July 24, 2022 · 2:04 pm
This thing called the Instant Pot as been the rage now for almost ten years. I still have a love hate relationship with it! Let me explain myself further. I really in so many ways have developed into a minimalist. My good friends that read my blog are saying to themselves right now “that’s a big fat lie Wanda!” because guess what you own 4 sets of china plus one that you have just for Christmas. Well in my mind I want to be a minimalist ? Doesn’t that count? I do keep the number of kitchen gadgets I own to a minimum because I hate cluttered cabinets. I debated for awhile before purchasing this so called Instant Pot. Would I use it enough to warrant the space needed to store this rather large piece of equipment? Did I have other equipment that could serve the same purpose? But alas intrigue of this Instant thing got the best of me and I found myself on Amazon giving in to my weakness. Cooking chicken breasts for tacos was my first experiment and it was a big fat failure with a capital F! The time saved was none and they were inedible. Case closed and The Instant Pot was packed into it’s box for nine months and did not see the light of day or the darkness of night . Then the most appealing cooking experiment appeared in one of my favorite magazines using your Instant Pot to make yogurt. I had to try it! Out of the box it came to never be returned. I love it when it comes to making Greek Yogurt and mine is used every 7-10 days without fail. It is the best Greek Yogurt!!!
The money saved is worth it after the initial investment of an Instant Pot and glass jars for storage. You could totally make this without the Instant Pot and it can be stored in a large container. So there you go it is a win win! Homemade Greek yogurt cost .04 cents an ounce compared to .14 cents per ounce from say Kroger. That’s .90 cents of savings per container! At our house we eat about 25-35 containers a month. That’s a savings of almost $300 a year just on yogurt!!! Plus it taste better and you add your own sweetener!
I’m giving you the lowdown on making the best Greek Yogurt you have ever had. This has no sweetener at all. In fact, it is really tangy and we like it that way. Add your favorite granola for sweetener as well as whatever fruit is in season. So you will not have any unseen sugar added! Another win for you and your family. You can cook with this stuff, too. Use it in the place of sour cream anytime. I love to bake with it. Delicious.
Maybe you want to take this a step further than I do and use the 8 or more cups of whey that is drained and make yourself some homemade ricotta cheese. Go for it with my blessing! I’m afraid with just the two of us that my effort will be wasted. Let me know if you try it out though.
Pour a gallon of milk or half gallon into the Instant Pot. I use 1% or skim milk.
- Set the Instant Pot on Boil.
- The milk will need to reach a temperature of 185 degrees which will take about 55 minutes. Mine has never reached this temperature.
- Hit the saute button on the Instant Pot and start whisking the milk to keep it from scorching on the bottom and to get a true read with your thermometer.
- When the milk is 185 degrees take it off the heat. You can see that mine got a little hotter than 185. It turned out just fine though.
I cool mine in the sink with ice which takes about 20 minutes or just sit it on a trivet and let it cool for about 45 minutes. Make sure you whisk the milk before measuring temperature so you will have no hot spots. Temperature must be cooled to 110-95 degrees.
- Take out some of the cooled milk and put in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt with live culture. I started with Fage yogurt until I made my first batch. Wisk the cool milk with the 2 tablespoons of starter ( which is plain yogurt with live culture).
- Add the starter and milk back to your cooled gallon of milk.
- Put it back in the Instant Pot and set on the Yogurt setting and cook on normal. I set the timer for 10 hours. Do not Stir. This will give you a really good tangy taste.
- After 10 hours place in the refrigerator for 4- 8 hours. A spoon should stand up in the middle. Do not Stir!
- Now is the time to drain the whey. I have used several methods such as using cheesecloth, purchased bags that can be washed, but the one I prefer is lining a colander with a clean cotton dishcloth and placing in a large bowl. I usually let it drain for about 8 hours. Do not stir
Place in storage containers and refrigerate. Always keep 2 tablespoons for your starter. This can be frozen. I’ve never needed to freeze any because when I see that I have 2 servings left I will make more.
January 2, 2018 · 1:23 pm
Who doesn’t love a pie that you can feed a crowd without the pressure of making two or three pies? I ran across Family Circle Magazine’s article featuring Slab Pies and I could not resist pinning it on a pie board. That is a whole different story! I was talking to a friend of mine and mentioned something about seeing a cute idea on Pinterest and she says to me “What is Pinterest?” You know I didn’t explain it!!! I thought to myself I wish after wasting hours on end on Pinterest that I could block myself from the site. So I did her a huge favor and ignored the question. She can thank me later! Anyway back to this slab pie. It’s easy, quick, delicious, serves a crowd and it’s really pretty! So put it on your list for 2018 to share with all your friends. Happy New Year!!
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December 19, 2017 · 10:21 pm
I have not always been a fan of greens. Recently I have lived on the wild side tasting greens from several restaurants and I have found that I love them. In fact I can’t get enough of them, but a little scared to try my hand at making them at home. I was excited to see this no-fail recipe in the November issue of Southern Living. I had to try it and it is a big winner!
