Friday, April 20, 2018

Skating Fridays

We've Come A Long Way


Last week, we began the choreography for my new freestyle program. My choreographer had asked me to execute a few chunks of it for her to watch, and Coach B skated up to her. The two of them were making small talk as I was skating.

Coach B then said, "Your butt's sticking out."

I said, "I know. Give me a break. I just learned this choreography so cut me some slack here."

She and I talked a bit later, and even though she was critiquing my posture, she said that she and my choreographer were actually complimenting me while I was skating. They talked about how my PCS had improved by 5 points over the year and that I was covering more ice with fewer strokes.

It was neat to be able to reflect back on my progress from just a year ago and see how far I've come.

Yes, there is still a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm ready for it. I believe that I just had my breakthrough season (with all the mental blocks and improvement in my skating skills). Hopefully this next season I will continue to break down more barriers and keep successfully climbing those mountains. I've got a good team to help me achieve my goals.

Thanks for taking this journey with me. You all are part of my team, and I appreciate your support and encouragement.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Nutella chocolate chip fudge brownies

Thick, chewy and fudge-like Nutella brownies that will knock your socks off! Don't half this recipe -it's so good that you'll want to eat the full pan!

We have an annual tradition at the rink. Every year since I've been competing, our adult skating community hosts a send-off celebration for those skaters who are competing at Adult Nationals. One of our multi-talented (and generous) skaters goes all out. She bakes a huge sheet cake, decorates it, and gifts every skater with a goodie bag - filled with snacks, water, medicine, gloves, a stuffed animal and other random things a skater might need.

This year, only two of our adult skaters will be attending the competition. I was not one of them. But, I still wanted to do something nice for them since they've been so supportive of me in the past, and the generous skater I mentioned above was one of the ones competing this year.

Sadly, we weren't able to find a time for all of us to get together and send them off properly. Regardless, I wanted to bake them something in lieu of the traditional cake and decided to make these Nutella chocolate chip fudge brownies. They're easy to hold and eat and easy to share with others.

I dropped these off at one of the skaters' homes one afternoon. I did keep two for my husband and I - you know, for quality control purposes. I didn't keep any more because we were heading out of town for a while and didn't want to keep anything at home. I wish I would have kept more of these for ourselves since they were pretty wonderful.

Nutella chocolate chip fudge brownies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips of choice
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the butter. Add in the sugar, mix well and keep stirring for about 1-2 minutes. The sugar will not completely dissolve.

Remove the pan from the stovetop and stir in the Nutella and mix well.

Transfer the Nutella mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer or if mixing by hand.

With the mixer on low, add in the eggs. Then add in the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, instant espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix well. Finally, add in the flour and mix well.

Turn the mixer off and fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. The batter will be super thick and sticky. Transfer this to your prepared baking pan and evenly distribute the batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Allow the brownies to cool before serving.

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

Yield: One 9"x13" pan; about 24-36 brownies, depending upon how large you cut your slices

Source: Barely adapted from Buns in My Oven

Sunday, April 15, 2018

One bowl Funfetti cupcakes

An easy, one-bowl cupcake recipe that will tickle the kid in you! Chock full of sprinkles, these cupcakes will certain bring a smile to your face!

Oh my goodness. How has another year gone by? My baby girl turned 8 years old yesterday and is blossoming into a beautiful young lady. I feel it it was just yesterday when she was born and I struggling to find time to cook and bake.

I'm grateful that my girl Addie is a great eater. She's always had a good appetite, even if it was only Mac and cheese and hot dogs. Each year on her birthday, she gets to choose the restaurant she wants to go to for dinner. She also gets to pick out what she wants me to bake for her birthday.

This year, Addie originally wanted to eat at the Cook Out (fast food-style hamburgers). We wanted to give her something a little bit more special so were able to convince her to go somewhere else. She chose a Greek/Italian restaurant so she could eat either lasagna or pastitsio. For her birthday dessert, she chose Funfetti cupcakes.

I contacted our ballet instructor to see if she offered birthday parties, and luckily, she did. Addie wanted to try hip hop, so we enlisted the studio's hip hop instructor for the celebration. We invited 9 girls to come dance with us for the birthday party.

The girls had a blast and danced their little hearts out. Addie got to choose some songs she wanted to groove to, and it was so cute watching them shake their little bodies. After dancing, the girls enjoyed making a craft and munched on some snacks before diving in these cupcakes. Addie requested blue frosting to match her blue decorations so I happily obliged.

Happy birthday to my little girl! Mommy loves you!

One bowl Funfetti cupcakes
Cupcakes

  • 2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1 (5.3 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup sprinkles
Frosting
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • Additional sprinkles for decorating, optional

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners and set aside.

