Sunday, October 29, 2017

Double chocolate mint cookies

Soft and chewy double chocolate mint cookies are perfect for chocolate and mint lovers! These cookies use mint chocolate chips as the add-in for a fresh minty taste!

Remember these amazing fresh mint chocolate chip cookies? Well, this is a variation on those, and much easier to make (no steeping of butter here). No siree - these used good old mint flavored chocolate chips, which I was happy to find at my local grocery store. And since I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I wanted my cookies to be super chocolatey... hence the cocoa powder for a chocolate cookie base. Yesssssss.

This recipe is one of the easier cookie recipes that I've baked recently. They didn't require any refrigeration, dough rolling or anything crazy like that. Just a simple creaming of butter and sugar, whisking of dry ingredients, and then combining the two together. I had cookies ready in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

The key to these cookies is not to over bake them. They may appear to be slightly underdone when you take them out of the oven, and that is OK. The cookies will start to firm up as they cool so you get soft and fudgy cookies. If you like your cookies a little crunchier, then go ahead and bake for a little longer. But I am definitely in the soft and chewy cookie camp.

Now if you want these extra minty, you can swap out the vanilla extract for peppermint extract. You can also toss in some white chocolate chips or even semi-sweet chocolate chips for some triple baking chip action here. Sky's the limit!

Double chocolate mint cookies
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 2/3 cups (about one 10-ounce package) mint flavored chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or line with silicone mats and set aside.

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

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined.

Turn the mixer down to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until everything just comes together.

Turn the mixer off and fold in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon or a rubber/silicone spatula.

Drop spoonfuls of dough (about golf-ball sized; I used my medium cookie scoop to help with this) onto your prepared baking sheets. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie since they will spread.

Bake in your preheated oven for 4 minutes. Then rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 4-5 minutes.

The cookies may appear to be gooey in the middle, but that is OK. Do not over bake the cookies or they will turn out hard. The cookies will firm up while cooling.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed. Unless you're at my house. In that case, there is no chance we'd have any leftovers to freeze.

Yield: About 20 cookies

Source: Hershey's

Friday, October 27, 2017

Skating Fridays

Sparky Skates


Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of borrowing our department mascot from work. This furry little creature is a marmoset named Sparky. Each month, a new team gets to keep Sparky and take him on adventures. For my day, I obviously wanted to take him to the rink.

I got lots of weird looks from skaters and coaches when I put Sparky on the boards. People were wondering what I was doing with him so I had to explain that it was like a "Flat Stanley" assignment.

Sparky started off with a camel spin and did fairly well. He had a difficult time holding on so I moved on to jumps. We did a simple loop jump together and then graduated to an Axel. What was really interesting was that Sparky was a great training aid for me, as I had to hold him tight during the rotation so my arms wouldn't fly open. Perhaps I'm onto something here...

Anyway, here is a short video with Sparky's skating adventures!



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chocolate mint brownies

Soft, fluffy brownies are taken to the next level with mint baking chips and a beautiful glaze. Chocolate mint lovers will adore these! 
I don't know about you, but I just can't get enough of chocolate mint desserts. From ice cream to candy bars to these brownies. I had half a bag of chocolate mint chips and wanted to find a good use for them, so I baked these beauties.

These brownies were much cakier than I anticipated and got pretty crumbly after a few days. Don't get me wrong - they are still a fantastic brownie and one I'd recommend but if you are a fudgy brownie type of person, then you're better off making these, omitting the flaky sea salt and adding in mint extract and the mint chips.
With all that said, my friends loved these brownies. My family did too. Now that I think of it, I think that these brownies would be an awesome mix-in for a batch of ice cream. Hmm... :)

Chocolate mint brownies
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10 ounce) package of mint chocolate baking chips (if you cannot find these, feel free to substitute with regular chocolate chips and add 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract to your batter)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and baking soda.

Add in half (1/3 cup) of the melted butter and mix until well blended. Add in the boiling water and mix until everything is smooth and uniform.

Add in the sugar and eggs and mix until well blended. Fold in the flour, peppermint extract, vanilla, and salt until no dry streaks remain and the batter is lump-free. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before serving. If desired, you can top your brownies with a simple glaze by mixing about a cup of powdered sugar with 1-2 Tablespoons of milk and food coloring.

