Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oatmeal muffins

This is a fantastic oatmeal muffin that you can dress up or down with dried fruit or nuts. It's soft and fluffy without feeling too hearty or dense. They are definitely kid-approved!
Call me crazy, but I think I'm starting to lose my mind as I get older. I find myself heading to the pantry, only to forget what I was supposed to be doing there. Then I'll start walking up the stairs and when I'm halfway up, I don't remember why I was going upstairs.

Am I the only one? Or do you experience this loss of memory too? Maybe I'm the only crazy one here.

So these muffins. I had every intention of making these oatmeal raisin muffins. I really did. I searched high and low in my pantry and couldn't find the raisins, even though I was fairly certain we had a big box of them. And because I wasn't able to locate them, these just became plain oatmeal muffins.
Even without the raisins, these muffins were fabulous. The oats made them nice and hearty while the warm cinnamon and nutmeg gave them a nice warm undertone. I kept mine in the refrigerator, and they heated up very nicely in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast.

As for those raisins - do you want to know where they were all this time? In the refrigerator, and right next to the applesauce that I used in this recipe.

So maybe it's time for that yearly eye appointment...

Oatmeal muffins

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute with whole wheat if desired)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling, optional

Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

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

Transfer the milk mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly runny.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan, filling, each well about 3/4 full. Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top and 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.

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

Yield: About 12 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour


Friday, June 23, 2017

Skating Fridays

A New Dramatic Program 


I really admire artists who continue to reinvent themselves throughout their career (Madonna, Picasso, etc.). It's wonderful when one is able to find 'their style' and stick with it. Me? I haven't found my sweet spot yet in terms of my skating style or music.

We've tried lyrical (Piano theme from The Notebook), emotional (Angel by Sarah McLachlan), Broadway (Bring Him Home from Les Miserables), soundtracks (Star Wars melody), Top 40 (Uptown Funk from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars), and others. While some of these pieces have been more successful than others, I haven't identified my secret sauce yet.

So I thought I'd try to reinvent myself again this upcoming season and skate to something completely different for my dramatic program. I've cut the music already but have not begun the choreography yet. I'm excited to bring this music to life and see how I connect to it (and the audience).

Don't worry, I will post a video when I'm ready to share it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oatmeal chocolate chip skillet cookie

This giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is your answer to a cookie craving. With hearty oats and plenty of chocolate chips, you'll be tempted to eat the whole thing! Best of all, there are no cookie sheets or scoops to clean up!
Ever get one of those crazy mad cookie cravings? Like the kind where you are ready to drive to the nearest grocery store or bakery to buy yourself some? Well, what if I told you that you could have a giant cookie ready to eat in a little over 30 minutes?

I got one of those "I NEED A COOKIE NOW!" cravings very recently and decided in the moment that I had to bake cookies. Except that I didn't want to have to scoop cookies on multiple sheets and have to clean up all the bowls, spatulas and cookie scoops. Cue this skillet cookie.
While the dough was done by a stand mixer, I only had those dishes to wash. I put all of the dough into a greased skillet and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. After my kitchen timer went off, I went to town.

This cookie was amazing and definitely hit the spot. It was like just a heartier version of a giant chocolate chip cookie. The hint of ground cinnamon made the cookie even better - feel free to add some nutmeg too if that's your thing.
I shared this with some skating friends and got a text almost immediately afterwards. A skating friend, who normally doesn't eat much dessert, said that it was awesome. Feel free to share this - or not - the next time you get a cookie craving!

Oh, and just for fun, here is a behind-the-scenes look at how the photos above came to life. After photographing the cookies, I then edited the pictures in Photoshop afterwards. You'll see my old school Nikon camera in there (a D40, which isn't even made anymore!). Compare that to this new camera, which has 16 (!) lenses. How do I sign up??



Oatmeal chocolate chip skillet cookie
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease a 9" or 10" cast iron 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, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the cinnamon and salt until well incorporated.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the flour. Mix until everything is just incorporated - do not over mix. Turn the mixer off and fold in the oats. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle on additional chocolate chips if desired and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. The middle may appear slightly underbaked, and that is OK.

Allow the cookie to cool slightly before serving. Top with ice cream, caramel or chocolate sauce, or anything else that makes you happy.

Store the cookie in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for several days.

