Homemade Plain Yogurt

Yogurt is a refrigerator staple that can (and should) be created at home. A quick internet search will yield a variety of methods on making yogurt at home, which may hold you back on this endeavor. As you sift through the yogurt noise keep this in mind: homemade yogurt is an easy skill to acquire.

Creating yogurt is a simple formula: milk and yogurt starter + time and heat. Also, basic kitchen equipment is all that is needed: a kitchen thermometer and a contraption that can maintain heat (110 to 115 degrees) for a long period of time (about 4-24 hours).

If you don’t have a yogurt maker (which makes this process even easier) there are several approaches to getting the job done. From the cooktop to the oven, from the slow-cooker to an Instant Pot and even the top of a fridge or a heating pad–there’s (almost) no wrong way to ferment milk. With multiple rounds of yogurt making I have concluded that homemade yogurt, while there is a science behind it, is very subjective. Regardless of the method of making yogurt, one thing is true. It’s simple. Like 5 steps simple:

  1. warm milk to 180 degrees
  2. let milk cool to 115 degrees
  3. add starter to milk
  4. let the milk mixture “ferment”
  5. cool and chill in the fridge, strain and whisk

Once these steps are mastered, then the fun comes in: creating a yogurt based on preference.Developing Flavor and Thickness: The base of yogurt flavor and thickness depends on these ingredients used, temperature maintained and time allotted. A tart, thick yogurt takes longer than a less tangy thinner variety. The type of milk used (I prefer organic whole milk that isn’t overly pasteurized) also affects taste and thickness. A note to remember: the higher the fat content in the milk, the thicker and creamier the yogurt will be. The result of homemade yogurt is truly up to the cook’s preference.

Making Non-Dairy Yogurt: There are several non-dairy yogurt starters available for purchase online. With a quick stop at Whole Foods you can find Belle and Bella Non-Dairy Yogurt Starter. Be aware that non-dairy yogurt tends to be thinner, however adding arrow root during the heating process will thicken the yogurt. Non-dairy starters can be used with variety of non-dairy milks—start off with soy or coconut!

Adding Additional Flavor: Additional flavors can be added while the milk is cooling to 115 degrees. Simply add aromatics and sweetener (like vanilla beans and sugar) to create the preferred flavor profile.

Correcting a Bad Batch: If the yogurt is separated, lumpy or isn’t thick enough, don’t worry. Strain the yogurt and then whip with a whisk until smooth.I prefer a classic yet modern approach to homemade yogurt: cooktop and Instant Pot.  There’s no guess work with this method.  I can precisely bring the milk to the correct temperature (180 degrees) on the cooktop. Once the milk has cooled to 115 degrees and the starter added, the mixture can be placed into a controlled temperature environment in the Instant Pot. Using the yogurt function I can customize the temperature to 110 degrees and set the time to 5 hours. Using this method, I know precisely when the yogurt will be finished and at my desired thickness.

Keep in mind that while yogurt appears to be a simple concoction it is also delicate. Small things like getting a bad starter batch or overheating can result in lumpy, watery or even separated yogurt (just to name a few possibilities). The best way to truly perfect the skill of homemade yogurt is trial and error.

Homemade Plain Yogurt

Author note: If the texture looks separated or lumpy strain and then whisk to desired consistency.

4 cups milk

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (with live active cultures)

instant read thermometer

  1. Place the milk in a saucepan. Warm over medium heat until it reaches 180 degrees. This could take between 10-20 minutes depending on how hot your cooktop is.
  2. Remove the sauce pan from the heat. Turn the Instant Pot on using the yogurt feature. Using the customize feature, adjust the temperature setting to 110 degrees. Set for 6 hours and start the Instant Pot (this will preheat the Instant Pot ready for yogurt making).
  3. Let the temperature of the milk cool to 115 degrees (about 30 minutes). Remove 1/4 cup milk and place into a bowl. Stir in the yogurt until well-combined. Stir this mixture back into the milk.
  4. Pour the milk mixture into the Instant Pot insert and secure the lid. Once the yogurt has fermented for 5 hours, remove the lid and examine the texture. If a thicker consistency is desired, continue to let the yogurt ferment. Be sure to restart the Instant Pot and set for the desired time at 110 degrees.
  5. Remove the insert and place the yogurt into an air tight container. Store in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
  6. Remove and strain for desired consistency. Whisk until smooth.