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

Yield: About 24 brownies (or more, depending upon how large you cut your slices)

Source: Barely adapted from Hershey's

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars

With the arrival of fall, that means it's time for chai flavors! Enjoy these sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or your favorite hot beverage!

Although I have been baking for many years, I haven't been around or really heard of sprouted wheat. According to my friends at Google, sprouted wheat flour is a finely ground, powdery, whole grain plant food made by intentionally sprouting the excellent quality whole grains and then milling them. The flour made from these grains provides more protein, vitamins and minerals. So apparently it is an even more nutrient-rich flour that is typically used in breads.

I was gifted a package of sprouted wheat by a friend and finally got around to baking with it. Since the weather was getting chillier, I was craving some hot chai. I bought a cup at a coffee shop and happily sipped on it during a cold morning. That evening, I was inspired to make some chai-flavored dessert. And thus, these bars were born.

These vanilla chai bars resemble a blondie, only with chai spices and the sprouted wheat flour. Then they are sprinkled with a crunchy chai sugar for a fun, contrasting topping. If you want, you can also drizzle on some melted white chocolate.
Everyone that received these chai bars loved them. They are very similar to the texture of classic blondies, and the flavor definitely was of chai. The extra sprinkling of the chai sugar was a fun touch. Next time I may drizzle on some white chocolate for an additional flavor and for decoration. 

Hope you all enjoy these!


Sprouted wheat vanilla chai bars
Bars
  • 2 cups sprouted wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose or even whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons chai spice (if you don't have this, use 1 and 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange zest)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Topping
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon chai spice (or 3/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 3/8 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Directions
Make the bars: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and mix until most of the brown sugar has melted. The mixture should become smooth and glossy. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool down for about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients and mix until no dry streaks remain. The batter will be thick.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and make sure to spread it evenly. Bake in your preheated oven for 17-21 minutes for chewier bars or 23-27 minutes for cakier bars. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs. The tops of the bars will rise and fall. Allow the bars to cool for at least 15 minutes before adding the topping.

Prepare and add the topping: Mix the chai spice and sugar together in a small bowl. Brush the melted butter on top of the cooled bars. Sprinkle the top with the chai and sugar mixture, tilting the pan to evenly distribute everything.

Bars should be covered and stored in an airtight container. They are best served the following day so the flavors can meld and develop. Slice and serve. Bars should continue to be kept in an airtight container and will keep for several days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 24 bars

Source: King Arthur Flour

Friday, October 20, 2017

Skating Fridays

Revamped Freestyle Program


Here is the video from my re-choreographed freestyle program. Despite my two mistakes on the axels, it felt like a strong skate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Chai cupcakes with chai buttercream

Beautiful, spiced-filled chai cupcakes that happen to be made with oat milk! 
Plus a giveaway from Oatly below!

I recently shared with you all that I haven't been drinking regular milk for many years. Instead, my husband and I have been drinking soy milk. I was excited to have met some nice folks from Oatly several weeks ago and fell in love with their chocolate oat milk. What exactly is oat milk, you ask? Well, it is a "milk" that is made from oats and water. This Swedish company operates out of the southern region of Sweden and is sells their products in over 20 countries, including the USA.
The oat milk is nice and smooth, a bit creamy and just downright delicious. Oatly sent me containers of their Barista edition and chocolate flavors to try. I already knew that I liked the chocolate one and was excited to try the Barista variety. This non-dairy milk is supposed to be pretty amazing in coffees (hence the name Barista) and in teas. I don't drink either, so I couldn't test it out in that capacity.

What I did instead was to bake with it. This is Eva Bakes after all, and I chose to create a chai cupcake to feed my chai cravings and use Oatly as my milk. I used Oatly in both the cupcake and in the frosting and can say that it bakes up really well. I couldn't taste it in the finished cupcake at all, and nobody in my family knew any different either. I loved these spicy chai cupcakes because the cupcakes were infused with chai spices and held up nicely with that thick layer of chai buttercream. It was hard to not eat more than one cupcake!

This is a wonderful, vegan milk that you can use for just about anything. From cereal to coffee, cupcakes to frosting and everything in between, this oat milk is my new favorite non-dairy milk. If you can't find it near you, you can always order some online. Or, you can keep reading to see how you can score some Oatly for free!

