Two great uses for yogurt whey

I’ve been making my own yogurt recently and am always left with tons of whey (like at least a half gallon!). I’ve done the online searches and been to the same web sites that give all the suggestions and tips. So far, these two uses are my favorites because they use quite a lot of whey and because the finished products are very tasty! (unlike the time I made my usual butternut squash soup and substituted the water with whey–like they suggested–and my family could tell and didn’t like it and I had to give away the leftovers to some good friends who are clearly not as picky as my brood)

The first whey-use is a crepe recipe that uses 3 cups of whey (that’s a lot!); actually, it calls for 3 cups of buttermilk but I use the whey instead. I started making this recipe because it was a good use of whey, but my kids and I actually like this recipe better than my old crepe recipe, so it’s now our family’s “go to” recipe. (What am I gonna do if I ever get tired of making yogurt and have no more free whey?)

Since I started making this recipe, I’ve started to track what I eat at MyFitnessPal, and today I put in this recipe to calculate the calories/nutrition value. I was so thrilled to learn that they’re only about 25 calories each (when I make 24 crepes from one batch).

We usually freeze the leftover crepes in batches of 6 with parchment paper in between. They keep really well in the freezer, we just take them out the night before we want to eat them and they’re almost as good as new the next morning. I like mine with a little peanut butter and banana. A likes hers the French dessert way with Nutella (and bananas if she must). K likes hers with PB and Nutella, which somewhere along the way she has started calling “peanutella”, haha!

The second great whey recipe I’ve found is a ciabatta bread. It’s HUGE. It uses 2 cups of whey. Technically the original recipe uses sweet whey, which is a byproduct of making cheese, as opposed to acid whey which is a byproduct of making yogurt, but I made it with yogurt whey, and it was soooo good as it was. (The original poster later wishes she had used her original ciabatta recipe which uses a “biga”/starter, but I didn’t have time to do that so I went with her “lesser than” recipe as posted and it was still amazing)

The dough is pretty sticky, but I just poured it out onto the floured parchment and shaped it onto itself, then scored. This is it before baking…

And this is it after baking!

I wasn’t sure if I baked it long enough, so I had to make a cut right in the middle–looked great (and smelled great too!). We had Tom’s parents over for dinner, and it was fun to serve them some fresh, homemade bread.

This bread was HUGE! I cut it in half, then served that half to 6 of us (below). At first Tom’s mom said that was way too much bread for just 6 of us, so I only filled the bread basket with about 60% of the bread. But as we were having dinner (which was a nice, big dinner with lots of other yummy foods), lo and behold, the bread basket was empty and we had to go get the rest of the bread I had cut! We enjoyed it with some meyer lemon olive oil and 15 year old balsamic vinegar that we bought up in Healdsburg at Christmastime.

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A Rose By Any Other Name…

I saw those “apple rose” desserts a while ago, and it occurred to me this weekend that they’d make a great dessert for Easter since a) they’re a little more special than your typical dessert (“fancy” in fact!) and b) they’re something you can make for a smaller gathering. (Not gonna make these for 70 teens in youth group!) Okay, also, I was looking for something different since I offered to make dessert for the extended family Easter dinner, and it felt silly for me to make a cake or something that ddubs could make in her sleep! 😆

I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe. I took the pastry size and baking times from the first recipe. The second recipe I liked just for the video from Chef John, haha! I liked his humor and I thought his voice reminded me of the conductor on Dinosaur Train.

They were pretty easy to make and do present really nicely. The finished product:

A different one without the powdered sugar, before I wrestled the paper liner off it!

You might not make it for a bunch of teens, but you can teach a teen to make them! 😁

Here’s what I learned:

  • I sliced my apples too thin! The apple:pastry ratio was too low. Next time I’ll try slicing the apples a little thicker and rolling the pastry a little thinner. (I got 7 pieces out of one pastry sheet this time)
  • Mom wanted a little more tartness in the apples. Typical apples used for apple desserts like pies are granny smith, but they’d give us green roses, so I’ll have to find a tart red apple. (I used red galas since I had small ones on on hand already)
  • Despite what I thought, do NOT make the inside petals too small, otherwise the rose will come out too low in the middle, it actually looks better if you use almost the same size apples/petals from the get-go
  • The apricot preserves worked really well, not too sweet, butter was not needed.
  • Do NOT sprinkle cinnamon sugar after the rose is made, do it before you roll it all up or else you’ll get an ugly brown rose on top
  • Baking in paper cupcake liners was not so great for us, maybe if we didn’t overbake them (had to prebake at home and then reheat at D&C’s place) they might not have stuck to the pastry so badly

Overall, I’m glad we tried these and would do it again!

Rose Ombre Cake

This past weekend I made my first attempt at a rose ombre cake.  If you’ve been on Pinterest for a while or in the baking blogosphere in the recent past, you’ve probably heard of this cake.  I made it for my friend’s baby shower, which had a peach and mint color scheme.  I looked at a couple different blogs/websites to help me figure out how I was going to make it.  (Completely Delicious,  America’s Test KitchenCountry Cleaver)

Here it is:

 rose ombre cake

(Sorry the pic isn’t that great, we were in a shaded structure that had some light filtering in.)

