Blender trick with regular mouth mason jars

Regular mouth mason jar and blender attachmentMost people these days have one of those fancy blenders. I don’t. I still have a cheapo blender. But… did you know that you can use a regular mouth mason jar in place of of the glass blender? I’m drinking a lot more smoothies lately because of it.

I prepare smoothie ingredients in pint or 16 oz jelly jars and keep them in the fridge. When I’m ready for one, I pop on the blender blade and give it a few whirls. Put on a Ball sip and straw lid, and you are ready to go on the road with your smoothie!

Blender trick with mason jarsThis would be perfect for salad dressings, guacamole, and making baby food too. The possibilities are endless. There is no need to lug out the giant glass jug that comes with the blender.

Move over Magic Bullet!

Blender using mason jarBlender using mason jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Perpetual broth in the crockpot

perpetual bone broth

Why am I only finding out about perpetual broth now? My parents had one going in a giant stock pot when they owned a restaurant. But I never really thought to do this at home. I’ve been doing it the sucker way! Bone broth is rich in minerals and is amazing for your health, gut, skin, and nails. It’s also amazing for fighting off colds. I’ve been making bone broth for weeks now since the whole family was sick in October.

For this batch, I cooked the ox tails on low until it browned and added some Vietnamese pho ingredients in it: ginger, onions, one daikon, coriander, star anise, cardamom. I didn’t really measure…just whatever I felt like it. Plus a splash of apple cider vinegar to bring out the minerals in the bones.

The kids and I went to the store the next day and got some rice noodles,  beef, bean sprouts, cilantro and had a delicious pho noodle soup that night. I didn’t plan on blogging about this so I did not take a photo of that delicious looking meal!

I added more water in and added some more vegetable scraps we had. I had kale stalks, broccoli ends, cilantro ends. Some say the kale and broccoli makes the broth bitter but I didn’t notice anything. I’ve also some chicken bones in it during the week.

Perpetual beef broth

And the delicious noodle soups kept on coming!

Pho style beef noodle soup with rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and baby kale greens.

Pho style beef noodle soup with rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, and baby kale greens.

Pho broth with brown rice noodles, sliced beef, and baby kale greens.

Pho broth with brown rice noodles, sliced beef, and baby kale greens.

Mama brand brown rice noodles
This is the brand of noodles I used. The ingredients were only brown rice and water. For some odd reason, they didn’t have the ingredients in English but they did have it in Chinese and French… which I can read a bit of in both. If you can’t find this brand at your local Asian store, here is one you can get online.

I also made congee and using the broth instead of water in making rice and quinoa. It’s been over a week and it is still making some flavorful broth because of the extra bones I’ve been throwing in. I will wash the crockpot and give it a rest for a day or two while I use it to make yogurt.

It can’t get easier than this to help boost the family’s immune system!

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Guilt free healthy instant noodles

Healthy instant noodles

I found some instant noodles at the grocery store that has only two ingredients. Wheat and water. The healthy instant noodle recipes  I’ve seen recipes online always used the noodles and discarded the seasoning packet. The noodles themselves are made with a gazillion ingredients still and most times include msg too.

This Tyling brand of Chinese noodles has only two ingredients. It comes three to a pack and cooks up fast. The price was very reasonable too. You can buy it online if you can’t find it at your local Asian market. I use chicken or beef stock. I season with salt, pepper, and some turmeric. Add some cooked chicken or an egg. Top with your favorite hot sauce if you like.

Tyling instant noodles

Healthy instant noodles The next time you have a craving for instant noodles, this will sure hit the spot. You won’t feel guilty one bit!

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I love Paris, Heart and eiffel tower earrings from Live, Love, Maria

Gift giving season is just around the corner and I want to share these earrings I purchased last January from Live, Love, Maria. I wanted to share them sooner but with the kids demanding all my time, I never got around to it until now.

I loved it the moment I saw them on her Facebook page. I’m pretty crafty myself, but I love supporting other artisans. Maria crochets these using tiny thread and then modge-podges them to get them stiffened. I adore these because they are dangly and yet so light weight. The only thing I did when I got them was switch out the ear wires to sterling silver ones. I have sensitive ears.

