Showing posts with label cooking 101. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cooking 101. Show all posts

Monday, August 13, 2018

How to make refrigerator dill pickles - no canning required!


This dill pickle recipe is so easy - I can't wait to teach you how to make it!

One of my favorite parts of tending a garden during the summer is a seemingly endless supply of fresh cucumbers! I grow regular salad cucumbers and a smaller, pickling variety because I love making fresh cucumber pickles for my family.

This pickled cucumber recipe is super easy. Because these are lacto-fermented dill pickles, you don't need any fancy canning equipment to make them.
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Monday, July 30, 2018

Easy iced tea recipe for making ice tea at home
If you want to learn how to make iced tea at home, you are in the right place!

Iced tea is surprisingly simple to make from scratch.

I'll admit that I had NO IDEA how to make iced tea until I worked at Starbucks in college. If I wanted iced tea at home, I thought you add to mix powdered tea mix into water or buy a gallon of ready made tea.
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Sunday, December 31, 2017

How to make homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot or crockpot / slow cooker
So you want to learn how to make yogurt. Wonderful! You have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to make yogurt at home in your Crockpot or in your Instant Pot (or any other brand of slow cooker or pressure cooker). Using this tutorial you can make both regular yogurt or Greek yogurt (technically "Greek style" yogurt - unless you happen to actually be Greek or live in Greece of course!)

How to make yogurt in the Instant Pot

If your Instant Pot does NOT have the "yogurt" button, follow my tutorial as written. If your Instant Pot DOES have the yogurt button, How to Make Yogurt in Your Instant Pot from Super Healthy Kids is fabulous and will give you even more precise steps with photos for making yogurt with that specific appliance. My feelings won't be hurt if you pop over there and follow along with her. It's nearly identical to how I will show you how to make yogurt below but utilizes a neat feature of the instant pot that will keep it warm for as many hours as you need - no towels required!

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

fancy cranberry sauce recipe

Are you looking for a fancy cranberry sauce recipe to bring to Thanksgiving dinner this year? Your friends and family will be so impressed when you show up with the best cranberry sauce ever.

It truly is the most delicious cranberry sauce I've ever had - and it is SO easy to make that this year my 5 year old practically made it (he did need some help with peeling and cutting). Once you've had this slightly chunky cranberry sauce made from scratch, it's hard to go back to the blob in a can!

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Friday, July 15, 2016



Summertime is one of my favorite times of year.  The world is green (at least where I live), it is warm, and fruit and vegetables are readily available.  

I love making smoothies in the summer, but am always a little rankled by how expensive the frozen fruit is.  Adding fresh fruit doesn't give you the same cold quality, and adding ice waters your smoothie down, so I always prefer to use at least one kind of frozen fruit. 

A few weeks ago, I realized that I could buy extremely cheap, in-season, fresh fruit that would freeze terrifically and easily for a fraction of the cost of most pre-frozen fruit.  

It will take you about 10 minutes over two days, and a shelf in the freezer.  It can't get much easier than this.  

You can use the frozen fruit in ice creams, smoothie bowls and smoothies.  They are a perfect staple for your cool summer treats!

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Saturday, June 4, 2016



Last summer, my family spent seven weeks in France.  While we were there, we ate a number of meals from farmer's markets that lined the rivers.  They had wonderful, fresh produce that we thoroughly enjoyed, but the most delicious thing we ate from the markets were the strawberries.  They were so ripe, juicy and definitely the best strawberries I have ever tasted.  

My parents came over for a visit while we were there, and my mom commented that she had never had a strawberry that was so red all the way through.  They were heaven on earth.  

Due to the way large growing operations grow, manage and pick strawberries, you probably won't find such fresh and luscious strawberries at your local large chain grocery store. Instead, head to your local farmer's market, farm or produce stand to find the ripest, juiciest berries this summer.

Regardless of where you shop for berries, here are my best tips for choosing the most delicious, juicy strawberries, and storing them so they stay fresh as long as possible.  

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Friday, May 20, 2016

 
I don't remember when I first heard about the pazookie, but clearly it has stuck with me, because it is just about one of my favorite desserts now. It is a cookie the size of a pizza (almost), very soft in the middle, served with several scoops of ice cream on top (basically the most divine dessert out there).  The ice cream on top starts to melt, because the cookie is straight out of the oven, and as it melts, it runs into the cracks and holes left by your spoon, making it a gooey, chocolatey, ice creamy mess that will make your tongue sing!   

