Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Slow Cooker North Woods Wild Rice Soup

My friend Erin made this for dinner and I loved it! It's a great hearty soup for winter and easy crock pot recipe. Easy to double the recipe for more servings.
Erin put chicken in some broth in the crock pot in the morning and then shredded after cooked. Then proceeded to make the soup.

Makes 6 servings

2 teaspoons vegetable oil 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 medium stalks celery, diced (1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (1 cup)
1 cup shredded smoked turkey or chicken (6 ounces)
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon pepper
 3 1/2 cups chicken broth (from 32-ounce carton)
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated fat-free milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion in oil about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Place onion, celery, carrots, protein, wild rice, tarragon and pepper in 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Pour broth over top. Cover and cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours or until wild rice and vegetables are tender. Stir in peas last 15 minutes of cooking. Mix milk and flour; stir into soup. Cover and cook about 20 minutes or until thickened.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

BBQ Pulled Pork

I used this BBQ sauce recipe from to make a great pulled pork in the slow cooker. This freezes well, making it a great OAMC recipe. 

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped onion
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
1 pinch celery salt
1 pinch dry mustard
3 lbs pork shoulder or picnic roast
Liquid smoke to taste

Combine BBQ sauce ingredients. Place pork in slow cooker and pour on the BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork with fork.

Servings: 6

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stocking up on chicken

In order to be as economical as possible, I've taken to buying whole chickens to boil for meat and stock. I keep a large plastic container in the freezer where I store carrot, onion, and celery tops and ends as I come by them. On cooking day, rinse the chicken and remove the insides (may come in a little package, may not). Place chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Dump in scraps directly from the freezer and boil for 20 minutes. Strain stock and freeze for later. Cool and chop up chicken meat to use or freeze.

You can see all these veggie scraps from my freezer stash. It doesn't matter if the carrots and onions have the hairy bits on them - they won't get eaten, but they still will help flavor the stock.

I freeze the stock in these plastic containers. Once frozen, I run hot water over them to release from the container and store the frozen blocks in a jumbo freezer bag in the deep freeze. I like to freeze in two and one cup portions. I also have frozen stock in ice cube trays for even smaller two tbsp portions.

This chicken yielded 14 cups of stock,

and about four cups of cooked chicken.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pretzel Bread

I had some great pretzel bread at a restaurant lately, and wanted to try it at home. This recipe was a big hit! Having a good thermometer helped, as you don't want to get the initial milk/butter too hot so that it kills the yeast. It's also helpful to take an internal temp of the bread towards the end of baking, as it browns quite a bit, so you can't go by "looks."

This bread is pictured with butter, but it did not need it! It's wonderfully soft inside, with a distinctive pretzel tasting crust.

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 envelope yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp yeast)
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour, or more as

Boiling Solution:
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 teaspoon water

1. Melt butter in microwave. Combine milk and butter and heat until warm (100 degrees to 110 degrees F). Combine with undissolved yeast and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl. Stir in salt and 2 cups flour, beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. *I put on the dough hook and let the mixer knead for at least 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
2. Preheat oven to 400°.
3. Combine boiling solution and bring to a boil. Punch dough down and divide into 2 equal pieces. Form each piece into a tight, smooth ball. Boil each loaf in the solution for 2 minutes, turning after 1 minute. Remove loaves from pot using a slotted spoon and place on a greased baking sheet *or a Silpat.
4. Brush all sides with egg wash and cut a cross in the top with serrated knife. Bake for 15 minutes; then reduce the temperature to 350° and bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes until the loaves are evenly browned and internal temp is 190° - 200°. *After 10 minutes, mine was only 180°, so I left it in for another 4-5 minutes. I also had to tent with foil after the first 5 minutes at 350°, as it was already a deep brown. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

So I found these on gimme some oven. They call them "No-Bake Energy Bites." This is true, but they taste like cookie dough balls! I will absolutely make them again. And again. And again.

1 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. ***I found my small Pampered Chef scoop worked well for this! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Yield: 16 balls (+1 for the chef)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

This is a wonderful, healthy dish from Emeril. There's something almost magical about scraping the sides of a spaghetti squash and seeing the little strands break away. It truly does look like angel hair pasta! I went out into the garden and just snipped a little bit of each herb I had growing and tossed them in.

1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed soft herbs, such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley and sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.


Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Once a year my "Nye-sista" Sharon and hubby Chaz come to stay with us for a weekend. Usually we pick apples, but this year all the orchards lost most of the crop to an early frost. Anyways, in honor of their long-anticipated arrival, I made these pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast. WOWSA. I think they will come back next year...


