depending on how big you cut your slices)

Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Who says that pumpkin has to be a fall ingredient? It's available year-round so use that to your advantage and make these pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!
It was about that time to bake another batch of muffins and I had no idea what to make. I went into the pantry to see what I had and saw a can of pumpkin puree and used that as my inspiration. I mean, who says that you can't bake with pumpkin outside of the fall season?

Like many of the muffin recipes you will find here on Eva Bakes, this one is made in two bowls, and I've made a few substitutions to make them a bit healthier. I baked with whole wheat flour and eliminated any butter or oil by substituting with applesauce. The other positive thing about this particular recipe is that it uses an entire can of pumpkin, so you won't need to find another recipe to use up any leftover pumpkin puree.
These pumpkin muffins were an instant hit at my house. My husband and daughter each had one a few minutes after they came out of the oven so they were nice and warm. We ate this batch of muffins more quickly than many of the others I've made because they were so amazing. They baked up nice and fluffy and were chewy, dense and full of chocolate chips.

Go ahead and open that can of pumpkin that you have lurking in the pantry and make these muffins!
 

Whole wheat pumpkin chocolate chip muffins 
  • 1 and ¾ cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tablespoon milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease or line two standard muffin pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin puree, applesauce, mil and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl and gently fold everything together until a few dry streaks remain.

Fold in the chocolate chips and evenly distribute the batter into your baking pans, filling each well at least 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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

Yield: About 15 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from Melanie Cooks

Friday, March 31, 2017

Skating Fridays

Improving My Mental Game 


Coach and I have been trying to pinpoint what's causing my subpar performances during big competitions. Physically, I can easily execute everything. I've run clean programs and do it during the week of competitions. I don't get nervous at competitions (due to years of gymnastics competitions and musical performances/juries/recitals). But something just isn't clicking.

Here is how I would describe my experience on the ice - perhaps one of you might be able to diagnose my issue. I feel like I have an out-of-body experience when I'm skating. My body is moving, but my mind isn't connecting to my physical self. It's almost like I'm "blanking out" and my body is on autopilot. I'm not sure if my mind freezes and doesn't know what to think, but I don't have any negative self-talk during my skate on the ice. I use some key words during certain elements, but they don't seem to help.

I borrowed a book from the library called The Mental Athlete, which is written by a sports psychologist.  One of the techniques the author shares is jotting down your mind's negative thoughts and turning them into positive affirmations. Many athletes do have some form of negative self-talk, whether it's on competition/game day or any other time of the season. I do catch myself saying, "I'm not good enough.... Wow, look at that person's (insert skating element here)... How am I going to beat her?... I'll be lucky not to place last... I hope I don't place last... How low of a score am I going to get?"

The trick now is turning these negative thoughts into positive ones and reaffirming them on a daily basis. For example, "I am not good enough" turns into "I am good enough. I passed my Gold freestyle test and the judges believed in my abilities. I belong here."

This type of mental training takes a lot of practice. I need to catch myself when negative thoughts enter my mind and train myself to flip the statement around into a positive. Once those negative thoughts start to diminish, only then can I perform to the best of my ability.

I wish that skating coaches were trained on the mental aspects of the sport. It's a topic that few people talk about or acknowledge, but I believe it's important in order to achieve peak performance.

I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on this topic or if you have any tips or best practices to share.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chocolate cream sandwich cookies

Make those famous chocolate cream-filled cookie sandwiches at home with this recipe from Dorie Greenspan. They are crunchy and contain a sweet vanilla filling that you'll want to eat with a spoon!

I warned you that I was baking my way through Dorie's Cookies! I'm back again with another recipe that I made before returning the cookbook.

One activity I enjoy doing with my family is asking them to pick out recipes they want to try from cookbooks. When I borrowed this cookbook, I asked Addie to look for cookies she wanted me to bake.  She saw the photo of these chocolate sandwich cookies and picked this recipe with no hesitation.

While these are not the nationally known chocolate cream cookies (you all know the ones - many of us like twisting off the tops and dunking them in milk), these will remind you of them. The chocolate cookies are crunchy, and the vanilla cream is definitely something you'll want to lick directly from the bowl.

