Friday, October 21, 2016

Skating Fridays

A Different Way 

Now you all know that I've been on the struggle bus with my double salchow. My body just doesn't want to cooperate and get into the correct alignment for this jump. You'd think that with a (fairly solid) axel, that a double salchow would be easy peasy. Not so.

Coach B has me doing the double salchow entrance from a 'magic circle" entry, which is where I am pigeon-toed on the ice. This means that I am on two inside edges.

I asked two skaters from my rink if I could video them doing a double salchow so I could watch their technique. Both agreed, and what I found was really interesting. Both skaters (one male, one female), did theirs from a toe-loop-like entrance. That meant that their free foot was actually on an outside edge and kicking through like a toe loop.

Puzzled, I asked my coach about this, and she said that it was just a different technique. In fact, she said that many higher level skaters (particularly those who execute triple or quadruple salchows) use this outside edge tactic pretty often.


Don't believe me? Here is a video of Sasha Cohen executing a quadruple (!!) salchow with the outside edge that I am referring to.

So now you know. There's always a different way to accomplish the same element. And there is no "right way." It's simply the "right way" for you and your body. Mine has yet to figure it out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Pumpkin zucchini chocolate chip bread

With zucchini season winding down and pumpkin season finally here, this pumpkin zucchini chocolate chip bread marries the two together in perfect harmony. With no oil or butter, this bread is a great way to officially welcome fall!

Guess what? It's finally time to start baking with pumpkin! Several of my blogging friends started in August, but that's way too early for me. We were still experiencing 90+ degree weather, so it didn't feel like fall yet.

A few weeks ago, our grocery store started putting out the pumpkins and all things cinnamon. They placed these fall decorations outside near the store entrance and I couldn't help but take in all the spices and aromas. Ahh.

So I decided it was finally time to break out the canned pumpkin. Our CSA delivered more zucchini (yay) that was just begging to be used so pumpkin zucchini bread it was.

I was tempted to halve this recipe but decided against it so I could share one loaf and eat the other on my own gift the other to a friend or neighbor.

Pumpkin zucchini chocolate chip bread
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two standard 9"x5" loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugars and applesauce. Add in the eggs and mix well. Gently fold in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the pumpkin and zucchini. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overmix the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared loaf pans and bake in your preheated oven for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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

If desired, you can frost with your favorite cream cheese icing for an added bonus!

Yield: Two loaves

Source: Barely adapted from Shugary Sweets

Sunday, October 16, 2016

German apple cake (apfelkuchen)

This super simple German apple cake is easy to assemble and tastes just like fall! Freshly sliced apples sit on top of a custard-like cake base. Drizzle with some caramel and call it breakfast!

It was my regularly scheduled baking time, and my husband came downstairs and asked, "What are you baking today?" When I told him German apple cake, he did a little dance. OK, maybe not, but he was clearly happy about that answer.

This was probably one of the easiest cakes I've ever baked from scratch. You let the mixer do all the work, top it with some sliced apples and sprinkle on some cinnamon sugar. Bada bing, bada boom. Apple cake.

Once the cake was done, my husband re-emerged downstairs and asked if he could have a slice. It hadn't finished cooling off yet, but I don't think he cared.

He only ate half and saved me the other half (so sweet!). I knew I liked the cake as soon as my teeth sunk into it. The cake layer is soft and bit custard-like and the apples provided some contrasting textures. And don't forget the crunchy cinnamon sugar topping! I drizzled mine with caramel sauce because that's how I roll. All apples need caramel, right?

I'm not sure if we'll be sharing this cake. Let me rephrase that. I'm not sure if I'll be sharing this cake with anyone. Heh heh.

German apple cake (apfelkuchen)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • 2-3 small Gala or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease or spray a 9" tart pan (you can also use a round cake pan if you don't own a tart pan).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In he bowl of your 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 well incorporated. Then add the almond extract.

Turn the mixer down to low and add in the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Transfer the batter to your prepared tart pan and spread the batter out with a spatula. The batter will be sticky.

Arrange the apples on top of the batter. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it on top of the apples.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 9" tart (about 8-12 servings)

Source: Kitchen Tested

Friday, October 14, 2016

Skating Fridays

Update on Double Loop

First, I need to add a disclaimer. I have not been actively working on a double loop. Nor have I officially been taught one. But, I know that a double loop is pretty much the foundation to any multi-rotational jump so I will occasionally attempt a few.

While I haven't spent too much time on this jump, I thought it would be fun to see how this jump has changed (and hopefully improved) since I last filmed it. I'm being perfectly honest here: I have never landed a clean one, so please don't expect to see a fully rotated, beautiful jump. I'm just here to share my little bit of progress with you all.

