July 30, 2010

Banana Strawberry Yogi-Pops

Frozen Yogurt Popsicles

Yesterday was HOT. It was also so muggy that you felt like you just ran a marathon because your body is all dewy. You can forget about straight-ironing your hair too, it's a lost cause. It's one of those mommy-tail hair days, as I call it. (When my children were babies, I wore my hair in a ponytail all the time because it required the least effort - thus I coined the mommy-tail term). When it's like this, I stay indoors. I like the heat but there is a point where it's too much, for me at least.

I also tend to get sluggish and well, outright lazy. So, I spent some time on the couch eating frozen yogurt popsicles or "yogi-pops" as we call them here. They are super easy to make and are tasty. You can substitute different flavors of yogurt or mashed fruit also.

Banana and Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Popsicles

I don't feel guilty feeding these to the kids or myself, they are healthy and nutritious. If you want to sweeten them up a bit more (freezing tends to dull the sweet factor I find), you can add sugar. Honey or sugar substitute also works well.

Here's to a hot weekend and plenty of yogi-pops to go around. Cheers.

...

Banana Strawberry Yogi-Pops

1 banana, mashed
strawberry yogurt, of your choice
sugar to taste, optional
milk, optional

In a bowl, mash the banana until there are no large chunks. Add enough strawberry yogurt to fill the volume of your popsicles molds. If your prefer the mixture a bit sweeter, add a little sugar and mix until dissolved. If the mixture is too thick, add some milk.

Pour the mixture into the popsicle molds. Put them into the freezer. Serve when frozen throughout.

July 28, 2010

Lemon Ice Cream

lemon ice cream

Do you like your lemon ice cream really lemony? Do you like it tart with a hit of sweetness? Well, I've found the recipe for you.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I had a deep hankering for something lemony. And when I found this recipe, I knew I had to try it. If I could do backflips, I would be doing them right now. And I'm so smitten with it that I'm not even sharing it with my kids. Yeah, I know, you're wondering, what happened to a mother's love for her children? Pffft, is what I have to say to that after only one lick of this mouth-watering ice cream.

I LOVE this recipe. It's a definite keeper that I will make again... and again... and again.

...

Lemon Ice Cream
makes 1 liter

zest from 3 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
2 cups of table cream (18% mf)
Pinch of salt

Add the lemon zest and sugar into a food processor. Process until fine. Add lemon juice and process until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and salt and mix together.

Chill in your refrigerator, for a minimum of 1 hour, then freeze in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe adapted from: Super Lemon Ice Cream, The Perfect Scoop

July 27, 2010

Lemons

Lemons Still Life 2

"If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is what they say but hey, when the heck did lemons get a bad rap? Maybe some of us love lemons?

Funny but true story, my children have been asking me for years if they can have a spoon of lemon juice. They are thrilled by the sour. They now ask for it and say they won't scrunch up their faces when they drink it. It's like a contest to them, but neither one of them have won. The pucker face comes every time. Maybe they got the like for sour from me, huh?

Lemons Still Life

It was the week before, I was dreaming about lemons. I had a full-on craving. The citrusy-fresh smell of the zest and the tart and sour taste of the juice. I really, really wanted to make something with lemons. But I didn't want a mild lemon taste. I want something really lemony and fresh but tart at the same time. And I found it. Perfect for summer.

Recipe up tomorrow!

July 26, 2010

Weekly Photos: Front Yard in Bloom

Pond

Last year when our 50+ year old pine tree came crashing down in a July storm, we were very devastated. We had made a nice forest like scene in the front yard. Lots of junipers and various evergreen shrubs with wood chips scattered around.

We hummed and hahhed about what to do with the front yard. We could plant another pine tree but it would take forever for it to grow to be mature. It was a summer vacation visit to Glenoka Bed and Breakfast that changed things for us. We thought a pond and edible garden in the front would be a great idea.

