Friday, September 23, 2016

Skating Fridays

Funny Things My Coach Says

One thing that I appreciate about Coach B is her directness. She doesn't beat around the bush and give me fluffy compliments. I've told her that if something looks wrong, then she needs to tell me so I can fix it. I don't want to be treated any differently because I am an adult.

Coach often has funny things to say to me about my skating but I had to share this gem that she muttered during our lesson yesterday.

I was showing her the footwork from my new freestyle program when she called me over to the boards. "You look like you are skating with a loaded diaper and you're trying not to any get on the ice." OMG. I just started laughing.

I'm not sure if most coaches would have given that visual image of a loaded diaper, but it sure was funny. And yes, I got the point and made sure I corrected my mistake.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ultimate fudgy frosted brownies

Looking for another brownie recipe to add to your repertoire? These brownies are it - chewy, fudgy, and topped with a generous amount of frosting! There's almost a full pound of chocolate in them!
We have some of the best neighbors. The family that lives across the street are amazing. Their two boys adore Addie, and one of them is a regular babysitter. The boys' mom told me that they always wanted a sister, so I guess they have adopted Addie as their sister in a way.

The neighbors invited us over for dinner one evening, and I knew I had to bring something that everyone would enjoy. I remember seeing these brownies on Ashley's blog and thought that they would be perfect to share.
I was astonished to see that the brownies used almost an entire pound of chocolate in them. Not that I had an issue with that, of course, because I love chocolate. The boys across the street did too, as I saw each child eat one after dinner. They even had a choice of dessert - brownies, ice cream, cake and pie. They all chose the brownie. Smart kids.

I loved how chocolate-y these brownies turned out. The brownies alone were decadent and fudgy enough on their own, but once I slathered a generous layer of chocolate frosting on top, it took the brownies up a level. Don't skimp on the chocolate in this - by using a good quality chocolate, your brownies will also turn out irresistible.

Ultimate fudgy frosted brownies 
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoon heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously line and grease a standard 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped chocolate and butter in 30 second increments. Stir until the mixture is uniform and glossy. Add in the sugars and mix well. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, until each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Then add the vanilla and honey and mix until just combined. Do not overmix this. Gently fold in the dry ingredients.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center yields a few moist crumbs.

Allow the brownies to cool. Prepare the frosting in the meantime.

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 on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add in the salt and cocoa powder. Then add in the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and cream and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. If the frosting looks too thick, add more cream; if it looks too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Frost the brownies by spreading on a layer of frosting on top of the cooled brownies.

Leftover brownies (if there are any!) should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will last for about 3 days. 

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 24 brownies (or more, depending upon how big you slice them)

Source: Baker by Nature

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chocolate breakfast muffins

Need an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast? Look no further than these chocolate breakfast muffins. With no butter or canola oil, this is a healthier alternative to store-bought muffins!

"Chocolate... chocolate... chocolate." That was the chant I was greeted one morning when I asked my family what type of muffins to make next. No subtle hints there. So chocolate muffins it was.

I made these slightly healthier than the original version and recommend that you add a bit more coconut oil or applesauce if you follow my recipe below. The whole wheat flour makes the muffins drier than I like them, so they were slightly crumbly.

Despite that nit-picky criticism, these were still solid chocolate chip muffins. The coarse sugar made for a crunchy topping and the muffins were soft and chocolate-y. These would be perfect packed in a lunch box for school days or a great after-school snack.

Chocolate breakfast muffins
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (can substitute for applesauce)
  • coarse sanding sugar for sprinkling, optional
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips.

In a small measuring cup, measure out the milk and mix in the vinegar. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract. Add in the milk/vinegar mixture. Transfer this and the melted coconut oil to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. The batter will be extremely thick.

Transfer the batter into your baking pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. If desired, sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar. Bake in your preheated oven for about 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 last for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 15 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

Friday, September 16, 2016

Skating Fridays


My home skating club hosts a pretty big figure skating competition each year. Skaters from up and down the coast come into town to compete. It's a pretty big deal around here.

The club officers sent a note to the members saying that the registration link was open. I went online, looked for my events, and added it to my cart. I hadn't pushed the button to actually "check out" yet, so the items were still sitting in my shopping cart.

The next day, our skating director came up to me and said that there had been a huge mistake with the competition. I was curious to hear what had happened. She said that the competition organizing committee, which was brand new this year, inadvertently left out the Adult Silver and Adult Gold freestyle events. I found that odd since I was able to add it to my cart the night before.

When I went back to look at the competition announcement, I realized that the skating director was right. The announcement clearly left off the Adult Silver and Adult Gold levels. The organizing committee had been scrambling to work with the competition referee, the US Figure Skating headquarters and other officials to fix the issue. Unfortunately, it was too late and there was nothing they could do.

