90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream” (In Minutes, No Ice Cream Maker)

(Becky, the Mama)

I have no idea if you’ve noticed this, as I have, but it is HOT out there.

The thing is, Colorado can very tricky when it comes to heat.  In Texas or Alabama, it is equally as miserable in the shade as it is in the sun. But in Denver, if you walk out under the awning to, say, contemplate taking a little walk, you will be deceived into thinking, “What a nice day it is, with such pleasant temperatures!”  Because of the dry climate,  it is easy to experience this false sense of breeziness when standing in shade, unaware that if you leave covered shelter you could instantly be fried like an ant under a magnifying glass..

So off you may go on a walk, if you are like me and so naive you are still trying to figure out jokes you didn’t get in the 7th grade

But what you will find, as I found today on my walk-about, is that the sun in our great state is actually a giant heating lamp and because we live at high altitude, this means that it hovers about five inches above your head.   By the time I’d walked about twenty minutes, the sun had risen to high noon, and I was still a mile away from my air-conditioned home on a stroll-turned-death march.

Greg and I once dog-sat an pudgy old beagle who, when we took him for a walk, would park himself under every shade tree, lie down and refuse to budge unless we carried him. This was me today, only with no one to carry me, I had to do my own trudging from tree to tree.  By the time I got home I was exhausted, sweaty and crying.

There is a picture of a lean mean woman athlete that is going around on Pinterest. The caption under her says:”Sweat is fat crying.”

May it be known, far and wide, that I do not want my fat to cry.  Ever, ever again.

At age 53, I had to admit to myself and my husband that I will never be the Summer Olympic Champion of anything except cooking and napping. I will continue to walk, for my health, but it will be in an air-conditioned gym or mall.  I will reserve the Great Outdoors as my place to sit and sip a cold drink or eat ice cream under a nice big umbrella, the way God intended girls like me to enjoy nature.

I am open, however, to eating a healthier form of ice cream under the shade. Which is what brings us to today’s recipe: an ice cream you can spin up in your food processor in minutes that is 90% (maybe more!) fruit.  I went a little crazy with this recipe  once I discovered how delicious it is and easy to make, trying a new flavor every night for several evenings in a row, beginning with Sweet Black Cherry:

Sweet Black Cherry “Ice Cream”

Followed by Blueberry:

Which inspired Peach:

Then strawberry with a little chocolate syrup:

The basic recipe can be adjusted and played with dozens of ways.   My daughter Rachel inspired this dish when she made me a bowl of soft serve out of frozen bananas in her food processor.  It was amazing. (See her recipe for vegan  Mint Chocolate Pistachio Blizzard.)  The texture was just like that of soft serve ice cream or yogurt. I wondered if it could be done with other frozen fruits and sure enough, it worked!

I’ve only just begun to have fun with this recipe and want to hear what combinations YOU come up with as well.

90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream”

Basic Recipe to Serve Two to Three 

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups frozen fruit

¼ cup of yogurt or almond milk or juice (really, any liquid you like)

1 t. vanilla or any extract you desire (zest of lemon or lime or orange can also be used)

Pinch salt

2 – 4 T. sugar or agave nectar or any other sweetener of your choice, to taste ( I like half organic sugar and half agave. )

Any “stir-ins” you may like such as chopped nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, peanut butter, etc.

Directions:

Put all ingredients into a good  food processor. Begin to pulse it,  scraping as you go.  Once the fruit is starting to pulverize, let the processor run several seconds as it works to turn the frozen fruit into a creamy texture. You will have to pause, and scrape the sides of the food processor a few times and you may have to add a bit more liquid.  Repeat this until you have a nice soft-serve fruit-based ice cream.

Fruit will gradually get from chunky to pea-sized bits, and with patience and scrapping down the sides, turn into a smooth soft-serve ice cream.

It takes a little patience.  You can put the whole thing in the freezer for about 5 minutes to firm it up a bit more, or serve as is, right away.  Add any stir-ins you might want, if you want them,  or any toppings.

Enjoy! And if you come up with an especially yummy creative combo,  do drop us a comment and share.

