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

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