An Easy Beginning Homemade Cheese

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I've been meaning to make my own cheese for about two years now, but I just haven't gotten around to ordering some rennet yet and you need that to make mozzarella, which was the first cheese I was going to try.  

I finally decided to find a cheese I could just make with ingredients I already had on hand.  I discovered something called "Farmer's Cheese."  In the descriptions I found, it sounded like this cheese would get all melty and could be used for pretty much anything you'd use mozzarella in.

I was excited, although it sounded too good to be true.

Which it was.

Well, it was and it wasn't.

Are you totally confused?  Well, the down side with this cheese was that, in my opinion, it was nothing like mozzarella.

The up side is that this cheese is still quite tasty and I do feel it can be substituted for ricotta or used any time you want to add some cheese to a recipe, but don't necessarily need it to melt.

And the best part of this experience was that this cheese was pretty much one of the most ridiculously easy things I've ever made.

So, if you're looking for a homemade cheese to add to your lasagna, or salads, or even just to munch on....

...or if you're wanting to try making some cheese yourself, but want to start with something simple, then this is a great cheese for you.

I'm just excited to find a way to start replacing some of our non organic cheese with organic cheese, without spending half our food budget to do it.  (Organic milk is way cheaper than organic cheese.  We flat out can't afford organic cheese, which is troubling, since we all love cheese.)

What You Need:

1 gallon milk

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (plain vinegar works, too) 

4 Tablespoons butter 

What You Do:

1.  Make sure your crock pot is really clean. (get yours here) Pour your milk into it and set your timer for two and a half hours and the heat to high.  Then go do something else.  (You might want to check the milk's temperature every 30 minutes the first time you do this.  You want it to get to around 180 degrees.  Once you know how long your slow cooker takes to get the milk heated correctly, you can just set it and forget it in the future.)

2.  When your milk has reached 180 degrees, lift the ceramic part out of the base cooker and stir the milk.

3.  Add in your vinegar and give it all another stir until you see the curds (solids) separate from the whey (liquid):



4.  Strain the cheese over a large bowl.  You can use whatever straining method you find easiest (cheesecloth, tea towel, etc.), but I use my chinois and I think it works the best! (get one here) 


5.  Pour the leftover whey (liquid) into containers to freeze and then use it to cook grains, beans, bread, or pizza

6.  Empty the cheese into a bowl.  Add the butter and mix until it's all incorporated.



7.  Use within a few days, or freeze to use later (I usually use half right away and freeze the other half for later.  The consistency is slightly different when you freeze it, but you'll never notice if you're using this cheese in a baked recipe like lasagna).


So have I convinced you to try making your own cheese yet?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox. 



Project Snapshot Week 73

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commission at no cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting my efforts with this blog!


The goal of this post is to capture a memory from the past week, either with a camera, words, or both.  Time passes in the blink of an eye and this will create a collection of treasured memories from throughout the year.

My Snapshot(s)

We sweated it out this past weekend with a birthday camp out that was topped off with a little party at the end:




It was all two much fun!



What was your favorite memory from this past week?  I'd love to hear about it!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pizza

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As I recently explained, after my post about making homemade pizza for dinner every Friday night some readers have been wondering specifically what types of pizzas we usually make, so I'm sharing another tasty recipe with you today.

Don't ask me how I came up with this one, because I'm still not quite sure.  I guess I started wondering what it would be like to put seeds on pizza, then I decided on pumpkin seeds (just because that seed container was the fullest one in the pantry) and somehow pesto sounded like it would go good with those seeds, and then I spied some fresh yellow tomatoes on the counter, and hey, that's the pizza.

It was different, that's for sure.

But I really liked it.


What You Need:

2 pizza crusts

1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto

2 tomatoes (I really liked the color of the yellow ones for this recipe)

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 cups shredded mozzarella

What You Do:

1.  Prepare your crusts (I usually bake mine without the toppings for about 12 minutes to get them crispy) and then spread pesto over each one.

2.  Sprinkle about 75% of the cheese over the crusts.

3.  Slice your tomatoes and cover each pie with one tomato's worth of slices.

4.  Shake the pumpkin seeds over each one.

5.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over each pizza (this works as "glue" to hold the seeds on better).

6.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees, or until as done as you want.

7.  Allow pizzas to cool just a bit before you slice them with your pizza wheel (that way the toppings won't slide around on you).

Are you making the same face G did when I handed him a slice of this pizza for dinner?  He was skeptical at first, but his expression quickly changed after he took one bite.  What do you think?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox. 

