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We had another really nice dinner tonight, that took maybe 15 minutes to cook and left everyone happy.

Al had bought a rotisserie chicken the other night (this is what happens when I don't have time to go shopping, he goes when he's hungry and buys all this stuff I wouldn't buy...on the other hand, we got two good meals out of it, family of four.) and there was about one breast and most of a thigh worth of leftovers. 

Chicken Fajitas

Toss in a skillet on medium high heat: a little oil, some sliced onions, some sliced bell peppers; saute till just beginning to soften.
Season with a little cumin, garlic, fajita seasoning, whatever you've got.
Toss in cooked chicken, cut into strips. Throw into skillet.
Lower heat, cover and let sit till chicken is heated through.

Serve on tortillas (corn or wheat--we prefer corn) with salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, grated cheese, yogurt cheese or sour cream, and other fixins.

(Our kids ate quesadillas, tortillas with melted cheese, because they are too picky to eat anything else...)

Then for dessert I pulled out the ice cream maker and we had homemade chocolate frozen yogurt (i.e. I squeezed chocolate syrup into the plain yogurt) and raspberry sauce (recipe at greenmama.dreamwidth.org/10198.html ) for dessert.  Everyone was happy.

And our Roma plant has about 9 little tomatoes growing on it, and the cukes look like they're doing well...
greenmama: (Default)

Okay, so here (greenmama.dreamwidth.org/3862.html ) I talk about how to make your own yogurt in the crockpot.  Easy, fun, and if you're not all Buy Organic Milk like me it's probably way cheaper than the store-bought stuff, especially if you go through it at your house like we do here. 

This is just an easy addendum recipe that I tried last time I made the stuff: the next challenge after making homemade yogurt is of course to flavor it.  The easiest way is honestly to just drizzle a little honey and cinnamon, or maple syrup, or hell even chocolate syrup over it.  Yummers.

But I really was curious about trying to do the whole fruit yogurt thing.  So this is what I did:

Place in a bowl a pound of fresh-frozen fruit. (I used triple berry mix.)  Sprinkle maybe 1/4 cup sugar over it  and maybe a tbs. lemon juice (opt) and stir. (Different fruits and different tastes will obviously have different ideas here about how much sugar to use, and whether to use the lemon juice!)  I also add a sprinkle of cinnamon to it.  Just let it sit there at room temperature until the fruit melts and gets all mooshy with the sugar. 

That's it.  Easiest thing in the world.

This stuff was amazing--just perfectly sweet, incredibly fruit-y.  Very runny, of course, and you could cook it over the stove and mix in a little cornstarch-or-flour-and-water mixture to thicken it, but for my purposes it really didn't need it.  I honestly don't know if it would work the same with fresh fruit, and I'm inclined to doubt it, because I suspect it's part of the frozenness that breaks down the fruit enough to behave like this.  But honestly, when I get fresh fruit I'm not likely to cook or moosh it up; we eat our fresh berries straight.

Drizzle to taste over your (strained and thickened) yogurt.  Or...well, you can also stand over the bowl with a spoon, like I did, but that sort of defeats the purpose. 

Alternative: mix to taste with the yogurt and then freeze in an ice cream machine for frozen yogurt.  This should be delish.  Try it with raspberries, and then drizzle a little chocolate sauce over it when you serve it.
 
(EDIT: Just to note, I probably won't actually mix and store the fruit and yogurt together, although once the yogurt is strained well it's fairly easy to do that.  I'd rather just keep plain gurt in the fridge and have an assortment of things to treat it with, way more flexible...)

Man, this weight loss thing stinks...I mean, yes, it's working, but I just once want to have a Big Pig Out, eat as much as I want of something...anything...

--J
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Those who read my blog with any regularity are probably sick of hearing me sing the praises of Stephanie the Crockpot Lady ----I don't know if I've ranted much about her here on dreamwidth yet, but there ya go. (crockpot365.blogspot.com )

A month or two ago I became intrigued by her method of making yogurt in the crockpot: crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html 

The first time I tried it, it worked well, although it was very runny and didn't strain well. (That was the time I followed her directions pretty much to a T.)  The end result was better suited to "kefir" (that yogurt drink you pay an arm and a leg for at Whole Foods) than any more traditional yogurt.