Here is a super slow attempt from December 2015.

And here is the attempt from October 2016. I'm very aware that I am still not making ankle contact (sigh), and that my body likes to open up really early AND that this not a clean jump. But, it does look more and more like a real attempt rather than just an overrotated single jump.

 I hope to land a real one sometime soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Easy skillet brownies

These super dense and fudge-like brownies are made in a skillet. The skillet produces a unique crackly and crunchy texture that is perfect for the brownies!
Dense. Rich. Fudgy. Isn't that exactly what a brownie should be? Now what if I said that you can make these in a skillet? Your brownies will come out nice and warm from the oven and then you should totally top them with a scoop of ice cream and maybe with a drizzle of caramel sauce too.

Trust me when I tell you that these were some of the best brownies ever. I gave some to Coach B before our weekly skating lesson, and she and took a short break by the boards. As we were chatting, she stopped to take a bite of these brownies. The first words out of her mouth was, "Oh my gosh." I honestly wasn't sure if we would continue the lesson because she had lost her train of thought.
These brownies are what dreams are made of. Dress them up or down for your personal tastes, but just make them. They are so perfectly chocolate-y, super fudgy and oh-so perfect.

Easy skillet brownies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
  • Powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.

While the butter is melting, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Allow the butter to cool slightly and then pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients (do not wipe the skillet - you'll want that layer of melted butter). Mix well.

Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well. Gently fold in the flour until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your skillet and smooth with a spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Allow the brownies to cool before dusting with powdered sugar and serving.

Leftover brownies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will last for several days - unless you live in my house.

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

Source: Brooklyn Homemaker

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Zucchini muffins

These are the ultimate zucchini muffins - they are soft, chewy and full of cinnamon and nutmeg and contain no butter or oil. When you're in the mood for a regular old zucchini muffin, make these!
I love chocolate for breakfast. Really I do. But, there are some days (yes, they really exist) where I don't want it first thing in the morning. I had some zucchini in the refrigerator that I wanted to turn into muffins, but I wanted to make some plain old zucchini muffins. No chocolate chips, coconut milk or anything fancy. Just zucchini muffins.

I'm not gonna lie - these are my favorite zucchini muffins by far. I make them several times each summer and jazz them up and down depending on my mood. But for some reason, I didn't want to make those today.
I made these slightly healthier by using applesauce instead of oil or butter and also decreased the amount of sugar. I swapped out half of the granulated sugar for brown sugar so I could get a nice caramel flavor in the undertones.

These were the 2nd best zucchini muffins I've ever made. They require no special ingredients and can easily be made even healthier if you swap out some of the flour for white whole wheat. You could probably reduce the sugar by another 1/4 to 1/2 cup if you really wanted to, but I thought these were just perfect the way they were. And if you're keeping track, these are definitely kid and husband approved as well.

Zucchini muffins
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease 2 standard muffin pans and set aside.

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

In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, eggs and vanilla. Transfer to the large bowl and mix until a few streaks remain. Add the grated zucchini and mix until everything just comes together. Do not overmix.

Fill each muffin well with batter all the way to the top. Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will last several days.

Yield: I got about 17 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from Simply Recipes

Friday, October 7, 2016

Skating Fridays

A Disappointing Exhibition

I skated an exhibition of my new program recently and am sad to report that it didn't go very well. I was relaxed before I took the ice and was not nervous. I fell on two jumps during the warmup, which was weird. But then I landed them when I attempted them again (during the warmup) so it wasn't self-doubt.

When I took my starting position, things just didn't "feel right." I had a hard time feeling my feet beneath me and each stroke that I took felt forced. Things didn't flow like they do normally.

As a result, I was shaky and wobbly throughout the entire 2 minute and 40 second program. I even botched my flip jump, which is one of the strongest jumps in my repertoire. My spins were shaky and probably would not have counted for full value if this had been a competition.

I'm not sure what happened. I did all the mental preparations I should have done, I warmed up my body before the skate and thought I was ready to go. I guess it just wasn't the case. I skated another exhibition a few weeks before this one and things went better that time, even though I sat down on my final spin.

Needless to say, there is lots of work to be done. I still need to tweak a few things here and there in the choreography and focus on my presentation. Although, I did get a lot of great feedback that my overall presentation has improved tenfold. Now I just need my elements to match and I'll be fine.

I did take a video but am not sure if I will share it yet. I will when I'm ready.

As Coach B says, it's better to get the kinks out now. We don't want to peak now... we want to peak in March when it really counts (Adult Sectionals).


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