Tag Archives: homemade

Chocolate frozen yogurt…too good to be true

Once you discover Greek yogurt, you can’t really go back to the regular yogurt.  Greek yogurt has a very thick and creamy texture. According to wisegeek.com, the principle difference in creating Greek yogurt is that after the milk is heated and cultured, it is allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth bags, so that the whey filters out of the yogurt. In Canada, Liberté is one of the few brands that produces Greek yogurt and luckily it is fat-free. Since I’ve purchased my ice-cream maker, I’ve tried a few recipes, mostly fruit-based frozen yogurt. They tasted OK but nothing out of this world. I even checked the recipe book that comes with the ice-cream maker, but most of them rely on eggs, milk and/or whipped cream which are way too heavy for me. A couple of months ago, I discovered a great recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini and never looked back. Now, I’m making this once a week…it’s heavenly and really addictive. It is great on a hot afternoon which has been the norm in Toronto since the beginning of the summer.

I’ve actually adapted the recipe a bit, used less sugar (approx. 60 grams or half), substituted crème fraiche with 5% table cream and used 500 grams yogurt as opposed to the 300 grams called for in the recipe. It still tasted amazing…I can’t rave enough about this recipe. You seriously need to try it…Bon appétit!

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

100 grams good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
100 grams  cream (heavy, table cream, I used the lower-fat version 5%)
60 grams sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
a good pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
500 grams plain Greek yogurt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler,  a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. In the meantime, place the cream in a medium mixing-bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until no lump remains.

When the chocolate is melted, whisk it into the cream. Whisk the sugar mixture into the chocolate cream. Add the vanilla and yogurt, and whisk until well blended.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour, until chilled (you can skip this step if your ingredients are chilled). Whisk again, and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Sweet Cottage Cheese Pastries “Branzoaice”

Growing up in Transylvania (Romania), weekends used to be dedicated to baking and of course eating. My mom used to bake all the time, all kinds of cakes and pastries. My sister and I were addicted to anything sweet and were always willing to offer a hand to speed up the process :). Sometimes, I can just think of a certain dessert and feel that I’m in my mom’s kitchen, eating and laughing with my family. And the smell is surreal…It’s amazing how our brain can bring back memories that feel so alive and tangible.

This Victoria Day long weekend, I’ve decided to make “Branzoaice”, a Romanian pastry made with farmer’s cottage cheese and raisins. “Branzoaice” comes from “branza” which means “cheese”, so the literal translation is something like “made from cottage cheese”. Traditionally, they’re eaten during Pies’ Saturday (Sambata Placintelor), the last Saturday before the Easter Fast. In any case, they make a great dessert/brunch idea. Simply irresistible…Bon appetit!

For the dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
1 egg
200 ml milk – at room temperature
75 g butter (melted)
1 t pure vanilla extract
4 T sugar
2 t yeast (I used quick rise)
lemon zest from 1 lemon

Step 1: Mix ingredients together  (except butter) in a bread machine or mixer. At the end, add in the melted butter and mix well. Add more milk if the dough feels too dry. Let it rise for 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the filling:
250 g sweet cottage cheese (farmer/pressed style)
1 egg
5 T sugar (or more to taste)
handful of raisins

Step 2: In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, add more sugar if necessary.

Step 3: Preheat the oven at 360F. Transfer the dough on a well floured board or countertop. Spread the dough in 2 cm thick layers. Cut 10-12 cm squares. Fill each square with a bit of filling and fold it; brush over beaten egg. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for another 15 minutes or so. Place in the oven and bake for approx. 40 minutes or until golden.

DIY Frozen Yogurt & Cups

Now that the good weather is finally here to stay, I’m definitely going to take more pictures and try to blog more often.  While I was looking for ideas for my next ‘photoshoot’, I came across Amy’s blog, a graphic designer turned professional  style blogger living in Australia. More specifically, I was looking for some ideas or hints on buying/creating your own ice cream cups.  She’s very talented, I like her stylish ideas and fresh approach to interior design and DIY projects. You can also download free stationery printables for parties, entertainment and home. I ended up downloading the ‘argyle’ and ‘striped’ designs, bought  some white paper cups, sticked them on top and BAM!

I wanted to do a cute photoshoot highlighting my latest addiction, homemade frozen yogurt. I’ve recently bought an ice-cream maker and have been trying a few recipes. Surprisingly, they taste very good, are a lot healthier because you can control the amount of fat/sugar, plus they’re fresh!

Here is the latest recipe that I made.

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt

You need:
500 gr. Greek yogurt (I used Liberte)
A handful of mixed berries (preferably frozen)
2-3 T honey or agave syrup
1 t vanilla extract

What to do:
Mix ingredients in a blender, then churn the mixture into your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approx. 25 minutes). Refrigerate longer if desired. Bon appetit!

Holiday Cookies – Packaging and Design

With the holidays around the corner, everyone is looking for that special gift for their loved ones. There are so many things you could offer as gifts. This year, why not offer something from the heart like homemade cookies? Make it your little holiday project that will sure fill your heart with joy. The mere fact that you took the time to bake will impress your friends and family. Cookies can be wrapped up nicely like any presents would. Or, just think of them as clothes and accessories. Mix and match to create your own style or make it unique with that special person in mind. Below are a few tips from Myrecipes.com and Martha Stewart’s website. I’ll be using these myself in the next couple of weeks.

1. Place cookies in glassine bags or wrap individually in cellophane, and tie with colorful ribbons.
2. Package cookies in small wooden boxes lined with colorful tissue paper.
3. Wrap preety boxes and/or containers with seasonal gift wrap, art paper, ribbons and twill tape.
4. Try repackaging. Use everyday items, such as egg cartons or takeout boxes, and dress them with colorful holiday decorations.
5.  If you’re on a budget, use inexpensive glass containers and put a bow on top.
6. Use cookie jars. This way, you’re giving two gifts in one.
7.  Package cookies in small wooden boxes lined with colorful tissue paper.
8. Heap cookies into inexpensive tins lined with tissue or parchment paper.
9.  Wrap cookies in wax paper, secure with a ribbon, and tie a cookie cutter to the ribbon.
10.  Present cookies in small compotes, wrapped in sparkling celophane, and adorned with small ribbons.

Image Credits:  www.marthastewart.com; www.myrecipes.com; www.theblackapple.typepad.com; www.countryliving.com