Blueberry Lime Frozen Yogurt Pops

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Can’t stop, won’t stop with the popsicles, guys. It’s summah! I have to.

Also, in the summer…I have to ride my bike. It’s so fun! and it’s one of the 3 forms of exercise that I don’t completely abhor (…walking and swimming are the other two, in case you wanted to know).

The thing is, I’m a super-nerd about wearing a helmet…safety first, y’all. I mean we’re all just one errant pebble or careless driver away from spilling our brains all over the pavement and I am just so not into that. I like my grey matter trapped tightly in my skull. Call me picky, I guess. Anyway, my helmet is a little too small for me…like I feel like I’m being choked and maybe it’s the kind that makes me have an oddly shaped, alien noggin. It’s a “universal size” lady helmet and I guess my head is just not within the universal scope. I mean, can’t a girl with a watermelon for a head ride with a teensy bit more comfort and style?

So, yesterday, I busted out the tape measurer and went on an internet quest to find a helmet that is large enough to fit my massive dome and I think I found the one! It’s cute-ish and will hopefully keep my coconut un-cracked and my anxiety levels at a minimum throughout the summer.

HOORAY, for bike safety!

Enough brains-on-the-pavement imagery and more popsicle talk!

These pops combine bright blueberries with creamy yogurt and zesty lime. I use maple syrup to sweeten these because I have a thing for maple + blueberries and I think it’s super good on yogurt too. You could totally use another sugar if you prefer. This recipe is super easy, even though we are turning on the stovetop for a bit. The berries are simmered in the maple until their deep purple color bleeds into the syrup, then lime juice and zest are stirred in. The yogurt portion comes together with some more maple syrup, lime zest and juice, plus some quick whisking. Then everyone is layered into the molds, all willy-nilly, for a swirled effect. I love, love these pops not only because they are gems to look at, but also because they are so fruity, creamy, sweet, and tangy. They manage to be both refreshing from the bright fruit and citrus, while feeling creamy and decadent from the yogurt.

[recipe]

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Blueberry Lime Frozen Yogurt Pops

I use (and love) this ice pop mold. This recipe makes enough to fill all 10 pop molds. Depending on your set of molds, you may have more of less (freeze any extra into ice cube trays and blitz into a smoothie). Depending on the sweetness of your berries and personal preference you can reduce the maple syrup to 1/2 cup, total. 

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and dried

2/3 cup maple syrup, divided

1 1/2 cups greek yogurt

zest and juice of two small limes, divided

In a saucepan combine 1/3  cup of the maple syrup with the blueberries. Heat over high and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook 1-2 minutes, until the berries release their juices and become soft, but do not all burst and become mushy, stir in the zest and juice of one of the limes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.

In a bowl whisk together the yogurt, the remaining 1/3 cup of maple syrup and zest + juice of the remaining lime.

Spoon some of the blueberry mixture into each mold, followed by yogurt — there’s no real method to this, btw…but don’t fret, it will be pretty, and more importantly, delicious regardless of how you layer it up — until all of the molds are filled. Since the yogurt is thick enough, you can insert the sticks now, as they will stay in place. Freeze until solid, at least 4 hours. [/recipe]

*This post contains links for reference. I am not affiliated with any of the businesses/brands linked.

 

Apricot Almond Crunch Frozen Yogurt

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Summer! It’s here for real…I know I’ve been talking summer since the beginning of June, but it’s more than official now and this one is turning out to be more temperate and less hot/sweaty/dank hell…and by temperate I mean, hot and humid with just a smidge of hellishness. Which means more evening walks and weekend bike rides…you know, good stuff. The summers here in Michigan are an explosion of green. Things are growing all over the place and it’s beautiful.

But, harbored in all of that greenery are horrible, voracious mosquitos. Multiple species even, some with hideous, striped-tiger-bodies. UGH…I hate them. Like, HATE. A lot. And no amount of bug spray AKA poison-candy (that stuff smells like candy and death!) really keeps them from biting straight through our clothing. I’ve tried natural stuff and the stuff that makes me feel like I might actually die if I inhale. It seems none of them are really working. What kind of works is riding my bike or walking swiftly…no pauses…and it only works kinda, but better than the poison-candy aerosol. It didn’t so much work when my bike chain came loose a mere 2 miles from the car and Sean had to finagle it back on whilst getting mauled by a swarm of mosquitos. Oh, and we were downwind from the zoo so there was a really fun…aroma. We were SO CLOSE to being mosquito-bite-free, but alas it didn’t work out for us. What did work out was that this froyo was stashed in the freezer for when we got home. So even though I was covered in itchy welts and maybe a little more back-sweat than I am ever comfortable with, frozen treats saved the day. Like they do.

