‘Shake Your Tree’ Peach Frozen Yogurt

“I really love your peaches…”

Image credit: al.com

You know the Steve Miller song. Vore knows it for sure. (Remember how he only listens to old school music?) But I digress. Why exactly am I singing about space cowboys and peach trees?

For Memorial Day, Vore and I headed down to Florida to catch up with his family and squeeze in some beach time. It was relaxing and perfect, which made the drive home yesterday a little anti-climactic.

About an hour from Birmingham, Vore suggested a bathroom break. There was one thing on my mind: nearby Peach Park! This Chilton County, AL favorite is easy to locate–it’s right under a peach shaped water tower. Vore was easily convinced.

 

While I browsed fresh picked produce, Vore disappeared, surfacing with waffle cones loaded down with peach ice cream. I’m not one for fruit flavored desserts, but this was over the top. So good!

I left with a basket of fresh Chilton County peaches and a mission: make a healthier version of that delicious treat. This afternoon, I tinkered and magic happened. Enjoy!

“Shake Your Tree” Peach Frozen Yogurt

3 cups finely chopped peaches (with skin), divided

2 cups 2% Greek yogurt

1 cup 2% milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4-1/2 teaspoon liquid vanilla stevia*

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add two cups of the peaches to a high speed blender or food processor. Blend the heck out of it until you have a fine puree.

Add in the yogurt, milk, honey and stevia. Blend away!

Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions. Add the remaining peach bits in the last 10 minutes of churning.

You can allow the mixture to firm up a bit in the freezer or serve right away. I topped my yogurt with chopped walnuts and ate every bite!

*The amount of liquid stevia you need will depend on the ripeness of your peaches and how sweet you like your treats. Add 1/4 teaspoon, give it a taste and then adjust as necessary.

Stuffed Stuff: Patty Pan Summer Squash

I like to stuff things. Bell peppers, mushrooms, potatoes? You bet! So you can imagine what I was thinking when Vore and I stumbled on these beauties at the Farmer’s Market:

Stuff em! And that’s just what we did.

Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

6 large pattypan squash

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup roasted red pepper,  chopped

1 cup raw spinach, chopped

1/2 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs, divided.

Mozzarella and/or parmesan, for topping

Preheat the oven to 400, then follow these steps:

1. Trim the stems off your squash, making a flat base. Flip the squash over, sitting them on the base you created.

2. Using a paring knife, flow the natural circle that rims the squash. Scoop out the insides, making a thinnish shell with a nice, deep hole. You want the ruffly thing around the exterior to stay in place, mostly because it’s stinking cute.

3. Place your squash on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Meanwhile…

4. Heat a skillet over medium high. Add the oil, onion and garlic. Sautee until the onion is translucent. Add bell pepper and spinach, stirring until spinach wilts. Then add your spices, and lastly the ricotta.

5. Stuff your squash! Add the filling to the squash cups, pressing down lightly to ensure each is completely full. Top each squash with bread crumbs, the sprinkle with cheese. Put the squash back in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10 minutes more.

Voila! Stuffed Squash! What’s your favorite veggie to stuff?

Farro Salad Gets a Summer Makeover.

Remember Farro Salad? It’s a favorite around here. Sadly, beets are a going out of season. Why not give the dish a warm weather update? Challenge accepted.

While I think balsamic vinaigrette would be beautiful here, I changed it up a bit with a dressing that maximizes the fresh herbs on my porch. I traded the beets for cherry tomatoes, grilled on kabob skewers. I stirred a bit of fresh basil in to finish. The result? Delish!

Summer Farro Salad

1 cup dry farro, cooked to package directions, then drained

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon Greek-ish dressing* or your favorite bottled variety

1 teaspoon Greek seasoning

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chifonnade

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

approximately 30 cherry tomatoes, grilled if you like

Combine all ingredients, chill and enjoy.

For this meal, I added Emily’s blackened tofu (delish!) to the top of my salad. I made Vore a grilled chicken breast while I was searing off the tomatoes. He approved! You will too.

*Greek-ish Dressing. Add the following to your blender: 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, 1 tablespoon fresh basil, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Blend. Towards the end, stir in 2 tablespoons feta. Store leftovers in a shaker…It will separate a smidge and needs a little man handling before you use again.

Hills From Hell (and a Recovery Drink When You Finish).

The original Hill From Hell is down the street from my parents’ house.

It’s a drop off to the Cahaba River that some fool paved. It’s beyond steep. As in not-runable-for-more-than-5-seconds steep. But power-walking up it gets your tush like nothing else. Mom, can I get an amen?

Let’s back up a minute, to the last time I lived with my parents. I was in grad school. I read a lot, babysat for two families and taught spin classes. Still, I was somehow rolling around in free time. I exercised all the time, mostly because I was sick of reading Faulkner or whatever complex, theoretical literature they assign upper level English students. I was famous for rocking two fitness classes a day–maybe even walking the hill from hell for good measure.

