Category Archives: Recipes

Cinnamon Honey Butter

A good friend of mine has started a page on facebook called Recipe Results. We always see these amazing recipes on facebook and pintrest. So often we wonder, does it work? She tests as many of these as she can, and posts the results. When I can I try to contribute as well.

If you ever have tried any of those recipes, I am sure she would love to hear your feedback as well.

Today I am trying one of those recipes:

I am going to make a few minor changes, but nothing major.

I am not sure who made this post, but I found it though Better Gnomes & Cauldrons. (If this is your post, let me know! I will share the info.)

I am making some homemade butter for this. I am also suggesting to use raw local honey if you can find it. Cinnamon and raw local honey are both very good for you. They are both anti-inflammatory and both good for upper respiratory and allergies!

So this is a really good way to enjoy your toast and feel better.

It did not take long to whip this up, and the kids had fun helping! My daughter shook the heavy whipping cream while my boyfriend sang “Whole lotta Shakin goin on.”

This recipe has earned a permanent place in our fridge! I think it is an absolute must during cold and flu season!!!

Live Raw Sauerkraut recipe

I have wanted to make some raw sauerkraut for a while now. First I had to use up the cooked stuff that my boyfriend made me. (He makes really good cooked sauerkraut. I really need to get that recipe from him…)

So today I did a search for recipes, because I lost the one I wanted to try. For once I am happy I lost a recipe, because I found something better. I was going to post this a week from now, with the steps I take to make it. After some thought I would rather give you the info I found today. I really like the information on this webpage, and really need to read the rest of the site. (totally on my ever growing to do list…)

Here is a recipe for raw sauerkraut that is also alive and full of probiotics! They use liquid whey! If you have never used whey, it is really amazing! It is a natural by product of Greek yogurt and cream cheese. I have posted about it before, with instructions on how to make it.

So right now I have milk heating in a slow cooker to make cream cheese. With the whey I will be making this sauerkraut! I may also try it again with the vinegar brewed in lemons once that is done.

I am pretty excited and plan to be posting more about this.

Here are the ingredients for this recipe:

  • 2 large cabbages. Reserve 3-4 large leaves – enough to cover the surface of the brewing container
  • 2 large onions
  • Optionally, other vegetables in season. I have also used hot peppers, carrots, beets, beetroot, caraway seeds, a wide variety of fresh herbs, radish, curry powder, ginger and garlic, all with great success
  • 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Use more salt if you are not adding the whey below, less if you have a good raw milk kefir whey. The salt helps promote the lactic acid bacteria in competition with bad bacteria
  • 1 cup filtered water.
  • 1 cup of liquid whey. If whey is not available, use 1 cup of lemon juice, or half a cup of vinegar, preferably apple-cider vinegar. White supermarket vinegar is a poor alternative. The clear liquid whey that forms as kefir or yogurt sours as it ages is by far the best starter, and will make a reliable and delicious sauerkraut by introducing plenty of lactic acid bacteria
  • 2 Tbs juniper berries (optional)
  • 2 Tbs seaweed such as wakame, kelp or dulse (optional)

For the steps read Grow Youthful‘s sauerkraut recipe page.

It will be days before I can even start mine, because I have no whey on hand, so my boyfriend is cooking me up some of his yummy yummy sauerkraut!!!

Sweet Berry Vinegar!

So I have been experimenting with making my own vinegar. There has been a lot of ups and downs but I am excited to say, I got this now!

back to basics

Vinegar is very useful. I am not sure it is the cure all that some people say, but I’ve found it the most useful thing in my pantry. It clears up dandruff, helps digestion, kills parasites, cleans the house, and helps with inflammation. I am told it does even more, but that is what I have tried.

The vinegar you buy in the store is pasteurized and distilled and that kills a lot of the stuff that is good for you. You can not buy unpasteurized vinegar, so I learned to just make my own.

I have read many methods of making vinegar, and to be honest it is a little overwhelming how much I found. Some recipes sound simple, where some sound like you need a full lab to make it.

Let me tell you how I did it:

vinegar

First I started by making a Mother of Vinegar. That really was not as hard as I thought at first.

To make vinegar you have to feed the mother sugar that it can ferment to create alcohol and that is what turns to vinegar. Anything that ferments can be used, but you do want to keep the flavors of that in mind while doing it. Old, but not rotten fruit is the best thing to use. Most old fruit is starting to ferment already.

I used a glass one gallon tea pitcher with a spout on the bottom. It has to be glass or ceramic. Vinegar is an acid, so you do not want anything corrosive. I cleaned everything with a bleach sanitizing solution (1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water), and let it air dry.

