HOMEMADE PINKBERRY FROZEN YOGURT

Yields: 4 servings
INGREDIENTS
For the frozen yogurt:
  • 3 cups non-fat or reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
For serving:
  • assorted chopped fresh fruit (or your favorite froyo toppings)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
  2. Whisk all frozen yogurt ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and churn until frozen. (This takes about 15 minutes in mine.)
  3. Scoop immediately for soft-serve (delicious!) or store in a covered container in the freezer. My preference is to place in the freezer for 30-60 minutes before serving to harden the yogurt up just a bit and ensure that it doesn’t melt immediately. Top with fresh fruit and enjoy!

Skinny Mint Chocolate Milkshakes

 

Thick & creamy mint chocolate milkshakes without all the calories and fat. Only 5 simple ingredients! Add chocolate protein powder and/or a handful of spinach if you like…so many ways to tweak it.

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 1 large frozen very ripe bananas, peeled & sliced
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Directions:

  1. Make sure you have a strong, powerful blender that will blend up the frozen banana.
  2. Add all of the ingredients to the blender, in the order listed, and blend until thick, creamy, and smooth – about 3 minutes.

Additional Notes:

  1. The milk can be any milk you like: skim, 1%, 2%, almond, soy, coconut.
  2. The yogurt can be any yogurt you like: vanilla Greek yogurt, plain Greek yogurt, plain yogurt, vanilla yogurt. Non-fat or low fat. Same for milk, of course.
  3. Add more milk to thin it out. You can always add more peppermint extract and/or cocoa powder for a stronger minty and/or chocolate taste.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

I’ve been making this single-serving of a crazy flavorful, low-fat, high protein smoothie for myself and double it if Christian is home.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (I sometimes skip this and just make it PB&B.)
  • 1/2 cup non-fat, plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Splenda, honey, maple syrup, or agave…whatever sweetener you like. (I actually stopped adding Splenda as an overripe banana is plenty sweet for us.)
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter (Any kind you like but we prefer all natural, i.e., the only ingredient listed is peanuts.)

Directions:

  1. Make sure you have a strong, powerful blender that will blend up the frozen banana.
  2. Put all of the ingredients into the blender, in the order listed, and blend on high until thick and smooth.
  3. Drizzle glass with 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup (optional) and enjoy!

Additional Notes:

If you prefer a less sweet smoothie, you can leave out the honey. Add more peanut butter for a stronger peanut butter taste. Add more milk to make the smoothie thinner, if desired. Add 1 cup of your favorite greens for added nutrition. So many ways to play around with this simple smoothie!

Baked Tilapia in a Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

I’ve never been much of a fish eater (except that one time in college!) but lately I’ve been eating more fish tacos, tuna, catfish and tilapia than all my years of life combined. Note, they’re all mild flavored fish. I still can’t stand the smell and taste of fishy fish and tilapia is about as mild as they come. IMG_2396

This recipe serves two and takes 20 minutes, tops, from the fridge to your belly.

INGREDIENTS:
2 tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons melted butter (I use Land O Lakes Light Butter for an even healthier dish)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Garlic salt
Capers
Oregano

DIRECTIONS:
– Place tilapia in an ungreased baking pan. I line my pan with foil to avoid cleanup.
– Combine the butter & lemon juice and pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and garlic salt to taste. Throw on minced garlic or powder if you want more garlic flavor.
– Bake uncovered at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. I always go for the full 15 minutes because I don’t want to see the fish again anytime soon, ifyaknowwhatImean.

Bam. That’s it. Seriously. That’s it.

In this photo, I’ve paired it with roasted asparagus, onions and cherry tomatoes drizzled with lemon juice and a dusting of parmesan cheese. Ignore the pink, flowery plate. They were left by the previous owners and we never bothered buying dishes of our own.

Sugar is the Devil & I’m Possessed!

Time for an exorcism! Christian and I are five days into a two week detox from the devilish temptation of all things sweet. Happily, it hasn’t been too hard. This is much in part because eight years ago we adopted a pretty much sugar free, non/low-fat, whole grain life following the South Beach Diet. Christian lost 80 pounds and has kept it off for all these years.

I hesitated even mentioning the SBD because it seems like a fad. But really it’s just the normal way all of us should eat and live. The only “fad” part is Phase 1, the toughest part, which lasts two weeks. This PDF, South Beach Diet Food List, lays it out. Really, two weeks of a life is a blip. Buck up, buttercup.

This last year (or two?) he and I have gotten lazy. Him due to injuries and me due to visiting all the hotel bars and restaurants this great nation has to offer while on tour. I blame you, Wisconsin! If I were still exercising regularly, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue but travel + me = sloth. The promise of sleeping with blackout curtains in a strange bed and day drinking in a new city never motivates me to pack running shoes.

