Sunday, July 24, 2016

Lemon curd

A simple lemon curd that only requires 5 ingredients! You won't need to separate eggs, use an electrical appliance or temper anything. Just one saucepan and a whisk and you're good to go! 
Have you seen the prices of store-ready lemon curd? My grocery sells one of those small glass containers for something crazy like $5. You can easily make this for much cheaper, and I will bet that it tastes way better. Plus, you don't have to ingest any crazy ingredients like shelf stabilizers.

This is a super simple, 5 ingredient lemon curd that requires no thermometers, tempering or even separation of the eggs yolks from the whites. All you need to do is dump everything into a saucepan and stir, stir, stir. Before you know it, you'll have lemon curd.

If you like your lemon curd a little sweeter, add more sugar. The version I have is perfectly tart and full of lemony goodness. It is a great filler for donuts, cake, or as an add-in for ice cream.

I hope you'll try making your own lemon curd. Once you find out how easy this is, you'll never buy the store kind again.

Lemon curd 
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons / 1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
Directions
In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients and mix well. Turn on the stove to medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens.

Allow to cool before transferring to a container to cool completely. Store the lemon curd in a covered container in the refrigerator. It will keep for at least 1 week.

Yield: About 2 cups

Source: Allrecipes.com

Friday, July 22, 2016

Skating Fridays

Visiting Other Rinks 


I'm not sure how many of you follow me on my Eva Bakes Facebook page (if not, you should!), but I have been doing some traveling for work this year.  I've flown with my skates and skated at 3 new rinks during my travels in 2016. I've posted photos from those rinks on my Facebook page and have thoroughly enjoyed skating in different venues across the country and meeting different skaters.

This week I am traveling again for work and have already pre-paid for freestyle ice at another rink. This particular rink's ice is paid in a time block. I paid a set price for a 4-hour time block and can skate for any portion of it (or stay for the full 4 hours). Regardless of how much time I am there, I still pay the fixed amount. I have never encountered this type of practice ice before but find it intriguing. I hope to meet other adult skaters on this trip.

Do you travel with your skates?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Addie's chocolate biscuits

These easy, no-fuss chocolate biscuits come from the 6 year-old daughter of the chef of the famed Gramercy Tavern in New York City. Split the biscuits and top with Nutella for an extra special treat!


We were visiting my in-laws recently when I decided to flip through some of my mother-in-law's food magazines. I came across a story about a 6-year old girl who liked to cook with her dad. Her father, as it turns out, happens to be the chef at New York City's Gramercy Tavern. And the little girl's name was Addie.

I was instantly drawn to the story since it involved a famous chef and a girl who had the same name as my daughter. To top it off, the two girls are the same age. When I told my Addie about this little girl, she asked me to make her chocolate biscuits.

I halved the original recipe because I didn't need to have 12 biscuits around the house. Addie's dough was also divided into two halves - one plain and one chocolate. Since my household is mostly made up of chocoholics (namely Addie and I), I decided to forego the plain biscuits. Do you blame me?

The biscuits were perfect - nice and flaky and not too sweet. I spread a thin layer of Nutella to jazz mine up a bit. These would go really well with some sausage and scrambled eggs on the side. Or perhaps just more chocolate and sprinkles? No matter how you serve them, just make sure you bake some.

Addie's chocolate biscuits
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 5 Tablespoons hot cocoa mix (I used Penzey's)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.

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

Using a cheese grater, grate the butter into the bowl. Gently fold in the butter by hand. Slowly add the milk and knead gently until everything just comes together. Add in the hot cocoa mix and knead until no dry spots remain (do not overwork the dough; it should look spotty with some white and brown spots).

Flatten the dough to about 1/4" thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or using the top of a cup or mug. Re-roll any scraps and cut until all the dough has been used.

Bake in your preheated oven for 12-14 minutes or until the biscuits are golden. Split and serve with Nutella or your favorite fruit spread.

Leftover biscuits should be wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature. They can be reheated and will keep for a few days.
.
Yield: About 6 biscuits

Source: Barely adapted from Rachael Ray magazine, June 2016 issue

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Banana banana bread

This no-fuss banana bread recipe is a perfect way to use up all those frozen bananas in your refrigerator. With a dash of cinnamon, this banana bread is wonderful for breakfast or a snack throughout the day!

My family and I just returned from a trip and had nothing in the refrigerator to eat. We arrived home late one evening and did not have time to hit the grocery store. I had nothing good to eat for breakfast so I had to make do with some instant oatmeal. Addie had a granola bar. It was uninspiring and boring to say the least.

I remembered that we had frozen some overripe bananas before leaving for our trip, so it was definitely time to bake some banana bread. I wanted to try a recipe that I hadn't attempted before.

I found this recipe in my recipe stash and made 2 minor changes. I subbed half of the flour for whole wheat and then added some cinnamon for an extra flavor punch.

Initially, I thought that this bread would be a bit too dry, but I was proven wrong. The bananas provide some moisture and natural sweetness to the bread, and the exterior had a nice crunch. The interior wasn't dry at all, but instead remained intact and produced a few tender crumbs. This would be great as a slice of French toast too - just slather on some Nutella and wake me up later.

Banana banana bread
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium overripe bananas, mashed
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

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

Add the eggs and mix until well incorporated. Turn off the mixer and fold in the mashed bananas by hand.