Linked up with:  Merry Monday, Thoughtful Spot, Motivation Monday, Mom 2 Mom Mondays, What'd You Do This Weekend, Good Tips Tuesday, Totally Terrific Tuesday, Two Uses Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party, The Mommy Club, Hit Me With Your Best Shot,WFMW, A Little Bird Told Me, Homestead Blog Hop, Wordless Wednesday, Fluster Buster's Creative Muster, Grandma Ideas 

A Simple Way to Save a Little Money in the Kitchen

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I'm a big believer in the idea that even small steps and changes can add up to a big savings over time and this idea is just that.

While kitchen sponges probably aren't a huge budget-buster, they still represent a household expense, especially if you change them out on a regular basis to keep germs at bay.  I can't say how much money this trick will save you a year (because it depends on your sponge use), but I can say that whatever you're used to spending will be cut by 75%!

 Start with a full-sized sponge: 


Then cut it in half:


And then cut those halves in half:


Voilà!  Four times the sponges!

Now, you might be wondering why I'd suggest that you use such a petite sponge, but let me tell you, once you get used to the smaller size, I bet you'll like it better.  Most likely, you really don't end up using all the areas on a sponge anyway and the smaller size means it's easier to get the nooks and crannies of your dishes clean.

Want to save even more money in the kitchen?  Make your own dish soap and dishwasher detergent and you'll start to see those saved dollars really add up!

What do you think of this idea?  Do you feel small steps like this add up to big savings when looking at the big picture?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox.

Linked up with:  Merry Monday, Thoughtful Spot, Motivation Monday, Mom 2 Mom Mondays, What'd You Do This Weekend, Good Tips Tuesday, Totally Terrific Tuesday, Two Uses Tuesday, Do Tell Tuesday, Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party, The Mommy Club, Hit Me With Your Best Shot,WFMW, A Little Bird Told Me, Homestead Blog Hop, Wordless Wednesday, Fluster Buster's Creative Muster, Grandma Ideas,   

Project Snapshot Week 72

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase something, I'll receive a small affiliate
commission at no cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting my efforts with this blog!


The goal of this post is to capture a memory from the past week, either with a camera, words, or both.  Time passes in the blink of an eye and this will create a collection of treasured memories from throughout the year.

My Snapshot(s)

We celebrated a belated Mother's Day with Grammy and Papa because the price for the brunch on Mother's Day was double the regular rate!

Getting to the restaurant involved an escalator ride up and even on the trip back down, Gv was still fascinated with the whole experience:

Of course, her pigtails are out by this point and the hair is all in her face...any tips for how to keep those things in her hair?


What was your favorite memory from this past week?  I'd love to hear about it!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Children's Art History Books to Really Get Excited About!

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Although we haven't done it since Gv was born, G and I have always loved visiting museums around the world and having the chance to see famous works of art up‐close.  

Luckily, our local art museum holds a free admission night once a month, which has enabled us to see some fantastic traveling exhibitions (like the recent one featuring Miró) that have come through and so Gv has already gotten a small taste of what's (hopefully) to come when we resume our travels in the future.

In the meantime, I knew I wanted to find some great art books to tide us over.  I found lots of great options out there, but they all seemed geared for an older reader and while Gv still enjoyed looking at all the colorful pictures, I wanted something I could read to her that would engage her a bit more.

Customized Hubby Gift (For your anniversary, Father's Day, his birthday, Christmas, or just because!) with 52 Frugal Date Ideas

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A couple of anniversaries ago, I was really straining my brain to come up with something special to do for G for our anniversary.  We don't really do gifts (as in things), but we usually plan or create something for each other to make the day unique.

I came up with an idea that would not only let G know I thought he was pretty keen, but would solve a huge problem that we seemed to be faced with just about every weekend.

Project Snapshot Week 71

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase something, I'll receive a small affiliate
commission at no cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting my efforts with this blog!


The goal of this post is to capture a memory from the past week, either with a camera, words, or both.  Time passes in the blink of an eye and this will create a collection of treasured memories from throughout the year.

My Snapshot(s)

It was a weekend full of very unexciting things, like G grading until his eyes were crossed and bleary (just one month left, sweetie!) and me working on two projects for a class I've been taking.

Well, I worked on them the best I could, in‐between chasing down Gv, who seemed extra‐full of energy this weekend.

We'd originally hoped to head downtown for a free concert by our local symphony in the evening, but then realized it would end much later than our bedtimes and it's the type of thing that I have a hard time leaving in the middle of...especially when there are fireworks at the end.

I do love a good fireworks display.

So instead, we zipped down the road for an hour of Mother's Day playground fun before it got dark and G even stopped to pick up a yummy Greek treat for me along the way.