Heart eiffel tower earrings from Live Love Maria

I hope you find something from her etsy shop for yourself or someone you love. Thanks for supporting handmade!

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Lemons in raw honey

Lemon covered lemons

Cold and flu season is here and this year, I’ve been using many more home remedies. Lemon and honey are great for sore throats, cold and flu. In this house, when we feel something coming on, we usually make a drink with apple cider vinegar and honey. Now, we add in some honey’ed lemon. It is also a great gift to prepare for your loved ones as gifts.

Cut up organic lemons however you like. You’ll want to use organic lemons because the skin is going to be smothered in the honey as well. Scoop out raw honey and put it on top of the lemons. You may want to warm up the honey by putting the jar in some warm water. I was lazy so I just scooped it right on top. Put a lid on, and let the honey just drip down and “melt.” You’ll want to use raw honey because it has been unpasteurized and will have retain all its natural benefits.

I let it do its thing and then I re-jarred it in a smaller jar. If you melt the honey slightly beforehand, you may not need to re-jar.

Slap a fancy label on it and you’ve got yourself a very nice gift.

Organic lemons in honey.

 

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Making keifr cheese and Kefir Cheese wrap pinwheel sandwiches

Kefir Cheese wrap pinwheel sandwichesI’ve been making milk kefir lately. And since it’s been culturing so much faster than we can drink, I decided to make some kefir cheese. My method of making kefir cheese is simple. I put a rubber band around a nut milk bag in a quart sized mason jar and just put it in the fridge.

Kefir cheese wrap pinwheel sandwichesLeave it overnight and you’ll wake up to some delicious creamy cheese. I decided to use the kefir cheese to make a cheese spread for some sandwich wraps. I threw in some salt, pepper, and some black garlic that I found at Trader Joe’s. Instead of using something like mayo or store bought cream cheese, I’m adding a healthy dose of probiotics into our meal. Sneaky mama ;).

To make the wraps, spread cheese over a tortilla. Top with greens, meat, and other topping of choice. Roll. Spread some cheese at the end of the tortilla to glue it together. Cut and enjoy!

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Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpot

Vietnamese Yogurt in the crockpot
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Claire started teething and not sleeping through the night. Caleb stopped napping during the day. Plus, during this whole time, I started making more fermented foods and drinks for the family.
I’ve been making yogurt for awhile. Through one of my groups on Facebook, someone mentioned Vietnamese yogurt using sweetened condensed milk. I was intrigued. The recipes I found online involved a little whole milk, a can of condensed milk and water. Then everything is mixed together, put in little cups, and then they all go into the oven (with it off) in a hot water bath.

First of all, I didn’t want to mess with a hot water bath. I’m a klutz as it is. I did see a recipe that used no water. It looked similar to my recipe so I decided to convert this to a Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpot.

Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpot

The result was a creamy lightly sweet custard-like yogurt. It is almost like pudding! It feels indulgent eating this but it is quite healthy despite the sugar in the condensed milk. This will make a lovely dessert! This will be one of those treats that your family thinks they’re eating something sinful when it’s actually full of beneficial bacterias for their gut.

Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpotThe method is similar to my regular recipe. Put milk in the crock on low. Unplug and let sit until it reaches about 115 F to 120 F. Dump condensed milk in a big bowl or measuring cup. Scoop out some warm milk and stir. Add in yogurt starter. Pour it all back in the crockpot. Cover with a towel and put in a warm place to incubate for 8 hours.

 

Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpotRemember to reserve 1/2 cup of yogurt for your next batch!

The verdict: A lightly sweet thick creamy custard yogurt. If you like Greek-style yogurt but don’t like the sourness of it, then this Vietnamese yogurt is for you.

Other Notes: I used Trader Joe’s organic sweetened condensed milk. It goes for 2.99 at the store. But if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s around you or have access to other organic brands, you can get them online for a bazillion dollars.


