I love farmer’s markets… but I really love u-pick farms. I love the hunt, the abundance, the quiet of the open space. I’m happy to wander… to move from bush to bush, or tree to tree, selecting the best of the bounty.
We usually start with strawberries in mid-late June – and, let me tell you: you’ve never really had a strawberry until you’ve had an Oregon Hood strawberry straight out of the field.
Then, in July we move to the berry varieties: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries… and, once I get picking, you almost have to pull me off the fields before I stop.
But come the last days of July into August, we move to peaches. When we went just a couple of days ago, the peaches were dripping off the trees. We picked, and picked, and picked – and, while we picked, we discussed all the great things we could turn the peaches into: peach smoothies, peach tarts, peach scones.
For me, though, I was excited to get home with my peaches and make these:
2 cups precooked quinoa
1 heaping cup of finely diced peaches (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
NOTE: Here are a few other of my favorite variations for these fruity quinoa cakes:
bananas and cinnamon
strawberries and walnuts
blueberries and lemon zest
Crack your eggs into a large mixing bowl, then whisk until smooth.
Slice up your peaches and remove as much skin as possible. Finely dice/mash the fruit.
Add your quinoa and finely diced peaches to the whisked eggs, then add your flour, baking powder, and vanilla – and stir to incorporate completely.
Heat a fry pan and lightly butter the bottom. With pan a little higher than medium heat, use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make patties in pan. After 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, carefully flip patties.
Isn’t that easy? And – DELICIOUS.
Now, seriously – don’t skimp! Use REAL organic maple syrup for these… or, maybe a drizzle of some warm honey.
These will become a new favorite around your house… I’m willing to bet on it.
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is flavored yogurt. Why? Because it’s junk masquerading as ‘healthy’ for us.
Yes, I said it: JUNK… because flavored yogurt is filled with sugar and other nonsense we have no need of. (I’m not totally against sugar, but I like to keep it in it’s place.)
Let’s take a mainstream ‘blueberry yogurt’, for example. (By ‘mainstream’ I mean one of those yogurt brands that has 50 different flavors and is often found on special for 5 for $5.) This is what the ingredient label looks like:
Now, when you read a lable, you may not know this, but they are listed by greatest to least. This means the first three ingredients typically make up the bulk of the product; and, in this case, your first three are milk, SUGAR, and blueberries. So, you see what I mean? SUGAR is one of the top 3 ingredients and comes before blueberries, meaning there’s more sugar than blueberries! Yuck… and then you get down to stuff like corn starch, preservatives, flavors, etc. etc.
Now look at the nutritional label:
You see that sugar content?? 26g of sugar is the equivalent of 6.5 teaspoons of sugar. 6.5 teaspoons!! And in one INDIVIDUAL serving!! Granted, yogurt and blueberries have their own naturally occurring sugars. However, the fact one of this brand’s top three ingredients IS sugar and the sugar came before the blueberries, I lean towards believing most of it is processed and not natural; and, hence, you will NEVER find it in my kitchen.
(If you have flavored yogurt in your fridge right now, go take a look at the ingredient label and the sugar content. Shocked?)
With all that said, because commercial flavored yogurt is so full of everything I totally REBEL from, I make my own… well, blend my own. Is it as sweet as the commercial stuff? No, not even close – but that’s why I love it! By keeping the hyper-sweetness of commercial brands off my tongue, my palate has been trained to appreciate the subtle, natural sweetness of what I make at home. (And, you know what? If I eat commercially produced flavored yogurt now, the hyper-sweetness is overwhelming.)
Now, don’t be overwhelmed at this idea! It’s very simple… and it’s all about your tools and your ingredients.
Before you begin, you’ll need to find some glass cups with lids, like these:
(You can buy a flat of Bell canning jars for about 12 bucks.)
Next, assemble your ingredients:
Fage PLAIN greek yogurt (my favorite of all the greek yogurts)
(Notice I don’t list sugar, beet juice, corn starch, gelatin, or natural flavors… because we don’t need them!!)
Now, porition out about 1/2 cup of frozen fruit into each of the jars, cover/cap the jars, and place them in the fridge to defrost overnight. (I like to do several jars at a time before bed so they’re ready for me the next morning.)
Once the fruit is defrosted, you’re ready to pulverize it so it will blend nicely into your yogurt. (There are many ways you can do this, but I don’t think I’d do it without an immersion blender. It fits right into each of my cups and clean up is a snap! So, if you don’t have one, I highly recommend spending the $35 to get one; it’s one of the best tools I have in my kitchen.)
Add in about 3/4 cup of your PLAIN greek yogurt into each cup…
Stir with a simple spoon…
And that’s it! Your very own homemade fruity yogurt!!
You can make up several jars and store them for the week. I like to pull them out for afternoon snacks and add in some precooked quinoa, or top a cup with some of my quinola crunch.
A few final thoughts that may be stirring up questions in your mind:
1) Which fruits are best? Fruits that mash well, like berries, peaches, mangos, pears, kiwi, pomogranates, bananas. (Apples would require you to cook them first to soften them.)
