Thursday, March 22, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

Making Homemade yogurt is easy and inexpensive. You can make a whole lot for a lot cheaper than store-bought. I always like to try things like this and cheeses to see the difference in tastes and for the challenge.  I know they have little machines that you can buy to make your yogurt but that’s just one more appliance and you most likely have the stuff to do it at home. There are a lot of different ways to make it out there but after some research I found the best one was to use your crock pot. Bought yogurt will have a different consistency maybe a little thicker or gelatiney because they add gelatin or Pectin to thicken it especially the low-fat versions. You can thicken yours as well but do it more naturally by setting over a cheese cloth lined sieve.
Crockpot Yogurt
1/2 gallon of milk (whole or 2% works best but you can use 1% and add powdered milk it helps elevate the thickness)
1c. of plain yogurt with active cultures (make sure it has the live cultures Greek yogurt has these but make sure it says it on container)
1/2c. powdered milk if using 2% or lower milk
Pour milk into crock pot put lid on and turn onto  high. You want to get it until its starting to boil or 180 degrees to kill off any extra bacteria or it will kill your live cultures. This takes about 11/2 to 2 hours. Then take off lid and let it cool down to 110 degrees or when you can put your finger in it and leave for 10 seconds. Stirring it a little helps it cool down a little faster. Mine took about 45 minutes to an hour to get to this point.
Stir  a little of the milk into the plain yogurt you purchased to help loosen it up and then add all to crock pot add your powdered milk or a single packet of gelatin at this time if using. Stir it in well. Put lid back on and wrap in a large towel  to hold what heat is left in. Set aside for 8 to 10 hours.
I usually do this part at night before going to bed so its ready in the morning.
I did not add any powdered milk I used half whole milk half 2%. If you like your yogurt a little on the thinner side jar up now and place in fridge and it will thicken a little more. I like mine thicker so I  poured it into a cheesecloth lined seive and set over a bowl in the fridge for a few hours. What collects in the bowl below is Whey.  You can use this to make your own protein shakes if desired it so good for you.
After this I put into jars or small containers and out in fridge.
There you have it. It lasts 7 to 10 days. If you want to make yogurt on a regular basis freeze 1 cup portions to use for your live cultures instead of purchasing it.
To eat you can flavor it with  1 -2 T. of Homemade Raspberry Jam (that’s how my kids like it) or with a tablespoon or two of honey or agave nectar with a sprinkling of granola, or a packet of stevia.

Pecan Oatmeal Granola

This is an awesome Granola that you can tailor to your likes It is really good you will end up eating a lot of it for a snack.
Preheat oven to 300
1/2c. honey
1/2c. brown sugar
1/3c. coconut oil (melt if its solidified)
1t. salt
Microwave these ingredients in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved.  About a minute or two then add:
1T. vanilla
1tsp cinnamon
3 cups of oatmeal
2c. Pecans
Mix together well until all is coated well then spread on a lightly Pam sprayed baking sheet and bake 15 minutes stirring about half way through. Then add:
1c. finely shredded dried coconut (I prefer unsweetened you can get this at Sprouts)
Stir this into oatmeal mixture and return to oven for 15 minutes more until golden brown.
Let cool completely and add 1c. dried fruit if desired such as  Craisins, blueberries, raisins, apricots.

Monday, March 19, 2012

St. Patricks Treats

I made some St. Patrick treats for my family and friends that were mighty tasty but of course could be made anytime. The first was my favorite the Mint Oreo Brownie with chunks of mint Oreo in the brownie and on top. I also put mint marshmallows in the brownie batter. Next I made a Chex popcorn mix with a Baileys Irish Cream spiked caramel and mint M&M's. I couldn't stop eating this but I do love snack mixes. I also made Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes, cake pops and a Lucky Charm mix that I'd seen all over food blogs. They were really good as well. Here's the recipes:

Oreo Mint Brownies

Preheat ovent to 350
grease a 9×13 pan

Brownies1/3c. cocoa
2C. sugar
4 eggs
1C. butter softened
2t. vanilla
1 1/2c. flour
1t. salt
Cream butter, cocoa and sugar together then add eggs until combined then add rest of ingredients but folding in Oreos.

12 Mint Oreos chopped
Spread in prepared pan
Press 15 chocolate mint marshamllows into batter and put in oven and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out almost clean. Let cool completely
1cube butter softened
3c. powdered sugar
1/8 t. mint extract
Cream all together and add:
1T. milk or until frosting consistency
then add 1 7oz container of marshmallow creme
a few drops of green food coloring
and 3/4c. melted white chocolate chips
Spread over cooled brownies and sprinkle 18 crushed up oreos over top pressing in slightly.

Baileys Spiked Irish Caramel Chex Popcorn Mix
2c. Rice or Corn Chex
1 bag of microwave popcorn popped
11/2c. broken pretzel sticks
1/2c. slice almonds
1/2c. peanuts
3/4c. brown sugar
1/4c. butter
3T. corn syrup
1/3c. Baileys Irish Cream
1/8t. baking soda
1 bag of mint M&M’s
1/2c. toffee bits
In a large bowl mix cereal, popcorn, pretzels and nuts.
In a small pot melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup then add Baileys and bring to a boil. Boil about 5 minutes then remove from heat and add baking soda. Mix well and pour over cereal mixture stirring to coat evenly. Dump it into a large paper bag and fold it close and microwave 1 minute then take out and stir or shake. At this point add your Toffee bits and  microwave 1 more minute and then stir agan and dump out onto a cooke sheet to cool. When cooled add your Mint M&M’s and mix in and serve.