Sunday, August 19, 2018

Whole wheat Greek yogurt peach muffins

These whole wheat Greek yogurt peach muffins feature this summer's freshest stone fruit! With no butter or oil, these healthier handheld treats won't add too much to your waistline!

Is there anything as amazing as a fresh, juicy peach in the summertime? Well, maybe fresh watermelon, berries and corn but peaches will always be at the top of the list.

While doing my weekly grocery shopping, I came across huge crates of local fresh peaches. My husband immediately suggested that we buy some and I asked him how I should use them (other than eating them plain). I recommended a pie, but he asked about muffins. Since we haven't had muffins in a while, it was time to get back on my muffin kick.

These muffins were fantastic right out of the oven while they are slightly warm and still have that light crunch from the raw sugar topping. After several hours, the muffins will start to get soggy from the peach juices and the applesauce. So I'd definitely recommend eating these the same day, but if you need to prolong their life, please cover them and put them in the refrigerator. I don't recommend freezing these since they will get freezer burn and once thawed will become super soggy.

But, my family and I each scarfed one down after a fun afternoon at the pool one weekend. It was also great to have these as breakfast for the following days.

Whole wheat Greek yogurt peach muffins
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour ( can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peaches, chopped (about 3-4 peaches)
  • Coarse raw sugar for sprinkling, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line two standard muffin pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, Greek yogurt, coconut oil, milk, and applesauce. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and fold until a few dry streaks remain. Toss in the peaches and fold until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan, filling each well about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the tops with the raw sugar if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Muffins should be covered and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days.

Yield: About 18 muffins

Source: Adapted from Savory Simple

Friday, August 17, 2018

Skating Fridays

Layover Camel Spin Attempt


If you would have told me 6 months ago that I would be attempting a layover camel spin, I'd laugh in your face. And then laugh again. A spin like this just wasn't anywhere near my radar.

I've received many "dashes of doom" (0 points) on my camel spin attempts during competition and have had a heck of a time trying to even get 3 revolutions during practice. So to even think that I'd one day be working on a camel variation? Fuggedaboudit.

Lo and behold, after working with my new spin coach, my camel has improved tenfold. It's now a lot more stable, and I can usually get 5-6 revolutions. One week during our lesson she counted 10 revolutions! Not bad for someone who was unable to execute camel spins previously.

My coach liked my camel so much that she started me on a layover. Normally, skaters do layovers on a back camel since they are more stable. But since my back camel is still a work in progress, she had me try it on a forward camel.

I'm still in the beginning phases here, but you'll see that I am trying to align my shoulders and start to tilt my head up. It's a very disorienting position, but once I get used to looking up, I'll have to twist my head some more so it looks like a real layover position. My arms aren't in the right position yet either but they are only 1 step behind the real thing.

May I present to you... my initial attempt at a forward layover camel spin!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Harry Potter's custard tart

This beautiful custard tart was served in a feast at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Dumbledore mentions this dessert to Harry. I think he should have kept this little secret for himself because it's so good!

Over the summer, I've noticed that the Harry Potter movies have been playing on various channels. If my husband isn't at home and Addie's in bed, I try to catch some of the films. I still remember being very hesitant to read the books when they first came out and how a coworker finally convinced me to give them a try. She is one smart lady because I ended up loving the series.

Dumbledore mentioned a custard tart to Harry in the Chamber of Secrets novel. It was apparently being served at the feast shortly after Harry got in trouble for crashing Mr. Weasley's flying car into the Whomping Willow. Oops.

I don't know about you, but I would love to be served a custard tart whenever I got in trouble. Wouldn't you?

This was such a hit with my husband and daughter. While they didn't get the Harry Potter reference (my daughter is too young to read the series and it's been a while since my husband read the books), they could easily appreciate the smooth, silky tart that was encased in a rich, buttery shortbread-like crust. My daughter immediately exclaimed that it was similar to a Chinese egg custard tart.
And she's right. They are similar, but it's noticeably less sweet and more solidified. My husband, who isn't a huge fan of Chinese egg custard tarts, said that this was way better and really enjoyed this.