I debated on how to add the peanut butter when I came up with this recipe.  I don't love peanut butter cookies, because the peanut butter generally makes the cookie crumbly and kind of dry, so instead, I made a delicious chocolate chip cookie, and put a peanut butter chocolate filling in between two layers of the cookie dough.  That way the cookie dough is not compromised, but you still get the peanut butter goodness.  

It is just about the most decadent, delicious dessert that you could possibly want.  Also, it is great for an intimate gather of friends or family, because it only serves a few (in this case, six).  I am not going to pretend that this is a super healthy dessert, but it is one of the most delicious desserts that you could possibly have!  Make it and you definitely won't regret it.  


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Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Recently, a lot of shocking and horrifying information has come out about non-stick cookware.  Carissa wrote a very informative article about why you should get rid of any non-stick pots and pans that you own.  You should go read it now, and then throw yours out immediately.  

I decided to toss mine a few months ago, because I had a small metal frying pan to supplement the non-stick one, but honestly after trying to use it as a replacement for a few weeks, I realized it just wasn't cutting it.  

Thankfully, a few weeks after mine got thrown away, my mom sent me this beautiful Lodge cast iron skillet.  It was a perfect replacement, because cast iron develops a non-stick surface over time if properly cared for.  

Also, it looks WAY better in photos than my old half-broken frying pan did.  I now want to cook everything in it, just so I can photograph it!  

Whether you are thinking about replacing your non-stick pans and aren't sure how to care for a cast-iron skillet, or you already own one and are struggling to keep it looking beautiful, look no further!  

Cleaning and seasoning will keep your cast iron skillet functional and beautiful for years to come!  
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Thursday, April 14, 2016


So you've seen the smoothie bowl trend and now you want a part of the action? I'm here to help!

I am constantly on the go and end up drinking most of my smoothies through a straw. A smoothie bowl, though, is a great change of pace. It gives you the nutritional power of a smoothie and the satisfaction of any other kind of breakfast you eat with silverware. It helps you slow down a bit to become more mindful of what you're eating instead of gulping it down on the go. Plus the toppings are great. The toppings can really make or break a smoothie bowl.

When I posted this smoothie to Instagram this week, I saw people mentioning they had never had a smoothie bowl before and wanted some detailed directions. So here they are!

Oh? And if you decide that eating your smoothie with a spoon isn't your style, my son proved that it's just as good in a glass jar with a straw

(PS if you don't already own stainless steel straws, you're missing out! These are the ones I like best for smoothies.)

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Friday, April 8, 2016


As a kid, one of my very favorite snacks was popcorn.  In fact, my mom used to buy these giant packs of microwavable popcorn from the grocery store, and I would make one every day for morning snack time. 

At the time, I thought they were were delicious, but as an adult, I cringe at the thought of all that fake butter, and way it coats your mouth for hours after eating it.  Even at the movie theater, the thought of eating the 'buttery' popcorn that you can buy there makes feel sort of ill.  It is just so full of junk. And chemicals.  And more junk. Did you know that the same toxic chemicals they use to make Teflon (read more about them here) line the inside of popcorn bags? No thank you.

A few years ago, my sister introduced me to the easiest way of making homemade popcorn.  It requires normal household tools (no whirly pops required), very few ingredients, and is made entirely of real foods.  Also, it takes about 3 minutes to make.  Basically it is the perfect healthy snack.  Just make sure you floss after you finish :)  

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016


As a kid, I was a serious onion-hater.  If they were part of dinner, I'd pick it apart to pull out the onions, or refuse to eat it all together.  Once I started cooking on my own, I realized that onions are in everything, and once they are cooked down, they add incredible flavor.  Now I always have an onion or six on hand and use them regularly.  

One of my favorite methods of cooking onion is to caramelize it.  It requires a little more time than some methods, but very little effort, so they are perfect for adding to a delicious dinner that requires your hands to be elsewhere.  
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016



We eat a lot of black beans in our house.  For a while, I was making this black bean soup about twice a month, and I had to buy two cans of black beans and two cans of beef broth, and it was getting really expensive (Okay, okay, not really expensive. It certainly wasn't like eating steak for dinner every night, but for my tiny grocery budget, it felt expensive).  Also, my husband insists that the soup is perfection when eaten with tortilla chips, so suddenly I was buying 5 things specifically to put in this one soup.  I decided there had to be a cheaper way to get the black beans.

