Friday, March 29, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

I'm not too adventurous when it comes to making new things, like yogurt, for example. My husband had the idea and decided to try it. It turned out awesome, so now that I have the bug I think yogurt-making may become a regular activity around here. I'll just give you the link to the site that we followed.

Okay, so here are three tidbits for you with your homemade plain yogurt.

1) Remember Michelle's post on Creamy Vanilla Frozen Yogurt that she posted in January? It calls for plain Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is just a thicker yogurt than regular. If you want to make thicker yogurt to make Michelle's frozen yogurt, let the whey strain for longer. We actually strained our yogurt overnight (put a lid on the strainer if you do this) and in the morning we had lots of whey and very thick yogurt. We added some whey back in and stirred it up well to get a good consistency. But that's how you can make the thick yogurt.

2) Use your homemade plain yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. It's a great healthy substitute that still adds creaminess to your recipes.

3) Make your whey useful instead of discarding it like Mel mentions in her instructions. Whey is the liquid part strained out from the yogurt in the last step. It is actually very healthy and useful. It contains all the water-soluble vitamins and minerals from the milk. There are lots of things you can use it for. I put some in my oatmeal this morning, and I've found a list of other things you can do with it. I'll share some of those with you so that good healthy whey won't go to waste.

1) Substitute it for any recipe that calls for water (or milk). I'm going to try it in my bread recipe next time.

2) Freeze it for later use. I ended up getting a lot of whey, so I'm planning to freeze half of it and use it in recipes later.

3) Use the whey to cook rice, pasta, or beans.

4) Use it as a substitute for broth or stock in soup and stew recipes.

5) Use it when you make fruit smoothies or milkshakes.

6) Use it as a marinade by adding spices to it to soak your meats in.

7) Dilute it a lot with water in a separate container and water your plants with it. Straight whey could "burn" your plants.

Anyway, the sky is the limit on uses for whey. I just googled different ideas and shared my favorites with you. Enjoy your homemade yogurt and whey!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dinner Rolls

These rolls turn out so delicious and beautiful and light.  I got the recipe from "Our Best Bites" cookbook that my sister gave me. I made a few slight changes. One is that I formed them into butterhorns rather than just balls.

* Tip:  Use WHOLE milk, or, as I did, part cream, part 2 % milk.  They need the fat.

Dinner Rolls
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
8 -9 cups flour (I use 8- even a little less)
3 beaten eggs

Combine the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until the butter is melted.  Remove from the heat and let it cool to lukewarm.
  While the mixture cools, dissolve the yeast in in the 2/3 cup warm water with the 1 Tablespoon sugar.  Mix well until the yeast is soft.  let it stand for about 10 minutes.  The yeast should be bubbling up.  If it isn't, start over.
   In a large bowl, combine the milk mixture with 3 cups of the flour.  Beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl.  Add the yeast and beat on high for 3 minutes.  Add the beaten eggs and continue to beat.
   Stir in the remaining flour cup by cup.  The amount of flour varies, so don't add too much.  I used about 8 cups total.  The dough will be very soft.  It should come away from the sides of the bowl, but still sticky to the touch.  Don't add too much flour.  Place the bowl in a warm place.  If you're using a bosch mixer, just put the plastic top on and let the dough rise for about an hour.
Punch the dough down ( or let the Bosch do it.)  LIGHTLY  flour your work surface (a Sil pat mat works great.  Mine has circle markings on it which is so nice to guide me in my circle size.)  Don't use much flour.
Form an oblong roll and, with a pizza cutter or thread, cut the dough in half.
Put half of the dough on your work surface and roll out a12" circle.  With your hands, put some softened butter all over the circle.  You don't need a lot, maybe 2 Tablespoons.  Cut the circle in half, then cut that in half- making 1/4ths.  Now cut each of the 1/4ths into 1/3rd, making twelve triangles.  Roll each triangle from the outside in.
Put the rolls point down on a baking sheet (lined with a silicone mat if you have one.)
Repeat with the other 1/2 dough.

Cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown.  Rub a stick of butter over the tops of the rolls when you first take them out of the oven.  Serve warm.  Yummy.
You can freeze the rolls on a cookie sheet after you form them and before they rise. As soon as they're frozen, put them in a gallon ziploc bag.   Then, when you want to use them, put them on a cookie sheet and let them thaw, then rise.  Bake as above.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Salisbury Steaks with Gravy

Salisbury Steaks with mashed potatoes and gravy and a side of peas and carrots.  Comfort food?   I have made Salisbury steaks my whole married life, but recently I've been making this version that finishes cooking the steaks right in the gravy. Man, it's good!   My meat and potatoes husband loves this dish!

