May 1, 2018
I have a confession. I make my own yogurt.
No, I’m not a health nut. No, I don’t do it for the health benefits or to be natural. I do it because I like the taste and texture – and I eat yogurt daily.
Almost a year ago, I was looking for different ways to use my instant pot and I made a batch of yogurt. Since that day I have made almost 1 batch (a gallon of milk) every week. Not only that – one batch is not nearly enough for our family. It is loved by all.
I will admit, the first time I made it, I was somewhat disgusted with the process. You end up with a curdled milk product that gets strained and smooths out. Even to this day, Hunter doesn’t like watching the yogurt getting dumped into a strainer. It looks like Briggs sippy cup when it gets left with milk in it for a while! But trust the process. It is tasty.
Here’s how to make yogurt in an Instant Pot.
You’ll need an Instant Pot with the yogurt function (I use the 6qt), a thermometer, gallon of milk (use whole or 2%) and a yogurt starter (find a store bought yogurt you like that as live active cultures. I like the Oikos Vanilla. After you make your own yogurt you can keep using your own yogurt as the starter.)
Pour entire gallon of milk into the Instant Pot and put the lid on. Press the yogurt button and then push the adjust button until you see BOIL. The purpose is to get the milk to 180-185 degrees. (I shoot for 185)
This takes a while – maybe even 45 minutes. It will beep when it’s done. I have noticed that even pressing boil there have been times it hasn’t gotten to temperature – use the thermometer to check. If after a cycle it’s not to temperature, press the saute button and it will continue to heat, keep stirring and checking temperature until it reaches 185F.
You need to cool the milk to about 111F. You can let it cool on its own – this will take some time or you can speed up the process by removing the inner pan and placing it in a cold/ice bath.
Once the milk is at 111F it’s ready to add the yogurt starter. Put the pan back in the instant pot. Remove a cup of milk and place it in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of yogurt starter. Mix it well and pour into the large pot of milk. This is the stage where I add sweetener and flavor. You can also add it at the end, this is just personal preference.
Like I said before, I don’t make yogurt for the health benefits and I like my yogurt more sweet than not – I add a cup of sugar and 2 1/2 TBSP of pure vanilla extract. Put the lid back on, push the yogurt button and then adjust – this is where you have the chance to choose how long you want to let the yogurt set. The longer it sets the more tart it is. Standard is 8 hours and the instant pot will automatically turn to 8 hours when you press “adjust”. Just make sure that the normal light is lit, not less or more.
After you set the clock for 8 hours, don’t touch the pot. Let it sit on the counter and do its thing. After its done it will beep. Its okay if it goes longer – just decide what your personal preference is.
Your yogurt is done! It looks a little like curdled milk but once you stir it, it will start to resemble yogurt. You’ll notice its a runny yogurt and thats not my preference. I prefer to strain liquid out and create more of a greek yogurt texture. You can buy fancy yogurt strainers, but I’ve yet to find one that manages a gallon of milk. Or you can buy nut milk bags. Instead, I took my strainer and I put some coffee filters in it and let it strain. I used to let it strain in the fridge which immediately stops the fermentation process. But now I let it strain in my sink. The problem is it doesn’t stop fermenting at room temperature. So I’ve cut down my instant pot time to 6 1/2 hours and then let it sit in my sink for two hours or even longer if it’s not to desired consistency.
Enjoy your yogurt and be prepared to make another batch quickly.
Note: I love vanilla yogurt but I also love a fruit flavored yogurt. I make a syrup and keep it in containers in the freezer that I can thaw and add when I feel like it. Here’s the recipe for the fruit syrup:
2 cups fresh or frozen fruit
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons lemon juice.
Simmer ingredients for 5-7 minutes until thick: Increase or decrease the sugar to your liking.
Apr 10, 2018
WARNING: IF YOU LEARN HOW TO MAKE THESE ROLLS – YOU WILL BE ASKED TO BRING ROLLS TO EVERY FAMILY FUNCTION…FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! ALTHOUGH THAT MIGHT SEEM LIKE A LONG SENTENCE – THEY ARE TOTALLY WORTH IT!
