Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

Last weekend’s warm weather got me so excited to post this recipe, along with a sunny blog about how it feels like spring is just around the corner.

And then Snowpocalypse 3.0 happened.  Yeah, snow is pretty.  Yeah, I got a much needed day out of the office.  But I hate the cold.  And I hate the snow.  And this was all preceded by two days of walking around in a city-flavored slushy, while the heavens poured Slusho mix all over our heads.  Gross.

But I still made the yogurt, and ate every bit of it.  It’s yogurt, so it’s healthy, right?

The thing about frozen yogurt….Forget TCBY, and Häagen Dazs.  That stuff is just like ice cream, and if you’re eating frozen yogurt to replace ice cream, calorie-wise, it’s not gonna do the trick.  Check the carton.  Most store bought fro-yos have only 20-50 less calories than their non-dieting sisters.  It’s true.

And anyhow, frozen yogurt should not just be a heavy woman’s ice cream.  It’s a completely different tasting beast when done properly.  It should be tangy and not overly sweet, and invite a fruit (or granola!) accompaniment as though it were it’s long lost twin.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to try Pink Berry, you know what I’m talking about.  That stuff was a revelation.  A realization of all that stuff I just said. If you haven’t, making this frozen yogurt will be as close to a life-changing event as you’ll get in the kitchen.

Pomegranate Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

1 quart of Greek yogurt (roughly two cups) strained, or 1 quart of strained plain yogurt (NO FLAVORS – THIS IS IMPORTANT; however you may use whatever fat content you like.  I used low-fat because my store was out of non-fat at the time)

1/3 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp pomegranate jelly

Method

  • Whisk ingredients together and allow to cool for at least one hour.  This is important.  Skip this step and you will not achieve creamy frozen heaven.
  • Start ice cream maker and pour mixture in.  Let machine run for about 20-30 minutes.  With ice creams it will stop itself and you will hear a clicking noise.  This did not happen with the yogurt.
  • Once mixed, eat immediately for soft-serve consistency, or chill in freezer for up to 3 hours for one more ice-cream.

teeny mint leaves for a pretty garnish

This will refill the yogurt container to a little under half, if you’re storing for later snackage, but I’d be really surprised if it lasted that long.

If you want to mix in fresh pomegranate seeds, wait until the very end of the cycle and then toss them in.  I think that would be delicious, but I’m broke and can’t afford these things.  I also think a little lemon zest would be delicious and pretty.

Oh Fudge (Two Ways)

A word about Valentine’s day: I have always loved it, even when I have been single (it’s happened once or twice).  Here’s the big secret behind my enjoyment – I have a lot more love in my life to share with more than just a boyfriend, and I bet you do too.  I know we shouldn’t need an excuse to show loved ones how much we really love them, but let’s face it – sometimes we just do.  We can always do little things here and there (and I hope you do), but Valentine’s Day is really about extravagantly displaying exactly how much we love one another.  It’s an excuse to splurge, whether it’s on calories, or gifts, or time spent doing something.

That being said, each of the recipes I will be posting this week is a labor of love.  They are somewhat time consuming and some require lots of attention.  But while I was waiting for sugar to boil this weekend, I sat by my stove (closer than is probably safe) with a book, and glanced up every sentence or so to check the temperature.  And you know what?  I finished a 400 page book.  True story.  So get in the kitchen, make some fudge, and read that book that’s been sitting on your nightstand since Christmas.

just for you

Fudge Two Ways – Candied Ginger and Candied Bacon

I don’t want to go and reinforce gender stereotyping but one of these ways is decidedly more masculine than the other, I’ll let you decide which.

