If you have ever cried over milk that didn't turn into yogurt like it was supposed to, read this.

“What can I do to redeem failed yogurt? I have made it before, successfully, but the odd time it fails, I hate to throw it out…”

If you have been making yogurt for very long, you have probably experienced a failure. Oh, the disappointment, not to mention the anguish over wasting all that money on milk that isn’t cheap these days. I cannot count how many times I get desperate emails seeking to recover and make good yogurt from the same batch of milk or recycle the non-yogurt-milk into something entirely different.

The answer to these questions can go several ways. If you know why your yogurt failed, you have a good chance at success if you try again with the same batch. Was your incubation temperature too high or too low? Was your starter too old or dead? Check out my yogurt trouble-shooting post if you aren’t sure. If you don’t know and do everything the same way again, as the old saying goes, you can probably expect the same poor results.

Here are some suggestions based on my own experience:

STEPS TO YOGURT RECOVERY

  • FIRST: Does the milk smell bad? 

If so, throw it out. No need to ask any more questions. If the milk still smells fine and you aren’t feeding it to anybody who is immuno-compromised such as the very young, the very old, or someone who is ill, then proceed to the next step.

  • SECOND: Assuming you have already heated the milk to 180 degrees and no higher the first time around, reheat milk to 100 degrees. 

I put mine back in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, but the time may vary according to the size of the batch and your microwave.

  • THIRD: Add more starter.

If you suspect the original starter was the cause of your fail, try a different starter.

  • FOURTH: Re-incubate per my original instructions as seen here

I’ve had several failures through the years, mostly due to my forgetfulness. Just last night, I heated 3 batches of milk (2 quarts each), then set them on the counter to co0l down to approximately 110 degrees. Later in the evening, I went to bed without thinking about the milk ever again until I awoke at 6:00 this morning, and as I lay in bed, it hit me that I forgot to add starter and put the milk into the oven to incubate. Throwing out all that milk was unthinkable. It didn’t smell bad, so I heated the milk to 100 degrees, added a little more starter, and incubated as usual. Five hours later I had perfect yogurt.

Another scenario I often hear about is forgetting to turn on the heat for your incubation “system.” Again, if the milk still smells OK, reheat milk mixture to 100 degrees or so, turn on your heat source for incubation, and give the milk a few more hours to make yogurt.

Perhaps your “fail” could be better described as yogurt that didn’t get as thick as you hoped or expected. As long as it smells good, you could try the process described above, but I would recommend using it as is even if it is not what you originally planned. Try it in smoothies or substitute it for buttermilk in baked goods such as these cinnamon biscuits. I have not purchased buttermilk in years since I always have yogurt on hand. I usually have to thin it with milk to get the right consistency unless I have a batch of yogurt that didn’t get as thick as I wanted.

As one of my readers once told me, “The yogurt gods can be fickle.” Whenever you’re dealing with a live organism, the results can be somewhat unpredictable. But don’t be discouraged. The more experience you have, the fewer failures you will experience, unless you forget, like me, and go to bed without finishing the process. I have no remedy for that unless it would be a timer with a loud buzzer.

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Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels--Meaty slow cooker recipe special enough for a celebration.


My younger son and daughter-in-law cannot recall a time when they didn’t know each other. Feels a little weird to me as I often think about my own life in terms of before-I-met-my-husband and after-I met-my husband.

We have gone to church with the very special Fisher family for somewhere around 30 years. I remember joining them for dinner after church one Sunday night at Taco Bueno when they first moved to Arlington from Oklahoma. At the time, their daughter was in or around first grade. Little did I know she would one day marry my son. That blessed event is just one of a multitude of reasons to take your kids to church. Agreed?

Since the marriage, we have celebrated many holidays and birthdays with the Fishers, most including our aging parents which adds a certain dimension. If you are nodding, perhaps you understand how things change as our relatives age–the logistical problems, the challenge of making interesting conversation, and even trying to play games during the napping hour.

On the flip side, we now share two granddaughters with the Fishers. Bridget, the newest one, is pictured below at 3 weeks of age. (I had to find some excuse to show off that amazing smile.) Come to think of it, we still have logistical problems (high chairs), the challenge of making conversation (baby talk?), and conflicts with the napping hour. But it’s all joy!

Bridget smiling at 3 weeks

We also share a love for this recipe as it has graced our celebratory dining table multiple times. In fact, this is the second appearance on this blog as the first time around was rather unremarkable, photographically speaking. These Steak and Sausage pinwheels deserve better.

You will be put to a fair amount of trouble to assemble this recipe although less so the more often you make them. But once you put the Steak and Sausage Pinwheels into your slow cooker or oven, you are free to carry on with your life for awhile. About 15 minutes before dinnertime, remove the toothpicks, slice the steak rolls, and stir together some gravy. Bring on the mashed potatoes for an unforgettable feast.

