basil

Greek Cherry-Basil Pops

One of the best things about coming home from New York City was being able to actually experience a true, suburban summer. Hearing the birds chirp, smelling freshly cut lawn and actually being able to lay outside without hearing 14 ambulances drive by are just among the list of things I love about a suburban summer in Cleveland. While I’m still in the pre-back-to-school-summer mood, I wanted to create something that would capture summer in just one taste. Alas: the popsicle. A summer dessert icon- so sweet and frozen, with all the flavors you want compacted into one swift lick. I would make popsicles.

My mom bought me POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone, by Krystina Castella at the beginning of the summer, after I raved about Jeni’s Mango Lassi Pop. I was unable to utilize the cook book in New York but was determined to make at least one of the recipes while I was home for just 10 short days. I have tweaked the recipe a little to make it my own, but it was definitely inspired by this amazing book full of more popsicle recipes than you could ever make in your lifetime. Here is my recipe for Greek Cherry-Basil Pops (inspired by Bing Cherry and Vanilla Pops):

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 bunch basil leaves, roughly chopped

3 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped

3/4 cup cherry juice

1 cup greek yogurt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Sweet Summer Cherries

Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and basil to a light boil. Allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool before straining into a bowl. Discard the basil. This will be your basil simple syrup.

In the same saucepan, simmer the cherry juice, 1/4 cup basil simple syrup and cherries over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool, then add the yogurt and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is completely uniform in color. Pour into six 8-ounce popsicle molds and freeze for at least six hours.

Cherries in 3 beautiful shades of pink (from left): cherries in the pot, cherries with juice and syrup simmering, cherry mixture once yogurt and vanilla were added.

Let the pops stand at room temperature for about five minutes before removing from the molds. If they are still stuck, try running the molds under hot water for a few seconds, and they should slip right out! Your result: sweet summer in one swift lick- just what I intended.

So they didn’t come out perfectly, but tasted just as sweet!

Note: if you have extra mixture, like I did, you can pour it into small ramekins and freeze for a frozen yogurt-ice cream-like treat instead!

Eggstra! Eggstra!

Cooking for one is hard. Grocery shopping for one… is even harder. I tend to buy an overabundance of fruits and vegetables, and then ending up having to throw some of it out or eat so many blueberries that I might just turn into one (Re: “Violet you’re turning violet, Violet!” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This week, my ingredient abundance is in the form of eggs. I wasn’t able to find a half carton of eggs and got stuck buying a full dozen. I know eggs keep longer than other items but I still have 12 eggs to use, which is quite a challenge for one person who usually eats Greek yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast. Alas, I found a conclusion… sort of. Last night I made use of four of the eggs, providing me with at least four meals.

For dinner: Favorite Vegetable Egg Drop Soup. As I was eating this I realized it has my three favorite veggies- sweet potatoes, kale and mushrooms. Maybe some subconscious decisions going on there, but I didn’t do this on purpose when I was grocery shopping. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

1/4 cup chopped vidalia onion

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 box low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock

4 cups chopped kale, stems removed

1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut into discs and quartered

1 cup chopped portobello mushrooms

1-2 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper (and I added smoked paprika and chile powder) to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until they begin to soften, 10 minutes. Add the stock and let mixture come to a boil. Once this happens, add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the kale and seasonings. Once the kale is wilted, add the eggs in a slow, steady stream, continuously stirring the pot. Remove the soup from the heat and serve!

I accidentally bought Japanese sweet potatoes but they were so delicious nonetheless!

Next up, lunch: Curried egg salad with basil and peppers

Ingredients

2 eggs

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt- I like Fage or Chobani

1/3 cup chopped red bell peppers

2 tbs chopped fresh basil (for anyone in NYC use Gotham Greens… best basil I’ve ever eaten)

2 tsp yellow curry powder

2 tsp cumin

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Hard boil the eggs. Place eggs in a pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Turn the heat to high and once the water is at a rumbling boil. Remove the pot from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and let cool. Once the eggs are cool, peel and mash with a fork.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs with the rest of the ingredients until uniformly mixed.

Serve in pita with lettuce and tomato, or just eat it straight from the bowl!

Mmmm… eggciting, eggsquisite… and damn delicious!