Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recipe: Yogurt and QT's Ridiculously Easy Low-Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream

Yeah, so I'm at that awkward "I've been gone for so long... How do I start-up again?" stage...

I probably owe ya'all a Summer Garden Recap - but that was kind of anticlimactic (given the Spring-Seed-Starting Frenzy!).  But I'm not quite ready to post about that...

Ehh...  When all else fails, fall back on a cheesy recipe, right?!

So yeah, one of the things I started getting into, this past summer, was yogurt-making.  This was primarily because the dermatologist had put me on antibiotics, full-time.  Antibiotics, as I'm sure you're aware, kill all bacteria - even the "good bugs" in your stomach so, consequently, I've decided that it would be best to counteract that with probiotics  in the form of homemade yogurt.

Added bonus:  It gave me an opportunity to use-up some of the AMPLE low-sugar jams that I'd put-up last year!  Half cup of yogurt, couple of tablespoons of jam, and a teaspoon or two of sweetener (I've been using mainly Splenda) - makes for a tasty, (mostly) healthy treat...

So I bought a cheesy-cheap yogurt-maker from Groupon (no clue how long that link is good for, nor do I get any "kick-backs" if you happen to click on it).

The yogurt maker came with recipes.  Plus there's a ton of recipes on the 'net as well.  Basically all I've been doing is making plain yogurt from half-and-half + nonfat dry mik (for thickness), then flavoring with whatever SF Jams I excavate from the garage!

Plain Yogurt Recipe:
4 cups half-and-half
1/4-1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
Fresh yogurt culture*

*First Batch: 1/2 cup plain store-bought yogurt (with "live cultures" - check the label)
*Subsequent batches: Just use 1-2 TBS of plain yogurt from your last batch
*Optional: You can also add the contents of one tablet of Probiotic supplement

Mix the half-and-half + NF Dry milk with a whisk.  Heat the mixture to 185*F.  I've found it's easiest to nuke it in a glass pyrex measuring cup.  Appx 5 mins to start, then check the temp with a candy thermometer.  Keep nuking in 1 minute increments 'til the "milk" reaches 185*.  Then let it cool down til it's appx 110-120*F, then add the "starter culture." (store-bought - or use your last batch)

Pour the milk+yogurt mixture into your yogurt maker.  Plug it in and let it cook for appx 8-10 hours.  The longer you cook it, the "sourer" it gets - so it's a personal taste thing...

If it separates and gets liquidy on the top (even if it's a funky color), you can just stir it back in - after cooking time is complete.  Store, sealed, in the fridge.

Serve it by mixing your favorite fruit jam and adding sweetener, to taste...

Okay, so I made up a couple-three batches of yogurt.  It really is quite tasty - but was starting to get a little boring (I'm actually not a huge fan of yogurt - to be honest!).  So then I decided that, maybe, frozen yogurt might be a bit tastier.

I surfed online and found this on Amazon.  I actually do have an electric ice-cream maker in our storage shed, but it requires ice and salt and time and - besides - it's buried under camping equipment (and it makes much larger quantities than I need or want).  This li'l beasty - with it's 1.5 quart capacity - is perfect (since my yogurt-maker makes 1 quart at a time).  I also like that the "bowl" has freezer-gel inside of it.  Toss the bowl in the freezer and it's ready-to-roll whenever you wanna mix-up a batch of Fro-Yo or...  ICE CREAM!

Yep - You were wondering when I was gonna get to the Ice Cream part, huh?!

Alllllrighty then!  I am *almost* there!  My first couple of batches were actually peach Fro-Yo (Future Post:  2013 was "The Year of the Peaches" - to the point where I was actually having nightmares about harvesting peaches!).  I had some frozen "Peach-Spice Butter" out in the garage freezer.

I basically peeled/pitted a sh*tload of peaches and dumped 'em in the crock-pot with cinnamon, nutmeg and Splenda brown-sugar blend.  Cooked 'em down for several hours and pureed them using an immersion blender, then stuck the resulting gooze into plastic freezer containers.  So it ended up being 4 cups of yogurt + 1 cup of frozen peach-spice butter + a couple-three squirts of Toriani sugar-free peach syrup, all tossed into the ice-cream maker for 20-30 minutes.  Dee-lish!

And - well, I'm still experimenting with the whole Fro-Yo thing - so I'm not quite ready to start posting bona-fide recipes - yet.

But....  Since Beloved Hubs seems to suffer from Giaourtiophobia (Ooh!  New Scrabble Word!), and because I'd purchased a half-gallon of Manufacturer's Cream without checking the expiration date (it was expiring the next day - Oops!), I decided to whip-up a batch of low-sugar (but definitely NOT low-fat!) vanilla ice cream!

