The weather this weekend was incredible. Seriously, if you looked up 'autumn' in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of this weekend. Jared and I spent lots of time celebrating the best things about fall. There's something about the cool, crisp weather that feels so cozy and makes adults crave the things that they enjoyed as kids - things like apple picking, carving pumpkins and eating comfort foods. This weather also makes me want to spend more time outdoors (which generally means ditching yoga for a walk outside in the evening).
On Sunday, Jared and I decided to head upstate to go apple picking. We decided to head to the Hudson River Valley (right near where we went to college) because we know the area well and wanted to see the new Walkway Over the Hudson....and I'll be honest, we were both really eager to drive by campus and reminisce about our college days. It was so nice to spend the day together outside, and I returned from our trip with a ton of apples that are ready to be made into healthy recipes
A few things that I learned this weekend:
1. Apple picking can easily spin out of control. You SAY you're not going to get too many apples and maybe you even promise that you won't get more than ten - next thing you know, you can't even carry all of the apples that you bought and you have no idea what to do with all of them.
2. Thinking about the good ol' days feels really good. After Jared and I did the Walkway over the Hudson, we walked over to Noah's in Poughkeepsie, which was our favorite college bar. It was really nice to stop in there, look at how things have (and haven't) changed and talk about how much fun we had at Marist.
3. It's important to make time to relax. Seriously you guys, I know you're busy but you need to make time to turn off your phone and go outside. You'll feel better and when you turn your phone back on and come back to reality, you'll be a more productive and calm member of society (or at least I am).
So on to the apples. I have a huge bag of beautiful apples (Empire, Fuji and Golden & Red Delicious) that are begging to be eaten. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I absolutely must have apple cake with yogurt sauce. This cake isn't too sweet so it makes a perfect breakfast, and at 159 calories a slice, it also makes a perfect snack or dessert. I'm also a big fan of my apartment smelling like delicious baked goods, and the cinnamon, sugar and apples really handle that job.
In sum, my advice to you this week is to enjoy the weather, turn off your phone and bake something that tastes like fall.
Scrumptious Apple Cake (from All New Light Cooking from Publications International Ltd. 2003 edition)
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups cored peeped apple slices (I used Fuji)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until slightly foamy; add sugar, applesauce and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; add to applesauce mixture. Spread apples in a 13x9 inch pan or 9 inch round springform pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter over apples. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Prepare yogurt glaze; spread evenly over cooled cake.
Combine 1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla nonfat yogurt, 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste) and 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir together until smooth.
Did you know that our girl Rachael Ray has a magazine? Did you know it's bright and shiny and contains hundreds of fattening recipes? It's cool though - we're down with indulging sometimes. I don't normally adapt recipes to make them healthier - generally I either eat healthy, or I don't. I trust the experts to write their own recipes.
However - the other night, I took a risk. I came across a RR recipe for Sour Cream Strawberry Custard, and I thought, "I must have this!" And then I looked at the ingredients and I thought, "WOWZERS! I do not require this much cream and sugar" So what do we do in life when something needs to change to be a success? We adapt.
Normally I hate using Splenda as a sugar substitute in recipes - I find that it has a really chemical aftertaste. The Splenda worked in this recipe because the sour cream took the edge off. I was also EXTREMELY nervous about the fat-free half and half substitution (because let's get real - fat free half and half makes absolutely no sense) - but to my surprise this whole thing came together really well.
The sour cream really gave this custard a tang that balanced out the sweetness of the strawberries. I loved how creamy this was - and it was super easy - I'd make it again in a heartbeat.
A few tips: 1. use good balsamic vinegar 2. don't use too much basil (consider using mint instead) 3. remember, this makes 4 servings (so keep yourself honest)
Now go whip this up, because it's cool, fresh and easy - and DAMN it's hot out there.
Sour Cream Strawberry Custard (adapted from Everyday With Rachael Ray Magazine)
In a small bowl, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin onto 2 1/2 tablespoons cold water. In another bowl, toss together 2 cups sliced strawberries, 3 tablespoons Splenda and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar; let sit. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat 1 cup fat-free half and half with 6 tablespoons of Splenda over medium heat, stirring until sugar has melted. Whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and the softened gelatin, then whisk in 1 cup of fat free sour cream. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Top with the strawberries in balsamic syrup and a few fresh basil leaves.