Yield: One large 9" or 10" skillet; about 8-10 servings

Source: Jessica N Wood

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chocolate chia seed pudding

This chocolate chia seed pudding is super chocolate-y and healthy for you! Kid-approved, this vegan pudding is a great alternative to dairy versions.

Don't worry, I'm not turning this into a health blog. I just like to try new ingredients occasionally and found some chia seeds at my local supermarket the other day. I like the texture of chia seeds and thought that it would be fun to make some pudding with it.

We are such big chocolate pudding fans that I wanted to try a chia version. Plus I wanted to see if my 7 year old would like it. Well, it turns out that Addie could not get enough of this pudding. She got chocolate all over her face and chia seeds in between her teeth. But she wanted more after she finished the first serving. Little did she know that this pudding was actually good for her.

This no-cook dessert just requires a bit of patience since the chia seeds expand overnight while cooling in the refrigerator. They turn out tapioca-like so it makes for a fun texture. The original recipe contained the wrong chia seed to liquid ratio, so I have corrected it below.

I enjoyed eating this as an afternoon snack and sprinkled mine with some granola for a crunchy texture. You can also eat it plain if that's your thing.

Bon appetit!

Chocolate chia seed pudding 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (can substitute with honey)
  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • pinch of salt
Directions
In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well until all of the cocoa powder has been incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Leftovers should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 4 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

Friday, June 16, 2017

Skating Fridays

Mid-year goals update


At work, it's time for our mid-year calibrations and performance management activities. That's when people managers get together to see how their team members are doing and if they are trending below, ahead of, or on par with their peers. I'm anxiously awaiting my one-on-one discussion with my manager to see how I fared when compared to my peers.

I thought that this would be a great opportunity to check in on my 2017 skating goals and see how they are progressing (or not).

Here we go!
  1. Improve PCS. About a month prior to Adult Nationals, my coach asked me about my goals for the competition. I mentioned "higher PCS," and she repeated the question. I was confused. After she explained that a goal is something that is within your control, I finally understood. I should have altered this goal to say that I wanted to improve my extension on landings, skate with deeper edges (etc.), because those were within my power to execute. I cannot control how an individual view/judges that. So with respect to PCS, while it did not improve score-wise, I am skating better than ever. I just hope this translates into higher scores at future competitions.

  2. Increase technical scores. Same as above. I should have said that I wanted to fully utilize my toe picks on jumps and hold my landings for a full second before moving to the next transitional element. I cannot control how a judge marks my elements on my score sheet, so I will be updating how I state this goal in the next year. So how am I progressing here? Well, I have been spending 75% of my practice time on basic skating skills and have noticed a drastic improvement. As a result, jumps are becoming easier to do. I would like to see this translate from practice to competition since that is where the true test lies. (In case you are wondering, my technical score did not improve)

  3. Approach 30 points in my IJS score. Same as #1 and #2. I cannot control a score. I need to be focused on being in the moment and delivering the elements as I know how to do them. I should alter this to say, "Focus on the element at hand and successfully execute it to the best of my ability." (And if you are curious, I did not approach 30 points this season)

  4. Land a correct double salchow. Still working on this. I am hoping that with my renewed focus on basic edges and skating skills, that it will translate into an easier double salchow. I'll be sure to post a video if and when I land one correctly.

  5. Add another axel to my program. This happened. I had two axels in the last version of my program. We'll see if I keep this approach for the upcoming season.

  6. Continue working on double loop and/or double toe loop. While we have been working on my skating skills, double jumps have not been a priority. So I have no updates here.
In summary, I need to restate my goals to focus on what I can control versus what it beyond my reach. I can skate on deeper edges, hold landings, emote, etc., but I cannot control a score or how a judge reacts to my skating. Theoretically, if I can skate with authority and with great precision, that should translate to better scores.

