Tag Archives: coconut oil

Homemade Yogurt & Granola

040910 061-1 Within about the last year and a half, I have become quite the fermented milk fan! From kefir to yogurt to lacto-fermented mayonnaise, there is always some kind of milk product sitting out on my counter, working it’s probiotic, yeast-culturing magic; turning plain old milk into something so much more healthy and delicious.

Some of my children find this disgusting, and refuse to touch anything in the fridge that is kept in a Mason Jar. Others have jumped right in and love to drink our daily kefir smoothies, or eat “stirring yogurt” (Little J’s name for homemade yogurt-because you get to “stir-in” whatever flavor or additives you want-like the granola recipe at the bottom of the page). Kefir is my sour-milk of choice, but a nice thick yogurt is always great to have around as well. I will show you some of my kefir-growing soon, but if you are new to kefir check out this great website.

Another great thing about homemade yogurt, besides the superior taste and nutritional value, is how cheap it is to make. For just about the cost of milk (especially after your first batch when you now have your own yogurt starter to use for the next batch), you can also have yogurt. We have been getting our milk from a local dairy, so I also love being able to turn good, fresh milk into creamy, delicious, no-preservative-or-other-additives yogurt.

Making Yogurt

In a saucepot, stir together milk and dry milk powder. Powdered milk is an optional ingredient, but it does help make for a thicker yogurt. If you are using a thermometer, attach it to the side of the pan and bring milk to 185°F-200°F, stirring often. If you are not using a thermometer, bring milk just barely to a boil and then remove from heat immediately. If the milk has developed a foam on top, skim this off.

Fill a clean sink with about 2-3 inches of ice water (just make sure that the water level is low enough that when you add the pan of milk, it comes about halfway up pan). Set pan of hot milk into the ice water bath. Let milk cool to about 110°F (without a thermometer: baby-bottle warm), stirring often. This should take about 10 mins. If you leave your milk too long, and it gets too cool, just reheat slightly on the stove until it reaches 110°F.

040910 0431-1 Gently stir yogurt starter (just plain, unsweetened yogurt, preferably not non-fat) into milk. The first time you make your own yogurt, you will need to buy this. Try to get a high quality, plain yogurt with no pectin added (or other additives). For future batches of yogurt, save a small amount of your own yogurt to use as a starter the next time.

Yogurt needs to incubate between 98°F and 113°F. If the temperature is too low, the yogurt will not reproduce and you will have a runny final product. Temperatures over 118°F will kill the yogurt culture. An easy place to maintain this temperature range is in a cooler. I usually make 3 quarts of yogurt at a time (plus a little extra to use as starter the next time). This cooler fits my 3 quart-sized yogurt jars, one half-pint jar, plus 2 hot water jars for maintaining a nice warm good-bacteria growing temperature.

While the milk is cooling, I fill two quart-sized jars with boiling water and place them in a towel-lined cooler. Once I have mixed the milk with the yogurt starter, I put my yogurt-filled jars in the cooler with the hot water-filled jars.

040910 065-1 Not shown in the above photo is the small half-pint jar that I also fill and add to the cooler. It serves as the starter for the next batch of yogurt I make. You can also just save the last part of one of your quart jars, but this way, I don’t forget and eat the whole jar, and it stays sealed until I am ready to make more yogurt.

060610 018-1

Wrap the towel around the jars.

040910 066-1 Close the cooler and let the yogurt incubate for 8-12 hours. I like yogurt on the tart side, so I usually let it stay for a full 12 hours.

040910 068-1 Transfer jars to the refrigerator. Do not open or shake the jars until they have completely chilled in the refrigerator.

040910 061-1

Delicious, thick creamy yogurt!

060610 006-1

For an even better treat, top your homemade yogurt with some homemade granola!