My friend Shellie is amazing and her cooking skills are far beyond my comprehension. I asked her a few years back to teach me how to make her rolls. She hosted 5 women in her home and walked us through step by step how to make them and I’ve not made another roll recipe since. Here’s the recipe in it’s entirety – I’ll then walk through the process with pictures.
POTATO KNOT ROLLS (yields 48 rolls)
1 1/2 T Yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 t sugar
3 cups milk
3/4 cup butter
1 cup instant potato flakes
3/4 cup sugar
1 T salt
5 large eggs
7 to 8 cups flour
Additional cube of butter for spreading on dough before forming knots
Heat milk in microwave for 5-7 minutes. Add butter, potato flakes, sugar and salt. Combine and let cool to lukewarm.
Mix yeast with 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 t sugar to activate yeast.
Beat eggs and add the lukewarm milk mixture. Add 4 cups flour and beat until smooth (at least a minute or two). Add yeast mixture and slowly add more flour until sides of bowl are clean(ish). Dough should still by sticky. Put dough in bowl and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Divide dough in half and roll into large rectangle. Take soft butter (1/4 cup) and spread all over the rectangle. Take the top of the rectangle and fold to the middle and take the bottom and fold on top. Use rolling pin to flatten a little bit. Cut dough into 1 inch strips and tie in a knot. Place on greased baking sheet and let rise for 2-3 hours. Bake at 375 for 11-12 minutes. Brush with butter.
Here’s a picture tutorial:
Heat milk in microwave for 5-7 minutes. Add butter, instant potato flakes (or potato pearls), sugar and salt. Combine and let cool to lukewarm. This will look like runny mashed potatoes after it cools a bit.
Follow the directions to make the dough. This dough is sticky. Do not add too much flour – as you can see from the picture, it would not form into a loaf. In fact, it’s hard to get out of the mixing bowl its so sticky.
After the dough has doubled in size you’ll divide the dough in half. Roll out one half of the dough into a large rectangle. With softened butter, cover the entire rectangle. (I use the back of spoon to spread it around)
After the butter, you’ll fold down the top 1/3 and then fold up the bottom 1/3. Then use a rolling pin to roll it out just a little.
You should get 24 rolls out of the first rectangle. Using a pizza cutter – cut the long skinny rectangle in half and then cut the two halves in half again. You should have 4 sections. Take each of the 4 sections and cut so you have 6 strips.
This step takes a little practice to get them to look good, but start making a knot out of each strip. You literally tie the dough in a knot. The first batch may look a little sad – but my 12-year-old can make these (after some practice) – after one batch you’ll be a pro.
A little tip: I make these for a lot of family functions – and I love a fresh roll but it never works out to make them the day of. Instead I make them the day before. Once I tie them in a knot, I place them on a cookie sheet right next to each other and freeze them. After a couple hours, I put them in a ziploc bag. The next morning, I pull them out and place them on cookie sheets to rise. They take 6 or 7 hours to rise and then I cook them. I’ve kept them frozen for several weeks before cooking them, but I’ve found they’re best within a day or two.
They are soft and buttery and oh so good!
Nov 29, 2017
I was walking in the grocery isle picking up some other ice cream tonight and from the corner of my eye, I spotted it: Peppermint ice cream. It has arrived in the stores and we can all rejoice! Here’s a favorite recipe from a few years back. Also, hit up Trader Joes for candy cane oreos before they’re out!
One of our family’s favorite treat is “Frozen Oreo Delight” (That may or may not be a family assigned name to the dessert!). But the minute peppermint ice cream hits the grocery freezer our family’s favorite dessert gets a holiday makeover. This takes just a few minutes to throw together and it will have everyone begging for more!
Here’s what you need:
Candy Cane Joe Joes
Peppermint Ice Cream (Blue Bell is my absolute favorite)
1 stick of butter
Crush or blend a box of Candy Cane Joe-Joes in a food processor or blender. (You can substitute regular Oreos if you don’t have a Trader Joes close). Typically we make Oreo Delight in a 9×13 glass pan, but part of the holiday makeover is making it a little more fancy by creating layers in a springform pan. Divide the crushed cookies into two bowls. Melt 1/4 butter and mix with one bowl of Oreos. Press Oreos into a greased springform pan.
