Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Red, white and blue trifle

A beautiful, tri-colored trifle that requires no baking! Use whatever berries you have on hand or are in season!

My brother is a lucky guy. His wife is an amazing cook and a phenomenal baker. They are constantly trying new recipes and even have their own unofficial pub at their house. Every time I visit them, there is a new beer or wine fermenting in the basement or garage.

When we visited them over the 4th of July weekend, I brought over my chocolate cheesecake. My sister-in-law had a trifle in mind, and I thought it was a perfect complement to the cheesecake since it was fruity and not quite as rich.

She had all the ingredients prepped by the time I arrived. And since she had her hands full with being the hostess, I happily stepped in to help assemble the trifle.

I loved how easy this was to put together, since it just requires a bunch of layers and involves no baking. The ladyfingers didn't get as soft as we wanted, so I'd recommend that you add a layer of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled and cooled).

You can easily customize this to include whatever fruits make you happy or whatever is in season. Since it was the 4th of July, my sister-in-law used red and blue fruits to celebrate the holiday.

Enjoy!

Red, white and blue trifle
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds raspberries or strawberries (hulled, cleaned and quartered)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 10 ounces (about 1 and 1/3 cups) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 and 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 20-24 ladyfingers (from a 7 ounce package), broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound fresh blueberries (about 2 and 1/2 cups)
Directions
Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Cut two additional sheets of parchment paper so that it is about 4 inches taller than the pan. Use these sheets to line the inside perimeter of the pan.

In a medium sized bowl, toss the raspberries or strawberries with the orange juice and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Using the back of a spoon, lightly mash them to release their juices. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

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 mascarpone with the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar on medium speed until well blended. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.

Place the ladyfingers on the bottom of the pan in one even layer. Add half of the berry mixture and top with half of the whipped cream. Make sure the whipped cream is even. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers, berries and whipped cream.

Top with the blueberries and chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

To serve the trifle, unhinge the springform pan and remove the parchment paper from the side. Slice and serve.

Leftover trifle should be stored in the refrigerator and will last for a few days.

Yield: About 8-12 servings

Source: My sister-in-law, who found it on Martha Stewart

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dark chocolate cheesecake

A super deep, dark chocolate cheesecake that contains almost an entire pound of chocolate! This decadent dessert goes well with coffee or fresh fruit!

My family adores cheesecake. It's a super rich treat that we only enjoy a few times a year, and it definitely gets eaten quickly. I get requests for cheesecake almost every time we visit family or have them over.

I went to visit my family over the 4th of July holiday and I asked my husband what I should make. My brother and sister-in-law were hosting us at their house for the day and I wanted to bring something that everyone would enjoy. Naturally, he thought of cheesecake. Since my parents have been on a dark chocolate kick, we decided that a dark chocolate cheesecake would be the way to go.

I brought most of my ingredients already prepped - I brought a bag of the cookie crumbs, my own cocoa powder, chocolate, and springform pan. All we had to buy was cream cheese and heavy cream. I made the crust and filling late at night and garnished it with the topping in the morning and it was ready in time for the holiday cookout.

The cheesecake was very well received. It was rich, dense and very chocolate-y. I thought it would pair well with a layer of fruit jam (like raspberry), while a few family members said it was fine just the way it was. Either way, we ate almost half the cheesecake that night, and we brought the rest home for my parents.

This was a wonderful dessert that brought my entire family together. I hope it will do the same for yours.

Dark chocolate cheesecake
Crust
  • 24 chocolate wafer cookies (about 9 ounces worth; I used a combination of chocolate wafer cookies and Girl Scouts thin mint cookies)
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Filling

  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 9.7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 4 eggs
Topping
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 ounces bitter sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9 or 10 inch diameter round springform pan and set aside.

Make the crust: Crush the cookies and/or wafers in a food processor, high speed blender or by hand. Add in the sugar and mix well. Add melted butter and mix until everything resembles wet sand and is a bit crumbly. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the crust is set. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the filling.

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, sugar, and cocoa powder together on medium high speed until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate and mix well. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix or else your cheesecake may crack. Pour the batter over your baked crust and smooth the top. Bake in your preheated oven for about 1 hour or until the center is no longer jiggly. Allow the cheesecake to cool slightly before transferring to a refrigerator to cool completely. It's best if chilled over night.

Make the topping: Heat the cream up in the microwave. Place your chopped chocolate and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for about 1 minute. Then whisk vigorously with a spatula until the mixture is completely smooth and lump-free. Pour over your chilled cheesecake and smooth the top. Refrigerate again until the ganache has set.

Garnish with additional chocolate curls, whipped cream or fruit. Slice and serve. Leftover cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen (slice into individual slices and wrap in aluminum foil and in a zip top bag) and thawed.
Yield: One 10" cheesecake; about 8-12 servings

Source: Epicurious

Friday, July 13, 2018

Skating Fridays

Grassroots to Champions - Part 1


This year I got to participate in another Grassroots to Champions seminar. Luckily for me, former National Champion Jason Brown was a guest coach for the weekend. I was fangirling the entire 2 days and couldn't stop squealing like a middle school girl. Yes, it was ridiculous, but I couldn't help myself.

On Day 1, Jason and his mother Marla gave a talk about his experience growing up with the sport. What I found admirable is that Marla always put family and education first. When Jason got pressure from his coach to move to California to train, his mother put her foot down and said no. Obviously, things eventually worked out for them, but they did not have to sacrifice their morals and beliefs. Skating was always a 3rd priority for the Brown family.

After the talk, Jason gave an autograph session, and I was able to get a picture with him. Once the program concluded, we returned to the rink for some open freestyle sessions and private lessons. I worked on my single jumps and double salchow attempts. We also had group sessions with Jason on edges and fun moves.

