Sunday, July 23, 2017

Triple chocolate muffins

A triple chocolate muffin that is made with melted chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate chips! This super chocolate-y muffin is a wonderful treat to snack on throughout the day. It's also the perfect excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast!

Yes, I am sharing another muffin recipe. I'm sorry, I just can't help myself. When I can make excuses to eat chocolate for breakfast, I am going to take it. I mean, how can you resist eating a TRIPLE chocolate item after you wake up? You just can't.

These beauties contain three doses of chocolate - from melted chocolate, cocoa powder and of course loads of chocolate chips. Does it get any better than that? Well, I guess I could have thrown in a molten chocolate center, but maybe I'll do that next time.

My family demolished these muffins in no time flat. Addie ate one just about every day for her breakfast, and I noticed that my husband was happily enjoying them too. The muffins are a tad on the drier side, so I'd actually recommend increasing the liquid a little bit in these - maybe bump the milk up to 3/4 cup (or adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applesauce).

The muffins will dry out a little bit if you keep them in the refrigerator. Just make sure you pop them in the microwave for about 10 seconds before serving.

Triple chocolate muffins
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, diced
  • 1 and 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk of choice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chopped chocolate together. Mix until it is completely smooth. Allow it to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla.

Add the melted chocolate and milk mixtures to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Slowly fold until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared baking pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Top with additional chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F and bake for another 10-15 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 at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.


Yield: 12 muffins

Source: MyRecipes.com

Friday, July 21, 2017

Skating Fridays

Seeing Double 


One of the adult male skaters at my rink happens to be a clockwise skater like me (I don't like to call us lefties, since we jump and spin to the right). We recently decided to see if partnering up would be a possibility.

He's probably 6 feet tall, and I am around 5'4" so there is a good height difference. We're at different free skate levels, but that's not a concern right now.

Here is a fun still shot of us attempting side-by-side upright spins.
 We'll see how far this experiment goes... or not!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jeni's milkiest chocolate ice cream

A super smooth and creamy chocolate ice cream that is perfect for the summertime. Throw in your favorite add-ins for a candy-bar like treat!
Is there anything more perfect than ice cream in the summertime? I don't think so. My family and I have become such ice cream snobs that we'll only visit the places with the best ice cream and buy the smoothest and creamiest brands (when I'm not making my own batches).

We haven't touched any of the airy, cheap grocery brands in what seems like forever. One of our favorite brands is Jeni's ice creams, even though we've never technically bought a pint. We've eaten them while on vacation at their scoop shops, and I've even received an ice cream party in a box as a holiday gift, but I technically have never bought any in a store to take home. Crazy, right?

Since I own the cookbook, it makes sense to churn my own. That way, I get more ice cream for my money and we can customize our own add-ins. While I have seen Jeni's ice creams at my local grocery store, they are pretty expensive (the recent sale price was still $8-$9). I can make it for a fraction of the price.

When my husband asked me to make a baked Alaska for his birthday, the recipe asked for two pints of store-bought ice cream. Now, there was no way that I was going to use store bought ice cream for his special birthday treat so I had to make my own. The recipe suggested vanilla and coffee as the flavor combinations. But because Addie was going to have some of the baked Alaska, I didn't want to use coffee ice cream (hello, caffeine). So I opted for chocolate instead - this milky chocolate ice cream from Jeni's.

I'll write about the baked Alaska in another post, but the ice cream itself was super smooth, creamy and was reminiscent of a dreamy chocolate bar. Feel free to throw in your favorite add-ins: chocolate chips, nuts, marshmallows... you name it. Think about your favorite candy bar and include those ingredients into this ice cream so you have an ice cream version of your ultimate chocolate indulgence.

Jeni's milkiest chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (ideally 55%-70% cocoa)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Directions
In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Set this aside. Reserve the remaining milk and keep it separate.

Chop the chocolate and place it in a large bowl. Set a fine mesh sieve above it.