Variations:

Aside from the flavors pictured above, you might want to try:

Bananas and chocolate syrup

Bananas with rum flavoring and a stir-in of plumped raisins

Pineapple with coconut milk

Mango with orange juice

Cherries with almond flavoring and chopped nuts

Frozen apples with cinnamon

Kiwi and watermelon with green tea

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: 90% Fruit Soft Serve “Ice Cream”
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-zQ
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

I love a great variety of foods for lunch and dinner, but for some reason I get stuck on one breakfast and can’t let go.  Maybe I’m such a one-note breakfast wonder because, as a general rule,  I can’t put two coherent thoughts together before 10:00 A.M.  Last year’s breakfast was coffee with a side of a few raw almonds and dried cherries.   Then I’d have an additional snack of PBJ toast as soon as my pre-frontal cortex came online enough to trust myself with a toaster and a knife.

Lately, I have been on a salted caramel banana nut smoothie  kick for breakfast,  a recipe I invented and posted about a month ago,  and have made every day since.  Sometimes I shake things up by subbing ½ cup of coffee for ½ of the almond milk.  So I was lying in bed the other night thinking of my new love for things salty caramely, fruity and sweet when I literally sat up, struck with a food idea. I grabbed a pen, turned on the bedside lamp and wrote down “pretzels,” “peaches,” “caramel” and “ice cream.”  I could taste the combination in my imagination: the salty, the sweet, the warm caramel, the cold ice cream.  I went to sleep dreaming of the perfect peach sundae.

Sure enough, my imagination proved accurate.  I love this sundae, perhaps a bit too much.

It is taking a lot of will power not to make it my new daily breakfast.

Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae

Makes Two Servings

Ingredients

1 T. butter (Earth Balance for Vegans)

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup half n half or cream (Vegans use coconut milk. You can also use evaporated skim milk or even plain dairy or almond milk, though the sauce won’t be quite as rich, it will definitely save some calories. )

2 fresh ripe peaches, peeled and sliced (I used sweet white peaches)

2 scoops vanilla ice cream (I used vanilla frozen yogurt; vegans will want a non-dairy vanilla – there are many wonderful varieties. Or try Rachel’s vegan soft serve recipe — it would be awesome with this.)

½ cup chopped pretzels (Just start with a nice big handful of pretzels… it will yield approximately 1/2 cup of chopped pretzels.)

¼ cup chopped salted nuts (I used salted roasted cashews, starting with 1/3 cup whole nuts)

Directions

To make quick caramel sauce, melt butter in small saucepan, then add brown sugar and cream or half-n-half.  Stir and simmer until sugar has melted and smooth syrupy sauce forms.  It doesn’t take long, just a minute or two. Take off heat and let cool.

Caramel sauce bubbling away in the skillet

In a blender or food processor, chop pretzels and nuts together, until they are the size you want for sprinkling on top of the sundaes.

Chopped pretzels and nuts for topping

Into each of two pretty dessert bowls put 1 sliced, peel, chopped peach. Place a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of this (or two small scoops as pictured).

Ladle one tablespoon of warm caramel on top of each sundae.  Sprinkle each dessert with a tablespoon or two (your preference) of the pretzel nut mixture.  Top this with one more spoon full of caramel.  (This assures that the nuts and pretzels are sufficiently surrounded and coated with caramel.)

Serve, dig in, smile.

Variations: Try bananas, pineapple or strawberries or other fruit. Try other flavors of ice cream or Rachel’s vegan soft serve recipe. I think a combo of strawberries and cheesecake or white chocolate ice cream would be heavenly.  You can also skip making your own caramel sauce and use a bottled variety of your choice.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Peaches & Pretzels Caramel Sundae
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-vj
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Blueberry, Feta)

Red, White & Blueberry Salad

(From Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

Update: Looking for a summer vacation beach read?  How about a memoir that will make you laugh, inspire you,  and give you some great ideas for cooking for friends and loved ones? Check out our book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook!

I’m going to post this recipe early– for  tonight and in the morning, again, to give everyone time to scoot to the store — if needed — and haul back the ingredients for this simple, amazing, knock-out Red, White and Blueberry Watermelon Salad. Because if you put it together for your 4th of July Celebration, you will be crowned the Queen Cook of Independence Day.  And I would not want you to miss that honor.

