Lobster in Your Face!

23 08 2011

Last Friday morning I pressed the pause button here in D.C. and escaped with my family to the beach for 4 days. Simply put, it was a four day play date with my entire family, dogs included…

 

I had to unpress the pause button this morning and am back in good old Washington D.C. Long weekend vacations are tough…right when you start to relax and forget about the stresses of everyday life, you are snapped back to reality. But I will take a 4 day play date with my family any time with no complaints!

Question of the day: Are you a long weekender or do you prefer to save all of your vacation for longer trips?





Doughnut Semi-Fail

22 08 2011

I (Steph) have a bad habit of starting a recipe before I read it the whole way through. I read the ingredients, make sure I’ve got ’em all, and then skim glance at the directions, and then dive on in. Most of the time,  this isn’t a problem, but there have been a few times where I didn’t realize something needed to be chilled, or I didn’t realize how many steps were involved.

Rewind to a few months ago, when it felt like every blogger was making doughnuts. Ok, maybe it was just Jenna and Kristin who made some scrumptious looking cake doughnuts, but then I saw a recipe in my Food & Wine magazine for Sweet Potato Doughnuts. That was it. I HAD to make some. The only problem was I didn’t have one of these:

After some thinking, I decided that I didn’t really NEED a doughnut pan, but if I happened to stumble upon one at HomeGoods, I’d treat myself. Well, I frequented HomeGoods more than usual, and despite getting all of this during one of those trips:

(all for about $50, which was the original price of that knife alone! Booya!)

they didn’t have a doughnut pan. I had finally convinced myself that I could really do without a doughnut pan, until I saw Ashley’s recipe. OH MY GOODNESS. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the masterpiece she created in her doughnut pan. Ok, maybe I didn’t, but peanut butter + marshmallow donuts? DROOOOOL!  I used to take a fluffernutter sandwich to school EVERY DAY when I was in elementary school. How could I NOT make these?

I ❤ Peanut Butter

Ashley posted her recipe right around the same time as MamaPea’s book was coming out, which I knew I wanted to order. So, on to Amazon I went and added Peas & Thank You to my cart. And then I added Carrots N Cake. And then, since I needed to spend a few extra dollars for free shipping, why not throw in a doughnut pan too?

I decided that this weekend I’d make the doughnuts, since I knew they took a little bit of time, and I had all Saturday free, I figured it was the perfect opportunity. My boyfriend also happened to be flying in on Sunday, so wouldn’t I be the sweetest girlfriend ever if I greeted him with some fresh, homemade sweet potato doughnuts?

So, I got to work on Saturday morning, prepping the batter so it had time to rise. I timed my morning so that I could make the dough before I went to the gym, let it rise for an hour, and then bake ’em when I got home.

So, I returned from the gym, to continue working on my donuts, only to realize that 1) They needed to rise again and 2) I didn’t need a doughnut pan in the first place! I was supposed to cut out circles with a cookie cutter, not pour the dough in the pan. Way to go Steph.

I pressed on, and waited yet another hour for the donuts to rise before putting them in the oven.

I followed the baking instructions, but I let them cook too long, and they started to burn 😦 They also didn’t exactly turn out the way I envisioned them to-I was thinking they’d be like a dense cakey doughnut. Unfortunately, they turned out more like a dry cakey cookie. 😦 They taste fine, but I definitely didn’t get the doughnut experience I was hoping for. Fail.

At least some turned out quite photogenic:

Lessons Learned:

1) READ THE ENTIRE RECIPE FIRST! This is like rule #1 in cooking, and I always break it. Must. Stop. Doing. This.

2) The recipe calls for bread flour, but I used all-purpose. I think this mistake contributed to the final consistency of the doughnuts. Need to purchase bread flour.

3) The recipe also required the use of a dough hook to mix the dough. I kneaded it for a little bit, but definitely not the 5 minutes that the recipe called for (I had a spin class to get to!). I need to do what the recipe says.

4) Learn more about yeast and flours and how the different kinds of flours affect the way the final product turns out. Allie did some research and wrote up a few posts about it. I think I need to reread those posts.

Anyhow, here’s the recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine. Good luck!

Sweet Potato Donuts

Recipe from Food & Wine Magazine

Ingredients:

One 12-ounce sweet potato
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 envelope instant dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon dark rum (I used gold)
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling

Topping

1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

How to:

  1. MAKE THE DOUGHNUTS: Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and cook it in a microwave at high power for 10 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and puree the sweet potato; you should have about 1 cup.
  2. In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until nutty and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the browned butter and solids into a small bowl and let cool.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the milk until just warm, about 105°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently mix in the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla seeds, nutmeg and rum. Add the sweet potato puree, browned butter and solids, egg and egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the 3 1/4 cups of bread flour and beat at medium speed until the dough is evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to moderately high and beat until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
  4. Punch down the dough and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible. Using a smaller round cutter (1 inch), stamp out the centers. Transfer the doughnuts and holes to 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the doughnuts and holes rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the holes for 10 minutes and the doughnuts for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
  6. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Put half of the hot doughnuts in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the melted butter; toss and turn to coat. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and toss and turn until evenly coated. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, butter and cinnamon sugar. Transfer the doughnuts to a platter; serve.