In a medium sized saucepan, heat the cream, remaining milk, evaporated milk, sugar and corn syrup on medium to medium-high heat until boiling. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until it is fully incorporated. Continue boiling for 4 minutes.

Take the saucepan off the stove and very carefully add the cornstarch/milk slurry. Mix until everything is well incorporated and put the pan back on the stove. Allow the mixture to come back to a boil and until the liquid becomes slightly thicker, about 1 minute.

Turn off the stove and pour the liquid through the sieve into the large bowl with the chopped chocolate. Add the salt and mix well until everything is fully incorporated.

At this point, you have two options. You can either set the ice cream over an ice bath (pour the contents into a large zip-top bag, seal it shut and place it over a large bowl with ice cubes), or put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Once the mixture is completely cool, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Pour the ice cream into a container and set it in the freezer until it has hardened (at least 4 hours). 

Yield: About 1 quart

Source:  Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Monday, July 17, 2017

Christina Tosi's oatmeal cookies

Christina Tosi's oatmeal cookies are wonderful for those who don't like raisins in their baked goods. These raisin-less cookies are soft and chewy like a classic oatmeal raisin cookie and are dusted with a generous layer of powdered sugar!
Riddle me this - why do most oatmeal cookies have raisins in them? Don't get me wrong, I love oatmeal raisins, and they are one of my favorite cookies, but I started to wonder why we don't see many raisin-less cookies.

These soft and chewy oatmeal cookies taste very similar to your typical oatmeal raisin cookie. The hearty oats are enhanced with cinnamon. And before they are baked, these cookies are rolled in a generous layer of powdered sugar.

These cookies come from Christina Tosi (of Momofuku Milk Bar fame). Chef Tosi says that these are the brainchild of her grandmother. If you want, you can even toss in 1/2 cup of shredded coconut for a fun textural contrast. I'm not a fan of shredded coconut so I left that out.

So the next time you have a friend who wants an oatmeal raisin cookie without the raisins, you can bake these.

Christina Tosi's oatmeal cookies
  • 14 Tablespoons (1 and 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line two standard baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats 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 the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs and vanilla until well incorporated, about 1 minute.

Turn the mixer off and add in the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix everything together. Then turn the mixer back on medium speed and beat until everything comes together, about 30 seconds.

Place the powdered sugar in a small bowl. Using a cookie scoop, scoop about golf-ball sized mounds of dough. Roll each ball of dough in powdered sugar, making sure to cover as much of the surface as you can.

Place each dough ball on your prepared baking sheet and be sure to leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie.

Bake in your preheated oven for 4 minutes. Then rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and appear crackled. The centers may appear slightly underdone, and that's OK.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans before serving.

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

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Source: Milk Bar Life, by Christina Tosi

Friday, July 14, 2017

Skating Fridays

Coach B's Spin Challenge 


Coach B came back a few weeks ago from the PSA (Professional Skaters Association) conference with lots of fun new warmup exercises. I've been slowly working my way through many of these and have enjoyed the new challenges in between my regular exercises.

One new gauntlet she threw down was a new spin challenge. She wanted to create some friendly competition among her skaters so she talked about a spin pyramid that she borrowed from Ryan Jahnke:

As an added bonus, she said that skaters that complete the pyramid would earn $100 from her. She said that I had a good chance of completing at least 50% of the pyramid, which would be an amazing feat.

I'll see how many of these items I can check off the pyramid over the next year. So far, Coach B has recorded the following for me in our first spin pyramid challenge:

  • Forward sit: 16 revolutions
  • Forward scratch spin: 22 revolutions
  • Forward camel spin: 8 revolutions
  • Backward sit: 8 revolutions
  • Backward scratch spin: 22 revolutions
  • Backward camel spin: 3 revolutions
And here are the other boxes I can also check off on the pyramid to start:
  • Forward sit difficult variation (cannonball/forward sit variation)
  • Backward sit difficult variation (backward twist)
  • Difficult entrance to a spin (illusion/windmill entry)
  • Upright difficult variation (Alaina Chartrand upright variation)
  • Forward camel difficult variation (catch foot grab)
Who wants to join me in the spin challenge? 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Brownie muffins

Want brownies for breakfast? Now you can, with these amazingly chocolate-y brownie muffins! With no baking powder or baking soda, these fabulous brownie muffins rely on whipped eggs for a perfect rise in the oven.

