Popsicles for breakfast? Berry smoothie protein pops.

I have a problem with breakfast. Not eating it, but fixing it. See, I’m trying to be better about breakfast, because it’s the most important meal of the day. And I’m trying to lose a little weight, too. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to fix breakfast before I’ve had appropriate amounts of coffee, and by then two hours have gone by and I’m not hungry. Until lunchtime, when I could eat everything in the kitchen, all because I didn’t eat breakfast. So I’m trying to be better about it, but it’s hard because of the aforementioned autopilot/zombie state I’m in when I get out of bed. I want something I can grab, heat up, and eat. Nothing complicated. I don’t even like to have to put anything together, like yogurt and granola and fruit and nuts. Too much time taken with getting stuff out, eyeballing it in the cup, yadda ya. And yeah, sometimes I like doing that, but most mornings, not so much. Even worse, now that summer is upon us, I damn sure don’t want to eat anything that requires a hot stove or range. Microwave if necessary, but preferably just serve and eat.

Enter berry smoothie protein pops.

Everybody loves smoothies – maybe not like everyone loves parfaits, but close enough. Green smoothies, strawberry smoothies, blueberry-banana-chocolate smoothies. Good for you, quick and on the go. The ultimate breakfast. This is better: smoothie in popsicle form. Now you can eat your breakfast, get all your start-up nutrition and feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast! I can’t think of a better idea. All you need are your ingredients, a blender of some kind and preferably an ice cream maker. That last isn’t vital, but it makes your popsicles creamy as opposed to icy when you bite into your frozen breakfast treat. I prefer creamy, and I have two ice cream makers, so there you go.

Berry Smoothie Protein Pops
serves: 4-8, depending on the size of your molds

ingredients:

2 pints strawberries, or berries of choice
1 cup Greek yogurt
2-3 scoops vanilla protein powder
splash of milk or water (optional)

directions:

Hull strawberries; blend and strain into bowl to remove seeds (if desired). Whisk together strawberry puree, yogurt and protein powder and/or blend to thoroughly combine. Add water/milk to reach desired consistency if necessary. If using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze 3-5 hours.

If you have any leftover smoothie fro-yo, you can always make it into scoopable fro-yo and have that for breakfast too. I did, and it was awesome. Especially because I made the bars in the morning, so all the scrapings of ‘hard’ fro-yo from the sides of the freezer bowl were mine for the taking. Am I the only one who enjoys that bit of making my own frozen treats? I hope not. It looks a mess, but it’s definitely my favorite part.

These also make great afternoon snacks in the heat that you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating. Again, healthy dessert! How much better can it get?

Root beer float.

Breyer’s Vanilla Bean ice cream. IBC root beer from a glass shortneck. Drizzling of Smucker’s caramel over the foam. All inside the last remaining glass from my favorite collection – ironically, given to me by a former longterm boyfriend. He can stay gone, but I wish I still had the other three glasses. They are, sadly, no longer in production.

Two scoops of vanilla bean ice cream, carefully engulfed in a slow flood of IBC. Tilt the glass when you pour. Watch the foam rise then freeze – literally – at the top, ice cream floating beneath, the foam flecked with black specks of the aforementioned dessert. Take a spoon and scoop a bit of that faintly tan fizz up to your mouth, or better yet, put your mouth to the foam and suck, coming up with it on the tip of your nose. It’s unexpectedly cold, uplifting the essence of root beer, glazed with vanilla bean.

Quite possibly my most favorite photo ever taken. And not necessarily because it’s root beer.

Ziploc green tea icecream!

Honestly, I probably should’ve waited to start cooking when I got up this morning. But I went to Wal-Mart for rock salt and Ziplocs after karate last night, just like I said I would. I didn’t do the ice cream last night. I didn’t want to – I was too focused on getting this damn computer working (I failed at that last night, too). Finally, at around 0100, I decided to go to bed. I slept ’til 0800 this morning, fed the dog, fooled around and decided that I was gonna make icecream. So I went looking for recipes in cookbooks, until I found one I wanted in Cooking: A Commonsense Guide that would be reasonable and easily modified. There was a gelato recipe in my BHG, but I didn’t have the heart to split 12 yolks and whites, or split the recipe. Another time, perhaps. Besides, I wanted this recipe to go off without too much trouble, which meant I wanted the fat ratio of cream in there. I think the gelato called for milk… anyway.

After seeing the trend of homemade flavored icecreams, and wanting something different than vanilla or chocolate, I decided on green tea. I left my matcha at work, but I had bags. Bringing milk and cream to a boil was my first mistake – I was splitting yolks and whites and I let it boil over in a split-second. Agh! I took it off the heat, of course, hoping I hadn’t let it boil for too long and scalded anything. I cleaned the drip pan before doing any more cooking – I hate the smell of scalded dairy, don’t you? I let it sit to get to room temperature, per the recipe, which I figured would do fine to steep my tea bags in the meantime.

