No Boil, No Precook Mac n’ Cheese

This recipe. Is a God Sent. Need I say more?

I mean, you don’t have to boil the noodles. You don’t have to make a roux, add the milk, let it thicken up, add the cheese and onnnn and onnn and onnnn. 

It’s dang tasty and adaptable as well. What more could you want from me!?

You could make this fancier…I used dried onion and dried garlic cause I just wanted ‘er done fast. I was not in a peeling mood. Leftover roasted/steamed veggies? Right on. Leftover chicken? Saweet. Shredded carrots? Lets go Cowboy.

It’s EXCELLENT frozen and reheated! So make a couple and pop one in your freezer for later.

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No boil or Precook Mac n’ Cheese

1 lb macaroni noodles (could sub other similar like rotini or penne)

4 3/4 c chicken stock, milk, or water. I like half chicken stock and half milk,(but y’all, we’re swimming in milk and chicken stock) I’ve done it with half water, just 1 c milk and the remaining in chicken stock.

4-5 c mixed shredded cheese.(Reserve 1 c for on top) Cheddar? Monterey Jack? Parmesan? Wee bit of Mozzarella? What little chunks in the cheese drawer are melty and need to be used up?

1 c Yogurt Cheese or Cream Cheese.

1/3 c flour

2 tbsp dry minced onion (sub for half a chopped onion)

2 tsp dry garlic (Sub for 2 cloves)

Salt+Pepper

Cumin, Curry or Chili Powder to Taste. (Try 1 tbsp powdered)

Optional: Green Onions, Chopped leftover cooked meat, cooked, crumbled sausage, shredded carrots, leftover roasted/steamed veggies.

Pour UNCOOKED noodles into a greased 9×13 pan. Sprinkle shredded cheese and any add’ins evenly on top. In a separate bowl, whisk together, water, milk, chicken stock, yogurt cheese, salt, pepper, spices, flour, dry garlic and dry onion. Pour evenly over noodles. Cover and bake at 375F for 30-40 minutes, taking off tinfoil half way to stir around. When noodles are cooked, sprinkle reserved cheese on top and cook until bubbly, broiling if you wish. This freezes really well!

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Yogurt Cheese

Okay, so who likes themselves some expensive creamy soft cheeses to put on a cheese platter, smear on a bagel, eat with a spoon? (Oh, just me on the last one…awwwwkward). Round these parts if you want such a cheese, you’ll grab David Wood’s Goat Cheese. Also known as Salt Spring Cheese. Those babies run you $8-$10 for a 1/2 cup thingy! (I mean, the presentation with flowers, herbs, garlic, etc is amazing…buuut) I just can’t pay that for something other than a special treat! Did you know you can make your own?

That’s right! If you make your own yogurt? then dang, this would cost you just a couple bucks instead!

We start with straining yogurt,

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After it’s strained for 24 hours it goes into the fridge to firm up…then I use a 1 tbsp portion scoop/ice cream scooper to make balls and roll in herbs…

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Then I put the balls in a jar (8, 1 tbsp balls fits in a 1/2 pint ‘salmon jar’) and covered in olive oil.

yofurt cheese

 

 

Don’t worry! That olive oil isn’t wasted! It always needs to cover the balls, but as you use the balls, use that oil for salad dressings, it’ll be pre marinated and so flavourful! If you’ve got your own dairy animals, this is a great way to make an age-able cheese without fancy equiptment!

I get a high yield because I use a high fat milk to make high fat yogurt, so I’d guess I got about a fat cup of yogurt cheese per litre of yogurt. Here’s my math for my area on what you’ll save.

4 litres organic milk; made into yogurt, $6

Strained into 4 cups of yogurt cheese.

4 cups yogurt cheese equals 8×1/2 c containers of the fancy goat cheese.

8 goat cheeses=minimum $64.

A few dollars of Olive oil+Herbs= savings of atleast $55! Thats no laughing matter folks. Thats big savings.

 

Herb Rolled Yogurt Cheese

1 litre full fat yogurt (please don’t use skim. Just, just don’t.)