Cinnamon Roll Dough
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
15 oz can OR 1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
1 packet of yeast (1 tablespoon)
5 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional but will enhance pumpkin flavor)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter - softened
1 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp maple extract/maple syrup
pinch of salt (optional)


Combine butter and milk in a sauce pan and heat on low until butter has melted. Once butter has melted, add sugar and stir well to combine, cooking on low heat.

Add yeast to 1/4 cup of warm water (make sure it's not too hot, just warm to the touch). Let the yeast dissolve into the water.

While yeast is dissolving, pull butter, milk and sugar mixture off stove and let cool.

Once butter, milk and sugar has cooled down to warm (not hot), combine it with the yeast and water mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add in pumpkin puree, flour, pumpkin pie spice (optional) and salt. Stir to combine, you may need to work the ingredients together with your hands to fully incorporate flour.

Once combined, set bowl, covered, in a warm draft free spot for 1-2 hours to rise.

After dough has risen (it should double in size), punch it down and prepare to roll it out. Cover your work surface in flour and set dough on surface. Knead dough six to seven times. Roll out with a rolling pin into a large rectangle. If dough is sticky, add a bit of flour to it, as well as your rolling pin.

Once dough is rolled out, brush softened butter over dough. Sprinkle on cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice followed by brown (or white) sugar.

Tightly roll dough up, starting from edge furthest from you. Continue to roll until you've reached the end. Slice cinnamon rolls (I made 12 big ones but you could make 24 small ones in two pans if you want). Set cinnamon rolls in buttered pan (one 9x13 pan per dozen).

At this point you can bake your rolls, or cover and place in the fridge for up to twenty four hours.

Preheat your oven to 375. While oven preheats, let cinnamon rolls sit at room temperature (approx 20 minutes). If cinnamon rolls have been in the fridge and are cold, it's best to give them 30-40 minutes at room temperature prior to baking.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers look firm. Remove from oven and let cool for approx five minutes.

While cinnamon rolls are cooling, mix up glaze, combining milk, powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, maple extract and pinch of salt in a large bowl and mixing well. The glaze should be pourable. If it's too thick, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Pour glaze over cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately or allow to sit. Store covered. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Debdoozie's Blue Ribbon Chili

This is the best bean chili recipe, in my opinion! Found on

2 pounds ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 (8 ounce) jar salsa
4 tablespoons chili seasoning mix
1 (15 ounce) can light red kidney beans
1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the ground beef and the onion and saute for 10 minutes, or until meat is browned and onion is tender. Drain grease, if desired.
2. Add the ground black pepper, garlic salt, tomato sauce, salsa, chili seasoning mix and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour.

Serves: 6

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Homemade Thin Wheat Crackers

These look and taste a LOT like those famous crackers that are thin and made with wheat. ;) I love em! I bake them closer to 10 minutes to make sure they are browned. If not, they aren't as crispy as I would like. Try these - they really aren't too hard! I found this on Two Peas and their Pod, and they found it from KAF.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for topping
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup water (you might need to add a little more)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  *** LOVE the silpat!!!

Set aside.

2. Add the flour, sugar, salt and paprika to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Using a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dry ingredients thoroughly.  Combine the water and vanilla in a small measuring cup or bowl.  Add to the butter/flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms. If the dough is still dry, add a little more water. *** I've always had to add more water at this stage. Also, I made this dough in the food processor and it worked very well!

3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a towel so they don't dry out.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle.  Lift the dough and turn it as you roll to ensure it's not sticking.  You want to roll the dough as thin as possible, try to make sure it's 1/16-inch thick at most.  If you want all of your crackers to be perfect, trim the edges of the dough so you have a rectangle with even sides.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the rectangle into squares about 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide.

4. Transfer the dough squares to the prepared baking sheets. You can place them close together because they will not spread.  Sprinkle the squares lightly with salt.  Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining 3 pieces of dough.  Save all of your scraps under the towel to keep the dough from drying out; reroll them all at once to create a final batch of crackers.

5. Bake the crackers, one sheet at a time, until crisp and browned, about 5-10 minutes.  Check the crackers at 5 minutes, and if some of the thinner ones are browning too quickly, remove them from the oven.  The crackers can burn quickly so you want to keep a close eye on them.  Remove crackers from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.  Store the crackers in an airtight container.

Recipe from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Cookbook

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine
Prep Time:
50 min
Inactive Prep Time:
2 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
20 min
12 doughnuts


  • 2 red apples, such as Cortland or McIntosh
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 3 1/2 cups all-pourpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.
Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-frythermometer registers 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or use a doughnut cutter). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.
Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mango Quinoa Salad

I have made this dish from Our Best Bites several times now, and it's turned out well every time! As a cold salad, it's wonderful in the summertime. You can serve it as a side dish or main dish. 

