Homemade Yogurt

Posted on March 23, 2010. Filed under: Breakfast |

I have been making homemade yogurt now for a little over a month. Some people think I am a little extreme for spending money on a device when I can buy perfectly good yogurt at the store. I would think I was crazy too if the yogurt at the store was ‘perfectly good’ and if the math didn’t add up to save us $20 a month by making our own yogurt. Yes, you read right, $20 a month we have saved. And no, we don’t eat gallons of yogurt. I eat 1 small yogurt a day with my breakfast. And Jon eats 1 every other day or so. To see more on this, go to How To Simplify and see my guest post!

The $50 machine is electronic and pretty much fool proof.

Breakfast: almost 2 cups of some kind of berries and 1 jar of yogurt. I look forward to my breakfast every morning because I know I am giving my body all natural life giving nutrients with NO chemicals, additives or sweeteners.

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English Breakfast Scones

Posted on March 8, 2010. Filed under: Breads, Breakfast |

I don’t eat very many scones, confession. Honestly, they are good, but not To-DIE-FOR, so I don’t like to waste my calories on them. I try them occasionally to see if my opinion has changed, nope, not yet. I have even made some to see if my opinion has changed. Yes, homemade is for sure better then any store bought, but still hasn’t completely won me over.

The exception: English Breakfast Scones! I could eat many, many of these. They are moist, flaky, delicate, and delicious.

As a culture we are accustomed to the nasty dry ‘things’ that we buy at chain coffee shops that they call scones. Really, they should be called over cooked flavored dough lumps. That name just rolls right off your tongue, which is why I’m sure they didn’t choose it.

I might also like these a lot because English Breakfast tea with a little cream and sugar, mmm, what a treat. It is smooth and just delightful. I could drink it in the am or pm and be so content. And drinking some tea with a good pastry, not too shabby. Some lemon glaze would also be delish on these. I chose to keep it simple this time though. But next time, lemon, it’s on! The little specks in the scone, not poppy seed. That’s the tea. See, it’s baked right into the scone. I will say, the scone doesn’t really taste like english breakfast. Maybe an Earl Grey would flavor it more. Don’t get me wrong, it is still super god (especially right out of the oven) but just not strong on the english breakfast flavor. Try making these using your favorite flavor of tea.

makes 12 small scones
1 cup AP flour
1 cup WW flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup cup milk
1 egg
2 tsp (about 2 tea bags) English Breakfast tea leaves, minced (if they are too course, mince them in a food processor or spice grinder)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together.

Using a food processor, add the cold butter into the dry ingredients until it has the consistency of coarse corn meal.

In a separate bowl, whisk the half and half, milk and egg together and then add to the dry ingredients in the food processor. Pulse until just combined, don’t overwork the dough!
*the dough should be sticky, but not sopping wet.

Press the mixture into 2 – 6 inch wide by 1-inch high rounds. Be careful not to knead or over-work the dough.

Cut the each dough round into 8 wedges and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature with some raspberry preserves and devonshire cream along side a cup of tea.

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Fiber Fruit Smoothie

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: Breakfast, Smoothie |

I read lots of food blogs. SHOCKER, I know. During my reading I often find that food bloggers write about what they eat throughout the day. Or at least some of their weekly meals. I like to read those posts because I feel like they give some a little more insight into who they are. Because you are what you eat, right?

Routine = my friend. I like to eat almost the same thing every morning. A smoothie. Even in the winter. If not a smoothie, then some homemade yogurt (because that is my new obsession) with a ton of fruit. To some people that may not seem like a lot of food. Only until this last year or so have I realized that a smoothie or a large bowl of yogurt and fruit IS enough for me for breakfast. My metabolism has slowed down thanks to my thyroid. And my body has adjusted to its routine. Every morning my body craves yogurt and fruit. And if I feed it something else, I just don’t feel as good.

Just in case any of you have ever wondered what I actually eat for breakfast, here it is, my smoothie:

1/2 cup plain non fat yogurt (or greek yogurt)
1/2 cup juice (I like some sort of berry juice)
1/2 a banana
1 cup berries (I change it up between strawberries and raspberries, blueberries get stuck in my teeth and that makes for a fantastic greeting when I first walk into work)
1 scoop fiber powder
handful of ice cubes (If you use too many ice cubes, add a little extra juice)

Add the ingredients into the blender in the order I listed them. Turn it on, and watch breakfast come together, just like that!
I put mine in a cup with a lid and a straw and drink it on my way to work.

