Tag Archives: frozen dessert

Greek Yogurt: Kitchen Superstar

Hello sweeties! I hope this finds you enjoying your summer! I’m enjoying mine. 🙂 As you know, part of my summer fun involves visiting the farmer’s market. I went to my market in Courthouse on Saturday and made a major haul:

Market BootyI bought peaches, one little nectarine, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, an onion, yellow squash, zucchini, Brandywine tomatoes, beets, garlic scapes, tomatoes, some silver queen corn (my childhood favorite!!!), a container of Blue Ridge dairy Greek yogurt, and a pork shoulder that is barely peeking into the picture on the bottom right hand side. There’s also a little piece of cherry pie that I just couldn’t resist. It was a little one, I swear! 😉

I had a plan for the peaches, and they’ve been sitting in the box with their nectarine buddy and ripening a bit this week.

What a peach!

This was all gone. 😦

Cherry Berry "Ice Cream"Time to make more frozen loveliness! I peeled all but one of the peaches and the nectarine (5 fruits), and gave them a blitz in the blender along with 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, the juice of a lemon, the scrapings from a random vanilla bean I had in the fridge and a little can of fat free sweetened condensed milk. Today, I added a bit of extra love to the batch too: 1/2 cup of fat free plain Greek yogurt. I put the mix into the machine and flipped the magic switch.

Magic MachineWhile my mix was going for a spin, I peeled and chopped the remaining peach. It was SO ripe and juicy. YUM!

Peachy KeenAfter the freezer had been running for 30 minutes, I added my ripe peach chunks and let it run for 10 more minutes. 

ChunkyTake a look at this!:

Peachy Creamy LoveThis batch is bursting with fresh peach flavor, creaminess and tang from the Greek yogurt, and the smooth sweetness of the condensed milk. I will be sure to add Greek yogurt from now on. I couldn’t believe the difference it made! This is the creamiest batch I’ve made so far. I’ve tried more traditional recipes using eggs and full fat dairy before, but I can be quite happy with a slightly less creamy dessert that still tastes great and is virtually fat free. The Greek yogurt really upped the creaminess (as well as the protein!) without adding extra fat. Me likey. Me likey a lot!

Seriously, I don’t know how I made it for so long without Greek yogurt in my kitchen! It’s great for making potato salad, chicken salad and tuna salad creamy. It works well in baked goods. It makes a great salad dressing when mixed with a bit of mustard/vinegar/pomegranate molasses/hummus. It’s yummy with honey/maple syrup/agave/jam/nuts and fruit. It works great as a sub for sour cream. It adds creaminess to curry. It makes a great dip for fruit when mixed with a bit of PB2 and jam. I’ve never asked it to make my morning cup of coffee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could do that too. Yes. I believe Greek yogurt has officially become a staple in my kitchen. In case you can’t find it where you live, you can always make your own! Making your own might be a cheaper alternative as well, and that’s a good thing these days.

Aside from my frozen deliciousness, I’ve had a pretty uneventful week in the kitchen. I mentioned that I bought a pork shoulder at the market on Saturday, and I’ve been eating leftover pulled pork all week. While not as lean as a pork tenderloin, it isn’t too bad, and I tried to minimize the fat as much as possible. First, I trimmed off all of the visible fat using my kitchen scissors, and rubbed the pork with some mesquite grilling spice mix:

Pork!Then, I put it into the slow cooker with 1/2 an onion, 1/4 cup of apple juice, 3/4 cup of water, and 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Then I let it cook on high for two hours. After two hours, I flipped it over and let it cook for a couple of hours more. 

In the PoolAt that point, my meat thermometer told me that it was done, and I pulled it out and let it rest. Easy! 

Yum!

I let it cool and then gave it a good shred with a couple of forks. 

This pork shoulder was about 2 1/4 pounds before cooking. I put in enough liquid to keep the meat moist, but the meat was really just dipping its toes in the puddle. My goal was to allow the fat and juices to run off into the bottom of the pan instead of later appearing on my plate. I grew up eating Memphis style barbecue, which isn’t typically swimming in grease or sauce. I saw a number of recipes on line for cooking a pork shoulder in a slow cooker, and most of them involved adding bottles of barbecue sauce. I think that is no bueno from a calorie perspective and also from a yumminess perspective. I didn’t need that much sauce, and there would have been no way to avoid any of the fat that had cooked off if the drippings and sauce were all incorporated. I wanted to be able to taste the meat, and I was surprised at how much I liked this given that I cooked it without the benefit of a smoker. It was moist, delicious and, maybe by virtue of its ecofriendly upbringing, it really tasted like pork. Perfect!

My friend, Inga’s mom, came over for dinner Saturday night, and we each had a big plate of summer:

Plate o' SummerI’ve enjoyed something similar for my dinners this week, but now it is all gone. 😦 I’m going to have to do this again sometime soon!

I’ve had one other blogworthy eat this week. I picked up a little package of this wondrous stuff at Whole Foods over the weekend:

Awesome!I nibbled some by itself, but quickly realized its proper place:

Outstanding Oat BranThe. Best. Oat bran. Ever. It has chocolatey nibs, coconut, sweet raisins, berries and oat bran goodness all in one big bowl. Sadly, I’m out of this yummy little mix, but I will definitely be buying more on my next Whole Foods visit!!

