Homemade Yogurt

This is a recipe I found online. I wasn’t even looking for it. I happened onto the blog to read about how this lovely lady cooks a whole chicken in the crock pot, something I had never considered, but think I will try since I H.A.T.E. cleaning the roasting pan and rack. HATE IT. So I was looking at that recipe when I noticed all sorts of goodies in the sidebar. This was one of them. I didn’t change anything. It’s just too awesome and foolproof to not post though! Original recipe here.

The best part about this recipe for me is that it’s done in the crock pot. This means minimal supervision, so I can actually get other things done, like cleaning and cooking Pinteresting and reading. The times were quite a bit different for me, though, as I will explain after giving you the recipe.

Easy Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 24 hours
Yield: 2 Quarts

Ingredients:
½ gallon whole milk
½ cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures

Supplies:
Crock Pot
Candy Thermometer
Beach Towel
Ladle
Mason Jars
Colander (optional)
Cheesecloth (optional)

Directions:
1. Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into your crock pot, set it to high, and heat the milk to 180°. My crock pot has a probe that will alert me when it reaches the set temp, but you can just check it occasionally with a candy thermometer. It takes approximately 2 hours.
2. Turn off crock pot, remove lid, and let the milk cool down to 115°. Do not disturb. This takes approximately 6 hours (varies widely depending on the temperature in your house).
3. Once the yogurt has cooled down to 115°, stir in ½ cup of plain yogurt. The temperature cannot be above 120° or it will kill the cultures in the yogurt.
4. Put the lid back on, make sure the crock pot is turned off and unplugged, and wrap the entire crock pot in a large beach towel. Leave out overnight, undisturbed.
5. The next morning, remove the towel and transfer the crock pot to the refrigerator, do not disturb the yogurt. Chill for about 8 hours.
6. Optional Step: If your yogurt isn’t thick enough for your preference, strain off some of the whey. Line a colander with a cheesecloth and set in the sink or in a large bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth, cover, and let it strain until it reaches your preferred consistency.
7. Ladle the yogurt into mason jars and store in the refrigerator.

Notes:
Don’t forget to save ½ cup of the yogurt to use as your starter next time!

My crock pot must be very different from hers, because my milk heated to 187 degrees in under two hours, and then in less than one was already cooled to 124 degrees. So by 3:30pm my crock pot was already wrapped up in towels. I stayed up late (till about 12:15-12:30) to give it about eight solid hours wrapped in the towels, and then stuck it in the fridge. I then proceeded to sleep terribly since I didn’t go to bed at 10 with Alex. Here we are, a couple of childless 20-somethings, and we go to bed at 10pm. We are such dorks. Anyway. I didn’t need to strain the yogurt at all – it was so, so beautifully thick!

This was my first ever attempt at making yogurt, and I declare it a smashing success!

Regular store-bought yogurt lasts around a month, and I’m assuming this will too. I’m not positive, though, so I may give one quart to Alex’s mom or step mom and just save one for us since we don’t use that much. Hm.

Next up is trying the homemade ranch dressing from this blog using the yogurt!

Cereal!… Kind Of…

Alex and I can’t eat regular cereal. And honestly, who would want to? It was a staple of my youth, but I feel sick every time I think about it now. I can’t even walk down the cereal aisle in the store. God, that aisle stinks. As does the bread aisle. And the baking aisle. And really, just about every aisle. Our shopping is pretty much limited to the perimeter of the store. You know, where all the fresh options are. Anyhow, cereal. I missed cereal. Very, very badly. So much that I would convince Alex to get the gluten free non-GMO cereals, and they would still make me sick. Just because it’s gluten free or non-GMO doesn’t mean it’s healthy or good for you! Flaky cereals have pretty much no real nutritional value. Mine, however, mine does.

The only issue with this cereal is if you’re a migraine sufferer like me. If you are, be careful how much of this you eat! I ate it every day, sometimes twice a day, for about a week and a half, and got a terrible migraine that lasted about five days. Alex is the one who figured out it was the cereal. I hopped onto the internet and sure enough, nuts are on the common triggers list. So just be careful! I really don’t want to be the cause, however indirectly, of someone’s pain.

Ingredients:
whole natural almonds
shelled walnuts
unfiltered honey
virgin expeller pressed coconut oil
cinnamon and nutmeg OR pumpkin pie spice OR apple pie spice

Method:
1.Preheat the oven to 300. In a large glass mixing bowl (or whatever material, I’m just really partial to glass) place several tablespoons of coconut oil. Use your judgment here. If you want more clustery cereal, use a bit more oil. Less clusters means less oil. I have got to get a camera so I can start posting method pictures.
2. Add the honey on top of the coconut oil. Add however much you think you’ll need for sweetness. If it’s any help, my cereal usually comes out tasting like a much better version of Honey Bunches of Oats.
3. Add your choice of spices. If adding cinnamon and nutmeg, I’d do less nutmeg than cinnamon, as nutmeg has a strong flavor.
4. In a food processor, add the desired amount of almonds. Process until they are chopped very fine. Dump into the bowl. Do the same for the walnuts.
5. Mix the contents of the bowl together. Be patient. It’ll take a few minutes for all the nuts to be covered. At this time, judge by either smell or flavor and decide if you need more spices or honey. Sometimes I add another teaspoon or two of oil, depending on my mood.
6. Spread the nuts in a thin layer on foiled baking sheets. Bake for seven minutes.
7. Remove from the oven, mix together and make a thin layer again. Return to the oven for an additional seven minutes.
8. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

To serve, have a regular bowl of cereal with some milk, mix it into some yogurt, or pour kefir on top. I have it with milk, Alex does kefir and yogurt. You can also add dried fruit to it. I’m on the lookout for a decently healthy and decently priced supply of dried blueberries to add. My favorite cereal was Blueberry Morning, and this would be pretty similar, minus the flakes.

