One of my new favorite yummy pleasures (obsessions) is plain yogurt.  I had tried some a few years ago and thought it was awful, but recently I bought a whole milk, organic version from a brand called “Brown Cow.”  Oh, wow.  It was so creamy and absolutely delicious.  The reason I decided to try it is because of a pantry makeover that we’re trying to do as a family.  We are trying to cut back our sugar (or sugar-free sweetener) intake while eating, as much as possible, food that we personally cook from scratch.

What does that have to do with yogurt?  Well, I decided to make my own.  Does that sound crazy?  Because it really isn’t, it’s SO easy!

I decided to make my own yogurt for a few reasons.  Yogurt is expensive!  Even if you buy it in the large tubs.  If you want it unsweetened and especially if you want it organic, your shelling out some $4 for 32 oz. of yogurt. I can make 42 oz. of yogurt for around the price of 42 oz. of milk.  It comes out in between $1 and $2 depending upon whether or not I buy a yogurt starter or use a previous batch or if I buy organic milk or not.  Another reason is that my girls are a bit addicted to sugar (like the rest of us), and Yoplait doesn’t help matters!  Abby won’t drink cow’s milk, so I’m doing my best to get her calcium everyday.  Yogurt is so healthy, so yummy and tangy without all that added sugar, and when you make it yourself it tastes like the creamiest pleasure without the tiniest guilt!  Have I talked it up enough?  Well, let me tell you now how easy it is in case you’ve never been interested enough to research it.  (I hadn’t until one day I was reading “Why French Women Don’t Get Fat“.)

Here’s what I do.  I bring 36 oz. of milk to a boil, just warm enough to crawl up the sides and steam real well.  I cool and add to 6-7 oz. of room temperature plain yogurt.  First add half and whisk, then add remaining half and whisk until mixed well.  Keep warm for between 6 and 12 hours depending on how runny or thick you’d like your yogurt to be.  Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.  SIMPLE!

Keeping the yogurt warm is the tricky part.  Lots of people do a number of DIY methods to keep it warm.  Crock pot.  Oven.  A cooler with hot rags.  There’s lot of ways.  I decided to make a small investment in a yogurt maker, and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve made about 10 batches so far, one about every other day.  Each batch gives me 7, 6 oz. jars of yogurt.  I use one of the 7 jars as my starter for the next batch.  I bought a yogurt maker because I really wanted to get into this, and I wanted it doable with my current lifestyle, and the investment was minimal ($25) considering how much money I’ll save.

We’ve now started using our yogurt as a replacement for milk in cereal and a number of other things.  And, what a simply yummy and healthy dessert with added fruit or jelly or honey!

My next venture is homemade granola.  Lord knows I need to save some money there!  CO grocery stores give you too many incredible options for granola!

Butternut Squash Pancakes

We were getting dinner ready to go tonight, and I pulled some frozen, diced butternut squash out of the freezer as a vegetable side.  I was feeling creative and came up with something kill-ah!  Oh, let me tell you.  These were amazing!  Everybody, especially the girls L-O-V-E-D these!  I’m just going to jot down what I did here.  Feel free to edit as you like.  I HOPE you try these!

Butternut Squash Pancakes


10 oz bag frozen, cubed butternut squash

1 egg

1/3 c. of whole-grain pancake/waffle mix (no sugar)

1 t. of splenda brown sugar

1 t. canola oil

1 T. milk

dash each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg

pat of butter


Microwave squash, covered in a microwave-safe bowl for about 4 minutes or until squash is cooked.  You may need to stir half-way through.  After 4 minutes squash should be very tender and squishy.  Using a mesh colander, drain and “squash” out excess water.  Return to bowl.  Mash well and add egg, oil, milk, sugar, and spices.  Stir until egg in well-combined.  Add small amounts of pancake mix, stirring in between until desired thickness of batter is achieved.  Coat a nonstick griddle or large frying pan with cooking spray and heat to high.  Add a pat of butter.  When sizzling and butter is melted, scoop pancake batter with 1/4 cup scoops onto griddle.  Fry each on med-high, flipping when bubbles begin to form around the edges.  Fry an additional 2 minutes or so until lightly browned on each side.  Serve with the tiniest drizzle of real maple syrup.  Should yield about 6 small, but hearty pancakes.

A love affair with cauliflower

Yes.  Cauliflower.  Before now, I’ve never gotten into it… It lacks color, doesn’t have a lot of flavor on it’s own… fairly unpopular as far as vegetables go… But, my mind has CHANGED!

If you’ve been over to our house for a meal, then you’ve probably had some sort of soup.  If you’ve been to our house quite a few times, then you’ve probably had my potato soup.  I can make a MEAN potato soup.  Rich and hearty.  Make you want to take a nap afterwards.  And, there for a few years (at least 10), I couldn’t get enough potato soup.  Well, since we’ve been having so much success with the South Beach Diet, we haven’t had any white potatoes and definitely no potato soup.  Sad.  I know.  But don’t worry, I don’t lay awake at night missing potato soup. 😉  Here is a secret recipe that will knock your socks off if you haven’t had potatoes in a while!  And, it may even knock your socks off anyway.  Simple, healthy and oh, so tasty: the magic cauliflower.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup


T olive oil

medium onion, chopped

large head of cauliflower, florets and stems cut into small pieces

32 oz chicken broth

1/4 c. sour cream

1/4 t nutmeg

sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

chopped green onions


Heat olive oil in a large pot.  Add onions and fry 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Boil for 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.  Transfer to a blender and puree in batches.  Return to pot and add sour cream and nutmeg.  Whisk or stir to combine thoroughly.  Serve hot with sprinkles of cheddar cheese and green onions.