My friends at Oatly would like to give an Eva Bakes reader an Oatly variety pack. You'll get a container of the Oatly Oatmilk, a Barista Edition Oatly and one of the Chocolate variety. The Barista edition is perfect for coffees and teas, and the chocolate is wonderful to drink on its own (because we're all kids at heart, right)?

Enter via the link below - please be patient, as sometimes the widget may be slow to load. Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Chai cupcakes with chai buttercream
Cupcakes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Oatly oat milk (can substitute with milk of choice)
Buttercream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 Tablespoons Oatly oat milk (can substitute with milk of choice)
Topping
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners and set aside.

Bake the cupcakes: In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. 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 on medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until it is light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Add the oil and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and add about half of the dry ingredients. Add in about half of the milk and continue to alternate with the dry ingredients. Your batter should be fairly thick.

Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake in your preheated oven for 18-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the buttercream: 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 smooth. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the powdered sugar until well mixed. Add in the ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and salt. Mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix well. Slowly drizzle in the milk until you achieve a piping consistency (you can play around with this - add more milk if you like your frosting on the softer side; add more powdered sugar if you like it thicker).

Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread or pipe frosting on top of them.

Make the topping: Combine the raw sugar, cinnamon and cardamom together in a small bowl. Sprinkle this on top of the frosting.

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for a few days.

Disclaimer: Oatly provided me with samples of their products. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Source: Barely adapted from How Sweet Eats

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Colored black and white cookies

Traditional black and white cookies that are jazzed up with fun colors - customize these for your next special occasion!

It was a regular Sunday morning when both Addie and I were reading on the couch. She was reading a Nancy Drew book while I flipped through the latest cookbook that I had found at the library. Every once in a while, I caught her looking at the photos in the cookbook. Finally, she stopped reading her book and turned her attention to my cookbook.

"Mommy. I want to make something."

"Sure. What do you want to make?"

Several minutes later, after we had browsed all of the recipes, she settled on these colored black and white cookies. Now while I know that the title of these cookies sounds like an oxymoron, these are essentially black and white cookies except they are dunked in different colored icing. Mine happen to be pink and blue because that's what my 7-year old wanted when I had her choose out her icing colors.

I explained the directions to her and we made the dough together. Of course she got to taste the extra dough that was left over on the spatula. She got a bit impatient as we were waiting for the icing to dry; in fact, it was reminiscent of when I paint her toenails. "Is it dry yet?!"

We were finally able to eat these about an hour after I had dunked the second half of the cookie in the second color icing. The cookies were soft and tender with a hint of lemon flavor. The thin layer of icing on top made the cookies super fun with the pastel colors and added just a hint of sweetness with the powdered sugar.

I'm really enjoying this age where my daughter and I can share the joy (and journey) of baking together. She's already excited about the fact that I'm documenting all of these recipes and stories for her to read about when she's older. I hope that she'll cherish these stories about her childhood one day and that these recipes bring her good memories.

Colored black and white cookies
Cookies
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (82 grams) cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I substituted with about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (160 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 millileters) milk of choice
  • 6 Tablespoons (90 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Icing
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (120 grams) powdered sugar
  • 4 and 1/2 Tablespoons (57 millileters) lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
  • food coloring of choice
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the lemon zest, eggs and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add in the milk, butter and vanilla and mix well.

Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients until a soft dough forms.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, drop dough by the scoopful onto your prepared baking sheet, making sure to leave at least 2 inches in between each cookie. Do this one sheet at a time, so save the other half of the dough for another batch.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 7-10 minutes or until the tops are set and the edges start to turn golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining batch of dough.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, make the icing. In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together until no lumps remain. Divide the icing into smaller bowls to prepare the different colors. Add 1 drop of food coloring into each bowl and mix well.

Dunk the cookies (or use a small spatula or spoon) to spread icing onto half of the cookie. Allow to dry before dipping the other half of the cookie into another icing color.

Allow cookies to dry completely before serving.

Cookies should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and will keep for about 3 days.

Yield: About 24 cookies

Source: Bake Happy by Judith Fertig

Friday, October 13, 2017

Skating Fridays

Dramatic Program Video


As promised, here is the video of my new dramatic program. Excuse the fall at the end. I was dizzy after my spin and couldn't hold the ending pose!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Marshmallow filled cookie cups and a Smashmallow giveaway

Bite-sized cookie cups filled with a flavored marshmallow surprise and topped with a luscious, thick chocolate ganache! Plus a giveaway for Smashmallow flavored marshmallows!

