Yummy Supper

The crock pot is my friend.  Even though I am home all day, I still struggle with dinner if I do not have a plan and rarely think about it in time to thaw and make something.  So when I can make dinner during breakfast prep, I love it!

 

pulled chicken pic

(via pinterest)

Yesterday, Cousin Camp day #1 – Sage and I made a BBQ pulled chicken.  I think this recipe is a keeper because you can tweak each part!  The BBQ part is totally homemade – and you could substitute pork or maybe even beef for the chicken.

We threw everything together in the crock pot during breakfast prep, and I think my chicken was mostly still frozen – I used 4 huge chicken breasts (from our broilers) and the sauce as it calls for it.

About 2pm – well past the suggested 4 hours, I put all the meat in my Bosch bread mixer (you could use a kitchen aid) – with the whipper attachment.  Then I let the Bosch shred all my meat, put it back in the crock pot, turned it off and let it set for about 2 hours.  Turned it back to low about 90 minutes before dinner and we were ready to go!!

I highly recommend, and we will be making it again!!

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Homemade Yogurt

I love to make granola.  I cannot make myself buy it hardly ever.  Since I love to make it, I really enjoy having it for breakfast but the side dish with granola is yogurt.  Yogurt is getting more and more expensive!  Not to mention you have to be careful what you buy these days with all the additives they throw in!!

I have read and heard over and over how easy it was to make yogurt, but I never really believed.  Then I saw a pin on Pinterest, and I followed it and was finally convinced.  Here is the post that inspired me.

Here are pics of my second batch of yogurt. 

3 qts yogurt

I have made Greek yogurt both times now, and we are thoroughly enjoying it.  Normally, I buy 2 kinds of yogurt, 1 qt of Greek and 1 qt of regular.  Greek for me and regular for the kids (the price is almost twice for the Greek, hence I only get it!)

 

Now, the yogurt costs about what it costs to drink milk!  I can manage that for all of us, much more often!!

First, you turn on your crock pot, to low.  Then leave it.

Next, measure milk into pot to heat up to 175 degrees.  I started with 8 cups, the second time I did 12 cups.

heating up the milk

Heat up your milk, stirring until it starts to boil or is about 175 degrees.

yogurt cultures

Next, measure out your yogurt cultures – 2 Tbl of active yogurt per 4 cups of milk.  Set aside.

cultures measured

{I did use 1% milk too, but I read whole milk, I think you can use what you want}

Get your sink full of cold water, I added ice, I have read cold water alone works too.

Once your milk gets to 175 degrees, move the pot into the cold water.  Just put enough water in the sink to cool the pot, not pour into it (of course)

Finally, once your milk is down to about 100 degrees, scoop out about a cup, mix it with the yogurt, and pour the rest into your warm crock pot.  Mix your 1 cup of milk & yogurt until smooth.  Then pour that into your crock pot.  Mix it all up again.

Finally, turn off & unplug crock pot, cover & wrap with a towel.  Leave alone for 8-12 hours.  I did 8 the first time and my yogurt was mild & custard like.  The second time I did 10 hours and it was quite a bit tangy.  Next I will aim for 9 hours.

After the curing time, take your crock pot and put it in the fridge, I can take my ceramic part out and that is what I did.  Let it refrigerate over night or about 12 hours.

pour into jars

making yoguft crock pot

Next morning pour into glass jars.  Voila.  You have homemade yogurt for a fraction of the cost and you know everything that went into it!!

Crock Pot Chicken & Broth

I just have to share.  I admit, no pics to entice you, but listen if you want to save some money, time and energy!!

My favorite (new) way to cook a whole chicken, if I am making just one, is in the crock pot.  Does not heat up the house, I can walk away and not worry about it and it tastes GREAT!!  You season like you would if you were going to roast it in the oven.  Then you stick it in the crock pot – and turn it on.  That is it.  Cook about 3-4 hours on LOW,  depending on how thawed your chicken was when you started.  It should fall apart just about.

Then, when you take it out there is all that juice in the bottom and your chicken is super moist and tasty!!  Eat your dinner, or take all the mean off for whatever you want it for.

Next, put all the bones back in the crock pot, I threw the seasoned skin in too.  We served the meat without bones, except legs and so no one chewed on them.  Throw in some parsley, some celery or carrots, even some onion (the best is when you have one in the fridge drying out, it need not go to waste)

Then fill the crock pot up with water.  Yes, fill ‘er up!  Finally turn it on and let it go about 12-14 hours – as long as it is convenient.  I started mine about 5pm, and turned it off this morning about 7am.

