Mason Jar Love and Popsicles

As I type this post, it is about 85 degrees in my apartment. Bare minimum, probably hotter. We haven’t brought our AC up from storage yet (that is happening this afternoon, even though I’m pretty sure the heat wave is supposed to break in a day or so), and our apartment retains heat like crazy. Opening the windows doesn’t seem to help, and due to some screen issues and our cat’s enjoyment of sitting in windows with screens that fall out, we can’t even open all the windows. It’s pretty terrible when you dread going inside your home because you know how bad it’s going to be. I did not sleep last night. I ate an entire pint of lemon sorbet in the middle of the night out of desperation, which turned my stomach due to the sugar and was only a momentary fix.

Since I’ve got a whole bunch of culinary adventures to share with you, I’ll stop whining. But this heat is going to kick my butt this summer if it keeps up! I’ll begin backwards with my adventures in popsicle making and our kayaking trip yesterday! Dan and I rented a double kayak on a local lake and took it around for a spin! There was a great breeze and it was early enough in the day that the heat hadn’t gotten out of control yet, so we enjoyed it thoroughly! It’s great exercise for your arms and core, and even though we don’t really do it strenuously, it’s better than sitting around on a weekend morning! We like to float to the middle of a lake and just take in the surroundings and explore the little islands and inlets.

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The heat makes me crave iced cream or frozen yogurt, too, so I decided to buy some popsicle molds and make my own as a healthier fix for this craving. I think my $7 Target plastic molds are kind of terrible, though, because I’ve tried twice now and both times the pops came out wrong. The sticks slid right out of them or cracked them in half. I didn’t use a recipe the first attempt, and just layered fruit and vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt in the molds – disaster – but I used a recipe for the second attempt and even though they were delicious (and only about 150 calories a pop), they didn’t unmold right and I was left with a mess. Time to upgrade!

Attempt #1 (sans recipe):

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Attempt #2 (with recipe):

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I did some tinkering with tofu last week as well! And I’m on a Mason Jar kick so I made a whole bunch of different things in those just to prove how versatile they are! I made a chickpea curry with tofu but omitted the cauliflower because I didn’t have it (no photo because I used silken tofu when it called for firm and it came out ugly) and a curried tofu scramble that came out much prettier!

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I also found a Greek yogurt Mason Jar cheesecake recipe for two (HEAVEN, RIGHT?!) and decided to modify that to suit not having any cream cheese at that time. I subbed an equal amount of light silken tofu for the cream cheese and added the grated zest of one lemon and the juice of half of that lemon. I baked in large mason jars in a loaf pan turned into a water bath, and topped with fresh fruit. The result was deliciously sweet and relatively low-calorie and I think could be easily modified to be entirely vegan so I could bring it in for my co-worker who can’t have dairy (as I promised her I’d bring her a treat)!

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I also whipped up some very low-calorie vegan mini donuts for my fitness buddy, who loves them but doesn’t often get to indulge anymore. I brought them to her in one of the jars so she could use it as a juice glass or something afterward. It made so many that they came in at about 28 calories each! How do you resist that? I love Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog for things like this. The recipe is here, and I used whole wheat pastry flour, almond milk, and my mini donut machine!

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I made various parfaits in the jars of just yogurt and fruit, and we’re using one for our toothbrush holder in the bathroom as well! I also whipped up a one minute pumpkin cupcake for one using my PB2 as the peanut flour and the Greek yogurt and stevia “frosting” she suggests! Looks ugly in the photo but tastes great!

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We did breakfast for dinner a couple nights, too! I had red velvet pancakes for one and I made us egg white crepes another night! (I subbed a little more whole wheat pastry flour for the wheat germ as the recipe suggests, and I pureed frozen raspberries and added a bit of food coloring for the red color. The crepe recipe is here, and I used almond milk, omitted the powdered sugar, and used fresh fruit instead of frozen).

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I made a healthy salmon and roasted butternut squash another night so Dan wouldn’t cry about all the vegetarian and vegan things floating around. Did you know Eating Well has an entire section tagged with recipes for two? This salmon recipe was written for exactly the amount of fish I purchased and we had everything else in the house…fate, right?

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And finally, I’ll share the photos of the Coffee and Donut Cupcakes I made for my co-worker’s last day on Friday! My office is obsessed with coffee, so I used a good bold Starbucks coffee in the actual cupcake, and Starbucks Via packets in a strong roast for the grounds it calls for in both the cake and the buttercream. The mini donut maker came in handy once again for the little donuts on top! I made them in miniature so everyone could have at least one in the office (it made roughly 44 which was more than plenty and enough for Dan and I to have some to snack on), and used the cupcake liner set my in-laws had given me last Christmas. They were VERY well received and people took photos of them to put on various social media sites to taunt their friends about their “breakast.” I call that a win!

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Today, I think we will focus on getting that AC in and maybe taking a trip somewhere with an industrial AC for coffee or lunch or something. It’s been a fun weekend (we went out with friends last night to watch the Bruins and have drinks, that’s always a treat), and now that it’s summer we have so many new adventures ahead! Happy Sunday!

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