Salisbury Steaks with Gravy
2 lbs. ground beef
1 pkg. dry French Onion Soup mix
1/2 cup Ritz cracker crumbs
1 egg
3 packets brown gravy mix (or if you have a large "Costco" container of this, it's a heaping 1/2 cup)
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a 13 x9 pan.  In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, soup mix, crumbs, and egg.  Use your hands.  Form into 6 -8 patties.  In a large skillet, brown both sides of the patties.  Put the browned patties into the prepared 13x 9 pan.  Combine the gravy mix with 2 1/2 cups water  and the sour cream. It helps to heat the water in the microwave so the sour cream mixes in better.  Pour the gravy over the patties.  Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.  Serve with mashed potatoes.

Recipe from Real Mom Kitchen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Creamy Potato Bacon Soup

I tried a new recipe for Potato Soup.  My first impression is that it wasn't as good as my Vegetable Chowder (well honestly, hardly anything is!), but it is easier and it was really good.  Especially the leftovers are delicious.

Creamy Potato Bacon Soup
4-6 rashers of bacon, cooked and chopped (or you can use the pre-cooked bacon)
1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
I onion, chopped
1 quart water with 4 teaspoons Better Than Bullion
4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, chopped
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups half and half
Salt and Pepper as needed

In the bacon fat (or oil), cook the onion until soft.  Add the garlic at the end and cook for about a minute.  Meanwhile, heat the water with the bullion in the microwave.  Mix well and pour into the pot.  Add the other vegetables.  Boil until the veggies are soft.  Add the cream and heat through, but do not boil.  Taste to correct seasonings.    Serve with a crusty bread.

Monday, March 25, 2013


This dessert was introduced to us by a friend (who got it from a restaurant) and has become a family favorite. It has 3 super simple parts:

Fill 4 (or one for each person are serving) greased ramekins with cookie dough. Bake at 350 until the outside is cooked and the inside is warm and doughy. Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat fudge sauce. Scrape sides of ramekin to release cookie and turn cookie onto serving plate. Top with ice cream and hot fudge sauce. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love this recipe! And the wheat flour and wheat germ make me feel that it is at least a little more healthy without giving up taste.

3 c. flour (I use 1 1/2 cup wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup white flour)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. soda
2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
3 1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. wheat germ (Optional. Add an extra 1/2 cup of oats if you don't use this.)
1 package chocolate chips

Make dry mixture of flour, salt and soda in a bowl and set aside. Beat shortening, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together well. Add 4 eggs; beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add oats and wheat germ. Stir in 1 package chocolate chips. Drop batter onto cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Cool on sheets for 2 minutes before placing on wire rack.

Makes 7 dozen. That is a little too much for my family at one time. So I roll the extra cookie dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. I put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours, until frozen through. Then I place the cookie dough balls into a gallon size Ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. When ready to use, put as many balls as desired onto greased cookie sheet, let thaw 30 minutes and cook as directed above (Let's be honest. Most the time I pop them in the oven frozen and they taste great.). A quick and easy treat...perfect to use for pazookies.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Orange Julius

A Sunday evening tradition in our home is Orange Julius.  We don't have it every week, but we often have this or Peach Malt - both blender drinks.  I'll post the simple Peach Malt recipe another time.  Orange Julius is my favorite- winter or summer.

Orange Julius

1/2 to 3/4 can of 12 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/3 to 1/2 cup of white sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Blend it all together.
Fill the blender nearly full with ice.  Crush and blend together. Taste and add more orange juice concentrate if needed.  Happy Sunday evening!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Easy Rice Pudding with Leftover Rice

I love rice pudding.  I had some leftover rice.  It seemed like my mother used to make rice pudding out of leftover rice,  so I went to to see if I could find a recipe that started with leftover rice.  I found one.   It's probably not as good as when it's done the "real" way, but it was yummy and fast and satisfied my craving.  I really like it for breakfast, too.

2 cups cooked white rice
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
1/3- 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
(Nuts, Raisins, other dried fruits as desired)

In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Bring to a soft boil.  Reduce the heat to low/ simmer. Cover and cook for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until it's thick and creamy.  Add nuts, raisins, or other dried fruit as you serve it, as desired.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Quick Peanut Butter Bars

Need a quick snack? These delicious peanut butter bars are the "healthy" version of no-bake cookies. They use no refined/processed sugar, yet they taste amazingly indulgent. They came together in only about 5 minutes prep time. The hardest part is allowing them to cool for about 30 minutes after whipping them up. They were a big hit with my whole family - adults and kids alike.  