Salt

Dried Herbs (I used an italian herbs blend)

Olive oil (it’ll be less than 1/2 c)

Wet a thin tea towel and squeeze out the extra water. Line a strainer or colander with this towel. Pour your yogurt in and let sit in a pot or bowl (for whey to drain) for 24 hours, stirring a few times. (Or 20 if you OCD like me) After 24 hours, scoop out the yogurt cheese into a bowl, salt to taste, then chill til cold, most likely the next day. Scoop out 1 tbsp sized balls (portion/ice cream scoop works great!) onto a plate/pan, and then roll in dried herbs. Put balls in a wide mouth mason jar, and pour olive oil overtop to completely cover. I moved the balls around a bit to make sure there was no air space. Put in fridge and use as needed! I’d say leave them a week for the flavours to meld. This can be kept for months! The flavour will get stronger and the cheese more flavourful.

The Extra Whey: Use this in smoothies, as the base to lemonade instead of water, to soak your grains or in a soup stock.

The Extra Olive Oil: As you use the balls, you an leave the olive oil in, or pour off to use in salad dressings and marinades! No waste here!

 

 

 

 

Homemade Mozzarella!

It’s easier than you think to make!

Please realize that I am making this with raw milk from our milking cow, and have no experience with using pasteurized milk. The recipe says if you are using pasteurized to not use  ultra-pasteurized as it won’t react to the rennet and acid. I believe the the amount of cheese I get from the milk has to do with the fact that our milk is about 6-8% versus the 3.5-4% of whole milk bought from the store. I get 3- 3 1/2 lbs of mozzarella out of 2 gallons, but I think you’d get about 1 lb per gallon with store bought milk. Detailed recipe will be at the bottom!

We start out by adding the citric acid (diluted with water) into the slightly warmed milk. I’ve put all the photos into black and white, because the lighting in my kitchen was horrible and the photos had a bad tinge I didn’t know how to remove. I like the look of how they are, but you don’t see the real yellow of our jersey milk!

Stirring in up and down motions to fully distribute

Repeat with rennet once the milk warms up a bit more. Then this magic thing happens. Notice how the milk has gone solid, and is resisting the spoon being pushed down?

I love it. It sits for a while so the rennet and citric acid can pull more solids out of the milk. It’ll be seperated into white solids and yellow whey at this point! We scoop them up and put about a cup or so up curds into a microwave safe bowl. I’ll give an alternate way to doing it other than the microwave but so far this has worked for me as an easy and fast way to do a bunch.

Squeeze out as much of the whey as you can, pouring it back into the pot.

Microwave a minute, squeeze out more whey. Microwave 30 seconds, add salt if you want and then start stretching or folding it over on itself. It’s almost like inverted kneading.

When it starts to not want to stretch, microwave 30 seconds again, and as it starts to get near not wanting to stretch, form into a bowl and put on a plate to cool.

Beautiful beautiful being. This is a 6 oz ball. This time the recipe made 3 lbs 6 oz.

It won’t melt the way you’re used to with storebought mozza. It also won’t grate at fridge temperature, so you’ll need to freeze it for 10-20 minutes for it to firm up.

Homemade Mozzarella

1 gallon/4 litres whole milk (raw or pasteurized, NOT ultra-pasteurized)

1 1/2 tsp citric acid, dissolved in 1/4 c cool water (bought in grocery store bulk bins or pharmacy. 10X more expensive at pharmacy)

1/4 liquid rennet, 300 IMU strength. This is a strong rennet, bought here.

