homemade vanilla yogurt


Our family consumes a lot of milk and yogurt.  So when milk prices started dramatically dropping in our area I decided to try my hand at homemade vanilla yogurt in the slow cooker.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy and delicious it is.

Vanilla Yogurt in the Slow Cooker

1/2 gallon of milk
1/2 cup yogurt starter (I use store bought vanilla yogurt)
1/2 cup sugar (we like it a tad sweeter, so I add a heaping 1/2 cup of sugar)
1 TBL. vanilla extract

Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the slow cooker and turn on low.  Let is cook for 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Next, turn the slow cooker off and unplug it.  Whisk in sugar and vanilla and let the mixture sit (covered) for 3 hours.  After 3 hours spoon 1 cup of milk mixture into a small mixing bowl and whisk in your yogurt starter.  Then add it to your milk mixture in the slow cooker and whisk it all together.  Put the lid back on and wrap the entire cooker with a couple of towels to help keep it insulated.  Let your wrapped slow cooker sit for 8 hours while the yogurt cultures.  After 8 hours you can enjoy your yogurt or strain it with a cheesecloth if you like a thicker consistency.  (I like to put it in the fridge and let it strain for an hour.)

(The hardest part of this recipe is the timing.  I personally like to start it around 3:30 in the afternoon.  That way it sits overnight and in the morning it’s ready.  Hope you enjoy!)

chicken enchiladas

chicken enchiladas2Our family loves this chicken enchilada recipe.  I like how easy and flavorful these enchiladas are.  Hope your family enjoys it as much as ours!

Chicken Enchiladas

5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg. of taco seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 oz. can mild green chilies
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup of water
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1 can of mild enchilada sauce
1 cup of sour cream
2 cups of shredded cheese (I like to use the Mexican blend)
package of tortillas (I like the smaller kind)

Place chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Pour garlic powder, green chilies, lemon juice, taco seasoning and water on top of chicken.  Cook on low 5-6 hours or high 3-4 hours.  Shred chicken.  (I even like to do this step sometimes the day before to save even more time.)  Mix together can of cream of chicken soup and sour cream.  Spread a small amount on the bottom of a greased casserole dish and mix the rest with the shredded chicken.  Place about a 1/4 cup chicken mixture into each tortilla along with shredded cheese sprinkled on top.  Roll up tortilla and place seam side down in casserole dish.  Pour enchilada sauce over the entire casserole and then sprinkle cheese on top.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake a few more minutes to allow cheese to get good and melted! 

quick & easy dinner

hamcheesebroccolicasseroleAfter Easter I bought a ham on sale and cut the entire thing up into small bite size pieces.  I divided the ham up, put them into small containers and froze most of it.  My plan was to add it into casseroles, scrambled eggs and pasta dishes.  My first recipe using the ham was a hit and so quick and easy.  Here’s to quick and easy dinners that everyone will eat, hallelujah and amen!

Cheesy Ham & Broccoli Shells

1 1/2 cups dry pasta shells
1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups chopped ham
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the noodles, steam the broccoli and set them aside. Melt butter in a large pot and stir in flour.  Stir constantly until mixture is blended and then stir in milk.  Season with onion powder and garlic powder.  Continue stirring this mixture until it thickens, then add cheese and stir until melted.  Take it off the burner and blend in noodles, ham and broccoli.  Salt and pepper to taste.  (I added more milk once it was all blended so it wasn’t so thick, but do what makes you happy.)  Enjoy!

skinny chocolate chip muffins

IMG_3101As you probably can tell by now, I have a thing for muffins.  This recipe is super duper healthy, and still tastes like a treat.  I made these for breakfast the other day and they were gone in no time.

Skinny Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg
1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 12 muffin tins with nonstick spray.  In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.  In a larger bowl mix together bananas, honey, vanilla, oil, egg, milk and yogurt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix just until blended.  Then fold in chocolate chips.  Divide batter into muffins tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool muffins for 5 minutes and remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

happy chinese new year!

