Friday, December 15, 2017

Skating Fridays

Tonya and Nancy


Have you all heard about the new biopic that is being released in theaters called I, Tonya? If not, it's a movie that is getting a lot of Oscar buzz for Margot Robbie, who plays Tonya Harding. It's almost been 23 years since the "whack heard around the world" when Tonya's ex-husband planned an attack on Nancy Kerrigan. I've watched several documentaries about this subject, and it's definitely one of the most memorable figure skating moments in our history.

Several years ago, my friend K and I skated a Tonya and Nancy duet for a local competition. It was such a blast to perform, and we had fully intended on bringing it back last year. Due to other commitments and conflicts, we didn't end up performing it again. But a new opportunity presented itself recently.

Each September, our rink's coaches start planning for our holiday show. This year's theme was The Olympics since it is an Olympic year. K and I decided that this would be the year that we resurrect our program and perform it for our holiday show.

We've tweaked it and made it even funnier, and I can't wait to skate it. I'll try to get someone to take a video so I can share it with you all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Melted ice cream mint chocolate chip brownies

Mint chocolate chip brownies with a secret ingredient - melted ice cream! This American classic gets lightened up with Arctic Zero Fit Frozen desserts. With no eggs, dairy or processed sugar, these brownies can't be beat!
What kind of ice cream person are you? Do you like it straight out of the freezer, or are you the kind that likes to microwave it? I'm in the former camp - I like my ice cream nice and cold so that I get a brain freezer after taking a few bites.

My sister-in-law is the opposite. She has sensitive teeth and enjoys microwaving her ice cream for a little bit before she digs in. When I thought about what she was doing (this is me in deep-dessert thought), I realized that she's melting eggs, cream and sugar together.  And those are classic ingredients in many desserts.
What I decided to do was to conduct a little experiment to see how melted ice cream would hold up in classic desserts. My friends at Arctic Zero gave me a few pints of their holiday flavors to try, along with some secret ingredients (mini chocolate chips and candy canes) and asked me to create something.

I came up with these pretty amazing brownies. Now you already know that Arctic Zero offers Fit Frozen Desserts with zero compromise - they are low glycemic, gluten-free and GMO free. So yes, these brownies are MUCH healthier than your typical bakery-style brownie. But you'd never know it.
Both my husband and 7-year old daughter oohed and ahhed over these brownies. They had no idea that these were made from healthy ingredients and were shocked to find out that the brownies contained melted Arctic Zero!

I featured the Hint of Mint flavor and added in chopped up candy canes and mini chocolate chips for extra flavor and texture. Plus, with all that minty chocolate chip goodness, these brownies are perfect for the holidays!
So if you're looking for a healthier dessert for those pre- or post-holiday eating marathons, consider these melted ice cream brownies. That way you can still eat your ice cream AND brownies all in one fun, lower calorie dessert!

Melted ice cream mint chocolate chip brownies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup Arctic Zero Hint of Mint frozen dessert, melted (the 1/2 cup is measured AFTER melting)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 candy cane, crushed
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

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

In a small bowl, mix together the melted Arctic Zero, 1/2 cup of melted chocolate chips, applesauce, and vanilla extract. Transfer this to the large bowl and mix everything together until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the crushed candy cane and remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few wet crumbs. Turn the oven off and remove the pan from the oven.

Allow the brownies to cool before slicing and serving.

Disclaimer: Arctic Zero provided me complimentary samples of their products. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Yield: About 16 brownies

Source: An Eva Bakes original

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Andes mint cheesecake

This showstopper will definitely wow all your guests at your next gathering! With Andes mints in the cheesecake and ganache topping, this mint cheesecake will be the star of the party!

I have to express my deepest apologies to Aunt Jo. She is a pie baker extraordinairre and the best cook on my husband's side of the family. She brought 4 varieties of homemade pie for Thanksgiving (cherry, pecan, pumpkin and apple). Not only does she make everything from scratch, but she also grows most of the food she makes, including the apples and cherries for the pies.

So why am I saying sorry to Aunt Jo? Well, this cheesecake was the most requested dessert of the day. After we demolished our turkey meal, I asked all the guests what dessert they wanted to eat. I decided to play waitress and took everyone's individual orders on a sheet of paper. Although there were 4 fabulous pies to choose from, most people chose cheesecake.