I used a fun scalloped biscuit cutter to make my cookies look cuter but you can absolutely use whatever cookie cutters you want. Heck, you can even use the top of a round drinking glass if you don't own cookie cutters.
These cookies will require some chill time in the refrigerator or freezer so keep that in mind as you work through the recipe. The cookies also will not spread so whatever shape you cut them in is the shape you will get when they are done baking.

We had plenty of these cookie sandwiches to give away and were also able to keep some to snack on throughout the week. They might be good chopped up into some home made ice cream as well!

Chocolate cream sandwich cookies 
Cookies
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (340 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (43 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick plus 5 Tablespoons (13 Tablespoons or 183 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (134 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Filling
  • 3/4 stick (6 Tablespoons or 85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (150 grams) powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
Make the cookies: In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour and cocoa powder together. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using handheld mixer, cream the butter, sugar and salt together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg white and mix for another 2-3 minutes. The mixture may appear curdled but will eventually smooth itself out.

Add in the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer off and add in all of the dry ingredients at one time. Turn the mixer on and off in short bursts to pulse everything together. When it appears that the dry ingredients won't fly all over your counter, turn the speed to medium and mix until the dough appears to hold together. It will not form a ball but will be able to be held together if you pinch it.

Turn the mixer off and knead the dough on a clean work surface. Divide the dough in half and form into two flat circular discs.

Place one disc between two sheets of parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/8 inch thick. Place the dough (and keep it in between the parchment papers) onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour or keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or up to overnight. Repeat with the other dough disc. You can stack the two flatted dough sheets on top of each other if desired.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set them aside.

Working with one flattened dough sheet at a time (keep the other chilled), use a cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out cookie shapes. Place each cookie on your prepared baking sheet and make sure to leave about an inch between each cookie. The cookies will not spread. You can re-roll the scraps, roll them out and cut them with the cookie cutters. Repeat with the other flattened dough disc.

Bake in your preheated oven for 7 minutes. Then rotate the pans front to back and from top rack to bottom rack and bake an additional 7 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for another 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Let the cookies cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: Mix everything together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a handheld mixer.

Make the cookies sandwiches: Put a dollop of frosting in between two cookies and gently twist the cookies together and press on the centers to spread out the filling.

For best results, let the cookie sandwiches rest for at least an hour. Leftover cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 22 cookie sandwiches (44 individual cookies)

Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, March 26, 2017

One bowl butterscotch muffins

If you love butterscotch, then you will fall in love with these butterscotch muffins. Best of all, they are made in one bowl!
Every week I ask my family if they have any dessert requests. My husband tends to ask for peanut butter items while Addie wants butterscotch pudding all the time. Rather than make another batch of pudding, I thought it might be fun to bake something using butterscotch chips instead.

And since we are a muffin-loving family (seriously, I need to rename this blog to Eva Bakes Muffins!), I made butterscotch muffins. I found a recipe from Hershey and adapted it to make it healthier for my family. I used all whole-wheat flour and did not use any oil or butter.
While my muffins baked up on the smaller side (they were much shorter and denser than all of the other muffins I've baked here), I still enjoyed them. I dispersed my batter so I could get 12 muffins so I used less batter in each  muffin well. If you want to get taller, fuller muffins, you may not have enough batter for 12 muffins, so just know that in advance.

Addie was happy that I made something butterscotch for her and really enjoyed these muffins. They are best eaten the same day and will start to get a little stale the next day but can be kept in the refrigerator. We found that the flavors started to get jumbled after a day or so in the refrigerator so keep that in mind if you bake these.

One bowl butterscotch muffins 
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add in the egg, milk and applesauce and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the butterscotch chips.

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

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Leftover muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Adapted from Hershey's Kitchens

Friday, March 24, 2017

Skating Fridays

Back to Basics


I feel like every year after Sectionals is over, Coach has me going back to basics. I don't blame her. My presentation and skating skills still need a lot of improvement, even though the progress there has been slow. She wants to see my technical and presentation scores even out so I'm not stronger in one or the other.

This week, Coach gave me a list of ~50 warmup exercises to do. While this may seem like a lot, they don't take much time to execute. I'm reallocating my practice time so that most of it is spent on skating skills. I'm confident in my technical abilities and need a lot more help and practice on the skating part.

