01/28/14
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homemade crockpot yogurt

Over the weekend I attempted some new and quite amazing….

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Making yogurt in the crockpot!  I’ve never made yogurt before so I was a bit nervous.  Not wanting to waste half a gallon of milk was my main concern. Not that I would cry over spilled milk…

You see, the reason I set out to try making yogurt at home was solely based on money.  I have nothing against store bough yogurt.  In fact, I love it.  However, the price tag that comes with organic yogurt ($3.5-$4.5 a container) is just not cool.  I was buying 2 containers a week (Hunter and I like yogurt!), which quickly takes away from our $75/week grocery budget.

There are a couple things I go organic for, and yogurt + milk are two of them.  I rarely buy organic produce unless the price is pretty close to conventional, however, when it comes to meat and dairy, I’ll spend the extra money on it.

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So before I share how to make the perfect batch of yogurt in your crockpot, let me break down the savings.

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I’m going to assume a 32 ounce container of organic whole milk yogurt is on sale for $3.50 (which is close to the best I’ve found on a semi-regular basis – but normally it’s probably closer to $4) for sake of comparison.  A gallon of whole organic milk tends to run anywhere from $5-6.  When I made my yogurt the particular milk I had purchased cost me $5 since I used a coupon.  I used half a gallon of it, so $2.50 was invested.  Half a gallon equals 64 ounces.  That means each 32 ounces of homemade organic yogurt cost me $1.25!  Much better than the minimum of $3.50 I’d be spending!  That’s less expensive than conventional whole milk yogurt too.  Pretty rad right?  A savings of $2.25 a container!

That alone convinces me to make my own yogurt.  Then the fact that it’s crazy simple to make and only about a 15-20 minute hands on time investment seals the deal.

I started my search with this recipe, which is not made in the crockpot.  The yogurt is left in the oven with the light on, and since our oven light has never worked, that option was out.  Next I found a crockpot recipe (lost the link), which is made 100% in the crockpot, but the author said it turns out a little runny.  Lastly, I landed on this recipe which is the one I followed with great success.

Ready, set, go — let’s make some yogurt!

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Homemade Crockpot Yogurt

Recipe from here

Makes 64 ounces of yogurt (can easily be halved or doubled)

Ingredients

  • half a gallon of whole organic milk  (8 cups)
  • 1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt, organic to keep your whole batch organic (can be saved from previous made batches – does not have to be store bought unless it’s the first time making it)

Directions

  1. Turn your crock pot on low to let it heat up.
  2. Pour your milk into a saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it reaches 185 degrees.  Use a candy or meat thermometer to check temperature.
  3. Once milk reaches 185 degrees (bubbling, not boiling) remove from burner and place the pan in a sink half full of cold water.  The water should only go up the sides about half way.  Just make sure no water gets into the pan.
  4. Let the milk cool down, stirring occasionally.  Once milk has reached between 90 and 100 degrees, remove pan from water.
  5. Measure yogurt starter (the 1/4 cup of yogurt) into a bowl and pour about a cup of the warm milk over it and stir together.  {Tip: Use 2 Tbsp of yogurt starter per 4 cups of milk.}  Meanwhile pour remaining milk into heated crockpot.  Pour milk and yogurt from bowl into the crockpot and stir it all together.
  6. Put the lid on, turn off, and unplug the crock pot. Wrap a heavy towel around it. Let sit for 6-10 hours. (I did 9 hours).
  7. After the yogurt has finished culturing, place the crock in fridge to cool yogurt. This will help the yogurt to set better.
  8. Once cooled and set, scoop into smaller jars to store in the fridge.  Should keep for 7-10 days.

It looks like a lot of steps, but I promise, it’s super easy!  And result is amazing.  Just one more thing to add to my homemade real food staples and my weekly meal prep.

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I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I did.  Let me know if you try it out and if it turns out for you too!

Have you ever made yogurt yourself?  What method did you use?  What are some of your favorite flavors to add into plain yogurt? 

I love adding in homemade jams, honey or ripe banana.  Just a bit of sweetness is needed for me.  Hunter loves the stuff straight up with nothing added in.

Heather

05/1/13
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crockpot beef and broccoli

The sunshine is out, the air is crisp and all I want to do is go outside and rip out some blackberry vines!  Who am I? A girl with a plan.   On days like this the last thing I want to do is spent time slaving away in the kitchen on dinner.  I want something quick, simple, and delicious.  Okay, I want that most of the time, but some days I’m fine and enjoy spending more time in the kitchen than others.

