Homemade Yogurt

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My husband and I carpool to work. We haven’t always, but over past year we have been lucky enough to both work in the same general area, which happens to be about ten minutes from home! I love carpooling – we save a bit of money on gas and my husband makes me laugh before 7 AM just about every day. Because we are so close to home, we usually head there for our lunch break (bonus: that means I don’t have to spend time thinking about what to bring for lunch).

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About two weeks ago we were on our way home for lunch and a commercial came on for a one day sale at The Bay. Le Crueset French Ovens on sale for $159, regular $400!!! I have been dreaming about a french oven for quite some time and that was a smokin’ deal (in my personal opinion). Long story short I immediately got Alex to turn the car around and head straight to The Bay.

Homemade yogurt was one of the main reasons I was wanting to purchase a french oven. I had no idea how easy it was to make yogurt at home until about a month ago when I came across an article from The Kitchn. For those of you who know me well, you know that I can be very frugal when it comes to grocery shopping. Yogurt was one of the products that I feel is totally overpriced. $7 for a tub of greek yogurt seems a little high – am I right?! Needless to say, I will NOT be purchasing yogurt again anytime soon cause I am totally pumped about what I can make with a 2 L of milk and a little bit of patience, right in my own kitchen.

Here is what you need:

  • French oven or heavy sauce pan with lid
  • Instant read thermometer
  • 2 L of milk (I used 1% cow’s milk)
  • 1/2 cup of plain commercial yogurt with bacterial cultures (I used a plain non-fat PC brand greek yogurt)

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Instructions:

  1. Heat the milk over medium heat. Stir gently throughout to avoid the milk from scorching.
  2. Once the milk reaches 200 degrees F – remove from heat. Allow the milk to cool to 115 degrees F. Stir occasionally to help reduce the temperatureĀ  more quickly or put the french oven in an ice bath.
  3. Remove 1 cup of warm milk and combine with 1/2 cup of commercial yogurt in a separate bowl. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour the thinned yogurt back into the warm milk and whisk gently.
  5. Cover with a lid and transfer into a room temperature oven (I tried this after cooking something in the oven and it was too hot and did not work!). Turn on the oven light to keep the milk warm while it sets.
  6. Let yogurt sit overnight. Avoid stirring the yogurt until it has fully set.
  7. Once the yogurt is set – remove it from the oven and drain off any whey from the surface of the yogurt.
  8. Whisk the yogurt prior to transferring into jars for a smooth and cohesive texture. Cover and refrigerate.
  9. Make sure to save 1/2 cup of your homemade yogurt to use in your next batch! The yogurt will stay good in the fridge for about two weeks.

This is a traditional yogurt – not a greek yogurt! If you want a thicker texture you can drain out some of the whey using a strainer and a cheese cloth, use a higher fat milk, or add 1 cup of skim milk powder to the fluid milk during the cooking process.

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PS. I added 1/4 tsp of coconut extract and 1 tsp of granulated stevia to 3/4 cup of homemade yogurt and topped it with toasted coconut and sliced strawberries and it was pretty unbelievable. I’m on the coconut bandwagon and I am NOT getting off. But really, the sky is the limit when it comes to mix ins!

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Make This, Not That – Holiday Party Edition

There is no harder time of the year to keep your diet on track than the holidays. Every party and gathering that you attend will be sure to include a spread of high fat, high calorie foods and drinks. Research shows that on average people gain only one pound over the holiday season due to extra indulgence, but that single pound is never lost. Between the ages of 20 and 50 years you could find yourself sitting 30 pounds heavier solely due to eggnog, candy cane bark, turkey, and mashed potatoes. Does this statistic surprise you as much as it surprised me? This year, throw a party that won’t be forever remembered on your hips.

Make This, Not That.

5 Jumbo Tiger Shrimp with 1 oz of Cocktail Sauce contains 128 calories and 1 gram of fat.

Whereas, 4 Bacon Wrapped Scallops rings in at 285 calories, 21 grams of fat and 45 minutes of shoveling snow before you work them off.

1/4 cup of Hummus with 1 Whole Wheat Pita will supply 185 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Whereas, 1/4 cup of Spinach Dip with 1 Whole Wheat Pita sets you back 400 calories and 37 grams of fat. Better strap on your skates, because this dip requires 60 minutes on the ice before its gone.

2 Chicken Skewers adds up to 200 calories and 3 grams of fat.

Whereas, 4 Honey Garlic Chicken Wings tops up at 240 calories and 12 grams of fat and it would take 30 minutes of cross country skiing in the cold to burn them off!

Date Bran Jingle Balls Recipe

1 Date Bran Jingle Ball (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/date_bran_jingle_balls.html) contains 104 calories and 6 grams of fat.

Whereas, 1 Chocolate Hedgehog packs 135 calories, 9.5 grams of fat and requires 40 minutes of holiday shopping to get rid of.

1 cup of Mulled Wine (http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/mulled_wine.html) has 174 calories, 0 grams of fat and a ton of holiday flavor.

Whereas, 1 cup of Rum and Eggnog will bring you 403 calories, 19 grams of fat, and 50 minutes on the stationary bike!

Do yourself and all your guests a favor, you don’t have to forfeit flavor over the holidays to keep your weight in check šŸ™‚

Canteen

Over the past week I have had the opportunity to celebrate a very important milestone in my life…Convocation! And as we all know, no celebration is complete without food and drink to indulge in with friends and family. I called Canteen the day of and they were able to fit in my table of three at 5:30 pm. To our surprise, we were seated at the chef’s table at the back of the quaint restaurant. After browsing over the menu (even though I’ve looked it up a million times online) we decided to share a few of the small plates. Chickpea fries with romesco and chorizo stuffed, bacon wrapped dates with red pepper sauce were at the top of my wish list and my mom and Alex agreed.

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The fries were quite neutral in flavour but they had a great texture and crunch. As for the dates….I just love dates… especially wrapped in bacon and stuffed with sausage. Enough said.

We ended up getting a range of entrees so we could have the opportunity to taste as many things as possible. My mom went for the feature of the day, duck breast served with a risotto cake, grilled pear, braised red cabbage, asparagus, and sour cherry jus of some sort, Alex had the pork chop with crispy pork belly with a roasted beet BBQ sauce and gnudi succotash, and I chose the halibut topped with preserved lemons and tempura sea beans (one of my FAV ingredients) served with white beans, ham hock, and escarole in a smoky broth. There was not one unsatisfied person at the table, in fact we were all blown away. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I was served with an adorable retro bottle of diet coke!

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The whole experience was exceptional – from the server to the decor to the unique menu. Our night was finished off with a personalized explanation of the desert menu which led to a full belly of chocolate terrine with creme anglaise and chocolate, orange, almond bread pudding.

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I would absolutely recommend Canteen for any occasion or a spontaneous night out. The prices are reasonable (compared to their sister restaurant The Red Ox Inn) and the food is interesting and tasty.