Soup Solutions!

Winter is here and with it comes cold and flu season–a particularly bad one this year. We all gravitate towards a nice hot bowl of soup or broth when we’re under the weather, but why? Well, turns out that aside from soup’s warming and comforting factors, there is some evidence out there that chicken soup helps to treat the symptoms of a cold.

Studies have suggested that chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties that help ease upper respiratory infections, while other studies have shown that the aroma, spices and heat from the soup can help clear your sinuses.

While the medicinal benefits of soup are up for debate, its health benefits aren’t. Soup provides a nutrient dense and healthful way of getting a meal in, especially when your body isn’t up for eating anything too hearty.

Not feeling great or just craving a warm bowl of soup? Just Add Cooking to the rescue!

You can check out our Add-On Marketplace, accessed via your Just Add Cooking Meal Planner, to find soup kits that make chicken or veggie soup quick and easy to throw together, along with a variety of healing bone broths from local purveyor Five Way Foods. Jonesing for a soup fix? Check out some of our favorite soup recipes!

avgolemono-heroweb

Avgolemono Soup

Put a little Greek into your chicken soup recipe. Avgolemono means “egg-lemon” sauce in Greek, thickened with egg and flavored with lemon. This Mediterranean take on chicken soup features chicken and orzo and is seasoned with dill.

Get the recipe here.

chicken_tortilla_soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Get a little spice in your cold and flu remedy with delicious chicken tortilla soup. It’s a lovely combination of cumin, chili, coriander, garlic and Mexican oregano for a flavorful and hearty soup.

Get the Recipe Here

italian_wedding_soup

Italian Wedding Soup

This comforting recipe has pork meatballs, savory chicken broth and hearty kale that’s sure to warm you up on these cold winter nights!

Get the Recipe Here

tomato_soup_and_grilled_cheese

Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese)

Nothing says comfort like soup and a grilled cheese! We’ve got a recipe for a delicious and simple tomato soup with a yummy grilled cheese on the side.

Get the Recipe Here

hot_pot

Turkey Lion’s Head Meatball Soup

This soup’s unusual name is derived from the meatball’s shape, which resembles the head of a lion. We’ve created a recipe with lighter turkey meatballs and added earthy mushrooms and bok choy. Slightly sweet, savory and hearty, this is a perfect take on comfort food soup!

Get the Recipe Here

Winter Cooking Tips: Time Savers

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A lot of us lose the motivation to cook as the winter months bear down. Gone are the pretty displays of fresh local veggies at sunny farmer’s markets and long evenings at the grill and on the patio. The idea of making soups and stews and braises – perfect options for wintertime cooking – can seem overwhelming when you’re coming home from work in the pitch black. Our resident culinary expert (and working mom) Amanda Mayo has put together three easy, doable ways to save time and cook locally with winter ingredients and recipes.

Roast Everything for Dinner on One Sheet Pan

One pan dinners mean easy cooking and cleanup, and they pair perfectly with hearty winter veggies. When you come home to that chilly house, turn on the oven when you bump up the heat and let it help warm the house. Use the pre-heat time to prep your ingredients – everything from veggies to proteins. Toss it all together on a sheet pan and throw it in the oven.

Sheet pan dinners are a hands-off way to cook dinner, the flavors meld together in the oven and you have easy cleanup. Roast your meats on top of veggies so they get naturally basted with the juices and fats from the meat.

And roasting veggies in the oven is an ideal way to prepare them. The dry heat helps to concentrate the flavors and caramelizes the natural sugars in winter veggies.

Find Shortcuts for Making Stews & Braises More Quickly

Stews and braises are perfect winter meals, but if you’ve been saving them for the weekends, you’re missing out. Amanda suggests one kitchen tool to revolutionize your stew and braise making: a pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker, chicken soup “from scratch” can be made in 20 minutes.