Make the cupcakes: In a large bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Add in the sugar and mix well. Add in the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly in between each addition. Mix in the milk and Greek yogurt until well blended.

Add in the baking powder and salt until well mixed. Slowly fold in the cake flour until a few streaks remain. Fold in the sprinkles until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking liners, filling each about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for about 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting: Cream the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer. Mix on medium speed until light and creamy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, about 1 cup at a time. Add in the vanilla and mix well. Slowly stream in the milk until you achieve your desired consistency. Add more milk if the frosting appears too stiff or more powdered sugar if it's too runny. I added a few drops of food coloring because my daughter wanted blue frosting.

Once the cupcakes have fully cooled, top with the frosting. Add more sprinkles on top if desired.

Cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will last about 2 days before they start to get stale.

Yield: About 24 cupcakes

Source: Barely adapted from Baker by Nature

Friday, April 13, 2018

Skating Fridays

Skating Fridays


This is the best time of the skating season for me. Because I am not at Adult Nationals this week (boo), and I have retired my program, I have nothing to work on. I haven't met with my choreographer yet so I don't have a new program to practice.

So now I'm just playing around and working on various skills.

One thing I'd love to do this year is land a clean double salchow. I've been working with a jump coach to help me get there, and although I'm still not close, I understand what my problems are.

Here is a video analysis from the coach so you can see where I'm going wrong. It's neat to get an expert's point of view and see exactly what I'm doing incorrectly and to view my video in slow motion.

Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Whole wheat pumpkin Nutella quick bread

Who says that pumpkin season is only for the fall? Fill your kitchen with these wonderful autumn aromas with this whole wheat pumpkin Nutella quick bread. It's also made without butter or oil!

Spring break was around the corner, and my family and I were getting ready for our big trip. I wanted to make sure we had something to eat for breakfasts throughout the week without yielding any leftovers. I didn't want to have to clean out my kitchen before we left so we needed something that would get eaten very quickly.

The thing I baked was this whole wheat pumpkin Nutella quick bread. I was able to rescue a can of pumpkin from my pantry and fill up my kitchen with the amazing aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

My family and I could not wait to eat this once it came out of the oven. In fact, we treated this as a dessert and each enjoyed a slice after our dinner. And of course, this served as our breakfast the next morning.

And I was right - this bread did not yield any leftovers and was enjoyed very quickly. I'm sure it will do the same for your family too.

Whole wheat pumpkin Nutella quick bread
  • 1 and 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

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

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, pumpkin, milk and applesauce. Pour this into the large bowl with the dry ingredients.

Gently fold everything together until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix.

Pour half of the mixture into your prepared baking pan.

Melt the Nutella in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds.

Pour half of the Nutella on top of the batter and gently swirl it in with a knife or spatula.

Pour the other half of the batter on top and top with the remaining half of the melted Nutella. Swirl it in with a knife or spatula.

Bake in your preheated oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (don't worry if melted Nutella comes out - we're mostly worrying about the batter).

Allow the bread to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

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

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

Source: Adapted from Broma Bakery

Sunday, April 8, 2018

30 minute one bowl super fudge brownies

Want fudge brownies in a flash? These super fudge brownies are made in one bowl and will be ready in 30 minutes, including prepping and baking time!

Do you ever get brownie cravings? Please say it's not just me! My body was screaming "BROWNIES" to me one day but I didn't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

These super fudge brownies are the answer. You can enjoy an entire batch of brownies in the time it takes to watch your favorite television show. The mixing and prepping takes less than 10 minutes, and the brownies bake up in about 20 minutes. And as an added bonus, you mix everything in one bowl so there is minimal cleanup and prep!

When I gave one of these to my daughter, she exclaimed, "MOM! What kind of brownies are these?" I told her that they were super fudge ones, and she said, "These are the best!" Now, these aren't the ooey gooey kind of brownies, but they are nice and chewy and very fudge-like. You won't necessarily get a crackly top on these but they are still pretty dang amazing.

We actually kept the whole batch to ourselves. You know... because brownies!

30 minute one bowl super fudge brownies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon cooking oil (canola, vegetable, coconut or olive all work)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Add-ins of choice (baking chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc), optional
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, melt the butter. Add in the oil and sugar and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute until it starts to turn pale. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly until well blended.

Fold in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until a few dry streaks remain. Add in the mix-ins if desired and mix until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and bake in your preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Do not over bake these or they will not be fudgy. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out with batter, but the tops should be set.

Allow the brownies to cool before slicing and serving. They are best cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving. Store brownies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for best results. They will last for several days.

