Sunday, August 30, 2015

Overnight blueberry sweet rolls

Soft, fluffy rolls that are bursting with blueberries will become your family's new favorite breakfast. Top with a sinful glaze or opt to eat them plain. Just be sure to save some for me!

It's hard to believe that I used to be afraid of working with yeast. The thought of it scared me. What if it didn't rise? What if I scalded it? What if...?  Now I don't think twice when baking with yeast (other than fresh bread... that's a completely different story). My brother was coming to town and I wanted to have a comforting yet impressive breakfast for him and his wife while they stayed with us. I didn't want to be slaving away in the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning so I needed something that I could make the night before.

I remembered that the last time they came to visit, I made some overnight cinnamon rolls. Since that was my first time attempting them, they didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I have had lots of practice since then so things were getting easier. I opted to change things up slightly this time and fill the rolls with blueberries. I only had frozen blueberries on hand so I used those in this recipe.

While these rolls were good, Addie and I both agreed that we preferred the sweet lemon sticky rolls from Mother's Day. In fact, I used some of the glaze from that recipe and topped them onto these blueberry sweet rolls.

Despite our personal opinions, my brother and his wife loved their breakfast. I served them these rolls and my breakfast pizza and they were happy as clams.

If you're in a blueberry kind of mood, these rolls are a solid recommendation. If you are a lemon lover, go with the sweet lemon sticky rolls instead. You can't go wrong either way.


Blueberry sweet rolls
Filling
  • 1 and 1/3 cups frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Dough
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (one 0.25 ounce packet) instant yeast
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons water, milk of choice or heavy cream
Directions
Make the filling (first): In a small bowl, toss the blueberries, sugar and cornstarch together. Set aside and continue to toss occasionally.

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if using your hands, mix together 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In a measuring cup, microwave the water, milk and butter on high for about a minute or until the butter is completely melted and the liquid is warm.

Turn the mixer on low and drizzle in the milk mixture. Turn the mixer to medium speed (if kneading by hand, create a well in the center of your dry ingredients and drizzle in the liquid while you mix with the other hand). Knead until the ingredients slowly start to come together. Add in the egg and continue to knead. Slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky - it will be tacky but should not stick to any surfaces. You may not need the entire 1/2 cup of flour so add it slowly.

Allow the dough to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 14"x8"). Evenly distribute the blueberries on top of the dough. Then roll the dough up, jelly-roll style, starting along the longest edge. Once the dough is rolled up, keep it seam side down. Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Place the rolls, cut side up, in greased baking pans. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the rolls: About 30 minutes before baking, take the rolls out to thaw at room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly.

Make the glaze: In a measuring cup, mix together the powdered sugar and liquid of choice. Drizzle over slightly cooled rolls and serve.

Leftover rolls should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for about 2-3 days.

Yield: About 12 rolls

Source: Barely adapted from Red Star Yeast

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Skating Fridays

Needing More Room


I signed up to compete in our rink's competition next month. I'm a bit ho-hum about it since it's just me and another lady from our club competing against each other. While I am curious to see if my scores improve from Adult Nationals, I have to admit that I'm not completely motivated to skate my program.

I'm keeping my program from last season ("Mute girl theme" from Kung Fu Hustle), but we are switching around some of my elements. I started working on the program revisions with my choreographer last week and have some pleasantly surprising news to share with you all.

My choreographer asked me to skate the first third of my program so she could see how it was flowing. After I ran through it, she told me that we needed to move my starting position. Curious, I asked why. She said that I was pushing more so I needed more room to execute my elements. We kept most of the same transitions and added a few more so the program flowed better.


I'm so excited that my "going back to basics" training is paying off. Coach B has even noticed that I'm skating with my power and poise and looking less like a stereotypical adult skater. Progress!


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Small batch salted caramel sauce

This small batch salted caramel sauce is perfect for occasions when you don't need a lot. This simple, fool-proof recipe does not require a candy thermometer and comes together very quickly. You'll be tempted to make another batch!

Do you ever get caramel cravings? I hope I'm not alone here. Well, I definitely do. There are days when I just want a nice spoonful of caramel and then go off on my merry way. (OK, I'd probably come back for another spoonful)

What I dislike about making caramel sauce is that 1) it usually makes a huge batch, and 2) most require a candy thermometer. Boo to both. Thankfully, this recipe requires neither. This simple, no-fuss recipe only yields 1 cup of caramel sauce so it's perfect for you to eat for breakfast share with a friend.

