It’s that time of year again to embrace the merriment of the holiday season! Stores are busting with holiday shopping ideas, the sounds of the season have begun to flood the airwaves, and all of those irresistible treats we wait all year for are about to grace our plates. One of my favorite things about the holidays is inventing creative & delicious baked goods for my family. Since Thanksgiving 2013 has rapidly approached it’s my pleasure to provide not one, but two tasty and creative dinner components for you to add to your menu. I know how overwhelming it can be to organize a creative and fun menu for your guests so my hope is that these two recipes may help ease a little bit of the load on your plate (no pun intended!J) this holiday season.
Two of my favorite fall flavors are: Pumpkin and cinnamon. Combine that with oats and you have yourself a perfectly delightful mixture. With those three ingredients I was inspired to create what I call: Oatmeal Pumpkin Crumb Squares. They’re easy to make, and are sure to be popular once they’re placed on your beautifully decorated Thanksgiving tabletop. (See below for baking instructions & ingredient list)
Anyone who knows me well is aware that my kryptonite is bread (of any kind J). So of course the second recipe I’m sharing with you is a spicy little bread substitute for the common Thanksgiving dinner roll. They’ll get your quests applauding so intensely that the ruckus may just knock your ceramic roosters right off your counter top. I call them Great Biscuit Balls of Fire! With little to no prep time and only 15 minutes to bake – these biscuits will provide a flavor explosion in your mouth and are sure to satisfy you and your guest’s taste buds! (See below for baking instructions & ingredient list)
Well...it’s bakin’ time! Get in the kitchen, enjoy the process, and look forward to the sweet aromas that are sure to fill your home. From my kitchen to yours – Happy Thanksgiving and may the treats you bake be so tasty they fly off the plate!
Oatmeal Pumpkin Crumb Squares
Prep time: 17 minutes
Total cook time: Approx. 52 minutes
***Cool down time before serving: 2 hours
Servings: 15 squares
- Preheat oven to 350◦
- Line an 8-inch pan with parchment paper – It’s ok to let the excess fold over the pan.
STEP 1: Make Oatmeal Crumb mixture – Ingredients include:
- 1 ¼ cups of flour
- 1 ¼ cups of dry oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup of melted (then slightly cooled) butter
- With whisk combine flour, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, baking soda in a large bowl.
- Add the melted (slightly cooled) butter, vanilla extract - then stir with a fork until the entire mixture is moistened.
- Press half of the mixture into the prepared 8-inch square pan and bake for 15 minutes
STEP 2: Make the Pumpkin Creamy Filling – Ingredients include:
- 1 ¼ cups of canned pumpkin
- 1/3 cup of coconut milk (non-dairy substitute for evaporated milk)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- With whisk mix the sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in a bowl.
- Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract – then whisk until thoroughly blended.
- Add the pumpkin and milk – slowly whisk until mixture becomes smooth.
- Once crust (from Step 1) has completed baking for 15 minutes remove from oven and pour the Pumpkin Creamy Filling (from Step 2) over the baked crust – then place pan back in oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- When timer goes off remove pan from oven and sprinkle the remaining Oatmeal Crumb mixture over the top of the Pumpkin Creamy Filling.
- Place pan back in oven and bake for another 20-22 minutes – or until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from oven and cool for approximately 1 hour.
- Transfer the cooled pan to the refrigerator and chill for 2 hours – then remove from refrigerator, cut into squares.
- Nibble on one, pat yourself on the back & Enjoy...then serve and share!