Question of the day: Have you ever started a recipe before knowing exactly what you got into? What happened? OR What’s your favorite kind of doughnut?





321delish Takes on STROGA!

19 08 2011

Not only are Steph and I great blogging partners, we are superb workout buddies. OK, that might be a little bit of a stretch…often times when we workout together we start gabbing and completely lose focus and motivation on whatever we are doing, but we always have a good time, so we try to make it a regular occurrence.   Given our crazy summer schedules, we have not gotten our gossip session sweat sesh on together very much over the past few weeks. We decided that we would break our separate workout streak this week with a trip to the new Stroga Studio in Adams Morgan, D.C.

I learned out about Stroga a few weeks ago when Living Social advertised a yoga deal with the studio. I am a total sucker for all of these deal websites (my credit card was already on file when I went to checkout!) and I figured it was better than more money towards eating out, so I went for it. I attended my first yoga class this past Sunday, which was hosted by Lululemon. It was one of the best classes I have EVER been to! Stroga offers a wide variety of yoga and strength training classes. I suggested that we try out one of the strength training classes.

Group Strength Training
Description:
STROGA takes fitness to the next level in our 4,500 sf functional training studio, providing ample space for group classes up to 40 students or individual training sessions. Utilizing the three planes of movement – front-to-back; side-to-side; and rotational, functional training strengthens our everyday movements while increasing agility and endurance. Functional training has been adopted by athletes of all levels, proving to help maximize athletic performance, and is seen by many as the future of fitness. Research shows better results using functional training over a standard cardiovascular machine or circuit equipment workouts by providing a higher average heart rate and 3x the calorie burn in a shorter period of time.

Because it was our first class at the studio (my yoga class last Sunday was sponsored by Lululemon so this was considered my first “official” class), the class was only $10. I would say that we DEFINITELY got our moneys worth during this class. We met up after work for a 6 pm class.We were told to head to the top floor of the building, which was built in the early 1900’s. The building is beautiful! It has stained glass windows, fancy woodwork and ceilings that are intricately designed.

The strength room was unbelievable. I was expecting some dumbbells and medicine balls, but check out all of the toys in this place!

And so spacious!

The class was full (about 18). Steph and I stood in a corner whispering shyly like it was our first day of school. Our instructor, Ewunike, had no time for super long welcoming get to know yous. We got down to business right away. She corralled us out of the room, down the stairs and outside for our “warm up.”

WARM UP:

  • run around block (~1/4 mile)
  • 20 burpees with full pushup
  • 20 jumping jack squats
  • Moving lunges with hands behind head, the length of the alley (up and back)
  • run around block
  • 20 pushups
  • 20 jump squats
  • run around block
  • 20 burpee pushups
  • 20 jumping squat jumps

Warm up? What warm up? By the end of boot camp Part 1, both Steph and I were dripping sweat and our muscles were shaking. It felt like college swimming dry land all over again! I loved it though and was excited to go inside and “start our strength,” aka start BCP2 (boot camp part 2).

Ewunike broke us into 3 groups so that we could begin a circuit. We did 2 rounds of 2 different types of circuits for 2 minutes on each exercise. We had about 15 seconds to switch from one activity to the next.

Round 1= jumping rope, dumbbell rows, and squats with med balls, extending the ball above our head as we stood up

Round 2= jumping rope, passing dumbbell in a figure eight through legs while in squat position, mountain climbers with hands on medicine ball for extra core work

After a quick water break, BCP3 began. We were then hustled into a circle, where we sat on the floor and played pass the ridiculously heavy medicine ball while sitting in a 45 degree angle with you feet raised off of the floor. I was definitely enjoying the burn but also wondering how much longer we had. One more exercise! We were told to all get into plank position while still in our circle formation. I love plank, so was excited for this, but then we were instructed that we would be walking while in plank position around the circle. Um what? yeah…try it. its hard! but good hard. After our walking plank circle, we did a little bit of stretching and Ewunike set us free. She was an awesome instructor!

Steph and I both agreed that it was a great class and that we would definitely be back! The price is a little steep at $16 per class, but there is no doubt that it is a great workout. I am still sore…

Question of the Day: Do you prefer to strength train with a group or would you rather pump iron by yourself?