Assembly of Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels

Round Steak and Sausage Pinwheels
 
Round steak rolled up with sausage inside--fancy enough for any occasion
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Ingredients
  • 2½ lbs. tenderized round steak, about ½ inch thick
  • 1 pound hot or mild ground sausage (I use breakfast sausage)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs, soft or dried, seasoned or plain
  • ½-3/4 cup chopped onions (I like frozen)
  • 1 chopped red or green bell pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons bouillon concentrate
  • 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet or Dale's Steak Sauce
  • bay leaf (optional)
Gravy
  • 1 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Meat juices left over from cooking meat
Instructions
  1. Lay steak out on the counter. Cut into pieces about 4-5 inches wide and 7-10 inches long. This is very approximate.
  2. Layer sausage on top of steak using your hands to spread evenly to the edges.
  3. Sprinkle with bread crumbs, then onions, peppers, and parsley. End with a light shower of salt and pepper.
  4. Starting from narrow end, roll up steak and secure with toothpicks. (Count the toothpicks so you will know how many you need to pull out after steak is cooked.)
  5. Brown rolls in a large skillet, if desired, but this step is not absolutely necessary. Place in a crockpot (I always use a crock pot liner) or a large dutch oven or covered skillet.
  6. Combine water, bouillon, and Kitchen Bouquet. Pour over meat.
  7. Cover and place in oven at 325 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or cook in a crockpot for 7-8 hours. When tender, remove meat from oven or crockpot and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Remove toothpicks and slice. Set aside while you make gravy.
Gravy
  1. Whisk water and cornstarch together. Add to juice from pot the meat was cooked in. Whisk well and cook until thickened. If there is not enough meat juice and gravy is too thick, you may have to add more water or beef broth to get a gravy-like consistency.
  2. Serve over steak rolls.
Notes
1. Alternate method for the gravy: Use a brown gravy mix from the store if you are not confident about your gravy-making skills. Use the juice from the cooked meat instead of water as called for on the package.
2. If the round steak has not been tenderized or is slightly thicker than a half inch, pound it with a meat tenderizer mallet.

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Street Corn and Zucchini--Side Dish or Quesadillas?


Spring is here, and I recently saw corn on the cob for sale at my local grocer. YES! Time for Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas. If you’re not familiar with street corn, it’s highly spiced and seasoned corn-on-a-stick that is often sold at festivals or fairs.

I love corn in all forms, except maybe canned which reminds me of elementary school, so this dish is one of my favorites. Back home in Indiana, we froze a lot of home-grown corn. When Mom finished cutting the corn from the cob, I would look for the largest pieces of stuck-together corn kernels to eat as my reward for helping. For some unexplainable reason, they tasted better than individual kernels. I occasionally still try to recreate those delectable little chunks as evidenced by the pictures on this post for Calabacita with Potatoes.

Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

Street Corn and Zucchini makes a delicious side dish on day 1. I make plenty so I can recycle the leftovers to make quesadillas on day 2.

Cutting Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadilla

May I suggest kitchen scissors or a pizza cutter to divide your quesadilla into wedges for neater consumption. If you have neither, use a sharp knife. If you don’t have a sharp knife, you might consider eating these when camping where it doesn’t matter so much what your food looks like or what you look like when eating it.

Street Corn and Zucchini--Side Dish or Quesadillas
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish or Vegetarian Main Dish
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon butter, vegetable, or olive oil (I use garlic olive oil)
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped (I always use frozen onions for digestive ease)
  • 1 pound fresh zucchini, finely chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn (thawed) or 2 cobs of fresh corn (cooked and removed from cob)
  • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning or my homemade Cowboy dust
  • 1-2 tablespoon Feta cheese
Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • ¼ cup leftover corn and zucchini mixture from above recipe
  • ½ cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 tablespoons bacon bits
  • Spray butter
Instructions
  1. Heat butter or oil in large skillet. Add onions and saute until softened.
  2. Add zucchini and corn to skillet and continue to cook until vegetables have a few golden brown spots. Add taco seasoning and stir.
  3. Sprinkle cheese over top and serve.
Street Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas
  1. Spray or spread butter on one side of each tortilla. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on unbuttered side of tortilla. Top with bacon bits, then approximately ¼ cup corn and zucchini mixture.
  2. Top with remaining ¼ cup cheese, then cover with second tortilla with the buttered side on the outside.
  3. Place quesadilla in ungreased skillet set on medium heat. Cook until browned and crispy on first side, then flip and cook the other side until browned and crispy. Remove and cut in wedges with kitchen shears, a pizza cutter, or a sharp knife.

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Chicken, Cannellini, and Spinach Soup - Only 5 ingredients away from a quick and healthy soup. Especially good after a weekend of indulgence.



As I continue to grieve the loss of my mother, I can’t seem to focus on any one thing very long. Has anybody else experienced this? Seems like nothing is quite as important as it used to be, including cooking a good meal. But my life is not just about sadness these days.  Yesterday, our family was blessed with the birth of a brand new baby girl, born to my youngest son and his wife. God’s antidote for the hole in my heart couldn’t be more perfect or amazing.

One of my not-so-lofty goals in life is to build a library of quick and easy-on-the-waistline recipes for times like these. You know the drill – few ingredients, lots of healthy flavor, speedy assembly and dirty dishes that wash themselves. (I wish.)