We'll see how I continue to improve throughout the rest of 2017.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Japanese red bean (azuki) milk bread

A super soft and fluffy yeast bread made with Japanese red bean (azuki) paste. Feel free to smear some jelly or chocolate spread on top for an extra special treat!
Do you guys ever get sucked into watching those food shows on television and then you have all of the cravings? It happens to me All.The.Time. As a result, I often get hungry for BBQ, Korean and all kinds of ethnic cuisines around 10:00pm. #foodieproblems

I'm not sure what show we were watching, but I wanted Japanese food. I didn't have the energy to make anything too difficult but I remembered that I had a can of sweetened red bean paste in the the pantry that I could use. Then this Japanese red bean milk bread was born.
The recipe below makes 3 mini loaves or 1 large loaf. I unintentionally underbaked my bread the first time so I had to pop them back in the oven for 350 degrees at 20 minutes to complete the baking. This bread was so good that I baked a full loaf the next day and also saved some red bean paste to spread on top of the dough for extra flavor.

We've been happily eating this bread as a side dish and even for breakfast. You can always add your favorite breakfast spread on top (chocolate hazelnut spread, fruit jam, etc) if it isn't sweet enough for you. I thought it was plenty flavorful but my 7 year old wanted more red bean - that's why I added some in the 2nd loaf.

Either way, I hope that you enjoy this bread. It's a great alternative to plain toast!

Japanese red bean (azuki) milk bread
Tangzhong
  • 1/6 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water
Dough 
  • 3/4 cup sweetened red bean paste (can find at your local Asian grocery store)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons butter or melted coconut oil
  • 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 and 1/2 cups bread flour
  • tangzhong from above
Directions
In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the flour and water for the tanzhong. Continuously stir until it reaches pudding consistency. Once it thickens, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the stove. Mix for another 30 seconds and set aside.

In a large measuring cup, mix together the red bean paste and the milk. Add the egg and mix well. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if mixing by hand, add the butter, sugar, salt, yeast, red bean paste mixture, tangzhong and flour. Mix until everything comes together. The dough will be extremely sticky, so you may need to add more flour. Mix until the dough is still sticky but workable.

Generously grease 3 mini loaf pans (about 5 and 3/4" x 3" x 2"), OR a standard 9"x5" loaf pan.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured working surface. If baking 3 mini loaves, divide the dough into 9 equal parts. If baking 1 large loaf, divide the dough into 4 equal parts.

Take one portion of dough and roll gently into a rough oval. Fold the dough into thirds like a letter. Take the dough and place it so the shortest end is toward you. Roll the dough slightly and then, starting with the shortest end toward you, roll it up, jelly-roll style (like you are making cinnamon rolls). If you have extra red bean paste, you can slather on a layer of it before roll up your dough - I did this the second time I baked it and got delicious results.

Place seam-side down in your prepared loaf pan. If baking 3 mini loaves, you'll want to place 3 dough rolls in each pan side by side.

Let the dough rise for about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 335 degrees F.

Bake in  your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes for mini-loaves or 30 minutes for a large loaf. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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

Yield: 3 mini loaves or 1 standard (9"x5" loaf)

Source: The 350 Degree Oven

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Copycat Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies

A copycat of the famous Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies from New York City. These gigantic beauties are the epitome of what a perfect chocolate chip cookies should be - crispy edges, soft interiors and bursting with chocolate chips!
 
There are some days when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie. Am I right? And I'm not talking about any old chocolate chip cookie. I'm talking about a big mama chocolate chip cookie that you can stuff your face into. One that seems to go on forever... until you almost get a tummy ache.

I'm here to solve that for you. These are a copycat of Levain Bakery's massive chocolate chip cookies. They weigh in at a hefty 5 ounces before baking. The entire batch is only 8 cookies. That means there's less to share, right? 

See this photo down here? That's my husband's hand. He wears a men's size large in gloves... so you can see how gigantic these cookies really are. He barely fit one of these babies in his palm.
We both quality controlled a cookie after it came out of the oven. We each kept taking bites until the behemoth was gone (cue sad face). The cookie was crispy on the edges yet soft and pillowy in the middle. Each bite was bursting with chocolate chips, and once the cookie was gone, I was almost satisfied. Almost. 

The good news is that we had 7 more of these cookies left. We gave most of them away because otherwise my booty would have expanded another dress size or two. And although my cookies expanded quite a bit, they were still amazing. Just make sure your dough is cool before baking. If it's not, just pop it in the fridge for 15-30 minutes before baking.

Enjoy!


Copycat Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookies 
  • 1 and ½ cups cake flour
  • 1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) COLD salted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 410 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cornstarch and baking soda 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 4 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time until each has fully incorporated.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the vanilla. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.