Even if you aren't familiar with the Harry Potter books, I'm sure you will enjoy this as much as Dumbledore (and Harry) did!

Harry Potter's custard tart
Crust
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, chilled and sliced
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Custard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Make the tart: Place a tart pan with a removable bottom onto a baking pan and set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and salt until well blended. Add in the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Add in the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla and pulse until everything comes together into a large mound of dough. If it's too dry, add a dash more cream. If it's too wet, add a little bit of flour.

Knead a few times and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

Roll the dough out into an 11" circle. Transfer the dough to your tart pan and trim off the excess. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 425 degrees F.

Line the dough with a layer of aluminum foil and place pie weights (or dried beans) on it. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and the weights, reduce the oven to 350 degrees F and bake another 8 minutes or until golden.

Make the custard: While the crust is baking, make the custard. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the milk and heavy cream until simmering. Do not allow it to boil. In a separate small bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the small bowl and whisk vigorously. Pour the egg yolk mixture into your saucepan and keep stirring until a custard forms. It should coat your spatula or spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla.

Once the crust is baked, remove it from the oven and increase the temperature back to up to 375 degrees F. Pour the hot custard mixture onto the crust and bake for 15 minutes. The custard will be jiggly, and that's OK. Allow the tart to cool completely before serving.

Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: One 10" tart; about 8 servings

Source: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook by Dinah Bucholz

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Plum cardamom crumble with pistachios

A super simple crumble that you can customize with your favorite stone fruit! I used black plums and topped it with chopped pistachios for an additional crunch.

I think it took me 30 years to finally understand what "stone fruit" meant. I rarely heard the term, but when I did, I had no idea what it referred to. I finally understood that the "stone" meant that the fruit had a large, hard pit inside.

While I have always been a fan of stone fruit, I haven't been a huge proponent of getting the pits out. I'm a bit of a lazy girl in that aspect and generally don't buy these types of fruits very often. But, every once in a while, the fresh summer peach or Rainier cherries are must-haves, and you'll see me devouring these on a daily basis.

My in-laws were in town, and when I polled my husband to see what type of dessert I should make, he did not hesitate. He wanted this plum cardamom crumble since he saw it featured in this month's Bon Appetit magazine. While we opted to make this strictly with black plums, you can substitute with any other stone fruit you have available.

This came together very quickly and was in the oven by the time Addie and her grandparents finished a few rounds of Uno. The fresh lemon and cardamom made the kitchen smell like a million bucks, and my hands were also citrusy.

The only person that did not like this dessert was my daughter. She thought that it was too tart and gave us her plate after she took a bite of the crumble. My husband, on the other hand, was a big fan of it and liked the crumble part the best. I thought it was good as well and think that other stone fruit would really well in here too.

Plum cardamom crumble with pistachios
  • 3 pounds of plums, sliced 1/3" thick (about 8 cups)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or ground cinnamon, divided
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons pistachios, coarsely chopped
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a deep dish pie pan (make sure it's deep dish because a regular pie plan will overflow) or an 8"x8"x2" square baking pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the plums with the lemon zest, lemon juice, cornstarch, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the cardamom. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes to allow the plums to sit in their own juice.

While the plums are resting, pulse the flour, remaining 1/3 cup of brown sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom in a food processor (alternatively, you can mix this in a large bowl). Add the butter and pulse until large clumps form (you can do this with your hands or with two forks if you don't have a food processor).

Transfer the plums to your baking dish. Top the plums with the crumble. Then sprinkle on the chopped pistachios.

Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the plum juices are bubbling and the crumble is golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Leftover crumble should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 6-8 servings

Source: Bon Appetit, August 2018 issue

Friday, August 10, 2018

Skating Fridays

Beginning Pairs Throw Jumps


My pairs partner and I took a brief hiatus at the end of 2017 due to some personal reasons. We've slowly been trying to find time to practice together again in hopes of working on a Silver Pairs program to test (and eventually compete).