Yes, I was disappointed about this news, but it was also good news in a way. While I normally use this competition as a litmus test to see where I need to improve, it gives me an additional few months to polish things up before the adult competition season begins in January.

Surprisingly, the local organizing committee reached out to me this week to offer a free exhibition after one of the judges' breaks during the competition. I was touched by this gesture, since I am fairly certain that they felt bad for accidentally excluding my group.

I'm looking at this omission as a positive thing so I can continue to focus on improving. As a famous ice princess once said, "the past is in the past... Let It Go."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

No-bake Nutella s'mores bars

Still too hot to turn on the oven? These no-bake s'mores bars will satisfy your dessert cravings! With pantry staples, you won't need to make a trip to the store to enjoy these indoor campfire treats!

The past few weeks here have been unbearably hot. I got in my car after work one day and the temperature gauge said it was 106 degrees F. Ugh. It's days like these where the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven.

But, my sweet tooth doesn't calm down despite the heat. It almost has an opposite effect, where I want something cold and sweet to offset the gross heat and humidity outside.

On one of those disgustingly hot days, I made these no-bake bars. Because they are no-bake, the texture won't be quite as solid as a normal bar dessert. They're a bit on the softer side and easy to eat with a fork.

Addie was so smitten with these bars that she ate hers in about 2 seconds flat. Miraculously, she didn't get any on herself (definitely a first). My husband normally isn't a big fan of marshmallows and even said that these bars were excellent.

So if it's still hot at your house and you don't want to give your oven a workout, make these bars. It's a great way to bring the outdoorsy s'mores indoors, but without turning on the heat.

No-bake Nutella s'mores bars
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chocolate hazelnut spread (I used Nutella)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
Generously grease a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and Nutella together. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.

Add in the eggs and beat until they are fully incorporated. Add in the vanilla.

Fold in the graham cracker crumbs. Then fold in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Chill in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until the bars set.

Slice and serve once hardened. Leftover bars should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will last at least a week.

Yield: About 16 bars

Source: Barely adapted from Mom on Timeout

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cinnamon roll muffins

Why spend hours making cinnamon rolls when you can make them in muffin form? This Cooking Light recipe will make you think you're eating a real cinnamon roll!

My family and I were in Colorado last month for a quick vacation before school started. While we were there, I received a text message from my friend E. Since she knows that I am a muffin fiend, she immediately thought of me when she saw this recipe in Cooking Light.

I bookmarked the recipe and vowed to bake it upon our return and made true on my promise. I loved the idea of cinnamon roll muffins. My family and I go crazy for cinnamon rolls but they take some commitment to make. These do not require any yeast, rolling or slicing so they're super easy.

A few things to note about this recipe... the muffin wells will look only about half full since there isn't much batter or filling to start with. I was super worried about short, dense muffins, but they puffed up nicely while baking in the oven. They'll create a flat muffin top, which you can decorate with some drizzle.

Also, these were a tad on the dry side for me, so I'd recommend upping the buttermilk or adding a few additional teaspoons of oil or applesauce to the muffin batter. They will start to dry out after the first day so these are best enjoyed on the same day.

Thank you, E, for finding this recipe and sending it to me. If you all have any recipes you'd like to see me tackle, please send them along!

Cinnamon roll muffins
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted 

  • 2 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix all the filling ingredients together. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix the buttermilk, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs together on medium speed until well incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix.

Place about 1 Tablespoon of the batter in the bottom of each muffin well. You may want to use the bottom of a spoon to spread it out. Evenly distribute the filling and add it to each muffin. Top with the remaining batter. You can try to spread the batter out to cover most of the filling.

The muffin wells will look only about halfway full, but they will puff up in the oven. Bake in your preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the muffins to cool before serving (although warm muffins are always awesome). If desired, you can create a glaze to drizzle on top. I used about 1/4 cup of powdered sugar with about 1 teaspoon or so of milk and used a fork to decorate the tops.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will last a few days at room temperature but longer in the refrigerator. You can reheat them in the microwave.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Barely adapted from my friend E, who saw them in Cooking Light and found the recipe here

Friday, September 9, 2016

Skating Fridays

Improvement on Split Falling Leaf

I've been taking ballet lessons for a few months now, and one of the things I asked my instructor to help me with is my split falling leaf. I can do the splits on the ground but had a difficult time translating it onto the ice.

My timing was off, and I wasn't getting a good split position in the air. We worked on grande jetes during ballet class, and it improved while we were on the ground. The true test was trying to see if it would transfer on the ice.

I videoed this during a freestyle session one day and was pleased to see that my split position was much better. It's not 100% there yet, but hopefully with little improvements here and there, I can get a full split position. All it's going to take is some hard work and determination.


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