The reward?  Beautiful golden broth, amazing flavor and cost me nothing! Well, except the tips of my celery and the dried up onion.

It is in the fridge as I type, letting the fat congeal on top, yes there is some fat in there.  But the beautiful part is, tomorrow I will scoop out the fat and either freeze or can the broth. 

AMAZING!!

Try it – and I bet you will not be able to buy that can of processed broth for $1 each anymore.

Meal Planning

I know, how much can we talk about meal planning?  I have broached this subject on more than on occasion.  However, it seems there is a new trend in meal planning.  Not sure if it is really a trend, but it sure seems like it in my world!

I keep reading blogs about meal planning for more than just dinner.  At first, I thought, what?  Plan more meals – ugh!!  But then, I thought about it and realized how much I hate standing in the kitchen in the morning and hearing “what is for breakfast?”  Really, I hate when I do not know what it for any meal I have to serve to my family. 

I know I only have 4 children, and many of the blogs I have read lately have more like 7-10, and so planning all their meals makes more sense, but with these hungry boys I am thinking it could really work for me too!

 

So I am compiling healthy recipes, and trying to plan the week out on Sundays.  It takes the guess work out of the way, it helps me make sure I have ingredients I need, and it helps me get out of the rut I can easily fall into, of making eggs every day, a different way.  The other good thing to this is that our chickens are not laying nearly as well as they were this spring, so we have many less eggs!!

This morning we enjoyed Baked Oatmeal and Apple Sauce bread.  I have leftovers of both to offer for a mid-morning snack, if there is a request made.  The kids enjoyed both and I think, really liked two new breakfast options.

Some other items on the agenda to come:

Baked French Toast

Giant Breakfast Cookies

Egg Muffins

Steel Cut Oats in the Crock Pot

Homemade Granola

Bumpy Cakes ( AKA Dutch Baby, Dutch Puff, etc)

Burritos

Smoothies

Banana Bread

Blueberry Muffins

Blender Waffles/Pancakes

Pancake Sausage Muffins (we liked these)

I hope we can stick with meal planning and work lunch and breakfast into the schedule to help me out!!  So far, so good!  We have enjoyed looking for some new, healthy recipes so that we are not wondering what to eat every morning!!

New Breakfast Favorite : Egg Muffins

So we are entering Week 2 of our sugar fast (kids and all).  I will admit the 2 younger kids had ice cream and birthday cake on Saturday, but this is not the Old Testament.  We are not bound by the law – we are FREE!  So a bit of cake in the middle of our fast for a 8 and 6 year old is just fine.  Otherwise they are doing great!  Not even asking! 

However, this whole less sugar thing is a challenge – and I am still learning new options to replace old standbys.  Breakfast is something that I try to keep interesting but not too  much work.  Yes, I make breakfast every morning, unless my dear husband is home and then often, he opts to do it.  We eat eggs most mornings (you know, chickens and all…) but how many different ways can you serve scrambled or fried eggs?  And while we love quiche it is a bit of work, the whole dough thing, if it is not here, we need to buy it, or make it …. and you get the point.

Well, Pinterest came to the rescue about 2 weeks ago.  I found Egg Muffins.  While I have no great pics to show you, I will say we made these once, double batch, and ate them twice – and then made them again this morning and everyone was happy.  These are super easy. 

 

(They will keep for up to a week in the fridge and you can freeze them, I like that you can make a double batch, no extra work, and you have 2 breakfasts done at one time)

A bit like quiche (minus crust and milk, so gluten and dairy free).  What I like about them is you can make variations in the same batch and for picky eaters, I would let them make their own.  Set out a bunch of toppings (or whatever you call them) and let the kids sprinkle what they want into a muffin spot and then you pour the egg over when they are done. 

I will admit we use about 15 eggs for a dozen egg muffins, and serve 2 muffins per person except the little girl.  So if you do not have a bunch of free range chickens out back, and cannot find cheap eggs, this may not be the recipe for you.  But otherwise, it is great!  This morning we had ham in most, broccoli in a few, roasted red peppers in many, feta cheese in mine, and cheddar in the rest.  They were yummy!!

So, if you want a new look for breakfast, check out these Egg Muffins and enjoy!!  Get creative, other veggies, sausage, bacon, green chilis or jalapenos…etc!