And some mint chocolate chip mini macs, too!

mint macarons I want to practice making more cakes now!  🙂

Thanksgiving (sorta) live blog…

Ok, so I wanted to live blog, but I was doing a bunch of different things in the kitchen at once, so that didn’t really happen.  And now, as I sit here for a moment to try to take a breather and blog a bit of what I was able to capture on my iPhone, I’ve forgotten how to blog!!

Here goes… I think… and Judy said this is called batch blogging actually…

 

Yesterday, I tried to get a head start on the baking so that the kitchen would be freed up a bit today:

Roasting and peeling hazelnuts for chocolate hazelnut ice cream:

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Making vanilla bean ice cream and starting the chocolate hazelnut ice cream:

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Making red velvet macarons:

 

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Mom cooking and peeling crab for stuffed mushroom filling:

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Christine starting to prep the turkey:

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Vanilla bean ice cream churning:

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Macarons are piped and resting:

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The turks is in its temporary home for the night:

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Christine making the mirepoix for the gravy and beautiful cranberries for the cranberry sauce:

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Macarons out of the oven!

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Mint chocolate chip macs resting. They look so nice and pretty right now (though I put too much green food coloring), but they turned out horribly!:

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Then it was sleep time!

This morning, I woke up early to start again. (second try on the mint chocolate chip macs, which, spoiler alert, turned out horribly again):

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Christine working hard:

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Mom was making stuff but didn’t want her pic taken because she was in her PJs.  😐

I went to the store to get more ingredients for the chocolate mousse I was making:

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Christine still working hard:

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It is now 10:52am at this point, by the way.  😐

Then someone finally got up to prep for Thanksgiving.  Christine is peeling shrimp that will be used in mom’s stuffed mushrooms:2014-11-27 11.52.22

That’s turkey neck for the gravy that she’s cutting up, in case you’re wondering:

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Mom cutting up scallops for the stuffed mushroom filling.  (She’ll probably be mad that her picture is on here):

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Chocolate mousse cups done:

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Stuffed mushrooms ready to be cooked:

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Horrible macs v. 2.0:

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Christine giving the turks the star treatment for his special day:

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and his super-turkey cape being put on:

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In he went into the oven and after a half of an hour at 500 degrees, he started looking golden brown:

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Time to turn the turks:

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and put on his cape and give him a turkey probing… :O :

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That’s it for now!  😉

 

My latest “thing”: homemade granola bars

It’s sadly been so long since SOMEbody (anybody!) posted anything to this blog. 😦 I guess it must be because our lives were too full of good things/people/activities to have time to blog! 🙂 Maybe someday we’ll go back and post about Thanksgiving or Christmas 2013 (lots of fun memories)… or maybe we’ll just keep chugging forward.

Onto the more mundane things of life… like the latest “thing I’m into”  (BTW, we sisters seem to have a lot of these, so I was trying to find one good word for it, but couldn’t — obsession is too strong, interest too blah, infatuation/fascination too heart/head-y, fad and trend too fashion-related when it’s food — any suggestions?)

So, in the midst of all the “healthy new year” resolutions and ads out there, I was reading some article about minimizing our processed foods. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for years (and making slooooow progress, but some progress). In addition, the Web site was talking about how all those “healthy granola bars” are not that healthy, so today last week (it’s taking me a while to finish this post!) I got inspired to make some homemade granola bars.

I looked online and decided to try out both of these recipes:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/homemade-granola-bars-recipe/index.html
http://www.inspiredtaste.net/21462/soft-and-chewy-granola-bars-recipe/

I stocked up on some nice dried fruits (apricots, dates, raisins, cranberries, plus the dried mangoes and blueberries I already had at home) to let my kids customize their granola bars. What did they pick? Raisins and chocolate chips. :-/ And of course since I was planning to do a side-by-side comparison of the recipes, I had to make TWO batches with just raisins and chocolate chips. Sigh. Next time I’ll add some of the other yummy fruits. 🙂

granola1 2 pans

So here are the two finished batches side by side. To be fair to Ina, her recipe called for an 8×12 pan, but I tried it and it looked too big for the mixture. I had already used the 9×9 for the other recipe, so the only pan I had left was an 8×8.  In the 8×8, Ina’s bars were too dense and thick.  But I think it might also largely be because her recipe requires you to put them back in the oven once in the pan and bake for 25 min.  We did a taste test (and shared some with friends, after all, these are fresh for only a week and how many granola bars can one eat in a week? or so I thought…). They were BOTH good, but everyone had a preference for the inspiredtaste recipe (the one in front in this next picture).

granola1 finished

I thought it would take us a LONG time to eat 36 granola bars, and granted we did give away about 10, but we started running low this week, so I decided to try another couple of batches, and using only one recipe version this time. The first batch: almond, pumpkin seed, dates, dried blueberries, and mini chocolate chips.

granola2 before

The second: peanut butter, peanuts, and mini chocolate chips.

granola2 beforePB

I was wondering how it would work with “whole half peanuts” (can one say “whole half” or is that an oxymoron?), I thought it would look prettier 🙂 with whole halves, so I decided to go for it.  In retrospect, I think next time I’ll chop them up a bit more. They made the granola bars crumble a lot (see final picture below). Maybe I should’ve waited for them to come to room temperature, but I was anxious to try them out so I cut them right out of the fridge.

