Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Frozen Yogurt

Again, I've been away from the kitchen for a bit, helping with harvest in Kansas. It was really great to spend time with family, but it's also really wonderful to be back home.

My mom sent me home with an ice-cream maker and my sister-in-law sent me home with some rhubarb. With my new yogurt-making habits (I'm on batch #3 now), I decided to make frozen yogurt.

While I let the base of the ice cream maker get nice and cold in the freezer, I strained the yogurt by removing the lids, placing a couple of coffee filters over the top of the jars and securing the filters with a rubber band, and flipping the jars over into a larger glass to drain the excess water. I left them in the refrigerator overnight to ensure the yogurt would be nice and thick and creamy.

The recipe I used was simple:
Mix 3 c. yogurt, 3/4 c. sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla in a bowl until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate 1 hour to ensure coldness. Then, freeze in ice-cream maker.

The soft-serve straight from the ice-cream maker was delicious!

I decided to follow the advice of a comment by leanergourmet that suggested adding a little vodka to the mix to keep it from freezing too hard in the freezer. I added the vodka late in the process, though, and I don't think I added a full shot so I'm not sure it will be effective, but I'll let you know tomorrow!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Post-travel binge cooking / homemade yogurt

After a lovely ten days of travel in Guatemala, I was ready to COOK!

I got home on Wednesday and spent much of Thursday piddling around the kitchen in between laundry and cleaning breaks. It was awesome. I made salsa, pesto, sun tea, and YOGURT!

While in Guatemala, I spent time with an American family that lives there (and does amazing things for the indigenous people of Guatemala -- read about it HERE). This family and their grown children that lived nearby had milk cows and, as a result, more milk than they knew what to do with, so they made their own yogurt. Katie made us a yogurt smoothie that was fabulous and talked about how easy it was, so I decided to give it a try.

And she was right. It was easy.

Step 1: Gather tools and ingredients. I used two thick-bottomed dutch ovens, a thermometer, 1/2 gallon of whole milk, and two cups of my favorite Greek yogurt (check to be sure yours has live cultures). You can use 1 cup of pre-made yogurt and 1/2 cup powdered milk to make your yogurt thicker. I didn't have powdered milk so I upped the amount of yogurt.

Step 2: Heat milk to 190 degrees F in one of the dutch ovens. You don't want the milk to boil or scald. Some people do this in the crock pot, which I might try next time as it would require less attention though more time. If you're cooking milk in the crock pot, set on low for 2.5 hours. Check the temp to be sure it's warmed to 190 degrees F.

Step 3: Pour hot milk into the second dutch oven. I used my crock pot crock. Then, put in sink filled partway with cool water. It's necessary to lower the temperature to 120 degrees F before adding the live cultures as warmer temperatures might kill the cultures.

Step 4: Whisk in store-bought yogurt. Once this batch is done, you can use it as your starter for next time.

Step 5: Wrap crock with a thick beach towel for insulation and put it in the oven for 8 hours. Turn the oven light on to add a little extra heat. If you're fortunate enough to have an oven that will set to 100 degrees F, you can forgo the towel and leave the oven on.

Step 6: Refrigerate, strain with cheesecloth (if thick yogurt is desired), and enjoy your yogurt!

Smoothies, yogurt and granola, fruit and yogurt, tzatziki, yogurt muffins, yogurt veggie dips, etc.

Here are some more ideas from Shape Magazine.

Variations on a No knead Theme

No-Knead Bread and Whole-Grain Variations | Penni Wisner


Saturday, April 14, 2012

New York Times No-knead Bread

I love this No-Knead Bread Recipe from the New York Times.  The no-knead factor makes it super easy to make homemade bread. The only thing you need is a dutch oven, bread flour, yeast, and salt.

Yesterday, I mixed up two batches and this morning, I baked them together. This was the first time I'd done two batches but it was PERFECT because it made them a better round shape (versus the flat loaf we've gotten before with only one lonely batch in the big ol' dutch oven).

Instead of 3 cups of bread flour I used half bread flour, half whole wheat flour, and to keep the loaves from sticking to the counter or to the towel, I used flax mill in addition to the flour which added a nice texture to the crust.

Quick and Easy Fish Tacos w/Red-Cabbage Slaw

We eat fish tacos regularly because they're quick and easy to prepare. Since we got some cilantro in last week's basket, and we still had a whole head of red cabbage (from the PREVIOUS Urban Acres basket) we made a cabbage slaw to top the fish tacos.  While I cooked the fish, Travis prepped the slaw.

Two filets of tilapia cooked in olive oil, white wine, lemon juice, sprinkled with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne.

1/3 head red cabbage
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
Chives (from our window garden)
1 jalapeno
1 T mayo
1 T lime juice
1/4 t cumin powder

We served it over corn tortillas. There was leftover slaw which made for a great brown bag lunch addition the next day.

Spinach, Strawberry, Avocado Salad

I tossed some spinach (from the Urban Acres basket we received last week) with some fresh strawberries, cucumbers, avocado, blue cheese, and olive oil/balsamic dressing.  I topped it off with homemade croutons. Yum!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fresh salad greens with candied walnuts

We spent Easter vacation in New Orleans, which was delightful, but it meant a lot of eating and drinking. We got home late Sunday, so I used today, the Monday after Easter, to catch up on some domesticity and to prepare for a week of healthier eating.

Both my arugula plant and my spinach began to bolt, so I chopped them off and prepped the greens for a week's worth of salads. Knowing this salad-making was somewhere on the horizon, I baked up some candied walnuts the last week.  SO EASY!

In addition to exploding lettuce plants, we returned home to find a half loaf of stale bread. Any time our bread gets a little stale, I chop it into cubes, drizzle some olive oil, and toast it into croutons. Again, SO EASY!

Thus, the salad pictured below contains fresh arugula, fresh spinach, homemade croutons, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, blue cheese, red onions, and some other fresh goodies (celery, cucumber). A simple olive-oil and balsamic vinaigrette dressing finished it off. It was a perfect combination. Even Travis really enjoyed it!