Here is the fiber powder I use:

Why this one when there are SOOOO many out there? A few years ago I went on the Maker’s Diet. And this is the brand of products they sell (you can buy it at Henry’s and Sprouts). I LOVED the ‘diet.’ I hold the word diet loosely because really it was a lifestyle change, for the better. Eliminating processed foods and focusing on whole natural foods (yes, it includes meat). It really did change my life and I am so thankful for that.

Obviously I do eat processed food. However, I try to eat as little of it as possible. Over the past year or so I have experimented making homemade ice cream, bread, yogurt, and tonight I am going to make my own cheese. It feels great knowing that I am feeding my body nutrients that give it life, not death. I also drink over 100 ounces of water a day. I had my first massage last week and the lady commented about how my body was pretty well stretched and that my stretching regimen must be working. I said, “oh, that’s great because I don’t stretch, ever.” Well, in truth, I might stretch for about 3 minutes after a 12 mile run, but that’s about it. So a healthy diet and lots of water will even help keep your body flexible without stretching, good to know.

Okay, that’s it for today. I am currently munching on carrots and about to go grab some office coffee. Oh, 1 processed food that totally has me suckered in: International Delight coffee creamer (Just plain vanilla, or sometimes a seasonal flavor). NOT CoffeeMate b/c that has partially hydrogenated oil. But International Delight DOESN”T. How great is that? WONDERFUL!

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Olive Oil Wheat Blueberry Scones

Posted on February 8, 2010. Filed under: Breakfast, Scones |

I have been wanting to make a scone using olive oil rather then butter. I don’t really have a good reason why other then just to try it and see how the taste would compare to a normal buttery scone. I was surprised at how flaky they still turned out. They were extremely moist, flaky and flavorful. I will be making them again! Next time I might try to add dried cranberries and orange zest. Or maybe some oats and maple. The possibilities seem endless.

Makes 16 smaller scones
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
1 egg
2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup frozen blueberries (you can also used dried berries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, oil, egg, lemon juice, and maple syrup until blended.

Pour the liquid mixture until the dry mixture. Stir with a spoon until a soft dough forms. Don’t over mix. Knead the dough 10-15 times on a lightly floured surface. On the last few kneads, knead in the frozen blueberries.

Form the dough into a ball and cut it in half. Place both halves on cookie sheet on opposite ends. Roll out each ball until it is about 8 inches round (about 1/2-3/ inch thick). Cut each circle into 8 wedges (Don’t cut all the way through, just deeply score the dough)

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the center of each round is cooked through.

Use a knife and cut the scones into their individual pieces. Cool on a wire rack.
*I don’t let them cool completely before I eat them. I want a warm scone to enjoy with a tea latte, mmmm.

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Blueberry Muffins

Posted on January 24, 2010. Filed under: Breads, Breakfast |

New Years morning I woke up with a craving for a nice breakfast at a restaurant. Mainly I wanted some eggs, potatoes and a muffin. But I knew it would take some interesting convincing on my part to get my husband to want to go. He doesn’t really like to eat breakfast out. He sees it as a waste of money. I get it. But, I had a craving. I thought to myself, well Julia, you do know how to cook. And you do have enough food in the house to whip something up. Okay okay, I’ll make us breakfast. He was still asleep anyway, and to pass the time and distract my growling stomach, I got in the kitchen. And this is what came out:

Makes 12 muffins
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cups sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) sour cream
2 tbsp milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 half-pint fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 12 paper liners in muffin pans.

In a medium bowl, mix the oil and sugar. Mix in the eggs, 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup to the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

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Persimmon Spice Muffins

Posted on December 18, 2009. Filed under: Breakfast |

I was at a friend’s house enjoying a cup of tea shooting the breeze and she handed me a paper bag of persimmons. “Here, you will find something good to make with these.” Okay, super, what the heck do I do with a fruit that I have never even seen before? Which means I have never eaten one and obviously never baked with one. But I did a little investigating online and found some great ways to use persimmons in baking.

I just peeled the skin off and threw the pulp in the food processor to make it smooth and liquidy (not a real word, but I like it). I found online that people LOVE persimmons. After trying it I am not entirely sure why they love them so much. Sure, they taste good. But they didn’t seem like anything special to me. Maybe I had a bad batch? In any case, these muffins turned out great. The spices and sweetness of the fruit combined with the earthiness of the whole wheat flour and the nuttiness of the hazelnuts, mmm, these are good! If you don’t have persimmons, use mashed bananas or apple puree.