Addie and I made this caramel sauce together, and she was fascinated to see how the sugar turned into this beautiful, sweet and salty amber-colored goodness. My batch yielded about a cup of caramel sauce, and I'm trying to figure out how best to use up this liquid gold (other than just drinking it, of course).

Any suggestions?

Small batch salted caramel sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more if you like it extra salty)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Mix the sugar and water together in a deep, heavy bottomed sauce pan.

Turn the heat to medium high and allow the sugar to melt. Do not stir (it's hard, but please resist).

While the sugar is melting, heat the heavy cream in the microwave until it is almost boiling.

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to high. The sugar mixture will turn a deep amber color. Watch the sugar carefully, as it will burn easily if you look away for a moment. Feel free to swirl the sauce pan around to allow the sugar to evenly caramelize.

After your sugar has turned a deep amber color, take it off the heat and add in the warmed heavy cream. Watch out - it will bubble vigorously! Then add the butter, salt and vanilla. Whisk until the caramel thickens and is smooth.

Transfer the caramel into a glass container and store at room temperature. It will keep for several weeks.

Yield: About 1 cup

Source: Dessert for Two

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Whole wheat cranberry buttermilk muffins

Healthier muffins made with whole wheat, oats and dried cranberries - these lovely treats are perfect for breakfasts, snacks and a quick treat for anytime of day. They contain no butter or oil!

I take no credit for these muffins. Addie exclaimed one day that she wanted cranberry muffins.  I also happened to have about 2 cups of buttermilk in my refrigerator, so that's the reasoning behind these breakfast treats.

These muffins, like most muffin recipes, were very easy to create. You grab one bowl for your dry ingredients, one for your wet ingredients and mix them together before adding the sweetened dried cranberries. You can even add nuts, raisins or chocolate chips if those are your thing.

I found that the muffins were a tad dry the day they were baked but they actually got better the following day. The muffins were dense and springy and did not produce any crumbs when bitten into (that deserves bonus points in my book). I liked that I used whole wheat flour to make the muffins a bit healthier.

The next time I bake these, I may try swapping out the buttermilk for Greek yogurt to see what differences that makes. Otherwise, this was another solid recipe from the Eva Bakes kitchen.

Whole wheat cranberry buttermilk muffins
  • 1 and 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg and applesauce.

Transfer the buttermilk mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until a few dry streaks remain. Toss in the dried cranberries and fold until everything just comes together - do not over mix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan and fill each well about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 18-20 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I baked for 18).

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: Between 10-12 muffins

Source:  Adapted from Food.com

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Skating Fridays

Progress on the Back Sit Spin With a Twist


I mentioned in a recent post that my coach has me going back to basics on the three base spins (upright, sit and camel). I have been practicing these spins each and every time I am on the ice and can say that my basic spin positions have made slight improvements. The back camel is still the worst spin for me, so I have been focusing on that one quite a bit.

Those who have been reading Skating Fridays for a while (thank you!) know that I had a knee injury last summer. I partially tore my meniscus and was unable to spin on my right leg. The centrifugal force caused pain so I wasn't able to do any forward spins.

Most of you would call that an inconvenience. In my mind, it was actually a blessing in disguise.

My back sit spin was pretty much non-existent prior to my injury last year. I practiced it a lot since I couldn't do any forward spins. As a result, my back sit spin improved immensely. Coach B and I tried to learn the twist variation but it wasn't going that well. Occasionally, I'd get a good one, but it wasn't low enough.

We have not worked on the back twist variation in months - maybe even closer to a full year. When discussing my program for this upcoming season, my coach and I talked specifically about what spins to include. Just for fun, she asked me to show her the sit-back sit. I executed it and she seemed pretty happy.

Then she asked me to try the sit-back sit but then add a twist to see what would happen. And here is what she captured on video:



As you can see (turn the volume on), my coach was very excited about what she saw. It is definitely going in the program, and she believes that the technical controller will call this as a back sit variation. If I am lucky, this will get called a Level 1 change sit spin. I would be thrilled with that. All those hours practicing basic spin positions are really starting to pay off. As coach says, once you have the basics (spin positions) down, adding variations is easy.

Next step - figure out my remaining program elements and where to place them. Stamina is definitely an issue right now. Must stop eating ice cream...

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homemade salt water taffy

Salt water taffy is a must-have candy when visiting the beach. Make your own salt water taffy at home - while keeping the sand out of your car!