2 cups cooked quinoa at room temperature, or chilled
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful chopped cilantro (about 1/2 cup)
4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl.  Add mango, red pepper, green onion, black beans, and cilantro.  In a small bowl combine vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice.  Whisk until smooth and pour on top of salad.  Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (aka Fiber Bars)

When I needed to look for ways to increase my youngest's daily fiber intake, Fiber Bars were a lifesaver. Fiberful, yummy and a quick way to eat breakfast. However, I didn't like how processed the store-bought fiber bars are. I set out to find a recipe that was a bit more healthy, but still high in fiber. Here is what I came up with. With 16 servings, they don't have as much fiber as a store-bought bar. These are 4.5 grams per bar, but it's all natural!

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat bran
1 cup All Bran cereal
1 cup Koala Crisp cereal (or rice krispies-type cereal)
1 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 - 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.
  3. On stove, heat honey and sugar until it bubbles and froths. Stir constantly for 1 minute. This will caramelize the sugars and help the bars stick together.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.
  5. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  6. Stir in mini chocolate chips - if honey mixture is too hot, this will melt the chips. Doesn't look as good, but it still tastes great! Another alternative is to omit chocolate chips at the this point and sprinkle 1/4 cup of them on the top after they are pressed into the pan. 
  7. Dump granola mixture into pan. Use a piece of wax paper to press the mixture flat and into the corners.Peel wax paper off bars.
  8. Cool completely. Invert onto a large cutting board and cut into 16 - 20 rectangles.
  9. Wrap bars individually with saran wrap and store in a air-tight container.

Yield: 16 bars

Friday, September 28, 2012

My Baking Bucket List

I realized that I have been subconsciously amassing a list of things that I'd like to bake. Not ordinary things like brownies and pizza, but things one usually buys at the store or orders at a restaurant. Over the past few years I've been ticking recipes off the list and adding some more on.

Here is my Baking Bucket List (with status):

✓ Sandwich Bread (done and perfected!)
✓ Artisan Bread (done and perfected!)
✓ Focaccia Bread (done and perfected!)
✓ Pretzels - soft (done and perfected!)
✓ Crackers (done and perfected!)
✓ Dinner Rolls (done and perfected!)
✓ Tortillas - flour (done and perfected!)
✓ Granola (done and perfected!)
✓ English Muffins (done, but still tweaking)
✓ Bagels (done, but still tweaking)
✓ Pita bread (done, but still tweaking)
✓ Graham crackers (done - made a great whole wheat version!)
✓ 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (done and perfected!)
Tortillas - corn
Chocolate soufflé
Pretzels - crunchy
Crème brûlée
Goldfish crackers

How bout you, sistas? What's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Bread

This recipe is based on one I found on I wanted mine to be a bit healthier, so I made some adjustments. It is not a "dessert" bread, but is still sweet, filling and yummy.

1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups apples, diced (mine were decent size chunks)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, applesauce, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture gradually. Add apples.

Bake in 2 regular loaf pans (greased and floured) for 70 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan.

Yield: 2 loaves

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin

When the squash are starting to pile up, it's time to look for delicious new ways to eat them, like this tasty gratin!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Garden Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

While my own garden has produced a pitful amount of tomatoes, I was gifted some tomatoes from some more successful gardeners. I used them, along with fresh herbs from my garden and some onions from the root cellar to create this amazing recipe from

4 lbs fresh tomatoes, chopped & peeled
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
3 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 sprigs parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon sugar

To cook pasta sauce, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large iron skillet or heavy saucepan.
Add onion, basil, oregano, garlic and salt.
Saute until onion is tender, approximately 5 minutes.
Add tomato, parsley and sugar; heat to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 2 hours, stirring often or until sauce has thickened. *This took about 3 hours for me, but so worth it! It does thicken up if you are patient.

Yield: approx. 4 cups or 28 oz. pasta sauce.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thai Beef Skewers With Pickled Cucumbers

Beyond Delicious!

Thai Beef Skewers With Pickled Cucumbers

Recipe courtesy Ted Allen for Food Network Magazine
Prep Time:
1 hr 50 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
10 min
4 to 6 as an appetizer


For the pickled cucumbers:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 1/2 Asian cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small hot red or green chile, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

For the beef skewers:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or Thai chili paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pound sirloin, rib-eye or New York strip steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 scallions (white and light green parts), cut into 1-inch lengths, plus additional, sliced for garnish


Pickle the cucumbers: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup water over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve; remove from the heat. Put the cucumber, chile and red onion in a medium bowl and pour the hot brine over them. Let cool, then add the cilantro. Chill.
Make the beef skewers: In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Pour half of the mixture into a serving bowl, add the lime juice and reserve as a dipping sauce. Put the beef cubes in a zip-top bag and pour in the remaining marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Put in a bowl and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat a grill to high. Drain the meat, discarding the marinade. Thread the cubes onto skewers (1 to 4 per skewer), separating each cube with a piece of scallion. Grill directly over the coals, turning once, until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side.
Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve warm or cold with the reserved marinade for dipping and the pickled cucumber and chiles on the side.
Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill.
Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Garden Penne

I was looking for a recipe to use with my first summer squash of the season. I modified this one from and it was a hit. If only my red onions and peppers were ready! I'd have had all the ingredients from my own garden. While this was delicious fresh, I bet you could freeze it as well.