A few weeks before starting this I bought a bunch of fruit. I let the kids help themselves but I got extra hoping some would get old. I used what was left to make the vinegar.

  • 1 plum
  • a handful of strawberries
  • a handful of grapes
  • 1 green apple

I cut everything up, making sure nothing was rotten. I covered the fruit up with wine and apple cider vinegar. I used the Bragg kind with the mother in it. For extra sugar I added some honey.

Honey can slow things down, because it does not go bad. I found it really added to the over all flavor though.

I poured in the mother of vinegar, and the solution it as made in. I used a coffee filter to cover it up. It’s important that it is able to breath, but you want to keep things out. It is possible to attract vinegar flies. Store it in a warm, but not hot dark place.

Do not be surprised when you smell an alcohol smell in the room it is fermenting in. Once a week I would pull it out, and check on it. The whole family would smell and taste it. We were always surprised by how good it was!

After a week we noticed, it formed a new mother.

 

Every two weeks we would feed it by adding more fruit, or a little wine.

Last weekend when tasting it, we realized it was done! I pulled out the many layers of mother, and set them aside. I poured out the vinegar into the bottles, and filtered the fruit out. Since it is unpasteurized I am keeping it in the fridge.

I sure it will be great in salad dressing! I know it was good when the bratwurst was cooked in it!

I have started a lemon vinegar now, using the mother I saved from this one. I have used 8 lemons, some white wine, and some apple cider. It  is almost a week old now.

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

I love pumpkin! I am sure I have said this before. I love pumpkin bread too, but recently I have wanted to start making yeast breads. I have not done that since my oldest son was very young. I recently decided that I want to stop buying bread and want to make all of the household bread.

In a dream I made pumpkin yeast bread, so when I woke up I looked it up and found it is really a thing! Everyone referred me to the King Arthur Flour Recipe.

Since it has been close to 10 years since I made yeast bread, I was being rather ambitious when I decided to make a shaped loaf. I made a standard loaf, and a loaf that kinda looks like a pumpkin.

IMG_1289

I plan on attempting this again sometime, and I am sure with practice I may actually get good at shaping bread.

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

1/2 cup warm water
2 packages (2 tablespoons) active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups puréed pumpkin, either fresh or canned
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 cups (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

*Note* I don’t care for ginger so I substituted cinnamon and used clove rather than cardamom.

I really enjoyed making this. I recommend this recipe to anyone who makes bread or wants to try. It was easy, but it is sticky for a yeast bread. I had read that in the comments so I was thankful for the warning. If you are familiar with bread making you are warned!

Today I am making Rye Sourdough.

Since the Pumpkin Bread went so well I want to try another King Arthur recipe. It is for a bread machine but I am sure I can alter it.

Sourdough Rye Bread

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 extra-large egg
1/3 cup water
1 recipe sourdough starter 
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus 2 to 3 additional tablespoons if the dough appears wet after the first 5 minutes of kneading
3/4 cup white or light rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
4 teaspoons to King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver

*note* I don’t have bread improver, and I am not sure I want it. I am not going to use it.

It is not often I have molasses already in the house, but we tried a really good stuffed acorn squash recipe that called for it. I admit that is part of the reason that I want to try this rye sourdough.

Well I am off to the kitchen to fill my home with the smell of warm fresh bread. That just maybe one of my favorite smells ever.

Starting Sourdough

Bread has been a staple food for longer than written history. There are countless ways to make it, and each type has it’s own history. Buying bread already cut from a store is a fairly new concept. What we now call artisan bread used to just be called bread.

back to basics

Today I am starting a sourdough starter! I know these are passed down from generation to generation, but do you know how hard it is to find a starter in the city in Texas?

I have planned on doing this for about a month now, but I have not had the time, and energy. I did set aside a glass jar for the project. What I did not realize at that time how big of a container I needed.

Being the avid coffee fanatic that I am, I always have a spare coffee maker with coffee pot. So I cleaned up the glass coffee pot, removing all the stains with vinegar. I made my starter in that. There is a joke in there somewhere but I am not sure what it is though.

After the starter is good I can start making my own sourdough breads. I hope to experiment with a pumpkin sourdough, but right now I will just be happy to make regular sourdough.

Here is how I made my sourdough starter:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 2 cups water

Mix yeast into the warm water. You need a glass or ceramic container. It needs to be big enough to let it expand.