060610 016-1

RECIPES:

Homemade Yogurt

040910 061-1

Equipment:
Canning jars and lids** (see note at bottom)
Small cooler
Bath towel
Candy/frying thermometer (optional)

Per quart jar of yogurt:
4 cups milk (whole milk is best)**
3 Tbs dry milk powder (optional, but it makes for a thicker yogurt)
2 Tbs plain yogurt

For 3 quarts of yogurt + one 1/2 pint jar (for starter)**:
3 quarts whole milk
1/2 cup (slightly heaping) dry milk powder
1/3 cup, heaping, (or 6 Tbs) plain yogurt

In a saucepot, stir together milk and dry milk powder. If you are using a thermometer, attach it to the side of the pan and bring milk to 185°F-200°F, stirring often. If you are not using a thermometer, bring milk just barely to a boil and then remove from heat immediately. If the milk has developed a foam on top, skim this off.

Fill a clean sink with about 2-3 inches of ice water (just make sure that the water level is low enough that when you add the pan of milk, it comes about halfway up pan). Set pan of hot milk into the ice water bath. Let milk cool to about 110°F (without a thermometer: baby-bottle warm), stirring often. This should take about 10 mins. If you leave your milk too long, and it gets too cool, just reheat slightly on the stove until it reaches 110°F.

While milk is cooling, boil some water (about 2 quarts if you are making 3 quarts of yogurt) and pour it into clean jars. Top with lids. Place in a towel-lined cooler. If you are making a lot of yogurt and using a large cooler, you can also just put a pan of just boiled water in the bottom of the towel-lined cooler.

Remove milk from cold water bath, and gently stir in yogurt. Pour into sterile glass jars.** Top with lids and screw top rings. Place jars of milk in the cooler with the hot water jars. Wrap towel around tops of jars and close cooler.

Let incubate for 8-12 hours. Do not open cooler during this time. You need to maintain a temperature between 98°F and 113°F. If the temperature is too low, the yogurt will not reproduce and you will have a runny final product. Temperatures over 118°F will kill the yogurt culture.

Remove yogurt jars from the cooler and place in the refrigerator to chill. Do not open jars or shake or stir yogurt until well chilled.

**NOTE: When I make yogurt, I like to make an additional jar (a small half-pint jar) to save as starter for the next batch. Using the full amount of milk given above will give you enough extra for this small jar. If you are not going to make an additional small jar, then reduce the milk by a few tablespoons per quart.

Homemade Granola

  • Servings: 20 1-cup servings
  • Print

060610 016-1

10 cups rolled oats
2 cups coarsely chopped raw almonds
2 cups coarsely chopped raw pecans
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
2 tsp cinnamon (use more for a stronger flavor)
1 cup coconut oil
1 ½ cups honey (or half honey/half pure maple syrup)
1 Tbs vanilla extract
2-3 cups dried fruit: raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries (optional)
1 cup shredded/flaked coconut (unsweetened, if possible)(optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a large bowl, mix together oats, nuts, wheat germ, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds, and cinnamon.

Heat coconut oil until melted. Stir in honey and/or maple syrup and vanilla. Stir into oat mixture.

Pour onto a large baking dish. Bake at 325°F for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cook until granola is golden brown.

Cool.

Optional: stir in dried fruit. I like to store the granola without the fruit mixed in, and then add different kinds of dried fruit when I am serving the granola (saves on different kids picking out different kinds of fruit!).

Yield: This makes A LOT (more than 20 cups)! It can easily be halved, but it also stores really well in the freezer (in Ziploc bags). Freeze before adding dried fruit.

4 Comments

Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Condiments/Sauces, Tips and Tutorials

Pumpkin Quiche and a Thai Winter Squash Soup

DSC03457

Fall vegetables and fruit have such wonderful deep colors! We recently purchased several bushels of squash, pumpkins and apples and it has been fun finding ways to use them. As colder weather sets in I love roasting squash and making good hearty soups that taste and smell fabulous and warm up the house all at the same time. For dinner one night this weekend I roasted a bunch of squash and pumpkins and made a pumpkin quiche and a creamy winter squash soup with a subtle Thai flavor.