Great Biscuit Balls of Fire
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total cook time: 15-17 minutes
Servings: 16 squares
- Preheat oven to 350◦
- Can of Buttermilk Biscuits (8 biscuits)
- 8-10 strips of Bacon
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground pepper
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup Jalapenos
- 1 egg white (for basting)
- Sea salt (enough to pinch a sprinkle on top of each dough ball)
- Sesame seeds (enough to sprinkle on top of each dough ball)
- 1. Lay bacon flat in stove top pan - drizzle brown sugar and pepper over bacon
2. Cook bacon over medium heat until lightly crispy - once cooled chop into pieces
3. Chop up jalapenos
4. Pop open can of biscuits, cut each biscuit round one in half
5. Flatten the dough
6. Pile on bacon bits, jalapenos, cheese
7. Fold over dough to ball up all the ingredients
8. Use egg to “eggwash” each dough ball
9. Sprinkle sesame seeds and sea salt over each dough ball
10. Bake for 15-17 minutes (or as instructed on can) - watch for them to turn golden brown
11. Let cool for 1 minute, serve, & enjoy these ooey-gooey spicy delights!
Top of the morning to you friends!
“Breakfast: The most important meal of the day.”
We’ve all heard this statement at some point throughout our lives. However, many of us glaze over the importance of it because we get caught up in the chaos of our morning to-do’s or we’d simply rather stay cozy under the covers for that extra 15 minutes of sleep rather than use the time to prepare a healthy breakfast. Over the last 5 weeks, I wake up Monday morning and find myself weighed down with the upcoming expectations of the week. A traditional day for me consists of school, homework, rehearsal, homework, workout, homework – maybe some time in between to eat. Recently, I’ve learned how truly important breakfast is and how much I rely on those extra few minutes in the morning to organize my day.
Most of us have a routine in the morning that sets the pace for the rest of our day. Just setting aside an extra 15 minutes for the sake of preparing a healthy, nutritionally satisfying meal can make all the difference in how you take on the day. It’s very tempting to turn to the convenience of a nutrient-deficient meal to fill our tummies. Unfortunately, more often than not, we’re consuming empty calories that will not sustain us throughout the day. Coming from someone who used to live off of a protein bar and an energy drink in the morning - I’m here to say that since I’ve committed to consuming a healthy and substantial breakfast I’ve discovered more pep in my step, increased brain power, and sustained stamina throughout my day.
On the topic of starting your day off right – I’d like to share with you one of my favorite breakfast recipes that’s easy to make, quick to prepare, will fill your tummy with savory flavors and quality ingredients, and more importantly sustain your energy level throughout the morning.
Now let’s wipe the sleepys out of our eyes & get to cookin’!
Savory Scrambled Egg Toasties
8 pieces of sourdough bread (cut crust off until bread is trimmed to 4 in. x 4 in.)
6 Eggs, well blended
2 tablespoons of olive oil – to baste cups & bread
1/4 Cup sour cream
1/2 Cup of sun-dried tomatoes
1/8 Cup of goat cheese
1/4 Cup of green onion
1/2 tablespoon of oregano
1/2 tablespoon of basil
1/2 tablespoon rosemary
1/2 large avocado – place one slice on top of each cup
1/4 cup cheddar cheese (soy, almond, or dairy –whatever fits your fancy)
Add salt and pepper (to desired liking)
(You’ll need a Cupcake pan too)
Prep n’ Toast Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time (eggs): 7 minutes, approximately
*Just double the recipe if you’d like to make a larger batch for a brunch party
1. Wash hands
2. Preheat oven @ 375◦F
3. Cut crust off of each piece of bread until it’s approximately 4 inches by 4 inches square
4. Grease cup cake pan with olive oil
5. Brush oil onto top side of each bread square
6. Firmly press bread square into cupcake pan to form bread-cups
7. Place oiled bread cups in oven to bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown (see image #1)
8. Prepare sun-dried tomatoes and green onions by slicing into small pieces
9. Blend 6 eggs (or 10 if you’d like to substitute for all egg whites)
10. Add goat cheese, sour cream, oregano, basil, and rosemary into blender
11. Once the egg mix is well blended, scramble eggs in a greased pan
12. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and green onions when the scrambled eggs begin to firm up
13. Once eggs are fully cooked, remove from heat and cover to keep warm
14. Remove bread cups from oven
15. Scoop scrambled eggs into each cup (see image #2)
16. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top of each individual cup