Once yeast is whisked in slowly add flour, mixing so that it does not get clumpy. Cover with a towel and find a place to let it sit. Once ready store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

I have mine on the counter, in a corner. You want to check it often. once it is bubbly and smells sour but good, it is ready. If it shows and weird colors like pink or orange through it out ASAP. That is mold and can make you very sick.

To feed your sourdough just replace equal parts of flour and water that you use. If you take a cup of starter add a cup of flour and a cup of water and a pinch of sugar. Leave it back on the counter until it is ready again. If you are not using it all the time, you will need to feed it. I am still learning about that, but I did find a website that is useful! Be sure to read through Breadtopia, So far this seems like a useful page! I am reading Managing your Sourdough Starter for tips!

Honey Pumpkin & Shrimp Stir Fry

This is my favorite nontraditional pumpkin recipe. I change it up from time to time based on my mood, so feel free to experiment.

IMG_1278

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed cooked pumpkin with the skin removed
  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 1 cup each of 2 different squash
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1 cup mushroom (if you do not like mushroom feel free to add carrot or some other vegetable.)
  • 1/2 c red onion
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)
  • 4 cups cooked rice

Because of the amount of prep work involved I like to have my pumpkin already cooked. This really helps. When choosing squash feel free to get as creative as you like. You can always use yellow squash and zucchini if you are more comfortable with that. If you are using a heartier squash, go ahead and precook that too.

This year I used carnival and acorn squash. I precooked the carnival but cut the acorn into thin strips.

Make sure you shrimp is clean and rinsed. Pour the honey and soy sauce over and mix lightly. Set it aside while you cut your squash. (Or for one hour.)

Preheat the pan. Once the pan is really hot add the butter. Give it a moment to get back up to temperature and then pour in the shrimp mix. Be sure to stand back, it should steam up.

Let that cook down to a nice simmer, and then add uncooked squash, mushroom, and onion. If the pan ever starts to look too dry feel free to add more butter or some water.

When everything is close to done add the precooked squash. Once that is warm, everything else should be done.

Serve over cooked rice. Adding chicken of fish broth to the rice will add another level of flavor.

And now for something funny:

So I started cutting up the pumpkin the way I always do. In fact it has become so mundane the kids no longer ask to help.

Then this happened:

IMG_1280

The handle came right off the knife. We all stood around it a little surprised. I mean yeah they are old knives, and this is a great excuse to get new ones, but I never saw it coming!

Thankfully my boyfriend, who is often far wiser than me, handled the situation with a pair of pliers. I was then handed a sharper knife.

Homemade Butter

IMG_1184

back to basics

Homemade Butter is one of my favorite treats! Spread some of this on some crackers and you have a happy Mamma Kitty (That’s Me!)

This is by far the easiest thing in the world to make. If you have kids, it is even easier.

Pour heavy whipping cream into a container and add a pinch of salt. Be sure the lid is closed tightly. I like to use a clear container so that I can see how it is forming up.

Shake the heavy whipping cream. First it will become a solid creamy mass, this is not butter yet! Keep shaking. If your arms get tired, pass the jar off to a kid. After a while it will start to separate. This is good!

The solid part is butter! The liquid is real buttermilk. To me this taste nothing like buttermilk you buy. I hate the buttermilk in stores, but I have always loved fresh.

Once it is completely separated, you strain it. Save the butter milk for cooking with and enjoy your fresh butter!

Real butter is a creamy white color. It is not yellow like margarine. If does not have to be refrigerated either, but it does last longer when it is.

When does it expire?

Both the butter milk, and the butter should be dated with the same date as the heavy whipping cream. Really though it may last longer. When butter spoils it gets mold on it. If it is kept out on the counter, this is about a week. When kept cold it is much longer. I have never had any go bad when chilled, because we eat it so fast.

Feel Free to Experiment:

Butter is a great base for flavors. Not only is it amazing by itself, but when you add herbs and spices it can be amazing!

Garlic is an obvious idea, but do not limit yourself to that. In the Victorian era rose or lavender butter was very popular. I like mine extra salted, but you can add cinnamon and sugar if you prefer sweet.

Try a rosemary butter with your next baked potato! Get creative!

Another fun idea is shaped butter. I use candy molds. Smooth soft butter into a clean candy mold and freeze it. I like to make mine the night before. Use a smaller mold like flowers or sea shells, that will be about a tablespoon of butter. If the mold is too large you are stuck with a big portion of butter.

Have an interesting flavor idea?

Let me know! I always love trying new things! I wonder what we can come up ith?

