Sunday, October 14, 2018

Apple raisin cinnamon French toast casserole

Love French toast but don't have the time to make it in the mornings? Then try this overnight French toast recipe - complete with fresh apples and raisins. This casserole is sweet enough that it doesn't need any maple syrup!

When I visited New York City in August for a friend's surprise birthday party, my friend's husband prepared brunch for us the next day. He served us quite the feast - bacon, fresh fruit and a version of this apple raisin cinnamon French toast casserole.

We appreciated the kind gesture, as everything gave us enough energy to venture into Manhattan and spend a few hours there before the festivities started. I was impressed that my friend's husband was able to make this casserole with two young kids. The trick was that he made it overnight and simply popped it in the oven the next morning.

I decided to recreate a version of this when I returned. My husband usually isn't a fan of French toast because he thinks it's too soggy, but he really enjoyed this version. The recipe below uses a traditional French baguette, and the overnight soak softens the bread just enough so it's soft enough but not mushy.

I really enjoyed this French toast and appreciated that it didn't need any maple syrup. The brown sugar cinnamon soak sweetened the dish enough that no additional syrup was needed. This is a fantastic dish to make for any overnight guests. All you need to do is bake it in the oven the next morning and you're set.

Apple raisin cinnamon French toast casserole
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 loaf French baguette, cut into 1" slices
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Directions
Generously grease a 13"x9" baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, apples and raisins and toss well, making sure each slice of apple is coated. Transfer this to your prepared pan and spread it out evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Place the bread in a single layer on top of the apple mixture.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon together.  Pour this over the bread, making sure that every single part of each baguette is soaked.

Cover with aluminum foil and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake, covered, for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden brown.

Allow the casserole to stand for another 5-10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers should be stored, covered, in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: One 13"x9" pan; about 8-12 servings

Source: Genius Kitchen

Friday, October 12, 2018

Skating Fridays

Positive Affirmations


I don't know about you, but I do a lot of negative self-talk. Perhaps it was from the environment I was raised in, or the activities that I chose which required perfection (gymnastics, flute, skating, baking!). All of those things combined together formulated my "I can do better" mentality.

Something that I am working on for figure skating is learning to be nicer to myself. Training my mind to think positively and being 'in the moment' has been a long and difficult journey. And I'm not sure if I'll ever make it to the place where everything is puppies and rainbows and my nervousness and anxiousness disappear. But I can try.

A technique that many sports psychologists and self-help books teach is the art of the positive affirmation. It requires you to rewire your brain and turn a negative thought into a positive one.

For example:

  • Negative affirmation: I am horrible at the backspin.
  • Positive affirmation: I enjoy working on the backspin. It will help me with my air position on my jumps.
  • Negative affirmation: I'm not good enough to compete in this group.
  • Positive affirmation: I belong here. I passed all my tests, and my coaches, family and friends all believe in me. I believe in me too.
By flipping the negative affirmation upside down and turning it into a positive one, we can train our minds to be happier. In turn, this should translate as becoming more confident, which should reflect in our skating.

Of course, this technique works for just about anything else so don't limit it to skating.

Do you engage in negative self-talk? If so, how could turning into a positive affirmation help you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Baked spaghetti pie

A wonderful baked spaghetti pie that's loaded with fresh roasted cherry tomatoes and eggplant. This updated twist on a classic spaghetti will be a great rotation to your dinner routine!

My spaghetti game is pretty boring. I am lazy and usually use the jarred tomato sauce and very rarely make my own from scratch. Occasionally, I get "fancy" and add some meatballs. As you can tell, I am not an expert when it comes to spaghetti.

When we received our latest issue of Bon Appetit, my husband noticed this recipe. I liked that there were roasted vegetables in it and that the spaghetti was baked. It was definitely worth a try.

We weren't able to find cherry tomatoes at the store so I used grape tomatoes and they took a little bit longer to roast. The pie came together quite beautifully, and I was thrilled to be able to use the basil from my little indoor plant.