17. Place cups back in oven for 1-2 minutes or until cheese is melted
18. Cut avocado into thin slices, place one slice on top of melted cheese
19. Serve immediately (see image #3)
20. Enjoy one or two – or maybe more than a few!
It’s Saturday night and while most people are getting ready to dress in their evening best and hit the town, I find myself content with strapping on my apron, sliding into my slippers, and settling in for an evening of baking! As Thanksgiving quickly approaches you’re probably much like me and in full-preparation mode. I’m talking a two-page grocery shopping list, detailed menu write-up, taking out decorative dishware and decorations for the table, and feverishly searching through cookbooks and old recipes to create the perfect, most delightful, dinner to share with family and friends.
For this Bakin’ w/ Beckster Volume 2 edition I’ve created an exquisitely-flavorful delicacy that may happily confuse your guests with the question: “Is this a side-dish or a dessert?” Anyone who has prepared a Thanksgiving dinner knows that time is of the essence when it comes to food prep. In honor of the upcoming holiday I wanted to create a side dish that is quick and easy to make, yet not lacking quality and satisfaction. These Coconut-Marshmallow Yam Balls are a fun spin-off to traditional yams. During the holidays it’s easy to over-indulge in delightful foods - the good news is that some ingredients are sugar-free, yams are low on the glycemic index, and they’re conveniently pre-portioned for your guests. In the spirit of moderation, this is a wonderful way to enjoy the tastes of the holiday, yet still remain nutritionally disciplined.
Enjoy this very charming recipe – your taste buds will be so happy they’ll be doing the “chicken dance” by the end of the night! (Insert song here…you know the one!) :)
Coconut-Marshmallow Yam Balls
- Large Yams: 4
- Large Marshmallows (not jumbo): approx. 16-20
- Quaker oats: 2 Cups
- Packed Brown Sugar: 2/3 Cup
- Shredded Coconut (sweetened): 2 Cups
- Orange Zest: 1 tsp.
- Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice: 2 tbsp.
- Stevia (sugar-free sweetener): 2 tbsp.
- Ground Cinnamon: 1 tsp.
- Ground Nutmeg: ½ tsp.
- Sugar-free Syrup: enough to drizzle after baking
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 16-20 balls
- Wash hands ☺
- Preheat oven to 350 o
- Peel yams, dice, then boil for about 15 minutes (or until soft)
- Remove yams from water, strain, and place in a large bowl
- Mash yams (see image #1)
- Stir in oats, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and nutmeg
- In a separate bowl, toss coconut with Stevia and cinnamon (see image #2)
- Take a small handful of the yam mixture in one hand, add one marshmallow
- Add additional yam mixture and cover the marshmallow (ball should be about 2 inches in diameter)
- Roll the ball in the coconut mix until covered
- Place ball onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (see image #3)
- Continue until all yam mixture is used
- Bake for 15 minutes (until coconut turns golden brown)
- Let Coconut-Marshmallow Yam Balls cool for 5 minutes – Do not fear if the marshmallow oozes out of the yam ball. They’ll still be yummy, trust me!
- Gobble-up & enjoy… (see image #4)
- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
The kitchen is my oasis. Anyone who knows me is aware that if there’s an event to attend that requires bringing a dish – I’m the one showing up with a baked good in hand! Baking provides me with a sense comfort and creativity. One of the most rewarding aspects about baking for me is the opportunity to share my creations with family & friends - my favorite taste-testers being my teammates and other co-workers! Baking for everyone’s birthday provides me with tremendous opportunities to try a variety of recipes, which couldn’t make me happier…it’s a win-win situation for everyone! Unfortunately tasty desserts have a bad reputation for contributing to weight gain. Take it from me, I’m very diligent about living a healthy lifestyle – eating right, exercising, and drinking a lot of water. With that said, I am not afraid of indulging in a delicious post-dinner dessert every now and again, and neither should you be. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to consume a yummy treat, just keep in mind one word: moderation.