Your dough should be cold at this point. If it's not, stick it in the refrigerator to firm up. I made this mistake and my cookies spread.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. They should weigh between 5 and 6 ounces each (they are huge). Roll them into balls and place 4 on each cookie sheet and make sure to leave plenty of space in between each one.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10-13 minutes or until the tops look set. The cookies will continue to firm up as they cool. Allow them to cool slightly before serving.

Leftover cookies should be sent to me (just kidding... kind of). Store them in an airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: 8 giant cookies

Source: Wishes and Dishes

Friday, June 9, 2017

Skating Fridays

Working on a New Spin


Before Adult Nationals this year, Coach B showed me a video of a spin that she wanted me to try. I told her that we'd have to wait until after the competition to begin working on it since I was focused on my freestyle program at that point.

I've had a few short weeks to try out this spin, and it's making some progress. This is a spin that Alaine Chartrand does in her free skate in case it looks familiar. It is an upright variation, and a much prettier one than the dreaded A-frame in my opinion. I still need to straighten both of my legs since they are very bent right now.

We'll see how much progress I can make on this spin over the summer and if it will be up to par to include in next year's revamped freestyle program.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pastitsio (Greek lasagna)

Pastitsio is a Greek pasta dish that I refer to as "Greek lasagna." With layers of noodles, a hearty meat sauce and a thick, creamy bechamel, this meal is one of our favorite Greek dishes.

Our local community has an annual Greek festival that we always look forward to. My husband and I can't get enough gyros, spanakopita, baklava and other Greek treats. We've been going for many years, and one of my favorite dishes is what I lovingly refer to as Greek lasagna - pastitsio.

While I've contemplated making this on my own, I never had the nerve to try. Instead, I happily bought a slice at the Greek festival and typically order it at a Greek restaurant. I soon came to find that my 1st grader is also a big fan of the dish. If she isn't ordering a standard cheese pizza at the Greek restaurant, she's usually stealing my pastitsio. It was time to give the girl her own slice.

I found this recipe from my friend Ashley, who blogs over at Wishes and Dishes. Ashley and I have been online friends for several years but haven't actually met in person. Her recipe made this dish rather easy to make and not as intimidating as I originally thought it was going to be. If you can make lasagna, you can make pastitsio.

I made this for Mother's Day brunch (for just the 3 of us, mind you). It was such a hit that Addie wanted seconds and thirds. She also begged to bring slices for lunch the rest of the week, which I happily obliged. My husband usually isn't the world's biggest pastitsio fan but even commented on how awesome this dish was. I think I may have converted him, actually.

Don't get me wrong - once the Greek festival is here, I am sure I'll still buy a slice for Addie to eat. But now we can make all year long rather than once a year. Thanks, Ashley!

Pastitsio (Greek lasagna) 
  • 2 pounds ground beef or lamb (I used a blend of beef, pork and veal)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (one 8 ounce can)
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 pound ziti (can substitute with penne if you can't find ziti)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1 and ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cup milk (I used 1%)
Directions
Generously grease a standard 13" x 9" baking pan and set aside.

In a large nonstick pan, brown the ground meat and onion on medium high heat until no pink remains. Drain. Add the garlic and drain any remaining liquid.

Add the tomato sauce, wine, tomatoes, parsley, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium low and allow it to simmer for at least 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until just shy of al dente. Drain the pasta and add the oil and toss to coat. Add in 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 cup of the parmesan. Set aside (but not on the stovetop or else your eggs will scramble).

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until a thick paste forms. Cook for 1 more minute. Slowly stream in the milk and continuously whisk until the mixture thickens to almost pudding consistency. Remove from the heat and add in 2 beaten eggs and the remaining 1 cup of parmesan. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg. This sauce will be super thick.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Transfer half of the pasta to the bottom of your greased pan. Make sure you cover the entire bottom of the pan. Add all of the meat sauce on top. Then add the remaining pasta on top of the meat sauce. Pour the sauce on top of the pasta and make sure you spread it evenly across.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Allow the pastitsio to cool for 15-20 minutes before serving so that it will firm up.

If you don't plan on eating this the same day, you can cover with aluminum foil and allow it to chill in the refrigerator. Let the dish thaw for at least an hour before baking. You may need to add more baking time.