Fast forward. I am a new wife and a new business owner. This business has one employee: me. I work a lot. I cook and clean and try to hang out with that cute husband I scored. The time in the “exercise” portion of my calendar shrunk.

So how’s a girl to get a killer workout in 30 minutes? Revisit hills from hell, naturally. Good news is, there’s a wicked slope in my neighborhood. Bonus for not having to drive anywhere to sweat.

Try this interval on for size and tell me you aren’t begging for mercy at the end.

Wicked Hill from Hell Work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I run from my house to the neighborhoods across the street. It takes about 3 minutes to get from my door to the first hill. From there on, it’s almost equal amounts of uphill and downhill roads. These are definitely hilly, but not killer. It takes me about 23 minutes to make the loop and get back to my neighborhood Hill from Hell. From there on the plan is simple: Get up as fast as you can, the recover on the way down. Repeat. How was it?

I’d say you need a recovery drink as a reward! If you agree, get your smoothie on:

Green Smoothie:

1/4 cup cooked spinach

1 small frozen banana, sliced

1 cup almond milk

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Stevia to taste

*Throw all the ingredients in the bender and mix away.

(Random side note: I’ve discovered the cooked spinach is less detectable in smoothies than raw. Go figure.)

Do you have a hill from hell? What motivates you to get up it? 

“Which Came First?” Salad

Question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

Answer: The chicken for Vore, the egg for Veggie. 

As the week came to a close, I was running seriously low on groceries. Rather than make a last minute dash, I improvised with this great salad. In the mix: Organic Girl Super Greens, cannellini and black beans, Pink Lady apple and blue cheese + a leftover grilled chicken breast for Vore and egg whites for me. The dressing was the star. Want the recipe? Of course you do!

This spur of the moment dressing came together quickly with herb clippings from my back porch garden. I’d imagine you could mix up the variety and portions of herbs. I also think it would be perfect to toss with potatoes, or perhaps to rub on Vore’s fish. It’s light and tangy, perfect for summer.

Kitchen Sink Herbed Vinaigarette

2 tablespoons fresh chives

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

1 tablespoon fresh sweet basil

1 tablespoon fresh spicy basil

1 tablespoon fresh oregeno

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons mirin

2 tablespoons dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Throw all ingredients in the blender. Whirl, then enjoy!

Tofu-Torial

[Alternate post title: “Tofu-How-To.” I’m hilarious.]

This week, as I made my normal rounds at Whole Foods, I rolled the buggy to the tofu area for the obligatory stop. Two ladies, apparently a mother/daughter, pulled me over to ask questions. True story.

They were trying to add soy protein to their diet, but had no idea where to start. I looked like I knew what I was doing (ha!) so they asked why I chose the product I had in hand. Poor ladies. I LOVE to talk about tofu. They might have gotten more than they bargained for.

If these two were inquisitive enough to stop a stranger, I figured they had company. In this post, I will impart my wisdom on the tofu basics. A few points to start with:

  • Tofu is “soy bean curd.” Don’t tell anyone. That sounds disgusting.
  • It comes in blocks, packed in water. Also kind of gross, but you’ll get past it.
  • You can buy shelf stable tofu (not my favorite). This is found on the Asian aisle.
  • I like the refrigerated tofu, which you’ll find beside the salad stuff in most grocery stores.
  • IMHO, tofu has the texture of scrambled eggs and has basically no flavor.
  • This image is my favorite brand of tofu. “Nasyoya Light Firm.” Buying “light” isn’t about the calories. The texture is better.

Now that you’ve bought your block of soy goodness, what are you going to do with it? I’ll show you my day-that-ends-in-y preparation. There are a zillion ways to prep your tofu, but we’re going basic today. Let’s get cooking.

1. Get rid of the water.

Tofu is waterlogged when you get it out of the box. Not appetizing. There are several ways to drain it. I received this spring loaded TofuXpress as a gift and it is magical, as you can see from the photos above. After three hours in the fridge, look how much water came out of the block!

However, if you’re not ready to invest in the gear quite yet, you can use the method I started with: wrap the block of tofu in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Put something heavy on top, like a cast iron skillet. Let it sit for a while, the longer the better. Your towels will be soaked!

2. Slice and dice.

Slice the block. Any number of sizes or shapes will work, but my favorite way to go is 8 lengthwise, then four horizontally. This yields bite size pieces that will take on just the right amount of seasoning.

3. Brown and season

Transfer your pieces to a non-stick pan, sprayed with olive oil and preheated to medium high. You want to get each side toasty, which will take a little longer than you think. Patience! Letting the tofu brown makes it taste infinitely better.

Now it’s time to season. This particular batch is sprinkled liberally with garlic salt, and has a tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette stirred in right at the end. I’ve got tons more flavor combos, but we’ll get to that in another post.

4. EAT!

I enjoyed this balsamic tofu over polenta, with broccoli, marinara and goat cheese.

What’s your favorite way to eat tofu? Any other tips or suggestions? Share away…