As we approach the holiday season, mouth-watering desserts flood our field of vision at grocery stores, many of which eventually end up on our kitchen tables. My goal in the coming months is to provide you with fun and hassle-free recipes for delicious treats for an upcoming party, snazzy dinner, or even a casual date-night at home – that are sure to be a hit with those you share it with.
The first recipe I’m honored to share with you is: Sticky Caramel Apple Dumplings. As we transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving, this delightful warm dessert will surely satisfy your sweet-tooth craving and leave you with a sense of joy and contentment. All in just 35 short minutes.
Now, let’s get to baking!
STICKY CARAMEL APPLE DUMPLINGS
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Granny Smith Apples – 2 medium size
- Crescent Rolls – 2 cans: makes 16
- (You can use pre-made Pillsbury® Crescent Rolls or make your own homemade crescents. If making homemade crescent rolls add extra prep time for dough. *See homemade crescent roll recipe below)
- Root Beer: 12 oz.
- Cinnamon: 1 teaspoon
- Butter: 1 cup
- 9x13 Baking Dish: 2
For “Ooey-Gooey” Caramel Glaze ~
- Sugar: ½ cup
- Light corn syrup: 1 tablespoon
- Water: 2 tablespoons
- Heavy Cream: 1/2 cup
- Chopped Pecans: 3/4 cup
- Pure Vanilla Extract: 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt: just a pinch!
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL COOK TIME: 25 minutes
- Wash hands! :)
- Pre-heat oven to 375◦
- Peel & core apples, cut into quarters, take each quarter and cut into very thin slices
- Place 1 cup of butter in saucepan on med/low heat
- Add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Add 12 oz. of root beer when the butter is melted
- Add all pre-cut apple slices to mixture in saucepan (see image #1)
- Sprinkle ¼ cup of white flour & whisk into sauce to thicken
- Stir occasionally, cook for 10 minutes then remove from heat
- While cinnamon-apple sauce is simmering - lay out crescent triangles on 2 lightly floured cutting boards (see image #2)
- Using fork or slotted spoon transfer 3 apple slices onto each crescent roll triangle, at the wide end (be careful not to add too much of the liquid, see image #3)
- Save remainder of cinnamon-apple sauce and set aside
- Roll the crescent from the wide end and pinch ends in order to keep apples inside the roll (see image #4)
- Grease (2) 9x13 baking dishes (if you don’t have 2 you can purchase reusable 9x13 foil baking pans @ any grocery store)
- Place rolled dumplings in 9x13 baking dishes (8 per dish)
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown
- While crescents are baking prepare “ooey-gooey” caramel glaze:
- Stir the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan, add pecans
- Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, swirling the pan but not stirring, until the sugar is dark amber-colored caramel (about 15 minutes)
- Pull pan from the heat and carefully pour in the cream (be careful, it may splatter)
- Stir in vanilla and salt
- Cool until caramel becomes thick and syrupy
- Allow dumplings to cool for 5 minutes after removing from oven
- Drizzle cinnamon-apple sauce over dumplings
- Evenly pour caramel glaze over the dumplings
- Top with whipped cream, serve alongside vanilla bean ice cream (see image #5) or a hot cup on cinnamon apple cider
- Devour & allow warm-fuzzy feeling to take over!
RECIPE for Homemade Crescent Rolls
Active dry yeast: 2 (.25 ounce) packages
Hockey makes me more emotional than a Hugh Grant romantic comedy, the evening of June 11th, 2012 being the epitome. That night, I cried myself dry. I celebrated with 18,000 fans, an entire organization, and one very deserving team while welcoming Lord Stanley's Cup to Los Angeles for the first time in the Kings’ 45 year existence.
A day had never felt so perfect. I vividly remember gripping my steering wheel tight on the ride down the 5 South to Staples Center day dreaming about what the winning celebrations would look like. Full of what I had hoped to be my last superstitious meatball sub, I blasted my pre-game tunes so loud…I'm surprised my hearing is still intact. Even this early on in the day I refused to believe we would let the Devils pull a game 7 out of their hats.