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

Source: Cafe Delites

Friday, April 6, 2018

Skating Fridays

Not Going to Adult Nationals


I'm sad to be sharing with you that I am not competing at Adult Nationals this year. While I wanted to go and see my skating family (you know who you are), the event coincides with my daughter's birthday.

My little girl only gets to turn 8 years old (!!!) once in her life, while there is always another Adult Nationals to compete in next year.

This is the last year for my current freestyle program and I retired it after my skate at Sectionals. I already have my music picked out for next year's program, which I will keep for 2 seasons. I am not ready to share that with you yet so stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Root beer float cookies

Spring is around the corner, which means that it's almost time for a classic root beer float! Rather than drinking this classic treat, why not eat it in cookie form? These soft and chewy cookies are topped with a luscious root beer frosting!

Is it really spring? I don't know about you, but it seemed like an awfully long winter this year. We got some snow, and the weather was cold enough to keep the kids out of school for several days. They even had to make up a school day over a holiday!

Anyway, I'm jazzed that spring is here and it's almost time for all of the ice cream stores around here to re-open. Many of them close during the winter so you can bet that I'll be one of the first customers to line up once their doors open up again.

One classic treat that I love to get is a nostalgic root beer float. I have great memories of sharing these with my brother when we were growing up. Of course, being the wonderful sister that I am, I usually liked to trick my brother so that I could eat the remaining ice cream at the bottom. Ha ha!

Tricks aside, these cookies are a fantastic way to enjoy the classic treat without fighting for the ice cream at the bottom. The cookies contain a ton of root beer flavor and are then topped with an amazing root beer frosting. The recipe below makes a huge batch, so feel free to share some. Or, you can follow my lead and just keep them to yourself and tease your sibling about it. I won't tell.

Root beer float cookies
Cookies
  • 1 cup (1 sticks / 8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you don't have butter, simply add 1 teaspoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk)
  • 1 teaspoon root beer concentrate
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Frosting (note: I halved the recipe below and had plenty to frost my cookies)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks, or 12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 teaspoon root beer concentrate
Directions
Preheat your oven to 375 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 brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Then add the buttermilk and root beer concentrate. Mix well until the batter is smooth and uniform.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix well until no dry streaks remain.


Using a cookie scoop or two spoons, scoop out portions of dough and place them on your prepared baking pan, making sure that you allow at least 2 or 3 inches in between each cookie.

Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Remove the baking pan from the oven and set on the counter to cool for about 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. The cookies will continue to set as they cool.

To make the frosting, combine the powdered sugar and butter together and mix well (I did this in a stand mixer but you can do it by hand or use a handheld mixer). Add in the milk and root beer concentrate and mix until the frosting is smooth. Feel free to add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency.

Frost the cookies once they are cooled. Do not frost while the cookies are still warm or else it will melt the frosting.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. They will keep for several days.

Yield: About 42 cookies

Source: Six Sisters Stuff

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Whole wheat marbled cinnamon sugar quick bread

A beautifully swirled cinnamon sugar quick bread that is made with whole wheat flour! If you're stuck inside the house, this loaf will fill your home with a wonderful cinnamon aroma!

It was near the end of March, and spring had arrived. But not at our house. Oh no. We got a snowstorm on the first full day of spring that cancelled school. I stayed at home to hang out with Addie, and we'd already played multiple rounds of cards, so I needed to get up and make something for us to snack on later.

I asked her what type of bread I should bake, and she said "chocolate." Since we just had some chocolate muffins, I tried to convince her to try something else. Cinnamon was the next option so we went with that.

While we were playing another round of cards, I started smelling the amazing cinnamon-y goodness coming from the oven. My loaf baked up quite beautifully with a crunchy cinnamon sugar layer on top.

You guys! We ate this bread faster than you can say "cinnamon." Each one of us ate at least a large slice each day and it was gone in about 2 days. I need to make a note to double the recipe next time so that we have two loaves on hand at a time.

The crunchy topping does start to soften after about a day, so keep that in mind if you don't plan on eating this in 24 hours. Other than that, this has been one of our favorite quick breads to date!

Whole wheat marbled cinnamon sugar quick bread
  • 1/6 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/6 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute with all-purpose)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease or line a standard 9"x5" loaf pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the egg, milk and applesauce.

Pour the applesauce mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients until no dry streaks remain. Do not over mix.

Transfer half of the batter into your prepared baking pan. Sprinkle about half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top. Add the last half of the batter on top. Use a knife to swirl the batter a bit. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.

Bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool slightly before serving.

Bread should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for a few days. The topping might start to get soggy after a day.

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

Source: Adapted from Genius Kitchen

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