Makes 6 big muffins
1 Cup Persimmon Pulp, about 2 persimmons
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/8 tsp Salt

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and lightly grease 6 standard muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the persimmon pulp, oil, vinegar, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

In a seperate bowl, combine the whole wheat and all purpose flour, hazelnuts, baking soda, coffee powder, spices, and salt, and mix thoroughly.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Spoon the batter between your prepared muffin tins. It may seem like a lot of batter in each tin, but it’s okay. This will get you the big muffins we all like.

Bake for 17 – 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each muffin comes out clean. Let rest for 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

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Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Posted on December 5, 2009. Filed under: Breads, Breakfast |

ANOTHER banana bread recipe. I don’t think I will ever be able to have too many varieties of banana bread. I love the stuff. It is comfort food to me. And during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, comfort food seems to be the topic of conversation. So I thought it would only be appropriate to make one of my ultimate comfort foods.

I enjoy banana bread that has chocolate chips or pecans, or both. All the other possible add ins are good, but aren’t what I consider comfort food, for me. My husband voted that I make this batch with mini chocolate chips. Done and done. I waited very patiently, with my coffee brewing, this morning while the bread baked. I wanted so badly to sit peacefully and enjoy a cup of coffee and some fresh warm banana bread. It is gloomy outside, which means the perfect weather to stay in my sweats and smell the fresh bread baking in the oven.

You don’t have to use whole wheat flour, you can use all All-Purpose flour. And you can sub the olive oil for vegetable oil or butter.

Makes 1 loaf
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk (can substitute regular milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 large or 4 small bananas)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 8×4-inch loaf pan with cooking spray (I used 4 mini loaf pans).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate large bowl, mix sugars and oil with a whisk or fork until well blended (about 1 minute). Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add banana, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add flour mixture; mix with a whisk or fork just until moist. Don’t over-mix.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
*If baking in mini loaf pans, bake for 35-40 minutes.

Look at all the little pieces of chocolate throughout the loaf. Mmm, can you ever have too much chocolate? Nope.

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Sweet Potato Streusel Muffin

Posted on December 3, 2009. Filed under: Breads, Breakfast, Fall Favorites |

I had a terrible night last night. It started off fine. I whipped up some butternut squash soup and we sat down on the couch all bundled up with our soup to watch some really trashy Tivo’d shows (confession: we Tivo The Hills and The City). And when my soup was gone I was still wanting something warm. So I boiled some water for some candy cane green tea (Trader Joe’s seasonal). I put my little tea bag in my piping hot water and walked back over to the couch.

You see, I’m not a clumsy person. But I am a careless person. I will be rushing (sometimes this means literally running through the house) so fast to do something that I will literally fall on my face while holding a plate of food in my hand (yep, did that before and had a bruise on my knee for a week). Last night I was trying to get back to my cozy spot on the couch a little too quickly and spilt my boiling hot tea on my foot. I had a sock on. Which probably helped the burn not get as bad as it could have been. I immediately took off my sock to see what damage I just brought upon myself. Only to notice an inch wide circle of skin. Gone. Where did it go? Oh, it is stuck to my sock. Gross! Crap, now that the novelty of looking at my old skin removed from my foot has worn off, pain. PAIN. PAIN. Oh good grief, more pain. Burns hurt!

As tears started to roll down my cheeks, both Jon and I knew I was going to need some burn relief, and fast. He got me an ice bath to soak my foot in and ran to the drug store for some burn spray and aloe vera. But before that, I popped 4 Tylenol.
About 20 minutes into soaking my foot it was numb. It was COLD water. So I took my foot out for just second to let it get back to room temperature. Ahhh, how nice, just resting my foot on the side of the bowl of the ice bath. CUS. CUS. CUS. The ice bath just spilled. ALL OVER OUR CARPET. Great, my gimpy self ran to get a towel to soak it up before Jon could get home and I would be even more embarrassed of my, what I will now call, clumsiness.

Jon got home, sprayed some burn stuff on it and we elevated my foot (I told him I spilled the water. but only after he said, “why does the floor seem wet?”). We finished watching Love Actually (my favorite movie) and I went to sleep. On the couch. With a fan pointing at my foot. The only thing that would help with the pain was a soft steady stream of cool air blowing on it. Pitiful night.