Since our pairs coach moved away suddenly last fall, we are still coachless. We have the option of doing FaceTime lessons with a pairs coach but haven't opted in to that yet. We'd like to take a stab at coaching ourselves and utilizing YouTube for Silver, but if and when we do reach a higher level, we may look for some formal guidance.

For the Silver level, a throw jump is required. We've been watching online videos to see how other pairs teams are executing these elements so we've tried to copy them as best as we could. Here are videos of our throw waltz jump and throw salchow attempts.



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mocha macarons

These gorgeous mocha macarons go perfect with a cup of your favorite hot or cold coffee. They would even pair nicely with a cup of hot or frozen hot chocolate!

Macaron mania continues at Eva Bakes with these awesome mocha macarons! I was so happy with the vanilla ones that I had to follow them up with these mocha ones.

I loved having both of these options in my refrigerator for my family to have options for snacks. The macarons are made in the same exact manner as the vanilla ones, except you just need to add a little bit of cocoa powder to the shell base.

The middle is a mocha filling, and it perfectly complements the chocolate shells. You can enjoy this with your favorite coffee or even with a hot or frozen hot chocolate. Or maybe just a nice tall glass of cold milk.

The one complaint I had with these macarons was that the shapes were not perfectly circular. I found out that the problem was with the parchment paper. For some reason, once I piped my circles on the parchment, they spread out unevenly on the parchment. Therefore, the macaron shells had weird shapes and were hard to match. I used a silicone mat for the vanilla macarons and their shapes were most circular.

Otherwise, I enjoyed these macarons very much. And that's a high compliment coming from a non-coffee drinker.

Mocha macarons
Macarons
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 egg white (40 grams) 
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons (30 grams) superfine sugar (I used powdered sugar)
Filling
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee
  • 1.75 ounces (50 grams) dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons (50 grams) heavy cream
Directions
Make the macarons: Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl. Add the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder into the sieve and make sure to discard any large particles. Whisk the sifted ingredients together and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the egg white on high speed until frothy. Add the superfine sugar and continue beating until you achieve stiff peaks.

Add the dry ingredients into the bowl, and using a spatula or spoon, fold everything from bottom to top. It should take you about 50-60 strokes (and no more). The batter should be thick and ribbon-like and will fold back into itself when you lift some of it with a spatula.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (I found that the silicone mats work better, as the batter would unevenly spread out with the parchment paper and turn into weird, non-circular shapes).

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round tip (you can use a zip-top bag with a hole cut in one end). To pipe the macarons, squeeze the batter out of the bag while keeping your hand in one place. Once the batter reaches out 1-inch in diameter, swirl the top, lift the bag and quickly move onto the next circle.  Make sure to leave at  least 2-3 inches in between each circle. Do not overcrowd the macarons. Sprinkle each macaron shell with a pinch of instant coffee if desired.

Grab the baking sheet and lift it up about 6 inches off the counter and firmly rap it down onto the counter. You are trying to get rid of the air bubbles. Repeat about 4-5 more times and with the other baking sheet. If there are still air bubbles on your macarons, use the tip of a toothpick to gently pop them. Let the macarons rest at least 30 minutes. The macarons should become duller in appearance, and if you gently touch the top, no batter should stick to your finger. If it does, allow them to rest longer. Depending upon the temperature and humidity, your macarons may need to rest for a significant amount of time.

Once they are ready, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before removing them.

Make the filling: While the macarons are baking, make the filling. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave the heavy cream and instant coffee together until bubbling. Then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow it to rest for about 2 minutes, then vigorously whisk until a smooth, glossy ganache forms. If the ganache appears too runny, transfer the bowl to a refrigerator for about 5 minutes to firm up.