Yield: One 13"x 9" pan; about 12-16 servings

Source: Wishes and Dishes

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Skinny double chocolate muffins

Healthier double chocolate muffins that contain no oil or butter - these are even better than the full fat versions. Bet you can't eat just one!
I have fond memories of the 2nd birthday party we held for Addie. I baked her a chocolate cake and she somehow got chocolate cake crumbs in her armpit. My brother still jokes about it since we wonder how a little girl could get cake crumbs there. Maybe she was pretending to be a monkey after she took a bite of the cake? Who knows.

That photograph is forever etched in my mind. Addie had chocolate cake smeared all over her face (as well as her armpit area), and I just have to smile when I think about it.

When I baked these muffins, a similar thing happened. Addie somehow managed to get chocolate all over her face and hands. She was a little bit more careful this time, as the chocolate did not venture anywhere past her forearms.
I don't know what it is about little kids and chocolate covered faces, but it gives me great joy every time I see it happen. What's best about these muffins, other than the smearing of chocolate, is that it's healthier than most double chocolate muffins you will find. By using whole wheat flour and applesauce, these muffins are actually better than the ones you'd normally purchase.

My little chocoholic has been eating one daily for her breakfast and is going to be pretty sad once we run out. Guess I'll need to bake another batch soon... and buy some more napkins.

Skinny double chocolate muffins
  • 1 and ½ cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, brown sugar, honey, milk, applesauce, egg and vanilla.

Transfer the Greek yogurt mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together until a few dry streaks remain. Toss in the chocolate chips and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

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

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 10-15 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 and will keep for a few days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Live Well Bake Often

Friday, June 2, 2017

Skating Fridays

Sour Cows


One element in skating is called the salchow (pronounced "sal-cow"), which is named after Ulrich Salchow (1877–1949), who was a Swedish skater. The element name often gets butchered, intentionally or not.

When this element goes wrong for a skater, we sometimes like to refer to it as a "sour cow." Imagine all the funny memes you can create with this!

Well, I wanted to share this epic fall that I had last week during practice. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you... my sour cow!


This one left a bruise for sure. I completely slipped on my toe pick and fell forward.

Enjoy the laughs, and may your cows always be happy! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Skillet snickerdoodle cookie

This giant snickerdoodle cookie is made in the skillet. No cookie cutters, rolling, or cookie sheets required! Eat a slice (or two) - each bite is filled with cinnamon-y goodness!
In case you haven't noticed, I've been obsessed with cookies as of late. Cookiepalooza was well upon us, as I started baking my way through Dorie Greenspan's cookie cookbook. Well, since that endeavour, I've been crazy about skillet cookies. It's a much easier way to enjoy cookies without having to deal with cookie scoops, baking sheets and all the other mess.

Skillet cookies is where it's at. I mean, look at this glorious deliciousness:
I made this one morning and the house smelled like a million bucks. It's best not to overbake these or else your cookies will end up hard and dry. When in doubt, underbake these a little bit so the centers are soft. You can always top this off with a scoop (or two - who am I kidding?) of ice cream or your favorite chocolate or caramel sauce.

Save a slice for me, please!

Skillet snickerdoodle cookie 
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon mixed together
Directions
Generously grease a standard 10" cast iron skillet and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 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 the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until everything comes together. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on the bottom of your cast iron pan.

Transfer the dough to your cast iron pan and evenly spread it out. Smooth out the top. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cookie is golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Allow the cookie to cool slightly before serving. This would taste amazing with a scoop of ice cream, some caramel or chocolate sauce, or all of the above.

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

Yield: One 10" skillet; about 8-12 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Just a Pinch

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Copycat department store blueberry muffins


These blueberry muffins were once the rage of a Boston-area department store. Have one bite and you'll understand!
You all know by now that I am a muffin fiend. I'm obsessed. Don't believe me? Well, I've posted about 70 muffin recipes (including ~13 blueberry ones) on my blog since its inception. Seventy!! I seriously think I have a problem and seriously need to rename my blog to Eva Bakes Muffins. Ha!

Anyway, an online friend of mine told me about these muffins that a department store was famous for. Apparently, countless shoppers would go shopping at this Boston area department store and stop upstairs for a muffin. Unfortunately, the store was acquired by another department chain and the muffins eventually went away.