I whipped up the egg yolks and sugar by hand, since I don’t quite know where my beaters are at the moment. To keep me occupied while doing that, I was thinking of things to do with the egg whites. Six ‘wasted’ whites? I couldn’t. Something would have to be done with them. I was thinking an egg white omelet, or something of that nature; I guess I could’ve made meringue with them, of course. But I hadn’t eaten breakfast, so omelets were a little closer on the brain. I shoved that all out of mind, squeezed all that green milky goodness out of my tea bags and whipped up the egg yolks and milk mix, now that the latter was cooled. It all went back onto the burner in a saucepan to thicken up, which was supposed to take 5-10 minutes but took me more like 15-20 because my relationship with my new stove is still a little iffy as of yet. We haven’t really learned each others’ quirks and peculiarities, which means I don’t know exactly where the dial goes for a proper temperature and the stove can’t be particular enough to piss me off. Anyway, once it was a nice thick custard, I set it back in the bowl, nested in ice water, to cool down while I mixed up the ice bag.

I had some trouble with the bag, because I was new to the whole Ziploc icecream maker idea. I’m sure someone else out there has tried it – there has to be someone. My mother can’t have come up with this on her own. It’s not possible. But I finally figured out that it needed to be

(four cups ice + half-cup salt) + custard bag + (four cups ice + half-cup salt)

to be proper for freezing without copious amounts of rolling a gallon bag of ice and green tea custard around on the floor for the dog to tear open. (He loves ice cubes.) I seated the quart bag over the half-gallon of ice and carefully poured in the custard. Luckily my mixing bowls, though they don’t match the rest of my kitchenware because they’re red, have spouts. I covered the bag with the last of the ice and salt, jiggled it around a minute, and stuck in the freezer.

Green Tea Icecream

adapted from Cooking: A Commonsense Guide

cooking time: 15-20 minutes (+ a couple hours for freezing)

ingredients:

1 c milk

1 c cream

1 tsp vanilla*

6 egg yolks

½ c sugar

2-3 green tea bags

7-8 c ice**

1 c rock salt**

Combine the milk and cream in a pan and add the vanilla and tea bags. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.

Using a wire whisk, beat the yolks and sugar together in a bowl for 2-3 minutes, until thick, creamy and pale. Drain the tea bags, discard, and whisk the warm milk into the egg.

Wash the pan, and pour the mixture into it. Stir over very low heat until thickened. This will take about 5-10 minutes. To test, run a finger across the back of the wooden spoon—if it leaves a clear line, the custard is ready.

**Put 4 cups of ice and a half-cup of rock salt into a gallon storage bag and nest a quart bag on top of the ice. Carefully pour the custard into the quart bag, being careful not to spill outside the quart bag. Press the air out of and seal the quart bag, then top with the remaining 3-4 cups of ice and half-cup of salt. Leave in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, take out and shake vigorously. Return to the freezer and repeat every 15-20 minutes until custard has frozen to desired consistency. Serves 3-4.

* The original calls for 1 vanilla pod. I don’t have vanilla bean readily available to me, so I used extract. I didn’t measure, just used a couple dashes, so I’m estimating somewhere between ½-1 teaspoon. Use your discretion, however much vanilla taste you like.

** Obviously, you need ice and rock salt for this version. The original has a different way of mixing. Check the original recipe at the end of this entry.

I’m going to try the original’s version of mixing up ice cream – in a metal bowl with an electric mixer – someone later, when I can find my beaters, but the Ziploc way works awesome. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, you can make several batches, you don’t have to worry about buying a mixer for lots of $$$ and easy cleanup. The drawback is the serving limitation – you can only make as much icecream as you have bag size – but you’ll run into that with anything. Besides, the smaller quantity freezes faster, so you have icecream sooner!

The icecream came out dense, creamy and delicious. The color wasn’t great, but I hadn’t really expected the vibrant green that matcha would’ve given me. And so what if it wasn’t ‘pretty’? It was absolutely delicious! In the future, I’ll probably use two teabags inside of three, but if you want the taste to be strong, use three! (Four might be a little much.) Hurrah for green tea iceam in a bag!