I baked this one lazy weekend and chilled it overnight to serve for the following evening's dinner. All we did was slice it into wedges and reheated it.

This baked spaghetti pie was a wonderful (and welcome) addition to our dinner menu. Addison didn't even really notice the eggplant, which made this a huge win for me.

Baked spaghetti pie
  • 1 medium globe eggplant, peeled, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for skillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 ounces grated parmesan, divided
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup torn basil, plus a few whole leaves
Directions
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large ovenproof skillet (preferably a cast iron pan), mix the eggplant and tomatoes together with the olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic powder and season with salt and pepper. Roast in your preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the eggplant is soft and the tomatoes have blistered. Let the vegetables cool while you prepare the spaghetti and turn the oven down to 400 degrees F.

Cook the spaghetti in a salted pot; then drain (do not rinse). Put the spaghetti back into its original pot. Toss with some olive oil so it doesn't stick together.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, tomato paste and about half of the parmesan. Set aside briefly.

Add the cooled vegetables to the pot of spaghetti and toss. Add the egg mixture and mix well. Add the 1/2 cup of basil.

Clean the cast iron skillet and drizzle with some additional oil. Transfer the spaghetti mixture back to the skillet and flatten the top. Then add the remaining parmesan and additional whole basil leaves.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is browned. Allow the spaghetti to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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

Yield: About 8 servings

Source: Barely adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2018 issue

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Pumpkin butterscotch muffins

It's officially fall, which means it's time for pumpkin! And what better way to kick things off than with these fabulous whole wheat pumpkin butterscotch muffins?

Happy Fall! Can you believe that the summer is over already? Now that the weather is starting to cool down and school is in full swing, this only means one thing... BRING ON THE PUMPKIN! Whoo hoo!

I know some bloggers out there started sharing pumpkin recipes in August (!!!), but I decided to wait until it was officially fall to start with my pumpkin baking. This whole wheat pumpkin muffin recipe is full of the traditional fall spices and contains some of my favorite baking chips - butterscotch!

The muffins are soft and fluffy, and the ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice give the muffins an intense, fall flavor. If you want, you can throw in some chocolate chips with the butterscotch morsels for a fun and chocolate-y twist.

I doubled this recipe because I knew it would be a hit with my family, but you can certainly keep the recipe as-is below.

Whole wheat pumpkin butterscotch muffins
  • 1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 package butterscotch morsels
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, sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin puree and applesauce. Mix well. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and gently fold together until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the butterscotch morsels until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, portion out the batter into each well, filling each about 3/4 full. Top with additional butterscotch morsels if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out  clean. Allow the muffins to cool before serving.

Muffins should be stored, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 12 muffins

Source: Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

Friday, October 5, 2018

Skating Fridays

Another Double Salchow Video


Can you tell I'm obsessed with this jump? Ha ha!

Here is a recent double salchow attempt. I've been working diligently to stay tight throughout the jump and particularly on the landing. While I wasn't able to save the landing on this attempt, I did land solidly on the 1/4 mark. If I had a gracious judging panel, they might have given me full credit on the rotation but negative GOE overall. It's progress, so I will take it. And to top things off, my jump coach said that this was my best attempt to date!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

White chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake

A copycat version of a national chain's white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake - so light and fluffy and full of creamy white chocolate and swirls of raspberry!

My sister-in-law was coming to visit us, and I asked her what kind of dessert she wanted me to make. Sadly, she mentioned that she was on some kind of diet, so I got sad. Then she mentioned that she could "cheat" for a few days so my eyes perked up again.

When I asked my husband what I should bake for his sister, he told me that she has always been a big cheesecake fan. I know she loves pumpkin cheesecake, but I am aware that my husband doesn't. So, I dug deep into my memory and remembered that one of my favorite cheesecakes from a national restaurant chain was their white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake. I've already made Patty's white chocolate cheesecake for her and her family many times, so adding a raspberry swirl into it would be a logical next step.

