Archive for July, 2013

Guest Post: Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

Thanks Dr. Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators for sharing your family’s favorite recipe for DIY froyo!

 

We love yogurt–and even make our own. One of the things I love to do with yogurt is to make frozen yogurt! It’s delicious, capable of so many flavor changes, healthy, and purely addictive. I’ve combined and adapted a few recipes from Downton Abbey Cooks and David Lebovitz to create this mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt recipe.  I have to say, we make frozen yogurt a few times a week, especially in the summer heat. Enjoy!

 

Who wants a scoop?

Who wants a scoop?

Recipe for Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients:

1.5 cups milk

Huge handful of fresh mint, washed well (spiders aren’t as tasty as chocolate chips)

½ c sugar (or more, to taste)

3 T cornstarch

1 c yogurt (regular or Greek)

¼  to ½ c Chocolate chips – I love the dark chocolate chips (more on chocolate goodness to come)

 

Directions:

Mint steeping in milk

Mint steeping in milk

  1. Combine milk and mint in a medium saucepan, and heat over low until milk is barely at a simmer. Remove from heat and cover for 1-2 hours. You’re steeping the mint in the milk. Don’t worry – the green color is to be expected. When the milk has cooled and the mint has steeped, squeeze out the mint and throw it away. Pour the milk into a jar and refrigerate until you need it.
  2. Combine the minty milk, cornstarch, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture all of a sudden becomes very thick, like pudding. Remove from the heat, and then stir in the yogurt. Pour into a container and chill in the refrigerator for several hours (ideally, overnight).
  3. Get your ice cream maker going, and pour in the minty goodness. Freeze until your ice cream maker can’t freeze it any more. If yours is like mine, it will be sort of soft and runny, but still quite edible (especially if you are impatient). Now, you have chocolate choices. You can sprinkle in the chocolate chips in the last few minutes of the ice cream maker going.
    Layer of chocolate

    Layer of chocolate

    Small chocolate chips are so cute in this! Or, you can take out half the ice cream, put it in a freezer-safe dish, and work some magic. Melt some chocolate chips in the microwave, and decoratively pour half of it on top of the ice cream in the dish. Put the rest of the ice cream on top, and then artistically pour the rest of the chocolate on top of that. Freeze until firm, at least 1 hour (ideally, overnight, but seriously, who can wait that long?). Scoop up and enjoy!

 

Now, to the variations…

 

Rich chocolate frozen yogurt

Add in 3 T dark cocoa powder to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. You can also add in an additional ½ c chocolate chips at the end, if you desire.

 

Peanut butter chocolate frozen yogurt

Add in 3 T cocoa powder and ¼ c peanut butter to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture. When the ice cream is almost ready, you can add peanut butter chips, or chocolate chips.

 

Cardamom frozen yogurt

Add in 1 T cardamom to the milk/sugar/cornstarch mixture.

 

Vanilla frozen yogurt

When you take the milk mixture off the heat, and stir in the yogurt, also add in 1-2 t vanilla.

 

What flavors will you come up with?

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Braces busting brownies

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

Someone waiting to eat her first caramel in 18 months.

This week my tween got her braces off (round one at least). To celebrate we made brownies featuring her favorite ingredient that’s been on the no-no list for the past 18 months–caramel.

 

You can use either individual caramels, or I found these handy caramel “bits” at Target.

 

Recipe for Coconut Caramel Brownies

 

Ingredients

1 family size brownie mix or your favorite DIY 9×13″ brownie mix

2 cups individual caramels or caramel chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds–or both!)

Handy way to use caramels--no unwrapping required

Handy way to use caramels–no unwrapping required

3/4 cup coconut (I toast mine before baking)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (opt. hey, we’re celebrating)

 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix up the brownie according to package directions.
  3. Line a 9×13″ baking dish with aluminum foil and then coat generously with cooking spray.
  4. Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan and spread evenly to the corners.
  5. Bake the brownie bottom for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup or bowl, melt the caramel until smooth. I put the caramel in the microwave at 30 intervals, stirring after each time. Usually, it takes around 90 seconds.
  7. Remove the brownie bottom from the oven and add caramel in glops followed by nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.
  8. Top the caramel with the remaining chocolate. Don’t worry if the top isn’t even.
  9. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool completely before cutting.

Warning: Eat with braces at your own risk.

Layering coconut caramel brownies

 

 

 

 

 

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Guest Post: Creative Ways to Use Extra Greens

Raised garden beds

Photo Credit: Kate Kutnick

Sadly, I’m a basil killer. And zucchini. And tomatoes. And nearly every other plant that people are apt to say, “Oh, but they’re so easy to grow.” My friend, Kate Kutnick, has a gift when it comes to greens. She’s always making fresh meals after picking through her luscious garden for inspiration.

For ideas about how to use your extra garden greens:

A few years ago, I installed 6 raised garden beds in my backyard. To this day, the smörgåsbord of fruits and veggies just feet from my kitchen never ceases to amaze me! I will also admit that the blessing of such a leafy buffet is also a double-edged sword. Sometimes I feel inundated by radicchio leaves and pole beans. Just the thought of yet another salad or plate of steamed beans can be nauseating!

 

This year, however, I have finally figured out how to keep the same ingredient fresh and palatable day after day. Per the Beastie Boys advice, I got crafty. Here are some ideas of how I’ve been successful at using all my homegrown produce and enjoying every bite.

 

Soups and smoothies- ‘nuff said! I’ve tapped into Organic Gardening’s recipe collection for this amazing soup. I was intrigued by the thought of salad in liquid form, but hey, I was pretty desperate.

As for the smoothies, I really wanted a way to get the tougher leafy greens into my diet in a raw format, and this method came through! Viewer discretion advised: this will be a very green in color drink, but uber delish and nutrish!

  • 1.5 cups plain, non-fat yogurt

  • a few large ice cubes

  • handful of hemp seeds

  • 5-8 whole, seedless dates

  • 4-6 tablespoons honey

  • 2 large carrots

  • dash of vanilla

  • 4 large leafy green leaves of your choice (kale, collard greens, etc)

Dump all these ingredients in your blender and blend until pureed.

 

Sauces: Sauces can make such a huge difference at any meal. I’ve been really into making flavored butters lately. Last week I made a bowl of garlic, chive, & lemon butter to drizzle over some grilled veggies (from the garden, of course). I’m thinking my next butter adventures will involve lavender and other earthy herbs from the yard. These are super easy to mix together before any meal.

The Gardener and The Grill also has an amazing section of heavenly sauces for your garden bounty.

 

Preparing your crops in these ways admittedly takes a bit of time planning & researching, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking about and more importantly, enjoying your food in a totally new way.

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5 Cool Ideas for the 4th of July

Child drinking limeadeAs you’re getting ready your Fourth of July picnic fixins’ put your kids in charge of making one of these cool treats.

 

Watermelon limemade. Serve watermelon in cups instead of dishes with this sweet-tart drink combo.

 

5 Minute yogurt popsicles. Yogurt, fruit, freezer. That’s all you need for these icy treats.

 

Elvis ice pops. Frozen banana slices dipped in chocolate and then peanuts. Yeah, you won’t be able to eat just one of these.

 

Fruity animal mini popsicles. Pour your favorite fruit juice into animal molds.

Carved orange elephants. To dress up your picnic spread, have your kids make these animals out of oranges.

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 11.43.56 PM

Elvis pops

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 11.43.44 PM

5 Minute yogurt pops

 

Now who’s ready for the holiday?!

 

 

 

 

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