ALTON BROWN’S FUDGE RECIPE

Ingredients

2 3/4 cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

3 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing pan

1 cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped, candied ginger or bacon

Directions

  • Grease an 8 by 8-inch pan with butter.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, chocolate, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter, half-and-half, and corn syrup.
  • Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved and chocolate is melted. Increase heat and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and attach a candy thermometer to the pot.
  • Cook until the thermometer reads 234 degrees F. Remove from the heat and add the remaining butter. Do not stir.
  • Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes or until it drops to 130 degrees F. Add vanilla and one cup of other ingredient of your choosing, if desired, and mix until well-blended – AB says mix until the shiny texture becomes matte.  I did this and ended up crystallizing the fudge in the pan and having to melt it back down with a little more half and half.
  • Pour into the prepared pan.
  • Let sit in cool dry area until firm. Cut into 1-inch pieces and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Candied Ginger

Ingredients

Nonstick spray

1 pound fresh ginger root

5 cups water

Approximately 1 pound granulated sugar

Method

  • Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
  • Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices using a mandoline. Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.
  • Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar.
  • Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces.
  • Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack and use to top ginger snaps, sprinkled over ice cream or to sweeten coffee.

spicy, sweet, chewy

The Ginger Fudge

Crystallized ginger is very strong flavor-wise, especially when it’s homemade and super fresh.  The spiciness and flavor of the ginger didn’t come through as strongly as I would have liked and if I make this again, I will probably increase the candied ginger to 1 1/2 cups.  So if you’re borderline on ginger, this might be a good starting point.

Candied Salted Bacon – via TheKitchn

Yields:8-12 pieces (depending on package size)

1 package center cut bacon

3/4 cup light brown sugar
Kosher

salt to taste

Method

  • Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with parchment paper or silpat in preparation.
  • Place bacon on cookie sheet, making sure not to overlap any edges.
  • Lightly sprinkle each piece of bacon with brown sugar (1-1 1/2 tablespoons/each) and place cookie sheet in cold oven.
  • Set temperature to 350* and bake 20-25 minutes, keeping an extra careful eye on them starting at the 18 minute mark.
  • Remove from oven and place cookie sheet on wire rack. Sprinkle salt over bacon pieces. Enjoy!

salty, smoky, sweet

See the carmel colored pools around the bacon?  Well, it’s carmel.  And I’m not saying it’s delicious and you should eat all of it…but if you stuck your finger in there after it had cooled a bit and licked it up a few times, I would be in no position to judge you.  Just sayin.

The Bacon Fudge

If you’ve ever been eating a nice pancake breakfast, only to get syrup on your bacon and then not be totally ecstatic about not having to put extra syrup on your plate specifically for this reason – this fudge probably isn’t for you, but I strongly suggest branching out.  Try some syrup on your bacon or sausage and then decide whether or not you want to make the bacon fudge.  I have been putting syrup on my bacon and sausage links since before I can remember.

recipients will have to guess which is which

Granola

So I have a new kitchen obsession, and it’s granola.  I have never been able to find a granola in the store that I found was worth the money, not to mention the calories.  Oh yes, don’t be fooled.  That stuff in the fancy packaging has some serious sugar and packs a lot of calories into quite a small amount.

clumpy

Admittedly, this recipe is not as healthy as the last one I made.  But it is so much better.  I enjoyed the last one.  It was crunchy, nutty, not too sweet, and delicious by itself or with yogurt.  But this takes that and cranks the volume to 11.  Full disclosure, I had a really hard time sharing this with my neighbors.  I did, but it was an inner battle for me.  Also, while I was home I got a lot of compliments on the photography on here, but my neighbor Tim takes the photos you guys are oohing and aweing and drooling over.  His granola was much deserved.

Olive Oil Granola

Makes about 9 cups.

adapted from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/dining/151arex.html

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 C roughly chopped pecans

1 C pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

½ C slivered almonds

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tspish kosher salt

1/2 tspish ground cinnamon

1/2 tspish ground ginger

3/4 C chopped dried apricots

1 C dried cranberries

Method

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, pepitas, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

2. Allow to cool a bit and then break up the clumps to whatever consistency you like, then toss in the apricots and cranberries.

Resolution Friendly Peanut Butter Cookies

As much as I love being home, spending with family and old friends, it always comes as somewhat of a relief to return elsewhere.  The holidays are crazy for everyone, but especially those who have to travel during them.  A week home is often a marathon of drinking, baking, catching up, drinking, gift-wrapping, drinking, shopping, and drinking.  It’s exhausting and can wear a gal down.