Later that evening, some of us went to dinner and Jason floated around each table to talk to the parents and skaters. He really made us all feel special and like we were best friends.

It was a wonderful day, and I'll continue with my recap next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

S'mores calzones

Too hot to make s'mores outside? Then try these huge s'mores calzones indoors! With just a handful of pantry ingredients, you can enjoy these tasty treats any time of year!

I don't know about all your parents out there, but my 8 year old is a feisty one. She is stubborn as a mule and definitely likes to have things her way. I guess it doesn't help that she's an only child.

She was getting upset one morning as my husband left the house to go exercise and started pitching a fit. He tried to distract her and knew that I had a s'mores recipes on my mind for the day. He told her to go ask Mommy what she was making and then her attention turned to me as he quickly slipped away. Crisis diverted.

Addie came to me and asked what I was baking. She looked at my ingredients and took a guess. When I told her that I was making s'mores calzones, she was beyond excited and the tears finally dried from her face. After I rolled out the dough, she helped me fill them with the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate chips. Of course, as Mommy's little helper, she got to sample some of the filling ingredients as well.

After we had lunch, she and I shared half a calzone. The pizza dough made it fun and chewy, and the filling was also fantastic. I think we could have filled ours up with more chocolate (because, chocolate) but we both enjoyed these very much. The recipe below makes 4 huge calzones. If you want, you can cut the dough recipe in half or just use half of a package of refrigerated pizza dough so it makes two.

S'mores calzones
  • 1 recipe pizza dough (or store-bought is fine; the recipe I used is below)
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips
  • Graham crackers
Pizza dough
  • 3 and 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 packet (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
Directions
To make the dough, combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Alternatively, you can make everything together by hand in a large bowl. Turn the mixer to low and slowly drizzle in the warm water and olive oil and keep mixing until the dough comes together in a ball. The dough should be smooth, pliable and somewhat tacky (not sticky). If it's too sticky, add more flour. If it's too dry, add a little bit more water.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rise and double, about 1-2 hours. 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut it into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle. Take 1 or 2 graham crackers and break them into smaller pieces and scatter them over half of the circle. Add a handful of chocolate chips and marshmallows and sprinkle them on top of the graham crackers. 

Fold the dough over so it forms a half circle and pinch the edges to seal. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are light golden. Allow the calzones to cool down slightly before serving.

Top with additional melted chocolate, marshmallows, and/or graham cracker pieces or crumbs if desired. Leftover calzones should be covered in an airtight container and can be reheated in the oven (wrapped in aluminum foil). 

Yield: About 4 large calzones (enough to serve about 8)

Source: An Eva Bakes original; pizza dough from Bobby Flay via Food Network

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Skinny double chocolate Greek yogurt muffins

Skinny double chocolate Greek yogurt muffins are a breeze to make and satisfy even the pickiest of family members! With no butter or oil, these muffins will sure to become a new favorite!

One sunny weekend morning, I was a madwoman in the kitchen. I had to prep for lunch (we make a homemade version of chicken and dumplings that is a family favorite - I still need to share my recipe for that with you all). I also wanted to bake a few things and these muffins were on the list.

As usual, we were running out of breakfast items other than your standard cereal and and granola bars. I knew that chocolate muffins would go over well with both my husband and daughter, so I quickly whipped these up.

Once these muffins were in the oven, I moved on to the next thing and then made our lunch. It was a whirlwind of a morning, but these muffins were the item that took the least amount of time. Two bowls, a quick stir for each, and then a quick mix together. Throw on in some chocolate chips and bake.

What I love about these muffins, other than the chocolate, is that these are skinny muffins. That means there's no butter or oil and can be made even healthier if you use all white whole wheat flour. Use your favorite type of milk and chocolate chips and these could even be vegan if you tried.

Skinny double chocolate Greek yogurt muffins
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, applesauce and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips and 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. Top with additional chocolate chips if desired.

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

Store muffins in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from Tastes Better from Scratch

Friday, July 6, 2018

Skating Fridays

Almost Clean Double Salchow


AHHHHHH! I almost landed an IJS-clean double salchow the other day. I was working on them one afternoon and was getting closer and closer. This attempt was the closest one of the day but is still a hair short. Plus I wasn't able to hold onto the landing so there's that.

But... it is the closest I have ever gotten to a clean jump. Fingers crossed that a clean one is forthcoming.

Would love any comments you have below!


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Soft and chewy sugar cookies

Soft and chewy sugar cookies that you can decorate with your favorite colored sugars (or not). These cookies require some chilling time so please plan ahead!

Have you ever had a cookie fail? My problem was that I knew the cookies were going to turn out badly but I didn't do anything about it.

I was baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies and even chilled my dough. When I took it out and rolled them, I knew the dough was still too soft. But I was in a rush and didn't want to wait to bake my cookies later. Big mistake.

My cookies spread out like crazy and were flatter than a pancake. Despite tasting great, they were ugly and un-sharable. Sigh.

So I had to redeem myself and made these cookies as a follow-up. This time, I chilled the dough for a very long time before even attempting to bake them. Ironically, even though the dough was very cold and stayed in the refrigerator overnight, my cookies still spread like crazy. But, they tasted great and I was able to use a cookie cutter to salvage their appearance!

Happy 4th of July!


Soft and chewy sugar cookies
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Colored sugar, for rolling, optional
Directions
Line two standard baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder 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 together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. The dough will be soft.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop portions of dough and roll into a golf-ball sized mound. Roll around in your colored sugar (or even granulated sugar) if desired. Place on your prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Chill or freeze the dough balls until they are no longer soft. This is super important so your cookies don't spread like crazy.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until they are slightly golden around the edges. The cookies will continue to set as they cool.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 15 cookies

Source: Genius Kitchen

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