Friday, December 31, 2010

Pushups 'til my arms fall off


As promised today's post is on the Insanity workout. Let me just start off by saying that the name says it all. This is one of the most insane workouts I have done. Not only considering dvd workouts, but including all workouts I have ever done. A quick description of the is based on the idea of interval training. About 3 minutes of hard strength/cardio type moves (jump squats, jack pushups, suicides) followed by a 30 second water break. Workouts last between 40 and 60 minutes. The set includes ten dvds. I have tried four of the dvds so far and have been impressed that there is hardly any crossing over of moves between the dvds. Keeps things interesting.

I would consider myself to have high cardio stamina. I can usually hold a conversation while running even at a good clip. Some parts of the dvds I find myself sucking air pretty hard, but where I really feel the workout is the absolutely every part of my body. The pushups! I do not have a very strong upper boy (something I am working on) and the 75+ pushups that keep coming at me typically result in my collapsing to the ground. Then, Just when I think I cant possibly do another jump squat, Shaun T (the ripped trainer) yells at me that I have ten seconds to go and I need to push it as hard as I can. Ha.

Although it may sound like I am complaining, and maybe I am a little bit, I am very happy to have the Insanity program. I used to be convinced that the only way I could get a great workout was to go for a run or go to a spinning class, but this is one workout (of a few others that I have recently discovered...I'll share later) that has proved me wrong.

One of my favorite parts of a cookbook is the pictures so that I can see if my attempt resembles what was intended. I try to post pictures of my baking...and I just decided it is only fair if I post a picture of myself doing an Insanity workout. Now I warn you that it is not going to be pretty like a tray of golden muffins. But, it will prove that this workout really does work up a sweat...

...however, I still need to take that picture! So stay tuned if you would like to see what this workout is all about!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Scones and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Goodmorning! For Christmas my presents consisted mainly of cookbooks and workout favorite :). I have flipped through all the cookbooks and they look fantastic! I already said yesterday that the cookbook I bought my mom was a dud as far as the gnocchi goes (is it fair to say that the cookbook was a dud...or is it the chefs who were duds?!) Luckily, two of my cookbooks have already proven worthy and now I can't wait to try new recipes in them!

The first award goes to Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flowers by Kim Boyce. This is the first book I have been able to find of its kind. I have always really enjoyed the hearty flavors of dense whole grain and seeded baked goods, so when I first saw this book mentioned on David Lebovitz's blog, I immediately put it on my Christmas list. The book is really well put together. I enjoyed reading the introduction on how she stumbled upon baking with whole-grain flours all from a box of Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix (which at the start of reading this book I was sure I would end up trying but after seeing Kim's pancake recipes I think I have a different agenda!). She then proceeds with techniques and tools, of which techniques is nice to read as she gives some helpful advice. And then...the recipes! Each grain is separated into its own section--whole wheat, amaranth, barley, spelt, multi-grain (of which she has her own recipe for making the perfect multi-grain mix), and more, totaling 12 different flours! Every section comes with an interesting history and description of the flours.

The first recipe I chose was from the spelt flour section (I had a lot of spelt on hand). Spelt is a hardy grain with a tough outer husk, making it appealing the organic farmers. The recipe was for currant scones; however, I substituted dried wild blueberries for the currants, making them blueberry scones. Oh my goodness they were wonderful! Light and airy but with a certain sweetness and substance from the spelt. My family and I all agreed that they were not as sweet as we expected, but maybe because we are too used to commercialized scones that are loaded with sugar (this recipe only used 2 tablespoons sugar). Definitely a winner, I suggest everyone purchase this cookbook and we can bake through it together :).

Fresh out of the oven and still warm :) 

I decided to eat mine with a bit of homemade strawberry jam


Bluebery Spelt Scones (Adapted from Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flowers)
Dry Mix:
1 1/4 cups spelt flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Wet Mix:
2 ounces (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 dried blueberries (Kim used currants)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease two baking sheets with butter. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Make sure to add any bits that don't make it through the sifter (Kim says these are often the bits that add the most flavor and heartiness). Add butter to dry mix, crumbling with your fingers  until the mixture resembles "fine cornmeal" (I had only ever cut butter in using knives but I thought this method was great). Add the currants and stir. Pour the cream into bowl and mix just until flour is moistened. Split the dough into nine mounds and place 4 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 18 minutes, until golden, being sure to alternate the trays halfway through (top to bottom and front to back).