Homemade stock makes everything taste slow-cooked and it can be made quickly in the pressure cooker. Use a chicken carcass, onion peels, carrots, celery, mushrooms, water and bay leaves. Make a big batch and freeze it in muffin tins for quick hits later on. You can also store red or white wine from that unfinished bottle in muffin tins for half-cup portions that can be used in braises, sauces and stews anytime.

When thinking about a braise or stew, choose a fatty meat, but be aware it takes awhile to cook. (A pork shoulder not cooked long enough will taste more like pork leather.) At Just Add Cooking, to allow these slow-cooked meals to come together in 30 minutes we ensure that the meat is sliced thinly, so you can sear it quickly and braise for 20 minutes, but it tastes like it cooked for two hours.

And sneak in extra flavor to any of your stews, braises, soups or sauces by saving your Parmesan rinds or adding herbs on their last legs to the mix. (Hard stemmed herbs like rosemary and thyme should be added whole and stems pulled out when done, soft stems like parsley and cilantro can be finely chopped.)

Use a Meal Kit to Skip Winter Veggie Prep

The best and most hearty winter veggies can be the hardest to break down – especially on a weeknight. That’s why Just Add Cooking breaks down hard to prep items like squash, providing you ready to cook ingredients with no waste and little prep time. A hearty dish like a butternut squash risotto from Just Add Cooking requires almost no chopping or prepping. Brussels sprouts are cleaned for you, broccoli florets chopped, cauliflower rice processed and ready to go.

We take the things we love about winter veggies and do as much of the prep work as possible to make it easy for customers.

Now that you know more about how to save time when cooking with winter ingredients, stay tuned next week for our ideas on adding major flavor boosts to these fresh local ingredients and making them shine!

Take Advantage of Add-Ons with Just Add Cooking!

Fresh local veggies are a big part of our recipes at Just Add Cooking but it’s important to get those vitamins in for breakfast and lunch too. That’s why we’re introducing fresh produce to our Add-On marketplace in the coming weeks. We’ve got fresh, prepared veggies like broccoli florets, sweet potato fries, carrot and zucchini rice, confetti rice and more. Keep an eye on your emails and our social media for your chance to add them to your meal kit, making fresh, delicious veggies delivered conveniently right to your door!

 

Demystifying Winter Vegetables

Credit: wikiHow

Credit: wikiHow

If you find yourself making a beeline for the butternut squash and sweet potatoes at the Winter Farmer’s Market, we’re coming to your rescue! We get it: a long day where it gets dark at 4 pm makes it easy to fall into old favorites. But winter’s produce can be just as exciting as summer’s. Let’s take a step outside your culinary comfort zone and try some of those unfamiliar foods that you usually walk right past!

Winter’s bounty is so much more than potatoes and parsnips–and there are lots of delicious options you can get locally right here in New England. Let’s demystify some of the peculiar produce you’ll see this time of year, and give you a head start with some recipes to check out. 

But first, three rules for winter food adventures:

  1. If you’ve never heard of it, try it.
  2. If it looks funky to you, definitely try it.
  3. If you can’t pronounce it, absolutely, most definitely try it right now!
Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Persimmon

The Latin word for this tomato-look-alike means “food of the gods.” Also a fruit, it originated in Japan where it’s actually the country’s national fruit. Generally deep-orange in color, the most common varieties are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. They can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. Make it into a salsa, a savory tart, add it to stuffings and curries, or make it into a jam to serve alongside meat dishes. Check out this simple salsa recipe and grab the chips.

Credit: Great British Chefs

Credit: Great British Chefs

Celeriac (Celery Root)

This is the definition of don’t judge a book (or a vegetable) by its cover. Celery root, also known as celeriac, looks like it should be part of a Halloween display. It has a more concentrated celery flavor that is very appealing as it’s slightly creamier than the upfront vegetal taste of celery. We love making it into a puree with a little cream and butter (well, more than a little butter…), check out this recipe. Celery as we know it grows directly out of the celeriac root. They can be interchanged in most recipes, so stop leaving celeriac out of the winter veg party, it’s feeling neglected.

