Jul 15, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

I made organic yogurt and I didn't even buy a new appliance. I made it in my slow-cooker (Crock-pot) by combining a few different recipes that I found from other sources. Yummy! Bean has been eating it non-stop. It is plain, but you can flavor it with blended fruit, whole fruit, granola, maple syrup, jam or whatever you want!

It is thinner than commercial yogurt because it doesn't have the stabilizers and gelatin that commercial yogurt has. However, we like it thicker so I just let it strain overnight in a fine mesh sieve lined with coffee filters. It ends up being as thick as sour cream. If you don't want it that thick, don't let it drain as long.

I recommend trying whole milk yogurt first because it is easier to do and thickens a little more than the low-fat variety I've been making lately. Just think you don't need to buy whole milk Yo-Baby yogurts because you can make your own and save a bundle of money!

1 half gallon of milk (I used organic, you may want to try whole if it is your first time)
1/2 cup organic plain yogurt with no stabilizers (don't use a flavored yogurt)
1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered fat free milk (you need more of this if you are making a yogurt with less fat)

Pour milk into a slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours. Then turn you slow-cooker off, make sure it is not on warm. Let the mixture sit for 3 hours. Then remove 2 cups of warm milk and place into a bowl, stir yogurt and powdered milk into the bowl with warm milk. Pour mixture back into the warm slow-cooker and stir a few times to mix. Place lid back on and wrap the entire slow-cooker in a heavy bath towel. Move slow-cooker to an area of your counter that will not get bumped or moved for at least 8 hours. After at least 8 hours or up to 12 hours remove the towel and lid from your slow-cooker and you will have yogurt!

After 8 hours the yogurt will get slightly thicker and will continue to get more and more sour. If I let mine sit overnight sometimes it will be 10 hours before I can get to it in the morning, I haven't noticed it being that much more sour than an 8 hour yogurt.

As the mixture cools in the refrigerator it thickens a little more. If you want it thicker, more like greek yogurt,  pour it in a colander or fine mesh sieve, lined with coffee filters or cheese cloth and strain until you achieve the desired consistency. (Make sure to strain over a bowl as a lot of the whey comes out)

**One last note if you are using fat free milk you may need to add gelatin to the mixture in order for it to get thick enough. Just add one packet of plain gelatin to the warm milk, yogurt, and powdered milk mixture.

Quinoa and Avocado Salad

adapted slightly from Deborah Madison

This is Cale's new favorite quinoa salad. It is wonderful! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • 3 tablespoons raisins (preferably a mix of dark and golden)
  • 2 tablespoons dried apricots, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup red or white quinoa, rinsed well
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 medium firm-ripe avocados (6 to 7 oz. each), pitted, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • Freshly ground black pepper

     In a medium bowl, soak the raisins and apricots in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/2 tsp. salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is translucent and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (The outer germ rings of the grain will remain chewy and white. Some germ rings may separate from the grain and will look like white squiggles.) Immediately fluff the quinoa with a fork and turn it out onto a baking sheet to cool to room temperature.

Finely grate the zest from the lemon and then squeeze 1 Tbs. juice. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the olive oil, coriander, cumin, paprika, and 1/4 tsp. salt. In a large bowl, toss the vinaigrette with the quinoa, raisins, apricots, avocado, scallions, and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.    

Achiote Chicken Salad

This salad was really good. Cale and I both really enjoyed the flavors and the crunchiness! The marinade for the chicken was a little more effort, but it makes a lot and stores in the fridge for  a couple weeks. I adapted this recipe slightly from the Z'tejas recipe.

  • Marinade
  • Ingredients:
  • 2 ounces Achiote, powder (approx. 1/4 cup)
  • ½ c. Orange juice
  • ½ c. White vinegar
  • 1 t. Black pepper, ground
  • 1 t. All spice, ground
  • approximately 1 head garlic
  • 1 T. Paprika
  • 1 T. Kosher Salt
  • ½ T. Oregano, ground
  • 4-6 Chicken breast with skin

  • Chopped Salad:
  • 1 small head Lettuce; shredded 1/8"
  • 1/2 small head Red Cabbage; shredded
  • 1 Avocado sliced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 ears Sweet corn, steamed and cut from cob
  • 1/4 Queso Fresco, or  Cotija cheese if you can find it
  • 1 can Black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup Pumpkin seeds, toasted in 350º oven for 8-10 minutes

  • Dressing recipe:
  • 1 cup Favorite ranch dressing
  • ¼  cup Balsamic vinegar
     Combine all ingredients for marinade, except chicken, in a blender and blend until smooth and combined. Pour over chicken and let marinate for 3 -24 hours. 
     Grill chicken and let rest before slicing and placing on top of chopped salad.

    Combine salad ingredients in a bowl and toss or separate onto individual plates as I did above. 

    Mix the dressing and serve on the side.


Jul 11, 2010

Marinade for Beef

Recently I tried this marinade and Cale and I loved it! I grilled up cheap steaks that had been marinating in this overnight and they were really good. Hopefully, you like it as much as we did.

1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sriracha sauce (sambal chili sauce can be used as well)
1 small ead of garlic, minced or pressed (about 1/4 cup pressed garlic)
1 tablespoon of garlic powder

Mix all ingredients and marinate beef for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. I haven't tested it longer than 48 hours so I'm not sure how it would be. Bon Apetit.

Basic Chicken Marinade

I really love this basic marinade. I use it all the time. I use it with salad recipes that call for chicken or just simple grilled chicken for dinner. It is really quick and I always have the ingredients on hand.

1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar or agave
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 medium garlic cloves. minced or pressed
2 tablespoons of water

Whisk together all ingredients and place in a zip-lock bag with chicken. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes turning half way through. Do not marinate longer than 1 hour as the lemon juice will change the texture of the chicken.

Jul 8, 2010

Blueberry Tart with Walnut Crust

This tart recipe came from Eating Well. It is delicious and I served it to my recipe club and they all enjoyed it.

  • Crust
  • ½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted (see Tip)
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, preferably whole-wheat (see Note)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • Filling
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, preferably grade B, divided
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 325°F.
Coarsely chop walnuts in a food processor. Add graham cracker crumbs and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs.
Whisk egg white in a medium bowl until frothy. Add the crumb mixture, butter, oil and salt; toss to combine. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until dry and slightly darker around the edges, about 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
To prepare filling: Beat cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup maple syrup in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. When the crust is cool, spread the filling evenly into it, being careful not to break up the delicate crust. Arrange blueberries on the filling, pressing lightly so they set in. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup over the berries. Chill for at least 1 hour to firm up.

Trellis Salad

I love this salad. It is served at Thanksgiving Point in their Trellis Cafe and it is wonderful. It is the perfect salad for summer--light, lots of fresh berries and delicious!
I don't always add the oranges and it is still delicious.

Raspberry Vinaigrette

½ c. Raspberries fresh (if using frozen, thaw first)
¼ c. Red wine or raspberry vinegar
¼ c. Sugar
1 small shallot, diced
½ t. Thyme
1/2 c. Vegetable oil
¼ c. Olive oil
Salt and pepper
In a mixing bowl combine raspberries, sugar, vinegar, shallot, thyme. Using a wire whisk, mix well breaking up the raspberries. Slowly add oil and emulsify, and season with salt and pepper.


2 c. Mesclun greens mixed
½ c. Toasted pecan pieces
3 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
1 c. Assorted berries (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries)
Sliced brie


Mix the vinaigrette with greens and separate onto 4 plates. Arrange berries, oranges, brie, and pecans on top of greens.