The fact that this detox is so much easier this time around tells me we’re not as addicted to bad food. Eight years ago there was a lot of cursing, raised voices and irrational anger. Back then we used to eat pizza and pasta made from white flour, full fat dairy and tons of sugar laden drinks and desserts.

So far, I’ve had zero cravings and one headache. Christian has craved a beer — normal, since his “office” has a bar and free drinks– and he’s had a few brain farts. For example, I asked him to grab a roll of paper towels. He froze. He started toward the hall closet then froze again. He couldn’t remember where we kept them. We keep them in the same place we’ve always kept them in this apartment we’ve lived in for NINE years.

Funny & scary what bad food does to our brains. Which brings me to my point: If you are looking to change your eating habits, I’d recommend following this plan. I’m not paid to say so, but Christian should seriously be their spokesperson. So call us, South Beach Diet marketing team!

Edible and Audible Jambalaya

Jambalaya and Crawfish Pie and Fillet Gumbo! Ahhh, Hank Williams, Jr. and a pot o’ jambalaya are making me happy tonight. When folks think of jambalaya and other Cajun delights, they don’t usually think of some girl in the sticks of Texas. But before we moved into the shed on Boars Head we rented a house along a bayou in Houston.

Many an afternoon was spent trawling the bayou in search of crawdads. You wouldn’t have caught me *eating* one back then, but who doesn’t love to pull up a net and see a good catch o’ the day? We could sell those suckers, too! Throw in a pitcher of fresh Kool-Aid & crawdad stands could yield a pretty penny.

Thanks to this recipe from the Food Network, I was able to enjoy a taste of home. It’s an easy and yummy recipe with just a little bit of kick. Swap out white rice for whole grain without sacrificing a lot of taste and you’ve got a healthier dish. Throw in some more cajun seasoning and/or Tobasco sauce for a little extra spice.

This yields a lot at 2.5 pounds of meat plus all the fixings. The site said 4 servings but I don’t know what kind of monster chained in the basement they’re feeding. I’d say this should yield about 8 bowls.

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound andouille sausage, diced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, choppedJambalaya 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

For later:
1 pound frozen peeled and cooked shrimp, thawed

And even later:
2 cups cooked rice

Directions
Throw everything except the shrimp and rice in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 7 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours. Stir in the thawed shrimp, cover and cook until the shrimp is heated through. That should only be about 5 minutes, but I cooked for another hour because I once got food poisoning from shrimp. Once. Discard bay leaves and spoon mixture over cooked rice.

Bon appétit, mon chérie!

Zipzicle Review & Give-Away

Here at the Crews-Finnegan abode, we’re a mostly sugar-free household, so I’m always on the lookout for ways to make snacks that also satisfy the sweet tooth. Entrez le Zipzicle!

These nifty little plastic pouches can be used to make healthy, all natural, sugar free ice pops & other frozen treats. But let’s be honest, the way I found out about them was for boozing. My niece (Technically, my ex-niece-in-law but who’s counting and how annoying is that to type out?) posted on Facebook about how she was enjoying some potent margarita ice pops. I babysat this chick and she’s having all the fun? Nuh uh. This will not stand.

I decided to make my own. But how? A quick Google search led me to find Zipzicles. I can make my own boozy ice pops AND healthy snacks? Sign me up! I can’t even stand how clever they are.

Margarita PopsI’ve actually tried making healthy, non-boozy popsicles before using plastic popsicle makers but they always crack (see photo of my 3rd & final popsicle making contraption below), take up cabinet space & the pops themselves are too big. I’m usually sick of eating it before I’m 1/2 way done & waste a lot. So, I was excited to have another way to make all the recipes I have saved in my kitchen drawer. The Zipzicle site has a short list of recipes to try, too, but a simple search for popsicle recipes yields a ton more.

So far, I’ve made & enjoyed frozen margaritas (interesting that they didn’t freeze 100%…I guess tequila has a different freeze point?) and tangy blueberry pops, both pictured below and both worthy of making again.

Next up we’re going to make Orange Dreamzicles, Strawberry Shortcake Greek Yogurt pops, and Fudgesicles. Lord knows we’ve eaten our way through enough store-bought Fudgesicles to make a hut made of leftover sticks.

The only improvement I would make to the design is to have a tad more plastic above the zip so our fat fingers can open them a little easier. That’s nitpicking, though, because they are nifty little suckers. Best part? After eating half of the tangy blueberry pop, I was done. Rather than have to pitch the rest, I simply zipped it back up and put in the freezer to eat later. I was able to rinse out and reuse all the Zipzicles twice now, so the $2.99 price for 12 packets ends up going a long way.