Assemble the macarons: Pair up macaron shells by size. Dollop about a teaspoon of filling in the center of one of the halves. Gently place the other half of the macaron on top and twist it while pressing down. Do not allow the filling to ooze out the sides.

Macarons need to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before eating. Allow them to thaw until serving.

Macarons should be kept in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 9-10 filled macarons (about 1.5"-2" in diameter each)

Source: Macaron Fetish by Kim H. Lim-Chodkowski

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Ultimate banana bread

This is the best of the best banana breads out there! Although it contains your typical butter and sugar, it's worth it for the softest and most incredible banana bread. You'll want to bake two loaves because this will get eaten in a flash!

Frozen bananas were taking over my freezer. It was time to make banana bread again. And although I typically like to make my baked goods slightly healthier, this time, I was not going to take shortcuts. I wanted to try a full-fat version of banana bread to see how it compared to the lower fat varieties I have been making.

And oh. My. Gosh.

This banana bread was so amazing that I am starting to question why I even made the lower fat versions before. Seriously guys, the creamed butter and sugar in this made the banana bread that much fluffier and less "heavy" than its healthier counterpart.

Now, this doesn't mean that I'm ditching my tried-and-true applesauce substitution for baked goods. Oh no. It just means that every once in a while I'm OK without altering classic recipes. I'm sure I'll make this version a bit healthier the next time (swapping out the flour with white whole whole, using applesauce instead of butter, decreasing the sugar, etc.), but I'm going to enjoy this one for now.

And I'd better hurry, because half of the loaf was gone within 24 hours. I'm going to have to fight the two other people in my house for the remaining half.

Ultimate banana bread
  • 1/2 (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf 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 together the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs and banana and mix well.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients and then add the vanilla. Mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake in your preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. You might want to check the toothpick in a few places since the mashed banana could appear to be wet batter.

Allow the bread to cool before serving. Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep longer in the refrigerator and will not get as soggy.

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

Source: Genius Kitchen

Friday, August 3, 2018

Skating Fridays

Double Salchow Success!


July 17, 2018 is a date that will be etched into my memory. Not only was it the due date for my sister-in-law (my little niece did not make her appearance that day, but finally arrived a few days later), but it was also the date that I finally landed an IJS clean double salchow! Oh my goodness!

I was attempting some of the 2-footed landing exercises during practice that day and decided to try a few on one foot just for fun. I turned on my phone and started recording some jump attempts.

Lo and behold, after reviewing my footage, I realized that one of the jumps was clean! It was a super ugly jump attempt, and the landing was a hot mess, but I landed 1/4 rotation off a squeaky clean exit. Fortunately for me, this is considered IJS-clean (also will depend on the technical panel if this was done in a competition... some might call this under-rotated).

I immediately sent the video to my coach (who is world-renown and usually works on triple jumps with elite skaters, so he's legit), and he confirmed that my jump was CLEAN!!!!

After 8 long months of focusing on this jump, I am happy to say that I have successfully landed one clean one.  I wasn't able to replicate my success after this jump during the rest of the practice, so it has been a one-hit-wonder (at least so far).

Now the real work begins.... I want to make this a consistent jump and work on tweaking it so that it's got beautiful flow and execution. Maybe I can include it in a future program. Pipe dreams, I know, but at least I now know that I can do it!


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Vanilla macarons with chocolate ganache filling

Beautiful French macarons that are perfect for gifting and impressing friends and family! Customize the color with your favorite colors or leave them plain. Fill them with a luscious chocolate ganache and enjoy!

My little girl is turning out to be a mini version of me. At least in the dessert department. She knows about most of my baking ingredients and can list several dessert types. One thing that surprised me is that she knew what macarons were.

I've told her that I've made macarons before, but she was much younger then and probably didn't remember. So she asked me to make them again. I happily obliged.