Last week I had a little minor surgery (although  it is only really “minor” when if it is happening to someone else)  and to my delight, my friend Lindsey O’Connor brought over a feast so good I’d almost go under the knife again to repeat the meal. It included grilled chicken, humus, homemade tzatziki sauce,  pita chips, Naan bread and a gorgeous watermelon-mint-feta salad.  I’m sharing my 4th of July version of her watermelon salad today, but she promises me the original recipes for the rest of the meal soon! (Which I will share with you.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Red, White & Blueberry Salad
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-uB
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

I love to bring meals to my friends who have been ill or had a new baby. Truly pure joy.  As opposed to,  say, helping someone move or dog sit for them.  When I plan to bring a meal to someone, I usually start cooking in the mid-afternoon and just double whatever Greg and I are having for dinner.  I have a cabinet where I save disposable containers for this purpose, and a system where I wrap the hot stuff in a big towel and put it in one box, the cold stuff (with a bag of ice if needed) in another box and off Greg and I go to deliver some love disguised as a good meal.

I am so rarely sick, and my youngest baby is in his mid-twenties; so I had forgotten what a pampered, soothing experience it is to enjoy a great meal that has been lovingly home-made and delivered.  Somewhere around midnight I got up, padded to the fridge, and finished every last bite of Lindsey’s cold crisp sweet-salty watermelon salad before going back to bed. With each bite, I thought of Lindsey with gratitude.  It is true that  food, made with love, somehow tastes better.

So if you don’t make this salad for July 4,  save it in your recipe file under “Great Dish to Bring to a Friend in Need.”  It’s easy,  nutritious, beautiful and delicious.

Becky’s Red, White and Blueberry Salad

Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry)

Ingredients

2 cups diced watermelon (about the size of dice)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 T. crumbled feta cheese

1 T. fresh lime juice

Dash sea salt

2 t. chopped fresh mint

2 t. honey or agave nectar

Directions

In a glass bowl, layer the watermelon, blueberries and feta, in that order.  Just before serving add the rest of the ingredients and toss very gently again. Serve.  Note:  If you are using frozen blueberries this dish is best served just a few minutes after the berries start to thaw, so they are still a little bit icy and hold their shape. In fact, I would just toss the frozen blueberries in last, and they should be ready for eating by the time people serve themselves and sit down to eat.


Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Blueberry, Feta)

Red, White & Blueberry Salad

(From Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

I’m going to post this recipe early– for  tonight and in the morning, again, to give everyone time to scoot to the store — if needed — and haul back the ingredients for this simple, amazing, knock-out Red, White and Blueberry Watermelon Salad. Because if you put it together for your 4th of July Celebration, you will be crowned the Queen Cook of Independence Day.  And I would not want you to miss that honor.

Last week I had a little minor surgery (although  it is only really “minor” when if it is happening to someone else)  and to my delight, my friend Lindsey O’Connor brought over a feast so good I’d almost go under the knife again to repeat the meal. It included grilled chicken, humus, homemade tzatziki sauce,  pita chips, Naan bread and a gorgeous watermelon-mint-feta salad.  I’m sharing my 4th of July version of her watermelon salad today, but she promises me the original recipes for the rest of the meal soon! (Which I will share with you.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Red, White & Blueberry Salad
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-uB
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved

I love to bring meals to my friends who have been ill or had a new baby. Truly pure joy.  As opposed to,  say, helping someone move or dog sit for them.  When I plan to bring a meal to someone, I usually start cooking in the mid-afternoon and just double whatever Greg and I are having for dinner.  I have a cabinet where I save disposable containers for this purpose, and a system where I wrap the hot stuff in a big towel and put it in one box, the cold stuff (with a bag of ice if needed) in another box and off Greg and I go to deliver some love disguised as a good meal.

