**Note: This post was started on September 5 so the weather temperature is from last week.**
The weather has been sinfully beautiful this weekend. It reminds me so much of my home town which I miss often. When it's 70s - 80s degrees outside, I throw open all of the windows and bathe in the warm breezes. There's nothing like have clean, fresh air circulating within your home. It's always made me happy and I came to find out that it's good feng shui.
I had a hankering for some food, something simple, something easy, something homemade. I started out by concocting a drink.
4 large strawberries, cut into 1/4" slices
1 small, very ripe banana, cut into 1/4"slices
8 oz. Almond Breeze Vanilla Beverage
dash cinnamon (optional)
dash freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Place strawberry and banana slices into a quart freezer baggie. Squeeze lemon juice over the fruit in the bag. Push out the extra air from the baggie and seal. Place in the freezer. (Tear or cut up the lemon half and grind it in your garbage disposer or place it in your dish water as a natural boost to your regular cleaners.)
Remove the fruit from the freezer when the pieces have frozen solid. Break apart the fruit, if they have froze together. Place frozen fruit into a blender, add Almond Breeze beverage, and blend until smooth. Add more Almond Breeze, if needed to make a desirable consistency. Add spices and serve.
You can add supplements such as soy powder, wheat germ, or ground flax seeds to boost the nutritional value of the smoothie.
Don't forget to rinse out the baggie and re-use it for your next fruit smoothie.
Then I decided to work on two frozen desserts. One was a peach sorbet. The other was made of coconut milk. I've had a Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt machine forever. When I first got it, I made a couple of batches of ice cream which were absolutely delicious yet expensive to make. The expensive convinced me not to use this machine for years but I couldn't let it go. Now was the time to put it back to work.
I didn't have enough fresh peaches or nectarines to make the sorbet. So, I found a large can of sliced peaches in heavy syrup and decided to use that. I put the entire can in the freezer while I started on the second recipe.
I had a can of coconut milk sitting in the back of my refrigerator. I got it out, opened it, and discovered that the milk was frozen solid. While the peaches were freezing, the coconut milk needed to thaw.
Now, I went on to the next experiment. I bought some yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant from the farmer's market last Friday. I decided to concoct a squash and brown rice casserole.
Summer Squash and Brown Rice Casserole
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
3-4 small yellow squash, slice into 1/4" rounds
3-4 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2-3 Fairytale eggplant (or other small, mild variety), sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
4 T. flour
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 c. milk (or milk substitute)
8 oz sharp cheddar or cheese of your choice, shredded
fresh ground pepper
4 c. cooked brown rice
Grease a large casserole dish with olive oil. Set aside.
Saute the squash, zucchini, and eggplant in the extra virgin olive, in batches, in a heavy pot. Remove the vegetables and set aside.
Prepare a Bechemal (white) sauce by heating the 4 T. olive oil in the pot. Stir in the flour, using a whisk, and continue stirring until smooth. Let the oil-flour mixture cook, but not brown, for about 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, warm the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes or until hot but not boiling. Slowly pour the hot milk into the oil-flour mixture, stirring constantly with the whisk to avoid lumps. Continue to stir until all of the milk is incorporated. Once the sauce starts to thicken add the cheese and stir until melted. Let the sauce cook until thicken, about 2 - 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix together the vegetables, rice, and cheese sauce until combined. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Bake in the oven at 375 until heated through and bubbly.
This casserole can be a main course served with a tossed salad and bread. Or, it can be a side dish.
Now to the peach sorbet.
Easy Peach Sorbet
28 oz can sliced peaches in heavy syrup
1/4 c. - 1/2 c. light corn syrup
Freeze peaches in syrup until ice crystals start to form. Pour into a blender or food processor and process until smooth, adding corn syrup until desired sweetness is reached. Process peach mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions.
Christina thought the sorbet wasn't sweet enough. I liked it because it wasn't too sweet. I think next time I'll try to use fresh peaches and add some cinnamon to the mix to make it more like a peach cobbler in taste.
Finally, the frozen coconut milk dessert. I admit that this didn't come out the way I wanted. That's what happens sometimes when you experiment in the kitchen. I searched the Internet for recipes but I didn't find any that met my needs. I won't torture you with my recipe. I'll keep trying variations until I discover something that works.
That's it for now. I hope you try one of the recipes and let me know what you think. Until next time. Enjoy!