Put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm. Soften 1/2 of the container of peppermint ice cream. You can leave it at room temperature to soften or you can be impatient like myself and pop it in the microwave for just a bit, stir, microwave, stir. Spread over the Oreo mixture and freeze until firm.
Create another Oreo layer with the second bowl of crushed Oreos and 1/4 cup of butter. Freeze. Use the second half of the peppermint ice-cream and press into the pan. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
Once your ready to serve, run a warm wash cloth along the outside of the pan and release the spring. Top with softened cool whip, drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Now just try and contain yourself from licking every plate as you hand them to your guests!
Oct 1, 2017
When you have multiple kids with the same preschool teacher – you start to expect certain lessons.
Cannon had red week at school, which means one day they would learn of the Little Red Hen. Which means kids are a little more helpful for at least one day and…homemade bread. It just might be one of my favorite days of preschool.
The kids come home with the most delicious, warm, lopsided loaves you’ll ever see – because they do it on their own. And they’re full of pride and sometimes just a little stingy with how they share the bread – naturally because I didn’t do any of the work to make the bread. 😉
RED HEN BREAD
6 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 cup potato flakes
Combine and add:
2 1/2 tablespoons yeast
4 tablespoons Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tablespoons Dough Enhancer
4-5 cups of freshly ground white wheat flour*
4-5 cups scoops bread flour*
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup chia seeds
Pour water in Bosch bowl. Add flakes, yeast, honey, and oil. Mix well. Add 2 cups bread flour and 2 cups whole wheat. Add remaining ingredients. *Start with lower amount of flower and add enough flour to bring to a thick tacky dough that pulls from sides of bowl when mixed. Knead 5 minutes. Place in greased pans.
Rise until doubled for about 45 minutes.
Bake 350 for 25-30 minutes.
Aug 28, 2017
I love homemade burgers. Store purchased patties or even frozen patties have nothing on a homemade patty. There’s only two problems I see in making your own patties: squishing ground beef between your fingers and then having them fall apart on the grill. I’m not a big fan of raw meat and really working the ingredients together takes some work – but I’ve tried mixers or spoons, etc…nothing beats using my hands. And I thought second problem was inevitable when making your own patties – don’t homemade patties always fall apart?!
My sister-in-law came to the rescue when she was visiting one time and introduced me to the burger press – it compresses the patties into a nice shape that doesn’t fall apart on the grill. How had I not used one of these in all the times I had made patties?! Game changer. She surprised me after she left with a package from Amazon that had a burger press and the nice wax paper squares to go between burgers. Clearly, she’s helping me step up my grilling game.
Here’s my favorite recipe that we use the most often:
Homemade Hamburger Patties
3 lbs ground beef (I used 80/20)
1 cup of grated Monterrey jack cheese
4oz can green chiles
cracked black pepper
Mix it all together with your hands and divide into 12 even sections (for quarter pounder style burgers) Our particular press is a Cuisinart and it’s simple to use. Insert meat and use the top to press the burger. It’s not rocket science and I’m sure there are other household objects that could get a similar result, but this is easy. After the patties are formed, you’ll want to refrigerate them for at least a half hour to firm up a little more, this helps in the falling apart process as well. Grill to perfection.
Aug 7, 2017
All summer long our fridge has been stocked with fruity goodness. But there comes a time when I’m looking through the fridge and realize there is more food than we could possibly eat before it goes bad. That’s when it all gets thrown together in a large bowl of fruit salsa and magically it gets eaten in one day. This particular batch had strawberries, kiwis, peaches, mangoes and pineapple. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what fruit you throw in there, all the flavors blend together anyway.
Once I painfully cut fruit into perfect bitesize pieces, I drizzled it with honey, a little sugar and some lime juice. Serve it with cinnamon chips – tortillas or pita. Or take a spoon to it – just don’t double dip. I’ll be sad when strawberries aren’t on sale every week for $.88 a pound, Arizona really has the best deals on produce.