When I was younger, I was not a big fan of marshmallows. You see, all I knew were the ones that we'd occasionally buy at the grocery store. You know the ones - sometimes they taste OK in hot chocolate, and sometimes they were good in other desserts. But they mostly tasted too... manufactured. Therefore, I was convinced that I did not like marshmallows. Well, that is, until I made my own.

Several weeks ago, I met some fantastic people from Smashmallow and was immediately smitten with them. One thing is for certain, this is no ordinary marshmallow! They are made with organic cane sugar and all-natural ingredients, and each serving only contains around 80 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. Plus they have super fun flavor combinations like mint chocolate chip, root beer float, toasted coconut pineapple, strawberries & cream, Meyer lemon poppy seed, cinnamon churro, and mocha chip! Can you imagine how fun s'mores can get with all these phenomenal marshmallow flavors?

I brainstormed the best way to feature my new Smashmallows and created these fun little cookie cups. Because I had a package of refrigerated cookie dough waiting to be used, I baked with those, but you can definitely use your favorite cookie dough recipe instead. I tried two different flavors of Smashmallow for these cups - cinnamon churro and mint chocolate chip. Then I topped each cookie cup with some chocolate ganache and decorated the tops as well.

Addie helped me assemble these and had a blast. As her reward, she got to eat one after it had set. She loved the Smashmallows and could not get enough. I am so happy that my local grocery story carries Smashmallow - does yours?

If not, don't worry. I'm here to give some away! My generous friends at Smashmallow want to give an Eva Bakes reader one package of every flavor (7 total packages!). That's a lot of s'mores! To enter, simply click on the link below. Please be patient, as the widget may be slow to load.

Good luck to all!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Marshmallow filled cookie cups
  • 1 package refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough (or you can use your favorite homemade recipe)
  • 2 packages Smashmallow flavored marshmallows (I used the mint chocolate chip and cinnamon churro versions)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.

Take 1 portion of the scored/pre-separated cookie dough and break it in half. Roll it into a ball and then flatten it in your palms. Press it into one of the wells of the mini muffin pan, making sure to leave an indentation in the middle. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven.

Place 1 Smashmallow in the center of a cookie cup. Repeat with remaining marshmallows.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat up the cream in the microwave until boiling (about 90 seconds). Remove from the microwave and pour in the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for about 1 minute, then stir vigorously until a thick ganache forms.

Pour or scoop some ganache onto each marshmallow, covering it completely. Decorate the tops with sprinkles, chocolate chips, or whatever your heart desires. (I made two different types of cookie cups - the cinnamon churro Smashmallow ones got a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar; the mint chocolate chip Smashmallow ones got a mint truffle Hershey's kiss on top).

Allow to cool before serving. Cookie cups should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Disclaimer: Smashmallow provided me samples of their product and are sponsoring the giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Yield: About 24 servings

Source: An Eva Bakes original

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Peach hand pies

If you love pies but don't want a full one hanging around your house, make hand pies instead! These portable pies are filled with fresh peaches and are easy and fun to eat!

When I asked Addie what her favorite fruits were, she happily answered, "Mangoes, grapes and peaches. And strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple..." I was thrilled because my daughter loves her fruit. She cannot turn down a peach and begs us to buy them. Imagine my excitement when we received about 5 of them in our biweekly CSA delivery.

Naturally, I asked Addie what to make with the peaches. "Pie!" she exclaimed. I told her that I had just baked an apple pie so we should make something else. "How about hand pies?" I asked. She looked at me, puzzled, so I explained to her that it was a pie that you could hold in your hand and eat and did not require a fork. Ding, ding, ding. We have a winner.

I let Addie help me with the crust, and she had a great time pushing the buttons on the food processor. She also help me cut out the dough circles and make the filling. I gave her a break while she was watching some television so I could fill the pies and crimp the edges.

They finished baking in no time, and Addie got to enjoy one after she returned home from Chinese school. The crust was soft and flaky with a bit of tang (from the Greek yogurt), and the filling wasn't too sweet. I could have easily eaten my weight in these hand pies and was happy that I had many of these so I could easily gift them to friends.

I bet apple hand pies would be fantastic for fall, and blueberry and strawberry for the spring. I'm just happy to be able to share these with others and eat them without making too much of a mess.

