That’s right, my first giveaway on this blog! I am as excited as you are, let me tell you! Recently, a representative at Stonyfield Farm contacted me to ask if they could send some coupons my way, and to ask if I would be interested in trying Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt, and letting you all know what I thought of it. Let’s see…Free yogurt? As I already incorporate Greek yogurt into my breakfast routine on a regular basis, of course my answer was a resounding YES!
But of course, I am always thinking of you, my readers…so I asked if I could share the love, and if Stonyfield Farm would be interested in sharing some free yogurt with you as well. And guess what the answer to that was? (Yes, of course.) More details at the end of this post on that, but be sure to read and enter comments for your chance to win!
To be honest, I love yogurt. But let’s be clear…I don’t love the artificially colored and flavored junk. I don’t care if it has less sugar, less calories, etc. It also has less taste. And you know, life’s too short to eat crappy yogurt. I get up way too early in the mornings to want to face a less-than-tasty breakfast.
Enter Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is strained, making it thicker than regular yogurt. Not only does that make it more versatile in recipes, (such as the cake recipe I’ll also be sharing with you) but it also gives it an incredibly creamy texture. This means that even the fat-free yogurt has the texture of a silky, sinful dessert. And Oikos Organic Greek yogurt is organic, (hence the name…) so it is made without artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners, not to mention it is free of pesticides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, and artificial growth hormones. What could be better than that?
I picked up a few containers of the fat-free Oikos Greek yogurt, and immediately served myself up a portion of it. My current favorite way to eat it? Just a little drizzle of honey, and topped with some fresh raspberries and blackberries. Yum. Creamy, silky, and with just enough tang to perfectly compliment the sweet honey and the sweet-tart berries.
Of course, Greek yogurt is good for more than just eating. You can use it in place of sour cream or mayonnaise in a lot of recipes. I haven’t used yogurt in a lot of my cooking previously, so I thought I’d look around a bit for a few ideas. Deb at Smitten Kitchen posted a lemon blueberry cake that sounded so perfectly delicious, I immediately knew I had to bake that ASAP. The recipe originally comes from Ina Garten. I happened to have an overabundance of blueberries (I went a little overboard at the farmer’s market), so decided to go ahead and make the recipe pretty much as written, substituting the fat-free Greek yogurt for plain whole-milk yogurt.
This cake? OMG. First of all, I am partial to any baked goods that involve fruit, and particularly lemon, but this? This was amazing. So moist, and just enough tang and tartness from the lemon and blueberries, but with just enough sweetness to balance everything out. Don’t be fooled by its humble appearance. It’s not just any ol’ loaf cake. This cake is the type of cake that if you happen to bring it over to someone as a “Oh, I just happened to bake this for you” cake, you’ll be begged for the recipe. (or begged to make the cake again and again!) It’s the “Okay, I’ll have just one more piece” cake. It’s that one kind of cake that you’ll crave that isn’t chocolate. Yes, my friends, it’s that kind of cake.
Of course, you could change up this recipe to incorporate just about any kind of fruit. Don’t like blueberries? Omit them, maybe add some poppyseeds, and make a lemon poppyseed cake. Or add raspberries, or pitted cherries. Omit the lemon and make it a plain cake. Change it up by using almond extract instead of vanilla. It’s difficult to mess this one up. Let your imagination run wild!
1 1/2 c + 1 T flour (if you’re skipping the fruit, you can also skip the last tablespoon of flour)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt
1 c fat-free Greek yogurt
1 c plus 1 T sugar
3 large eggs
2 t grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed (the smaller the berries, the better)
1/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.
And of course, as promised, the giveaway! Stonyfield Farm has so generously offered to give the winner a coupon for 1 free 16 oz. Oikos yogurt, 2 free 5.3 oz. Oikos yogurts, and $4 worth of other Stonyfield coupons. But as if free food isn’t already cool enough, I’ll sweeten the deal a bit more! I will also send the winner a very, very gently used copy of Marian Burros’ Cooking for Comfort: More than 100 Wonderful Recipes That Are as Satisfying to Cook as They Are to Eat. Marian Burros is a veteran food writer/columnist for the New York Times, and definitely has a soft spot for comfort foods. (so many of us do!) There are some delicious recipes in this book that you’re sure to enjoy.
How to enter: Please leave a comment for me, and tell me your favorite way to eat yogurt, or your favorite way to use it in cooking. I will choose a winner from the comments using a random number generator, and will email the winner to obtain their mailing address at that time. Deadline is June 27, 2009. Good luck everyone, and I can’t wait to hear some yummy ideas for Greek yogurt!