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Grilled Rosemary Shrimp and Tomato Skewers

Grilled Rosemary Shrimp and Tomato Skewers

Author note: Be sure to examine the rosemary before you purchase. You will need thick rosemary branches to create a skewer from its branches.   

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

10 ounces cherry tomatoes

1 onion white onion, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves, chopped

  1. Heat the grill to medium heat, about 350 degrees.
  2. Place all ingredients (except the rosemary) into a large plastic bag or medium sized bowl. Combine and coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes up to 24 hours.
  3. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs to create rosemary skewers.
  4. Place the shrimp, tomatoes and onion onto the rosemary skewers. I prefer 2 shrimp for each skewer.
  5. Place the rosemary skewers onto the grill. Cook about 3 minutes per side, for a total of 6 minutes. Remove and serve hot or place in the fridge and serve cold.

Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Sandwiches

Red, White and Blue Ice Cream Sandwiches

Author note: Depending on how quickly you work and how fast the ice cream melts, you may have to create the ice cream sandwiches in two batches.

vanilla ice cream

sugar cookies or chocolate chip cookies

red, white and blue sprinkles

  1. Place a parchment lined baking sheet into the freezer.
  2. Pour the red, white and blue sprinkles onto a small plate.
  3. Remove the ice cream from the fridge five minutes before assembling the cookies. This helps to soften the ice cream.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out a generous scoop of ice cream. Place the ice cream in the middle of one cookie. Top the ice cream with an additional cookie. Press down to smash the ice cream. Try to do this as evenly as possible to ensure an even distribution.
  5. Working quickly, smooth out the ice cream around the edges using a slanted spatula. Add any additional ice cream needed at this point. Roll the edges of the ice cream into the sprinkles to evenly distribute all around the cookie. Place the cookie sandwiches in the freezer on the cookie sheet.
  6. Repeat steps until all the cookies are used.
  7. Let the ice cream sandwiches freeze for at least 4 hours. Serve when frozen.

Grilled Spicy Peach Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Spicy Peach Pork Tenderloin

Author note: To cook the pork tenderloin in the oven follow these instructions: Heat a  cast iron skillet over medium-high heat on the cooktop. Place the pork tenderloin into the skillet and sear,3 minutes per side, for a total of 6 minutes. Place the pork onto a rimmed sheet pan, place into the oven and cook for 14-20 minutes at 425 degrees, or until pork reaches 140 degrees.

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon cayenne powder (plus more for additional heat)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloins

1/2 cup peach preserves

fresh peaches, sliced

  1. Combine the mayonnaise cayenne, thyme, kosher salt, chili powder and Worcestershire into a small bowl. Mix well.
  2. Cover the two tenderloins evenly with the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the pork tenderloin from the fridge and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes. Coat the pork with the peach preserves.
  4. Heat the grill to 350-400 degrees.
  5. Place the pork tenderloin onto the grill and grill over direct heat for 15-20 minutes or until the temperature reaches 140 degrees. Rotate and turn the pork every 5-10 minutes for even cooking.
  6. Remove the pork and cover. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Place the peach slices onto the grill. Cook until caramelized with grill marks. Slice the pork. Serve with grilled peaches and additional peach preserves.

Peach Tea Popsicles

Isn’t it fun to look back on what was beloved as a child and revisit it as an adult? Popsicles are one of those items that instantly take me back to hot summers, slip ‘n slides and cold treats.

