Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Home Made Yogurt

In order to make my own yogurt my mother-in-law bought us the Euro-Cuisine Yogurt Maker from Williams Sonoma (she works there!). You could make it without the yogurt maker but the yogurt makes is so easy for a busy working mom.

First bring about 32 oz. of milk to a boil over medium to low heat. (whole, skim whatever you want - I am sure you could also try substituting soy milk as well - I need to try that!).

The milk needs to heat up to 185F and stay there for a couple of minutes. Make sure you are stirring so it does not stick.

Next cool the milk down to room temperature. If you are in a hurry place the sauce pan in a bowl (or the kitchen sink) in a cold water bath.

After the milk has cooled down stir in 7 oz of yogurt (according to the directions you can use homemade yogurt but once do this one time then use store bought the next time - it has something to do with the cultures).

Once the milk and yogurt is all mixed up pour into the jars that come with the yogurt maker, turn the yogurt maker on and let it work for the next 12 to 15 hours (I use the 15 hour button).

Once the machine is done chill the yogurt in the fridge for 3 hours, and then enjoy. You can add fresh fruit, honey, granola, whatever you want!

Monday, June 8, 2009


I recently went out to a new restaurant called Django's (the D is silent) in Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

They do an appetizer menu so you can sample a lot of their dishes. Most people order 3 to 5 dishes per person. The food was wonderful and affordable (for Crested Butte).

We spent just over $100 (without tip) for 6 dishes total, 2 Quartinos of Wine, desert and one after dinner drink. My favorite dish was "Date with Pig" - dates wrapped in prosciutto. They tasted like candy. My second favorite was the Butternut Squash and Mascrapone Ravioli - heaven! Everything we had was wonderful and the service was great as well.

We knew the bartender and he has been serving me drinks for the last 11 years - everything he recommended was excellent - even the Brussels Spouts, which I have never had before. Something else they do is offer wine in the Quartino, which is about 1 1/2 glasses. My husband and I were able to try 2 different types of wine. We could have tried another type but I wanted an after dinner drink. The waitress recommended both wines based on what we where having and they were excellent. I even asked to take a wine menu home so I know what I should buy next time I am at the liquor store.

This restaurant is locally owned and this is their first year in business. I know how hard it is for new restaurants but this restaurant has what it needs to make it, GREAT food, GREAT service, and GREAT atmosphere. Next time you are in Crested Butte - please check it out.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I love watermelon. It is so yummy, refreshing and filling. One cup of watermelon is only 50 calories but it feels like a lot more. This is the one food I could eat everyday. The funny thing is is that Joe hates it so I end up not buying it as much as I use to.

What is your favorite fruit?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cream Broccoli Soup and Chive and Cheddar Toast

Doesn't that look yummy!!!
I would love to say that I came up with this meal but it is from Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats Cookbook. One thing I love about Rachel Ray’s recipes is that they are easy to make substitutions and also easy to make. One thing I have noticed is that I cannot make a Rachael Ray meal in 30 minutes. Maybe if made this recipe many times I could get quicker at it but this time it took between 45 minute to an hour.

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 slices of bacon, chopped (We hardly ever cook with bacon so I used more!)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbls fresh thyme (I did not have any fresh time so I used rubbed thyme)
salt and pepper
Hot Sauce (I did not put this in.)
2 10 ounce boxes of frozen chopped broccoli (I used fresh broccoli - about 3 to 4 cups)
1 quart of chicken stock (I forgot about this until the last minute so I used water and about 1 cup of chicken stock
½ cup of heavy cream or half and half (I never use heavy cream due to calories and fat so I used 1/4 cup of whole milk and 1/4 cup of whole milk)
8 slices of baguette (I used whole wheat sandwich bread)
1/4 cup cup parsley
Zest and juice of one lemon (I used the juice only - I was lazy)
1 cup of shredded sharp Cheddar
3 tbls chopped fresh chives

Heat a large soup pan over medium heat and add the EVOO. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the crispy bacon and let it drain on a paper towel. (I added bacon to the soup as well as the bread.) Add the onions, garlic and thyme to the pot and season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions are tender. Add the broccoli and heat thoroughly. Transfer the onions and broccoli to the food processor with ½ cup of chicken stock and puree until smooth. (I wanted a hearty soup with chucks so after everything was cooked I took a hand mixer and pureed it lightly.) Add the pureed mixture back to the pan and then add the remaining chicken stock and cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. While the soap is simmering, toast the bread slices until brown, sprinkle the cheese, bacon and parsley over each slice and return to the boiler or toaster oven until the cheese is melted. To finish the soap add the lemon zest and juice and stir to combine.