Credit: Ful-Filled

Credit: Ful-Filled

Kohlrabi

These funky vegetables look like something from another planet: hard, bumpy bulbs with long stems shooting out of the top that end in leaves. Sounds appealing right? Actually, they are, they’re delicious! This vegetable is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, which is fitting as the word “kohlrabi” is German for “cabbage turnip.” It is a member of the brassica family (think broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage) and it can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s very versatile. Slice it and use it as a vehicle for dip, or add it to salads or slaws for some crunch. It can also be baked, boiled, steamed, roasted, or grilled. Here are two of our favorite ways to use it: one raw, and one cooked.

Credit: Karista's Kitchen

Credit: Karista’s Kitchen

The Chicories: Radicchio & Belgian Endive

These leaves get a bad rap for their bitterness, but when combined with other flavors they can be a great complement to any cooked dish or salad. Many of us know endive as a conveniently sturdy leaf to scoop up a ton of dip at a party with. While this is an excellent use for it, try chopping it finely and tossing it into a salad for added crunch or get a little fancy and braise it. Radicchio can also be served raw in a salad. It stands up especially well to the sturdiness of kale, but we love it sauteed or grilled. It’s delicious when the leaves wilt and caramelize a bit. Sauteeing it with some honey and balsamic vinegar also tones down the bitterness, check it out here.

Credit: BBC Good Food

Credit: BBC Good Food

Kumquats

While we have the more earthy flavors of root vegetables on our minds in the cold winter months, it is also citrus season! A little zest from a lemon or an orange always brightens up a dish, but let’s stop and smell the kumquats. Really though, they are wonderfully fragrant and add a lovely layer of citrus flavor to any dish. They are native to China but are also grown in Japan and the U.S. Just bigger than an olive, they look like tiny navel oranges, and fun fact – you can eat the entire thing, skin and all. They are quite tart but also a little sweet. Use them in dressings, preserves, stuffings, or any slow cooked dish to add some zing. We love this tagine recipe that incorporates them. 

Squash: Honeynut, Kabocha, Delicata

Anything you would do with a butternut or acorn squash, you can do with these unconventional squashes. Roast them, stuff them, make them into soups and purees, the oven is your oyster here.

Credit: The Martha's Vineyard Times

Credit: The Martha’s Vineyard Times

Honeynut

If Honey I Shrunk the Kids happened to butternut squash, you would essentially get honeynut squash. This mini squash is bright orange on the inside, and while visually similar to butternut, its texture is even more velvety and its flavor even sweeter. Warm spices are a great match for honeynut and we are big fans of stuffing it!

Credit: My Healthy Dish

Credit: My Healthy Dish

Kabocha

Also known as “Japanese pumpkin,” this squash variety looks lumpy and green and mysterious. But it tastes like a cross between a pumpkin and a sweet potato, so if you’re a fan of those this should be your go-to winter squash. It’s perfect for roasting, stuffing, and pureeing; and you don’t have to peel it (score!). Check out this sweet and spicy recipe.  

Credit: Spoon & Saucer

Credit: Spoon & Saucer

Delicata

Squash can get a bad rap for being high maintenance – difficult to peel and tough to chop. This striped squash is no fuss. It doesn’t require peeling and it’s smaller than most winter squash so it’s easy to handle. It’s flavor is sweet, creamy, and mild, so it pairs well with most spices. As with most other squash, it’s delicious when roasted so the edges caramelize slightly.

So before you steer clear of New England’s winter vegetable crops this year, take a moment to wake up your senses and give something new a try!

How to Tell When Food is “Done”

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We’ve followed the recipe, made sure we diced and chopped and stirred and prepared to the exact specifications in the directions. We’re ready to apply some heat and get things cranked up. We sear, we roast, we braise, we saute and we consult our directions to find out at which point we stop cooking and start eating. And there it is, the mother of all ambiguous instructions, ‘cook until done’.