Klaus worked hard to make this yard what it is. I didn't have one thing to do with it other than some design. The left pic is the stream than comes down surrounded by cabbages, swiss chard, tiger lillies, sunflowers and other plants. The right pic is where the stream ends up (yup, stream goes under out sidewalk) where our goldfish reside. We have an little "orchard" of cherry trees, apple tree, honey suckle and blueberry bushes and lets not forget the pumpkin patch.

The hubby also made the hand rail. He cut the wood into thin strips and glued them together into a curve like that. And I have no idea how many times he took my car to load up on rocks (a lot).

Someone else thought it was special because our yard was nominated for The City of Edmonton's Front Yards in Bloom. Me so proud of him and all the hard work he has put in. Congrat's Klaus!

July 23, 2010

Making Linden Tea

Making Linden Tea

We have an absolutely stunning tree in our back yard. It's a 50+ year old Linden Tree. (Also called Basswood, Tilia or Lime Tree). Every year, around this time, the blossoms open up. The air is then filled with a sweet aroma flavor and if you stand under the tree, there is a strong humming sound. You look up and you will find thousands of busy bees, sucking up it's sweet nectar.

My father identified the tree for us many years ago. He says it reminds him of home, as the Linden Tree is a sacred tree for many Slavic and Eastern European countries. He spoke of the wonderful tea you can make from the Linden Tree.

I've had Linden tea before but for some reason, I never connected the tree in my backyard to the Linden tea I have drank. So I decided to harvest the fragrant blossoms and leaves. I have them drying in my basement right now and I can tell you, it smells amazing everytime I walk downstairs. Once they are dry, you just have to store them in a glass container. To make tea, crush the linden blossoms into boiling water, steep and serve.

Can't wait until they are dry and enjoy it on a cold, wintery night (that's when we do the bulk of our tea drinking around here).

July 22, 2010

Roasted Banana Ice Cream

banana ice cream

It so happened that I had 6 ripe bananas on the counter. SIX. Ripe. I'm not really sure how that came to be because we are usually on top of the banana eating. And quite frankly, I don't even remember buying that many at one shopping trip!

Wasn't in the mood for making any carb-ilicous goody and realized we didn't have any ice cream. My kids playmates were over last week and they asked for ice cream and I had none. What a shame, it's summer and there is not a lick of the sweet frozen goodness around. I needed to fix that.

And I sure did.

I've been on an ice cream making kick around here. This is what happens when I eat healthily for a while, the body starts to crave the not-so-healthy stuff. I've never had banana ice cream before. I don't even remember stumbling upon it when I spent my years at working at Baskin Robbins.

I loved the roasting banana part of this recipe. My house smelled SO good. I wanted to eat the roasted bananas right out of the baking dish but alas, I stopped myself. The ice cream has a nice roasted banana taste and it's not too sweet. It is a bit hard to scoop into a ball, not so creamy, but it's a wonderful complement with summer fruits in a bowl.

Nice to have another recipe to use up those ripe bananas!

...

Roasted Banana Ice Cream
makes 1 liter

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into small pieces
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp butter

1-1/2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Place the banana slices, along with brown sugar and butter, in a baking dish. Bake in the oven, uncovered, at 400F for 40 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Puree the roasted bananas until smooth. Add milk, sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and salt and mix well.

Chill for a couple hours or overnight. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe adapted from: Roasted Banana Ice Cream, The Perfect Scoop

July 20, 2010

Edmonton and Alberta Region U-Picks

First Raspberries of the Season

Guess what I got in my yard, ready to be eaten. Uh huh. RASPBERRIES!!!!!!

There is just a few here and there ready to be picked but it is just beginning: BERRY SEASON!!! We actually harvested a couple of strawberries too.

For those of you not in luck with fresh berries in your yard but want to go berry picking, here are some directories of U-Pick Farms that I recently looked up:


Don't feel like picking it yourself, some of the farms will pick it for you at an additional cost. Also, I'm sure you will find all sorts of berries at your local farmer's markets in the Edmonton or surrounding regions. I heard it's strawberry picking time already.