Like most people, salt water taffy reminds me of my childhood. My family and I used to go to the Jersey Shore and the Delaware beaches, and I always loved going into the candy stores to browse around. One of the best places in Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) is a place called Dolle's. They have countless flavors of salt water taffy, and I could never resist buying a box or a bag. In fact, I'd usually eat half the bag before we even made it home.

I haven't visited the beaches lately because we've been so busy. And I definitely miss my salt water taffy, so I made a decision to make it myself. I've always wanted to try my hand at taffy pulling, so this was my chance.


The first batch I made turned out way too hard. My stove got too hot, too fast, and I'm fairly certain the candy mixture's temperature made it closer to 260 degrees F, which made it too hard. Not satisfied with my first batch, I made a second batch and turned the heat down significantly. I watched my thermometer like a hawk, and as soon as it hit 250 degrees F, I turned off the stove and moved my pan off the heat. This time, my taffy was successful.

This candy is a fun project for kids - they can help you pull and shape the taffy after it has cooled down significantly. I made this while Addie was at school so she didn't help this time, but I have no doubt that she would have a blast pulling and taste testing the candy. The resulting taffy is soft, chewy, and reminiscent of the ocean.

So if you're not heading to a beach anytime soon, consider making this salt water taffy instead. It takes about an hour from start to finish, and you'll have plenty to share.  Well, unless you're like me and want to eat it all yourself.

Homemade salt water taffy
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon extract of choice, optional
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring, optional
Directions
Generously grease a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a small or medium sized saucepan, heat the sugar, corn starch, corn syrup, butter, water and salt on medium-high heat until bubbles form. Keep stirring until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F. (My new Thermapen worked wonders here!).  

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the extract and food coloring if using. Pour it into the greased baking pan. Using a well-buttered bench scraper, fold the liquid onto itself until it is cool enough to touch.

Generously butter your hands and stretch the candy into a long rope. Fold it in half so the ends meet and stretch again. Repeat for about 5-10 minutes or until the candy gets lighter and lighter in color.

Finally, pull the candy into a rope about 1/2" wide (or whatever thickness you'd like). Set it down and using a well-buttered pair of scissors, cut into small pieces.

Allow the candy to rest for about 30 minutes before wrapping in parchment paper or waxed paper.

Salt water taffy should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for at least a month.

Yield: About 30 small pieces of taffy

Source: Slightly adapted from Cupcake Project

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

4 ingredient S'mores fudge

Bring the taste of s'mores indoors with this quick and easy 4-ingredient s'mores fudge. It only requires a saucepan, spatula and some patience to whip up this rich and tasty treat. Gift extras to friends and family - or keep it all to yourself!
Here is another s'mores recipe in case you didn't get enough of the s'mores cupcakes from last week. This beauty only requires 4 ingredients, and it is something you can easily whip up in no time. No candy thermometer required!

Addie and I made these together one weekday evening when I got the itch to make something. I had s'mores on the brain and took a basic fudge recipe (1 bag chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk) and altered it to make it a s'mores version. We added mini marshmallows and chopped graham crackers.


I gifted some of this fudge to Addie's classmates and teachers and they all said that they loved the surprise treat. The fudge was nice and smooth while the marshmallows and graham crackers provided a good textural contrast. My two complaints were that the marshmallows weren't toasted and that the graham crackers got a bit soft after chilling in the refrigerator. Nevertheless, it was still quite tasty and something I'd definitely make again.

S'mores fudge
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • About 6 graham crackers, broken into pieces (plus more for garnishing if desired)
  • About 1 cup mini marshmallows, plus more for garnishing if desired
Directions
Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" square pan. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat. Keep stirring so the chocolate doesn't seize. Keep mixing until the mixture is uniform.

Take the pan off the stove and gently fold in the graham crackers. Then fold in the marshmallows.

Quickly transfer to your prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or other flat object. If desired, add more graham cracker pieces and/or marshmallows.

Allow to cool completely and then transfer to the refrigerator to cool for another 1-2 hours.

Once cool, cut into squares and serve. Store leftover fudge in the refrigerator. It will keep for over a week if stored in an airtight container.

