Monday, May 31, 2010

Broccoli with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

I am involved in the Sidedish Showdown at Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice.  We have been cooking and writing about side dishes that we are creating at home.  You ought to go and check out the other submissions.  There is some great food listed!

We eat a lot of broccoli in my house.  It is one of the only green foods that my husband and son will eat (and he won't eat that much).  I know we all get tired of the boring steamed broccoli so I wanted to change things up a little.  This is what I came up with.

2 cups red onions, sliced thinly
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups steamed broccoli
1 tbsp of butter
asiago cheese
Chopped parsley and basil (optional)

Add oil to a large nonstick pan over medium high heat.  Saute onions until caramelized (about 20 minutes).  Add vinegar and cook for 5 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add steamed broccoli and butter and cook together for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and top with cheese, parsley and basil.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homemade Yogurt Made in a Crockpot

This is my favorite new recipe.  I have made around 10 batches of homemade yogurt in the past couple months. I found the recipe at A Year of Slowcooking.  Who knew it was so easy?  I didn't really eat a lot of yogurt to begin with but I saw this and knew that I had to try it.  Now I eat it almost every day in one way or another. I make smoothies.  I eat it with a variety of fruit with a squirt of amaretto agave nectar. I add it to my blueberry muffin batter.  I have put it in soup.  My newest passion is homemade frozen yogurt.  YUM!   

I used whole milk in my first batch, because I read that you should start here when you are new at making yogurt.  I then went to 2% and now I only use 1%.  It worked equally well with all of them.  You aren't supposed to use ultra-pasteurized milk, but I accidently bought some organic milk that I didn't realize was ultra-pasteurized.  By the time I realized what I had done I decided to go ahead and give it a try.  I had no hope of it turning out.  But, it did!  I was shocked! 

So, this is how I make the yogurt. The only three ingredients you need are a carton of plain yogurt that has active live cultures, some fat free powdered milk and half a gallon of milk (not ultra-pasteurized).  This is the yogurt I have used as a starter.

The two tools you need to make your yogurt is a thermometer and a crockpot.  This is my crockpot that I use.

I pour the milk into the crockpot.  Turn it onto low and heat for 2 hours.  I then turn the crockpot off and let it cool to about 120-130 degrees.  This is very important!  If it is too hot the live bacteria will die.  If it is too cold the bacteria will not grow.  I check the temperature with a candy thermometer.  Once it is cooled to the correct temperature, I take the yogurt starter that has been brought to room temperature and mix it with 1/2 cup of powdered milk.  The milk is supposed to thicken the yogurt.  I then add two ladles full of the warmed milk from the crockpot to the yogurt mixture.  Mix well.  Then, I gently mix in the yogurt/milk mixture into the rest of the warm milk in the crockpot.  I put the lid on the crockpot and then cover the crockpot with about five blankets.  I leave it like that for about 24 hours.  AND THEN!  I have homemade yogurt!

I usually put my milk in the pot around 6:00.  Let it heat until 8:00.  It cools in about 2 hours to the correct temperature.  I add the yogurt and powdered milk and then I cover it before I go to bed.  When I get home from work the next evening the yogurt is ready. 

There are many methods online for making yogurt.  Some involve putting the yogurt mixture in a cooler with warm blankets.  Some involve setting the pot on a heating pad.  I didn't put this much effort into mine and it turns out perfect every time!  The only time mine did not turn out was when I forgot about my milk heating in the first stage.  It cooked for about 4 minutes.  Way too long!  I had to dump it out and start over again. 

So some people ask:  Why would you make your own yogurt when you can just go buy it at the store?  There are several reasons.  First of all, I know what is in my yogurt.  There are no preservatives, chemicals or sugar.  Next, it is super cheap.  One carton costs around $1 each at the store.  I make about 8 cups of fresh yogurt with very little effort and about $2.  Why wouldn't you make your own? 

Note:  This yogurt is not super thick.  If I want thicker yogurt I strain it in a coffee filter over a bowl. 

I have let it strain for 2 days and it turns into the consistency of softened cream cheese.  This worked very well in my fruit tart I made. 

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

I am posting this at Make It From Scratch.  Come check out the other posts!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chocolate Coconut Pecan Croissants

I woke up this morning thinking about these tasty treats.  I couldn't wait to get in the kitchen!  They couldn't be any easier, either.  I used canned croissants and sprinkled chocolate chips, coconut and pecans and then rolled them up.  I brushed them with an egg wash and made them pretty with some chocolate sprinkles.  Next time, I think I will sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar.  I made two cans so we will have some to grab and eat on the way to school this week. 

The recipe came from my new favorite blog as seen below:  For the Love of Cooking.

My next recipe I will try from this blog is either going to be the Baked Potato Soup or the Broccoli and Sharp Cheddar Soup.  Not sure which we will have for dinner tonight.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fruit Tart

I made this for my son to take to his read-a-thon at school.  He said he needed something healthy.  Well, this was the best thing I could find.  It is not exactly healthy, but much healthier than a lot of things I could have made.  I found the recipe at CopperSweets.  I changed some things in the recipe such as trading 1/2 cup of homemade yogurt (recipe coming soon) for 1/2 cup of cream cheese.  I also traded some WW white flour for some of the AP. 