I'll be in my "berry patch" as soon as it stops raining. I (heart) raspberries.

July 19, 2010

Weekly Photos: Soaring Seagulls

Soaring

Last week, we went out to Miquelon Lake. It wasn't the nicest day but the kids had a blast on the beach and in and around the water. It was windy and I was cold. I wore a long sleeve and a jacket and I'm sure people were looking at me like I was insane as they ran around in their bathing suits. I did manage to get a sunburn, right atop my head! My hairline was bright red. Lovely.

I try to bring out my camera when I am heading out but I find that I don't often get to snap any pictures when I have the kids in tow. I certainly don't have time to get creative as they are always needing some sort of attention. But this time around, their cousins were occupying their time as well as the hubby was keeping an eye on them.

Seagulls Diptych

It was very windy and the seagulls were out in full force, playing in the air. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, soaring up and down with each gust of wind. And with the sun high up in the sky, the birds looked amazing being backlit. I sat and watched them for a bit, in awe at how beautiful they looked.

But I also freaked out when they got too close. I don't have a telephoto lens, so they had to get pretty close in order for me to get these shots. They were literally right above me at times. I worried that I would be their poop bullseye or that the occasional bird would accidently fly into me if the wind turned suddenly. Some of them were HUGE in size and I was afraid they would look at my fingers, thinking they were tasty french fries. I kept thinking about how much it would hurt if they bit me with their big, strong beaks. Yeah, I know... I'm weird. But I continued to snap away with my camera, keeping my fingers tucked in, just in case. You never can be too safe, youknowwhatImean.

Seagulls

But, I lucked out with the picture taking and it was worth the worrying about being in a sand-wrestling match with one. Some folks really don't like seagulls but I have a soft spot for animals and these gulls were no exception. After witnessing them dance in the air that day, I fell hard for them. I left with feelings of peacefulness and tranquility, and more importantly, all my 10 digits :)

July 16, 2010

Links and News

Chamomile Flower


I have this chamomile plant in my yard and people often think it's daisies. I've never harvested it to dry for tea. I'm guessing you just pop the heads off and allow it to completely dry before using for tea but I'm not too certain. Have any of you done so?

...

Stumbled upon a great Edmonton site. Wondering about the different things you can grow in your garden in Alberta? They offer all sorts of classes too. Click on through to the The Urban Farmer.

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Don't ever feel like a dork again at the coffee counter. Learn some coffee history and the breakdown of some of the popular espresso drinks.

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Cooking in the summer? Don't want to turn on your oven. Why don't you make some lasagna in your dishwasher. Yeah, you read right Dishwasher Lasagna.

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Have a super weekend!

July 14, 2010

Curry Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

Curry Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

I like to call my hubby a Meatatarian. He likes his protein. Though, he does like vegetables, he prefers not to have to prepare it. He dislikes washing lettuce and will avoid peeling carrots and the such. If it's done for him, he'll eat it but I'm sure his days as a bachelor included lots of meat. He's lucky he married me because I'll make the effort to get those veggies on his dish.

Another classic fave in our house is curry. We love a good curry so when the hubby spotted this dish, he had to try it out. Easy to prepare and bake. (He did it all himself).

I actually quite enjoyed the taste, however, I think I still prefer the typical standby of sticky, gooey, zesty barbecue sauce on my ribs.

...

Curry Coconut Braised Pork Ribs

1 rack (~2 lbs) pork back ribs

2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp curry powder of your choice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice

Stir together peanut butter, curry powder, soy sauce, coconut milk, ketchup and orange juice. Beat until smooth

Pour the sauce over the ribs in a baking dish. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours minimum or overnight in the refrigerator.

Bake the ribs and sauce at 325F for 2.5-3 hours (covered for the first 2hrs), brushing with sauce occasionally.