Yield: About 36 squares of fudge


Source: An Eva Bakes original, but most likely seen on countless websites on the internet

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Skating Fridays

My first REAL axel


I landed my first axel at age 30. Now when I say "axel," I want to be clear and explain that I landed an "adult" axel. What's the difference between a real axel and an adult one, you ask? Well, in a real axel, the free leg is completely crossed over the landing leg, with ankle contact, like this:

For the life of me, I could not get my legs to cross. My free leg would be bent and parallel to my landing leg. It looked like a stork. Nick Perna refers to this as "Adult Leg Syndrome." Here is an axel from December 2013 so you can see what it looked like back then. Notice the stork leg.


I have done countless exercises and drills to address this error. I could execute all the drills with no problem. But, when it came time to actually incorporate it into the jump, my body would revert back to the stork leg. It was so incredibly frustrating.

I had a breakthrough recently. In fact, this happened in my lesson the day after I returned from the Grassroots to Champions seminar I attended. Although my attempts during the seminar were unsuccessful, the axels I tried the following day were correct.

My coach recorded these during my lesson. She and I both squealed like little girls when she and I both realized that I finally landed an axel with my legs crossed. I jumped up and down and started clapping my hands. Then I tried it again to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and the subsequent jumps were also correct. Take a look:



After I analyzed (and re-analyzed) the video, I saw that the landing was fully clean too boot!  I am thrilled that after years and years of countless drills, exercises and visualization, I finally got it! Now let's hope that I maintain these and build that muscle memory so the stork leg goes away permanently.

Time to celebrate!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

S'mores cupcakes

All the flavors of a classic s'mores but in cupcake form! A classic chocolate cake with a graham cracker bottom, these cupcakes are filled with a soft and fluffy marshmallow middle. Oh, and they are topped with an amazingly thick and rich chocolate ganache!
Are you indoors or outdoors kind of person? Me? I'm definitely an indoorsy girl. I attract mosquitoes and usually get bitten as soon as I go outside and have also been known to get mosquito bites in the winter (true story). My idea of camping is to pitch a tent inside a hotel. Must. Have. Own. Bathroom.

But one thing I do like about the outdoors is s'mores. Although I had never had a real one until about 2 years ago (yes, you read that correctly), they are awesome. Our neighbor invited us over for a s'mores party, and that is where I had my first s'more. We grilled marshmallows over their fire pit and I haven't stopped thinking about that day.

Fast forward to today. When Joanna of Kosher Kitchen decided to choose s'mores as this month's What's Baking challenge, I jumped at the opportunity. I halved the original recipe because I didn't need 20 cupcakes at the time.

These were a huge hit at the rink and at home. The cupcakes were the soft and springy Hershey's cupcakes that I adore so much, and they filled with a fluffy marshmallow frosting. The best part, besides the crunchy graham cracker crust, was the thick and velvety chocolate ganache. I could have just eaten that part with a spoon and called it a day.

Addie and my husband both adored these cupcakes and were sad when these cupcakes were gone. My rink friends said that these cupcakes made their day, so that made me very happy. Do you know of any people who don't like s'mores? I didn't think so.

Check out Joanna's blog to see what my friends made to this month's What's Baking challenge!


S'mores cupcakes
Crust
  • 1 and 1/3 cups graham crackers, crushed
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cupcakes
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
Marshmallow filling
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
 Chocolate ganache
  • 10 ounces milk or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line two standard cupcake pans with cupcake liners (you'll need about 18-20 liners). Set aside.

Make the crust: In a small bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter together. Put about 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner. Using the bottom of a cup, press down on the crust mixture. Bake in your preheated oven for 6 minutes and then set aside to cool (do not turn off the oven).

Make the cupcakes: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar with a spatula (mix this part by hand). Add the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla and turn the mixer on low until well incorporated. Slowly stream in the boiling water and mix until everything comes together. The batter will be very thin.

Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

Make the marshmallow filling: In a large bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar together. Heat the mixture up until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is warm to the touch. Transfer to a spotlessly clean bowl (using the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or a large bowl if using a handheld mixer). Mix the liquid on high speed until peaks form. Slowly add in the vanilla and continue to whisk until you achieve stiff peaks. Set aside.

Make the ganache: In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the chopped chocolate with the oil. Stir constantly until it is smooth. Turn the stove off and add in the cold whipped cream. Keep stirring until the ganache is smooth and creamy. If it is a bit runny, place it in the refrigerator to firm up a little bit before using.

Assemble the cupcakes: Once the cupcakes are cool, cut a cone out of the center of each one. Transfer the marshmallow frosting into a zip-top or piping bag with a hole cut out of the end. Pipe the filling into the center of the cupcake.