But never fear - here is the recipe! In case you are wondering how these compare to the 70 other muffin varieties that I have made, these are definitely one of the best. With a crispy, crackly top and soft, fluffy interior, I couldn't stop eating this muffin. The next time I bake these, I will try to find a way to make it a bit healthier so I may try substituting half of the flour with whole wheat and cut down on the butter.

Enjoy!

Copycat department store blueberry muffins 
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 2 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh preferred (but frozen is OK)
  • granulated or coarse sugar, for sprinkling
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 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, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the eggs, one at a time, until each is thoroughly blended. Add in the baking powder, salt and vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low and alternatively add the flour and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until everything just comes together. A few dry streaks may remain.

Mash about 1/2 of the blueberries and gently fold these in with the whole blueberries into the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan and sprinkle the tops with the sugar.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 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 a few days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: King Arthur Flour

Friday, May 26, 2017

Skating Fridays

Adults Skate Too!


The U.S. Figure Skating Adult Skating Committee just compiled a video from their #AdultsSkateTuesdays social media campaign and debuted it at Adult Nationals. It was also recently shared with the adult figure skating community.

This video features several high-profile skaters and coaches, including Frank Carroll, Johnny Weir, Kori Ade and Jason Brown, among others. 

What's super exciting is that I am included in the video at 3:52. You may remember that I attended a Paul Wylie seminar earlier this year. During the seminar, we filmed a fun snippet for the social media campaign. You'll see me in the front row looking like a fangirl. Sorry - it was hard to contain my excitement for being in the same arena as my skating hero.

Enjoy the video! 

#AdultsSkateToo 


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fig cake with cream cheese frosting

A beautiful and spice-filled dense fig cake topped with an irresistible cream cheese frosting. This is a wonderful cake for a celebration (or just because)!
YOU GUYS. I have to tell you about this cake. I made it for my family for Mother's Day (that's how I roll - I like to make my own celebration meal!) and it was a huge hit.

I discovered the magic of figs fairly late in life, as fig newtons never really did it for me as a kid. Maybe it was the crunchy texture in the cookies that turned me off, but now I am a fig fan through and through. Fig jam is always at my house because that is the best jam flavor ever.
Well, I sacrificed some of my precious fig jam in order to make this cake. I had bought a jar of the jam at a farmer's market in Pennsylvania the last time I visited my parents. Parts of the jam melted beautifully into the cake, while glorious chunks of it sunk to the bottom to provide a lovely fig-bottomed bite.

I topped my cake with a glorious layer of cream cheese frosting and smeared it in between the two layers as well. Feel free to double the cream cheese frosting so you can have a batch to taste test. I won't tell!
Everyone in my family loved the cake. I have a feeling that I will be making this again since it was so incredible. The fall spices would make this a lovely fall cake as well, so maybe I will bake this for my birthday as well.

Fig cake with cream cheese frosting
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fig preserves
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 batch cream cheese frosting
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease and line two 8" pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg 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 together the eggs, sugar and oil on low speed until well combined. Slowly add in the buttermilk and vanilla. Then add in the fig preserves and applesauce.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. Evenly distribute the batter into your two pans and bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers come out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool completely. You may want to level the cakes by slicing any domed pieces off with a serrated knife. These scraps are great for snacking!

To assemble the cakes, place one cake layer on a cake plate or platter, cut side up. Add about 1/4 cup of frosting on top. Place the second layer of cake, cut side down, on top of the frosting. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining cream cheese frosting.

The cake should be stored in the refrigerator and can be garnished with fresh figs or berries for a nicer presentation.

Yield: One 10" cake; about 10-14 servings

Source: MyRecipes; originally from Southern Living

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Funfetti sugar cookie bars

A perfectly soft and chewy sugar Funfetti cookie but in bar form so it's easy to share with others. These customizable cookie bars are topped with a fantastic Funfetti frosting for a special touch!
Addie shared a birthday party with one of her friends a few short weeks ago. She and this little girl have known each other since they were 3 months old. They were both enrolled in the same daycare and have been friends ever since. Last year, they even shared the same kindergarten teacher.