DSC03966

Pumpkin Quiche with Bacon & Asparagus

For the quiche, I used my standard quiche recipe, substituting one cup of mashed pumpkin for one cup of cream in the recipe. I used half of a small roasted sugar pumpkin (try roasting your own squash-it is wonderful!)

DSC03874

DSC03897 I used an immersion blender to mix the remaining cup of cream with the pumpkin and then added that to the egg and cheese mixture (I used Swiss and Parmesan), tossed in some cooked, crumbled bacon, sautéed onions and garlic, and chopped asparagus and baked it in a pie crust. DSC03909

The resulting quiche had only a very mild pumpkin flavor, but it had a wonderful texture and color.

.

.

.

DSC03923 .

This would be a great way to sneak extra veges into your family’s diet without them ever knowing! And it is so much healthier than the original recipe.

.

Next time I want to try this with a butternut squash, which has a slightly stronger taste and even more brilliant color!

.

.

DSC03959 Thai Winter Squash Soup

I loved this soup! I used four different varieties of winter squash for this: half of a small pumpkin, an acorn squash, a butternut squash and a delicata squash (the small yellow one with green stripes). Any combination of squash would work fine. In trying to come up with a recipe, I didn’t want an overly bland soup, but I also didn’t want to overpower the roasted squash flavor by using really strong flavors, or making it too spicy.

DSC03880 I started by roasting all of my squash and then coarsely chopping them (I took the lazy approach to chopping and scooped the cooked squash into a large 4C Pyrex measuring cup and then ran a knife through it to help pack down the squash to get a full 4 cups).

.

DSC03913 .

In a stockpot, sauté some onions and garlic in coconut oil or olive oil.

.

.

.

DSC03915 .

When they are soft, stir in the cooked, chopped squash and two chopped apples (they lend a nice sweetness to the soup).

.

.

Thin mixture by adding 2 cups of chicken broth, one can of coconut milk and one cup of cream (for a wonderful richness). Cook until apples and squash are very soft. Use an immersion blender to create a smooth soup. Use can also use a blender, but you will have to work in batches. I added a mild Thai flavor to this soup by stirring in 2 tsp Thai red curry paste and 1 tsp fresh grated ginger. I also added a small amount of fresh thyme and some chopped Thai basil from our garden, now growing inside (chopped cilantro would also be great). Add additional chicken broth if soup is too thick.

DSC03959 We garnished this with some toasted pine nuts (sauté pine nuts in 1 Tbs coconut oil or butter until lightly browned).

RECIPES:

Pumpkin Quiche with Bacon & Asparagus

DSC03966

Unbaked Single Pie Crust
4 slices bacon
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chopped asparagus
1 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Chop bacon and cook until crisp. Remove from pan. Drain grease, reserving 1 Tbs of drippings in the pan. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, but not browned. Remove from heat. Stir in chopped asparagus. Cool slightly.

Mix mashed pumpkin and cream well (an immersion blender works great). Mix in eggs, cheeses, salt and pepper. Stir in cooled bacon/vegetable mixture.

Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until set. Cover edges of crust with foil or pie crust shield if they brown too quickly. Cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Thai Winter Squash Soup

DSC03959

2 Tbs coconut oil or butter
1 large onion, chopped
4 whole garlic cloves
4 cups cooked, mashed winter squash
(I used pumpkin, butternut, acorn and Delicata)
2 apples: peeled, cored and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/8 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbs chopped fresh Thai basil (or chopped cilantro-I would use more of the cilantro, probably ¼ cup)
Toasted pine nuts

Heat coconut oil (or butter) in a stockpot. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add cooked squash and apples. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and coconut milk and cook until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. (You could also use uncooked, diced squash and cook longer, until squash is very tender).

Blend soup to make a smooth puree (using an immersion blender or regular blender).

Add cream, salt, coriander, curry paste, ginger and thyme leaves. Cook 10-15 minutes, adding additional chicken broth if the soup is too thick.

Stir in Thai basil or cilantro just before serving.

Garnish with toasted pine nuts.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Main Dishes, Soups/Stews/Curries