I was fortunate enough to return home with something I picked up from an old friend (probably) and was bed ridden for a week.  Too sick to bake, too sick to work, and too sick to enjoy being back at my own place.  I was also too sick to do anything for New Year’s in New York, for the second year in a row.  I’ve never been a giant fan of New Year’s, but I would like to have at least one in New York that I don’t spend on the couch watching movies, asleep before midnight.

I’ve also never been much for resolutions.  Nobody really keeps them and they just make you feel bad about yourself.  Instead, I like to set small, reachable goals for myself throughout the course of the entire year.  This is especially helpful for avoiding crowded gyms.  However, I know a lot of people who do make resolutions, and they’re usually along the lines of ‘eat healthier’ and ‘exercise more.’  So folks, this one’s for you.

This recipe actually came about because my brother started dating a vegan, and I got to meet her over the holidays.  She’s a pretty cool chick, and I like the idea of cool chicks reading my blog and making my brother happy.  So without further ado, I present to you: no butter, no flour, no oil, no egg, no gluten, but still AMAZINGLY delicious, 4 step

Resolution-friendly Peanut Butter Cookies 18ish cookies

Adapted from http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/dessert/internet-sensation-the-noflour-nobutter-peanut-butter-cookies-revisited-080693

Ingredients

1 C peanut butter (see note)

3/4 C turbinado, or raw sugar

1/4 C brown sugar

Half a banana (if you’re not vegan and don’t like bananas, use 1 egg)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla

6 ingredients

Method

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees°F.

2. Mix all the ingredients up in a bowl.

3.Roll walnut-sized pieces into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Feel free to flatten slightly with a fork in a crisscross pattern, as is customary for peanut butter cookies. I forgot to do this, and it did not affect the taste.

dough!

4. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool before removing from baking sheet.

healthy cookie!

Note: Peanut butter comes in all kinds of configurations and the kind you choose will influence your outcome. Some peanut butters are very sweet, some have been hydrogenated, some have a whole lot more in them than peanuts! Then there is the chunky versus smooth debate. I used a natural smooth version that literally was just peanuts and salt.  If you use a peanut butter like Jif or Skippy, your cookies will be sweeter but your waste line will not.

Seriously, these cookies are too easy, too delicious, and too healthy to pass up.  Give them to someone on a diet as a helpful little gift.  It allows them a sweet treat without feeling too indulgent.

Also, since I was sick last week and did not post, I’m doing two this week.  Next up, another delicious granola!

Bacon Cups

I love being in Memphis for the holidays.  It’s not blistering cold, you don’t have to worry about snurricanes (usually), and it’s probably the only time where all my old friends are in town at the same time.

Over the years of playing catch-up during marathon drinking sessions, it has become a tradition of sorts to go to Monday Night Pint Night at the bar, then head to our friends Keith and Tessa’s house, where we usually get in the hot tub to further enhance the effects of alcohol and really ensure that everyone’s hangover will be ranked in the top 10 all time worst hangovers ever.

My brother and I have know this family since 7th grade, when they first moved to Memphis.  In high school, the brothers became very good friends, then the sisters toward the end of high school, now we consider them to be even closer than extended family.

Now of course we are very safe people and we sleep over at their house wherever there are extra pillows and blankets.  Their mother, a weaver of fine tapestries and all-around amazing woman, always makes this recipe.  It is the best thing ever to wake up after a long night of catching up to the smell and anticipation of bacon cups, no matter how bad your head hurts.  This is also the time when we get to catch up with their mom and behave like proper people, and it is something that I always treasure.  She is such a joy to talk with because of her continuously upbeat perspective and relentless joy for life.  Thanks Mrs. Weghorst for the amazing recipe and conversation.