This time I made a plain macaron and filled it with a simple chocolate ganache. I think it would be fun to try different flavor combinations with my daughter in the future, but I wanted her to understand the basic macaron before we moved on to the fancy stuff. I did color the shells pink to honor the birth of my new baby niece. :)

Addie's already showed some interest in making some desserts with me, but most of the time she's happy to kick back and relax and just be the spoon licker or quality control expert. I don't blame her. My mom never made many desserts with me when I was younger, but if she did, then that would have been my role as well (spoon licker and quality control person - can that be an official title on a business card?).


And my oh my... these macarons were incredible. They baked up perfectly and had the gorgeous "feet" near the bottoms and had a beautiful smooth top. Everyone in my family enjoyed these, and I can't wait to make more for them in the future.

Vanilla macarons with chocolate ganache filling
Macarons
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 teaspoons (50 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) almond flour
  • 1 egg white (40 grams) 
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons (30 grams) superfine sugar (I used powdered sugar)
  • Food coloring, if desire (I used gel coloring)
Chocolate ganache filling
  • 1.75 ounces (50 grams) dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 and 1/2 Tablespoons (50 grams) heavy cream
Directions
Make the macarons: Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium sized bowl. Add the powdered sugar and almond flour into the sieve and make sure to discard any large particles. Whisk the sifted ingredients together and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the egg white on high speed until frothy. Add the superfine sugar and food coloring if using and continue beating until you achieve stiff peaks.

Add the dry ingredients into the bowl, and using a spatula or spoon, fold everything from bottom to top. It should take you about 50-60 strokes (and no more). The batter should be thick and ribbon-like and will fold back into itself when you lift some of it with a spatula.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (I found that the silicone mats work better, as the batter would unevenly spread out with the parchment paper and turn into weird, non-circular shapes).

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round tip (you can use a zip-top bag with a hole cut in one end). To pipe the macarons, squeeze the batter out of the bag while keeping your hand in one place. Once the batter reaches out 1-inch in diameter, swirl the top, lift the bag and quickly move onto the next circle.  Make sure to leave at  least 2-3 inches in between each circle. Do not overcrowd the macarons.

Grab the baking sheet and lift it up about 6 inches off the counter and firmly rap it down onto the counter. You are trying to get rid of the air bubbles. Repeat about 4-5 more times and with the other baking sheet. If there are still air bubbles on your macarons, use the tip of a toothpick to gently pop them. Let the macarons rest at least 30 minutes. The macarons should become duller in appearance, and if you gently touch the top, no batter should stick to your finger. If it does, allow them to rest longer. Depending upon the temperature and humidity, your macarons may need to rest for a significant amount of time.

Once they are ready, preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the macarons, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes. Allow them to cool completely before removing them.

Make the filling: While the macarons are baking, make the filling. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Microwave the heavy cream until bubbling. Then pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow it to rest for about 2 minutes, then vigorously whisk until a smooth, glossy ganache forms. If the ganache appears too runny, transfer the bowl to a refrigerator for about 5 minutes to firm up.

Assemble the macarons: Pair up macaron shells by size. Dollop about a teaspoon of filling in the center of one of the halves. Gently place the other half of the macaron on top and twist it while pressing down. Do not allow the filling to ooze out the sides.

Macarons need to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before eating. Allow them to thaw until serving.

Macarons should be kept in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

Yield: About 9-10 filled macarons (about 1.5"-2" in diameter each)

Source: Macaron Fetish by Kim H. Lim-Chodkowski

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Rainbow cookie ice cream

Inspired by a seasonal ice cream flavor at my local ice cream store, this rainbow ice cream has a smooth and rich vanilla ice cream base and includes chopped rainbow cookies. Who can resist?

Ice cream is one of my all-time favorite desserts. No matter what time of year or what time of day, I can always find room in my stomach for a big old scoop of the sweet stuff. My favorite flavor, dating all the way back to childhood, is mint chocolate chip.