This morning when I woke up I wanted this day to redeem yesterday. So I wanted to make muffins for breakfast. I had some thawed out sweet potato puree(I make my own and freeze it). Long story, not short, that is why I made these muffins. And thank goodness they turned out well and completely redeemed our not so great night.

makes 12 muffins
Adapted from RecipeGirl

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil (can substitute applesauce, but the oil really does make it extremely moist and delicious)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)

3/4 cup crushed cookies (I used a maple cookie, but gingersnaps or vanilla wafers would work too.)
1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter, cold
1/3 cup quick cooking oats

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with your hands. The mixture will be lumpy, which is just the way it should be. Set aside until ready to put on the muffin batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray- be sure to spray the top of the pan too since the muffins will bake over the side of each tin.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon. In another larger bowl, mix the canola oil and sugar together. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk. Add pumpkin puree last and mix just until incorporated (don’t over mix).

Divide batter between 12 muffin tins. They’ll be quite full with batter- that’s okay. Press a layer of streusel onto the top of each muffin. I like to do a thick layer, so just pile it on there.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Let cool in the muffin tin for about 15 minutes, then gently move muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

You can see the pieces of sweet potato puree in the dough. They don’t look super dense (Because of the little air pocket you can see), but they really are, in a good way. Not heavy and gross, but dense and satisfying and good!

Bring them to work and watched them be devoured. My co-workers LOVE me. I bring in sweets almost every other day. Which is probably the only reason they love me, but it’s cool. Who said you can’t buy love?

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National Parfait Day

Posted on November 25, 2009. Filed under: Breakfast |

National parfait day is November 25. And in honor of that I made a delicious parfait as a snack the afternoon. It hit the spot! Filling, but not heavy. And it satisfied an afternoon sweet tooth, but wasn’t loaded with high fructose corn syrup. Since the 26th is Thanksgiving, this was a good choice to not make me feel like I ate crap the day before the day of the year when EVERYONE eats too much.

As I was making it I thought, “hmmm, I should really make this as a dessert more often.” It was just so good!

Serves 2
2 cup low fat yogurt (Maple or Vanana are my favorite)
1 cup granola (I am using Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice granola)
1 banana

Place a cheese cloth over a mesh strainer. Put the mesh strainer in a bowl. Scoop the yogurt into he cloth covered strainer. Refrigerate for about two hours. This helps the liquid in the yogurt drain out, which gives you a thicker yogurt. The final consistency is like greek yogurt. Which I love. You don’t have to do this step obviously, I just love thick yogurt.

Layer a glass with yogurt, bananas, and granola,. Do this 2 times with the top layer being granola and a dollop of yogurt.

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Pumpkin Granola Muffins

Posted on November 24, 2009. Filed under: Breakfast |

You have to make at least one batch of pumpkin bread or pumpkin muffins around Thanksgiving. Well, I think you have to. And I hadn’t yet. I know I made the roulade cake, but I wanted just a simple pumpkin muffin. And by simple I mean with lots of extras throw in. I bought some Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice granola and wanted to use it for baking. perfect, pumpkin spice granola IN the pumpkin muffins. Done and Done.

My only request with the pumpkin granola that Trader Joe’s has is for them to NOT put raisins in it. I love raisins. But, I am not a huge fan of them in my granola. And I especially am not a fan of them in my pumpkin muffins. So when I used the TJ’s pumpkin spice granola I knew I would only kinda like the muffins b/c of the raisins. Looking back, am I lame? Why didn’t I just pick the few raisins out of the mix? No, instead I added dried cranberries to the mix to hide the few raisins. Which is fine. B/c I love dried cranberries, in almost everything. Next time I will pick the raisins out and have just pumpkin and granola in my muffins, that’s it! Either way, they are really good. They taste healthy and satisfy you for breakfast or for dessert.

Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Libby’s
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups granola
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup crushed granola

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Paper-line 24 muffin cups and spray with non-stick cooking spray or spray 24 muffin cups.

Combine all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in granola and dried cranberries. Add pumpkin, egg, applesauce and oil in another large bowl.

Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture; stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups (Fill muffin cups to the top). Sprinkle each with crushed granola.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove from pans to wire rack; cool slightly. Serve warm or cool to room temperature and place in airtight container.

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