Transfer the banana mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold everything together very gently and until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix. The batter will be very thick.

Transfer the batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake in your preheated oven for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the bread to cool before serving. Bread should be stored in an airtight container and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. It can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: One 9"x5" loaf; about 8-12 servings

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes magazine; December/January 2014 issue

Friday, July 15, 2016

Skating Fridays

A Better Week (and a Double Salchow video)


Last week was very frustrating for me. Things weren't going well, and I had an epic fall from the "mohawk of doom." I've put that behind me and tried to focus on the positive this week.

I've been running my new freestyle program and am pleased to say that I actually have been finishing on time with the music. I've had to change my 2nd spin from the originally intended one because I'm not getting enough speed. A few times, I've ended about 3 seconds late but only because there were other skaters in my path and I've had to take significant detours around them. Had the ice been clear of skaters, I would have finished on time.

In addition, I am making progress on the double salchow. I've been trying to isolate the problem areas and committing to fixing them. My takeoff has improved tremendously, and I am actively crossing my legs. Now my problem is that I am opening up too early so I am landing 1/2 of a rotation short. I know this will fix itself over time, as I had similar issues with my axel when I first learned it.

Here is a video that I took this week:


I am relieved that this has been a better week for me and hope that this trend continues. Two more months until my first competition, so I have a little bit of time to iron out all the inconsistencies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Jam crumble bars

These crumble bars can be customized with your favorite fruit preserves or jam! Whether it's raspberry, strawberry or something else, these bars are sure to please a crowd.

My family and I were recently invited to a party. One of the coaches at the rink (who is K's primary coach and sometimes helps me) was celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. She invited her close friends, family and some additional friends and coaches from the rink to come over for a catered brunch.

I didn't want to show up empty handed so thought about making something that would withstand the heat. They have a beautiful back patio where most of their guests would gather, so I had to make something that wouldn't melt and could be easily grabbed with one hand.

I brought an entire batch of these jam crumble bars and used a luscious raspberry jam for my filling. Several people came up to me during the party and commented how they loved the bars. Luckily, I saved a few slices for us to try at home because these were almost gone by the time we left the party.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and Addie even found a girl to play bubbles and squirt water guns with. My shy little girl actually made a new friend, and she was sad when it was time to leave. I hope that my husband and I are lucky enough to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary one day. If so, it will be in Hawaii!

Jam crumble bars
Base layer
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fruit preserves or jam*
Crumble topping
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line a standard 9"x13" pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the butter reaches small pea-sized pieces. In a small cup or bowl, whisk the milk and almond extract together. Add it to the bowl and mix until well incorporated. Use your hands and knead the dough together until no dry ingredients remain.

Transfer to your prepared pan and spread it evenly. Press down on the dough with your fingers.

Bake in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the crust is just beginning to become golden. While the crust is baking, prepare the crumble layer.

In the same large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom and oats. Then cut in the butter as you did previously and knead with your hands until no dry spots remain. Set aside.

Once the crust is done baking, keep the oven on, but remove the pan from the oven. Spread the jam directly on top of the hot crust. Then evenly distribute the crumble on top of the jam.

Bake in the oven for another 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Allow the bars to cool completely before slicing and serving. Store the bars in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for several days.

Yield: About 18-24 bars

Source: Striped Spatula

Sunday, July 10, 2016

No bake graham cracker cookie butter bars

Too hot to turn on the oven? Then make these no-bake graham cracker cookie butter bars. With 5 simple ingredients, you can have a satisfying dessert without using your oven!

This summer has been hot. Seems like just yesterday when I was wearing sweaters and boots. Spring was a non-event here because we skipped the mild weather and went straight to 80+ degree weather. Summer arrived in April around here.

With the high temperatures, I haven't had the desire to turn on the oven. Can you blame me? But as always, I was craving dessert. I wanted something amazing but didn't want to spend too much time making it. Enter these bars.

I happened to come across half a box of graham crackers and a full container of cookie butter in my pantry. With 3 additional ingredients, I was able to make these no-bake bars.

While the bottom base layer was a tad thick for my liking, these were full of cookie buttery goodness. There is NO doubt that these are cookie butter bars. The base tasted like a fully baked shortbread-ish layer while the chocolate provided a nice decadent top. You could also throw in any add-ins you like for extra texture and crunch (chocolate chips, nuts, or even potato chips would be a fun salty addition).

If you're not in the mood to turn on the oven of if it's just too hot, make these bars. Just make sure you store them in the refrigerator so the chocolate layer doesn't melt.

No bake graham cracker cookie butter bars 
Base
  • 8 ounces graham crackers (can use regular, honey or chocolate varieties)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup cookie butter (Biscoff)
Chocolate layer
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Directions
Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until you get fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and cookie butter and pulse until the mixture holds together when you press on it.

Transfer the mixture to your prepared pan and spread it out evenly with a spoon or spatula. Press down on the base layer so the mixture stays intact.

In a microwave, melt together the semi-sweet chocolate chips with the cookie butter and mix well. Pour this on top of the graham cracker base and smooth out the top.

Melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. If you white chocolate seizes, add a little bit of cooking oil and stir. Drop dollops of the melted chocolate on top of the semi-sweet chocolate. Use a knife or spatula and drag it through the chocolate layers for a pretty presentation.

Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Bars should remain in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 16 bars

Source: A Simple Pantry

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