1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 (28 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes, drained
1 (28 ounce) jar pasta sauce
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn,drained (or 1 cup frozen corn)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the penne, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 11 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink, place the pasta in a large bowl, and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and cook and stir the zucchini, squash, onion, red and green peppers, and garlic until the vegetables are tender, for about 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, pasta sauce, and corn, and stir to mix. Sprinkle with red and black pepper to taste, and bring the mixture back to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
4. Pour the vegetable mixture into the bowl with the cooked penne pasta, stir to mix well, and spoon into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top, and bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

Servings: 6

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Crock Pot Yogurt

So I've been reading online about making yogurt in a crock pot and decided to give it a go. My girls and I all love yogurt. The kids are a little picky, though, and won't eat "chunky" yogurt. They like those kiddie yogurt flavors with bright colors. I found a site that suggested using Jello to flavor homemade yogurt. I prefer Greek yogurt, and also found multiple tips on how to make that. Both recipes were a huge success!

While it is not difficult, crock pot yogurt does require some "babysitting," so start this when you will be home for a while. To time it right, I suggest you start it in the afternoon and it should be ready for you the following morning. Make sure to reserve a cup of the plain yogurt to serve as starter for your next batch. You can put it in the freezer.


  • 1/2 gallon milk (I used whole milk)
  • Crock pot
  • 1/2 - 1 cup plain yogurt with active cultures
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1 box of Jello - I like Better Bowls gelatin or Jel Dessert (for kid yogurt)
  • Large coffee filter or cheese cloth & fine strainer (for Greek yogurt)

  • Pour 1/2 gallon milk into crock pot. Set on high until milk reaches 180 degrees F. (I used my Hamilton Beach crockpot with probe - perfect for this!) Expect it to take a couple hours, at least.
  • Turn crock pot off and let sit until temperature cools to 115 degrees F. I found that if I take the lid off, this goes faster, but you'll have to skim off a layer of film that forms on the top of the milk. With lid on, it takes about 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
  • Scoop out 2 cups of the lukewarm milk into a bowl and add the plain yogurt & powdered milk to it. Mix well and return the milk/yogurt mixture to the crock pot. Stir to combine.
  • Remove the "crock" from the pot and put the lid back on. Wrap the crock in a towel for added insulation and set in an unheated, closed oven.
  • Let sit for 8 hours in the oven (this is when it's nice to time it so that it sits overnight). Make sure to put a note on the oven so that you don't accidentally turn it on! :)
  • After 8 hours, the milk will be transformed into yogurt.
Kid Yogurt:
  • Dissolve 3 oz box of Jello into 1 cup boiling water. Let sit to cool a bit. For a more natural/healthy option, try Jel Dessert (found at Whole Foods). It doesn't contain gelatin, so it won't have the same consistency as Jello. But, it is perfect for yogurt drinks! And it makes great frozen "go-gurts" when I freeze it in silcone pop molds. UPDATE: I have found Better Bowls gelatin on Amazon which does contain gelatin and has a great texture. My kids LOVE this!
  • Scoop out 2 cups of plain yogurt into a bowl. Whisk the Jello into the yogurt well. It will turn to liquid - this is okay. Just pour it into lidded containers and put in the fridge to set up. A few hours later you will have "Jogurt," as we call it. Looks and tastes very much like the store-bought kiddie yogurt!
Greek Yogurt: 
  • Place a fine strainer over a sturdy bowl. 
  • Set a large coffee filter (or cheese cloth) into the strainer and fill with as much plain yogurt as it will hold.
  • Sit in the refrigerator overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl below and you will be left with amazing, rich, creamy Greek yogurt!
  • Flavor with honey or fruit syrup/jam for a sweet and delicious treat.

Update: I have calculated the yield and cost of this recipe.

1/2 gallon milk yields 7 cups yogurt 

With some Manager's Special Organic Milk and a cup of vanilla starter yogurt, it cost me $0.24/cup yogurt

Jogurt = 2 cups yogurt ($0.48) + natural jello pkg ($1.49) = $1.97/16 oz  or $0.12/oz (my VERY best sale price on GoGurt is $0.16/oz)

Greek yogurt = 2 cups yogurt ($0.48) = $0.48/8 oz or $0.06/oz  ($0.17/oz for Chobani Greek yogurt) 

2 cups of  yogurt = 1 cup Greek yogurt & 1 cup whey