Dish up and Serve. I have no idea what the calorie content is on this but if you used extra lean turkey bacon and substituted skim milk for the heavy cream this would be a very healthy recipe.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake:

2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pure pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)

(I used a store bought graham cracker crust)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cups finely ground ginger cookies, homemade or store bought
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
4 - 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup granulated white sugar

When making cheesecakes make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature so they blend together to create a smooth texture. Cold cheese is harder to beat and you can end up with graininess. Judging when a cheesecake is fully baked always presents a challenge. They are very deceptive as they do need to be removed from the oven when the center is still wobbly and wet looking. Cracking can also be a problem. As a cheesecake bakes its moisture evaporates. If too much moisture is lost (when overcooked), or if it evaporates too quickly (oven temperature too hot) cracking will occur. So be sure to follow your recipe's instructions. Also, to prevent cracking, shortly after you remove the cheesecake from the oven, run a sharp knife around the inside edge of the cheesecake. Once the cheesecake has completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. This allows the cake to set, flavors to meld, and produces a creamier texture. You can use canned pure pumpkin in this recipe or make your own pumpkin puree. Fortunately there are excellent brands of canned pumpkin on the market which match the quality of homemade. But if you want to make your own puree, use the smaller pumpkin varieties like Sugar Pie, Baby Bear or Cheese Pumpkin (approximately 5-7 lbs., 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 kg.).
To make the puree, cut the pumpkin in half lengthwise, remove seeds and stringy fibers, and place cut-side down on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for approximately 45 minutes to 1 1/4 hours (depending on size) or until easily pierced with a knife. Scoop out the pulp and puree in a food processor until smooth. Can strain through cheesecloth to extract all the liquid. Cool before using.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick spray) an 8 inch spring form pan.

For Crust: In a medium sized bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, finely ground ginger snap cookies, sugar, and melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the prepared spring form pan. Cover and refrigerate while you make the cheesecake filling.

For Cheesecake: In a separate bowl, stir to combine the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), on low speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until creamy and smooth (1 to 2 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 30 seconds) after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Pour the filling over the chilled ginger crust and place the spring form pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Place a cake pan, filled halfway with hot water, on the bottom shelf of your oven to moisten the air. Bake the cheesecake for 30 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to bake the cheesecake for another 10 - 20 minutes, or until the edges of the cheesecake are puffed but the center is still wet and jiggles when you gently shake the pan. Meanwhile whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract and sugar. Pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the baked cheesecake and rotate the pan slightly to evenly distribute the topping. Return the cheesecake to the oven and bake about 8 minutes to set the topping. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a sharp knife around the inside edge (this will help prevent the cake from cracking). Then place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the pan so the cheesecake will cool slowly. When completely cooled, cover and refrigerate at least eight hours, preferably overnight, before serving. Serves 10-12 people.

I wish I had a picture of this but I made this recipe away ago. It is defiantly worth making and was a huge hit.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Pumpkin Muffins

I love pumpkin anytime of the year. Over the next couple of days I am going to post some yummy pumkpin receipes. Note - they are not that heathy.

This past weekend I made these yuumy and super moist pumpkin muffins, I didn't even realize that they were vegan until I got to the end I was wondering about the eggs. I went back to the receipe and then realized it was vegan.

Pumpkin Muffins:

1/4 cup margarine
1 cup brown sugar (or white sugar plus 1 tablespoon molasses)
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups pureed pumpkin or squash (I used 2 cans of pumpkin instead of measuring out 2 cups)
1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg (I also added cloves and all spice)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 and grease muffin tin. (This recipe makes 12 muffins.) Cream together margarine and vegan sugar. Add applesauce, pumpkin, and spice. Mix well and add flour and soda. Fill muffin tins and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

The muffins don't rise much, so don't be shy about piling the batter in. These muffins are great warm, but keep for days. Most people don't believe me when I tell them these muffins are vegan, because they cook up so light and fluffy. Also, people are shocked to find they are made with 100% whole wheat flour.