My husband's birthday was fast approaching, and I asked him to pick out a dessert recipe that he wanted to celebrate his big day. I checked out a few cookbooks from the library, and he was oohing and ahhing through both of them. What stopped him dead in his tracks was a Baked Alaska recipe.

While I was dissecting the recipe and finding ways to make this easily, I stumbled across this brownie muffin recipe. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to bake it. Brownies? In muffin form? Come on, you know that I'll make any excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast.

What's really interesting about these muffins is that there are no leavening agents. No baking soda or baking powder. The muffins get their height from vigorously whipped eggs and sugar. Then the remaining ingredients are gently folded in like you're making a meringue or macarons.

The resulting muffins are nice and chocolate-y but are a bit more delicate than your typical muffins or brownies. You'll have to be careful when you handle them, and make sure they are completely cool by the time you want to eat them; otherwise, the muffins may fall apart on you.

Bon appetit!

Brownie muffins 
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line or grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a medium sized heatproof bowl, melt the chopped chocolate and butter in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir well and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Your goal is to beat as much air into the eggs and sugar as you can, so do not skimp on this step.

Turn the mixer to low and add in the melted chocolate mixer.

Turn the mixer off and gently fold in the dry ingredients. Do not over mix the batter.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well all the way to the top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 13-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with wet crumbs. Do not over bake these. Allow the muffins to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Leftover muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: The original recipe claims to make 12, but I only got 9

Source: Pretty. Simple. Sweet.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Oatmeal chocolate chip Greek yogurt muffins

A hearty muffin packed with rolled oats and chocolate chip and topped with a generous scoop of a fantastic oatmeal chocolate chip streusel. These are one of my favorite muffins to date!

There are muffins, and there are muffins. Having baked 70+ muffins on this blog, I fully understand what kinds of muffin recipes will be a hit in my family and which ones will be meh. These were most definitely a hit.

Now, although these aren't completely healthy for you, they are healthier when compared to other classic muffins out there. I used white whole wheat flour, Greek yogurt and even swapped out the oil in the muffin base for unsweetened applesauce. Yes, there is a bit of oil in the streusel, but you could just leave the streusel off completely. But that would be a big mistake because the streusel really makes these muffins WOW.

I mean, the muffins are already nice and hearty from the oats, but the crispy, crunchy and sweet streusel topping turn an average muffin into a superstar. Like the kind you could sell in a bakery.

These muffins are best when they are still slightly warm so that the chocolate is all melty and gets all over your fingers and mouth. It's inevitable that the brown sugar streusel will fall and get your fingers all sticky sweet, but that's the point. Just lick your fingers and you'll be all good.

Since I adored these muffins so much, I have no doubt that they will be on the regular rotation here at the Eva Bakes house. Next time I'll see if I can make the streusel a tad healthier.

Oatmeal chocolate chip Greek yogurt muffins 
Muffins
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Streusel
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously grease or line a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and Greek yogurt.

Pour the applesauce mixture into 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.

Evenly divide the batter between the muffin wells, filling each about 3/4 full.

In a small bowl, mix all of the streusel ingredients together with a fork or small spatula until crumbs form. Generously top each muffin well with a spoonful (or two!) of streusel.

Bake in your preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The streusel should be golden brown.

Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from The Baker Mama

Friday, July 7, 2017

Skating Fridays

A Real Lutz!

I remember working with Nick Perna during a private lesson a while ago where he asked to see all of my single jumps. When he looked at my lutz, he said, "Well, you have a beautiful flutz." Oops. I had been working hard at staying on that outside edge, but I know I tend to flip it when I get nervous. Hence the flutz during my lesson.