I don't know why it has taken me so long to make a fruit tart.  This was my first attempt and it was super easy and super delicious!  The kids in Cameron's class liked it a bunch, too. 
The students in my class were jealous and wanted one of these treats so I made one for them.  We had Wacky Watermelon Day at school today and I tried to make my tart look watermelon-ish.  The kids got it so I was happy.  :)

1 ½ C. All Purpose Flour
½ C. Confectioners Sugar
1 ½ Sticks of Butter
16oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 C. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Lemon Extract
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Fresh Strawberries, 5 whole & the rest sliced
Fresh Kiwi, peeled, and sliced
Fresh Blueberries

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer mix: confectioners sugar, flour, and butter until your mixture comes together. In a 10 1/2” non stick spring form pan press your dough evenly into the bottom and onto the sides. Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let Cool.

Now combine your cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon with you mixer until smooth. Evenly spread your filling into your cooled crust. Place a vignette of kiwi, whole strawberries with the flat end facing down and the pointed end facing upward, and blueberries, in the center of your tart. Now place some some of your strawberry slices vertically along the edges of your crust...inserting it into the cream cheese. Now layer your kiwi and strawberry slices alternately working your way from the edges towards the center.

Place your tart in the fridge to set for about 20 minutes before serving. Serve chilled!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I saw Marcela Valladolid on Mexican Made Easy from Food Network make this cake and knew that it would be on my to-do list.  I have been looking for an excuse to make it and that reason came up this past week at school.  We had a Multicultural Art and Food Fair. All of my students brought a dish or snack so we could sample food from a different culture.  It turned out to be a wonderful day with all of the kids trying new things and finding something they wanted to eat again.   I made this cake and it was a huge hit. 

 I love flan and I love chocolate cake so how about putting them together?  It could not have been easier!  I made it even easier by using a cake mix instead of making the cake from scratch.  The kids don't know any better.  :) 

This recipe is sorta magical.  All I could think while I was making it was, "This will never work.  This will never work."  First of all, I put a bunch of caramel sauce in my pan.  I just knew that it would stick and ruin both my cake AND pan.  Then, when I put the flan batter on top of the cake batter it looked like this.

How in the world is it going to turned into this layered cake I saw on Food Network???  Well, it actually did separate AND the cake and flan switched places.  Yes, switched places.  The flan ended up on the bottom and the cake on top.  Don't ask me how that happened because I have NO idea. 

I realized I made a mistake after the cake had been in the oven for almost an hour.  I forgot to cover it with foil like the recipe instructed.  I continued cooking it without the foil because it was too late to change anything.  Even with all of the questions and issues I had with the cake, it ended up coming out of the pan perfectly after cooking it for one hour. 


12-cup capacity Bundt pan
Softened butter, to coat pan
1/4 cup cajeta or caramel sauce

For the cake:

Devil's food cake mix prepared as directed.

For the flan:

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For garnish:

1/4 cup cajeta or caramel sauce
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Coat a Bundt pan with a little butter, then coat the bottom with 1/4 cup cajeta and put it in a large roasting pan. (The roasting pan will serve as a water bath during baking.)

For the flan: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

Scoop the prepared cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spreading evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan.

Carefully slide the pan into the oven, and bake 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch, or an inserted toothpick comes out clean. When cake is done, remove from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together, giggle a little and flip over. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake, garnish with chopped pecans and serve.

Monday, May 17, 2010

MIA - End of School Exhaustion! Be Back Soon

I feel bad about not posting for a while. It's that time of year where everything is getting wrapped up at school. I come home after a long day with kids that are energetic, wild and ready for summer vacation, and I collapse on the couch. I'm doing good to find enough energy to get off my butt to go to bed at night.

I will be back soon and post about some of the tasty cooking and baking I've been doing. My plan for tomorrow night is to make Food Network's Marcela Valladolid's (Mexican Made Easy) Chocoflan recipe. I saw her bake this one Saturday morning and knew I HAD to make it. My 3rd grade class is having a Multicultural Art and Food Fair Wednesday and I thought that this will be a perfect time to try the recipe. Is it too fancy for 3rd graders? Maybe, but I'm going to do it anyway. So, look for the post coming soon!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This is a great, healthy side dish eaten cold or at room temperature.  I got the recipe from Cookin' Lean Like Paula Deen.  It makes a huge bowl so I froze some of it and it worked really well. 


2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 17-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/8 to 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover and chill overnight. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lime juice as necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cucumber and Onion Salad

I was inspired by Mrs. Jenn B of Misadventures of Mrs. B to make this refreshing cucumber salad.  I have never made anything like this so I was kind of excited.  I changed up her recipe a little because I used balsalmic vinegar and red onions instead of white. I loved this salad.  It was very refreshing and healthy!

2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1 onion sliced thin
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup basalmic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda)
2 tsps of Italian Seasoning
pepper to taste

Put the sliced cucumbers in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over them and toss gently.  Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so. 

Mix the remaining ingredients (except the onions) and bring to a boil in a small pan.  

Take out the cucumbers and drain excess water.  Add the sliced onions.  Pour vinegar mixture over the onions and cucumbers.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.