Homemade Cream Cheese and Cheesecake Recipe

Sorry for not having a Back to Basics post last weekend. I was just too busy. The fun part is that I was busy with this recipe!

My oldest son, an aspiring chef, turned 14 on the 5th and on the 7th we had a big BBQ with homemade cheese cake in his honor. He helped in every aspect of the making of his birthday cake.

back to basics

Before I get started I want to say this project does take a lot of time and you want to keep that in mind before starting. It take 2-3 days for me (depending on my work hours).

This is very easy, a little messy and very time consuming.  To make cream cheese all you need is milk and a yogurt starter!

Cream cheese is made from yogurt!

IMG_1163

I didn’t know this until recently. I got really excited, because I have recently started making my own yogurt. Making yogurt can take like 16 hours, but is very easy. If you do not know how, check out my post with instructions: Homemade Yogurt

When making yogurt, some people strain it to get Greek yogurt. If you strain it over night it becomes cream cheese. The longer you let it set the firmer it becomes. When straining your yogurt you should save the clear yellow liquid. This is called Whey and is very useful. I even have a recipe for oatmeal muffins with whey, that my whole family loves.

Most cheese cake recipes call for 2 cups of cream cheese. To get 2 cups you need  about 4 cups of yogurt. This can vary of course and feel free to make extra. Some recipes do call for more cream cheese so keep this in mind before you make it. After spending 2 days, you really do not want to find yourself short.

Here is some fully strained cream cheese

When does it expire?

When does this expire is a question I often find myself asking when I make stuff. My best guess would be like yogurt, it expires on the date the milk used to make it does.

Easy No Bake Cheese Cake

for the crust:

  • 20 sheets of gram crackers (I like chocolate ones)
  • 1/2 c. soft butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  1. Put the gram crackers in a large storage bag and crush with a rolling pin. You can also brake with your hands. You want it coarse.
  2. Mix in sugar an butter and press into the pan, and set aside.

for the cake:

  •  16 oz (2 cups) homemade cream cheese, room temp
  • 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  •  1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tea vanilla
  1. Fold the sweeten condensed milk into the cream cheese until fully mixed.
  2. Fold in lemon juice and vanilla.
  3. If you want to add fruit or melted chocolate this is a good time.
  4. Pour the mix into the prepared pan, and smooth it out with a spatula.
  5. Leave in refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. You can smooth the top with wax paper after it is firm too.

For Dante’s birthday BBQ we made a bunch of toppings from fresh fruit. All we did is reduce the fruit with a little cane sugar to make a simple syrup. We set it up like a Sunday bar letting people choose their own toppings.

Oatmeal Muffins with Whey

I have been making muffins lately for my kids to have for breakfast and snacks. Today I wanted to try something new!

I wanted to find muffins that use oats rather than flour. I have no issues with flour, but it seems like this would be higher in fiber. Since I am on the healthy heart diet, I need extra fiber.

Looking around I found you can replace oatmeal flour with regular flour easily. but I did need to make adjustments with the baking powder.

To make oatmeal flour all you have to do is run oatmeal through a food possessor. 1 cup of oats makes 3/4 cup of flour.

oatmeal flour

oatmeal flour

Lately I am also looking for ways to use the liquid whey I get from making yogurt. Liquid whey is a natural byproduct of yogurt. Making yogurt is really easy, and you can learn how. Homemade Yogurt

Liquid whey

Liquid whey

You can use liquid whey in any recipe that uses buttermilk. It is an equal substitution.

So here is my recipe:

Daisy Helping

As you can see, I had help from Daisy

  • 1 c oats
  • 1 c liquid whey
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 c brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 soft butter
  • 1 c oatmeal four
  • 1 tea cinnamon
  • 1/4 tea clove
  • 2 tea baking powder

Soak the whole oats in the liquid whey for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl mix egg, sugar butter, and the oat mix.

In a smaller bowl mix oat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cloves and cinnamon.

Mix the dry ingredients in the wet ones.

Bake about 20 mins.

Back to Basics: Homemade Yogurt

You do not need anything fancy to make yogurt! Anyone can do it too! My kids helped me and I think with a little practice they could do it on their own too.

Homemade yogurt cost the price of the milk you use. We go to Aldi and get a gallon of milk for $1.69. So that is about 85 cents for a half a gallon of  yogurt. The first starter will cost more but after that, I pay 85 cents for 2 weeks worth of yogurt!

back to basics

IMG_1104This is my Kitchen Multitool! Meet my slow cooker!!! It is my favorite kitchen appliance! I need like 5 more!