I have come to find that making popsicles at home is not only a tasty and fun way to embrace the heat with my kids, but it also takes me back to my own childhood. Plus, I see now as a mom, the benefit of making popsicles at home is the ability to control the sugar and food dye.  Talk about a win-win!As an adult, When I think summertime afternoon treats, I think of iced tea. I’ve started to think why not combine these two favorite pastimes.

Peach Tea Popsicles have become the product of longing for two favorites. What’s even better is that it’s peach season and during the heat of summer the peaches at Market Street are ripe for the taking. There’s nothing like walking past the fruit stalls at Market Street and taking in the scent of sweet peaches. From white peaches to yellow peaches, Market Street fills the produce department with the best of summer-ripe goodness. Combining these two summertime favorites is simple. Brew a batch of peach tea (herbal peach tea works as well!), sweeten with a bit of sugar (not too much though because fresh peaches add their own sweetness) and combine with peeled peaches. Place into a food processor and blitz. Pour into popsicle molds and get to freezing.

Beat the heat this summer and embrace the long days with this new seasonal favorite, Peach Tea Popsicles.

Peach Tea Popsicles

Author note: The number of popsicles this recipe yields depends upon the popsicle freezing vessel used. Brew the peach tea according to the package instructions. If you cannot find peach black tea, herbal peach tea works beautifully in this recipe as well.

4 cups brewed peach tea sweetened with 3 tablespoons sugar

4-5 Peaches

  1. Bring a large pan of water to a boil.
  2. Using a paring knife score the peaches (gently slicing an X onto the peach skin). Place the peaches into the boiling water for 30 seconds.
  3. Remove the peaches from the boiling water and place into an ice bath for 3-5 minutes. Remove the peaches from the ice bath and place onto a rimmed cutting board.
  4. Remove the peach skin. Cut four chunks of peach pulp from each peach.
  5. Place the peach tea and the pulp from peaches into a food processor. Blitz until smooth.
  6. Pour the peach tea mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid, about 8-12 hours.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Market Street. All opinions are my own.

Everything But the Bagel White Pizza

Everything But the Bagel White Pizza

1 1/2 cup cream

1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar

1/4 cup shallot, rough chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

red pepper flakes, pinch

1/2 cup parmesan, grated

1 cup mozzarella, shredded

1 tablespoon Everything But the Bagel Spice Seasoning (plus more to taste)

  1. Heat the oven to 550 degrees.
  2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface and place on your preferred baking equipment.
  3. In food processor, puree cream, vinegar, salt, shallots and red pepper flakes until the cream is thickened and slightly fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Top the dough with white sauce, parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for 10 minutes and in the last minute of baking, sprinkle the Everything But the Bagel seasoning evenly over the top of the pizza. Cook for one more minute and quickly remove from the oven. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut and serve immediately.

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

Author note: Don’t shy away from the ingredients list. What makes this gumbo easier than a traditional gumbo is the removal of making the roux. If you are a traditionalist and want to make the roux, go right ahead. It’s a 1:1 ratio of vegetable oil and flour. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until a rich chocolate brown color is achieved.

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup premade roux

8 cups seafood stock

2 cups water

1 14.5 ounce can unsalted diced tomatoes

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves, torn in half

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 cup onion, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced

1 cup green bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound white fish (like cod or catfish)

8 ounces lump crab meat (pick through for shells)

10 ounces okra, sliced (frozen okra also works)

1 tablespoon filé powder

cooked white rice

green onions, sliced

parsley, sliced

  1. In a large saucepan, warm the stock and water. Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven, combine the oil, onion, celery, bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic at the end of the 10-minute cooking period, and stir until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  2. Add the premade roux to the vegetable mix, stir well until it is combined. Pour in the stock mixture. Add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, bay leaves, cayenne and thyme. Simmer covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until reduced and thickened. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the shrimp, white fish, crab, okra and filé powder. Cook through for another 10 minutes (be sure to break up the white fish with a wooden spoon after it has cooked through). Salt to taste. Serve over white rice topped with green onions and parsley.

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