Recipe adapted from: Curry coconut braised pork ribs

July 12, 2010

Weekly Photos: Camping at Pembina River

Pembina River

I wouldn't say camping is my thing. It's been a long time since I've camped. At least 7+ years, I believe. We've been "camping" in cabins with the children before but never camping in an actual tent all together.

I don't consider myself a priss but I can say that I much prefer to stay at a cabin. Sleeping on an air mattress, crunched together with my hubby and two kids, in a small tent, reeking of campfire and and forest musk lingering throughout my hair... meh, not so much. The idea of birds squaking at 4am in the morning and possibilities of wild animals thinking I'm a delectable treat, doesn't really put a check on the pros column. Let's not forget the cold weather, rain and leaky tents. Plus, who the heck wants to lug around pillows, sleeping bags, air mattresses, tents, food utensils and pots and pans!

As I've gotten older, I want more comfort. I did the sleeping in hostels and the back of my car on road trips. Sleeping on a floor of a friend's place in another city and all sorts of tenting galore. Hmmm...ok, maybe I have become a little bit of a priss. I'm a desperate housewife people, not an outdoors-woman.


Camping Diptych

So when a bunch of neighborhood folks asked if we wanted to join in on the yearly camp together to Pembina River, I quickly kiboshed it. Not only do we not have camping gear, I didn't want to pack for it. With all the reasons stated above, I believe my hubby only convinced me to get out because I really do enjoy the scenery and the change of location. Getting away, fresh air, beautiful trees and water. Plus, the children really wanted to camp with all their friends. Geez. I agreed on a very short camping trip. You ain't getting this city slicker tenting for too long.

Yes, I had a good time though a bit bored at times. Sleeping in a tent, notsomuchfun. Tons of packing, birds at 4am - check, check. Rain - only on pack up day, wild animals thinking I'm a main course -nay. (thank goodness!)

My hubby has already verbalized to the neighborhood folks about going again next year. Yeah. It wouldn't be right if I OK'd it right away. I'm a desperate housewife, remember, (more like a wannabe), I need to keep up some sort of image and standards. In the very least, I need to stir up some material to make good neighborhood gossip.

;)

July 9, 2010

Spinach Salad with Apples and Cheddar

Spinach Salad with Apples & Cheddar

I'm not bored with eating salads. Not yet, at least.

I'm not sure when it begins to happen, that moment that I am done done done with eating another salad green but so far, so good. I find with so many different salad dressings and combinations of ingredients together for the salad, it staves off the boredom of eating greens.

I wasn't sure if my hubby would go for the green onion salad dressing but he was pleasantly surprised, as I was with it. I also thought that the grated cheddar added an interesting touch.

Have a super weekend folks!

(And if you need some more salad ideas, hit my archives here.)

...

Spinach Salad with Apples and Cheddar
makes 8 servings

1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped


1 lb spinach
2 apples, diced & tossed with 2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese of your choice, grated


For the dressing: combine oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, sour cream and onions. Cover and thoroughly chill it before serving.

Combine salad ingredients (spinach, apples, almonds and cheddar cheese). Toss with the salad dressing and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Apple and_spinach_salad_with_cheddar

July 8, 2010

Garden Fresh Spinach

Garden Fresh Spinach

What?

You thought I was joking about the eating of lots of salad greens this week? HA! I'm not kidding you. I gained a solid 4-5 pounds eating all that dessert... my chlorophyll friends are here to help my backside.

I am very lucky to have garden fresh produce. I'm even luckier that I have a hubby that does all the gardening. We really do have a yin and yang relationship. He grows the food and I cook it.

Spinach Leaves

I was instructed that our spinach was ready for picking. I guess it tends to bolt quickly but I don't mind it so much since I get to use it sooner.

Recipe up tomorrow!

July 7, 2010

Arugula and Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

Arugula & Lentil Salad

After having so much dessert and sweet things around the house the last while, the scale was telling me that I would be on a salad diet the next week or so.