The feedback that our family gave on the cheesecake was overwhelmingly positive. They said that it was dense, rich, and full of mint flavor. Not a single bite was left on people's plates at the end of the day. My husband and daughter both finally a small slice apiece and said that this was one of their favorite cheesecakes to date.

So again - I'm sorry, Jo - about baking this cheesecake. I'll happily trade you another cheesecake for a pie or two!

Andes mint cheesecake
Crust

  • 1 cup chocolate wafer crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 32 ounces (4 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 cup Andes mint baking chips (can substitute with chopped up Andes mints if you can't find the baking chips)

Topping

  • 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups Andes mint baking chips (can substitute with chopped up Andes mints or semi-sweet chocolate plus 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract)
  • Andes candies, for decorating (optional)

Directions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a 10" springform pan by putting it on top of a baking sheet. I usually cover the bottom of the pan with two sheets of aluminum foil to catch any drippings.

Make the crust: In a small bowl, mix the wafer crumbs, sugar and butter together. Press onto the bottom of your springform pan and bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.

Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Add the vanilla and peppermint extract. Turn the mixer off and fold in the baking chips by hand. Pour this on top of the baked crust and bake in the oven for 65 minutes or until the top is no longer jiggly. Allow cheesecake to chill to room temperature.

Make the topping: Heat the cream in the microwave until hot but not boiling. Add in the baking chips and stir until all the chips are melted. Set aside until ready to decorate.

Assemble the cheesecake: Run a warm knife around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the sides. Pour the topping onto the cheesecake and allow to run down the sides if desired. Decorate with additional Andes mints, baking chips or shaved chocolate for a pretty presentation.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight before serving.

Cheesecake should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for at least a week.

Yield: One 10" cheesecake; about 10-12 servings

Source: Genius Kitchen

Friday, December 8, 2017

Skating Fridays

Bronze Pairs Test (Video)



I know you've all been eagerly anticipating this... here is the video from our Adult Bronze Pairs test. A few things to note here:
  1. I technically did not need this test in order to skate pairs. The USFS rules grandfather me in to either Silver or Gold Pairs since I have passed my Gold Freestyle. I am only allowed to compete in Silver or Gold Pairs (not Bronze).
  2. My partner needed this test in order to compete pairs. He has passed his Bronze Freestyle and is currently working on Silver Freestyle. If he passed this test, then he could skate either Bronze or Silver Pairs. Since I'm unable to skate Bronze Pairs, we would have to compete at Silver Pairs together.
  3. Surprisingly, I was not a bit nervous for this test at all. I viewed this as a "fun" test so the results honestly didn't matter to me. Maybe that's why I had so much fun with this and tried to up my presentation.
  4. We had the option to skate this test twice - once for a score for me, and once for my partner. We opted to skate only one time and to receive the same score. I didn't know testing twice was even an option!
  5. My partner choreographed this program two weeks before our test. I'd say he did a pretty good job (we enlisted the help of a skater friend who outlined the beginning of it for us but she had to back out due to other commitments).
We passed from all 3 judges. Two of the judges passed us 0.1 over - this extra tenth of a point was based on our presentation. Some comments included "great salchows!" "you skated to the music" "good unison" and "good choreo."We had a little bit of a fumble on the ending pivot spiral but were able to save it.

We're not sure what our next steps are - maybe we'll try to test Silver Pairs at some point or even put together a Silver program, but we have a long way to go before either of those things happen. There Silver Pairs couples across the country, and we are nowhere close to being competitive against those teams at the moment.

Without further adieu, I present to you our Bronze Pairs program!




Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chocolate chip cookie dough fudge

A smooth and creamy chocolate chip cookie dough fudge that is made in the microwave! This eggless wonder is a must-make for the holidays and makes a perfect gift!

'Tis the season for fudge! With the holidays upon us, it's time for me to start my fudge making factory so that I can gift it to friends, coaches and teachers. I normally make peppermint fudge and wanted to add in something new this year so I decided that cookie dough fudge was going to be it.

Like the rest of my fudge recipes, this one is easy and requires no candy thermometer. The thought of cookie fudge over a stove frightens me. I have a glass electric range that likes to turn on and off and cannot maintain temperature, so until I get a gas range (hint, hint), this easy microwaveable fudge will have to do.

This fudge starts off with an eggless cookie dough base and then gets mixed into your standard microwave fudge recipe. Top it off with additional chocolate chips for a pretty presentation.

If you're still looking for an easy, edible gift for the holiday season, look no further - this is it!

