Friday, March 23, 2018

Skating Fridays

Adult Sectionals, Part 2

After the excitement of the Championship Gold Ladies event the previous day, I had two more events to skate. I entered the Gold Dramatic event and the Gold Duet.

There were 6 ladies in my dramatic event, and I was 2nd to skate. I tried to "sell" my program and emoted as much as I could. But alas, I came in last place (although I did receive a 1st place ordinal from one judge).

I put that behind me and started getting ready for my duet. My friend and I were the last skaters of the evening so we wanted to bring down the house. She and I skated our Tonya and Nancy duet and had a blast. My friend really worked the crowd and we put on the performance of a lifetime. We earned the gold medal and most importantly, lots of laughs from those who saw the program.

All in all, I had an amazing time over the weekend and was able to reconnect with old friends and meet new ones. I can't wait to see everyone again.

Here is our video!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Salted caramel chocolate tart

A gorgeous salted caramel chocolate tart that will remind you of a candy bar! With a crunchy chocolate crust, a generous layer of sticky caramel and a smooth ganache layer on top, this dessert is sure to impress!

We had just received the latest issue of Bon Appetit when my husband stopped in his tracks and said that I had to make this. He handed me the magazine, and when I saw the name of the dessert, I immediately agreed.
The recipe didn't seem too difficult. I would need to make a chocolate crust (in my brand new tart pan!), fill it with a salted caramel and then top it with a luscious ganache. What's not to love about that?
This recipe does take a bit of time to cool the dough before baking and to allow the caramel layer to set. So make sure you set aside a few hours to bake this tart. Thankfully, a lot of that time is waiting time, so you can go ahead and browse your favorite Pinterest boards or whatever makes you happy.

When I took a bite of the tart, it immediately reminded me of my favorite candy bar - a Milky Way - with the chocolate and caramel pairing. The crust can get a little bit crumbly so just make sure you have a few napkins handy to wipe them off your mouth.
We all loved this tart and think that Bon Appetit did another fantastic job with another winning recipe.

Salted caramel chocolate tart
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 Tablespoons cold milk or water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (do not go over 70% cacao), chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Flaky sea salt
Make the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar, salt and flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers. The mixture will resemble wet sand. If you pinch it, it should stay together. Add the egg yolk and milk and mix until a loose dough comes together. Knead with your hands for a few minutes until you get a smooth dough. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. While it is chilling, make the caramel.

Make the caramel: In a medium sized saucepan, mix together the sugar, cream of tartar and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar gets bubbly and the mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. Take the saucepan off the stove and add in the butter, one piece at a time and stir vigorously (the mixture will bubble and fizz). Slowly add in the cream and stir vigorously again (it will continue to bubble and splatter). Stir in the salt and set aside. Caramel can be made a day in advance - just heat it up in short spurts to get it soft again.

Bake the crust: Once the dough is chilled, allow it to thaw for about 5 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle. Generously grease a removable tart pan that is either 9" or 10" in diameter. If you don't own a tart pan, you can make this in a round cake pan or even a springform pan. Remove the bottom from the tart pan and place the rolled out dough on top - the dough should hang over the edges. Place the removable bottom back into the tart pan and gently push the overhung dough up onto the sides of the pan. It's OK if the dough hangs over the edges here. Use a rolling pin to roll over the top of the pan - the excess dough will fall off. Press down on the bottom of the crust with a measuring cup or any other flat-bottomed item. Prick the crust all over with a fork and freeze the crust for about 15 minutes.

Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and line the top of the crust with foil. Add pie weights, beans or anything else to weigh down the crust. Bake in your preheated oven for about 12-15 minutes or until the crust appears dry. Carefully remove the pie weights and patch any holes with leftover dough. Bake for an additional 18-22 minutes or until the crust is firm and dry. Transfer to a wire rack and allow it to cool.

Make the ganache: In a large measuring cup, microwave the cream until just bubbling. Add the chopped chocolate and allow to sit for about 1 minute. Then stir vigorously until everything is smooth and glossy.

Assemble the tart: Once the crust is cooled, pour the caramel on top. Let it sit and firm up for about an hour. Then pour the ganache on top, and using the back of a spoon, you can make decorative patterns or swirls. Sprinkle the top with the flaky sea salt. Allow the tart to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

The tart can also be made a day or two ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Allow it to thaw for 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

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

Source: Barely adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2018 issue

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cinnamon banana muffins

Cinnamon banana muffins make a great breakfast or snack during the day. These are a great alternative to a classic banana bread or banana muffin!
Do you guys ever participate in spring cleaning? While I don't set a dedicated time to organize my home and my life, there are times when it's time to start throwing away the old stuff and de-cluttering.

