Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crockpot Yogurt

I don't know how much yogurt you eat at your house, but I can tell you that all five of my kids {yes, even the baby} devour yogurt.  I spend several dollars every week buying all of the little plastic tubs or colorful squeeze yogurts to pack in their school lunches or to use as snacks.  I use a lot of coupons during my shopping trips (one day maybe I'll blog about that), and I always use yogurt coupons to get the very best price.  Even my coupons couldn't get yogurt as cheap as making it from scratch, though!  The process is a long one, but it is super easy.

You'll need a large crockpot.  Set it on low.  Take 1/2 a gallon of milk and pour it into the crockpot.  Let it warm for 2.5 hours.  It should reach 180 degrees, but I didn't actually take its temp, and mine worked out fine.  Just saying.  ;)  After the 2.5 hours, turn the crockpot off and let the milk cool for three hours (again, it's "supposed" to reach 115 degrees, but if you don't know for certain it's really okay).  When it has cooled, remove two cups of the milk and add it to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt with active cultures.  I used a store brand plain yogurt...nothing fancy.  Stir this together then pour it back into the crockpot with the rest of the milk.  Wrap a bath towel around the whole crockpot and leave it for 8-12 hours. 

Here's some trivia about myself.  I don't like yogurt.  Never have.  When I was two I had spinal meningitis.  The doctor suggested giving the antibiotics to me with yogurt.  I STILL remember the taste of that and associate it with the medicine and being sick.  I did try a bite of this.  It tastes like yogurt. ;)  I served it to my children right out of the crockpot for breakfast.  I added frozen strawberries to give it some sweetness.  You can add whatever toppings or flavors you like.  I've heard of people putting in vanilla one teaspoon at a time until they got the desired flavor.  You can also drizzle honey on top for added sweetness. 

Keep in mind that this yogurt will be fairly watery.  That's the whey.  You can strain it off with a thin wired strainer and cheese cloth.  Just let it strain for 8ish hours AFTER it sits for the 8-12 hours in the crockpot.  It should produce about two cups of whey.  You can throw that out, or I have heard that there are bread recipes that turn out really well.  As you can see, I am storing mine in Mason jars.  Mostly because they look cute.  You could use plastic containers with lids.  The yogurt will stay good for up to two weeks in the fridge.  Don't forget to save 1/2 cup of your yogurt to use as a starter in your next batch! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Finally a New Recipe...Mini Pecan Pie Muffins

I whipped these up this morning for a breakfast treat.  I made them two days ago, as well, but didn't get a chance to take a picture.  You see, when you're feeding seven people, food goes fast.  REALLY fast.  I honestly put them on my pretty serving tray so I could get this great shot, but when I came back with my phone, they were gone.  I am not kidding.  I am terrified of their teenage years.  So anyway...I decided to give it another go this morning.  I was able to hold them off of the muffins long enough to get a photo by feeding them yogurt while I was getting the shot.  Had to pull out my bag of Mama tricks, y'all.

This recipe was a Pinterest find, and I can promise you that it is a keeper.  You make them in a mini-muffin pan, so they're just the perfect size to pop in your mouth!  Make sure you have a cold glass of milk handy.  Or coffee.  Or in my case both. 

Here's the Pinterest recipe where I found them.  Happy eating!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Oh Two-dles! A Topiary DIY

As I mentioned in my last post, our sweet Nella Caroline will be two on February 5.  To celebrate, we decided to throw her a small family party that was centered around her love for Minnie Mouse.  Are these invitations not the cutest?!  My friend Sarah made them.  The "party" ended up just being our family of seven plus my parents, which was perfect for our reserved Nella.  She had a great time with all of her new "Nin-Nay" (as she pronounces it) stuff.  She even got a Minnie potty so that we can try to get that girl out of diapers! We'll see how that goes...

For decoration, I decided to try to make one of these Minnie topiaries on my own. Here's how I did it.

I used:
~a large styrofoam ball
~two small styrofoam balls
~a piece of styrofoam for the bottom of the clay pot (I used a cone that I had leftover from a previous project.  I cut the tip off s it sat flat.)
~hot glue
~two toothpicks
~tissue paper
~fake flowers that I pulled off of a Hawaiian lei
~a 3/16x 36" dow rod that I cut down to 3/16x12'
~a small clay pot
~Krylon "watermelon" hot pink spray paint
~black spray paint
~a large permanent marker

I started by spray painting the clay pot a hot pink.  It took several coats, and was covered with dead grass at the end, but I got it done!  Between coats of hot pink, I spray painted all of the styrofoam balls, and the dow rod, black.  After all of the paint was dry, I drew black polkadots onto the pot with a permanent marker.  Then I began the assembly.  I placed my extra piece of styrofoam at the bottom of the pot, and hot glued it in place a little. 

I used toothpicks to hold the smaller balls onto the larger one as Minnie's ears.  I then stuck one end of the dow rod into Minnie's "head," and the other end into the secured piece at the bottom of the pot.  I needed a filler, so I used old tissue paper to stuff down into the clay pot.  This is really the trick to hold the extra piece in well!  I then hot glued the fake flowers onto the tissue paper & made Minnie a quick bow to give her a finished look.  That was a quick & simple project to liven up the party table.  The best part was that it was WAY cheaper than the $20 that the etsy shop has them for! For those of you who know me in real life, you know I'm way too cheap for that price!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Trying to Start Back Up...and Making Changes

Hello BlogWorld!  It's been many {MANY} months since I've typed anything on here.  There have been a lot of changes in our world, so blogging and recipe-testing took a back seat.  Let me fill you in a little...

I had just had a baby girl when I stopped blogging before.  She will be TWO on Tuesday.  Unreal.  When she was four months old we decided that we had outgrown our (very small) home, so we put it on the market and started building a new (much bigger) home on a couple of acres in a small town.  We were so excited that all four children would have their own bedroom!  Three months into the building process (when Nella was only six months old!), we found out Baby#5 was on the way!!  We moved into our new home in November, and welcomed Hattie Scarlett on May 11, 2012.  In August, three days before school was to start, the principal from the elementary school in our new town called me in to talk to me about a second grade position that had just opened up.  He offered me the job, and I took it.  I had missed teaching, and of course we could always use the extra money, so it seemed like a great idea!  Talk about a crazy couple of days preparing for a teaching job while searching for someone willing to keep the babies and our four-year-old on the eight days/month we needed a sitter.  Hattie wouldn't (and still won't) take a bottle, so the sitter needed to be able to bring the baby to me each day at lunch to nurse.  Luckily my mother-in-law volunteered to take off from her job to help us out until we could find such a person, and we have since found someone who has been working out!  So yeah...things have been INSANE as of late, but life is good.  We have already told my principal that I won't be returning next year, as we quickly realized that juggling five small children (and all of their activities/homework/parties/etc), running a household, and working is not right for our family.  The job has been a great learning experience for all of us, and we are thankful to have tried it out!

I still try to cook as often as I can, and I still love trying new recipes.  Pinterest has become my favorite website.  There are so many great recipes to try out from that site!  I have also become obsessed with crafting.  I have NEVER been a crafty person, but Pinterest brings it out in me.  That being said, I have decided to start back up on this blog, but it won't be just recipes anymore.  I am going to show off my family, crafts & DIYs, recipes, gardening, and anything else that I feel like sharing.  I am super-excited about this new blogging adventure, and I certainly hope that at least some of you will read!