Sunday, March 22, 2020

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake Recipe

When I'm stuck inside I have this incredible urge to bake. It relaxes me, and my family loves the treats. I was dreaming about the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house. The smell of fresh baked goods just makes everything feel normal and fine and awesome for just a moment in time.

My grandmother used to bake all the time. She would be in her kitchen all-day wearing her fancy ruffled apron with her hair up in a tight bun. She made cakes and pies with recipes from her Methodist church ladies group cookbook. The kitchen was her happy place. Now it's my happy place. Enjoy this throwback to another era cake. It's still a winner.

Cinnamon-Streusel Coffee Cake

Streusel Topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 T cinnamon
6 T unsalted butter, melted
Mix in a bowl. Set aside.

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 T. cinnamon
1 t. unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
Mix in a bowl. Set aside.

12 T unsalted butter at room temperature
1 t. salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature (I only had medium eggs on hand.)
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
10oz almond milk or milk
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease a 9" x. 13" pan.

1. Mix the topping and filling in separate bowls and set aside.
2. To make the cake: In a large bowl beat the butter, salt, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth.
3. Add eggs one at a time. Stir until combined after each egg.
4. In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream and milk.
5. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture. Mix gently to combine.
6. Pour/spread half the batter (~3 cups) into the prepared pan spreading all the way to the edges.
7. Sprinkle the filling evenly on the batter.
8. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling in the batter as though you were making a marble cake. Don't combine the filling - just swirl. You want layers.
9. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan. (You don't have to use all the topping. I will cut back a little bit next time.)
10. Bake the cake until it's dark golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes. When pressed gently in the middle the cake should spring back.
11. Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes before serving. (torture waiting!!)
12. Serve cake from the pan.

Recipe source: King Arthur Flour

Saturday, March 21, 2020

6 Tips To Keep your Workforce Connected During the Quarantine

It's hard to believe how quickly our world has changed in just a few short days. For the company I work for (In-Shape Health Clubs), we went from planning new initiatives and programs to closing all our clubs and sending team members home to work remotely due to the government mandate and stay-at-home order in California.

We are now trying to manage a workforce that is not used to working remotely. And a business that is based on visiting our locations (which are now closed.)

My office at home.

For many of our team members, it’s not just the anxiety of working from home, they are now dealing with kids at home, setting up an office space, internet connectivity and being disconnected from what they know. On top of all that many are also now responsible for homeschooling or providing childcare for their kids - while still working.

To help our team manage all of these new challenges we’ve come up with some guidelines to help our workforce stay connected and keep their sanity.

6 Tips to Keep Your Workforce Connected

1. Set up a meeting schedule for the organization – we’ve implemented a schedule for all zoom meetings or conference calls to take place between 9-11 or 2-4. This gives our team who have kids a break in the middle of the day “off-camera.”

2. Set “office hours” for the team – we set up office hours to help team members avoid working 24/7 which will cause anxiety, burnout, depression and more stress at home.

3. Start the day with a group exercise class – We are starting each day with an (optional) 7am zoom workout for the entire organization led by our amazing group fitness and training teams. We also have a list of on-demand classes they can take any time for adults and kids.

4. 9am team meeting on Zoom - every team will meet on zoom at 9am to keep everyone connected and kick off the day.

5. 30-minute family activity every day at 12:30 – we have coordinated a family zoom call every day at 12:30 to help engage all the team members and their families. We have a calendar of fun ideas like reading stories, art projects, joke day, sing-along day, kids yoga, superhero day and more! We’ve tapped into the talents of our organization to help with this fun interactive activity.

6. End of day “Happy Hour” – we’re going to end every day with an optional zoom call to share stories, jokes, recipes, tips, laughs and maybe even a virtual cocktail to connect with each other.

If you are looking for group classes and workouts to share with your employees you can go to our website and see our list of on-demand classes, the fitness schedule, and sign up for our free Daily Buzz newsletter

All of this can be shared with your employees for free.

We want to be there for all the members of our community.

Crispy Bacon on the Grill

We love bacon. But we don't always love how the house smells like bacon for days afterward. So, grab your cast iron skillet and make bacon on the grill! You'll get delicious bacon and the house still smells clean and fresh. And you might make some new friends in the neighborhood!

Enjoy your crispy bacon with a homemade biscuit and fried egg! You can get my easy biscuit recipe here.