Oh my gosh! What flavor this dish has and its so easy to put together. Who in their right mind would want to spend hours washing greens? There’s no washing greens for hours because the recipe uses packaged prewashed greens. Its got a kick from the red pepper, sweetness from brown sugar and sour from apple cider vinegar. I used a soup bone from Honey Baked Ham which adds even more flavor. You will love it!! Get out your slow cooker and go for it. Winner!
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December 13, 2017 · 1:29 pm
- What do you do with leftover homemade cranberry sauce? Well you make the most delicious Oat Bars that you possibly can that’s what you do! After Thanksgiving I was not about to waste this amazing Cranberry Sauce. When searching for uses of leftover cranberry sauce I found many combinations of recipes out there, but the one from the Washington Post got my attention because it was so easy. I love the tartness of the sauce with the buttery goodness of the oatmeal crumble that is used for the crust and the topping. It is just heavenly.
Here you go… Now you can get in the kitchen and put together the most wonderful bars in just a few minutes. Waiting for them to cool before cutting into that block of goodness can be torture. I highly recommend using two strips of parchment paper cut to the width of your pan and then crisscrossing them. Otherwise it might be hard getting out of your pan. A foil lined pan that is lightly oiled will work as well.
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April 27, 2017 · 11:52 am
This recipe has been floating around on social media for awhile and I have to say it really piqued my interest. So much that here I am blogging about it! There are so many recipes out there using spaghetti squash and if you were like me it is a vegetable that I did not know too much about. Year’s ago I received one in my CSA box and had to do some research on what to do with it. Here is what I shared a while back. My love for spicy food led me to try this along with the fact that the calories per serving were only around 300 and no carbs. That is definitely a win for everyone.
This recipe was inspired by Skinnytaste. If you have not seen her blog check it out and her new cookbook is out also. It is great! I have been trying out many of her recipes since I acquired myself the infamous Instant Pot. Do you have one? I love mine, but yet another story.
So let’s get cooking. If you like to plan ahead then it would be a great idea to make the taco meat a day ahead or even make it and freeze it. I think it is much more flavorful. But, making it the same day as you serve it is good! I chose to make the taco meat from this recipe that I love from Gourmet Magazine 2003.
I just adore Skinnytaste’s pico de gallo. It is similar to this one I have used, but I do like that it calls for scallions instead of red onion. That way my husband who is not a lover of onion thinks that he is just eating cilantro!!! Give this pico about 15 minutes for the flavors to blend and enjoy!
Now to the cooking of the squash. Don’t let it intimidate you because believe me without proper instruction cutting it might lead you to the emergency room. This was the method that I used. Just be cautious and don’t overcook it! Not a good thing when that happens.
Using a knife make small cuts from stem to stem as you would make a dotted line to use when you cut the squash in half.
Place the squash in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes for a 24 ounce squash.
Let it cool so you can handle it or use an oven mitt. Using a sharp knife cut in half along the dotted line that you created.
Scrape out the seeds and strands not the flesh from the sides . Discard the seeds and strands.
Spray or brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Place on a pan with parchment paper cut side down and bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.
Watch carefully because it is easy to overcook this squash. The squash is done when a fork pierces the flesh easily. PERFECTION!
I love this recipe! It is so flavorful and very filling!
Spaghetti Squash Taco Boats inspired from Skinnytaste
- 3 small spaghetti squash about 24 oz. each
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Taco Meat filling from Gourmet
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 fresh serrano chiles (including seeds), finely chopped ( I used jalapeno)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 lb ground chuck
- 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pico de Gallo from Skinnytaste
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 1/4 cup chopped scallion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 jalapeno, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
- Use a knife to make small cuts from stem to stem on the squash. Microwave on high for about 4 minutes.
- Let it cool or handle with an oven mitt.
- Using a sharp knife cut in half along the dotted cuts.
- Scrape the seeds and strands from the flesh. Discard.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or two if they don’t fit).
- Spray or brush the inside of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the squash facedown on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until the flesh easily pierces with a fork.
- Meanwhile, brown ground meat in a large skillet breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When no longer pink add dry seasoning and mix well. Add the onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
- Combine the ingredients for the quick pico de gallo in a medium bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
- Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside so the strands appear. Spoon scant 1/2 cup meat inside each squash bowl.
- Top each with 2 tbsp cheese and transfer them to the oven and bake another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from the oven, top with pico de gallo .
July 1, 2016 · 2:11 pm
We went to Cashiers, North Carolina at the last-minute for Father’s Day week-end. I literally booked our rooms at 8:00 PM before we left the next day. It was a really good trip. Sometimes those are the best kind of getaways. You know last minute with no planning. Just throw some shorts and a pair of jeans in the car and head out. We really felt like a king and queen at the B&B. It was an amazing place just check out Innisfree Bed and Breakfast. We loved it.
Awaiting on a beautiful china tray when we checked in were Brownie Cookies. We are talking intensely chocolate with toasted pecans. Evidently I was not the first person to eat them with gusto and want the recipe to recreate the chocolate experience at home because Claire the owner when asked for the recipe just opened a drawer and whipped out a typed copy . She cheerfully gave it to me with a big smile and said, “Enjoy!” And that is exactly what I’m doing.