Heat milk on low heat to 55F. Add citric acid stirring in up and down motions. Heat milk to 88F, add rennet stirring in same way. Heat to 100F, turn off heat and move pot off heat. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes, then scoop the curds out and put them in a microwave safe bowl. You’ll want to do it in two batches. Squeeze out as much whey as you can pouring it back into the pot. Microwave one minute, squeeze out more whey. Microwave 30 seconds, and do an inverted ‘bread knead’ to work and stretch the mozza. Add salt to taste here if you want. I don’t, I like a bit of crunchy sea salt and cracked pepper scattered over the top of my pizza and in anything else, you’re probably adding salt anyways. When it gets hard to work, microwave 30 seconds and stretch until you can’t work it anymore, making your final stretches getting it into a smooth ball. Put in the fridge or freeze if not using it within a couple days. It won’t melt the same as storebought mozza and if it’s at fridge temperature, freeze for 10-20 minutes for it to firm up a bit.

What do I do with all that whey? You can make ricotta! Here is a great recipe.

You want to buy ricotta but not sure what else to do with it? I’m aiming to give you a cottage cheese tutorial soon and all you need is milk and rennet for it!

 

Have you ever made cheese? Wanted to make cheese? Tried someone else’s fresh cheese? Tell me about it!

Pizza Pops!

**Update July 2013, this recipe is on my list to re do with better pictures so bear with me if you’re reading it before that update!**

Homemade of course, what else do you expect from me? When I told a friend we’d had Pizza Pops for dinner, she looked at me funny. I then told her I had made them and she laughed saying it didn’t sound like me to buy pizza pops. I’ll have you know I bought them ONCE when I was pregnant and reallyreallyreally wanted frozen mini pizzas like my friends mom used to give us on a paper towel while we played video games after kindergarten. So I’ve eaten them twice.

Cowboy’s Mom makes Pizza pops, and he loves them. Sometimes he goes on and on about them. So one day I said ENOUGH! Got out some venison pepperoni from the freezer, a ball of pizza dough I had stashed there as well and some jars of tomatoes I canned last summer.

It’s safe to say he thought he’d won the lottery.

They were pretty simple to make too! Tomato sauce, herbs, meat, cheese, pizza dough!

It’s nice to have fun foods you don’t feel bad about your kids eating.

Who am I kidding, I want the fun foods I don’t feel guilty about eating!

Growing up is overrated if it means I have to eat boring foods.

Or take decent photos for that matter. Sorry about the lack of effort on this one. You’ll give me an A+ for effort anyways?

Thank-ye-very-much-appreciated! Will you please make these? You could make ham and pineapple, or whatever tickles your fancy. You could even put *SHOCK* vegetables in them. If I’d had some fresh spinach I might of, but alas, it’s not that season!

Pizza Pops

1 ball pizza dough, divided into 4

1 1/4 c pepperoni, diced

2 c tomato sauce (I cooked together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, dried onions, a few herbs, garlic, salt+pepper)

2 c shredded cheese (I used half mozza/half cheddar)

Roll dough into rectangle, put 1/4 of filling on one side, fold flap over and seal with fork. Repeat with remaining.

Cook @ 450F for 12-15 minutes and let cool. We ate one each for dinner, and then one each again for lunch the next day, they are so filling!

My Mama’s Mama’s Bran Muffins

**Update: Thursday July 18th, 2013. Okay…so these have a lot of sugar in them. They’re what I’d call glorified cupcakes. We’ve been lowering the sugar, using whole wheat and soaking the bran, flour and sour milk/buttermilk/watered down yogurt over night to reduce phytates and enzyme inhibitors. It’s on my list to re-do this post and pictures. **

I was shocked, when someone told me they didn’t like bran muffins. How could they not? They are the most amazing muffin ever. The said person replied with “They’re so dry, and flavourless”.

Well, they just ain’t had one of My Mama’s Mama’s Bran Muffins!

Moist

Crisp Top

Perfect vehicle for butter

Or Cheese

Molassesey Richness

Foolproof

Are you excited yet?

Cream butter and brown sugar, then add molasses. If you don’t have brown sugar, you can cream white sugar and butter, and add 2 tbsp more molasses.