So, now you’ve seen the highlights from my week. I know I’ve become a once or twice a week blogger this summer, but I’m finding so many nice outdoor activities to keep me occupied. Last night, I decided to walk home from work instead of taking the metro. It took two hours, and I was pretty pooped when I got home. However, the weather was great, I enjoyed my stroll through the city, and I got some exercise without hitting the gym. I’m trying to find more opportunities for that sort of activity, and it was a fabulous day for a long trek home. What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise without going to the gym?

I’m also trying not to focus so much on food. I think that, while useful, keeping a photo journal of my eats each day was putting way too much of a focus on my food and making me a little crazy. I’m sure to go back to that eventually, but, for now, I want to focus on new dishes and treats in my posts. I loved everything in this post, and I loved telling you about it!

Now, it’s time for me to head to bed. I did something weird to my shoulder the other evening, and I don’t think this evening’s strength training workout did me any favors. I believe that some ice may be called for, and then I’m heading to bed. 

I hope you have a great weekend, and I hope you stick with me and my infrequent posts. I think I just need to take it easy a bit and go from there. I’m sure I’ll be in the kitchen this weekend, and I’ll want to tell you about it for sure. Until then, ciao for now, y’all! 🙂

21 Comments

Filed under Arlington, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Slow Cooker, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Ice Creamy Holidays

Hi, kids! Keeping my vow to put my gadget to good use, I put my ice cream maker to work today, and I wanted to tell you all about my easy formula for making a tasty frozen dessert. I also wanted to say “hello” as it has been a few days since my last post. Summer seems to be flying by, and I’m staying nice and busy. That means less posting for now, but I do hope you guys will continue checking in with me anyway! 

Check out today’s batch of ice cream in my very special bowl:

Berry Cherry "Ice Cream"

Some of my favorite food memories from childhood involve homemade ice cream eaten out of the very same bowls I used for my little treat this evening. I was thinking about my family while making my ice cream today, and wishing they lived closer so I could share it with them!

My grandparents had a wooden White Mountain ice cream maker with a crank that you turned by hand. It looked like this one:

White MountainMy mom, aunt and brother all have summertime birthdays, and since there are plenty of hot weather holidays too, we often had a great reason to make a batch of homemade ice cream. Sometimes I would just pester my memaw and papaw for homemade ice cream on any old random Saturday too. Ice cream making was always a festive holiday of its very own!

My favorite recipe was (is) a custard style vanilla ice cream from an ancient Southern Living magazine. I was most excited when we used that recipe, and, just to be sure it didn’t get lost, I wrote it in the margins of my mother’s Betty Crocker Cookbook. It’s there for safe keeping and peace of mind. 🙂

My memaw would keep empty milk cartons filled with water in the freezer so we would have plenty of ice on hand. When it was time, my papaw would get out his red handled hammer and break the ice into chunks in a big metal bowl that served many purposes. Sometimes that bowl was full of green beans for snapping, purple hulled peas for shelling or laundry headed to the clothesline. Talk about a multi-tasker! I loved watching the hammer tear the cartons into shreds and looking at the interestingly shaped chunks of ice. My papaw and my dad would pack the ice all around the metal canister full of our custardy ice cream mix, layering it with dingy, grey rock salt (I’d steal bits of it for nibbling purposes, of course… despite the dirty color… ) and then my papaw, my dad, and my uncle, if he and my aunt were in town for the weekend, would take turns cranking the ice cream.

I remember waiting and waiting and waiting until the handle became hard to turn. That was the signal that it was nearly done! Then, they would wrap an old quilt around the bucket and let it sit for a few minutes to let it firm up a bit more. This was always the hardest part for me. Oh, the waiting. It was torture!

There were lots of opportunities to have little science lessons during this process too. It seemed counterintuitive to me, as a kid, that putting a blanket on the ice cream would make it get colder. How could that be?? Blankets made you warm! What was the deal with the salt? Why would you want to melt the ice? Until I learned the reasons behind those things, it all seemed very mysterious and magical. Who am I kidding? Even after those science lessons were learned, it was still very magical to me!

Finally, after what seemed like forever, the salty ice water would be emptied out of the big wooden bucket, and the gleaming silver canister of ice cream would be brought into the kitchen. It would go straight into the kitchen sink, it’s metallic surface fogging up as it got hit by the hot and humid air of an Arkansas summer. Then, the lid would come off, and the bowls would come out of the freezer where they had been chilling. These bowls with their little grape pattern:

Bowl, Sweet BowlI love that I have these bowls, and that I can use them for my own little homemade ice cream.  

It took me years to wise up to the fact that my memaw would always volunteer to take on the tough task of scraping the ice cream off of the metal beater because the ice cream was more solidly frozen in the spots where it was stuck to the metal. She was wily for sure!!

She was also a great cook. We would often have brownies and cookies with our ice cream, and some favorite ice cream toppings were blueberry pie filling, a buttery praline pecan mixture that she would make on the stove, and fresh strawberries. Oh my! I will never forget those lazy summer evenings, and the celebration we would create by cooking together. 