Walking into the building, a relaxed anticipation seemed to resonate throughout the entire staff. From the security guards who cleared my bags to the man who held the door after I had clocked in, I was greeted by permanently ear-to-ear grins plastered on all…awaiting a fate so close we could taste it.
Hard to believe that just two months prior we were fighting for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. Now, we had blazed a trail of wins so hot, die-hards and skeptics everywhere could finally see the gleaming silver trophy at the end of the path.
Our pre-game duties seemed to whirl by. I rolled t-shirts in such a haze, styled my hair in such a blur and put on my uniform with so much on my mind, I can't believe it didn't end up backwards and inside out.
When game time had rolled around, I was a wreck! Win or lose, this was a last hurrah on many accounts. This marked the last home game of the season, and the last game in the careers of a few of my ice crew teammates. We all knew we needed to enjoy what little time we had left together.
First order of business: win this darn game!
If I had to pick a theme for what was about to ensue, it would be tears, tears, and more tears. I had just barely finished tightening up my skates when veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi took a game-changing hit. At the price of his bloodied lip, we found ourselves bestowed with a five minute major power play. Present that to an already emotional group of girls and let the tears roll.
Goal after goal after goal (literally) was scored. Every goal met by a roar from the crowd and screams from the Ice Crew. The hardest part about watching the game? Waiting until the end! Those first three goals set the tone for the rest of the game and only added to the cool confidence the team had come out swinging with. Intermissions were spent with low-key celebrating, trying to suppress our true excitement that was brewing.
Toward the end of the game, we knew the drill. Just as it happened in game 4, where a less than desired outcome was witnessed, the Stanley Cup was rolled in it's case to a room just feet from our holding area we've called home for the past 4 seasons. After we finished our last necessary TV-time-out shoveling, we were shipped off to the main concourse to make room for the crowd of media and NHL staff to enjoy the last five minutes of the third period with the fans.
With the best view in STAPLES Center, my teammates and I counted down the last 10 seconds of the game and watched our beloved Kings become the first eighth-seed team to ever win the Stanley Cup--a true cause to celebrate all night long…and that we did, tears included. Truly a day myself and the rest of the Kings fans of the world will never, ever forget.
Where were you that glorious night? And, where did you watch from? We always love hearing you all recount the win from your own perspectives…so, if you feel like sharing, please post away on our Facebook page!
Many of you reading this probably have a Kings Ice Crew calendar from seasons past hanging on your wall. Pages filled front to back with stunning snapshots of gorgeous Kings ladies hang before you. Each girl resembling a life-sized Barbie, perfectly posed, eyes sparkling, skin glowing and each hair appears to fall flawlessly. As you admire the beauty, thoughts of all the effort that went behind making that one simple shot is probably not at the top of the list for thoughts running through your mind. It is simple to appreciate the finished product, but just what all goes into making that one candid moment?
The making of the calendar can be broken down easily into phases, which I like to refer to as “the 3 P’s:” Pre, Photo, and Post.
The Pre phase (more often than not the most stressful of the phases) includes all of the preparations that take place in order to feel ready for the photo phase. A majority of this prepping includes getting yourself physically ready to prance around in front of cameras for an entire day wearing only a bikini. This means showing some extra dedication to your workout and nutrition routine and a full manicure pedicure is on all of our checklists. Although an overall preparation starts months before the shoot, my personal (more radical preparation) takes place one week out from the shoot. I pretty drastically minimize my intake of sodium, carbs, sugar, and dairy and up my intake of protein, fiber, and of course those delicious fruits and veggies and tons of water. I make sure to get in a high intensity cardio workout nearly every day, and show some added attention at the gym to those glutes and abs.
The pre phase also includes swimsuit shopping, which can be a mission unto itself. Since we have guidelines as to certain styles and prints we can bring, it can make choosing a suit fairly complicated. Not to mention, you don’t want to show up with the same suit as one of your teammates!