Yay! We can eat cereal again!!!

Roasted Brains, or Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I grew up eating Brussels sprouts. My mom was a hippie but also kind of a dork, and she called them martian brains. So they’re just brains to me. Alex hasn’t caught on yet, so every time I write ‘brains’ on the grocery list and walk to produce he has no freakin’ clue what I’m looking for. And he calls ME a dork. Now, most people don’t like Brussels sprouts. Personally, I think they’re flippin’ awesome. But I also like spinach, and I know at least five billion people who don’t. So there we go. I think the main issue is how they’re cooked. There are a million and one ways of doing this, but they aren’t all right. This one, though, this one is good.

I definitely ripped this recipe off from the Primal Blueprint Cookbook by Mark Sisson and Jennifer Meier. So basically I’m going to give you the link to buy the book and see excerpts from it and check out the website that started all this craziness in my life (well, that and food allergies) right here, and then give you the recipe straight from it, then say what I did differently. Which wasn’t much. At all.

M’kay, nevermind. this is the website that started all the craziness. The other one is just the books and stuff. Which are great. Check them out.

These Brussels sprouts are both Alex and Kitty approved. Seriously. Kitty stole some off my plate. She went nuts for them. So you know they’re good if a cat will eat them. Because cats don’t eat veggies. They can’t even digest them.

Brussels Sprouts with Browned Butter and Hazelnuts

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons water

Instructions:
Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 450.

Place butter on a rimmed baking pan that is large enough for the Brussels sprouts to roast in a single layer or else they will steam instead of roasting if too crowded. Roast until the butter is melted, browned and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven; toss Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts with the browned butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Return to the oven and roast for 7 minutes. Remove briefly and sprinkle with water; toss, then continue roasting until the sprouts are tender and lightly browned, about 7 to 9 minutes more.

Serve immediately. Goes especially well with roast meat or roast fowl.

When I made these, I used salted sweet cream butter, the same butter I tell you to use in every other recipe. I use unsalted only sometimes. I also took out the hazelnuts, because neither of us are giant hazelnut fans. Hazelnuts remind me of really crappy tasting coffee. Other than that, though, it is the same. So like I said, practically no differenced.

I have served these with my curry and spice whole chicken, a nice red wine braised roast that I’ll get around to posting about at some point, and steaks, which I’ll get around to posting about sometime. I have a whole long post about steaks writing itself in my head. Steaks are so delicate. So easy to ruin. And since we actually don’t buy steak, I just make… steak… well, I’ll tell you how at some point.

These sprouts are good. I wish I’d snapped a picture of Kitty eating them. But Alex shooed her away so she wouldn’t get sick. And she kept coming back, with her little paws, catching one on her claws, nibbling, we shooed her away again, she came back with her pitiful meows and little paws to steal more. You’d think we didn’t buy her special expensive yummy food that’s good for her and give her chicken and salmon and tuna and beef with the way she carried on over these sprouts.

So go eat them. If my cat will, you will. Or should. Whatever.

Paleo Fat Bread

Alex and I have been looking for bread for quite some time. As mentioned before, we eat no wheat, no grains, no refined sugars, etc. So we really weren’t sure what to do. We tried flourless “crepes”, but there were really just glorified omelets. Might as well have just made scrambled eggs, since it was the same ingredients I use for that anyway (egg yolks, heavy cream, salted sweet cream butter). Alex found this recipe and we decided to try it. It’s really simple. We changed it only slightly, and only because we didn’t have/couldn’t find everything we needed and didn’t want to order large quantities of stuff online without first knowing what this bread would be like. And, amazingly enough, it’s good, and it really is… bread.

Original Recipe:
five eggs
one cup raw macadamia nuts
one cup coconut butter
.5 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 rounded tsp baking soda

Our Recipe:
five eggs
one cup dry roasted macadamia pieces
nearly one cup creamed coconut
.5 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 rounded tsp baking soda

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 350. Dump the macadamia nuts into a food processor/blender. Process on high, or if you have a pulse blender just hold it down so it runs continuously. Continue processing until the macadamias are chopped fine, starting to cake/clump.
2. Add one egg to the blender, and process until the machine begins running smoothly. You will be able to hear the difference.
3. Add the second egg, and repeat until the machine runs smoothly.
4. Add the remaining three eggs and process a bit more. Everything should be very smooth.
5. Add creamed coconut/coconut butter and sea salt. Mix 20 seconds.
6. Add lemon juice and baking soda, mix a few seconds more.
7. Pour into a prepared loaf pan. Toss the pan into the oven for 35 minutes.
8. Dry not to drool all over the stove/floor while you watch it bake.
9. Let sit 30 minutes on a cooling rack before cutting it. Do NOT attack it as soon as it comes out of the oven like Alex did.