While the icecream was firming up, I took my spare egg whites and decided on a frittata. I had some Mexican chorizo in the fridge and some onion – I’m a sucker for egg and caramelized onion. I mixed up the egg whites with salt, pepper, a little milk and let it sit while I browned the onion. Then I browned up the chorizo, which was a little new. The last chorizo I bought was from the UGA meat lab and it was singularly wonderful. I cooked it in the casing in pieces and made a carbonara from it. No so with this chorizo. It crumbled, much like ground beef. The flavor was powerful and the smell of all the spices and meat cooking in my apartment was lovely, but the consistency wasn’t what I was looking for.

In keeping with a frittata, I baked it in the same pan. When I took it out and went to taste for research purposes, I burned the crap out of the pad of my thumb. It was good, don’t get me wrong – spicy, layered with flavors, sweet and hot and garlicky and good. But it wasn’t what I was looking for. It was flat, of course, being an egg white frittata, which I for some reason didn’t fully anticipate. (I mixed in an extra egg to try and get a little fluffiness from the yolk, but alas.) I discovered, instead, that with a little mayo and some bread, it makes a very good sandwich. Tomorrow morning I may try it with toast and some kind of sauce. We’ll see. Experiments are the sauce of life!

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No cooking lately?

If it was feasible, believe me, I would be. As it is, all I’m doing lately is thinking about cooking.That’s about all you can do when your new place is full of boxes, you have no real cooking utensils or apparati, you’re still organizing your kitchen (and reorganizing the pantry for the third time), and you happen to be leaving the state in T-3 days to go home for a week. What’s the point in cooking when it’ll just go bad in storage?

I have a tiny kitchen that, while it kind of scares me with how tiny it really is, I’m itching to test out. (I’ve only made tea and pain perdu, currently. Nothing w.r.t. real food.) Will I be able to cook anything effectively? How am I going to have to change my techniques, my movements, my thought process, to better use my space? I would really like to use my island as it was meant to be used – a cooking and utensil storage space, not a ‘stack-stuff-on-top-because-there’s-nowhere-else-to-put-it’ space. I need a butcher block or cutting board to put on it, first, because I don’t want to slice through the polyurethane. 354 has a slab of white granite on the back of his truck, but I really only want a piece of it for a cold board. A 2’x1′ piece of it would be perfect for making homemade pasta, or slab ice cream scoops, or kneading bread dough… and I like it better than marble. Maybe it’s the country girl in me, but why should I want to pay obscene amounts of money for a slab of rock? Granite and marble are still heavy when you drop them on your foot, and granite is sparkly.

My mother is giving me the old Cuisinart ice cream maker, which thrills me to no end even though I’ll have to store all my freezer goods either in a cooler or clean the freezer altogether before making ice cream so I can store the container. Or use one of the other freezers in the building (I could trade scoops of homemade for freezer space, right?). But I want to make homemade ice cream before the heat leaves (which I never thought I’d say, and in Georgia, I’ve got time). I love making homemade, especially the powerful gourmet vanilla that I’m so fond of.

The photos in this post almost made me tear up, they were so vivid. I wish that I could actually lick the screen and taste the vanilla, because that is what those photos say. ‘Eat me, I’m real!’ Sadly, no; at least, not in a tangible kind of way for me, just for Hannah. (And I’m supremely jealous of her because of that.) After I pushed away all my sadfacing over a lack of that gelato-looking beauty, I read the entry and it got me thinking: How would coconut cream do as an ice cream base? I have two cans sitting in my pantry, waiting patiently to be used in tom kha gai or a silky curry, but it’s too hot as far as I’m concerned. What would the effects of that coconut cream be in my gourmet vanilla? Or a Dutch-process cocoa? Or in a Vietnamese coffee-flavored frozen treat? Cookies and cream? The possibilities could be endless! And delicious!

But what would you have to change?

In the meantime, I bought bologna and cheese last night after karate, so I’d have something to eat for the next few meals of the week while I’m still in Georgia. (Don’t knock it. I’m well aware that bologna, like hot dogs, are made of chicken lips, phonebooks and pig knuckles, and I love it anyway.) I told myself that I wouldn’t buy anything that wouldn’t keep while I was gone – and then I bought a ready-mix bag of salad, and some limes, and two mangoes, and a red onion. I didn’t buy dressing, because I was convinced that I’d make my own damn dressing and it would be tasty. And then I realized that I have no dressing recipes, and my olive oil vinaigrettes never turn out tasting like anything but oil and vinegar. So I’ve been perusing the Internet for salad dressing, and come up with some pretty basic – and some not so basic – recipes that I like. They’re posted with credit under the cut. Tonight I’m going to go home, hard boil some eggs, open and drain a can of black beans and a can of beets, sliver up some sharp cheddar and grate some Parmesan and have a little salad party of my very own. That is, in between unpacking boxes and doing financial accounting spreadsheets and packing my bag(s) for next week.

Never heard of a salad party, have you?

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