Category Archives: Recipes

How to Make Butter

A friend of mine, who is a crazy ingredient label-reader like me, recently told me she made butter.  I was immediately intrigued by this because I’ve been using real butter almost everyday for several years now. 

I used to only use it for baking (there really is no substitute).  But when I began learning more about what is in our so-called “healthy” margarine, I switched my family to real, unsalted butter completely.  I used a vegan margarine a few times that was pretty healthy, but now I only purchase butter. 

I usually keep one stick in a covered container so it’s soft for toast, etc.  It will not mold as long as you keep it at the same temperature.  Do not go between fridge and room temperature or it will mold.  It will also go bad if you don’t use it often enough.

I usually have one or two pounds of butter on hand.  So we go through it too fast to waste any.  My mother-in-law, who I truly adore, had some go bad and it smelled like strong blue cheese.  Don’t get me wrong; I like blue cheese.  Just not blue-cheese smelling butter.

This morning, I was being a bad girl playing hooky from church.  Tsk, tsk, tsk…(head shaking).  So, I thought I’d do something domestic.  My hubby got it started for me, but I finished it.

Below are the after photos.  I didn’t want to stop too long to take pictures since this was my first time.  I was unsure what would happen.  I will, however, make some more butter soon and be sure to take photos of each step.

What you will need:
•Any amount of heavy whipping cream (I use organic, but you don’t have to.)
•A blender bottle (remove the metal ball) or jar with a lid
•Sea Salt (this is optional)

Pour the cream into your bottle or jar.  Be sure the lid is on tight so there is no leaking. 

Start shaking and keep shaking.  Then shake some more.  Shake it to the left. Shake it to the right.  Come on, baby, you know what I like.…  I’m sorry, I got carried away.

Your arms will get a workout.  This might be how the Shake Weight came about. 

I checked it a few times to see how it was coming along.  It will turn into whipped cream first.  Keep shaking. 

Then it starts to look curdled.  It won’t be long now.  Keep shaking.

All of a sudden, you’ll feel and hear a difference.  Open it up.  You should see the solid part (butter) and the white liquid (buttermilk) separated. 

Pour off the buttermilk into a container.  You can save this for making pancakes or biscuits or cornbread…. 

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Use a spoon or spatula to sqeeze out as much of the remaining buttermilk as you can.  I continually worked at kneading the butter and pouring off the liquid.  This will help it last longer, though that’s just a few days or a week in our house.

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At this point, you can mix in some sea salt if you so desire.  Season it to taste, but err on the side of less is more.  If you plan on using it for baking, do not add salt.  This will make your baked goods too salty. 

Put your butter in a container with a lid.  If you want it to stay soft, store it in your pantry or cabinet. 

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Unless you have one of those cool butter dishes where you put your butter in the lid then store it in a crock filled with water.  Those things are neat.  And very French.  I like French things.

Enjoy your fresh made butter and impress your family and friends!

Note:  You can visit this blog, Food Renegade, to learn how to make butter using a blender or food processor.  I just found this blog today and already enjoy its content.  Plus, I love the name.

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UWYHC Day 2: Vegetarian Risotto

My son has been begging for this dish since I made it a month ago.  He doesn’t remember I made it last year.  It must not have been impressive the first go-round.

For one reason or another I kept putting it off over the last couple weeks—visiting family and friends, school open house, etc.  Basically, too many nights away from home.  Since I had recently stocked up on whole grains, I finally had arborio rice and the time to make it.

This dish is simple and easy, but takes about an hour.  The longest part is adding the liquid in increments of 1/2 a cup.  Though it is worth it!

And not just because I can imbibe on the white wine while stirring.  There’s something satisfying about making a meal from scratch that your family loves.  It’s one of our favorites; I hope it becomes one of yours too.

Pour the olive oil in a large pot and allow to heat briefly over medium heat while you chop the onion.  Add the onion to the olive oil and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the risotto and toss to coat with oil.

Add dry white wine.  I used a Chardonnay, but you could use any dry white (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio) or even a sweet white (Riesling, Moscato) in a pinch.