I recently ran across this soup recipe, that seemed to fit these requirements, in the Parade newspaper supplement published February 2015. It appeared easy enough with only 5 ingredients, and calls for chicken stock made from the carcass of a rotisserie chicken as the base. You could substitute canned broth or bouillon cubes reconstituted with water. Personally, I prefer to make my own broth with rotisserie chicken and freeze it. Just know, the better your broth tastes, the better your soup will be.

The instructions suggest a dollop of pesto on top. You could leave that out, but I highly recommend it for increased flavor that makes this soup a homerun. In my opinion, the soup looks more appetizing if you stir the pesto into the soup instead of letting it float on top.

Chicken, Cannellini, and Spinach Soup
 
5 ingredients make this a light and healthy week-day chicken soup, especially after a weekend of indulgence.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (15-oz can) cannellini or white beans, drained
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons pesto
Instructions
  1. Heat first three ingredients.
  2. Add spinach leaves and cook until wilted.
  3. Stir in pesto. Serve hot.

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Nubby and Crunchy Cracked Wheat Berry Bread--Use unprocessed wheat straight from the farmer's field to make this scrumptious and healthy bread in your bread machine.  Bake it in your oven for a perfect crust, texture and shape.


The last few days have been all about recalling memories at my house. We buried my 97-year-old mother this past Tuesday. It has been a little rough but I’m grateful for God’s comfort surrounding me in the form of family and friends. (My apologies if you’ve sent me a question in the last week regarding something on this blog and I haven’t gotten back to you yet.)

I have a specific memory about whole wheat berries (the star character in this Cracked Berry Wheat Bread) that involves my dad driving a big green John Deere combine through the wheat fields of our Indiana farm in the middle of July. He would occasionally reach his hand up and behind him to grab a handful of wheat berries out of the hopper. After popping them into his mouth, he would chew for awhile until they turned into a soft, viscous mass, not unlike chewing gum. Mind you there were often bugs and empty chaff in that hopper along with the wheat berries, but he was not deterred.

When it comes to bread, I’m generally a white-bread-lovin’ baby boomer. But I know I need to be eating whole grains, so this bread is the perfect compromise.

How about some crushed wheat berries thrown into that white bread for interesting texture and added flavor?  This particular recipe is homemade (with the help of a bread machine), and contains no preservatives. I declare it healthy enough. It’s well worth the calories and effort, although calling any bread made in the bread machine an “effort” is debatable.

Nubby and Crunchy Cracked Wheat Berry Bread--Use unprocessed wheat straight from the farmer's field to make this scrumptious and healthy bread in your bread machine.  Bake it in your oven for a perfect crust, texture and shape.

Unfortunately, I no longer have access to those fresher-than-fresh wheat berries my dad grew,  but I can usually find wheat berries in the bulk bins at our local organic grocery stores. They are inexpensive and well worth the trouble for the texture, flavor, and nutrition they add to this nubbly, crunchy, and earthy-tasting bread.  Be sure to boil the wheat berries as directed, or soak them overnight before using for maximum tooth-friendly enjoyment.

Please note if you are new to making bread in your bread machine, I have several tutorials on this blog to help you get the dough just right. Start here.

Cracked Wheat Berry Bread -- A Bread Machine Recipe
 
A nubby, crunchy loaf with cracked wheat berries you can easily make in your bread machine
Author:
Recipe type: bread
Serves: 2 small loaves
Ingredients
  • ½ cup whole grain wheat berries
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour, divided
  • 1 cup warm water or whey drained from yogurt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup nonfat dry milk solids
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
Instructions
  1. Boil wheat berries in 1 cup of water for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (quicker if you add ice cubes) and drain. Alternatively, soak wheat berries in water for 12 hours or overnight. (Softened and drained wheat berries will keep in the fridge up to a week.)
  2. Add prepared wheat berries to a blender or food processor along with 1 cup of bread flour. Process until wheat berries are finely chopped. You will likely need to stop several times to push the flour and wheat berries from the sides of the chopping container back to the middle.
  3. Combine water, salt, sugar, nonfat dry milk solids, butter, and remaining flour to bread machine pan along with ground wheat berries and flour mixture, and the yeast.
  4. Select the dough cycle and start. Check dough after 10 minutes to make sure dough sticks to the side of the pan and then pulls away cleanly. If too wet, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time.
  5. When dough cycle completes, check to make sure dough has doubled in size. If not, leave in pan until it does.
  6. When doubled, remove dough from pan to floured surface and divide into two equal portions. Shape each portion into an oblong shape by pulling dough from the top to the bottom until dough is smooth; then pinch closed. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat that has been sprinkled with a bit of cornmeal.
  7. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 425 degrees about 20 minutes before you expect the loaf to be ready to bake.
  8. Brush risen loaves with glaze of 1 egg white whipped together with 1 tablespoon water. (This is optional.)
  9. Make 2-3 diagonal slashes in each loaf with very sharp serrated knife or razor blade, being careful not to deflate dough.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until interior temperature reaches 190 degrees F, or until bottom is brown and sounds hollow.
  11. Allow loaves to cool on rack for an hour before slicing.

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