Bacon Cups

Ingredients

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

1 package of cream cheese, room temperature

2 tbsp. milk

2 eggs

½ c shredded cheese

1 can of biscuits

Application

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray 10 regular-size muffin cups with non-stick spray.
  2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and gradually add milk and eggs, beating at low speed until well combined.  Stir in the shredded cheese.
  3. Separate the dough into ten biscuits, pressing one biscuit into each of the muffin cups, forming a slight rim.  Spoon egg and cheese mixture evenly into the cups.

    bottom layer of biscuit

  4. Top with bacon and bake 20-25 minutes, or until filling is set and edges are golden brown.

    just about ready to come out

  5. Enjoy!

    mmmm bacon cups

Mrs. Weghorst makes these in advance and then freezes them in a big container so they can be enjoyed whenever.  I like that idea, and plan on keeping this around my apartment as a quick tasty breakfast.  I made these the morning of Christmas Eve, so that when everyone woke up the next morning, all I would have to do is put them in the oven and that worked spectacularly.  They were a big hit, and I think these would be an excellent New Year’s Day meal as well.

Wyatt’s Granola

When I come home to Memphis I like to take advantage of my parents’ enormous kitchen (which is approximately the size of my entire apartment) and willingness to buy ingredients.

I originally intended to come home and bake up a storm – a buttery, flour-y, sugar-fueled storm.  Then I baked one batch of cupcakes (which is a whole ‘nother post) and became immensely frustrated when I realized how spoiled I have become from owning a stand mixer.  Hand mixers certainly serve a purpose in some applications, but not for cupcakes, frostings, or anything else that requires creaming tons of butter and sugar to light, fluffy cloud of happy.  So I’m opting for the easy way out – no special hardware required, and healthy upon request of a quite amazing young artist currently residing in the Chicago area, Wyatt Grant.  I suspect you will see him on the cover of Art News one day in the not too distant future.

My parent’s house is also pretty close to a pretty amazing ‘gourmet’ grocery store armed to the teeth with fancy pants food-stuffs.  I got most of the ingredients for this granola here, except for the Costco-sized bottle of honey and vegetable oil.  Generally I would say get whatever brand or quality level your budget allows, but for a recipe with so few ingredients, it really is more tasty when you have the good stuff.

the good stuff

Wyatt (Earp)’s Granola

Except for the stirring, this is a ridiculously easy recipe.  I suspect you could even forgo the 15 minute intervals and stirring while cooling if you prefer clumpy granola, which I do.  For anyone who prefers a lighter Christmas morning breakfast, this recipe is it!  Slightly sweet with a hint of cinnamon and a harmonious ratio of nuts to fruit, this granola is sure to be a crowd pleaser, or selfishly coveted over Greek style or plain yogurt.

Ingredients

4 c toasted whole grain cereal with raisins, dates, and almonds (such as Mueslix – I used some fancy pants organic brand from Fresh Market)

3 c old fashioned oats

1 c coarsely chopped walnuts

1 c sliced almonds

¾ c coarsely chopped hazelnuts

½ c honey

¼ c vegetable oil

1/3 c dried blueberries

1/3 c dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins, unless you’re shopping at Fresh Market)

1/3 c golden raisins

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ c turbinado (raw sugar)

Application

  1. Preheat oven to 275F.  Throw the cereal, oats, and nuts together and mix them up on a big sheet pan, preferably with sides.
  2. Put the honey and oil in a saucepan and bring it just to boiling; drizzle it over the soon-to-be delicious granola mixture and toss to coat as evenly as you can get it.  Stick this in the oven and bake until golden brown and dry, stirring about every 15 minutes.  It will be about an hour and a half, so there’s about 6 fifteen minute intervals.

    drizzled and ready for some oven lovin

  3. Remove from oven and scatter the dried fruit over the oats and sprinkle cinnamon and turbinado over the whole shebang.  If you think the sugar will be too sweet, feel free to omit it.  I sampled it pre-sugar and it wasn’t as sweet as I like, but I have a sweet tooth.

    dried things

    I could not believe how big the raisins were - that's my pinky. Seriously, get the good stuff for this recipe.

  4. Cool completely in pan, stirring occaisionally to prevent clumping…or, you know, not, fifteen minute intervals is kind of a lot.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but I doubt it will last that long.

    coolin off

    The great this about any granola recipe is that if you don’t like one of the ingredients, you simply swap it our for another you do like.  I would like to try this with dried cherries, pecans, apricots…the possibilities are really pretty endless.

Enjoy!

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