2) Why frozen fruit? I used frozen for this post because it’s February and not a lot of good fruits are available right now. (In the summertime I’d do all of my yogurt with fresh fruit.) Also, frozen fruit is often fruit picked in it’s prime and flash frozen, so it’s often just as sweet as when it’s in full season.
3) What if I want it sweeter than it is with just the fruit? Use honey. (I’m not an agave fan, but that would be my second suggetion.) I actually use honey quite often… but just a little bit, like a tsp or so. It adds really nice flavor.
4) What if I don’t want to wait for the fruit to defrost overnight? You can put it into the cups and then put the cups in the microwave for a minute or two. (Just long enough to defrost, though… you don’t want them overwarm.)
5) Why greek yogurt? Because it’s nice and thick, which makes a particularly good base for this recipe. But, most importantly, the protein content is almost double that of regular plain yogurts. (If you choose to use a regular plain yogurt, it may be very watery – more of a drinkable than spoonable.)
If you’re a yogurt fan, I hope you’ll try and do this at home. It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and, again, cutting out the processed sugars from just one more place is always a good thing… always.
As a mom, there’s not much I get ‘props’ for. No one jumps for joy when I wash and fold their clothes; no one really notices when I go grocery shopping, or make lunches, or sweep the floor. (I wrote about motherhood being a tough gig not too long ago.) And hey – that’s the life of a mom, so I don’t sweat it. But one of the reasons I love, love, love to cook and to bake is because, without fail, when my kids catch whiffs of what I’m stewing, or baking, or sautéing… it draws them to me.
That’s the thing about cooking: the sweet, delicious smells created by my work call my babies to my side quicker than words ever do. They come in close, lean in, and ask for nibbles. They want to talk about what’s going into the pan; they ask questions like: Mom, did you make this up? Have I eaten it before? Will I like this?
They see ingredients at their finest – fresh, colorful, clean. They see me confidently using my hands to prepare and dice and toss and squeeze. They see me choose, and manipulate, and ‘dance’ my mama’s dance of love. And, when it’s all done, they enjoy the fruits of my labor.
It’s seeing my babies enjoy my ‘work’ and celebrate my ‘dance’ – that’s why I cook.
I especially love the squeals of joy when I make these:
Call these my rebel yell against commercialize pop tarts, breakfast strudels, and sugary cereal. I dreamed them up in my kitchen one day when I had an abundance of mangos and some leftover tart dough… and I can’t believe it took me so long to begin creating these. They are just sweet enough with the fresh fruit and the slight addition of sugar that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve one for breakfast with a couple eggs – or as an after school treat with a glass of milk. And man, let me tell you: the kids really think they’re getting something spectacular when they eat these.
The crust is super simple, the filling is fresh and easy to prepare, and based on the reaction of my kiddos, all kids are sure to enjoy making and eating.
First, make the dough.
2.5 cups flour
2 regular sticks of salted butter
2 TBSP sugar
12-13 TBSP ice water
Add flour, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Turn on for 10 seconds nonstop. Then, pulse and additional 5-8 times. The goal is for butter bits to be about a little larger than pea sized…. so don’t over process!
Drizzle a TBSP of water at a time through the top of the food processor and pulse for 1 second after each water addition.
Pour mixture from food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the dough together until all of the mixture is stuck together. (NOTE: The dough should lean to the dry side. If it is too dry, wet your hands and continue to work dough until it adheres. If it is too sticky, add a tsp of flour at a time until the stickiness is gone.
Form two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill.
While dough chills, prepare your filling. Here are some great options…
Dice up some champagne mangos and toss with sweetened shredded coconut.
Peel and dice up granny smith apples. (Apple pieces should be just slightly larger than a corn kernal.) Toss the apples with a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Toss fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – anything! – with a little sugar and squeeze of lemon juice.
Assemble the handpies:
Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 400 degrees.
Roll out your chilled dough on a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
Cut out whatever shape you’d like with an oversized cookie cutter, or other found object from your kitchen. (Large coffee cups make great cutters for circular hand pies.)
Fill the center of your shape so that you maintain about a 1/2 inch around the outside of the filling. Dip your finger in the egg wash and coat the edge along the outside of the filling.
Take a second shape and cover the filled piece. Gently push the edges together being careful not to push the filling out of the sides. Then, dip a fork into the egg wash and ‘seal’ the edges with the fork.
Using a pastry brush, wash the top of the hand pie thoroughly, then score with either a knife or a several fork pricks.
OPTIONAL: You can sprinkle colored pastry sugar over the top before baking. If you are making the apple pies, you can add chopped store-bought caramels and sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over the top for a ‘salted carmel apple’ pie.
Place the assembled pies onto a preheated baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.
These little gems are amazing warm… but just as yummy served cold – especially when thrown into a lunch pail for your little love.
Check out today’s AM Northwest segment from this morning where Dave and I made these up: