A recipe to help an almost vegetarian keep cool in all this heat

This is how I deal with this sweltering heat: With popsicles. The best friend of everyone this summer.

Now, for all of you that have not advanced beyond the frozen-orange-juice-in-a-dixie-cup stage, have I got a treat for you. Not one, but two recipes to make your own yummy (and super easy) popsicles. Nom nom!

I got the recipes from the author of a pretty little book called POPS! Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella.

Pops for everyone
Let me tell you about this book. First, it has more than 100 recipes. Like Blueberry Cheesecake. And Sour Plum. And (a personal favorite) Thai Iced Coffee. Second, it also has treats for grown-ups such as Mimosa and Sweet Martini. Just don't confuse the kids treats with the adult treats unless you want kids reeling around drunk and falling into a stupor behind the lawn chairs. Actually, now that I think about it . . .

Ice molds
And here's the cute part. If you don't have any ice molds, the book also has some very cool techniques for making molds out of everything from small toys to found objects. Just be sure to wash 'em first.

A picture is worth . . .
And can we talk pictures? Color. And lots of ‘em. Which is good for me because browsing the visuals helps me decide what to make. And with visuals this good, there is a lot for me to make.

But let's cut to the chase
I know why you are here. You want a recipe. Well, thanks to the generosity of the author, I have not one, but TWO recipes just for you.

Of course, if you like these and want more, you can get ‘em at her site. But for now . . .

Vegetarian recipe for PB & Sesame Raspberry Pops
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups raspberries
2 cups raspberry juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Place peanut butter, raspberries, honey and yogurt in a food processor or blender; process until mixture is smooth.

Add the honey and vanilla; process again.

By hand stir in the sesame seeds.

Fill the ice pop molds with mixture.

Freeze for a minimum of 6 hours until firm.

Remove from freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing from the molds. Serve.

Variation 1: PB & Banana Pop: Replace the raspberries with 3 overripe bananas.

* For even more exotic tastes try substituting peanut butter with almond, cashew, soybean, sunflower or hazelnut butter. The raspberries can be substituted with any berry making countless variations.

Bing Cherry Vanilla Pop
3 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1 cup cherry juice
1 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons honey

Place 2 cups cherries, cherry juice, yogurt, vanilla and honey in a food processor or blender; process until mixture is smooth.

By hand stir in 1 cup cherries.

Fill the ice pop molds with mixture.

Freeze for a minimum of 6 hours until firm.

Remove from freezer. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing from the molds. Serve.

Variation: Sour Cherry Vanilla Pop: Before you begin Step 1 simmer cherry juice, ¼ cup sugar and all three cups of sour cherries on low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool and continue to step and delete step 2.

But if summer to you is more fresh fruit than fruit pops, then . . .
The same publisher also has an incredibly handy book called Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable at the Market by Aliza Green. Totally helpful, the book reminds me of one of those bird identification books. See, just like a birding book, it has all these color pictures to help you identify the produce. Also included is information on selecting the ripest items, storing them, and preparing them (here is my favorite tip: squeeze asparagus before you buy it. If it squeaks, it is fresh!). Really handy at the farmer's market.

And if you like this one, you might want to look at another one of her books: Field Guide to Herbs & Spices: How to Identify, Select, and Use Virtually Every Seasoning at the Market. As helpful and thorough as the Produce book, you get everything from color photographs to help you identify herbs and spices to historical information to recipes. How handy is that, I ask you?

Stay cool!