Add in your eggs, milk, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and bran…beating together well

Here’s a few switch up hints. I already told you what you could do if you don’t have brown sugar. I go through stages of making these very often, as Cowboy likes to bring a few muffins, slices of cheddar and an apple or can of peaches (Home canned!) for his lunch. I made them yesterday and forgot I didn’t have enough bran until I was well into it. I switched up 1/2 of the bran for quick oats. Still delicious! I substituted 1 cup of the white flour for whole wheat flour. You can’t tell the difference with both of these! Also…Most of my butter was in the freezer and I had just 3/4 c butter in the fridge. I used 1/4 c of olive oil to top it up to a cup. Just as yummy!

I used to always make large muffins. Then I got given a box of medium sized muffin papers, and we fell in love with the smaller muffins! More muffin top baby!

And of course, for Mac (cough cough for me) I made some mini muffins! Too cute!

Bake those babies up!

Mom’s Bran Muffins

1 c butter

2 c brown sugar

1/4 c molasses

2 eggs

2 c sour milk

2 3/4 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 c bran

Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and eggs. Add milk. Mix baking powder, baking soda and salt into a portion of the flour. Mix in flour and bran. Scrape down sides and mix again. Spoon into muffin papers and bake at 375F for 20 min for large, 18 min for medium and 12-15 for mini. Makes 36 medium muffins or 20 large muffins. Probably about a gajillion mini muffins too.

Mackntoffeetoshdaddybutter-Cheese

**Update July 2013…this post is badly in need of some new photos and it’s on my to do list! Bear with me if you’re reading it before then**

It’s a funny thing in our house, because our Mac, has a lot of knicknames.

Mackntoffee

Mackntosh

Mackenzie

Macncheese

Mister Mac

Mac Daddy (Okay, we don’t actually call him that, it’s another family member named Mac’s knickname!)

Butter.

Wait, what does the knickname Butter have to do with the name Mac? Nothing, I just like to call him Butter. Or Butter Boy. Cowboy thinks it’s wierd, but I catch him calling Mac, Butter too!

I had some cheese that was a wee bit moldy and a wee bit on the dry side that I needed to use. And a half a box of pasta! The cheese was cheddar and gouda that my Mom had made. Absolutely delicious!

I started with some noodles. Aren’t these bug noodles cuter than a bugs ear?

Bahaha, I’m sooo punny.

Cook the bacon, pick it out of the pan and chuck it in a bowl with the pasta

I wish I’d cooked the bacon crispier. You could add some onions in with the bacon for the last few minutes of cookies, that would be amazing, I would adore that. If Cowboy didn’t hate onions so darn much.

Pour out all but about 1/4 c of the bacon fat (RESERVE IT PLEASE FOR OTHER COOKING!) and add the flour

Whisk it together and cook it for a few minutes, adding some S n P.

Pour in your milk, and whisk it together

It’s going to seem like this white sauce is never thickening! But don’t add extra flour, because all of sudden it will be thick.

While you’re waiting for it to thicken, grate your carrots

And chuck that in with the bacon and pasta!

When the white sauce thickens, add in all but 1/4 c of the cheese. We want that for garnishing on top.

Stir it into the sauce, and pour it on top of the bowl that contains pasta, bacon and carrots. Stir this all together

Then spread ‘er all in a 8″x8″ pan. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake, covered, for 45 min.

And it will be so gorgeous. Look at this!

Oh baby baby baby!

I love this with ketchup. Cowboy loves hot sauce and lots of black pepper.

Mac n Cheese with Carrots

3 c cooked Pasta

4 slices bacon, chopped, cooked to a crisp

2 c grated carrots

1/4 c bacon fat

1/4 c flour

Salt n Pepper

2 c milk

2 c cheese, 1/4 c reserved

Toss pasta, bacon and carrots together in a boll. In a pan on medium heat, heat bacon fat, add flour, whisking and cooking for a couple minutes. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Pour in milk and whisk together until thickened. Add cheese and stir together. Pour sauce over bowl of pasta and stir together. Pour into 8″x8″ pan and spread out. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top. Bake at 375F, covered, for 45 minutes. Cook uncovered for a few minutes to crisp up the cheese! This serves 3-5 depending on your appetites! We had dinner and lunch out of this.