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  •  3/4 cup honey - I used agave and honey to fill up to 3/4 cup
  • 2 cups uncooked rolled oats 
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or any dried fruit of your choice - I used 1/4 cup raisins and 1/4 cup Craisins
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or other seeds or nuts of your choice - I used 1/4 cup whole almonds and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Warm peanut butter and honey in frying pan until ingredients are mixed and runny.
  • Stir in the oats, dried fruit, and nuts/seeds until everything is nicely blended together.  
  • Pour mixture into 9x9 pan. Use a spatula to press it evenly into the pan.
  • Let the mixture cool for 30 minutes to an hour, then cut into 15 bars of equal size.
  • The bars do not need to be refrigerated.  Just wrap them in aluminum foil. Grab one whenever you need a quick snack!

I got this recipe from a fun book called "Artful Snacks" that I found at our local library.  It was exciting to see my picky three year old get excited about snacks and how fun and healthy they can be. It also has fun health tips and facts that we found interesting.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with young kids.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup

This soup is very easy to make and very nutritious.  Serve with a crusty bread,  garlic bread, or grilled cheese sandwiches.  It's delicious with croutons in it, too.

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
36 ounces peeled, seeded butternut squash, cubed (the size Costco sells)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 can coconut milk
chopped cilantro for garnish
Sirachi sauce, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or foil.  Spread the squash cubes on the sheet and drizzle with about 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Roast in the hot oven until the squash is soft and just starting to turn brown.  Heat some oil in a large soup pot.  Add the chopped onion and cook until soft.  Add the stock, roasted squash, and curry paste.  Bring all to a boil.  Cover and turn to simmer.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coconut milk.  With an immersible blender (or you can do it in batches in your regular blender), blend all together.  Add Sirachi( go easy; a bit at a time.  This stuff is hot!) and salt to taste.  Garnish in bowls with cilantro and croutons, if desired. Though not pictured, the croutons really make it good.  You can also serve with lime wedges.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Beef Enchiladas

 This recipe would be a great one to use with leftover roast beef or canned meat. We have canned venison that I am trying to learn how to use. I tried this recipe with it and it was DELICIOUS! My husband’s comment: “This tastes like restaurant food.” Because I already had the meat cooked I skipped the first 6 ingredients and step one, though I did sprinkle some cumin and chili powder on my meat to help with flavor. The whole recipe came together quickly and was a big hit with the whole family:

3 lbs beef chuck roast
¼ cup water
1 ½ cup beef broth
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T chili powder
1 T ground cumin
I large onion chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers
1 T all-purpose flour
2 cups sour cream
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1 cup oil for frying
20 (6 inch) corn tortillas (I just used flour tortillas instead, so there was no frying required and it tasted great.)

Place roast in a large saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Pour in water, cover, and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Increase heat to medium/high, and brown the roast on all sides. Once the water has boiled away, pour in the beef broth, vinegar, chili powder and 1 tablespoon of cumin. Cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beef falls apart when you try to pick it up. Shred the beef, using 2 forks or your fingers. Place shredded beef back into the saucepan with all the juices, and let cool to room temperature.
 2. In a large skillet, saute the onion until just soft, not browned. Mix in flour and green chilies. Stir constantly for 2 minutes to cook the flour taste out. Stir in sour cream and 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheese. Cook on low for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the cheese is all melted and mixed. Set aside and let cool.
3.  In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil. Using tongs dip the tortillas, one at a time, into the oil for 30 seconds each side. Drain on paper towels.
 4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spread 4 tablespoons of sour cream mixture down the center of the tortilla. Top with about the same amount of beef. Roll up and place seam side down in one or two 8x11 inch baking dish. Repeat for each tortilla. Continue until you are out of the filling. Sprinkle with remaining Monterey Jack cheese.
5. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Friday, March 1, 2013

What's For Dinner?- March

March's menus are planned.


Honey Mustard Curry Chicken

Cafe Rio Pork Salad with Tomatillo Dressing
Crockpot Beef Stroganoff


Easter Dinner: Ham, Funeral Potatoes, Asparagus, Strawberry Pie

Recipes to Try:

Salisbury Steaks/ Mashed Potatoes/ Peas and Carrots
Baked Ziti
Mario Batali's Ragu Bolognese
Pepperoni Pizza Burgers
Crockpot Chicken Teriyaki

Cinnamon Rolls
Strawberry Pie
Applebee's Maple Blondies