I often go through salad cravings. I know, sounds weird. But, when I've been abusing my body with too many sweet things, I actually look forward to something healthy. They ("they" as in those scientist people, I'm guessing.) say that children self-regulate themselves to make sure they get all the nutrients they need. We as adults tend to ignore that but I definitely know that my body wants healthy after weeks of dessert binge eating.

As I mentioned in my last post, I harvested arugula salad greens from my gardens. (I like to say "gardens" - in plural- makes it sound so posh and "oh la la" when it's really several small plots in our yard! haha). I also used some of our hydroponic tomatoes from our Grow-Op. (Hey Valerie, the hydroponic tomatoes are now done - we got a large yield of red tomatoes- I lost count but I'm guessing at least 50 tomatoes of different sizes, from about 7 plants. We won't be starting up more but waiting for our outdoor tomatoes to produce.)

Arugula & Lentil Salad Diptych

Something I really enjoyed, aside from the arugula leaves, is the lentils. I think it's such a great addition to a salad. Gives the salad a bit more oomph and a nice texture and taste with every bite.

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Arugula and Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese
serves 8-10

1/2 cup dried green lentils

3 tbsp white or red wine vinegar
3/4 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

6 cups arugula salad greens
4 small tomatoes, diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (3 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled

Cook the lentils in 1-1/2 cups water (or vegetable broth, if you prefer) for about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine vinegar and mustard. While whisking, slowly add in the olive oil until emulsified.

Arrange together arugula, tomatoes, red onion and lentils in a bowl. Drizzle the mustard dressing. Top with goat cheese. Serve.

Recipe adapted from: Arugula and Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese, Martha Stewart Living May 2010 Magazine

July 6, 2010

Arugula/Rocket Salad Greens

Rocket Salad Greens

You say Arugula, I say Rocket. Well, I say either really, especially once I learned they are in fact the same thing. Apparently, this salad green has many different aliases: Rugula, roquette and rucola. Clever really, because if someone tells you they don't like Arugula, you can serve them Rocket salad instead. HA!

I harvested these pretty leaves last week. You can easily distinguish their leaves, given their lobed appearance, very much like acorn leaves. They are quite meaty looking greens in comparison to some of their fellow green leaf varieties out there.

Rocket Salad Greens Diptych

Upon a sampling of a leaf in my garden, I was unsure if I was hooked on the flavor. It's quite a strong leafy-green flavor with a peppery bite. It actually felt like it packed some heat.

But, I tried it in a salad recipe (it will be up tomorrow) and I have to say, it's a hit around here. We've already planted another row in our garden. I love having fresh produce, right in my back yard!

July 2, 2010

Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge Squares

Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge

I have lots of recipes that I want to get around to trying. I either mentally file them away or physically clip out or earmark pages to sift through later.

This was one of them, however, I bumped it up in queue. When I saw it on Cookbook Cooks blog, I knew it was a done deal. I modified it but I'm sure the original recipe is equally good. I love peanut butter and I love chocolate. Any recipe with BOTH these ingredients perks my taste buds. AND, this was so easy in that you don't have to cook it. AND it has crunch with all the seeds it, which is something else I really like. I was in heaven.

Fantastic recipe but I think I had about half the fudge to myself. Oh gosh, how bad is that? Folks, next week will be the week of salads. I'm not kidding. I've been in a sugar coma here. Page a chef to redo my weekly menu! STAT!

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Peanut Butter and Honey Fudge Squares
makes 16 squares

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup liquid honey
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or nut of your choice)
1/2 cup raisins

Warm the peanut butter and honey together in a pan until homogeneous. Remove from heat and add cocoa powder. Mix until well blended.

Stir in sunflower and sesame seeds, coconut, nuts and raisins.

Press the mixture into a plastic wrap-lined a 9 x 9 cake pan. Chill for a couple of hours before slicing into squares.

Recipe adapted from: Amazingly delicious peanut butter and honey fudge from Cookbook Cooks
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