Well, I am happy to report that I executed a real lutz recently. Here is my photo proof!
Remember, I am a clockwise skater so my outside edge is at the top of the photo. I was so happy to see that I was on a flat rather than an inside edge when I took off to jump.

Progress!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Cinnamon raisin quick bread

With a crunchy cinnamon sugar swirled throughout (and on top), this cinnamon raisin quick bread will be your new favorite breakfast! Best of all, it contains no butter or oil!
I never know what to eat for breakfast. I don't like cereal and tend to eat oatmeal only in the winter months. Therefore, I bake and eat a lot of muffins. Sometimes I get muffin-ed out so I need to change things up a bit. That's where this bread comes in.

I baked this bread one morning before work and had this amazing bread ready to eat after an hour in the oven. It made the house smell unbelievable. My husband was on an early conference call and said he started getting hungry once he smelled the bread. Of course he tried a slice after it finished baking.

What I liked about this bread is that it doesn't contain any butter or oil. In addition, the cinnamon sugar made for an awesome addition to the middle of the loaf and produced a nice crunchy topping.

My family and I have been happily devouring it during all hours of the day. Some of us (cough, cough) eat it for breakfast while others snack on it at other times. This is a wonderful bread to add to your repertoire, whether you eat it in the morning, afternoon or night. Enjoy!

P.S. I made this bread twice in one week. It's THAT GOOD.

Cinnamon raisin quick bread 
Bread
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute with white whole wheat if desired)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1% milk with a teaspoon of white vinegar)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup raisins
Cinnamon mixture
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
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 flour, sugars, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk and applesauce. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the raisins.

To make the cinnamon mixture, whisk the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

Transfer half of the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle half of  the cinnamon mixture on top. Then top with the remaining batter and sprinkle the top with the remaining cinnamon mixture. Swirl the batter with a knife.

Bake in your preheated oven for 55-65 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 at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

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

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chocolate chip cookies (from Christina Tosi)

Enjoy Christina Tosi's childhood chocolate chip cookie that her grandmother used to make. The secret ingredient in these classic cookies is nonfat dry milk powder. And as an added bonus, these are mixed (by hand) in one bowl!
Can one ever have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes? The answer to that, in my opinion, is no. Now, this isn't one of those cookies that will knock your socks off, but it is definitely a solid chocolate chip cookie recipe that you should keep on regular rotation.

So what makes this different from all the millions of recipes that are out there? Well, for starters, this cookie is mixed in one bowl! No stand mixers or handheld mixers to dirty here. Also, it uses both melted butter and nonfat dry milk powder. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes use the creaming method where butter and sugar are mixed until they are light and fluffy. Not this one. And the nonfat dry milk powder helps give the cookies a nice chewy texture.
These cookies come to us from Christina Tosi, who is the famed chef behind the Momofuku Milk Bar. I've made several of her recipes before, but this is one that goes back to basics and will be an instant classic.

One tip - make sure that your butter is not hot when you mix the batter for this. Otherwise, your cookies will spread while they bake. If your dough is too soft, just place your bowl in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes until it firms up.

Enjoy!

Chocolate chip cookies from Christina Tosi 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted but still warm
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line two standard baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and sugars with a sturdy wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Mix thoroughly until everything is smooth and uniform, about 1 minute.

Add in the egg and vanilla and mix by hand for another minute.

Add in the flour, dry milk powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until everything comes together, about another minute or so.

If your dough appears to be too wet, put the bowl in the refrigerator to firm up.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto your prepared baking sheets, allowing at least 2-3 inches between each cookie mound.

Bake in your preheated oven for 5 minutes, then rotate the pans front to back and top to bottom. Bake another 5-6 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. The middles may appear to be underdone, and that is OK. Allow the cookies to cool and firm up before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

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

Note: Christina Tosi says that you can bake her childhood chocolate chip cookie by removing 1/4 cup of flour and adding in 1/2 cup of puffed rice cereal in the batter.

