Sometimes as blogger's we get great kick backs (free kitchen gadgets and specialty foods) and other times, we get AMAZING kick backs. Being a select few from Foodbuzz's Publisher's Program to be entered into an 8 day Grecian extravanganza courtesy of Fage and winning would obviously take the cake (or shall I say baklava in this case?) But, don't worry. At the end of this post, I will tell you how you can enter and win this dream vacay as well.
Many people who know me, know that I started this blog out of not only my love for food, but my love for travel. I have been to many amazing places, yet Greece has always evaded me. I have wanted to go fiercely, and what many do not know is that Greece holds many wonderful childhood memories.
As an American traveling abroad, I think the one thing that draws us to travel and experience other cultures, is not just seeing these places, it is being able to become a part of their world. If even only for a few days.
In America everything is on the go. How can we get there faster? Can I be super woman, have a career and raise a family? Of course I can! I'm American! However, if we just sit back and look across Europe and many other parts of the world, life is a bit slower, but this also makes it sweeter. It's good living.
Ask anyone in many of these countries what constitutes a happy life and many would say family. Family is number one. While us Americans do find that admirable and many agree, sometimes we get so busy in the bustle of our country that it is hard to slow down and think and care for the ones we love.
I grew up next door to a true Greek family. Eugenia, Dimitri, my friend Anthipe and her two brothers. Eugenia was fierce in the kitchen. Something that was completely foreign to me next to the other language she spoke (Greek).
I would walk into her kitchen during Greek Easter to find massive amounts of Greek women braiding huge amounts of bread, making cheese (YES! Cheese!) out of a bucket and roasting a whole lamb out in the backyard.
Lamb? Oh,the horror when I was a child. Yes, this completely explains just how Americanized I was as a kid (happy to say I have broken out of that. Thank you very much)
Eugenia would even make her way on over to our yard every year when our olive tree would produce ripe fruit. We gave her free reign over that tree because what were we going to do with it? Usually the fruit would just fall off the branches and we would never think twice about it. Not Eugenia. That fruit produced liquid gold and that liquid gold was olive oil. Where we went to the grocery store to get it, Eugenia would make it and that's just a bit of the old world brought through. Just a bit of good living. Making something from scratch not only because it is out of tradition, but it was out of love and the desire for a healthy life for her family.
These neighbors of mine vastly expanded my horizons as a child. I devoured squid on a stick at their festival they worked every year and ate pieces of lamb like it was going out of style. And Baklava? Yeah, Eugenia taught my mom (can you believe it?!) how to make it. So, yes. I have a bona fide baklava recipe that I might just share one of these days :)
During this time of the year, we do get very busy getting ready for the Holiday's and the warp speed in which things need to be done. But, this doesn't mean that we can't take a little of that good life with us. Slow down a bit, enjoy the company of friends and family and throw in some healthy dishes every now and then because after all, we truly do care about the health and well being of those we love.
This is why I came up with this fantastic pumpkin pie smoothie using Fage 0% Greek yogurt. A healthy, seasonal breakfast on the go or snack that is absolutely creamy and good for you too. Just a bit of that good living.
As part of the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher program, I have been entered for the chance to win a trip to Greece courtesy of FAGE. You too can enter to win one of three trips to Greece by entering the FAGE Plain Extraordinary Greek Getaway here: http://www.fageusa.com/community/fage-greek-getaway
If you would like to make this smoothie into more of a healthy dessert, top with a bit of light whipped cream and candied nuts. I chose almonds as that was what I had, however, I think candied pecans would be perfect for this. Recipe for the candied almonds is below as well.
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1.5 cups non-fat milk
1/2 cup sugar or natural sweetener (works well with Splenda as well. Just remember to use only 1/4 cup if using Splenda)
3/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large container of Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt
Light whipped cream and candied nuts for garnish (optional)
1. Combine the pumpkin, milk, sweetener, and spice in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and then place in the refrigerator to fully cool.
2. Combine the yogurt and vanilla. Once the pumpkin mixture is cool, combine them both and stir until fully incorporated (you can also use a blender or hand mixer)
3. Top with light whipped cream and candied nuts if desired and enjoy!
This recipe can be adapted to incorporate any nuts you would like. They taste great warm and on their own as well. They also taste very much like the candied roasted nuts you can buy at carnival's and other shows. Yum!
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.Com
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 cups whole almonds
1. Place almonds on a baking sheet and roast in the oven under a broiler for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Flipping the almonds with a spatula every so often.
2. Combine the water, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup like coating (I noticed that once it reaches this point that the mixture will then turn quite crumbly very quickly. This is okay. Once this happens, immediately place on the baking sheet that is lined with wax paper.) Pour the almonds on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Separate almonds with forks. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.