Here's a sampling of what Coach has me doing:
  • Forward outside cross rolls
  • Backward outside cross rolls
  • Forward outside swing rolls
  • Backward outside swing rolls
  • Forward chasses
  • Backward chasses
  • Forward inside slide chasses
As you can see, many of these warmup exercises come from ice dances. She's borrowing a few pages from our ice dancing friends to help me strengthen my basic edges and skating. Maybe it's time to take up ice dancing too?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dorie's chocolate oatmeal cookie butter cookies

What do you get when you cross cookie butter, an oatmeal cookie with a classic chocolate chip cookie? These chocolate oatmeal cookie butter cookies! With a crispy top and soft and chewy middle, these bars are sure to be on your favorite cookie list!
Dorie Greenspan has done it again. She created another phenomenal cookie that I just can't stop eating. I told you about my delight when our librarian found a copy of Dorie's Cookies for me a little while ago. I've been baking my way through that cookbook since I took the book home.

As an added thank-you, I packaged up some of these cookies for the librarian and her coworker (who leads the weekly story times that we used to attend). She was so excited and said that she might eat them all by the time we left the library.

Addie and I were attending a fun activity at the library that day. Kids were invited to read to service dogs that morning, and we were one of the select few who secured a spot. We arrived first and got to pick which dog we wanted to partner with.

I brought these cookies to the story time librarian (who arranged the service dog activity). I had them in a zip-top bag and in a paper bag so I thought they were safe. Well, as Addie was reading, the service dog turned his head and kept sniffing my paper bag. He knew something smelled good. And he kept interrupting Addie because he wanted to know what was in the bag.

I eventually moved the bag so the dog couldn't smell them, and the librarian was grateful for our gift. We had a few left over and devoured these in a matter of days. The cookies had a nice crispy top and a soft and chewy interior. The oatmeal and chocolate chips provided some nice textural contrasts. Addie initially complained about the oatmeal but realized she was being silly after not being able to taste it. Note that the dough will need to chill for at least 2 hours so plan accordingly.


Dorie's chocolate oatmeal cookie butter cookies
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (120 grams) old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup (21 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) cookie butter (do NOT use homemade)
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (85 grams) chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips
Directions
In a large bowl, whisk the oats, flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together. 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 the butter, cookie butter, sugars and salt together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add in the egg and mix for an additional minute.

Turn the mixer off and dump in all of the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on and off to pulse the ingredients together. Then turn the mixer on low until everything just comes together.

Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons), scoop out even portions of dough and roll them into balls. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet and make sure you leave at least an inch between each cookie dough ball.

Bake in your preheated oven for 6 minutes, then rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake another 6 minutes. The cookies will appear underdone - that is OK. Take the cookies out of the oven.

Allow the cookies to cool for at least 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: About 24 cookies

Source: Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Sunday, March 19, 2017

One bowl banana cookie butter muffins

Fabulous banana cookie butter muffins that are made in one bowl! These muffins are so amazing that you'll want to make a second batch right away!
You all know that we are a muffin-loving family. We eat them almost every week, and some of us (aHEM) eat them just about every day for breakfast. What I like better than muffins are ones that are made in one bowl. I mean, who wants to do dishes?

I knew that we had a few frozen bananas in the freezer and at least one jar of pumpkin cookie butter in the pantry. I decided to bake something that used both of those ingredients. While this is made in the stand mixer, you can definitely try mixing these by hand if you really want to cut down on the number of things you need to wash.
Addie and I have happily been munching on these. While the cookie butter flavor isn't as pronounced as I would like, it's a fantastic, cupcake-like muffin. The cookie butter prevents the muffin from drying out and provides some subtle flavor undertones. Addie claims that these were too much like banana bread, but I think that's a good thing.

We ate the entire batch really quickly and probably could have devoured another batch just as easily. Next time I may try making these with regular cookie butter.

One bowl banana cookie butter muffins
  • 1 cup banana, mashed
  • 3/4 cup cookie butter (I used pumpkin cookie butter)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan 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, beat the banana, cookie butter, eggs and vanilla together on medium speed until well combined and almost doubled in volume, about 3-4 minutes.

Turn the mixer to low and add in the baking powder, baking soda, salt and all-purpose flour. Mix until everything just comes together - do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

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

Yield: About 12 muffins

Source: Meg's Everyday Indulgence

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