Chocolate chip cookie dough fudge
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanila extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 ounce) package white chocolate chips
  • 1 and 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips, divided
Directions
Generously grease or line an 8"x8" square baking 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 in the vanilla, flour and salt until well blended. Set aside.

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the sweetened condensed milk with the white chocolate chips. Stir well until it's smooth and free of lumps.

Transfer the cookie dough mixture into the large bowl with the melted white chocolate chips. Break up the cookie dough as best you can while stirring.

Pour everything into your prepared baking pan and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until set. Cut and serve.

Store the fudge, covered, in the refrigerator. It will last for several weeks.

Yield: About 36 servings (more or less, depending upon how big you cut your pieces)

Source: Barely adapted from Delish

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Biscuit Head's classic cathead buttermilk biscuit

Big, soft and fluffy buttermilk biscuits from Asheville's Biscuithead is the breakfast of your dreams! This Southern classic can be dressed up or down with fresh jams, whipped honey or even turned into a breakfast sandwich. The possibilities are endless with these popular cathead biscuits!

A few weeks ago, I went on a girls' trip to Asheville with 4 of my close college friends. The last time all of us were all together was in college. A few of us have been together since, but not all of us at the same time. So this particular weekend was long overdue.

I had never been to Asheville but had heard many wonderful things about it. It was supposed to have an amazing restaurant and shopping scene, not to mention the Biltmore Estate that was nearby. While we opted out of the Biltmore tour, we did indulge ourselves in a full day at the Grove Park Inn Spa. And holy cannoli, that place was heaven in the mountains. After our 1-hour spa treatments, we got to the enjoy the rest of the amenities for the remainder of the day. My favorite relaxation spot was a waterfall sauna where the waterfalls fell so hard and so quickly on me that it acted like a massage.

Earlier that morning, my former roommate E had gone to a local restaurant called Biscuit Head. This was an Asheville institution where the lines are almost always out the door. E went and lined up as soon as she could and ordered several biscuits for us to try. She also brought us some fresh jam from their jam bar (YES that is a thing, and I want one!). Needless to say, these were the best biscuits I had ever tasted. They were tall, soft, fluffy and full of buttery goodness.

I had to recreate it.

Lucky for me, Biscuit Head had a cookbook, and their signature cathead biscuit was the featured recipe. I promptly ordered myself a copy and have been scouring through the cookbook to see what to make next.

If you've never been to Asheville, go, and go now. If you're unable to make it for some reason, make these biscuits. You'll finally understand why people line up for an hour just to sink their teeth into these fantastic biscuits.

Biscuit Head's classic cathead buttermilk biscuit
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (they use White Lily brand)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups cake flour (they use King Arthur Flour brand)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2 cups whole buttermilk
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease a cast iron pan or baking sheet and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt and baking powder. Add in the butter cubes and mix by hand. Pinch the butter cubes so they disperse throughout. Slowly add the buttermilk and gently fold it in by hand or with a spatula/wooden spoon. Do not over mix.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto your prepared pan, making sure to have each dough mound touch the next one.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and fluffy.

Yield: I got 9 biscuits, but the recipe says it will make 6 huge ones (at 5 ounces each)

Source: Biscuit Head by Jason & Carolyn Roy

Friday, December 1, 2017

Skating Fridays

Adult Bronze Pairs Test - Passed!

Obligatory photo with test papers and coaches (Nick Perna and YouTube)

I am ecstatic to share that my pairs partner and I both passed our Adult Bronze Pairs test this week. Those of you who follow me on Facebook already knew this, so thank you for checking with me there.

This was no easy feat. We had a pairs coach move to our rink in late summer and learned some of the fundamentals from him. He unexpectedly moved away about 4 months afterwards so we were left without a coach. Unfortunately for us, there are no pairs coaches in our area, so we had to coach ourselves. We constantly joked that we relied heavily on "Coach YouTube."

We also enlisted the help of coach extraordinaire, Nick Perna, who offered us FaceTime lessons. He took a look at our elements and helped us refine them to be test-ready. We also worked briefly with a dance coach who helped us with the partnering aspect of the test.

By the time we signed up for the test, we had no official coach, no music and no program. We had about 3 weeks to put everything together. It was officially time to cram.


Our test chair said that this was the first pairs test our rink has seen in at least 15 years. Pretty cool, huh?

I'll post the video next week so stay tuned!


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