Last fall, I got fed up with all the junk that was in our garage. We kept it really unorganized since we moved in. I don't know why. Stuff just started piling up and I couldn't take it anymore. For a type-A personality like myself, it was driving me nuts. So I finally hired a company to build some organizational systems into my garage. Life has been better since then.
Another area that is constantly a mess is my freezer. We have things from who-knows-when, and my husband is usually the one that finds them and throws them out. I was digging in there one day and found a lot of bananas. And rather than make some boring banana bread, I made some cinnamon banana muffins instead.

I've been avoiding using butter in muffin recipes to make mine a little bit healthier, but I used it this time so I could stick to the original recipe with the creaming of the butter and sugar. That process made these muffins light and fluffy. I did swap out the oil with applesauce and used white whole wheat flour to lighten up the calories a tad.

These were some pretty fantastic muffins. My family all enjoyed them, and my husband and I particularly enjoyed the fact that the freezer was a little bit more de-cluttered. I'm afraid to tackle some other rooms, like my closet... ;)

Cinnamon banana muffins 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup overripe bananas, mashed (about 2-3 large) 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute with white whole wheat if desired)
  • Coarse sugar for topping, optional
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, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the eggs until well incorporated. Add the applesauce, baking soda, bananas, cinnamon, vanilla and salt and mix well.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the flour. Mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with the coarse sugar and bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 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.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Friday, March 16, 2018

Skating Fridays

Sectionals, Part 1

I am back from my Sectionals event and am ready to give you a summary of how the weekend went. This year's event was a bit crazy, since there were 30 (!) ladies entered in my championship event and 39 ladies in the Silver event. Since there were so many competitors, they had to extend the schedule out by a day.

The day before my competition, I could not spin to save my life. I had a lesson and complained to my coach about it and she told me to cover over to the boards. She took one look at my blades and said that I had no rocker left and needed new blades ASAP. Um, that was not going to happen with 24 hours before my competition. I made an emergency call to my blade guy and he was able to shave off part of my bottom toe pick and create a rocker for the time being. I wasn't going to be able to skate on it until the day of the competition so I was nervous and anxious.

We arrived one day earlier than planned so that I could attend my official practice ice at 7:25 the next morning. I ran through my program and missed a few elements and then tried to go back to the hotel to relax. My blade felt fine during the warmup, thankfully. A friend sent me inspirational messages, and I attempted to take a nap (I didn't actually fall asleep, but it felt good to just chill).

As I started to get ready for my event, I felt some butterflies in my stomach. But I tried to take the attitude that I had nothing to lose. I knew that making the championship round for the weekend would be a long shot, so I might as well attempt to execute every difficult element I had planned.

I lost a coworker to Lou Gehrig's disease just a week before the event, and when I took the ice to wait for the announcer to call my name, a vision of him appeared in my mind. He was smiling at me, and I told him that I'd skate for him. Then I took my starting position.

I am proud to report that I finally was able to skate in the moment. This has been a constant struggle, where I typically think ahead to the future or dwell on the past. I took each element one by one and skated the final performance of this program. While my spins weren't "on," (the ice was a bit wonky that day and I was also nervous about my faux rocker) I was able to execute both of my axels and receive full credit for them. By the end of the program, I knew that I had achieved my goals for the day.

Once the scores were finally posted, I was in shock that I had earned 6th place out of a very strong group of 13 ladies in my qualifying round. They were going to take the top 4 ladies from each qualifying group and then the next top 4 scores for the championship round the next morning. I essentially was "on the bubble" for the next top 4 scores. It was a very exciting position to be in, and not one in a million years that I'd ever thought I'd part of.

As the events came to a close, I was excited for the possibility of being able to skate in the championship round. But alas, I came in 13th place overall and missed the championship round by 1 placement. Nevertheless, I was not disappointed, but more excited that I was able to even be considered for that honor. I was beyond thrilled to have earned a personal best and overcome my mental hurdles for several elements. This was definitely a huge win for me. I'm excited to build on this foundation and hope that my mental game continues to improve.

Next week I will recap the other two events I competed in. In the meantime, here is a video that my friend took of my freestyle event.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chocolate truffles

Rich, dense and perfect chocolate truffles for a special occasion or as an after-meal dessert! Dust them with cocoa powder, sprinkles or melted chocolate for a beautiful finish!
Is there anything better than receiving a box of truffles as a gift? OK, maybe a pint of ice cream with that box of chocolates, but I hope you'll agree that truffles are a pretty perfect dessert. I mean, they're bite-sized, smooth, rich and full of that intense chocolate flavor that I love.