Peach hand pies 
Crust
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup ice water
Filling
  • 2 pounds (about 5 or 6) peaches, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt together until well blended (if you don't have a food processor, you can still make this by hand by using a large bowl and doing everything by hand). Pulse in the butter until the crust resembles pea-sized wet sand. Add in the Greek yogurt, and lemon juice and pulse until everything just comes together. Slowly stream in the water until the crust stays together when pinched. Do not add too much water.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough ball into a large rectangle about 1/8" thick. Cut out 4" diameter circles with a biscuit cutter or another round object like a bowl. Place the cut dough circles on your prepared baking sheet and repeat with the other half of the dough ball. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Make the filling: While the dough circles are chilling, toss all of the filling ingredients together and set aside.

Assemble the pies: Remove one tray of dough circles from the refrigerator and allow to thaw for about 2 minutes. Spoon about 1-2 Tablespoons of the filling onto one half of a dough circle. Fold the other side of the dough over to form a half circle. Pinch the seams shut and press down on the edges with the back of a fork to form a decorative edge (this also helps pinch the edges together so filling won't leak out). Repeat with all the dough circles and with the other pan.

Place the pies back in the refrigerator to cool for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

If desired, brush each pastry with an egg wash (1 beaten egg) and sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar.

Bake the pies in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and the tops appear a bit cracked. Allow the pies to cool slightly before serving.

Leftover pies should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for a few days.

Yield: About 12-14 hand pies, depending upon how big you cut your dough pieces

Source: Barely adapted from smitten kitchen

Friday, October 6, 2017

Skating Fridays

First Competition of the Season (part 2)


Last week, I recapped the freestyle program from my first competition of the season. I also debuted a  new dramatic program as well.

Timing-wise, the dramatic program was the first event that I skated. Then I had to do a quick costume change, as my freestyle program was about an hour later.

A few weeks ago, I alluded that I was going to skate to something completely different than years past. I'm ready to reveal my new music selection to you all today. I consulted with several skating friends for ideas (you know who you are), and one of them suggested that I try a darker piece of music to bring out a different character.

She sent me several suggestions, and after listening to them all, the one that spoke to me was "Crazy in Love" by Beyonce. But not the pop/dance version. Oh no - this was the slow, sultry version from the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Yes... that Fifty Shades (blushing).

I enlisted the help of another skater friend to help me choreograph this. She has a stellar track record of placing well in dramatic entertainment and is a budding choreographer so she helped bring this piece of music to life.

Now that we had the choreography, I needed to pick a costume. Again, with the same friend's suggestion, I picked a black sparkly dress and finished it off with black tights to set the mood. (note that the photo above is my freestyle dress, as I had that quick costume change and did not get to stay in my dramatic costume for very long)

I performed my heart out and really stepped outside my comfort zone. Much to my surprise and excitement, I won the event (there were only 2 of us). The other skater is an experienced and seasoned competitor in the dramatic event, so I expected a very strong showing from her. And from what I heard, she "brought it" as well. The two of us had two completely different programs so it was hard to judge. Somehow, the judges gave me the edge over her. My jaw dropped to the floor when I found out the results.

Now that this first competition is behind me, I now know that I can pull off dark and sultry as a character. I hope this knowledge can help expand my music repertoire and build additional personas to my skating.

I'll try to share the video from this soon.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Classic apple pie

A classic apple pie that is perfect for fall. From an all-butter crust to a cinnamon-nutmeg spiced filling, this pie will remind you that autumn has arrived!
I love a good apple pie - especially during fall season where the leaves start to change color and there's a crispness to the air. The weather makes me hungry for a mug of warm apple cider and everything cinnamon.

My biweekly CSA delivery came with a handful of apples and I knew that it was time for apple pie baking. I was fortunate enough to have had one of Aunt Jo's apple pies a few weeks ago when I attended my second-ever tailgate. Hers, of course, was out of this world, and I think that this one is a close 2nd or 3rd.

I used an all-butter crust because why not? As you can see, I still need a lot of help in the pie crust crimping department. Even though I think mine look presentable before baking, they usually turn out pretty dang ugly. Oh well.

We shared this pie with some of our new neighbors, and it was a perfect afternoon snack. My slice could have used a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce, but maybe I'll do that next time. This is still a solid apple pie recipe to keep in your repertoire!