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

Source: Milk Bar Life, by Christina Tosi

Friday, June 30, 2017

Skating Fridays

Revamping My Freestyle Program 


Last week, I mentioned that I would be skating to a different dramatic program this upcoming season. While I am keeping my freestyle music, we will be making significant revisions to it. I identified the challenges I had with last season's freestyle program:

  • I felt like I was always rushing; therefore, I didn't take my time on elements and finish each movement
  • There wasn't enough time allocated for my spins; therefore, I'd rush through the rest of the program in order to fit everything else
  • The choreographic step sequence made me feel choppy and did not flow well for my skating style (I'm sure a more seasoned skater would be able to make this look effortless, but it made me look like I was tripping on myself)
  • I wasn't fully using all the crescendos and musical cues to emote and project to the audience when it was appropriate
Because of these issues, I am going to work with my coach and choreographer to come up with a new strategy for this season's program. I would like to cut down on the number of steps/transitions so I can take my time and perform my story. I also need to increase the time I have on my spins, and I need to completely redo the footwork section so it's less choppy.

We'll see how this refreshed program turns out - I'm excited at the possibilities and hope that with all the changes I'm making to the layout and with my improved skating skills, that this upcoming year will be a very memorable one.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Peppermint stick ice cream

Who says that peppermint ice cream should only be enjoyed in the winter months? Celebrate the holidays over the summer with this cool and refreshing frozen treat!

We are definitely a family of ice cream lovers. I eat it every chance I get and like to plan my trips around the ice creameries that I am going to visit. Totally not kidding.

Addie is starting to become an ice cream aficionado as well. We'll constantly ask her what her favorite ice cream store is, and it seems to change depending upon her mood. One thing that hasn't wavered, however, is her favorite flavor. She prefers peppermint stick ice cream.

One morning, Addie was not feeling well after she returned from gymnastics. She claimed that she felt queasy so I told her to lie down. As she was resting, I sat next to her and started flipping through a cookbook that I had borrowed from the library.

When I came upon this peppermint stick ice cream, she magically got better. She sat up, bright-eyed, and asked if we could make the ice cream at that very moment. I told her to go look for some candy canes, and lo and behold, she found 5 that we could use.

It was fun making this together, and even more miraculous that seeing a photo of this ice cream in the cookbook improved her health so suddenly. The resulting ice cream was smooth, creamy, and gloriously pepperminty. It was a great way to cheer up my little girl and bring a little bit of the holidays into an otherwise hot and sticky summer day.

Peppermint stick ice cream

  • 2 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk (I used 1% and it turned out fine)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • red or green food coloring, optional
  • 3/4 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies
Directions
In a medium saucepan, mix together the heavy cream, milk and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar. Turn the stove to medium-high heat and stir until the mixture comes to a simmer (do not let it boil).

While the heavy cream mixture is coming to a simmer, whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium sized bowl until the mixture is pale.

Slowly pour about 1 cup of the warm heavy cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks to temper them. Whisk vigorously.

Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and continue to mix until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Turn the stove off and whisk in the peppermint and vanilla extracts.

Pour this mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Once cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Transfer the ice cream custard into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Finally, stir in the crushed candy canes or peppermint candies and transfer to a freezer-safe container to firm up (at least 3-4 hours). Serve and enjoy!


Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Baked Occasions, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Oatmeal muffins

This is a fantastic oatmeal muffin that you can dress up or down with dried fruit or nuts. It's soft and fluffy without feeling too hearty or dense. They are definitely kid-approved!
Call me crazy, but I think I'm starting to lose my mind as I get older. I find myself heading to the pantry, only to forget what I was supposed to be doing there. Then I'll start walking up the stairs and when I'm halfway up, I don't remember why I was going upstairs.

Am I the only one? Or do you experience this loss of memory too? Maybe I'm the only crazy one here.