We've trained our daughter to be quite the ice cream connoisseur, as she likes trying new flavor combinations and different ice cream shoppes around town. One local ice creamery offered a rainbow cookie ice cream that she's absolutely been obsessed about. It was a simple vanilla base with chopped rainbow cookies. Well, the rainbow cookies are more green/red/white than rainbow, but that's besides the point.

After constantly hearing, "MOM! When will you make rainbow ice cream??" I finally gave in and bought all the ingredients. Rather than making my own version of the rainbow cookies, I bought the authentic cookies that were in the original ice cream. Luckily for me, my local grocery store carries the cookies, so I painfully plopped down $4.99 for a small container of them (inside, I was grumbling  about paying such an exorbitant price for a few cookies since I could do much better for a cheaper price, but, priorities).

I made a simpler variation of David Lebovitz's vanilla ice cream base to give it a smooth, rich texture.  Then I had Addie and my husband chop up some of the rainbow cookies so I could fold them into the ice cream. I finally added a few chopped up pieces on top to finish off the aesthetics.

My husband loved the ice cream, and of course my daughter was tickled pink (er, rainbow?). And I guess I was happy too, since a scoop of this stuff at the ice cream store is usually $3-$4. And now I had an entire quart of it to enjoy with my family. On a related note, Addie said that I should sell this for $3 a scoop. I think we sense a future entrepreneur here...

If you don't have rainbow cookies, you can substitute with your favorite cookie and turn it into a classic cookies and cream ice cream instead.

Rainbow cookie ice cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 10-15 rainbow cookies, chopped
Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat up the whole milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream and salt on medium temperature until the sugar is completely dissolved.

In a large bowl, place the remaining heavy cream. Put a mesh sieve on top and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and add the vanilla. Set aside.

Once the whole milk mixture is warmed up and the sugar has melted, pour about 1/2 cup of it into the bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk constantly so the eggs don't scramble. Then pour this back into the large bowl with the whole milk and keep whisking. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of your spatula or wooden spoon.

Pour the mixture over the mesh sieve so it combines with the remaining cup of heavy cream. Mix well. Allow the mixture to cool down and place in the refrigerator to cool completely over night.

Once the ice cream base is fully chilled, place it in your ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Fold in the chopped cookies and transfer to a container and freeze for at least 3-4 hours.

Ice cream should stay in an airtight container in the freezer and will keep for many weeks.

Yield: About 1 quart

Source: Inspired by Gelati Celesti; ice cream base slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Friday, July 27, 2018

Skating Fridays

Two-Footed Double Salchow Exercise


For those of you who have been following my journey, you all know that I've been working really hard to land a correct double salchow. I made a declaration to myself and to my coach that this would be the year that it would happen.

You'll notice from previous videos that I have the air time and height needed for the jump, but I am landing forward, which is a 1/4 revolution short of an IJS "clean" landing (a fully clean landing would be landed fully backwards).

My coach gave me a new exercise to try. We worked on all single jumps and landed them on two feet. The purpose was to align my body in the landing position so that my shoulders, feet, and legs were all on the same line. Theoretically, if I could land a double salchow attempt in this alignment position, then that meant that I would have the rotation needed to get all the way around.


If you watch the video closely, you'll notice that I land in almost a tango stop. My upper body and free side keep rotating, while my landing leg and foot stop completely. It's interesting that my landing side is the one that is preventing me from completing this jump.

This exercise helped me isolate the problem area for this jump. While I knew that my landing side needed to continue rotating internally, it was eye opening to see it happen on the 2-foot attempt. And it's comforting to know that my upper body and free side are doing the correct thing.

Coach had me do a two-footed Axel and that one went fine. My landing side did not stop rotation, so for whatever reason, it's only a problem on this jump.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Chocolate chess pie

Chocolate chess pie is a classic Southern pie that tastes like a mix between a brownie and chocolate pudding. Dress it up with some whipped cream or ice cream for the ultimate treat!
Have you ever heard of chocolate chess pie? I'd heard it mentioned a few times but wasn't actually sure of what it was. Apparently, it's a classic Southern dessert that tastes like a brownie and chocolate pudding combined together. And it's all baked together in a nice flaky pie crust.