 

Vietnamese yogurt in the crockpot
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 7 cups whole milk
  • 1 14 oz can/bottle of condensed milk
  • ½ cup yogurt (plain commercial yogurt or yogurt from a previous batch)
Instructions
  1. Put milk in the crockpot and turn it on low for 2 hrs 15 mins.
  2. Unplug
  3. Let sit for 2.5 hours to 3 hours with the lid on or until it reaches 115 F to 120 F or 45 C to 48 C. Note: I was impatient and just stuck a thermometer in there with the lid ajar until the milk cooled down enough. That took 1 hour.
  4. Pour the condensed milk in a large cup/bowl. Scoop some warm milk on and stir. Then add the yogurt starter to the mixture.
  5. Add the whole mixture back into the crockpot and put the lid back on.
  6. Wrap the crockpot with a towel or warm blanket.
  7. Put it someplace warm for 8 hours. Note: I put it in the oven with the oven light on. That usually keeps the inside of the oven at 100′ish F..which is great for incubating. I usually also turn off the oven light the last few hours because I don’t like to put a hot crockpot in the cold fridge.
  8. After 8 hours, take out the crockpot and put it in the fridge and let chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

 

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Making baby food made easy

Making baby food

I find it funny when people ask me if I feed my baby “baby food.” What they really mean is if I buy the commercial stuff at the grocery store. So instead of a yes or no answer, I simply say that I make my own. I don’t dedicate a whole day making a freezer full of it either. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes active time on it every 3 to 7 days (depending on variety). For the price of about two jars (2.5 oz each) of commercial baby food, I can have three  4 oz jars of organic carrot purees.

I’ve been making baby food since my 2yo started solids. Now that my youngest is eating solids, I’m back on the baby food making wagon. You don’t need to invest in any of the fancy baby food making gadgets that will only get usage for about 6 months. You can make baby food easily with equipment that you already have. Or if you do need to buy a gadget, invest in something that will get usage beyond the purees.

Cooking Vessels:

  • Rice cooker – do you have a rice cooker? If not, it’s an awesome tool to cook baby food. We have a very cheap 3 cup rice cooker. We’re Asian so we eat a lot of rice. And even with using it almost daily, it’s still running strong after 5 years. If you don’t have one, I recommend getting one and you’ll still have a useful gadget afterwards. Even if you don’t eat rice regularly, it can be used to steam veggies or even make quinoa. Here is a similar inexpensive rice cooker. 
  • Slowcooker- who doesn’t have a slow cooker these days? It’s so versatile and you can make so many things in it.
  • Pot – yep, just a regular ol’ pot.

Puree tool: 

  • Blender – most people probably have a regular blender already. Did you know that a mason jar will fit into the blades of a blender? Who needs a Baby Bullet? I have something similar to this.
  • Stick Blender – This stick blender was something that I invested in getting when I first started making baby food. I like it because I don’t need to transfer the food to another container to puree. I can do it right in the cooking vessel.

Containers:

  • 4 oz jelly jars – These are perfect for storing baby food. And you know what else? These fit perfectly in a bottle warmer so you can heat up the food right in there. According to the box, these are also freezer safe.

babyfood1

Method for Rice cooker: Making baby food in the rice cooker is so easy. Cut up the vegetables or fruits and put it in the rice cooker. Put in a little water and cover only about 1/4 of the veggies. Put on cover and push the button. When it boils, check the tenderness of the veggies. Normally, they would be tender enough after it boils. You can let it cool and then puree using the stick blender.

Use similar method for pot or crockpot though cooking time may vary. Just check  occasionally the tenderness of the vegetables.

It is recommended that you keep feeding the same food for awhile before starting on another one to make sure that your baby don’t have an allergy to it. So when you start on 1st foods, make sure it’s not constipating foods.

Constipating foods:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • carrots
  • rice

Non-constipating foods:

  • pears
  • spinach
  • peas
  • prunes

Too much of either type of food is not ideal. I like to mix carrots and spinach. For my oldest, I made him a rice porridge a lot when he was small. However, I won’t be doing that for my younger one since she gets backed up a lot due to the fact that she has to take iron supplements and that makes the problem even worse.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase items via clicking on the links, I may receive compensation. However, all opinions are mine. I own or own something similar to items linked. You will pay the same price either way. By doing so, you’ll be supporting my blogging activities.