So these muffins. I had every intention of making these oatmeal raisin muffins. I really did. I searched high and low in my pantry and couldn't find the raisins, even though I was fairly certain we had a big box of them. And because I wasn't able to locate them, these just became plain oatmeal muffins.
Even without the raisins, these muffins were fabulous. The oats made them nice and hearty while the warm cinnamon and nutmeg gave them a nice warm undertone. I kept mine in the refrigerator, and they heated up very nicely in the refrigerator for a quick breakfast.

As for those raisins - do you want to know where they were all this time? In the refrigerator, and right next to the applesauce that I used in this recipe.

So maybe it's time for that yearly eye appointment...

Oatmeal muffins

  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute with whole wheat if desired)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling, optional

Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the milk, vanilla, applesauce and eggs until well blended.

Transfer the milk mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix. The batter will be slightly runny.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan, filling, each well about 3/4 full. Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top and bake in your preheated oven for 15-20 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 at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will last for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 12 muffins

Source: Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour


Friday, June 23, 2017

Skating Fridays

A New Dramatic Program 


I really admire artists who continue to reinvent themselves throughout their career (Madonna, Picasso, etc.). It's wonderful when one is able to find 'their style' and stick with it. Me? I haven't found my sweet spot yet in terms of my skating style or music.

We've tried lyrical (Piano theme from The Notebook), emotional (Angel by Sarah McLachlan), Broadway (Bring Him Home from Les Miserables), soundtracks (Star Wars melody), Top 40 (Uptown Funk from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars), and others. While some of these pieces have been more successful than others, I haven't identified my secret sauce yet.

So I thought I'd try to reinvent myself again this upcoming season and skate to something completely different for my dramatic program. I've cut the music already but have not begun the choreography yet. I'm excited to bring this music to life and see how I connect to it (and the audience).

Don't worry, I will post a video when I'm ready to share it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Oatmeal chocolate chip skillet cookie

This giant oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is your answer to a cookie craving. With hearty oats and plenty of chocolate chips, you'll be tempted to eat the whole thing! Best of all, there are no cookie sheets or scoops to clean up!
Ever get one of those crazy mad cookie cravings? Like the kind where you are ready to drive to the nearest grocery store or bakery to buy yourself some? Well, what if I told you that you could have a giant cookie ready to eat in a little over 30 minutes?

I got one of those "I NEED A COOKIE NOW!" cravings very recently and decided in the moment that I had to bake cookies. Except that I didn't want to have to scoop cookies on multiple sheets and have to clean up all the bowls, spatulas and cookie scoops. Cue this skillet cookie.
While the dough was done by a stand mixer, I only had those dishes to wash. I put all of the dough into a greased skillet and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. After my kitchen timer went off, I went to town.

This cookie was amazing and definitely hit the spot. It was like just a heartier version of a giant chocolate chip cookie. The hint of ground cinnamon made the cookie even better - feel free to add some nutmeg too if that's your thing.
I shared this with some skating friends and got a text almost immediately afterwards. A skating friend, who normally doesn't eat much dessert, said that it was awesome. Feel free to share this - or not - the next time you get a cookie craving!

Oh, and just for fun, here is a behind-the-scenes look at how the photos above came to life. After photographing the cookies, I then edited the pictures in Photoshop afterwards. You'll see my old school Nikon camera in there (a D40, which isn't even made anymore!). Compare that to this new camera, which has 16 (!) lenses. How do I sign up??



Oatmeal chocolate chip skillet cookie
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips 
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Generously grease a 9" or 10" cast iron pan 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 the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add in the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the cinnamon and salt until well incorporated.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the flour. Mix until everything is just incorporated - do not over mix. Turn the mixer off and fold in the oats. Finally, fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to your prepared pan and smooth out the top. Sprinkle on additional chocolate chips if desired and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. The middle may appear slightly underbaked, and that is OK.

Allow the cookie to cool slightly before serving. Top with ice cream, caramel or chocolate sauce, or anything else that makes you happy.

Store the cookie in an airtight container at room temperature. It will keep for several days.