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This is when the crockpot comes in handy.  Even on warm days, crockpots are life savers.  You don’t always have to make a soup in the old crocker.  You can make a typical meal that would be cooked on the stove in a pan – like this beef and broccoli – but with much less hands on time.

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The one ingredients I wasn’t too stoked on was the beef consomme.  I tried to find a recipe for how to make it at home, but found nothing that looked quick to make.  Quick and simple was needed since I didn’t have too much time that morning.

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Anyways… I highly recommend this dish.  Jacob and I gobbled it up.  Serve with some rice or your favorite grain and lots and lots of broccoli.  The more the better.

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Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

from Chef in Training

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 cup beef consomme
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
  • Hot cooked rice

Directions

  1. Place beef in crock pot.
  2. In a small bowl, combine consomme, soy sauce, brown sugar, oil and garlic.  Pour over beef.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours.
  4. In a cup, stir cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add to crock pot.  Stir well to combine.
  5. Blanch broccoli florets and add to the crock pot.  Stir to combine.
  6. Cover and cook for an additional 20 minutes on HIGH or until thickened.
  7. Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Yesterday I began trying to take Hunter’s 11 month picture…

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It has officially turned into a challenging task!  Today is a new day, and we’ll get that perfect picture.  Or at least, a less blurry. :)

Do you tend to spend more or less time in the kitchen with nicer weather?  Or does it not make a difference?  Anyone have a recipe for beef consomme?

Heather

 

03/25/13
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crockpot sweet apricot chicken

Good morning!

How was your weekend?  Ours went by pretty quickly (they always do), but was pretty great.  Saturday involved teaching a couple classes in the morning, a long walk with the hubs, kiddo and dog, and then having some friends over for wine + cheese.  Sunday we started the day off with a couple hours of yard work.  It was actually really nice getting out there pulling some weeds and cleaning up the front yard.  Hunter happily sat and watched in the stroller until he needed to go down for a nap.  We ran a couple errands, then finished the day off with a date night, ending with froyo.  Yum.

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Hunter even got put to bed like a champ by my mom.  Pretty nice way to finish off the weekend.

Now it’s back to reality.  I’m working on finishing up my meal planning for the month, but before I share that I owe you all another crockpot recipe.

I am almost caught up on sharing my weekly crockpot recipes, which I definitely got behind on.  I have two to share.  To continue the order (which is how I’m making all 50 of the recipes), it’s time to talk about chicken.  Apricot chicken.  The recipe itself is super simple – gather four ingredients, then cook it low n slow for a few hours.  The thing I didn’t like so much was the onion soup packet and catina dressing.  Since I’m trying my best to make more homemade, real food ingredients, I did the same here.

Online I found a recipe for homemade dry onion soup mix.  I followed the recipe, except for when it called for beef bouillon, which I subbed for my fresh bouillon cubes from the freezer.  For the catalina dressing I followed this recipe.  Simple and tomato-y tasting.

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The only pineapple-apricot jam I found at the grocery store had lots of additives in it, so I went with a more basic apricot jam.

Did you catch all that?  Just four ingredients… and I’ve changed three of them.  Good thing I didn’t change the chicken too!

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Crockpot Sweet Apricot Chicken

from chef in training

Ingredients

  • 6-8 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 1 cup catalina dressing *
  • 1/4 cup dry onion soup mix *

Directions

  1. Place chicken in the crockpot.  Mix all other ingredients together and pour over chicken.
  2. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice with vegetables.

*follow the links to the recipes above to make your own

Had I not made all those changes, would Jacob have like this one more?  I’m not sure.  Meat + fruit are not really a combo he prefers.  While Jacob wasn’t a fan of this dish, Hunter and I really enjoyed it!  The chicken was a little sweet + very saucy.  We ate it on top of rice and vegetables.  It made for a super simple meal, even with my extra dry soup and dressing preparation.  The next couple days I threw the leftover chicken on top of salads with creamy blue cheese dressing.  I’d highly recommend that!

If you’re a fan of fruit and meat together, give this one a go.  But if you’re like my hubby, I’d try the sesame honey chicken.  Both are saucy, just with different flavor profiles.

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How was your weekend?  Do you like fruit and meat together?  One thing that comes to mind is Thanksgiving turkey and cranberry sauce, mmmmmm.

Heather