Using either a spoon or zip-top/piping bag, spread the ganache on top of the cupcakes.

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: I halved the recipe and got 10 cupcakes

Source: OMG Chocolate Desserts

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Blueberry coconut oil Greek yogurt muffins

A twist on a breakfast classic - these healthier blueberry muffins contain no butter or vegetable oil! They are protein packed with Greek yogurt and are made with whole wheat flour and coconut oil. You'll want to snack on these throughout the day!

Oh come on. You knew that I had more blueberry muffins up my sleeve oven mitt. Who am I kidding?

We received a large pint of blueberries in our CSA delivery recently. While I love snacking on blueberries, I also like to bake with them. Nothing was really calling out to me so my husband suggested making some blueberry muffins. It's a trusty old standby in our house - someone is guaranteed to eat them. But, rather than use a recipe I've tried before, it was time to bake something new.

I wanted to find a recipe that used Greek yogurt and seemed a bit healthier than your standard blueberry muffin. I finally found one on Chelsea's Messy Apron that seemed to fit the bill. As with almost all muffin recipes, this one came together very quickly on a busy weeknight and baked up in about 25 minutes. They finished baking by the time I had to help Addie get ready for bed.


While the overall flavor of these muffins were good, the texture was just a bit different than what I expected. Notice that I said different, not bad. The muffin was a bit grainier due to the whole wheat flour, and it crumbled more than I would have liked. The muffins held more moisture and got soggier more quickly, so I recommend storing these in the refrigerator after the first day. And you know what? They tasted better after a day in the refrigerator, actually.

My family liked these muffins and gobbled them up pretty quickly. In fact, I made a double batch, and we ate half of them in 3 days.

Blueberry coconut oil Greek yogurt muffins
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not thaw)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously spray or grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the flour and remove 1 Tablespoon of it. Then add the cornstarch and baking powder. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg, Greek yogurt, vanilla and coconut oil. Add the sugar and mix well.

Transfer the egg mixture into the large bowl and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the blueberries and fold until the flour is just incorporated. Do not over mix the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I found that storing them at room temperature made them soggy the next day. They will last about 3 days at room temperature and about a week in the refrigerator (you can thaw or microwave if needed).

Note: I doubled the recipe and got 18 muffins (so the original recipe would yield 9 muffins)

Source: Chelsea's Messy Apron

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Skating Fridays

Grassroots to Champions Seminar, Part 3

I am here with the final installation of the Grassroots to Champions (G2C) seminar notes. Skaters - I hope that you all find these helpful for your personal skating journey.

Today's post is dedicated to the artistry of skating. We were fortunate to have Doug Webster teach this section of the seminar. If you don't know Doug, he is a professional choreographer who has worked with all the major skating companies in the world, including Disney On Ice, Holiday On Ice and Stars On Ice.

Doug had us do some warmup exercises to loosen our body. We did a bit of stretching and also did some basic edge work on the ice (mainly slaloms and cross-strokes).

When we came back to do some off-ice artistry work, he played a selection of music (a tango) and asked us some questions:
  • Describe, in one word, how this piece made you feel
  • What emotions are you feeling?
  • Tell me the story about this piece
    • Who are the characters? Who are you portraying?
    • What do the characters look like? What are they wearing?
    • Describe the scenery - what is around you? Be specific.
    • What is the story that this music is telling?
    • Use your facial expressions and body to communicate that story.
As a group, we collectively told the story about a woman in a dark restaurant who was trying to seduce a man. There was a tall, round table in the corner with two tall bar stools. Red velvet curtains hang in the background. She's wearing something red and slinky.  The man is Channing Tatum (haha!). Our goal is to make him passionately dance with us and convince him to take us home.

After we told the story, Doug played the music again and had us act it out with body and arm movements. It was amazing how much emotion we all exuded after visualizing the story.

This is the technique Doug encouraged us to use as we perform our own skating programs. Listen to the music. Close your eyes and visualize the scene. Ask yourself the questions above, then act it out on the ice.

And that concludes my notes from the G2C seminar! I have some additional notes around specific jump techniques (axel, double salchow, double loop) but probably won't get into it here unless you all want to hear about them.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Key lime pie bars

Key lime pie bars are the next best thing to an actual key lime pie. A smooth, velvety key lime cheesecake is nestled on top of a crispy, sweet graham cracker crust. Add a dollop of whipped cream for an even prettier presentation!