The kind folks at Zipzicle are giving away a package of 12 to three lucky winners! Enter to win below. I know you’ll love them, too!

P.S. No compensation was received for this post. I received a complimentary package of Zipzicles for my review and they are providing the three packages for the giveaway.

A Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Spicy Brown Mustard

Soaking SeedsSoaking Seeds

To make mustard, all you REALLY need is mustard seeds and vinegar. Who knew?

Soak overnight in non-reactive, airtight container at room temperature. Pictured at right, you can see how the seeds are at the bottom and much of the vinegar is pooled on top. Then, after a day, how the vinegar is almost entirely soaked up by the seeds.

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown mustard seeds

Put your seeds and vinegar into a blender and pulse till blended. Anything else is optional. I added:

  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (or water if you’re teetotaler or whatever they call it)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
Let your blended mustard age another day or two for best results. The recipe as above filled a 16 0z Bell Jar.
For spicier mustard, adding horseradish is an option. For less spicy mustard, go with a lighter color mustard seed.

Ready to Blend Mustard!

Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice Cream

Sopaipillas & FlagIn high school, I studied Spanish for two years under the tutelage of Mrs. Spooner. One assignment required us to make a Mexican dish of our choosing. I elected sopapillas because, A) I loved them, and B) I knew I could get them at Pancho’s at their freakishly cheap “all you care to eat” buffet. After chowing down, I could simply raise the Mexican flag at my table, request additional sopaipillas from my server, stuff  them in my purse, repeat a few more times and still be home in time for Moonlighting.

“What’s a sopaipilla?” some of you might be wondering. It’s deep-fried pastry that can be used in all sorts of dishes, but is primarily served as a dessert served in the shape of a puffed up little pillow and served with honey. We would tear off a corner, pour a little honey in the hole, swirl it around and mmm, mmm, GOOD!

I have never seen them anywhere in the Midwest or Northeast (though I’m sure I’ll hear from someone telling me where they serve them around these parts). The one time I did order them from a menu at a New York restaurant, they were not sopaipillas. They were hard & crunchy like cinnamon pita chips. That was my first and last attempt since 1991.

Now that we have the Rock House, I’ve enjoyed cooking, baking, making, trying all sorts of things. So when I came across this sopaipilla recipe in In Style magazine, I clipped it. It’s been sitting in a drawer ever since. I mean, it looks delicious. But it also looks like a messy hassle. Look at the list of ingredients and all those steps in the instructions. Frying, too? Messy & bad for me and…ah, forget it.

Fast forward to today when I came across the recipe stuck in a drawer. “Hey, wait a second? Isn’t a sopaipilla basically just puffed pastry?!”

PUFFED PASTRY! AKA my new BFF and answer to all the world’s ills. Since discovering it a few months ago (Like I’m Chris Columbus or something. Heh. You’re welcome for The Americas, BTW!), I’ve used it for pot pies, egg soufflés, desserts, tarts, pizzas, you name it. If it came in queen-sized sheets, I would sleep with it like a down comforter. That’s how versatile and easy it is. How easy? I’M GONNA EAT IT LIKE A SOPAIPILLA!

If you don’t make your own dough, this is the hardest part: Bake the puff pastry, drizzle it with honey. DONE! Screw you Bobby Flay & your stupid, messy recipe!

Now, technically, that’s all a sopaipilla is, but I fancied it up a bit because when you get old the things that excited you when you were young only make you feel hopeless and empty and search for meaning in life. So I spiced it up a bit with sugar & cinnamon (which is how many folks eat their fritters & sopaipillas anyway. This was my first time.)

Sugar & Spice

INGREDIENTS:
1/3 of one sheet of Pepperidge Farm’s Puff Pastry Sheet (they owe me a % of profits based on how much I’ve been pimping them out!)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tspn ground cinnamon
Honey
Vanilla or Caramel Ice Cream (Because screw it. WHY NOT?! It’s my mom’s birthday! {Or whatever excuse you need to justify this delicious decision.})

Heat the oven to 400°F.  Cut the pastry sheet into 4 squares & bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Place the sugar and cinnamon into a paper or plastic baggy and shake to combine.

Add the hot pastries to the bag and shake until coated with the sugar mixture. Drizzle the pastries with the honey or, if you have a squeeze bottle of honey, let the diners tear off a corner and squeeze away themselves. Serve yourself first, though, because they’re best hot and you deserve the best.

Add a dollop of ice cream to the plate and you have what I call Sugar & Spice and everything Nice Cream.

Dunking in Sugar & Spice Waiting for Pastry Bon Appetit!