When my parents were here a few weeks ago, we had a slightly different “citified” ice cream making experience when we made a batch of watermelon sorbet using my countertop ice cream maker. There were no milk carton shaped blocks of ice and no hammers were needed, but it was still… fun! Remember this?

Sweet Watermelon SorbetI shared the sorbet recipe with you, but I kept the recipe for what we did with the other half of the watermelon to myself. My mom and I seeded the whole watermelon and pureed it all at the same time. Half went into the sorbet, and we made another little batch of frozen goodness with the other half later in the week. We mixed the pureed watermelon, lime zest and lime juice with my special ingredient and, like magic, it made sweet and creamy watermelon ice cream. I wanted to experiment a bit more to see if it really was as easy it seemed. 

I’ve learned that it’s possible to make a tasty “ice cream” with pureed fruit, a bit of lemon or lime juice and this special ingredient:

Mmmm....Ah yes– one of my favorite summertime ingredients often found in recipes like lemon ice box pie and strawberry pizza. No southern picnic or church potluck is complete, in my opinion, without a dessert involving sweetened condensed milk! Mmm… I could eat it with a spoon, but I wouldn’t. No. I’d never do that. I might run my finger around the inside of the can, but never my tongue. Too dangerous. I might know from experience. 🙂 Anyhoo… 

I decided to use some cherries and berries from the freezer in today’s batch along with a few fresh blueberries to fill out the mix. Since the farmer’s market is still two days away, I was glad I had some nice frozen fruit in the freezer. If you catch them on sale, frozen berries and cherries can be a cheaper alternative for fresh berries when they aren’t in season. Plus, I love being able to keep some berries on hand.

Frozen FruitiesSince I only had about 3 1/2 cups of fruity goodness after I pureed my frozen and fresh berries, I added a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze. I’d skip the almond breeze unless you are running a bit short of fruit like I was today. We had plenty of watermelon for our melon batch, and didn’t add any extra milk at all. It was still nice and creamy!

In addition to the berries and cherries, I added the juice of one lemon to the blender. A little bit of lemon or lime really brightens up the flavors. I could have added some zest, but I was feeling a bit lazy. 🙂 After I had my fruit, lemon juice and, in this case, almond breeze, all ready to go, I stirred in the little can of love. Then, I put the whole shebang into the ice cream maker, and let it do its thing for thirty minutes.

Cherry Berry Love

No hand cranking required! Once it was done, I scraped it into a freezer safe container and weighed it on my food scale in grams. If you notice, containers of store bought ice cream typically tell you the number of calories in cups and in grams. I plugged the nutritional information for my ingredients into the Sparkpeople recipe calculator, divided by the number of servings I wanted, and then divided the total number of grams of ice cream by my chosen number of servings. That allows me to measure out a bowl in grams and to know how many calories are in a serving. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s a great way to enjoy a treat responsibly. Since I’m probably going to be eating the whole batch over the next week or so, I knew that I would like to have some idea so that I could avoid going overboard, but still enjoy my little bowlful of berry cherry yum.

Weighty but Tasty

The grand total of grams was 1216. I calculated the NI for 10 servings, so I know the number of calories in a 121 gram serving. That made for a pretty nicely sized bowl! Perfect! Since I used the fat free sweetened condensed milk, it’s virtually fat free too. 🙂 Y’all know I really watch what I eat in order to avoid gaining back the 180 pounds I’ve lost, but I refuse to give up treats. Eating them responsibly is my compromise.

Drumroll Please...Now that I have a container of this in the freezer, continuing to firm up, I’m all set for dessert for the holiday weekend. Yay!! I would share this with friends in a heartbeat. Of course, if I end up eating it all myself, no tears will be shed. 🙂 Just to recap, here’s today’s recipe:

Super Simple Cherry Berry “Ice Cream”

3 1/2 to 4 cups of pureed berries and cherries (or melon, or peaches, or mangos, or bananas, or… you get the point)

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze or skim milk (If you have 4 cups of pureed fruit, you could leave this out and still get a creamy result.)

Juice of one lemon or lime (you can add the zest too for more zing)

1 14 ounce can of fat free sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients, and process in your ice cream maker following the directions for your machine. My Cuisinart ice cream maker took 30 minutes to freeze this to a nice consistency. Place it in the freezer to continue firming up until it’s time to serve! 

Makes 10-12 servings that are about 1/2 a cup each

Here’s wishing you all a very festive fourth of July! Tomorrow night, I’m going to the Nats game with some friends, and I’ve heard that there will be fireworks. Wheeee!!!! On the fourth, I will be watching the fireworks on the National Mall from the roof of my building on the other side of the Potomac. We have a pretty awesome view of the monuments and the Capitol from my little piece of Virginia, and it’s always fun to see the smaller displays going off in communities all along the river too. What are your plans?

Whatever you do to celebrate the fourth, I hope you enjoy some good food, friends, fireworks and family. Ciao for now, y’all!

12 Comments

Filed under cooking, Cooking Light, diet, Food, Recipes, Sorbet, Uncategorized, Watermelon, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story