I am so rarely sick, and my youngest baby is in his mid-twenties; so I had forgotten what a pampered, soothing experience it is to enjoy a great meal that has been lovingly home-made and delivered.  Somewhere around midnight I got up, padded to the fridge, and finished every last bite of Lindsey’s cold crisp sweet-salty watermelon salad before going back to bed. With each bite, I thought of Lindsey with gratitude.  It is true that  food, made with love, somehow tastes better.

So if you don’t make this salad for July 4,  save it in your recipe file under “Great Dish to Bring to a Friend in Need.”  It’s easy,  nutritious, beautiful and delicious.

Becky’s Red, White and Blueberry Salad

Red, White & Blueberry Salad (Watermelon, Feta and Blueberry)

Ingredients

2 cups diced watermelon (about the size of dice)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

2 T. crumbled feta cheese

1 T. fresh lime juice

Dash sea salt

2 t. chopped fresh mint

2 t. honey or agave nectar

Directions

In a glass bowl, layer the watermelon, blueberries and feta, in that order.  Just before serving add the rest of the ingredients and toss very gently again. Serve.  Note:  If you are using frozen blueberries this dish is best served just a few minutes after the berries start to thaw, so they are still a little bit icy and hold their shape. In fact, I would just toss the frozen blueberries in last, and they should be ready for eating by the time people serve themselves and sit down to eat.


Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad

Melon, agave, and a tiny hint of cayenne take this ordinary tomato and cucumber salad to extraordinary with a burst of flavor. It’s sweet, spicy, and refreshing. Surprise your friends with this unique summer salad at the next barbeque.

Whatever it is that makes pregnant women crave weird things, I’m pretty sure I have it all the time. As I’m trying to eat everything in my refrigerator before vacation (this is counteracting my plan to get in shape for the beach, by the way), I keep finding myself pairing the oddest things.

Oreo cookies, cream filling removed and replaced with peanut butter and banana.

A baked sweet potato doused in hot sauce for breakfast.

Crackers dipped in tomato paste and hummus.

Sometimes I question my authority to co-write a food blog. I mean seriously, how can you trust the palate of someone who removes the filling from their Oreos?

However, sometimes my weird cravings create something truly delicious. When I took a bite of this salad with crisp cucumbers, bright tomatoes, sweet cantaloupe, red onion, and an agave and cayenne vinaigrette, I was in love. It’s an odd combination of fruits and veggies, of spicy and sweet, but it works I tell ya, it really works.

It would brighten up and bring a perfect balance of acidity and flavor to grilled tofu or chicken for a healthy summer dinner. It would also be a great side dish for Fourth of July parties, no refrigeration needed for at least a few hours.

Just be prepared to answer the questions, “How did you come up with this combination? Are you pregnant?”

Rachel’s Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad

Serves 6-8 side portions

Ingredients

2 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 c. cucumber, chopped
1 . red onion, diced
2 c. canteloupe or other melon (watermelon and honeydew would both work), chopped

Vinaigrette
3 T. rice vinegar
3 T. agave
3 t. salt
3 t. crushed black pepper
1 t. cayenne

Directions

Mix vinaigrette ingredients and toss with chopped fruit and veggies. Serve.

It’s that easy!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Kickin’ Melon Cucumber Salad
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-rI
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”  Tenneva Jordan

I’ve always loved the above quote with its sentimental statement about the selfless love of mothers.  But, to be perfectly honest, I am the type of mother who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly bakes another pie so she can have at least two pieces for herself.

I’m not proud of this, but it is sadly true.  In fact, I did it yesterday.

Let me explain. I made a beautiful blueberry pie, Greg’s favorite, for Father’s Day dinner.  I honestly thought the family had eaten the whole thing.

But yesterday while my husband was away on errands, I woke from a nap feeling suddenly famished. Scrounging around in the fridge I discovered – a ha! – one leftover piece of blueberry pie!  I immediately said to myself, “Now, that is Greg’s favorite pie.  Don’t you want to save that one last piece for your him?”  But my Self completely ignored “I” and ate the pie.  It was delicious.

