Cranberry Frozen Yogurt

Sometimes there are things I just can’t resist buying, even if I have no real need for them. Like those great suede boots that cover my knee. Or an iPad, which even though I haven’t actually bought it yet, I know it’s really just a matter of time before I give in. Or red quinoa even though I have a HUGE bag of the regular stuff from Costco at home. Or a bag of bright ruby red cranberries, even though I’m not making Thanksgiving.

Big or small, these aren’t always the most practical purchases, but they make me happy.

So even though I didn’t need the cranberries for anything particular, I wanted them just for fun. I had been thinking about making David Lebovitz’s frozen yogurt for a long time, and the thought of a cranberry-flavored frozen treat seemed just too fun to pass up. And luckily, I had my office’s pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving lunch potluck coming up. Perfect!

I followed his basic recipe but made changes to take into account that the tart flavor of the cranberries would need extra sweetener (he called for 1 lb fresh strawberries and 2/3 cup sugar; I used 12 oz fresh cranberries with 2/3 cup sugar plus maple syrup), and used 2% Greek yogurt because it’s so rich and creamy. I also cooked the cranberries with the sugar until it formed a thick syrup, then strained it to remove any pieces, and chilled the mixture before churning in my ice cream maker.

The result was a rich, creamy and slightly tart frozen yogurt that works perfectly as a palate cleanser, mid-afternoon treat or even as dessert for those who don’t prefer sweets.

Here’s the recipe:

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Oven Roasted Beet Chips & Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

I bought the most amazing striped beets at the farmer’s market last week but had a horrible time trying to decide what to do with them. I wanted to be sure to preserve the beautiful pattern, so boiling or pureeing the beets was out of the question, but I also didn’t want to eat them raw in a salad. Eventually, I decided the best option would be to make them into a chip that I could serve with a simple dipping sauce.

Obviously, the best way to make a crispy chip from a vegetable is to fry it in oil, but I was looking for a healthier option so I oven-roasted the beets instead. But of course this lead to a debate over the best way to roast beet slices. I tried many methods including boiling the beets with the skin on before slicing, peeling and roasting raw, roasting at 350°F, and roasting at a very low 225°F. However, I found the best results were to roast the beets raw at a moderate 325°F.

Beet Chips04 Beet Chips05 Beet Chips06

It turned out that boiling the beets, then peeling, slicing and roasting them didn’t do anything to speed up the cooking time and the colors bled a bit more. As for cooking temperatures, 350°F was a bit too high and caused some of the beet edges to char while the centers were still soft, and roasting at 225°F for a long period resulted in a chewy, dried-fruit consistency. Roasting at 325°F made for a perfectly crispy and crunchy chip that was cooked evenly.

Then, to serve the chips I whipped up a simple cumin yogurt dipping sauce using fat-free Greek yogurt, dried cumin, honey, lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered sumac. In the end, my little experiment turned into a healthy and refreshing snack.

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

Oven Roasted Beet Chips with Cumin Yogurt Dip

But did I mention that the beets brought a “friend” home with them? Uh, yeah. This little slug hid in the beets and somehow survived my refrigerator for more than a week. He was a hearty little bugger. Oh well, that’s the price you sometimes pay for buying local and organic, but produce of this quality is worth a little extra “protein” once in a while.

Here’s the recipe:

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal. Check. Yogurt. Check.

Sounds pretty healthy, right? There’s something about putting the word “oatmeal” in front of “cookie” that makes me think I’m getting a healthy treat. Sort of like how “apple pie” sounds healthier than “chocolate mousse pie.” While I won’t go so far as to call these oatmeal chocolate chip cookies healthy, they are darn tasty with a phenomenal texture and have less fat than traditional recipes.

The key is to use nonfat Greek yogurt in place of some of the butter. This tenderizes the cookies and adds a very subtle tang. But be sure to use Greek yogurt which is thicker than regular yogurt.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cream butter and sugars Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: add eggs and yogurt Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies: cookie batter

This recipe makes five dozen cookies that are best eaten the same day or frozen. In fact, I really like them just out of the freezer – cold, chewy and oddly refreshing.

The best part: you can eat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for breakfast! Okay, maybe that’s just me but they are that good.

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Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt

Peas. Mint. Yogurt.

I couldn’t get those three ingredients out of my head all weekend. I didn’t know how they got in there to begin with, all I knew was that I wanted – no NEEDED – to make something with them

Sure, I could have prepared some interesting pesto-type sauce or a dip, but I wanted something a bit simpler that wouldn’t require extra ingredients to enjoy my concoction. The result: Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt.

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: caramelized onions Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: simmer peas Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: puree soup

Essentially a simple puree of peas (either fresh or frozen work; I used a combination of both because that’s what I had) with mint and aromatics (yellow onion, garlic and ginger), this was a clean and refreshing soup finished nicely with a dollop of tangy Greek yogurt.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s bright green? No? Sorry about that, it should have been the first thing I said because I think the color makes the soup kind of fun.

Mint Pea Soup with Greek Yogurt: reheat puree and season

Here’s the recipe:

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Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

Lemon-Lavender Frozen Yogurt

The sun peaked out a bit and the temperature neared 70°F (gasp) today signaling that it was time for me to break out the ice cream maker. The poor thing has been patiently waiting in the freezer since last October.

By now it’s well-known that I have dairy issues and try to stay away from dairy-laden recipes (see Mint Chocolate Chip Soy Ice Cream). But every once in a while I throw caution to the wind, pop a few Lactaid, and live on the edge.

That brings us to today’s successful (and Friday’s failed) experiment of making a refreshingly tart frozen yogurt. My goal was to create a very simple recipe where you wouldn’t need to cook, puree, infuse, strain or chill anything.

Fresh lemon juice Infuse lavender in lemon juice Strain lemon-lavender juice

Well, let’s just say I came close and the cooking, straining and chilling are optional. Basically, I just couldn’t get the idea of light and refreshing lemon-lavender frozen yogurt out of my head.

I first tried making this with fat-free yogurt into which I mixed in mint extract, lemon juice, minced dried lavender and honey. It was a big fat failure. The mint overpowered all other flavors and the texture of the dried lavender was awful.

Today’s attempt was much better and still very simple. If you want to avoid those few extra steps then simply omit the lavender, but I think it adds a nice, fragrant touch and makes this frozen yogurt a bit more special.

Flavor yogurt with honey Pour yogurt mixture into ice cream maker Yogurt after 30 minutes churning

Also don’t be afraid to play with the flavors and sweeteners to fit your mood. Amounts don’t have to be exact either so long as you’re careful not to add too much liquid. Taste the mixture before pouring it into the ice cream maker and adjust the seasonings, just remember that cold subdues flavor so make the batter a bit stronger than you’d ideally like.

Here’s the recipe:

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