What I don't love are the insane prices of these treats. One can easily pay a few dollars a truffle at some high-end stores and bakeries. If you can use a microwave and stir something with a spoon, then you can make these beauties.
All you need to do is heat up some heavy cream, add chocolate chips and stir it all together. Then after the mixture has cooled, just scoop and roll into balls and you're done. You can make them prettier by rolling them in cocoa powder, sprinkles or a layer of melted chocolate if that's what your heart desires.
I served these truffles with the chocolate torte on Valentine's Day and they were a big hit with my husband and daughter. With only 3 ingredients, these truffles will be a great addition to your baking repertoire to wow your friends and family!

Chocolate truffles
  • 1 and 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for rolling
Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl.

In a saucepan, boil the heavy cream. Pour it over the chocolate chips and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes. Then stir vigorously until the mixture is even. Allow to cool slightly and then transfer to your refrigerator and let it chill for at least an hour. The mixture should be slightly soft.

Scoop out spoonfuls of the chocolate with two spoons or a cookie scoop. Roll these out into balls with the palms of your hand.

Roll in cocoa powder, sprinkles, powdered sugar, melted chocolate or whatever makes you happy. You can eat them plain too. Place them back in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Leftover truffles (hahaha!) should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week.

Yield: About 2-3 dozen, depending on how big you roll them

Source: An Eva Bakes original

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Whole wheat cranberry oatmeal muffins

Hearty whole wheat muffins packed with oats and sweetened dried cranberries will jump-start your day. These muffins are great for breakfast or a snack in between meals!
One of my skating friends came to visit me last month. I met her at a skating competition, and we've become close since meeting in person. She traveled to visit me and to compete at a local skating competition.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with skating competitions, there is usually very little time to eat. It's not uncommon to go an entire day without having the time to eat a real meal. Since skaters need to spin during our freestyle programs, we cannot have a lot of food in our stomachs for fear of it coming back up. Therefore, we tend to snack throughout the day and attempt to eat after our day is done.

Knowing that we wouldn't have time to eat lunch on competition day, I baked these muffins for us to munch on before we took the ice. I made them hearty and healthier so they wouldn't weigh us down before we competed. I also took a batch of my whole wheat double chocolate muffins for a quick chocolate fix, and my skating friends were excited to have real food rather than pre-packaged granola bars and trail mix.

These muffins really hit the spot during hungry periods throughout the day. Since they were baked with whole wheat flour and oats, they kept me fuller. Granted, I was still starving by the time the competition was over, but the muffins served as a great lunch substitute.

Feel free to dress these up or down as you like and throw in additional dried fruits or even chocolate chips. These muffins are a great alternative to granola bars and trail mix and will keep your hunger pangs at bay for a while.

Whole wheat cranberry oatmeal muffins
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg, milk and applesauce.

Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold gently with a rubber spatula until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the cranberries and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

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

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

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

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from How to Bake Everything by Mark Bittman

Friday, March 9, 2018

Skating Fridays

Meeting Gracie Gold

Last week I was traveling for work. I did some research ahead of time and saw that there were a few rinks nearby. I was able to pay for some early morning freestyles online and decided to practice before my long day of meetings began.

I had heard through the grapevine that 2-time National Champion, Gracie Gold, was currently in the area. I was hoping that I would have the pleasure of running into her.

As my morning practice wound down, I had just about given up hope when in walked Gracie. She was there to coach a skater, and I nervously asked her if she would be willing to snap a photo with me. She was very soft-spoken and kind, and she happily obliged. I was so ecstatic to have met Gracie, as she continues to inspire me and other skaters around the world.

The next morning, I practiced at the same rink. I met an adult skater while putting on my skates and Gracie walked in again. We got to chatting a little bit, and I asked her if she enjoyed coaching. She said she did, but the early morning hours were a bit rough. She commented that she enjoyed meeting and talking to adult skaters. This made my day.

After that, I completely fangirled and asked her to sign my travel skating bag. Again, she graciously agreed.

Meeting her was an honor and privilege, and I wish her well on her skating and life journeys.  Gracie, if you happen to be reading this (one can wish, right?), thank you for being so kind to an adult skater like me. We are cheering you on and hope you can overcome whatever challenges you may be facing. You are an inspiration, and I wish nothing but the best for you. And please keep your snarkiness going on your twitter feed!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...