Hungry yet?
I saw the recipe for this appear in my blog feed and knew that I had to try making it immediately. I already had all the ingredients on hand and happened to have some whipped cream in the fridge, so this was a no-brainer.

My pie filling poofed up a bit after baking, so parts of it were weird looking. No fear though - I covered those spots with some whipped cream and no one knew the difference.

My husband and daughter both enjoyed the pie. It was reminiscent of a fudge brownie, but baked in a pie form. You can absolutely use a pre-baked crust here but I chose to make mine from scratch.

Chocolate chess pie
Crust
  • 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 6-8 Tablespoons ice cold water 
Filling
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Make the crust: In a food processor, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar. If you don't have a food processor, mix everything together in a large bowl. Pulse in the butter until it resembles wet sand (alternatively, you can cut the butter in with a pastry cutter, two forks or your fingers). Slowly drizzle in the water, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Do not over mix or over work the dough.

Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic, and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour an up to overnight.

When ready, roll out the dough so it's large enough to fit into a standard 10" pie pan. Tuck the extra dough underneath and flute the edges. Chill for another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Fill with pie weights and bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is light golden. Allow to cool.

Make the filling: In a large microwave safe bowl, add the butter and chocolate and melt on high power, about 45-60 seconds. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla extract. Transfer to the large bowl with the chocolate and mix well.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust. Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. The center may still jiggle a little bit, and that's OK. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to come to room temperature. Serve with additional shaved chocolate, whipped cream or ice cream.

Leftover pie should be covered and can be stored either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days, unless you live at my house. In that case, it will be demolished in about 30 minutes.

Yield: About 8-12 servings

Source: Crust from here; filling from Brown Eyed Baker

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Key lime cheesecake

A beautiful, summery key lime cheesecake that will make you think of the tropics! Enjoy with a fun frozen drink for an extra special treat!

I recently shared that I made a dark chocolate cheesecake for my family. Well, I have to admit that we were sad that we weren't able to take some home with us to enjoy (we live several hours away from my parents so it would have been difficult to take home in a hot car).

When we returned home, we quickly went grocery shopping to replenish our refrigerator. It was empty. I thought that it would be nice to make our own family a cheesecake to enjoy. While I was browsing the produce section, I saw a bag of key limes and decided that a key lime cheesecake would be perfect for the hot summer days we were experiencing.

I only baked my cheesecake for 50 minutes and then had to rush to an appointment. So I left the door of the oven closed and returned back after 2 hours. The cheesecake was perfect, and it didn't even require a water bath (hooray!). I chilled it in the refrigerator overnight and then made the key lime whipped cream the next day.

You will have leftover whipped cream, so feel free to halve the recipe below or just enjoy it with a spoon (or give yourself an extra dollop with each slice). I loved the slightly tart taste of the whipped cream on its own but really enjoyed it with the cheesecake.

The only way to make this even better is to pair the cheesecake with a nice fruity adult beverage! Right?

Key lime cheesecake
Crust
  • 1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 14 crushed/pulsed graham cracker rectangles)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice (can substitute with regular lime juice)
  • zest from 1-2 key limes
  • 3 eggs
Key lime whipped cream
  • 1 cup cold whipped cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • juice from 2 key limes
Directions
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together until it resembles wet sand. Transfer it to a 10" round springform pan and press the crumbs on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake in your preheated oven for 15 minutes or until set.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and corn starch together on medium speed until well blended. Add the key lime juice and zest. Add the eggs, one by one, until everything just comes together. Do not over mix or else your cheesecake may crack.

Bake in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. The center may be slightly jiggly, and that's OK. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 1-2 hours.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool slightly before chilling completely in the refrigerator overnight.