The second recipe came from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. Sarma is one of the big names in the raw food world and is coowner of the NYC restaurant Pure Food and Wine. I have been to her juice takeaway bar in Chelsea Market many times, always loving everything I order. This cookbook (or maybe its more apt to say rawbook) is no doubt going to yield results just as delicious as when I head to the takeaway bar. The first recipe I decided to make from this rawbook is Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies. This recipe requires maple syrup powder, nothing more then dehydrated maple syrup. A great natural sweetener, maple syrup is also a good source of manganese and zinc (Manganese is essential in antioxidant defenses and Zinc in both heart and immune health). Requiring more good-for-you ingredients, this recipe took a bit of time to complete due the the soaking and dehydrating times (yes, you do need a dehydrator for this one and it takes a full 24 hours), however, the amount of work time isn't any more then 15 minutes. They were finally done this morning and the first thing I did when I woke up was head to the dehydrator to try one. Yum! For those of you who do not own a dehydrator, you can go to her website and order some of the delicious cookies that she has in her two rawbooks. Also, if you are in Manhattan, I urge you to head to Chelsea Market. Sarma's takeaway bar is fantastic, and Chelsea Market has a lot of other great things to offer. 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (from Living Raw Food)
4 cups oat flour
1 cup maple syrup powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed to liquify
1/2 cup date paste (recipe below)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons filtered water
1 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in warm water for 30 minutes and drained

In a large bowl, sift together oat flour, maple powder, and salt. Add the coconut oil and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, mix date paste, vanilla extract, and water. Add liquid mixture and raisins to dry mixture and mix well. Drop balls about 1 to 1 1/2 inch on dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 24 hours. 

Date Paste:
Soak dates in warm water for 1-2 hours. Remove dates (saving the water) and bring dates to consistency of butter in food processor, adding reserved water as needed.

My next post will be about the Insanity workouts I have been doing so stay tuned!

Enjoy your day,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Success and Disaster

On Monday evening I made a scrumptious pound cake. The recipe tasted as good as it looked. Moist and slightly crumbly it was a great pound cake. I added a lemon glaze, which topped it off wonderfully. Easy to make recipe and was warm for the eating after dinner...


With an added drizzle of lemon glaze :)

Pound Cake (adapted from William Sonoma Dessert):
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temp.
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temp.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease and flour a loaf pan. Wisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Cream together butter, sugar, and extracts. Add eggs and beat well after each addition. Add half of the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Add sour cream and remaining flour mixture, again mixing until just combined. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, and invert onto rack. Drizzle with lemon glaze.

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (will take about 1 1/2 lemons)
2 tablespoons melted butter

Wisk together and drizzle over pound cake. 

Now that dinner I was talking about? Well, that was the disaster. I had bought my mom a new pasta cookbook for Christmas to go with her Kitchenaid pasta attachment (which was sold out in every store in our area so is being ordered and we are waiting delivery). While we were eagerly waiting for the pasta attachment to arrive we decided it would be fun (and delicious) to try the gnocchi recipe, for which we had all the tools on hand. It was fun! We kneading the dough with our hands per the recipes advice that this is important because you must feel the dough to produce good gnocchi. We let it rest for the two minutes instructed (when the finished product was presented my boyfriend thoughtfully added that perhaps the gnocchi was still too tired...haha) We then rolled it into the one-inch logs, cut it up, placed it in the boiling water, and eagerly waiting for the results. What we got was a watery potato mush. Slightly resembling mashed potatoes in taste but with an added two cups of water instead of milk to make it creamy. Gross! I did a little searching online and saw that most recipes called for 3 pounds of potatoes and 2 cups of flour, while ours only called for 1 cup of flour with the same amount of potatoes. Any successful gnocchi chefs out there who can share words of wisdom?

So, we ordered pizza and finished it all off with pound cake.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Hello and welcome to my new blog! Curtsies for Pastries will be all about everything fitness and baking related (maybe cooking adventures too). I have a passion for all sorts of styles of working out and am always ready to try something new, whether it be hot yoga, spinning classes, workout dvds. I love running and have been on my collegiate track team although I am not on it now. I also love baking new recipes--cookies, brownies, pies, cakes, ice cream, you name it I will bake it! For a long time I only baked traditional baked goods (all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs, etc.) but over the past 6 months I have begun experimenting with raw food goodies.

I have two semesters left of college and during the school year I live at college. I have limited access to food prep during these times and therefore will post fewer recipes. However, I also have the availability of the plethora of fitness studios and classes that NYC has to offer and so while I am at school I will have many fitness adventures to share! During the summer and school breaks I live at home and can try lots of new recipes to catch up on all of those months of lost time.

I would love to know the new recipes you are trying and the fitness adventures you embark on. I will be sharing my adventures with you and I hope you will tell me about yours! Thats all for tonight...keep a look out for my first post...Lemon Glazed Pound Cake...yum!