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.


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!

The hype is justified 

There’s been a lot of buzz about this butter chicken recipe in the Instant Pot world lately. I’ve made butter chicken before, but a “healthier” version (let’s just say I don’t call it butter chicken since there’s no butter in it) and on the stove. I one I usually make is a pretty good recipe, but any time you use cut up chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces, you can count on standing around prepping the meat for a while.

This new IP recipe was really so so good and so easy. You put in whole boneless skinless thighs (could prob put in with bone too) and they fall apart later, the meat is so tender. And you literally throw everything into the pot and walk away for a bit. Later you take out the chicken and immersion blend the sauce before adding the fatty stuff, but it still beats standing around the stove stirring.

My favorite things about it are how tender the chicken was and how easy it was to make. The higher-fat content than my old recipe probably contributed to its deliciousness. It’ll definitely be in the dinner rotation at our house, so I’ll have lots of opportunity to experiment with making it just a *little* bit healthier, but not too much. 😉

Jumping in late with Instant Pot posts starting… now!

Okay, so I’ve had an instant pot since August 2015 (before it became an Amazon best seller). The first year I had it, I *wasn’t* super-impressed. I found one or two good meals to make, but it’s not worth keeping a big appliance for making one or two specific meals. I struggled to like it, but I kept trying to make the relationship work.

But then some time in 2016, it became a sensation, and I learned about Instant Pot Facebook groups and Instant Pot Web sites. I learned the kinds of things that work better in an Instant Pot and what things don’t.

I wish I had blogged about it all along the way, but the best thing to do is not regret and start now. So I’ll jump in and post my latest Instant Pot experiment.

Easy Smooth Pressure Cooker Flan

The recipe comes from here. I chose this recipe over others because it didn’t ask me for a vanilla bean. 😬 Also, I happened to have heavy cream on hand and this recipe used it.

It was really good! Dangerously good because now I have several in the fridge. The only thing I would change is that the caramel is a bit too much, so if possible, I’d half the caramel. (But it hardens in the ramekin so quickly, not sure I’d be able to work with half as much)

Okay, trying to keep posts short to increase the chances that I’ll keep doing it!  Good night!

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:

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

Kitchen and Craft Room remodel pictures, finally!

Okay, it’s a bit anti-climactic at this point since we’ve been living in the house for about 3 months now, but some friends afar have asked for pictures of the remodel.  I wasn’t sure how to best do “before and after” pictures since we moved 3 rooms around (kitchen moved to where the dining room was, dining table moved to where the kids’ craft area was, kids craft/project area + my laptop moved to the old kitchen location). I could sit around and weigh the options, but in the end, I decided it was best to just start posting pictures. 🙂

First is our new kitchen — ooooh, ahhhh….  (Confession: Even after only 3 months I had to move a ton of our junk stuff just outside the picture so it would look all nice and clean, but of course you knew that, right? haha)

DR corner after

We are LOVING the island, having all that extra counter space for prep and eating, plus the extra sink on it. I had initially wanted NO seating at the island, but the kitchen designer pushed back and said it’s something we would really enjoy, and we decided to take her expert advice, and she was right!  We are also loving the huge gas rangetop and the second dishwasher (soooooo useful when you are counting on your kids to empty the dishwasher).  Lots to love, I am so grateful.

Here’s a before and after of this particular space: (I hate those “before and after” makeover pictures where it seriously looks like they told the person to look as terrible and depressed as possible in the before picture. Sadly, I didn’t have to do anything extra to make the space look this cluttered, just ordinary life, but I do recognize that this unfairly makes the before even worse and the after even better.  Oh well)

DR corner BandA

The dining area didn’t change much (other than get moved to a new location), but the kids’ craft/project area did!  Here are two sets of before and afters.  The first is what their craft area used to look like compared to now.  The second is how the space changed from old kitchen to new craft/project area.

Art Area BandAOf course it will never look this tidy — it’s a craft/project area, so it’s always messy! 🙂

Kitchen View BandAThere were a lot of subtle things we had to do with walls, doors, and windows to make this all happen.  Come to think of it, I think almost every door and window in these spaces had to be moved/replaced!

Here’s a comparison of the view into this space as you walk through the front door…

Entry View BandA

We also expanded the laundry/pantry area just a little bit and reconfigured the doors.  The new door is in the middle dividing the laundry/cleaning supplies from the second fridge and pantry cabinets.

Laundry Pantry BandA

We also expanded the kids’ bedroom and added a nice cubby area for shoes/jackets/backpacks, etc.  I’ll have to post those pictures another time.  In the meantime, we’ve started having friends and family over to start “using” the new space, and it’s been working out great for us!  It’s been an inconvenient and sometimes painful 6 months, but we love the changes. (much like pregnancy and childbirth)  As we enter into the major “celebrations and gatherings” season of the year, we look forward to really putting the new spaces to the test!