I dreamed of that gyro goodness all night long.



What was your favorite memory from this past week?  I'd love to hear about it!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Scintillating Sweet Potato Pizza

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I've told you about making homemade pizza for dinner every Friday night, but some readers have been wondering specifically what types of pizzas we usually make.  I'm planning to write a post soon listing some of them, but tonight we made one of our favorites, so I figured I'd go ahead and share it with you now.

I came up with this pizza probably about a year ago, in a state of panic because we had no cheese except some frozen blue and nothing I could find in the way of vegetables except for a measly onion and a couple of sweet potatoes.

So I threw those things together with a little thyme and some olive oil, and a surprising new favorite meal was established. 

What You Need:

2 pizza crusts

2 onions

2 - 4 sweet potatoes, depending on size 

thyme

olive oil

pepper

blue cheese (Is 2 cups too much?  Maybe, but that's how much I use!)

What You Do:

1.  Start by thinly slicing your onions and sweet potatoes.  I usually just run them all through my fabulous food processor with the slicing blade attached and then I'm done with this step in about a minute flat.

2.  Decide whether you want to cook your onion/sweet potato mix separately, or just throw it all on the pizza crust raw and hope it gets done.  I've actually done it both ways and the decision usually just comes down to how lazy I am.  

If you want the pizza to turn out fancier, cover the pizza dough with the sweet potato slices, then sprinkle the onion on top and drizzle it with a little olive oil.  Bake this for about 15 minutes, although sometimes it needs to go longer to get those toppings soft.  This might result in a crispier crust, which G thinks is a bonus, because he's one who considers burnt toast a delicacy.  

If I'm really lazy (like I was today), then I'll just stick the onions and sweet potatoes in a big baking dish, drizzle some olive oil over it all, and then let it roast in the oven while my crusts are baking.  If your crusts are ready before the toppings, you can always take them out and let the toppings continue to cook a little longer.  The only drawback is that you'll be spooning out toppings onto your pizzas, instead arranging everything all fancy-like.


Sing with me now, "Lazy Day, just right for lovin' away..."

3.  At this point, either you've got two crusts covered with toppings, or you just need to spread the toppings over the crusts.  Either way, now you'll want to shake some thyme (How much?  Well, how much do you like?  We like a lot, so I pretty much cover the entire thing with it) and pepper over it all.  I usually drizzle just a little more olive oil over everything because, hey, can you ever have too much EVOO in your life?



Next, sprinkle on the blue cheese.


4.  Return this to the oven and bake for at least 12 minutes at 400 degrees.  After that, you'll have to use your judgement for how your family likes it.  If I'm in a selfish mood, I'll only keep the pizzas in there until the cheese gets all gooey and melty, but if I'm feeling generous, I let it all go until the crusts snap like a cracker.




5.  I always let the pizzas cool a bit before I slice through them with my pizza wheel, because I've found the cheese doesn't make quite as much of a mess that way (and the toppings are less likely to shift from your crust onto your counter, which is definitely not where I want my pizza to be!)



I could easily eat an entire pizza by myself in one sitting, but I force myself to only eat half.  This is solely because that's all G eats at once and I just can't stand the thought of watching him devour leftovers for the next two days after I've stuffed my face full of all of mine already on the first night.


Sweet potatoes on a pizza?  What do you think?  I'd love to hear - leave a comment or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

Also, if you don't want to miss a single minute of great tips like this and all the fun around here, be sure to sign up for free updates and then look forward to having each post delivered right to your inbox. 

Linked up with:  Merry Monday, Thoughtful Spot, Motivation Monday, Mom 2 Mom Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, Two Uses Tuesday, Tuesday Tutorials,Totally Terrific Tuesday, Good Tips Tuesday,The Mommy Club, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, WFMW, A Little Bird Told MeHomestead Blog Hop, Wordless Wednesday, Fluster Buster's Creative Muster, Ladies Collective,This is How We Roll, Frugal Family Linky, Hearts for Home, Creative Ways, Thrifty Thursday, Creative Exchange, Kitchen Fun & Crafty, I'm Lovin' It, Front Porch Fridays, Awesome Life Fridays, Home Matters Linky, Pretty Pintastic Party, Inspiration Spotlight, Weekend Potluck,

Patriotic Decorations to Make with Your Little Sparkler

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I was thinking that we'd reached the stage in the year when holiday crafts take a back seat to the flurry of summer activities, but then I realized it would be fun to have something up in the way of festive decorations over the next couple of months and that using a patriotic theme would satisfy both Memorial Day and 4th of July, so we got ourselves all star‐and‐stripy and now we're set!