Finally, make the whipped cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add in the key lime juice and beat until blended. Do not over beat or else your cream may turn into butter.

Pipe rosettes or spread the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake. Garnish with additional lime slices if desired.

Cheesecake should be stored in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. It can also be frozen and thawed (slice into individual pieces, wrap in aluminum foil and store in a zip-top bag).

Yield: One 10" cheesecake; about 8-12 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Friday, July 20, 2018

Skating Fridays

Grassroots to Champions - Part 2


Day 2 of the seminar started very, very early. Freestyle began at 6:00am and I had a 6:20am lesson. The Zamboni was 10 minutes late so everything got pushed back.

During my lesson, we talked about the new Russian style of teaching jumps so I got to hear some first-hand experience on what is up and coming for our sport. I also tried some of the new techniques.

That morning, we learned about the history of ice skating, our equipment (boots and blades) and also had some on-ice exercises for jumps and spins. I was also fortunate enough to take a semi-private lesson with Jason, and he helped me with my split falling leaf jump and my grab camel spin. He had some great tips to share.

I was ecstatic to learn that I unofficially won the spin revolution contest. We each got to pick a spin and try to spin as many revolutions as we could. Jason was the official winner and got about 32 in a back camel spin (I heard the world record is 40+). I executed a plain sit spin and achieved about 21 revolutions. The camp director and one of the coaches commended me for this, and that gave me a sudden boost of confidence.

Before he left, Jason demonstrated a Russian split jump for us. Here it is!

And I also got to meet former World and National Champion, Kimmie Meissner!



Thank you to the coaches, volunteers and organizers of the Grassroots to Champions seminar. It was a wonderful learning experience, and I can't wait to apply what I learned.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Red, white and blue trifle

A beautiful, tri-colored trifle that requires no baking! Use whatever berries you have on hand or are in season!

My brother is a lucky guy. His wife is an amazing cook and a phenomenal baker. They are constantly trying new recipes and even have their own unofficial pub at their house. Every time I visit them, there is a new beer or wine fermenting in the basement or garage.

When we visited them over the 4th of July weekend, I brought over my chocolate cheesecake. My sister-in-law had a trifle in mind, and I thought it was a perfect complement to the cheesecake since it was fruity and not quite as rich.

She had all the ingredients prepped by the time I arrived. And since she had her hands full with being the hostess, I happily stepped in to help assemble the trifle.

I loved how easy this was to put together, since it just requires a bunch of layers and involves no baking. The ladyfingers didn't get as soft as we wanted, so I'd recommend that you add a layer of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, boiled and cooled).

You can easily customize this to include whatever fruits make you happy or whatever is in season. Since it was the 4th of July, my sister-in-law used red and blue fruits to celebrate the holiday.

Enjoy!

Red, white and blue trifle
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds raspberries or strawberries (hulled, cleaned and quartered)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, divided
  • 10 ounces (about 1 and 1/3 cups) mascarpone cheese
  • 1 and 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 20-24 ladyfingers (from a 7 ounce package), broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound fresh blueberries (about 2 and 1/2 cups)
Directions
Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Cut two additional sheets of parchment paper so that it is about 4 inches taller than the pan. Use these sheets to line the inside perimeter of the pan.

In a medium sized bowl, toss the raspberries or strawberries with the orange juice and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Using the back of a spoon, lightly mash them to release their juices. Set aside for about 10 minutes.

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 mascarpone with the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar on medium speed until well blended. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, and salt until soft peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.

Place the ladyfingers on the bottom of the pan in one even layer. Add half of the berry mixture and top with half of the whipped cream. Make sure the whipped cream is even. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers, berries and whipped cream.

Top with the blueberries and chill in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.

To serve the trifle, unhinge the springform pan and remove the parchment paper from the side. Slice and serve.

Leftover trifle should be stored in the refrigerator and will last for a few days.

Yield: About 8-12 servings

Source: My sister-in-law, who found it on Martha Stewart

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