These really are some of the best cookies I have put in my mouth and I hope that you will enjoy them, too! Have a Happy 4th!
Brownie Cookies by way of Sandi Eichorn and Claire
Yield: about 3 dozen cookies
- 2 cups toasted pecans
- 1/2 cup butter ( 1 stick)
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares
- 3 cups semisweet chocolate morsels, divided
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast pecans in pan for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt 1 stick butter, 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares, and 1 1/2 cups of the semisweet chocolate morsels oven medium low heat until melted. Stirring constantly. I remove from heat right before all the chocolate has melted. Continue stirring until smooth. Cool slightly so you won’t fry your eggs.
- Beat 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of sugar for a couple of minutes in a medium large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla.
- Stir melted chocolate and butter mixture into eggs and sugar until well blended.
- Stir in flour, salt and baking powder.
- By hand mix in remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate morsels and toasted pecans.
- Drop by tablespoon on to parchment paper lined cookie sheet. ( if you want smaller cookies make them a heaping teaspoon)
- Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
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May 4, 2016 · 10:23 am
Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and this is perfect for your fiesta! A couple of years ago one of the chefs from a culinary school here in Atlanta came to pitch the school to my students. As always the visit was a treat for me as well as my students. It included a short video about the school as well as a short demo. The highlight was the food demo and on this particular trip to my class it was one I’m sure they will always remember. He made migas. Some of my students knew what they were , but most did not. Scrambled eggs with peppers and add fried tortilla strips are migas in a nutshell. What was the best to most including me was the Pico de Gallo that he put on top. This fresh and simple recipe opened up my student’s eyes to just how easy it is to make this wonderful topping for tacos, migas, or just about anything. In fact this is so good you just might want to puree it and drink it with a straw.
I like it packed with some heat. Some jalapenos are hot and others are just bland. I will cut and taste until I find one that has just the right amount of heat. I want it with a big kick. I know that some don’t like the heat and that means leave out the seeds because they are the heater! Try to make it about 30 minutes before serving to let the flavor develop. The leftovers will be good for about 2 days, but I doubt they will last that long. I serve as a side for all my Mexican dishes but I especially like to dump a huge amount on this salad. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have for about the last four years. Have fun at your fiesta!
Pico de Gallo put together from several recipes
Yield about 1 1/2 cups
- 3 small tomatoes diced (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1/2 jalapeno diced
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 lime freshly squeezed ( about tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon of fine salt
- Dice tomatoes. I like to use the tomato juice. You may want to drain and save the juice. You could add it as needed.
- Add chopped jalapeno, onion and cilantro.
- Squeeze 1/2 a lime into vegetables. Again you may need all the juice and you may not depending on the size of the lime. Taste and adjust as needed. You may even need more.
- Add salt. I usually start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more to taste.
- Let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
May 2, 2016 · 12:04 pm
You need these lemon bars in your life. Yes, you do! Make them and share with all your family and friends. They are the best ever! Aren’t they just gorgeous on this platter? I’ve been drooling over this recipe since I first saw it in Southern Living. When Spring peeked out a little a couple of months ago I felt the need for something lemony and served these to my book club. They flew off the platter! But, who could resist when I put the platter on the table right in front of everyone. You just want one more bite.
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April 26, 2016 · 12:12 pm
I love Mexican food and there is no other words to describe this salad but fantastic! The salad part is just like any other salad with lettuce, tomato, olives, cheese, and avocado. The stars of this main dish are the meat and the dressing so don’t change a thing when you make this because they are perfect as they are. This is an easy to prepare so you will win all around. The most time-consuming is chopping the onions, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro. It does make a lot. I mean that I served 10 people and had 2 servings as leftovers. The leftovers are still good the next day if you don’t add the dressing to the top. I do like it with some heat so I put really hot jalapeno peppers with seeds and all in there. You adjust the heat to your taste. I love serving this with some crunchy tortilla chips and homemade Pico de gallo. Yummy! Make this for your next get together, serve it on your deck or patio or take it to your friends to enjoy. They will thank you!
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April 15, 2016 · 2:48 pm
This is one of the easiest desserts that I have made and it is definitely a show stopper. I’m not sure which part of this I’m in love with most. It could be the heavy whipping cream, or the Kahlua, or maybe the crisp chocolate wafers that soften up from the Kahlua and espresso. Maybe its the mascarpone cheese mixed with sugar and vanilla. Really I’m sure it is a combination of all of these that make an outstanding dessert that will catch everyone’s attention at your next dinner party. Your guests are going to think you spent hours making it, but trust me it is a cinch to make. I saw Ina Garten make this on her cooking show and knew that I had to try it. It is so worth every calorie. Now after making Ina’s recipe as it stands I chose to change it. She uses chocolate chip cookies. I like it with homemade chocolate chip cookies, but I love it with the Chocolate wafers made by Nabisco. Her recipe has you throwing everything in the mixer except the cookies. I changed it up by creaming the cheese and sugar together first. I threw two batches of the cream in the trash when the cheese and whipping cream were very lumpy. You can’t have lumpy in a cream torte so it works so much better when the cheese and sugar are creamed together first.
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