The second time I tried it, I made a gallon instead of a half gallon and threw in some powdered milk as well--the basic method I used:

  • heat a gallon (Stephanie did 1/2 gallon, so I'm adjusting) milk in crockpot on low for 2.5 hours
  • unplug crockpot and let sit another 3 hours
  • whisk a cup of plain yogurt in a bowl; whisk in a cup or three of the warm milk till it's nicely mixed, then pour back into the crock. (Here I added a cup of powdered nonfat milk.)
  • Cover the crock, drape a couple of heavy towels over it for insulation, and let sit unplugged overnight.
This second time I let the yogurt incubate a lot longer--10-12 hours rather than the initially suggested 8. (Perhaps longer than safe...the greenmama is not responsible for your kids' stomach upsets if you follow any bad advice I give on this blog.  I tried it, I felt fine, it tasted perfectly good, my kids ate it, all was okay.) This time it strained like a dream.  Turns out (thank you, internet) that once the yogurt incubates past a certain point, the whey and curd naturally separate, so the gelatinous fragility of lots of store-bought yogurt actually intensifies, and it just starts to "leak".  (This happens with bigger containers of store-bought yogurt too, after you've cut into them with a spoon, you've probably noticed.)

This time I immediately strained it, putting a piece of natural muslin (from my fabric stash, prewashed of course and dampened before dumping the yogurt in) into a vegetable strainer over a big pyrex measuring container--I used a measuring container because I was curious about how much whey would actually drain out.  Also, every 10 minutes or so I scraped the muslin with a spoon, to clear away the already strained stuff and make room for more; not sure how big a difference this made.

The strainer held about a quart of unstrained yogurt and over about half an hour abandoned about a cup of clear whey, leaving a nice thick creamy yogurt in the muslin.  I did this three times, transferring the finished strained yogurt into old saved yogurt containers.  The kids took this to lunch and ate it for snacks, and we went through 2+ quarts in maybe a week.  I would put some of the yogurt into one of those little cup tupperware things and drizzle some honey or maple syrup or even chocolate sauce over it.  I bet apple butter would be yummy too. 

The last of the unstrained yogurt (1 gallon=4 quarts) I put in the muslin/strainer over the pyrex again, but this time since it was time to go to work I put it all into the fridge and let it drain for 6 hours or so.  By the time I got home it had given up just over 2 cups of whey, and  was honestly "yogurt cheese," a thick stuff about the consistency of cream cheese.  I've made dip with it, or used it as a mayonnaise substitute on sandwiches.  Good stuff.

Cost Analysis: Okay, a quart of organic yogurt at Trader Joe's costs about $3.  To make this, I needed a gallon of organic milk ($6--obviously WAY cheaper if you get conventional), a cup of regular plain yogurt ($1-ish, but once you've made it once you can keep using the starter for subsequent batches), and the powdered milk (hard to gauge, since I bought a giant box ages ago that I just keep around).  So, assuming I'd've gotten about 3 quarts of plain yogurt out of this, that comes to about $2 savings, which isn't much.  Again, using conventional milk and yogurt starter would drop the cost of making my own dramatically.  Plus...well, it's sort of fun.

I'm told that one can use instant gelatin in the milk to help it set a bit more, though I haven't tried it.  And apparently when the fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts get made, they actually put the fruit in first, then the infected milk, and let it incubate right there over the fruit, so that's how it keeps its nice still gelatin texture in the commercial brands.  That's also, I presume, why the "yogurt makers" you buy use all the little cups instead of doing one big Vat of yogurt like the crockpot does. 

So...bon appetit!  It's fun! And healthy! And reduces your footprint by not going through (as I do) 2 plastic quart containers every week!

peace,
J



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December 2012

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