Sunday, March 25, 2012

Ranch Dressing/Dip

Contributed by Denise Koss

Ok, take in mind that I found this before I went organic and it is for ranch dressing, but I am sure you can tweek it and make it for a dip as well: In a small bowl add together...2 T water, 1/2 t pepper, 1/2 t dill weed, 1/2 t dried parsley, 1/2 t dried basil, 1/2 t thyme, 1/4 t minced garlic or 1/8 t garlic powder, and 1/4 t paprika. (Let this sit for 5 minutes) Add and mix in: 2/3 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup mayonaise, 1 T cider vinegar, 1 t dijon mustard, 1 t sugar, and 1/4 t salt.

Homemade Yogurt - Cooler Method

Contributed by Susanna Holcomb
Original Source:
Okay here is the link to the homemade yogurt recipe. I am linking to the original in fairness to the author. :) Here is what I do that is a little different. I don't boil my containers...I just make sure that they are clean. I also pour boiling water in the cooler. I found that it cools off too much otherwise. I will say that I keep my cooler in our unheated garage so the temperature outside does effect it. I also make the yogurt in the evening and let it sit overnight - much longer than 3 hours. This does result in a much more tart yogurt. It is a thinner consistency than store bought but that is because we are not using pectin. Often I make 2 gallons at a time and mix whole milk and 2%. Why so much? Because it does not take that much longer to do 2 gallons at once and it will... keep in the fridge for up to one month. The other change that I do is this - I make 1/2 of the batch vanilla and put it in half-pint mason jars. (they were much cheaper than other small glass with lid options.) This allows my 8 year old and others to have a serving of yogurt with ease. The plain yogurt I make in quart mason jars. I put both in the cooler as the size of the container does not effect the culturing time. Still not convinced to make yogurt? A gallon of milk = a gallon of yogurt. In my neck of the woods a gallon of milk is $2.98 and the last time I bought a quart of plain yogurt it was $1.97 (x4= $7.88) If your family eats a lot of yogurt is worth it to at least try it. Oh, do you like fruit in your yogurt? You can add jam, jelly or fresh fruit to it after it is made. Happy yogurt making!
The recipe (from The Frugal Girl):
Homemade Yogurt (makes 4 quarts, which will keep for at least a month in the fridge)
For vanilla yogurt directions, see the bottom of the recipe.
1 gallon of milk
1 cup yogurt starter(you can use a small cup of plain Dannon or Yoplait yogurt, or you can use a cup from your previous batch.)
1. Place four quart glass canning jars, four lids, and four screw-tops in a large pot. Fill with an inch of water; cover with lid and heat to boiling. Boil for ten minutes. Leave the lid on the pot and move it off the heat until you are ready to use the jars.
2. Pour one gallon of milk into a large, heavy bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Heat the milk to 185-190 degrees Farenheit(90-90 Celcius).
3. Place the pot in a sink filled with cold water and let the milk cool to 120 degrees fahrenheit(50-55 degrees celsius)
4. Stir one cup of yogurt starter into the cooled milk, using a whisk. Stir well to ensure that the starter is thoroughly incorporated into the milk.
5. Pour the milk into jars, and put the lids and bands on. Place them into a cooler.
6. Heat one gallon of water to 120 degrees F(50-55 degrees C) and pour into cooler.
7. Shut cooler lid and leave in a warm place for three hours. When the three hours are up, place the yogurt in the refrigerator.
To make a delicious vanilla version of this yogurt, add 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar to the four quarts of milk when it’s cooling in the sink. Then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla, depending on your preference, and proceed as usual with the recipe.

Homemade Yogurt - Crockpot Method

Contributed by Kathleen PierceOriginal Source:

I remembered someone on here posting about making yogurt in a crockpot, but then I couldn't find the post so I ordered a yogurt maker on Amazon. But then I got to thinking...why spend $40 when I already own a crockpot and know it's possible? So I canceled my order and did a quick internet search. And...this morning I have yogurt sitting in my crockpot! Real easy too - here's how:
1. Turn crockpot on low and add 1/2 gallon milk (any - whole, 2%, etc. I used whole organic).
2. Leave for 2 1/2 hours on low.
3. After 2 1/2 hours, turn crockpot off and leave for 3 hours.
4. At the 3 hour mark, take 1/2 c. yogurt starter (this could be an actual starter you buy online or just plain yogurt you buy at the store, but make sure it has "live" cultures listed in its ingredients. I used some raw milk yogurt donated for this experiment by a friend (thanks, Heidi!)). Anyway, take the 1/2 c. starter and, in a separate bowl, mix in 2 cups of the warmed milk with the starter. I also at this point added 1 c. nonfat milk powder as this is supposed to add a creamier texture. Pour the milk/yogurt (and milk powder) mixture back into the crockpot and replace the lid.
5. Now, still keeping the crockpot unplugged, wrap a big towel around it to keep it insulated. Then just leave for 8 hours and come back to your yogurt!

I was a little skeptical, but it works! The yogurt is quite a bit thinner than what you buy in the store, but that is actually better for cooking. And what we plan to eat, I'll run through some cheesecloth and a strainer to thicken. I also have some yogurt cheese going, which is delicious as sour cream (I'll never buy sour cream again!).

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cheese Crackers

(Contributed by Kathleen. Source:

1 1/2 c. extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 stick butter, softened and cut into pieces
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. crushed red pepper (this was way too hot for my kids - reduce)
1 T. milk

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Put everything except the milk in a food processor. Pulse the processor, 5 seconds at a time, for about 5 or 6 times, until the dough is in coarse crumbs.

3. Add the milk and process until the dough gathers together in a ball.

4. Roll the dough out on a floured board with a rolling pin that has been floured until it is about 1/8 inch thick.

5. Cut the dough into 1-inch squares with a sharpe knife or pizza cutter. Use the flat end of a wooden skewer to poke a hole in the center of each cracker.

6. Place the crackers at least 1/4" apart on parchment paper on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.

8. Cook completely.