Classic apple pie 
Crust
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 Tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice cold water
Filling
  • 5 or 6 medium to large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (I used 1/6 cup of granulated sugar and 1/6 cup of brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Directions
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt together until well blended (alternatively, you could do this by hand in a large bowl - just whisk together). Pulse the butter (or cut into your large bowl with two forks or a pastry cutter) until the mixture resembles wet sand and you get pea-sized clumps. Finally, drizzle in the ice water until the crust just comes together. Do not over mix or else you will over work the butter.

Form the dough into one large ball and divide in half. Form each into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (dough can be formed up to 3 days in advance or can also be frozen and thawed).

Once the dough has chilled, roll one of them out to fill the bottom of a 9" pie pan. Trim the edges so there is about a 1" overhang. Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill while you prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and let it rest until the dough has finished chilling. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Assemble the pie: Transfer the apple pie filling to your prepared crust. Roll out the other dough disc so it's large enough to cover the pie pan. Trim the edges and tuck the excess underneath the first layer of dough. Crimp the edges, and using a sharp knife, vent the top with multiple slits.

Bake the pie in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden brown. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and has thickened.

Allow the pie to cool for about an hour before serving.

Leftover pie should be covered and kept in the refrigerator and will keep for about 3 days.

Yield: One 9" pie; about 8-12 servings

Source: Pie crust from King Arthur Flour; pie filling from Epicurious

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Product review and a giveaway: Arctic Zero frozen desserts

Arctic Zero® is the pioneer of Fit Frozen Desserts without all the fat and calories. Handcrafted from premium ingredients, it's the perfect guiltless pleasure whenever your sweet tooth strikes. Read below for a giveaway!

I'm not sure if I ever shared this with you guys, but after I turned 30, I noticed that my stomach got bloated after eating dairy. My husband and I were drinking skim milk one day and both of us had tummy pains. After some experimenting, we realized that we were slowly becoming lactose intolerant.

We quickly switched to soy milk and have been fine ever since, and we notice that when we consume large amounts of dairy, we get those dreaded stomach pains. Now, this doesn't mean that I don't get to enjoy my ice cream, frozen yogurt and cheeses, but it just means that I don't eat as much of it as I would like.

I was fortunate enough to have met Arctic Zero recently and was thrilled to see that their frozen dessert products were actually lactose-free. In fact, they are also low glycemic, gluten-free and GMO free. Wow! And check this out - an entire pint of their ice cream is only 300 calories! So then I feel less guilty after coming back from the skating rink and want to stuff my face full of ice cream. And better yet, I don't have to deal with an upset stomach either.

Arctic Zero sent me 3 of their newest chunky pints - peanut butter swirl, cherry chocolate chunk and rocky road trip. They also sent me a box of the cake batter dipped bars. Where to start?

I began with the cherry chocolate chunk and immediately noticed the cherries and the chocolate chunks. The ice cream base was smooth and creamy and I had a difficult time stopping myself from devouring the entire pint.

Rocky road was next. I was pleasantly surprised to see chunks of real marshmallows in the ice cream. Again, the base was smooth and creamy and definitely tasted like rocky road. Finally, the peanut butter swirl. I let my husband be the official taste tester of this one since I normally don't eat peanut butter (but I did have a small bite). The peanut butter was definitely very pronounced and the vanilla base was a nice compliment to the peanut butter goodness. Of the three flavors, the cherry chocolate chunk was my favorite.
And what about the cake batter dipped bar? The red velvet coating was so smooth and velvety, and I loved the pairing with the yellow cake batter inside. This was definitely up Addie's alley (she's a cake batter girl). I've also bought the dark chocolate dipped bars, and they were definitely a great chocolate-y treat after skating. At only 80 calories a pop, what's not to love?

These desserts are a great, healthier ice cream alternative and are handcrafted from premium ingredients. Arctic Zero offers Fit Frozen Desserts® without all the fat and calories. It's the perfect guiltless pleasure whenever your sweet tooth strikes. Which in my case, is every day and just about every hour. So whether you're looking for a post-workout snack, watching your weight or following a special diet, Arctic Zero desserts are the perfect way to taste the sweet life with zero guilt.

Onto the giveaway!

My friends at Arctic Zero want to give an Eva Bakes reader a chance to sample their products for free! All you need to do is enter below. Please be patient, as the widget may take a while to load. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

#arcticzero

Disclaimer: Arctic Zero sent me samples of their products to try and are sponsoring the giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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