If you’re used to regular bread, you probably won’t like it. Get un-used to regular bread because it’s just going to kill you anyway, and get used to this one, because it’s awesome. Makes some fabulous toast. Put a healthy amount of salted sweet cream butter on it when it comes out of the toaster oven, and there you have breakfast. This bread is pretty much nothing but protein and fat, so it is very healthy and very filling.

It’s also really good dipped in chili.

Now, for the things we will change when we make it again. Or, when I make it again. Whatever. We will use raw macadamia nuts. The dry roasted taste funky and impart an odd flavor to the finished bread. We will probably keep using the creamed coconut, but may use unsweetened coconut flakes. To use those, you just add the coconut flakes (make absolutely certain they are unsweetened… you will probably have to buy them off Amazon) in with the macadamias before you start processing, then add the first egg, the second egg, and do every egg separately, at least through the third. This is a tip directly from the creator of this bread. Use a cup and a bit of coconut flakes.

And enjoy!! This bread is non-addictive, not at all like the addictive crap they pass off as bread in stores… or that uses real flour or grains. And this bread won’t let you overeat. You get FULL. Do not let your children eat a nice, thick slice of this fifteen minutes before you serve dinner or they will not eat their dinner. But, by all means, do allow your children to eat this bread. It’s delicious and it’s very good for them.

Easy Sorbet

Sooo. I love fruit. And I especially love fruit treats. Here I have for you a two ingredient frozen treat with really endless options.

Ingredients:
frozen mixed fruit
drinking grade water

Method:
1. Pop the frozen fruit and a little water into the blender. Make sure to pour the water over the fruit so that it can do it’s magic on the ice layer.
2. Blend until smooth.
3. Freeze in individual size containers, or consume all at once. It’s just fruit and water, so why not?

Exactly, can’t answer that, can you?

Take that, people who don’t like how much fruit I(we) eat.

You can make this with any fruit you want. And fresh fruit, too. Just freeze it after, and boom.
Try watermelon-lime. Heard it’s good.

Mixed Berry Ice Cream

If you’re like me, you adore fruit. To an extreme. So much that whoever you live with or your friends are constantly telling you that you should probably eat something other than fruit. So I came up with this ice cream. It was sort of an accident, I was trying to make a smoothie. Two ingredients, insanely healthy, nice and filling.

Ingredients:
frozen mixed berries
heavy whipping cream

Method:
1. Pop the frozen berries and the cream into a blender.
2. Blend.
3. Dump into a bowl. A large one, all for yourself. After all, apparently no one else likes fruit.
4. Consume.
5. Go to berry heaven. It’s a real place, I promise.

“Riced” Cauliflower

Rice. It’s one of those four letter words in our house. Not a healthy food. Not at all. Alex and I eat a wheat and grain free diet. Rice is practically nonexistent in our meals. Once in a while, like in my chicken fried rice, we do use it. But hardly ever. When I make curry, which I do quite often, we eat “riced” cauliflower.

A lot of people don’t like cauliflower. I don’t. Or didn’t, until I learned how to cook it. You have to steam it. Except in this one curry I make. But anyway.

You could just process the raw florets and forgo the steaming, if you would prefer. I have done it both ways. If I plan to add the “rice” to the pot while I’m cooking something, I do it raw. Otherwise, I steam and then process.

Ingredients:
cauliflower

Method:
1. Fill a large pot that has a lid with about one inch of water. Make sure this is the same water you drink – the cauliflower will take on the flavor of regular tap water.
2. In a large bowl, put water about halfway deep. This water doesn’t matter. It’s just to wash the cauliflower. Cut off the leaves of the cauliflower, and put it into the water. Soak the cauliflower for at least five minutes on each side to allow the water to get into all the little nooks and crannies.
3. Put a steamer basket or a metal wire mesh strainer over the top of your pot. Make sure the bottom of the basket or strainer is about one to two inches above the surface of the water.
4. Using kitchen scissors, cut the cauliflower florets off and pop them into the basket/strainer. You can add the stems too, if you want.
5. Put the lid on the pot, and bring the water to a boil. Keep the water boiling with the lid on crooked so that steam can escape until the florets are just fork tender.
6. Break out the food processor. Put the florets in and pulse about 3-4 times. The result should be cauliflower that now looks similar to rice.

You can eat it just fresh from the processor, or dehydrate it first. Alex prefers it dehydrated. To do this, I just spread the “rice” out on large plates, and press it dry with paper towels. Then I line freezer bags with fresh paper towels, fill the bags with the “rice”, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes-2 days.

To serve, just use it like you would use rice. I’m not sure how it would be with roast and gravy, but it is marvelous in curry. The cauliflower really takes on the flavor of the sauce.