I made a new cheesecake recipe and was weary about the technique - it had a LOT of butter in the crust, a layer of non-melted white chocolate, a liquid raspberry "sauce" that was more water-like, and a strange baking temperature (475 for 12 minutes and then down to 350 for another 50-ish minutes). Nevertheless, I tried it, and the resulting cheesecake was an epic fail. Butter overflowed beyond the lip of my cheesecake pan and made a large puddle on the bottom of the oven, which caused my house to smoke up, so we had to open all the windows. The white chocolate part burned and tasted horrible, and the top of the cheesecake was crisp and gross. There was nothing good about the cheesecake.

I had to redeem myself, and do it quickly. The next week, I went back to my tried and true white chocolate cheesecake and just made a few additions.

Anyway, this cheesecake was HEAVENLY. And it cost a lot less than a slice of the same thing at that national restaurant chain (and was way better than the failed version)!

White chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake
Crust
  • 16 ounces chocolate cream cookies, crushed
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Filling
  • 4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, optional
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves, heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then stirred
Directions
Preheat your oven to 270 degrees F. Line the outside of a 10" springform pan with aluminum foil. Mae sure you wrap it well. Place it on a baking sheet and set aside.

Make the crust: Combine the cookie crumbs and the melted butter together in a medium sized bowl. Transfer to your springform pan and press it into the pan and about halfway up the sides. Set aside.

Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the cream cheese, sugar, heavy cream, and Greek yogurt together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until everything just comes together. Add in the melted butter and white chocolate until just incorporated. Do not over mix or else your cheesecake may crack.

Add about half of the cheesecake batter on top. Add the raspberry preserves on top and swirl it with a knife. Then add the remaining cheesecake batter on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 90 minutes. Turn the oven off and crack the oven open and allow the cheesecake to sit in the oven for another 30 minutes. Then remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool on the countertop. Then transfer to your refrigerator and allow to cool overnight.

Once the cheesecake is completely cool, slice and serve. Feel free to garnish with whipped cream, shaved white chocolate, additional raspberry sauce (if you saved some) or chocolate curls. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator and will keep for several days.

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

Source: Barely adapted from Patty's White Chocolate Cheesecake

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bananas foster jam

Inspired by an Asheville (NC) restaurant, Biscuit Head, this bananas foster jam is THE BEST thing to put on biscuits, toast, ice cream, or for eating with a spoon! With cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, this jam is reminiscent of the traditional bananas foster dessert!

Call me obsessed. There is this breakfast restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina called Biscuit Head that I just can't get enough of. Granted, we don't get to visit very often, but when we do, I always have to go there for breakfast.

I was warned - always arrive before the doors open or else you'll be waiting in line for a long, long time. I told my husband about this piece of advice the first time we visited and he didn't take me seriously. We ended up waiting about 15 minutes before we got in the door. The next time, he knew better and we were first in line. By the time we were done, the line had snaked out the door.

Anyway, Biscuit Head has this epic jam bar filled with homemade jams, flavored butters and infused honeys. My absolute favorite, which I bought a jar of on our last visit, was their bananas foster jam. I'm normally not a bananas foster type of girl, but this jam was out of this world. The spices reminded me of apple pie, and the jam was so soft and not banana-like at all. I wanted to spread this jam on everything.

Since my jar of bananas foster jam was running low (translation: it was around half done), I thought I'd try my hand at making my own version. I saw the ingredient list and it didn't look too bad. They used brown sugar and rum in theirs, while mine does not. But, flavor-wise, it's pretty similar. I caramelized some sugar and added bananas to it. Then I added all the spices and waited for the bananas to break down. Finally, I added a splash of vanilla and was done.

The jam took about 40 minutes start to finish, but my electric stovetop is not the best. You can probably make this in a lot less time than I did since my appliance is in need of replacing. Spread this jam on everything because is really is that good. You might want to make a double batch because it's going to get eaten really quickly!