Yum-oh!  It is fire-y delicious without all the starch and heaviness of a potato soup.


For South Beach Dieters: This is a phase 1 recipe if you use reduced-sodium chicken broth and low-fat cheese and sour cream.

My new favorite breakfast

Will and I have been on The South Beach Diet for a few months now.  We haven’t been very strict over the last month or so, but we’ve both lost about 25 pounds and kept it off thus far!  Celebration!  One of the ways that we’re able to fudge a little is by having a frequent breakfast of eggs.  Here’s the thing about eggs… I really don’t like them.  Here’s the thing about the South Beach Diet… For the first two weeks of the diet (Phase 1), you eat different egg combinations for breakfast EVERY day.  I started actually liking eggs, but only when they’re fixed with LOTS of vegetables.  I’d like to share more about my experience with the diet, but this post is about my new favorite breakfast.  So, I didn’t use to like eggs, and I always thought vegetables for breakfast was crazy and weird.  Trust me, though, this is GOOD.  It’s like pizza for breakfast.

What is it called?  Is it a frittata?  It’s not an omelete… I like to call it “EGG PIZZA.”  The recipe varies depending on what vegetables I have handy in the fridge, and I use handfuls instead of measuring, but this is the basic model.  My girls adore it, by the way.

Egg Pizza (for 2)


2 slices bacon or canadian bacon, chopped

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1 c. asparagus, sliced in 1 in. pieces (trust me)

2 c. fresh spinach

4 eggs, beaten with a touch of milk

1/2 c. of Italian shredded cheese (low-fat or 2% if possible)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a non-stick, oven safe, 12 in. skillet, pan fry bacon pieces on med-high heat.  If using canadian bacon, you may need to add a little olive oil.  Drain bacon fat.  Add vegetables minus spinach.  Fry until tender crisp.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  With vegetables/meat spread out evenly over pan, slowly pour eggs over vegetables.  Don’t touch it.  Just let it cook for a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook until you you see the edges pulling away but the center is still very wet.  Sprinkle on cheese, and put it in the preheated oven.  Bake for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and egg pizza is beautifully puffy.  Carefully remove from pan and slice like a pizza.  Serves two grown people for a very satisfying breakfast.

More to come on our South Beach Diet experience later.

Chocolate Banana Bread

Yummo!  This is banana bread at it’s yummiest!  The bread isn’t too sweet and is just right as an evening treat with a cup of coffee.  Though, I’ve modified it a little, I got the recipe from here: http://www.joyofbaking.com/breakfast/ChocolateBananaBread.html#ixzz0W1XvtpEh Her recipe is slightly different.  She adds a 1/2 c of chocolate chips.  I thought that that might be overkill…  😉  I also tried putting the pecans as a crust over the top with the turbinado sugar.  It made a beautiful crust, though it browned a little too much.  Hope you try it!  By the way, what do you think about a chocolate pumpkin bread?  Exchange banana for pumpkin?  I may try it.

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe:


1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans coarsely chopped (optional)

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour (I mixed with half whole-wheat)

1/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 c granulated white sugar

1 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 pound or 454 grams), mashed well (about 1-1/2 c)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.

Chicken Cider Stew

Currently in the crock pot is my favorite fall stew.  It’s a “stoup,” really, colored with the palate of autumn and the hearty aroma of chicken soup and savory cider.  It’s sweet, savory and hearty at it’s best.  I recommend it for a brisk, fall day.  It will make you smile.

Chicken Cider Stew


2 c. apple cider

3 T catsup

2 slices bacon (or a few oz. of hearty sausage)

1 1/2 t salt

1/4 t dried savory, crushed

1/8 t pepper

2 lbs. chicken breasts, cut up

couple bouillon cubes (optional, to taste)

4 carrots, thinly sliced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 onion, finely chopped

3 celery sticks, chopped

1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped


Throw it all together in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer about an hour or until vegetables are done.  Note: If you think more liquid is needed, you can either add more cider, water or chicken broth.  The vegetables and apples, especially, will give some extra liquid.  The apple will fall apart and the sweet potato is likely to, as well.  I’m trying it in a crock pot today.  Of course, it’s going to take much longer, but it looks pretty much the same.

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Been wondering why there weren’t any more posts on the best chocolate chip cookie challenge?  I did make one more batch that turned out spectacularly… but, really I have stopped baking because I found out that I gained 8 pounds between my 20 and 24 week checkup.  It was a major wake-up call.  Hence, the daily walking and watching my carb/sugar consumption…  I’ve been doing really well since, definitely curbing the extra weight gain.  I  decided to try out a healthier recipe.  I came upon a jewel!

I wouldn’t actually call this a “chocolate chip cookie.” It’s an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips…  After trying it a few nights ago, I want to turn it into a breakfast cookie recipe.  Add some dry fruit, less (if any) chocolate chips.  My main victories with this recipe are how easy and quick it was to throw together, how yummy it is without tasting either too sweet or too “healthy,” a very nice crispy/soft ratio, and Sophia LOVED it!  So, my next baking adventure is turning the following recipe into a breakfast cookie.



Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (I used more like a 1/3 cup of the extra crunchy variety.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar, but planning to use 1/2 cup honey instead.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water  (I omitted this.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Dry Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-2 1/2 cups oats
  • handful chocolate chips (Planning to add handfuls of cranberries and nuts.)


  1. Cream together WET ingredients.
  2. Add DRY ingredients and combine.
  3. Drop by tbsp onto baking sheet (Planning to form a thinner rectangular shaped cookie.)
  4. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
These cookies puffed up a LOT.  They didn’t spread at all.  So, I’m hoping they’ll make a great oatmeal breakfast bar.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!