School is out as of this week, and that means summer is officially here! For me, no food represents the sweet freedom of summer as ice cream. In honor of Ella graduating Kindergarten (oh geez, I’m getting teary), I developed a strawberry frozen yogurt just for her. It’s sweet, creamy, bright and a tad sassy (just like her), and it gets whipped up without an ice cream maker. It’s made with frozen strawberries, honey and Greek yogurt (so it’s even nutritious!) with a soft serve texture that rivals anything you can buy at the store (check out the how-to video below). Not that I have an issue with the store-bought stuff. In fact, I have to get something off my chest.
Let Me Be Honest.
Lest I ever give off the impression that everything that comes out of my kitchen is 100% made-from-scratch surrounded by a halo of nutrition, don’t be fooled. Here are the facts. I have no qualms about giving my kids an organic frozen pizza when James and I go out for a date night. We always have a stash of vegetable burgers in the freezer for those “I can’t bear the thought of cooking a damn thing” evenings. Tortilla chips? Couldn’t live without them. Hot dogs? Love ‘em. For gosh sakes, what’s better than s’mores in the summer, and let me tell you, I’m not going to make homemade graham crackers and marshmallows (well, there’s a chance I will, but that’s just because I’m a cook and it’s what I love to do—give me a stove over a sports game, garden or fishing pond any day). I could go on. While most of our meals in this house are made from scratch, I’m no purist. We all have days when home cooking just ain’t gonna happen, and it’s good to have fall-backs. To be honest, certain processed foods can be lifesavers on crazy nights. I just try to choose wisely. I only buy processed foods that are made with ingredients I can recognize, organic if possible, and low in sugar (well, except for ice cream and chocolate, of course). They’re supplements to our diet, not the main caboodle.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to getting homemade meals on the table, it’s about finding a balance that works for you and your family. Sometimes we’re tired, or sometimes we just want to sit on the floor and play with our kids instead of cooking. It’s OK to have an out. Our increasingly busy schedules coupled with the “perfect” images that bombard us on social media where meals are staged and perfectly lit (ahem, yeah, I know), have placed a huge amount of pressure on us to do more, more, more (and better, better, better). As a writer and a cook I have to take pictures of my food (often begrudgingly), and I have to care about making it look somewhat enticing, but that’s just because it’s my job. When it comes to feeding our families, which is ultimately what I’m trying to help people do, who cares how it looks? Who cares if it’s not plated perfectly? The last thing we need is more stress in our lives. After all, it’s just food. As my wonderful friend Amanda always reminds me when things get overwhelming: drop the “shoulds.” You’re doing great.
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt – No Ice Cream Maker Needed
Ice cream is one of my family’s very favorite desserts, and yes, most of it comes from the grocery store (or, if we’re lucky, from our local Moo Moos Creamery, which is a serious addiction and reason enough to come visit me this summer). But when we’re craving a mid-week treat that’s not too sweet, we blend up our own soft-serve style ice creams and frozen yogurt using the food processor or blender. I started doing this when writing my book and developing my Craftsy class, and now we’re hooked. In my book I feature a banana ice cream made simply with frozen bananas and milk (they go right into the food processor, and voila! creamy banana ice cream!), and in my Craftsy class I make a chocolate chunk vanilla ice cream using milk ice cubes (sounds weird, but tastes like a lighter version of a Blizzard). Since Ella is currently strawberry-obsessed, I developed this frozen yogurt for her using a bag of frozen berries, honey for sweetness, lime zest and juice for brightness, and thick Greek yogurt. If I have vanilla bean on hand, I also scrape in the seeds for added flavor. Ella adores it. We usually can’t resist eating it straight out of the food processor, but you can freeze it for 20-30 minutes to set up slightly. Either way, the result is a creamy, luscious frozen yogurt that tastes like the magic and simplicity of childhood (and couldn’t we all use a little bit more of that?). But listen, if you choose to go to your local yogurt shop instead, I totally get it.
Get the Recipe!
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (without an ice cream maker!)
- 2 7- ounce containers (about 1 2/3 cups) plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
- 10 ounces (about 2 heaping cups) frozen strawberries
- ¼ cup honey , plus more if desired
- ½ teaspoon lime zest
- ½ teaspoon lime juice
- Seeds from ½ vanilla bean (optional)*
Before beginning, pace the yogurt in the freezer for 20 minutes to chill.
Dump the frozen strawberries into the food processor and pulse until the berries are coarsely chopped.
Add the yogurt (from the freezer) and the remaining ingredients. Scrape in the seeds from half a vanilla bean, if using. Process, scraping down the sides and breaking up any chunks as needed, until the mixture is thick and the strawberries are mostly incorporated with just a few chunks. You can serve the frozen yogurt right away, or you can transfer it to a loaf pan and freeze it for 20-30 minutes to set up.
- This frozen yogurt is meant to be eaten right away or after a quick freeze. If frozen for a long period of time, it will get very hard. If that happens, simply leave it out at room temperature for 15-20 minutes to soften before scooping.
- To scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean, cut it in half lengthwise, then use the back of a small knife to scrape out the seeds.