Bananas foster jam
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 ripe* bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* Bananas should be spotted/freckled, but not super mushy. If your bananas are mostly black on the outside, freeze these for banana bread or banana muffins. They won't work in this recipe.

Directions
In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar and water together on medium-high heat without swirling. Allow the sugar water mixture to turn golden in color, about 10 minutes (if you are using an electric stove like mine it may take longer... mine took closer to 25 minutes!).

Once the sugar has caramelized, take the pan off the stove and add in the bananas. Using a spatula, mash the bananas down so they are covered in the caramel. Return the saucepan to the stove and continue heating. Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Continue stirring until the bananas start to break down and turn translucent.

Finally, add the vanilla and stir well. The jam should be thick and appear spreadable. Turn the stove off and pour the jam into a container with a lid. Allow it to cool before transferring to the refrigerator to chill completely.

Jam should be stored, chilled, in the refrigerator and will keep for several weeks. You can also can it using the traditional canning method (which I did not do). If you use the canning method, your jam can keep up to a year and can be stored at room temperature.

Yield: About 1 and 1/2 cups jam

Source: Inspired by Biscuit Head, but an Eva Bakes original

Friday, September 28, 2018

Skating Fridays

Competition Recap


First of all, for those of you who sent me texts, and other words of encouragement in person or virtually before last weekend - thank you. You have no idea how much your support means to me. It's comforting to know that there is such a strong adult community out there to lift each other up in this crazy sport. Thank you.

If you follow me on the Eva Bakes Facebook page, you already know the results, but I'm going to recap everything here. Bear with me!

During the morning of the competition, it felt like an ordinary day. I made breakfast, prepped for lunch and got Addie ready for dance. My husband and his sister, who was in town visiting, took her to dance so I could chill out. I got my hair ready, painted my toe nails and watched my alma play college football.

When they returned from class, they went to the pool and told me to stay home and relax. I watched more football and eventually took a nap on the couch. Since I wasn't competing until 6:30pm that evening, I had a lot of time to potentially freak out.

Thankfully, I kept busy and kept my mind as free as I could. Whenever it would start to wander, I'd try to center myself and be in the present. I'd observe everything around me and say to myself, "I am here (in the present)."

A few hours went by and soon enough it was time to get my dress on and head to the rink.

The rink wasn't too cold, and I went into the dressing room to stretch a little bit. I closed my eyes a few times to zone out and tried not to get too distracted with all the excitement that was going on.

Next thing I know, it was time to take my warmup.

All week, my camel spin had been failing me. I'm not sure why I kept rushing the entry, but it just wasn't working. I tried a few camel spins and they still didn't hook correctly. I warmed up some jumps and they felt shaky. Then I finally hit one good camel spin and left it at that. It was time to leave the ice.

Three Silver ladies took the ice while I waited by the boards. I was the first of the Gold ladies to skate. I took my spot and off I went.

My first spin went wonky and I didn't hit it like I normally did. The choreographic step sequence felt fine, and then I took my time going into the change foot combination spin and hit my camel! The rest of the jumps felt a little unstable, but they were all landed. And my final spin went fine. All in all, it wasn't my best performance, but I skated in the present and met that goal. And how did I meet my other competition goals? Let's see...
  • Stay in the present - I don't think I'll ever be at 100% here but it was certainly improved. I stayed in the present and did not think ahead. When my mind would start to wander, I'd center myself again and bring myself to the present.  
  • Focus on myself (and myself only) - This was also improved. Normally I am doubting myself when I see others but I tried to zero in on my breathing, my warmup and my own elements. Every once in a while my mind would try to wander and my eyes would dart away to watch others, but I caught myself and tried to fix it.
  • "Be one" with the music and use facial expressions - I did my best here and know that this is going to be a long journey. But, it was better than where it has been.
  • Full extensions on all jump landings and spin exits - My jump landings felt a little unstable and spin exits could have been better. I'm not checking this box off.
  • Deep edges and adequate knee bends - I probably got too much knee bend and skated too "heavy." I need to work on being lighter and taller.
  • Straight back and improved skating posture - I'm still bent over too much and need to focus on skating tall
  • Improved speed and clear transitions - Several of my skating friends said this was the fastest they'd ever seen me skate a program, so that is good. I still need to work on improving my speed though because my coach said that I was too slow!
If you've read this far, thank you! Despite all my self criticisms from above, I placed first (out of 3 skaters). This is a big deal and a lot of "firsts" for me:
  • First time placing first in a freestyle competition (granted, there were only 3 of us)
  • First time getting positive Grades of Execution in my choreographic step sequence
  • I received my highest technical marks to date
  • First time competing with the -5 to +5 GOE system, and not receiving any -5!
  • First time executing two new spins!
  • First time performing my new program
All in all, there was a lot to be proud of. Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead, but I am only encouraged by it all. Having my protocol is helpful so I can see what I need to focus on in the coming months, but it was a great experience.

I'm willing and ready to make some significant improvements this season. Hopefully the results will come with the hard work!

PS. If you're looking for a video, I'm still trying to figure it out. My esteemed videographers for the event had phone issues so they weren't able to record the full performance!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Double chocolate zucchini bread

This is a super soft and super chocolate-y zucchini bread that you HAVE to make! With pantry ingredients, it's a cinch to put together and fun to eat - just try not to get any chocolate on you!

I can't believe my baby girl is in 3rd grade this year. It feels like just yesterday when we took her home from the hospital. And now she is 8 years old!

For the first day of school, I baked her a double chocolate zucchini bread. I mean, you gotta start your first day of school with some chocolate, right? Well, at least that's how we roll at my house. I did add some shredded zucchini so it was a little bit healthier, but who's counting?

My daughter was so excited to NOT get any chocolate on her when she ate this in the morning. She even came to me to show off how clean her outfit was before she went off to brush her teeth. Both she and I adored this bread, and I think the next time I will bake this with whole wheat flour.

Double chocolate zucchini bread
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
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, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

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

Transfer the applesauce mixture to the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold everything together until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the zucchini and mix until everything just comes together. Fold in the chocolate chips with as few strokes as possible.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle on additional chocolate chips if desired.

Bake in your preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow the bread to cool before serving.

Leftover 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 Two Peas and Their Pod

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Baked strawberry donuts with strawberry glaze

Fresh strawberry donuts that are baked and topped off with a fresh strawberry milk glaze! These are awesome for breakfast or a midday snack!

Has the donut craze officially died down yet? I remember when the cupcake craze began, and then it turned to frozen yogurt, smoothies, donuts, and now poke. While my family and I enjoy eating donuts, I don't like how it makes me feel afterwards. I don't like to share so I usually eat one on my own and then feel really heavy afterwards.

These baked donuts are the opposite of that. Since they are baked, not fried, they feel a lot lighter and are actually more cake-like. I mean, anytime you can eat cake for breakfast is a win, right?

I added extra strawberries to my donuts by sprinkling some diced strawberries into the bottom of each donut well. Then I added my donut batter on top. The final donuts were really pretty with those strawberry chunks on top. I opted for a simple strawberry glaze, but you are more than welcome to use a buttercream or even a cream cheese frosting.

Addie and I shared one of these beauties shortly after I glazed them. I could have easily eaten one (or two) on my own but will have to do that when nobody's looking!

Baked strawberry donuts with strawberry glaze
Donuts
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup fresh strawberry milk (can use regular milk or buttermilk; if using buttermilk, omit the vinegar below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced
Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 fresh strawberry milk, plus more if needed (can substitute with milk of choice)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two standard donut pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the milk, vinegar, eggs, butter and vanilla. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the strawberries and mix until everything just comes together.

Transfer the batter to a zip-top bag or a pastry bag (trust me on this... it will be super messy if you skip this step).

Pipe the batter into your prepared donut pans, filling each donut mold about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the donut springs back after you lightly press on it. Allow the donuts to cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the donuts are cooling, make the glaze. Mix the sugar with the milk together until it is smooth and glossy.

Dunk the top half of the donut into the glaze and turn it right side up and allow it to dry on the cooling rack. Make sure you have a tray underneath to catch any extra glaze. Repeat with the remaining donuts.

Donuts should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for about 3 days.

Yield: 12 donuts

Source: Barely adapted from A Kitchen Addiction

Friday, September 21, 2018

Skating Fridays

Competition Weekend


I am competing this weekend so don't have much to share with you all, but if you'd like to see how I'm faring, I'll more than likely share early results on my Facebook page. This weekend will be the debut of my new freestyle program, and I am hoping it goes well and that I have a clean skate. It will be interesting to see how my scores end up, particularly since this is the first time I will be judged with the new -5 to +5 GOE system. Fingers crossed!

Here are my goals for the competition:

  • Stay in the present
  • Focus on myself (and myself only)
  • "Be one" with the music and use facial expressions
  • Full extensions on all jump landings and spin exits
  • Deep edges and adequate knee bends
  • Straight back and improved skating posture
  • Improved speed and clear transitions

Notice that I did not write down anything results-based. I'm still working on trying to change my mentality to not think about future outcomes and focus on staying in the present and things that I am able to influence and control.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Fruit pizza

Who said that pizza has to be savory? This fruit pizza is reminiscent of a dessert variety from Pie Works. My roommate used to bring one back to share with us after she returned from work. It's got a sugar cookie base, soft cream cheese frosting and fresh sliced fruit!

My college roommate used to work at a pizza place called Pie Works. Every once in a while, she would bring us an amazing fruit pizza after she got off work. My suite mates and I would chow down on this in record time... at 10pm or later since that is when my roommate got back to the room.

I remember how soft and creamy the frosting was, and I savored every bite of the fresh fruit that was on top. I've looked for the recipe to no avail and somehow gave up a few years ago. For whatever reason, this fruit pizza entered my memories again and I knew it was about time that I resurrected this memory and made it myself.

The fruit pizza here starts with a sugar cookie base, but I think the one from Pie Works actually used a real pizza dough (my memory is a bit fuzzy here). Either way, what makes the fruit pizza amazing is the cream cheese frosting. Because frosting!

I am happy to have found a recipe that works and even happier to have relived part of my college days. Although I am sad that all of the Pie Works stores have closed, it's cool to have a little bit of them still live on through this fruit pizza!

Fruit pizza
Cookie crust
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Fruit toppings
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced peaches
  • Sliced kiwis
Directions
Make the cookie crust: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Get out a pizza stone and set aside (If you don't own one, use a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper or a silicone mat).

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, 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, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients.

Roll the dough onto your baking stone into a circle. You may need to dust the top of the dough with some flour so it doesn't stick on your rolling pin. Make sure the dough is at least 1/4" thick.

Bake in your preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until it starts to turn light golden brown. Allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting: 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 cream cheese with the butter on medium speed until well blended, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time until smooth.

Assemble the pizza: Spread the cream cheese frosting on top of the cooled cookie crust. Layer on the fruit in whatever pattern desired. Slice and serve.

Leftovers should be stored, covered, and will keep for about 3 days.

Yield: About 8-10 servings, depending upon how large you cut your slices

Source: Jo Cooks

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Chocolate fudge cookies

Soft and chewy chocolate fudge cookies from country star Trisha Yearwood! These are bursting with chocolate chips in every bite and go great in lunch boxes!

Were you all affected by Hurricane Florence? We were very fortunate that we only got a little bit of drizzle on the day it hit landfall. As a precaution, all area schools were closed in anticipation of torrential flooding (which has devastated this area in the past). Surprisingly enough, we even got some sunshine.

Knowing that Addie would be home with us on this day, I wanted to bake something for us all to enjoy but didn't want to take too much time in the kitchen. On rainy days, all I want is chocolate, so I thought a chocolate cookie could be the perfect dessert for us.