Next, you’ll pour in the first addition of broth.  Remember I told you this dish is easy but takes time.  Have on your comfy shoes or better yet, get one of those fancy gel mats that’s supposed to relieve the pressure on your back and feet.  This baby is on my wish list for Christmas.

Back to the broth: you want to be sure to stir it occasionally and allow the broth to absorb before adding the next 1/2 cup of broth.  Traditional risotto calls for chicken stock; I used vegetable broth instead.

Here’s what it should look like after it has absorbed the first round of broth.

By the way, it’s a good idea to use a large measuring cup so you’re not constantly measuring and pouring.  I use this handy device.

This is the rice after the last addition of broth has been absorbed.  You can see how creamy it is.

Take the rice off the heat to stir in the parmesan cheese and butter substitute.  I used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread made with olive oil.  It’s gluten free, lactose free, vegan and non-GMO.  No, it’s not taste free.

It’s actually pretty good and creamy just like butter.  My sweet girl says this dish is like mac ‘n cheese but with rice. I have yet to find a non-dairy parmesan cheese otherwise this meal would be considered vegan.

Don’t you like my fancy dipper?

After you try the vegetarian risotto, mix it up by adding other star ingredients.  Don’t forget the wine!  Here are a few other recipes.

Vegetarian Risotto

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 cup of Arborio rice (it’s not true risotto without this)
  • 4 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp. butter or butter substitute

Heat the oil over medium heat, then add the chopped onion and cook for 2 -3 minutes until soft.  Add the risotto and toss to coat with the oil.

Add the wine and cook til fully absorbed.  Begin to add the vegetable broth 1/2 a cup at a time.  Only add the next 1/2 cup after each addition is completely absorbed.

Remove from heat; add the butter and Parmesan, stir.  Serve immediately.

Yields six 1/2 cup servings.

Mangia!

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Recipe for Spaghetti

I forgot to include the recipe at the end of my previous post, so here it is.

  • 1/2 pound of spaghetti, thin spaghetti or angelhair
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil + extra for drizzling
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
  • 1-2 tsp. dried Basil or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh Basil
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Kosher salt

Mangia!

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Use What You Have Cooking (UWYHC): Day One

Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes, Basil & Pine Nuts

So, here we are with Day One of Use What You Have Cooking.  For the sake of brevity, it will be referred to as UWYHC.  I will also post the day, since this is an experiment in how long I can go using only what is in my pantry, fridge, freezer or on my counter.

Needing to use up my lovely cherry tomatoes before they turned into fluorescent-light-dried tomatoes, I decided to make a quick and easy pasta dish. Those have always been my favorite tomato.  I loved eating them straight from the garden when I was little. That has carried over to my adulthood.  They are juicy and sweet and just perfect for this meal.

First, fill a large pot with water and get it to boiling.  When it does, throw in the spaghetti.  I used thin spaghetti which takes about five minutes to cook.  Very Rachael Ray of me, huh?!

While the water is boiling, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet that’s been preheated.

Thinly slice one or two cloves of garlic and quarter the tomatoes.

Add the sliced garlic to the preheated pan and stir.  Let the garlic cook until you can smell all it’s garlicky goodness.

Toss in the tomatoes as well as the basil and 1/4 cup of white wine.  Be sure you’re wearing an apron or you’ll be wearing the juice and oil instead.  It gets pretty sassy when you add the liquid to the hot oil.  I typically use a dry wine like Chardonnay, but last night all I had was a Moscato by Barefoot.  It’s a sweet wine that’s great to sip chilled, on it’s own, but it worked in this recipe.

The pasta should be ready; add it to the skillet, drizzle a bit of olive oil and gently toss.

Add some more basil, the pine nuts and salt; toss again.

Then serve on a fancy-shmancy platter or out of the skillet.  That’s usually how I serve dinner, but I’ve been trying to make meal times more special for my family.  I mean, why else do I have all these beautiful serving pieces from Southern Living at Home?  Besides, to sit and look pretty.

I also served a side of steamed cauliflower.  This was cooking while I made the pasta.  I topped it with a few pats of butter, then salt and pepper.  Probably sounds weird to have with pasta, but I love steamed veggies.  Plus I needed to cook it before it turned into a whole different experiment in the fridge.

Mangia!

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