IMG_3151In celebration of Chinese New Year we made Chinese Tea Eggs.  Chinese tea eggs are a Lunar New Year staple thought to bring prosperity, and a favorite snack among people in China.

I love finding ways for us to learn, appreciate and enjoy our Chinese born children’s heritage.  Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese Tea Eggs

6 eggs
5 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 black tea bags
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
Several grinds of black peppercorn

Place the eggs in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer 2 minutes.  Remove the eggs from the water, and using a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shell in several places.  Return the eggs to the saucepan of water and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and simmer for an hour, then let the eggs sit in the water for a least another hour.  Refrigerate them.  Peel, rinse and enjoy!

muscle muffins

img_2959We love muffins around here.  These muffins are great for breakfast or a healthy snack.  They taste good and are filled with all kinds of good-for-you ingredients.  (Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you; most you’ll have on hand.)

Muscle Muffins

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup finely shredded carrots
3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup quick oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream together sugar, yogurt, applesauce and butter.  Add eggs, pumpkin, carrots and bananas and mix well.  Add all dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Scoop into greased regular muffin tins and make for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 24 muffins.  (These also freeze beautifully.)  Happy and healthy eating!

barbeque chicken

bbqsauceThe weather this week has been spring-like outside.  I got some gardening done, the kids played outside most of the day and I thought it would be a great time to do a little grilling and try out a new chicken marinade.  I found this recipe in a Pioneer Women cookbook from the library and it’s the bomb!  I cut the recipe in half, because it makes a ton and tweaked it a little. Sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product.  My kids think I’m kind of crazy when I take pictures of our food.  Go figure.

Barbeque Chicken Marinade

1 1/2 cups of your favorite barbeque sauce
1/4 cup peach preserves
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tbl olive oil

I let the chicken marinade in the sauce all day before grilling it for dinner.



img_2840I love snickerdoodles.  To me they exude the holidays with all of their cinnamony-sugar goodness.  Lately though, I’ve been afraid to make cookies.  Every time I made a batch of cookies they spread like crazy and were a flat ugly mess.  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on.  Tried changing the flour, the baking soda…nothing worked.  Finally, I turned to the internet to help diagnose my problem.  It was my oven of all things, so I adjusted the temperature and I’m back in business!

Enough of my babbling, here’s an awesome snickerdoodle recipe I think you might like as well.



1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Cinnamon-Sugar mixture for rolling:
2 Tbl. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars with mixer on high speed.  Add the egg and vanilla until combined.  Add flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar to sugar mixture and mix until blended.  Chill dough in fridge for an hour.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a small bowl mix cinnamon-sugar mixture together.  Take about a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball.  Roll it into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on a cookie sheet.  Flatten them slightly with the palm of your hand and bake them for 12-14 minutes.  They’ll look like they aren’t quite ready, but they are!  Let them cool slightly and enjoy!  (Makes 12-16 cookies)


img_1735I absolutely love homemade biscuits.  I have such fond memories of my Grandmother making biscuits from scratch.  She made it look so easy, but every time I’ve attempted to make them they look and taste a lot like hockey pucks.  So I gave up the notion I would become a great biscuit maker years ago.

Today I thought I would give it another try, and what do you know they were edible!  I think my Grandmother would’ve actually smiled at these.  Mind you, they don’t hold a candle to hers, but I’m making progress.  Maybe by the time I’m a grandmother my grandkids will think my homemade biscuits are simply the best just as my Grandmother’s were to me.

favorite fall recipes

IMG_0618  applesauce  IMG_1476

Fall always renews my love for baking and cooking in generally.  So I dug up some of my favorites including the links in case
you guys are in the baking and cooking mood as well!
Happy fall ya’ll!

 IMG_4928  baking pumpkins  IMG_7063


Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, Homemade Pumpkin Puree, Chicken Tortilla Soup, Homemade Applesauce, Cinnamon Swirl Bread,

 Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls, Blueberry Coffee Cake, Cinnamon Quick Bread, Cinnamon Spice Muffins

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