The girl's mom and I were discussing our birthday party plans for the year and just couldn't get motivated. We wanted to do something low-key without breaking the bank. We decided to do a fun swim outing at our local YMCA. We invited about 15 girls, and unfortunately only 1 or 2 of them were able to attend.
Rather than pay the $150+ to rent out the party room at the YMCA, we canceled the party and held at our friend's house. She ordered pizza and I bought an ice cream cake at the grocery store. Since I relinquished the cake to a grocery store this year, I figured that I could bake some Funfetti bars as an additional item.

The bars baked up beautifully, and I chose to use blue and white sprinkles to reflect Addie's favorite colors (of the moment). She is still obsessed with Frozen so the color scheme was perfect for her. I added the same sprinkles to the frosting to finish the look. You can absolutely customize the sprinkles to whatever color or shape makes you happy.

The girls loved these bars and had no problem finishing them off along with a slice of ice cream cake. I think they were sugared up for the rest of the afternoon. But, it was worth it to see their little faces light up that day.

Funfetti sugar cookie bars
Cookie

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • sprinkles

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter or grease a standard 9"x13" 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, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Add in the baking powder and salt until well mixed. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour until no dry streaks remain. Add in the sprinkles.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and spread it out evenly, making sure you cover all the corners. Smooth out the top. Bake in  your preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the tops and sides are golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely.

While the bars are cooling, make the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed. Add in the vanilla and salt. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Slowly stream in the milk and beat until smooth and creamy. Fold in the sprinkles last.

Once the bars have fully cooled, spread the frosting on top. Bars should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 24 bars

Source: Inside Bru Crew Life

Friday, May 19, 2017

Skating Fridays

Bobbe Shire Spin Clinic 


I had the distinct privilege of working with Bobbe Shire again recently, as she traveled to our club's sister rink. Bobbe's seminar was very similar to one that I attended last summer (here are the recaps from Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).

In addition to Bobbe's lecture and on-ice seminar, we also had separate breakout sessions for yoga, IJS and competition preparation. We even had our own adult group so we could get specialized attention for our needs. I found the IJS breakout session the most helpful since it was led by a technical specialist. She explained how IJS works and spent a lot of time answering our questions and how certain spins would get called under the system.

After chatting with the tech specialist, I realized why I have never gotten one of my spins called. My coach had been under the impression that the difficult spin variations were available for each foot (assuming you are changing feet and doing a change foot spin). Apparently, the rule is that the variations are only available once per program, and not once per foot. This is a big deal because once you 'use up' a variation, you cannot repeat it again. While I did not repeat a variation, the IJS code for the difficult elements was the same for both. And because I couldn't repeat a variation, the 2nd one never got called. Cue light bulb and frustration.

All in all, the seminar was a great refresher. We mostly worked on forward scratch spins, back spins, sit spins and camel spins. We ran out of time and did not have the opportunity to work on any additional spins or spin variations. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to get Bobbe's thoughts and expertise on some of the new spins I am trying to work on (coming soon!).

I did ask her a fun question and inquired about her favorite spin to teach. She said that she enjoys teaching layback spins and playing with arm positions.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Double chocolate muffins

These super moist double chocolate muffins are sure to knock your socks off! With no oil or butter, they are healthier than the bakery versions. Eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack!
When my 7 year old daughter isn't asking me to make butterscotch pudding, she's asking me to make chocolate muffins. She scoffs at blueberry muffins now and won't touch anything without chocolate chips. I guess I am raising a mini chocoholic, which is fun and scary at the same time.

These muffins were one of the best breakfast items I've made this year. Since they don't contain butter or oil, I don't feel quite as bad when I eat more than one in a given day. And you definitely know that's happened!
I replaced the butter and oil with applesauce, which keeps the muffins from drying out and keeps them light and springy. I loaded my muffins with extra chocolate chips because I'm a chocoholic like my little girl. Feel free to top these with a sprinkling of coarse sugar for a little extra crunch or throw in some chocolate chunks for variety.

If you want to eat cake for breakfast but can't justify it, make these instead. They're pretty dang close to cake so it should satisfy your cravings. Enjoy!

Double chocolate muffins 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 and ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I made my own by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar into 1 cup of milk)
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease or line 2 standard muffin pans and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, buttermilk, applesauce and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Gently fold everything together until a few dry streaks remain.

Add in the chocolate chips and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pans, filling each well about 3/4 full. Top with extra chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving. Keep them 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: About 15 muffins

Source: Barely adapted from Pretty.Simple.Sweet

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