We are absolutely loving yogurt around here lately. Well, we always love it, but it’s been a long time since I’ve made any. With the diet changes we started implementing this week, I decided that having plain yogurt in the house was a good idea again.

The recipe I followed is at A Year of Slow Cooking. I’ve made it before, using a heating pad, but thought I’d try the crockpot method this time. What a difference – it is so sweet it doesn’t need sweetener in it at all if you’re going to eat it plain.

We’ve been making it into breakfast smoothies. We have a mini blender (a Magic Bullet knock-off we found at Aldi), so we just throw a handful of frozen fruit in the cup, pour yogurt over it, add some ice to make it thicker, and blend. Some fruit has needed a tiny bit of sweetener, but not all that we’ve tried.

I’ve made a half gallon at a time. Milk dropped to $2.09 a gallon at Aldi, so a whole gallon of yogurt at that price is wonderful! The sad thing is I already made a second half-gallon of yogurt, and it will probably be gone by Monday or Tuesday if we eat it as fast as we ate the last batch. It sure is good though!

Bread machine wheat bread

Today I needed bread for tonight’s French toast, so I threw the ingredients into the bread machine to mix. I baked it in the oven instead of the bread machine, but was thrilled with the results. It was so light and fluffy – not something I’m used to with this much wheat flour in it. I’ve only tried this combination of ingredients once, but I’ll be playing with it more, that’s for sure.

Bread machine wheat bread

9 oz warm water
2 Tbsp soft butter
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 heaping Tbsp vital wheat gluten
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 Tbsp yeast

Combine ingredients in bread machine pan in order instructed by your manufacturer. When dough is finished mixing, remove from pan, shape into a loaf, and put in greased loaf pan. Let rise until about an inch above the pan sides.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes (I lost track of time this time – I usually set the timer but forgot today).

I’ve been searching for the perfect bread recipe – one that uses no white flour but that is still light and soft. I know this still has some white flour in it, but it’s progress.

Baking Powder Biscuits

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 Tbs. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Cut in shortening until crumbs are the size of small peas; do not overmix. Gradually add milk. Stir until dough leaves sides of bowl.

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead 10 times. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut out biscuits.

Bake at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes.

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Biscuits are Stephen’s territory around here. While I can make them, his turn out fantastic – even though we use the same recipe! We usually make them with half wheat flour and half all-purpose. We like the heartier texture of the wheat flour better.

You can see our Buttermilk Biscuit recipe here. It’s pretty similar, but not entirely the same. We prefer the buttermilk biscuits over the ones without buttermilk, but we don’t keep buttermilk in the house very often.

Instant biscuits

Why is it that when I go to do a search for a biscuit recipe, all the recipes call for Bisquick? I’m typing up our biscuit recipe for somebody, and was having some issues typing the instructions (I’ll post it here when I’m done). Our recipe right now is just a list of ingredients, a temperature, and a time to bake them, but I needed a better explanation. Since the recipe is similar to the Betty Crocker recipe, I headed to their site.

I am so disappointed. I expected to find a from-scratch recipe, but I can’t find one. Almost every single basic biscuit recipe I find calls for Bisquick. Sure, that’s easy, but we don’t generally keep that in the house (and on the rare occasion we do have it, it’s a homemade version).

Why is everything so instant today? With a million and a half recipes out there on the internet, why are the easiest to find the ones that aren’t actually from scratch?

Now. . .if I could just find a way to make the delicious biscuits WITHOUT using shortening, and using a better fat. . .

Making cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are the best. I’m waiting for the last pan to come out of the oven right now. After that, I need to get far, far away from the cooling cookies.

The recipe I used is Chocolate Chip Wheat Cookies. I made some modifications this time though – partly due to what we had in the house. :O)

The first change I made was to use butter. We don’t use margarine any more, so that was an easy switch in this recipe.

Instead of vanilla (we’re out), I tried almond flavoring. It was surprisingly good. It was the one change I wasn’t sure we’d like, but it was good.

I also used only half the Splenda blend that it called for, and used regular brown sugar for the rest. Actually, I used 2/3 cup regular brown sugar, because the Splenda brown sugar blend uses only half the amount for the same amount of sweetness.

There is so much controversy about artificial sweeteners and how they affect our bodies. The more I read, the less I’m convinced we need to be consuming so much! So I used less this time, and used real sugar (which also amazes me what it does to our bodies). I will try my best to limit how many cookies I eat. The only things that will make it easier are the three guys in my house who like cookies and the fact that I don’t want to gain 45 pounds with this pregnancy like I did with Caleb.

Anyway – just wanted to share the modifications I made – because they turned out really yummy!

Butterscotch cheesecake

Oh wow. The cheesecake tastes SO good. All I did was add about half a bag of melted chocolate chips to a basic cheesecake batter. I didn’t make a crust for it, and baked it in a heart-shaped pan.

The chocolate hardened more than I would’ve liked, but it’s a nice flavor contrast to the butterscotch. Overall, the flavor is wonderful.

I get about .001 points for presentation though – even though I buttered the pan, it does NOT come out easily. It comes out more in bite-sized pieces than a nice slice. Next time it would be better if the pan were lined since I don’t have a springform pan.

Here’s the recipe I used: Philadephia 3-Step Cheesecake.

Good thing it tastes good, because it sure does look funny!

Cheesecake flop

Maybe I shouldn’t call it a flop quite yet since we haven’t tasted it yet.

Stephen absolutely loves cheesecake, so I thought I’d get creative today. I experimented with a basic recipe and added melted butterscotch chips to it. Once I took it out of the oven and it cooled some, I melted chocolate chips to drizzle over the top.

The chocolate chips weren’t melted enough though so they ended up globbing instead of drizzling like I envisioned. It looked pretty silly. I spread it out with a rubber spatula. It doesn’t look as good as it did in my head, but hopefully it’ll still taste pretty good.

heart shaped cheesecake

We’ll try it later after it’s completely cool. It smelled good baking. . .

Strawberry Lemonade Punch

Strawberry Lemonade Punch
Serves 18
1 12 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 tubs Crystal Light Lemonade mix
3 1-Liter bottles of sparkling water, strawberry flavor

Ice Ring:
1 1-Liter bottle of sparkling water, strawberry flavor
Fresh or frozen strawberries, if desired

To make ice ring, pour one bottle of sparkling water into a tube (or bundt) pan. Add strawberries, if using. Freeze for 12-24 hours.

To make punch, combine lemonade concentrate and Crystal Light in the bottom of a punch bowl. Add the sparkling water to constitute the lemonade. Although the punch will be yellow, the sparkling water gives it the strawberry flavor.

If you use the ice ring, it is easier to put the ice ring in the punch bowl before you add the sparkling water to constitute the punch or else it can make a huge mess while you try to drop a huge chunk of ice into an already full punch bowl.

I’ve served this at my studio recitals and it is always a huge hit.