Cooking Goals for 2017

6:32 AM

I'm not a huge New Years resolution person, but there are some goals I would like to set in the kitchen for the coming year.

1.  Keep up with meal planning - I feel like I did a pretty good job meal planning in 2016.  With the exception of July, I kept up with my meal plan pretty well.  I would like to continue this habit into the new year.  It helps me keep our grocery budget down.  And it helps for me to keep sane during the work week.

2.  Wastes less - Even though I meal plan, we still semi-regularly have things that get lost to the trash bin.  Whether it's freezing food, making smaller portions, or coming up with new ways to use leftovers, I would like to better combat waste.  While I know it could be a lot worse, there is always room for improvement

3.  Cook more from cookbooks - I find myself always drawn more to cooking from food blogs and other online sources than I do from cookbooks.  I think I gravitate to online sources as that's where I make my grocery list, set my meal plan, ect.  But there's something really nice about cooking from a cookbook and I know there are a lot of recipes to be found hiding on my shelves!  I'd like to set a goal of utilizing my cookbooks a bit more.

4.  Try some new recipes - I'm always trying new recipes, so I'm not really sure if this should be a goal.  But, I do want to jot down some specific recipes that have been on my radar for awhile.

Here's to a tasty 2017!

Pantry Staples

Homemade Yogurt

10:51 AM

I've always been excited by the prospect of making pantry staples from scratch.  I love exploring in the kitchen, but there are only so many meals and baked goods one family needs.  As yogurt is one of my favorite foods, and one I eat often, it was seemed natural to try it from scratch.  Thus my journey into yogurt making.

The process of yogurt making isn't hard, but does require some time in the kitchen watching the thermometer.  I usually try and do the dishes or clean the counters, nothing too involved that will get me distracted from checking temperatures.

For setting yogurt, there are many techniques.  I use a yogurt maker that keeps a consistent temperature.  I've read about other methods using the crock pot or the oven.

I really like my yogurt maker, though I wish I had chosen a different model.  I don't find myself using the individual containers and wishing I could making larger batches at once.  It still does a great job at keeping the yogurt at a consistent temperature.  I'm particularly interested in the Dash Greek Yogurt Maker, which claims it can produce 2 quarts of greek yogurt in one batch.  Maybe someday I'll trade up!

Homemade Yogurt

4 cups of milk (I use whole)
1/2 cup of store bought yogurt

Bring 4 cups of milk to 170 degrees slowly over medium heat.  Watch your thermometer carefully, you do not want the milk to come to a boil.

After milk comes to 170 degrees, take it off the heat and let cool to 108-112 degrees.  I usually place my milk in a small cool water bath to help it quicker get down to temperature.  Combine 1/2 cup of yogurt with a small portion of the milk.  You want the yogurt and milk to be a smooth consistency to mix back into your larger pot of milk.  Mix together milk and yogurt mixture

Place your milk into a preheated yogurt maker for 8 hours.

Strain yogurt in a cheesecloth, to produce greek yogurt, if desired.

Sources on yogurt making

Baking Bucket List

9:55 AM

In 2013, I embarked on a journey to make a new recipe each week.  This took me out of my comfort zone and I explored so many new types of foods and new-to-me ingredients.  While I don't think I'm ready to commit to this type of project again, there are still some baked goods that I would like to commit to making come 2017.  While I've made a lot of different things in the kitchen, but there are still certain items on my "baking bucket" list.

My Baking Bucket List

  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Biscuits
  • Tart
  • (a more successful) Sourdough Bread
I'm hoping writing down some items on my wish list will help motivate me in at least crossing off a few of these tasty treats!

Recipe Review

Recipe Review: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

9:32 AM

Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Sally's Baking Addiction

This recipe is my standby chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I think I've made them 5 times this holiday season.  For the holiday season, I add in holiday M&Ms which make them really festive!  I prefer using the dark chocolate M&Ms, but have had a really hard time finding them this year.  I should have stocked up when I first saw them!

The only downside to this recipe is the chilling time, but with melted butter, there's really no other option to chill them, or they'll turn into little cookie puddles when baked.  To make my life easier, I'll make the cookie dough the night before I need the cookies and then bake the next day.  This makes the whole process so much smoother, but requires a bit of foresight.  If your looking for a classic, soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie, this recipe is a winner.