Cook until done?! We look in the pan and that pork chop is staring back at us. And it’s not giving up any secrets. In fact, we could swear it is taunting us, ‘Do I look done?’ it says. We poke it, we prod it, we may even cut into it – a few times during the cooking process – and still we are left with uncertainty. Is it done?

Search the internet and you will find a slew of blogs, charts, websites and articles all offering up information on ‘how to tell when it’s done’. Everything from the hand test to calculating thickness or pounds to determine length of cooking time and a host of other (some questionably reliable) ways in between. Most of this information is formulated to test the doneness of animal proteins (beef, poultry, pork, fish, etc). This is because the USDA has determined that in order to kill bacteria that meats harbor (which could cause sickness in humans), they must be cooked to a certain ‘doneness’ or internal temperature.

‘Doneness’ relies on a few factors and the most reliable way to determine the doneness or internal temperature of a piece of steak or a roast chicken is with an instant read thermometer. This handy little device is an almost foolproof way to ensure meats and fish are cooked to the perfect degree of juicy tastiness. It is a terrific and inexpensive investment, about $6 for the standard dial-type and $10-15 for a digital, which can take the angst out of the ‘Is it done yet?’ part of dinner. The chart below is a great primer for different types of meats and their internal done cooking temperature.

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There are also some reliable methods of determining when meat is done if you do not own or do not care to own an instant read thermometer. For whole chickens or turkeys, the rule of thumb is 20 minutes of cooking time per pound of meat at 350 degrees. So for a 4 pound chicken it would take 80 minutes or about one and a quarter hours to cook. Before taking it out of the oven, pierce the thigh of the chicken with the tip of a knife or a sharp pronged fork; if the juices run clear (instead of cloudy or bloody) the bird is done. The same rule can be applied to beef and pork roasts, with the exception of beef tenderloin. The tenderloin is a very lean cut and therefore will dry out very quickly when cooked for a long period of time. Cook it at a higher temperature, 425 degrees, for about 12 minutes per pound.

When frying or broiling a steak or chop (beef, pork, lamb), use the thickness as a guideline. For 1 to 1-1/2” thick steaks or chops, cook for 8-10 minutes per side. The less time, the rarer the meat. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can follow the same thickness rule. For cuts that are 2” thick or more, cook 12-15 minutes per side (for medium).

Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque throughout. Cooking time depends on the thickness or weight of the piece of fish. For the average ¾” – 1” fillet, cooking time is 4-5 minutes per side if fried/sauteed or 6 minutes per pound if baked or roasted (whole or fillet). Shrimp is done when it turns bright pink on each side, depending on the size, about 2-4 minutes per side. Clams and mussels are done as soon as they open. If they do not open after cooking, toss them!

Whichever method you choose to use to test the doneness, you can be sure that we will provide instructions and information that is as detailed and easy to follow as possible. So that when you look at that pork chop in the pan, you know it will be smiling back at you saying “I’m ready”.

Our Top Tips for Keeping the Family Dinner Sacred

We’re looking at summer in the rearview mirror this week. School is back in full swing, and with that comes a myriad of activities and family members, who were easy to corral in the summertime, going in a million different directions. Whether long days have you turning to takeout or busy schedules have everyone grabbing dinner on the go, this is the time of year that family dinners go by the wayside. We all know all the research points to the importance of cooking and eating as a family – better health, nutrition, social skills, grades and more – not to mention a much needed time to disconnect from the day and connect with the people you love.

It all sounds good in theory, but how do you make it work in practice? We help hundreds of families get dinner on the table each week and here are our favorite ways to carve out time for a family dinner:

Be reasonable, but non-negotiable

We’d love to see every one of you have dinner as a family every night. But the reality is, schedules will undoubtedly get in the way. Decide what is realistic for your family, make a plan, and stick to it. It’s so important to be realistic and reasonable so that you feel you’re able to achieve the goal. If this means the family eats together on Monday, Wednesday and Friday but grabs and goes the rest of the week, that’s OK. Make a date, and stick to it!