I mean, if you’ve been riding your bike for a few hours in the summer swelter and combatted mosquito attacks like a champ, walking into your cool home, flopping on the couch/floor/wherever with a pint of froyo is totally appropriate. Especially if that froyo is homemade and trashed-up with mix-ins. I live for frozen yogurt + mix-ins. Gimme the stuff from those froyo shops that sell it all by weight any day — Yogurt Beach in Reno, I’m looking at you. But, since I can’t pop into my favorite frozen yogurt place on the daily, I can make some at home. The apricots are roasted here, which makes ripe apricots taste even more apricot-y, and less-than-ripe apricots sing. I could eat the apricot swirl with a spoon. The almond crunch gets a bit melty once layered with the frozen yogurt and apricot swirl, but maintains its crunch giving this yogurt a TON of awesome texture. I cannot resist a good crunch. The flavors just make sense to me — tangy and creamy yogurt, heady and lush apricot, crunchy, caramelized toasted almonds, and a little sweet-floral honey come together to make a super summery combination that is just so, so good.

  [recipe]

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Apricot Almond Crunch Frozen Yogurt

Yogurt base adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

I roasted the apricots for the swirl, but if you dread turning on the oven in the summer heat, just cook the apricots on the stovetop until they are very soft. The recipes for the apricot swirl and almond crunch make a little extra, perfect for topping! 

For reference, I used this ice cream maker and these containers (I purchased these items myself and am not affiliated with either manufacturer). 

Apricot Swirl:

1 lb apricots

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey

Almond Crunch:

2 tablespoons honey

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sliced, toasted almonds

Frozen Yogurt:

1 1/2 cups strained, whole milk yogurt*

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

For the Apricot Swirl:

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Rinse the apricots, pat dry, and remove pits. Chop coarsely and toss with sugar and honey. Spread into a baking dish and bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the apricots have released their juices, are soft, and become syrupy. Remove from the oven, cool slightly, and scrape into a blender or deep bowl and pulse with an immersion blender (or blend in regular blender, being careful of the steam) until smooth. Set aside to cool completely.

For the Almond Crunch:

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Set aside.

In a tall-sided saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the honey, sugar, and enough water to moisten the sugar (a few tablespoons). Heat over medium high to dissolve the sugar, continue to cook until mixture boils, becomes golden, and reaches about 300˚F. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the salt and baking soda — warning, the candy will bubble up and expand quite a bit once the soda is added — followed by the almonds, stir to coat. Spread the candied almond mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool. Once cooled and brittle, break the almond crunch into pieces with a rolling pin or mallet.

For the Frozen Yogurt:

*As instructed by Jeni, I strained regular yogurt for this. I used a 2 pound container of regular, whole milk yogurt in a cheesecloth-covered mesh sieve set over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight. I’m thinking you could use greek yogurt, though I have not tested it. I think that if you used a lower fat yogurt, the texture of the finished yogurt may be a bit more icy.

In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup of the milk. Set aside. Place the yogurt into a large, heatproof bowl. Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or large bowl.

Combine the rest of the milk with the cream in a saucepan with the sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for a few more minutes, whisking or stirring, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Whisk the hot milk mixture into the yogurt to blend. Stir the mixture over the ice bath until cooled — or alternatively, pour the mixture into a gallon freezer bag, zip the top, and place in the ice bath to cool. Once cooled, pour the yogurt base into the basin of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once churned, scrape about 1/4 of the yogurt mixture into a freezer container, drizzle however much apricot swirl you want (a few tablespoons), followed by some of the almond crunch. Repeat with the remaining  yogurt/swirl/almond crunch so you have several layers of yogurt, swirl, and crunchy bits. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours or until solid. [/recipe]

Banana-Yogurt Muffins

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Muffins, ya’ll.

Sometimes a girl–or dude–just wants to bake something that’s homemade, but stress free. Muffins are both of those things and they almost never disappoint.

My favorite thing about the humble, homemade muffin is that it can be almost-healthy to actually-healthy–using flours and germs and brans and fruits and healthy fats to boost the health factor. See, most store-bought varieties are packed with enough sugar and other stuff that makes them basically cake. I mean, cake is delicious and sometimes makes the BEST breakfast, but even I can’t go for cake-breakfast everyday. That’s why I love a muffin. It’s a quick bread in a cupcake outfit.

These muffins are of the almost-healthy variety. They use pantry staples and fresh, ripe banana for tenderness and flavor. The sunflower seeds are in there for some crunch–because I can’t resist adding texture to most things. The batter comes together by simply folding the whisked up wet ingredients into the sifted dry ingredients, and uses only a few dishes. The baked muffins are ultra-moist due to the combination of yogurt, banana, and olive oil. The dusting of powdered sugar is totally optional but makes for a pretty and slightly sweeter muffin.

Banana-Yogurt Muffins

Adapted from Donna Hay Modern Classics Book 2

Makes 12 regular muffins. 

For tender and light muffins, be sure to mix the batter until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Lumpy batter is okay, over-mixing the batter until it’s completely smooth will result in a chewy and dense muffin. 

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup sunflower seeds plus more for sprinkling (optional)

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)

2 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

2 eggs

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray/grease or line a muffin tin with paper cups.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the sunflower seeds and mix to combine. In a large measuring cup whisk together the yogurt, banana, eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add the yogurt-banana mixture to the dry mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until just combined. Divide the batter between the 12 prepared muffin cups and bake in the center of the oven for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 days.