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two-ingredient strawberry “sorbet”

24 May

Ready for something cool, easy, cheap, and fairly healthy to kick off the summer? Well, here you go.

I thought I was going to make a smoothie for the kids, but then I discovered the easy way to strawberry sorbet! This is not super-sweet, but it’s sweet enough to be dessert for sure.

Ingredients:
* frozen strawberries (I’d estimate I used about three and a half cups, still frozen)
* 2 6-oz cups vanilla yogurt

Combine the strawberries and yogurt in the bowl of your food processor. If necessary, let the strawberries soften slightly (10 minutes or less) to make it easier to blend them. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

My kids also enjoyed the leftovers the next day; I let the sorbet thaw and it did, indeed, make a tasty cold drink. It was nice and thick like a strawberry smoothie.

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recipe: homemade applesauce

22 Feb

One of the most satisfying snacks–or desserts–is a bowl of warm homemade applesauce. I’m not a fan of regular applesauce (you know, the kind that’s thin and very regular in its texture?). But I like a chunky, very cinnamon-heavy warm applesauce.

This is a very easy recipe, and if you have any canning know-how, you can preserve this and stick it in the pantry. My kids eat lots of applesauce, and I like knowing what’s in it. If you make a smaller batch, just keep it in the refrigerator. (Actually, there’s also no reason you couldn’t freeze it.)

If you want to make a large batch to can or freeze, buy a half-bushel of apples. Otherwise, use as many as you think you’ll eat in a few days–a few pounds is enough for a small batch. Obviously, you’ll get the best apples and prices in the fall, but I’m making this today so I thought I’d post it.

As for the best kinds of apple for this dish, it’s up to you. A tart apple will produce a tart sauce, unless you add sugar/honey; I like to mix in at least some sweeter apples instead of adding sugar. My favorites for sauce are Jonagolds, Romes, Galas, and Cortlands. Mix together whatever kinds you like! My only observation here is that Granny Smith, which I like for eating raw, is too tart for many people’s taste in applesauce.

Ingredients:
Apples (as many as you want)
Cinnamon (as much as you want)

Peel, core, and chop the apples. I don’t get too carried away with this–even quartering the apples is really enough.

Put the apples in a large pot. Cook over medium heat until the apples are soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Mash them until they reach the texture you like. If you like very smooth sauce, you could use a blender or food processor to puree them instead, but be careful pureeing hot food.

Add cinnamon to taste. I really like cinnamon, so I use a lot, but it’s entirely a matter of preference. If you do want to add some sugar or honey, this is the time; I find that it isn’t necessary at all.

If you want to can the applesauce, fill your canning jars and process them in a hot-water bath. My canning book recommends 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts, but I suggest that you consult the most recent recommendations to assure best food safety.

This sauce also makes an excellent filling for apple turnovers, if you’re feeling decadent. If you cooked slices of apple and didn’t mash them, you could use this process to make pie filling that would be a lot less sugary than most recipes.

the fix: dessert

8 May

Okay, so usually I don’t advocate dessert–because I’d much rather indulge in salty excesses if I’m going to be excessive. But here’s the best thing I know of, if you want something really, truly indulgent without doing permanent blood-sugar damage: homemade whipped cream, fruit, and chocolate.

You will need: fruit of your choice (strawberries are traditional and delicious! but whatever kind of fruit you like that goes well with whipped cream will work); whipping cream; and your favorite variety of chocolate (the darker the better).

If you want to burn some of the calories you’re about to eat, whip the cream by hand: chill it until very cold. If you have room in the fridge/freezer, chill the bowl and the whisk, too. Your bowl should be glass or metal, not plastic–in my experience, plastic doesn’t stay cold and that makes it harder to whip the cream. Pour in a little cream per person. It expands a LOT, so don’t use too much, and use a BIG bowl. Then, whip with a whisk. Just when you think it’s not going to whip, you’ll start to see it changing–it’ll gain volume, become frothy, and then, it’ll turn into whipped cream!

Once it’s whipped to a good volume, add in a splash of vanilla extract. Then, taste the whipped cream and add a bit of powdered sugar. Whip. Taste. Repeat. I find that, because the cream is so rich and the vanilla gives it some perceived sweetness, it doesn’t take much sugar, which is part of the reason that making your own whipped cream is better for you than getting it at a restaurant or from a carton. This is not health food, for sure, but when it comes to satisfaction per calorie, this is pretty darn good. (Sure, Cool Whip Lite is low in calories; however, it’s not that good, and I don’t trust it…since I don’t recognize most of those ingredients!)

Put the whipped cream into the fridge while you assemble your fruit on a pretty tray or bowl. Arrange your chocolate on the plate, too–and take my advice: decide how much of it you’re going to eat and PUT THE REST AWAY. At least for me, the whipped cream is an invitation to overeat chocolate.

Then, put your whipped cream into a lovely bowl, sit down–possibly with your grateful honey–and enjoy!