Involve the whole family

The technique for involving kids in cooking depends on the age of your children, but involving the whole household in meal preparation serves many purposes. First of all, everyone’s invested in getting dinner on the table. But it can also shift the burden off a single person (usually mom!) in getting the meal prepared each night. For older family members, assign each one a night to choose and prepare a recipe. The littler ones can have specific tasks each evening that they take ownership of. Services like Just Add Cooking provide a good guide in terms of giving less experienced cooks specific recipes and pre-measured ingredients so there’s less guesswork.

Choose where to save time and spend money

For some people, grocery shopping and scouring the internet or cookbooks for recipes is a great pleasure. For others, it’s the thing that keeps them from making dinner. Ensure that you don’t skip making dinner due to lack of planning or ingredients by using a service like Just Add Cooking. It’ll give you that extra hour or two at work or with the kids while still maintaining the sanctity of home-cooked dinners.

Mix up standbys with creative new recipes

Without a great meal, your family won’t be rushing to the table. Two things will keep them coming back: standard family favorites and brand new, exciting recipes. Always have the ingredients for the family favorites you can whip up in your sleep on hand. This means there’s never an excuse not to go home and make a quick and easy dinner. If you’ve got a culinary enthusiast in the family, put them in charge of clipping new recipe options out of magazines and cookbooks, and try one or two each week. Or, automate that process with a meal kit service that will deliver new options to you every week.

Need more advice on how to keep your work-life balance as the school year heats up? We’re partnering up with Boston Mom Blog and lots of other Boston area experts for a Back to School Chat tonight at 9 pm on Facebook. Get lots of great tips along with the chance to win some fantastic prizes to make your life easier this fall. Hope to see you there!

boston moms chat

Recipes to Get Kids Cooking (Part 2 of 2)

kids cooking

At Just Add Cooking, bringing families together to cook is a major part of our mission. By increasing the number of meals families make at home, and making it easy and fun for them to cook from scratch by providing ingredients and recipes, we endeavor to get kids cooking, learning where their food comes from and developing healthier habit

Welcome back to our family-friendly recipe series with our friend Holly Pierce of The Soul Chef. If you missed Part 1, check it out here [ADD LINK WHEN LIVE]. Today, we’ve got some savory recipes that are perfect for little fingers to make.

Calzones w/Cheese, Pepperoni & Roasted Red Peppers

1 (16oz) pkg prepared pizza dough
1 cup sliced roasted red peppers
1 cup sliced or diced pepperoni
1 cup baby spinach leaves
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
4 tsp dried oregano

Prepared marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Divide dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece in flour. Shape into balls and roll out into 6” rounds.

Mix together mozzarella and ricotta cheese and add oregano. Season with salt & pepper.

Spread ¼ cup of cheese mixture onto one half of prepared dough round. Top with roasted peppers, spinach and pepperoni slices. Fold remaining dough half over the topping and crimp edges to seal. Place on baking sheet and pierce tops in several places.

Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown.

Farmer’s Market Roasted Vegetables in Avocado Cups

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds and rounds cut in 1/2
1 medium zucchini cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe avocados
1 lemon, zested and juiced (2 to 3 tablespoons juice and 1 tablespoon zest)
1 ear fresh corn, husk and silk removed
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped dill

Fresh arugula

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, zucchini, squash, and red pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Spread in 1 layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When done, set aside to cool.

Remove the corn kernels by standing the cob on a plate or in a wide shallow bowl. Set the blade of a small, sharp knife at the juncture of the kernels and cob. Slice downward to remove the kernels. Repeat this procedure, working your way around the cob, until all the kernels are removed. Set aside.

Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove pit, leaving the skin on. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to prevent avocados from discoloring.

In a large bowl, mix roasted vegetables, corn, remaining lemon juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and fresh herbs. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Place each avocado half on a small bed of mixed greens or arugula, if using. Top each avocado half with a generous serving of the roasted vegetable salad. Sprinkle lemon zest on top and serve.