We were at the grocery store one day and I spotted key limes. I snatched them up immediately. "Mommy! What are those?" When I told Addie that they were key limes, she commented on how cute they were. I bought the key limes on whim and honestly had no idea what to make with them. I checked on the blog, and I have already made key lime cheesecake bars and key lime cheesecake. What was I going to bake this time?

The key lime cheesecake bars that I made last time were great. But, I wanted to try another version of them.
These key lime pie bar were smooth, silky and had the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. My husband liked these a lot better than previous version I baked. Even Addie loved these, and she's not a big fan of tart things.

If you see key limes at your grocery store, snatch them up quickly. Then make these bars and send me some. Please?

Key lime pie bars
Crust
  • 5 ounces animal crackers or graham crackers
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
Filling
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lime zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup key lime juice
Directions
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8"x8" square baking pan with foil or parchment paper and grease well (I recommend using two sheets of foil/parchment and overlapping them in a + sign so it makes for easy lifting).

In a high powered blender or food processor, pulse the graham crackers or animal crackers until crumbs form. Add the sugar, salt and pulse some more until you achieve fine crumbs. Transfer the crumbs into a medium sized bowl and add the melted butter. Mix until the crumbs look like wet sand. Press the crumbs into your prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the cream cheese, lime zest and salt together. Add in the sweetened condensed milk and mix until no lumps remain and the batter is smooth. Add the egg yolk and lime juice until everything is well mixed.

Pour the cream cheese batter on top of the baked crust and bake in your oven for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is set and the batter starts to pull away from the sides. Allow to cool completely before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

When you are ready to serve, lift the bars out by the foil or parchment paper and cut into even slices. If desired, garnish with additional lime zest, whipped cream or ice cream. Bars should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 squares

Source: Slightly adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Chunky chocolate chip cheesecake brownies

Love cheesecake? And brownies? Get the best of both worlds with these decadent cheesecake brownies. They are smooth, creamy and oh-so-chocolatey. One bite and you'll be hooked!

Sometimes I get in weird dessert-making moods where I feel like I'm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Do I want cookies? Or a cupcake? Or ice cream? I'm such an indecisive person (ask anybody I know) that it can literally take me hours or days to make a decision on things. There are some weeks when it's easy for me to decide what to bake, while other weeks it's near impossible to figure out what to make.

One indecisive week not too long ago, I could not figure out what to bake. I looked up donut recipes, eggless recipes, muffins, breads and cupcakes. Inspiration did not strike. And then finally it came to me - cheesecake brownies. It combines two desserts into one and could be customized to my liking. Finally, a decision was made.


I wanted to be able to make these fairly quickly since I was pressed for time and had a few hours before I would be back in the kitchen to enjoy my creation. Normally, I like to taste test things straight out of the oven, but since these needed chilling time in the refrigerator, I wouldn't be tempted to immediately quality control them.

This dessert was very easy to put together. I put them in the refrigerator as quickly as I could (after they cooled down significantly) so I didn't have any temptations to sneak any. The aroma was enough to make my husband ask what I had been baking, and when I told him it was cheesecake brownies, he wanted to try one right away. He was quite disappointed when I said that they were chilling in the refrigerator.



I gave a few to some friends at Addie's gymnastics class and one of the dads snuck one right away. He said that they were wonderful, and Addie and my husband all agreed after they finally tried their slices. The brownies were more on the fudgy side (yay!) and the cheesecake layer was smooth and creamy. The chocolate chips provided some nice texture to the otherwise soft and luscious bars.

Let's just say that these did not last long in our house. Need any more proof that these are good?

Chunky chocolate chip cheesecake brownies
Cheesecake layer
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks of choice
Brownie layer
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside (I used a silicone pan and did not grease it).

Make the cheesecake layer: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a medium sized bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Set aside.

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

In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Add the sugar and eggs and mix well. Slowly add the dry ingredients and fold until everything just comes together.

Assemble the bars: Transfer about half of the brownie layer on the bottom of your prepared pan. Add the cheesecake layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks. Add the rest of the brownie batter on top and swirl the top with a butter knife or toothpick.

Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown and start to pull away from the pan. Do not over bake the bars. Allow to cool completely (put it in the refrigerator after they have reached room temperature) before serving.

Bars should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for about a week.

Yield: One 8"x8" pan; about 16 brownies

Source: Allrecipes.com

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