Yield: One large 9" or 10" skillet; about 8-10 servings

Source: Jessica N Wood

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Chocolate chia seed pudding

This chocolate chia seed pudding is super chocolate-y and healthy for you! Kid-approved, this vegan pudding is a great alternative to dairy versions.

Don't worry, I'm not turning this into a health blog. I just like to try new ingredients occasionally and found some chia seeds at my local supermarket the other day. I like the texture of chia seeds and thought that it would be fun to make some pudding with it.

We are such big chocolate pudding fans that I wanted to try a chia version. Plus I wanted to see if my 7 year old would like it. Well, it turns out that Addie could not get enough of this pudding. She got chocolate all over her face and chia seeds in between her teeth. But she wanted more after she finished the first serving. Little did she know that this pudding was actually good for her.

This no-cook dessert just requires a bit of patience since the chia seeds expand overnight while cooling in the refrigerator. They turn out tapioca-like so it makes for a fun texture. The original recipe contained the wrong chia seed to liquid ratio, so I have corrected it below.

I enjoyed eating this as an afternoon snack and sprinkled mine with some granola for a crunchy texture. You can also eat it plain if that's your thing.

Bon appetit!

Chocolate chia seed pudding 
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (can substitute with honey)
  • 2 cups milk of choice
  • pinch of salt
Directions
In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well until all of the cocoa powder has been incorporated.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Leftovers should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 4 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Fit Foodie Finds

Friday, June 16, 2017

Skating Fridays

Mid-year goals update


At work, it's time for our mid-year calibrations and performance management activities. That's when people managers get together to see how their team members are doing and if they are trending below, ahead of, or on par with their peers. I'm anxiously awaiting my one-on-one discussion with my manager to see how I fared when compared to my peers.

I thought that this would be a great opportunity to check in on my 2017 skating goals and see how they are progressing (or not).

Here we go!
  1. Improve PCS. About a month prior to Adult Nationals, my coach asked me about my goals for the competition. I mentioned "higher PCS," and she repeated the question. I was confused. After she explained that a goal is something that is within your control, I finally understood. I should have altered this goal to say that I wanted to improve my extension on landings, skate with deeper edges (etc.), because those were within my power to execute. I cannot control how an individual view/judges that. So with respect to PCS, while it did not improve score-wise, I am skating better than ever. I just hope this translates into higher scores at future competitions.

  2. Increase technical scores. Same as above. I should have said that I wanted to fully utilize my toe picks on jumps and hold my landings for a full second before moving to the next transitional element. I cannot control how a judge marks my elements on my score sheet, so I will be updating how I state this goal in the next year. So how am I progressing here? Well, I have been spending 75% of my practice time on basic skating skills and have noticed a drastic improvement. As a result, jumps are becoming easier to do. I would like to see this translate from practice to competition since that is where the true test lies. (In case you are wondering, my technical score did not improve)

  3. Approach 30 points in my IJS score. Same as #1 and #2. I cannot control a score. I need to be focused on being in the moment and delivering the elements as I know how to do them. I should alter this to say, "Focus on the element at hand and successfully execute it to the best of my ability." (And if you are curious, I did not approach 30 points this season)

  4. Land a correct double salchow. Still working on this. I am hoping that with my renewed focus on basic edges and skating skills, that it will translate into an easier double salchow. I'll be sure to post a video if and when I land one correctly.

  5. Add another axel to my program. This happened. I had two axels in the last version of my program. We'll see if I keep this approach for the upcoming season.

  6. Continue working on double loop and/or double toe loop. While we have been working on my skating skills, double jumps have not been a priority. So I have no updates here.
In summary, I need to restate my goals to focus on what I can control versus what it beyond my reach. I can skate on deeper edges, hold landings, emote, etc., but I cannot control a score or how a judge reacts to my skating. Theoretically, if I can skate with authority and with great precision, that should translate to better scores.

We'll see how I continue to improve throughout the rest of 2017.

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