I found this recipe and halved it since I didn't want or need 3 dozen cookies. Even so, I got almost 2 dozen cookies out of this batch of dough. Don't worry, I happily gave some away to friends so we didn't eat it all ourselves.

The cookies were soft and chewy and had wonderful bursts of chocolate chips. I ran out of white chocolate chips but know that they would have been a fantastic addition to these cookies. I bet butterscotch would have been great too.

These are the perfect cookies to put into a kid's (or adult's) lunchbox and are just big enough to satisfy any chocolate craving. Of course, I'm not judging if you eat 2 or 3 at a time, because I have definitely been known to do that when nobody is looking.

Hope you all stayed safe during the storm and that your loved ones are OK.

Chocolate fudge cookies
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips of choice (can do a mix of semi-sweet, dark, or white chocolates)
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 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 egg and vanilla and mix well. Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until everything just comes together. Add in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix.

Using a medium sized cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop out the dough and place them on your prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between each mound of dough.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 12 minutes, making sure to rotate the pans halfway through. The cookies may look a bit underdone after 12 minutes and that's OK - they will continue to bake as they cool.

Allow the cookies to cool completely before serving. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature and they will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 20 cookies

Source: Trisha Yearwood, via Food Network

Friday, September 14, 2018

Skating Fridays

TOE PICK!


One of my all-time favorite movies is The Cutting Edge. When it debuted, I went to see it in the theaters - twice. It's a fun story about how a washed-up hockey player transforms into a pairs skater. His pairs partner is a spoiled little rich girl, so it's amusing watching the interaction between the two throughout the film.

If you're familiar with the movie, you know that the most memorable line is, "Toe pick!" The hockey player, having never skated in figure skates before, trips on his toe picks during practices. His pairs partner keeps exclaiming, "toe pick" after each and every fall, and she gets a kick out of teasing him.

As for me? Well, I fall every time I practice, but it's usually on an edge. This time, however, the toe picks of doom got me good.

Don't worry, I'm OK. I found it pretty hilarious that I had a slow and dramatic fall out of this salchow attempt. I'm always laughing at myself and try not to take things too seriously so it's fun to share these bloopers with you all.

Toe pick!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nutella brownies

Gooey fudge-like brownies are jam packed with chocolate chips and Nutella - these are going to be your new favorite brownies!

My family and I had just gotten back from visiting family in the Midwest, and I was tired. Our flights were delayed due to weather, and we didn't get home until close to midnight. This was one of the rare times when all three of us slept in and didn't wake up until about 8:30am.

It was also my husband and my 13th wedding anniversary. Since we didn't have too much time that day to make something elaborate, I decided on Nutella brownies. Addie mentioned that she really liked the Nutella brownies from a local dessert restaurant, so I tried to recreate some at home.

While I normally like doing something Hawaii-related for our anniversary (since that is where we went on our honeymoon, 1-year anniversary and our baby moon), I figured that we'd already gone to Hawaii for Spring Break this year... so chocolate was the next best option. I purposely underbaked these slightly so they would be nice and gooey. Plus I added some additional Nutella on top for an extra punch of flavor.

These brownies really hit the spot. My husband grilled steaks for us and we also had fresh sweet corn. It was nice to eat at home after being gone for several days. All in all, we had a wonderful, uneventful anniversary. Just the way I like it!

Nutella brownies
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/8 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • Additional Nutella for swirling, optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter completely. Add the sugar and mix constantly until most of the sugar has dissolved. Do not allow the sugar mixture to boil. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the Nutella and mix well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, add the eggs, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Then pour in the Nutella mixture and mix on medium speed until well blended. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the flour and mix until everything just comes together.

Turn the mixer off and fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and be sure to smooth the top.

Add dollops of additional Nutella and swirl with a knife. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a little bit of batter.

Allow the brownies to cool before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will keep for several days.

Yield: About 16 brownies

Source: Barely adapted from Buns in My Oven

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