You must also mentally prepare during this time. For many rookie girls this might possibly be their first photo-shoot. A good chunk of time is probably spent posing solo in front of your mirror in your swimsuit options, trying to get an idea of what poses most flatter your figure and trying to accomplish that sultry bikini model face. Chances are also likely you’re guilty of “bikini model poses” appearing in your recent Google search history.
Then the day finally arrives when it’s time to let your hard work shine and put those poses to the test! Phase two, the photo-shoot itself.
This was the first year that the calendar shoot was broken into two days of shooting instead of one. With 15 girls to get through hair and makeup, do their shoot plus their interviews it made for a more tranquil environment to complete the task at hand in two days’ time instead of one.
I was honored to be asked to shoot both days.
Day one was located at a beach, which seemed like forever up the PCH to get to. Perhaps it just seemed longer since my call time was later in the afternoon and I had already been seeing images from the shoot being uploaded onto the Ice Crew facebook/twitter so I was extra eager to arrive and join their side. Upon arriving, and after hello hugs and brief story sharing of the day thus far I was whisked away for the suit finalization followed by sitting down for hair and makeup.
Bathing suit options and accessories were being loaned around throughout the production trailer, it’s a fun team effort to make sure each of us looks up to our full glamour potential. Then it was time to let my inner vixen come out to flirt with the camera for a bit.
I was assigned to shoot close down where the tide hits the shore. Posing on the sand while the sun slowly set over the ocean, all eyes on me, I felt like a mermaid princess…minus the fin. However I now see why mermaids stay in the water, it was obnoxiously windy and quite too chilly to be in a bathing suit. Nonetheless, I’m certain the shot was all worth it (see April 2013 and the back cover for proof!).
With day one wrapped I headed home to wash the sand out of my hair and peel off my glamorous fake eyelashes. The next morning I awoke, bright and early to head to the magnificent Terranea Resort for day 2 of shooting. This was another relaxing drive, filled with more breathtaking views. I rode the entire way with my windows down, without the normal burden of worrying about messing up my hair since it was not styled yet, just taking the time to appreciate the cool morning breeze. I couldn’t help but to think about how fortunate I am to be a part of such a unique experience. That I am actually blessed enough to say I grew up to live out my little girl dreams. Confucius must have been speaking about our job when he said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I again went through hair and makeup then strutted my stuff in feisty hot pink bathing suit provided this year’s swimsuit sponsor, Kandy Wrappers (located in our “fun” shots near the back of the calendar). My location took place down near the cove, waves were crashing behind me and the rocks were no soft pillow to pose on. Yet, somehow in the joy of the moment, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else but in front of that camera on those pointy rocks, trying to create the perfect picture.
Then, all too soon, my third Kings Calendar shoot was officially marked off in the books.
This brings us to the final phase, which usually can compete with phase two for being the most fun. Seeing as that it usually includes celebrating your hard work and dedication up to that point by consuming more sugar and carbs than any healthy individual should at one meal sitting.
By this point you have a slew of emotions including relieved, excited and nervous. For now you must wait weeks to months to see the finished project.
One must also recognize that the last phase also includes what is undoubtedly the most important part of the process: where we get to sell our finished product, the reason behind it all. As always, the entirety of proceeds raised through our calendar sales goes directly to the Kings Care Foundation (the non profit organization of the LA Kings). The Kings Ice Crew calendar has been a smashing, sell-out-success consecutively for 3 seasons (meaning, we sold out every season we’ve made one). To date, we’ve raised over $75,000 thanks to fans like you! This year, we’re on pace to eclipse $100,000!
So when approached by one of us ladies this season to purchase a copy, or you see the calendar on the store shelves or the link to purchase online, don’t think with just your eyes, think with you heart and purchase a calendar (or donate)…no matter what, it’s a win-win result.
Purchase a 2013 LA Kings Ice Crew Calendar - Click Here