Looking for some extra fun and family-friendly meals in your Just Add Cooking box? Some of the kids’ favorites include Tomato Mac & Cheese, Chicken Pecan Pesto Spaghetti, Swedish Meatballs and the ever-popular Steak Fajitas! Keep an eye on upcoming menus for these kid-friendly favorites and get into the kitchen with your kids tonight!

Recipes to Get Kids Cooking (Part 1 of 2)

Kids cooking

At Just Add Cooking, bringing families together to cook is a major part of our mission. By increasing the number of meals families make at home, and making it easy and fun for them to cook from scratch by providing ingredients and recipes, we endeavor to get kids cooking, learning where their food comes from and developing healthier habits. Our friend Holly Pierce of The Soul Chef is back with a kid-friendly recipe round-up! Today is Part 1 of 2 and features some sweet treats–check back next week for some savory recipes!

Knowing how to cook is one of the most basic and important skills a child can learn. In addition to building their creative, problem-solving, organizational and attention skills, being in the kitchen teaches them how to approach a new situation, how to access and apply their creative resources, what steps to take if they make a mistake and how to work together with a group or another individual. It can help build confidence, instill a sense of joy and pride and at the very least, get them to eat their vegetables!

Being in the kitchen with kids is a terrific experience; one I highly recommend to anyone. Kids of all ages can find something to do in the kitchen from the very basics of helping mom stir a batter to making a grilled cheese sandwich to cooking a whole meal for the family. Start by giving them some basic and fundamental guidelines, setting ground rules and outlining safety procedures then work with them to create dishes and meals that cultivate and challenge their skills. Provide lots of encouragement and constructive direction along the way. And don’t forget to have a laugh or two while you’re at it.

This summer, spend some time in the kitchen with your favorite kid and create wonderful memories while you’re cooking up some delicious fun! These recipes are a great start.

Yogurt and Fresh Berry Parfaits

1 pint fresh berries, rinsed and patted dry
2 cups plain yogurt
1 ½ cups granola
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup

In a small bowl, combine yogurt with maple syrup.

Using 4 dessert cups, parfait glasses or ramekins, layer berries, yogurt and granola into each.

German Apple Pancakes

4 eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large tart apple – peeled, cored and sliced

In a large bowl, blend eggs, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Gradually mix in milk, stirring constantly. Add vanilla, melted butter and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Let batter stand for 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt butter in a 10 inch oven proof skillet, brushing butter up on the sides of the pan. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture over the butter. Line the pan with apple slices. Sprinkle remaining sugar over apples. Place pan over medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles, then gently pour the batter mixture over the apples.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Slide pancake onto serving platter and cut into wedges.

Check back next week for more kid-friendly recipes from Chef Holly! 

Looking for some extra fun and family-friendly meals in your Just Add Cooking box? Just Add Cooking meals are totally customizable – you can always leave out any ingredients or choose from seven recipes to find the ones that your kids will like. Plus, look for the spicy pepper next to recipes that indicates they might be a bit too hot for little palates.

A Delicious Frozen Yogurt You Can Make at Home

frozen yogurt

Frozen yogurt: it’s smooth, cool and creamy, and the perfect way to usher in summer. Today marks National Frozen Yogurt Day, and we’re happy to have Chef Holly Pierce of The Soul Chef with us at Just Add Cooking to give us some tips on making easy, delicious, tangy frozen yogurt at home.

Making frozen yogurt uses the same process as making ice cream with a few tweaks in the technique. And, as with all things, there are several different “camps” in the “what makes the best frozen yogurt” world. I’ll go over those and give you some options to try out for yourself. For me, the most important thing is to start with the best ingredients. Buy local when and if you can, and make sure that whatever you are using in your frozen yogurt is fresh and flavorful. This, by the way, is one of the advantages to making your own frozen yogurt. You get to decide what does (or doesn’t) go into it. Read any label on a commercial frozen yogurt and at some point you’ll either come across an ingredient you can’t pronounce or have never heard of before.