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Homemade yogurt in the crockpot

Homemade Yogurt in crockpot

We’ve been going through a lot of yogurt lately. I started making homemade yogurt about 5 months ago when Caleb was devouring the stuff every day. I remembered reading from A Year of Slow Cooking that you can make yogurt in the crockpot. I didn’t add any thickeners to my first batch because I wanted to see how it would come out. It was slightly runny. According to Stephanie of A Year of Slow Cooking, it’s the consistency of low-fat yogurt. I don’t eat low-fat stuff (and a 2 yo needs fat for brain development), so I can’t attest to it. But I’ll take her word for it.

My second batch: I added some organic milk powder to it and it was more thick. I had a couple of flops in between because I wasn’t able to keep the temperature high enough (my house was cold overnight– I culture during the day now). I still came out even since I would have spent about the same amount of money buying the yogurt at the store. And I told my husband who used to play video games “…and I gained XP (experience).”

Now onto the yogurt!

You need whole milk, 1/2 cup of commercial plain yogurt as a starter, and milk powder to thicken if desired. I started saving 1/2 cup from the previous batch as a starter for the next batch. I’ve done 3 batches using yogurt from a previous culture and it is still coming out pretty good. The 2nd and 3rd batch came out a little thin because I wanted to go to bed while it had another hour to go. The most recent batch I made turned out nice and thick. I’ll keep going and report back with when I need to buy more commercial yogurt as a starter.

Stephanie says on her blog that you shouldn’t use ultra-pasturized milk. I have used regular pasteurized and the ultra (bc that’s all the store had), and both have turned out fine. I alternate between the two depending on where I shop that week.

Homemade yogurt in the slow cooker

Homemade yogurt in the crockpot

To keep the temperature, I double wrapped it with a towel and a flannel blanket and stuffed it in the oven with the oven light on.

Look at that whey in the above picture! I promised Caleb yogurt in the morning and didn’t take a picture before grabbing a bowlful for him and me. Looks nice and thick! I had about 10 cups of yogurt. That’s more than double the amount of a tub of commercial yogurt for about the same price. That’s a lot of probiotics. Here’s to eating organic at conventional prices! ;)

Homemade yogurt in the crockpot
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ gallon of organic whole milk
  • ½ cup of commercial plain yogurt
  • ½ cup milk powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put milk in a slow cooker and cook on low for 2.5 hrs.
  2. Unplug the cord. Let it stand for 3 hours (or until it reaches a temperature of 115 F (45 C).
  3. Put the milk powder in a big bowl. Take 2 cups warm milk from the slow cooker and pour it over the powder. Whisk until well combined. Add in starter yogurt.
  4. Pour the mixture back into the slow cooker and put lid back on.
  5. Cover it with a towel and put someplace warm for 8 hours.
  6. After 8 hours, place it in the fridge. The yogurt will thicken up once cool.
  7. Save ½ cup as a starter for the next batch.

 

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How to string beads on wire

When I first started beading, I put little seed beads one by one on the wire. That’s the suckers way of stringing beads! Here’s a tool that’ll help you get the beads on the wire fast!

Beadspinner
This is called a beadspinner. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Load seed beads into the cup of the bead spinner.

2. If you are using wire, shape the end into a slight curve. Most spinners come with curved needles. So if you want to string beads onto thread, thread the needle with thread of choice.

3. Spin the middle. As the beads are spinning, insert the wire or needle into the bowl and the beads will jump onto the wire or needle. Continue spinning to get it into a good momentum and continue stringing as many beads as you need.

Beadspinner

Most beaders will have multiple of these with different color beads while designing. However, I’m a lucky chick and my husband built me an electronic bead spinner that gives me the ability to switch out round tupperware containers of beads while designing. I have tried one of the commercial electronic bead spinners (it was not even on the market when my husband made mine with old vcr parts) and it was pretty horrible. It is loud! If you’re going to get a bead spinner, get the wooden ones.

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