Cuisinart Ice-Cream/Fro-Yo Maker
(Yes, Crappy Droid Pic!)

Okay, so here is where I started:  Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

And this is where I ended up:

QT's Ridiculously Easy Low-Sugar (but not low-fat) Vanilla Ice Cream
Yield - appx 9 @ 1/2 cup servings

  • 2C Heavy Cream 
  • 2C Half-N-Half
  • 1T Vanilla
  • 1/4C granulated sugar
  • 1/4C granulated Splenda
  • 1 small pkg (1oz) sugar-free instant vanilla pudding 
  1. Make sure the cream and half-n-half are well-chilled (stick the cartons in the back of your fridge).
  2. Combine vanilla, sweeteners and pudding mix into the half-n-half.  Whisk until well-blended.  Then add cream and stir it in.
  3. Pour the mix into a chilled ice-cream maker and let 'er rip for 20-30 mins (mine was done in appx 15, actually).
Super-Duper Creamy and delicious!  Recipe notes:  I was reading where folks were complaining that the recipe ended up being more like "butter" than ice-cream so that's why I am suggesting that the cream gets blended in LAST - and make sure it is super-chilled before doing so.  I didn't experience "butter" - but I figured I'd make mention of it...

I expect that I'll be doing a lot more experimentation with Fro-Yo - as well as Ice Cream.  And probably something incorporating protein shake mixes as well.  When I experience "successes" I will make an effort to post 'em here...



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"I'm not dead!"

Warning:  No interesting "content" here - just a whole lot of rambling!  If you're looking for something useful, then "Move-along...  Nothing to see here!"
Ahhh...  When all else fails, you can always fall-back on Monty Python - amiright?!

Jeez, look at this place!  A bit dusty, wouldn't you say?  I simply *must* talk to the housekeepers about that!

Yeah, sorry for the hiaitus.  It actually wasn't planned - Quite the contrary!  I was rather looking forward to having a simply STUPENDOUS summer or - at the very least - an insanely productive Garden Season.

Sadly, it just didn't work out that way.  I kind-of had a somewhat Crap-Tastic Summer.  And - like my mama always told me - "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  I think I've mentioned this before (on the outside chance you are a regular-reader here!), I want this to be my Happy Place to yak about gardening, and cooking, and canning, and "Wild Hairs" and funky projects, and artsy-fartsy stuff, and basically anything that brings a little happiness into my world.

Sadly, Old Age - and all of it's annoying accoutrements - seems to be rearing it's ugly head (and I don't remember ANY OF THIS being mentioned in the handbook - dammit!).  Between my beloved hubs - who had knee-replacement surgery earlier this year (and is now facing complete tooth-extraction - "Hello, False-Teeth-in-a-glass on the night-stand!")...  And then me with all of this irritating (and indescribably Itchy and Painful) skin condition bullsh*t...  Well, let's just say that I might have set my expectations just a leeeetle bit too high when it came to Summer's Glory.


I don't want to whine tooooo much here, so I'll try to keep it brief (HA!).  To be honest, hubbies TKR procedure when extremely well, and he is well on his way to a full recovery.  But my skin condition (which is NOT psoriasis - and the doctors reached this conclusion because.... [drum-roll please!]...  It doesn't respond to ANY psoriasis-treatments - HAYYY!!!), well, let's just say that my skin condition continues to plague me and *still* seems to NOT respond to ANY treatments WHATSO-F**KING-EVER!

After two (count 'em: TWO!) overnight stays at two different hospitals (First was our local E/R.  The second was Stanford Medical Center - because my dermatologist didn't know what else to do with me!), well, I think we FINALLY got my doctor's attention, anyway...

I really-really-really don't want to rant about this, here (Ohhhh, it is sooooo tempting!  But what good would it do?!  Nada!).  Anyway, the bottom line is: I have been, pretty-much, a shut-in ALL SUMMER LONG.  And by shut-in, I mean - sometimes I am in such miserable shape (read: PAIN) that I haven't even been able to walk out to the patio to water my plants, let-alone make my way back to the garden.  Canning? Fugeddaboudit!

Thankfully, we have awesome neighbors and friends who were willing to pitch in, when things were at their bleakest.  So there's THAT (Bright Side!!!)

So that is my lame (but honest) excuse for disappearing (and Thank You - O' Long-Time-Blog-Follower - for "checking up" on me!  I never realized I even *had* followers!  I know I've got 'readers' - but I suspect they are mostly Hit-And-Runs looking for recipes (Ironically, my '# of visitors' reports are higher since I've stopped posting - go figure!).

Anyway, I shall make an honest effort to spend a little more time here.  I'll start posting recipes again, and maybe throw-together some kinda Summer Recap (such as is!). And, lastly:

No Whining!!

"Talk" soon!


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