The finished products on this week’s homemade granola bar menu:granola2 finished2

Here’s how they cut, you can see the PB one is very crumbly. As I said, it’s in part because I didn’t chop up the peanuts, but it might also be because of the consistency of the bar due to the creamy PB. But it’s a case of “it tastes much better than it looks.” Both are really yummy, I like the consistency of the pumpkin seeds in the granola bar, and the dates/blueberries are way better than raisins (in my opinion, will have to ask the kids when they get home from school).granola2 pans

Look like this new obsession fad “thing” will give me lots of opportunities for delicious experimenting!!

Thanksgiving Day Play-by-play

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Christine here – as suggested by Judy, let’s try this “live-blogging” thing! Here’s a run down of some of the prep, cooking, and fun that’s going on in our houses today…

(Forgive the less-than-perfect photos, we’re going for quickness here!)

7:47 am- C: Woke up early and went down to the garage to flip the bird (haha). This year we were lucky to have an extra fridge (thanks Judy!) in the garage that we could use for the turkey and brine (all alone…). I like how this picture looks a bit omnious, hehehe.

lonely turkey

9:07am- D: Wish I had a renovated kitchen!!  My counter is under there somewhere… Not enough space!

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10:04 am- C: Made some curry chicken salad for lunch, seems funny to be cooking something that won’t be used for Thanksgiving dinner whatsoever.

curry chicken salad

10:52 am- C: Started the cranberry sauce so that it has time to cool and gel before dinner tonight. Love how festive and bright cranberries look 🙂

cranberry sauce

11:00 am- C: Snapped a shot of Diana’s guava chiffon mini cupcakes fresh out of the oven, so cute!

guava chiffon mini cupcakes

12:15ish pm- C: Finished up the turkey stock for the gravy (ugh, blurry cell-phone pic!). In case you’re wondering, yes, that is a turkey neck!

turkey stock

12:51am- D: Christine is oiling down the bird and giving it a massage.  Guess it runs in the family!

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12:54am- D:  Stopped for a lunch break.  It’s nice having lil sis around.  🙂

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12:58am- D: Aromatics getting stuffed into the bird.

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1:06pm- D: Caped crusader?  Breast plate of armor?  Burn guard?  Maybe all of the above?  🙂

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1:07 pm- D: Note to selves: 25.68lbs is the capacity of this oven.

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1:41pm- D: Bird is already browning… gotta put the cape on!!

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Whew, you may now call him Superturkey.2013-11-28 13.42.21

Celebration of Life

A couple weeks ago, a dear parent at my school passed away after a tough struggle with cancer.  She was very involved in school and bettering our community.  Her family decided to have an intimate Celebration of Life for her in their backyard.  I had the opportunity to attend and help with the decor and desserts.  I tried to make everything worthy of our beloved friend and what she represented.  She had always wanted to entertain and have a party in her backyard, but never had the chance to, and I wanted to make sure this celebration would be everything she would have wanted.

Here is what a corner of my house looked like in preparation:

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I called it the Amazon Bakery.  🙂

Complete with crazy thorns:

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Here are a few pictures of some of the finished flower arrangements  (the pics aren’t great because I was in a rush and just took a few shots quickly with my phone):

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We shipped plumerias over night from Hawaii because they were her favorite flowers.   We floated plumeria and gardenias in their pool (not pictured), along with floating candles of various sizes.  We also placed the loose blossoms around the refreshment tables.

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We hung orchids from the pergola and wrapped some of the columns with vines, orchids, and bougainvillea.  We used a stapler(!) to create a garland of orchids on the top beam.   We also strung white lights from the pergola so there was a beautiful glow when the sun started to set.

Here are some of the finished mini cupcakes:

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These are mini lemon cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting.

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These are Ultimate Chocolate (AKA Chocolate Lover’s) mini cupcakes with gold sprinkles.

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These are guava chiffon cupcakes.  I had so much batter left over that I made these regular sized cupcakes, but they weren’t so tasty.  The minis were definitely better.  The guava buttercream was not cooperating with me and I had to redo it 3 times.  Even the third time wasn’t super satisfactory for me, but I was running out of time so I had to stick with it.  😦

As you can see, I was also experimenting with different frosting techniques for each flavor.

Although it was a sad situation, I’m glad we were able to come together with other friends to celebrate the life of a very significant person.  Her presence among us is deeply missed.