Then the guilt set in. Thankfully, I had exactly four cups of blueberries left, and an extra two rolls of Pillsbury pie crust.  Before Greg returned, a new pie was in the oven and I looked like a culinary hero, making him TWO pies in two days. That is, until he pressed the issue asking, “So there wasn’t even a single slice of pie leftover from Father’s day, eh?”  I started to lie, but could not do it.  I ‘fessed up, and he gave me a pious “just as I thought” look before taking a bite of warm blueberries wrapped in flaky pastry.

Alas, we humans like to think we are better people than we are.  But I would not trust even the likes of Mother Teresa to avoid the temptation of the last piece of this sumptuous blueberry pie with just the right twist of lemon. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and I doubt even the Pope could resist.

Let me just add this: if you have to make a pie in a hurry to assuage any sort of guilt, I know of no pie as fast and easy to throw together as blueberry pie.  No fruit to cut, you just toss those berries in a bowl, add a few ingredients, dump it into the crust.  Feel free to make your own crust, but if you only have a few minutes to cover your tracks, I’d reach for the Pillsbury refrigerated versions!

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Serves Six

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

4 c. fresh blueberries  (frozen will work as well but fresh tastes better to me if they are in season, as they are right now)
1 1/4 c. sugar

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. fresh lemon zest

1/4 t. salt

4 T. cornstarch

1 T. butter, cut in tiny pieces

Two unbaked pie crusts

Directions:

In a large bowl, gently toss the blueberries with the next five ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Line a 9 inch Pyrex pie pan (I prefer the simple Pyrex pans with about 1/2 inch lip) with bottom unbaked pastry shell.  Fill with blueberry mixture.  Dot with butter. Top with other pie crust, fluting the edges. Using a sharp paring knife cut a pattern.  I always like flowers!

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  If edges begin to brown before pie is cooked, carefully and lightly crimp strips of aluminum foil around edges to keep it from getting too dark.  I double test for “done-ness” by sticking a fork into an open slit.  If it comes out coated, as if with syrup, it is probably ready.  If the fork emerges dripping thin juice, it probably needs a few more minutes for the cornstarch and blueberry juice to combine and thicken.
Variation: If you are making a deep dish pie, add another cup of blueberries, another 1/4 cup sugar and another tablespoon cornstarch. You can substitute a teaspoon of cinnamon or vanilla for the lemon if you prefer. Vegans will want to use a pie crust that does not use lard or butter.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-r6
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved



No Stress Sangrias

Instant sangria! Two ingredients plus citrus slices

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

For the past two weeks I’ve been keeping my 5 year old grandson. This has been humbling for a person with ADD who spends a crazy amount of time finding and losing her own purse/keys/phone/sunglasses.  Add to this routine, keeping up with a five year old’s needs: shoes, sunscreen, snacks, water bottles, favorite toys and books.  At one point, sleep deprived and on my 7th trip from car to house to retrieve a lost item, I tearfully told my husband, “A person who cannot keep up with her keys should not be trusted to care for a small child!”  But I somehow got my Temporary Mom Groove on, with a few routines and the help of my husband and family.

Last week my son Gabe invited me and my grandson over for lunch.  It was so nice not to have to cook or eat out of a box or bucket.  In addition to a yummy salad, roast potatoes and steak, Gabe served the most refreshing Sangrias to the adults.  They were perfectly balanced, not too sweet.

“How did you make this?” I asked. He told me that at the restaurant where he and his girlfriend wait tables, there is a man who always orders the same drink:  Merlot and Sprite over ice, with a lime.   An “instant sangria,” of sorts.  The wait staff finally tried it themselves, and loved it.

Gabe gave me the recipe along with some steak and roast potatoes to take home and share with Greg.  Greg found the steak and potatoes under my car seat today, six days old and beyond redemption.  Thankfully I had the ingredients on hand to make him a sangria to help soothe the loss.

No Stress Sangria

No Stress Sangria

Ingredients

1 part chilled lemon-lime or grapefruit soda

1 part chilled Merlot or Cabernet

Slices of citrus

Ice

Directions

In a glass or pitcher, mix equal parts soda and red wine.  Mix with ice and any  slices of citrus you like. That’s it!  Now find a nice place to sit and sip it, preferably to celebrate the kids having gone to bed! (Or off to college.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: No Stress Sangrias
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-qr