Choosing a Yogurt Base

Let’s start with the yogurt. It is best to use plain, unflavored and unsweetened. I prefer to use full-fat yogurt. You can absolutely use whatever type of yogurt you prefer; the difference will be in the consistency of the finished product. A reduced or non-fat yogurt, because it lacks a larger percentage of fat, will tend to contain more ice crystals and be harder once frozen. A full-fat yogurt will produce a frozen product with a richer, creamier consistency and a smooth mouth feel.

Another option is Greek yogurt, which has more fat and protein and less water than regular yogurt, so it stands to reason that it would make a rich, creamy frozen yogurt. Some sources claim that it is too creamy and dense and is best used in combination with regular yogurt or even added liquid flavoring (think orange juice or flavored syrups). Again, it’s all up to you and what you like.

Preparing the Yogurt

Many recipes call for straining or allowing the yogurt to drain in a cheesecloth-lined strainer overnight to eliminate the excess liquid, thus making it thick and dense like Greek yogurt. I’ve used Greek yogurt, strained and unstrained regular yogurt and had success with all of them. Your decision here will boil down to personal preference in texture and ease of preparation.

Recipes

Ready to whip up some fro yo? I’ve got a couple of recipes to get you started. One is a basic, plain frozen yogurt to which you can add whatever mix-ins you like (chocolate chips, m&ms, peanut butter cups…you get the picture) and one is for a fruit frozen yogurt. This is a chance to play around and experiment with the choices we’ve discussed above. No matter your decision, the result will be delicious! The joy is in the experimenting… and the eating, of course!

Basic Frozen Yogurt (yield about 1 quart)

6 cups plain yogurt, strained to equal 3 cups (or use 3 cups Greek yogurt)
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla (optional)
pinch of salt
Add-ins*

To strain the yogurt: place the yogurt in a fine, mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Set the strainer over a large bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Mix the strained yogurt with the sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt. Place in the container of an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Generally for soft serve consistency it takes about 25 minutes.

*If you are using add-ins (chocolate chips, etc), add them during the last 5-7 minutes of churning time.

Remove the frozen yogurt to a container and place in the freezer.

Honey & Fruit Frozen Yogurt (yield about 1 quart)

2 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, etc)
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup honey

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour into the container of your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

Happy Frozen Yogurt Day Everyone!

Tips for Preparing Chicken

chicken

This week we are offering Chicken and Cauliflower and therefore wanted to provide some tips and tricks for chicken preparation that you might not already think of! Below, please see a list that will enable you to cook the most delicious and healthful chicken you can. Happy cooking!

  1. Refrigerate chicken promptly after buying – never leave it at room temperature
  2. Always choose free-range chicken when possible
    • Make sure it comes from a source you trust. Most free range meat will have health benefits and work to sustain animal welfare.
  3. The temperature in the chicken must reach 165 degrees:
    • Ensure that your oven is set to 165 degrees in order to bake the chicken thoroughly.
  4. Let the chicken rest for approximately 10 minutes before eating:
    • Through letting the meat cool off after cooking, the juices will more evenly distributed throughout the chicken instead of migrating to the middle.
  5. Cut meat across the grain:
    • Cutting meat in this manner will produce slices with shorter fibers, resulting in more tender pieces of chicken.

 

Winter Comfort Foods: Can They Be Healthy?

potato leek

 

There are few things more satisfying than comfort foods in the winter. As the temperature continues to drop, these are foods that make a night in that much more enjoyable. Then why do comfort foods get a bad rep? Most likely because they are generally thought to be unhealthy and loaded with calories (think baked potatoes and red meat). A few of our recipes, like Leek and Potato Soup and Chicken Gruyere, accomplish the at-home coziness feeling while still being wholesome. See the recipes below to try the next time you are feeling like a night in. Enjoy!

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