Things you will need:

  • slow cooker
  • candy thermometer
  • yogurt starter (Don’t worry I will tell you how to make one!)
  • whole milk (raw if you can get it!)
  • coffee filters (or cheese cloth or even a pillow case) and colander
  • A day off from work

Although this is easy, it does take some time. I start mine in the evening so and sleep through at least 8 hours of it.

For starters, you need to find a starter.

This is where a lot of people get hung up. Like me, you may not have friends who make yogurt. It is really hard to find out how to get a starter. A lot of websites said ask a friend for one. If I asked my friends they would be as confused as I was. If you are lucky to get one from a friend, get one, that will be the best. If you are not so lucky, fear not!

You can use store bought yogurt. Yes that is the big secret! You just need some of the live bacteria to get you started. Once you have that, it will grow and create more. You can not use just any yogurt though. Try to find one that is organic, and plain. If you can not get organic that is okay too. I did not know that when I got mine and used regular. This makes it thinner, but as you make more it will thicken up. Also do not get reduced fat yogurt if you can. Reduced fat yogurt will again result in watery yogurt. It does need to be unflavored and unsweetened though.

Unfortunately when I went to the store I could only find reduced fat non organic in the plan. If I wanted vanilla though that would be a different story. So I do know it will work, it just is not as good. It resulted in watery, but good tasting yogurt.

When I made it the second time, using my homemade watery starter it worked great! My second batch was amazing! Do not give up!

Why whole milk?

Like your starter you want whole not reduced. The reason why is the creaminess comes from the fat. If you really want to use 2% it may work but it will not be rich. I have not used 2% so I really do not know what the results with that would be.

Okay so now what do I do?

This recipe yields about a half gallon. Why so much? Well it does take about 20 hours. I also have a household  of 5, and it is a healthy snack.  Did you know cream cheese is made from yogurt?

IMG_1103

  • Heat 8 cups (half gallon) of milk in a slow cooker. Using a candy thermometer check the temp often. You want 175-180 F. Depending on your slow cooker this can take about 2 and a half hours.

IMG_1108

You heat the milk to kill the bacteria that you do not want growing. If it gets too hot it may kill the bacteria that you need to make it.

  • Once you have the right temperature you want to let it cool to 100-115 F

This is the ideal temp for the good bacteria to grow in.

  • While the milk is cooling turn your oven on the lowest setting.
  • When the milk is at the correct temperature add 1/2 cup and 2 table spoons of the starter yogurt. Whisk it in until there are no signs of the yogurt. If you can not find your whisk (like me) you can use a fork.
  • Turn your oven off
  • Place in the heated oven

This is to keep the heat in. Be sure it is really off though

  • Leave it alone for 12 hours. This is very important. Opening can mess it up. You want it to stay warm!

I planned it so that it went in the oven before bed, I slept for 8 of those 12 hours.

  • Take it out of the oven. When you pull the pot out of the slow cooker you want it to still be warm on the bottom. Open, and stir! You now have the best yogurt EVER!
  • Save some for a starter for your next batch. (You may want to label it so it does not get eaten)

If you want nice creamy yogurt, or Greek yogurt there is more steps, but at this point it is safe to eat and tastes good.

For Greek Yogurt:

  • Using coffee filters to line a colander strain the yogurt. This will take some time! (30 mins at least) Stir from time to time scraping the bottom, to get the thick layer off so more whey can drain.

I tried a large colander lined with like 3 or 4 filters to do it all at once and all I did was make a mess. I want to see about getting some really big ones from work. I ended up using regular filters in a small sieve. Thankfully I have 2 and was able to have both sitting at once, but it took me all day .

  • Save the yellow liquid that comes through! This is called whey and is very good for you. It is pretty useful too. I will post more on that later though. (Until then look up uses for liquid whey.)
  • Once it is strained, flavor and enjoy!

When does it go bad?

As I was making my yogurt with the help of my kids, my middle son asked me, “So when does this expire?” I just looked at him and said, “uhmmm, I don’t know.” He wisely pointed out that I should find out.

So looking it up I found most people say go by the date of the milk used to make it. That seems reasonable to me.

Useful Note for the Starter:

I recently read that you can freeze your starter so it will last longer. I have not exactly tried this yet. By that I mean, I have my starter in the freezer but I am not ready to make more yet.

I read that when you are ready to use it, thaw by placing the unopened starter in a bowl of room temp water. It will take a while and it is suggested you do this first. If you thaw too fast it will not work right and if it is still frozen it will not work. Wait until it is room temp to use.