Bacon On the Grill

What you'll need:
Thick Cut bacon
Cast Iron Skillet
Aluminum foil
Paper Towel

1. Cut a sheet of aluminum foil to place under your skillet on the grill.
2. Heat up your skillet on the grill for a few minutes to get it hot.
3. Cut bacon slices in half and add to skillet. Ok to crowd the bacon. It shrinks!
4. Cover the lid on the grill and let it sizzle!
5. Check the skillet every 2-3 minutes and flip when it starts to brown.
6. Remove bacon from the skillet and let rest on a plate lined with a paper towel.


Skillet - if you don't have a cast-iron skillet you can probably use another skillet. Just make sure it's heavy-duty and has edges high enough that the grease will not drip in the grill. You don't want to start a grease fire!!
Foil - what's up with the foil? Well, I don't want to ruin my skillet so I figured it would protect it. And it did!

Square Biscuit Recipe

You only need a few basic ingredients to make these square biscuits. So grab the flour, butter, and milk and let's get baking! They are light, fluffy and in your tummy in 20 minutes.

Square Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold, and cut in small cubes
3/4 cup milk
1 T melted butter
Coarse sea salt (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees

1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
2. Add butter to the flour mixture. Use a pastry blender (or a fork) and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. This takes a few minutes.
3. Make a well in the flour mixture and add the milk.
4. Using a fork, or wooden spoon, stir until just combined and dough pulls away from the bowl. It will be sticky.
5. Drop dough on a floured surface (I use a cutting board.)
6. Lightly kneed for 30 seconds.
7. Pat into a rectangle that is 1/2" thick (or about that thickness)
8. Cut into 8 squares.
9. Place biscuits close together on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or a lightly greased cookie sheet.
10. Brush tops with melted butter (and a sprinkle of sea salt!)
11. Bake at 475 degrees for 11-15 minutes until tops are golden brown. Don't overbake!
12. Serve warm with butter, honey, an egg, bacon, jam, or just eat it on its own hot out of the oven.

Butter - I only use unsalted butter at home. I'm sure salted butter is fine. You might want to add less salt. But 1/2 teaspoon is probably fine.
Milk - we only had half-and-half in the fridge this morning so I combined half-and-half and water to equal 3/4 cup and the biscuits taste great! If you try other liquids let me know how it goes! lol
Baking Powder - shake the can before you use it! It brings it to life and makes everything better. (For real! I read this somewhere and do it every time.)
Flour - I have not tried using another flour with this recipe. So I have no tips for you on that. Sorry.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" is clever and hilarious

Don and I went to the opening of this musical in San Francisco. And I have to admit, I had a crush on Kevin Singer, the lead character who plays Monty within the first 5 minutes. He's cute, charming, witty, and even though his character has some serious flaws you can't help but love him.

(L to R) Kevin Singer as "Monty" and Melissa Wolfklain as "Phoebe"

“A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER has a little bit of everything - hilarity, romance, and a little bit of suspense - with a score full of clever, witty lyrics and beautiful melodies,” said Carollo.“We have an amazing team lined up both onstage and off who will bring you a highly entertaining show.”

A perfect blend of farce, romance, and treachery, A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER won the Tony for Best Musical in 2014, and now you can see it in the Bay Area for the professional premiere!

What's it about? Well, it's 1909 when a local commoner named Monty finds out he’s eighth in line for an Earldom, he begins fiendishly plotting to move to the top of the heap. The problem is this family doesn't even know he exists! With a sparkling score and a crack ensemble cast, this GUIDE is part comedy of manners and part music hall romp—you’ll be dying of laughter. And I was. The costumes and casting are just great. And the creativity of the set really adds to the fun of the show. Lots of fun surprises!

The New York Times called A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER “ingenious” and “among the most inspired and entertaining new musicals,” while USA Today called it “ morbidly hilarious." A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER follows in the Tony Award-winning footsteps of 42nd Street Moon’s production of ONCE, which recently won the Theatre Bay Area Award for “Best Musical.”

I just love going to the Gateway Theatre. It's quaint in size, but the productions are big with talent and always impressive.

DATE: February 26 – March 15, 2020
WHERE: Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94111
RUNNING TIME: Two hours and thirty minutes, including one 15 minute intermission.
TICKETS: $31 - $72 purchase online at or call the box office (415) 255-8207
PARKING: plenty of free parking on the street
RESTAURANTS: lots of great restaurants nearby to make it a great date night

Let me know if you go! I would love to hear what you think.