Thankfully, there is!  Making your own black beans is incredibly simply, and extremely cheap. They take a few hours to cook, but if you own a crockpot, they are the simplest things to make, and the flavor is amazing! Way better and fresher tasting than your standard canned black beans.  Plus, this recipe yields about 6 cups, which is enough to make a few recipes.

If you have more than you can use in a week, you can freeze the cooked beans in the freezer for up to two months.  What are you waiting for?  Make these super delicious, very easy black beans!  Then you can make this fabulous black bean soup every month like me! Trust me, it's amazing.  

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Saturday, January 30, 2016

This post was created in collaboration with Stonyfield and Ball Canning Jars



Have you noticed the mason jar salad trend yet? Okay, of course you've noticed the mason jar salad trend! I mean, have you been on Pinterest at all in the last year?


Ha! That e-card makes me laugh. But in case you have either been living under a rock OR you've noticed this trend but have yet to try it let me help you out. Give me 5 more minutes of your time and soon you will be mason jar packing with the pros! Ready? Let's go:


Why pack salad in jars

 There are 4 main reasons I think packing salad in jars is genius:

1) You fit a TON of salad in a quart size mason jar - like a whole dinner plate full.

2) Mason jars are abundant, inexpensive and easy to wash (unlike plastic boxes which slowly warp and degrade in your dishwasher)

3) NO SOGGY SALAD! If you've ever packed a salad in a box, you may have ended up with a soggy salad by lunch time. Or you had to skip all the fun toppings - not so with mason jars.

4) Pack lots of salads several days ahead. Following this method will let you pack up to a week worth of salad all at once so that your lunch prep is done and you're ready to go all week long!

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016



Roasted red peppers are divine.  They are the perfect addition to soups, sandwiches and warm salads. And they are a cinch to make! Just a bit of time in the oven, and you will have some fabulous homemade roasted red peppers!  These are perfect for an easy dive into home cooking!  

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Friday, June 21, 2013


Thank you to Gevalia and Safeway for sponsoring this post. Visit the Safeway website for more information about Gevalia and "Like" Gevalia on Facebook.

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When I recently had a mommy coffee playdate at my house, I made the coffee in a french press for the best flavor to go great with the tasty chocolate cakes I made. It might seem intimdating if you're used to drip coffee, but preparing a french press is really easy and great way to get a full-bodied delicious cup of coffee.

Here's how you do it:

Supplies

  • Whole coffee beans
  • Measuring spoon
  • Bean grinder
  • French press

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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Americans throw away nearly half their food due to spoilage. This means we are buying more food than we can use before it goes bad. The solution? Use more fresh fruits and veggies in your meals and become a food preservation ninja.

We use this simple trick to preserve our onions so that we never have to worry about whether or not they will start to mold before we can use them. PLUS it makes cooking later in the month SO easy.Whether I'm making a soup or mexican food, it's super convenient to have pre-chopped onions ready to throw into whatever I'm cooking.

Directions

Step 1: Cut each onion into quarters and remove the hard outer peel.

Step 2: Load the onion quarters into the food processor.

Step 3: Pulse the food processor until the onions are chopped to the coarseness you prefer.

Step 4: Fill a silicone muffin pan with 1/2 cup portions of diced onions and freeze. Once frozen, pop the onion balls out the muffin pan and store in a gallon size freezer bag.

Just keep your bag of onions in the freezer and throw your onion balls directly into whatever you are cooking. 


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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

cover photo modified from jonathan_moreau
We try to eat our produce as seasonally as possible, so after a long winter of potatoes, kale and squash the sight of asparagus' bright green spears in my local produce department is enough to make me practically giddy. Sometimes in my giddy state I might pick up way more asparagus than we can eat in a couple days. So what to do?

Luckily, storing asparagus to keep it fresh for a week or more is easy peasy. All you need is a wide mouth jar or glass, the bag you brought the asparagus home in and (of course) asparagus spears.

Supplies

  • Asparagus
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Wide mouth jar or glass
Directions

Get a wide mouth jar or glass and put 1/2 inch of cold water in the bottom.

Take your asparagus out of the bag and trim the bottom 1/2 to 1 inch off the spears. Do not throw away the bag. Save the trimmings to save in a stock bag or compost them. Be sure that the bottoms of the spears after trimming look green and moist. If they don't you need to keep trimming.

Stand the spears upright in your jar of water. Don't pack them too tightly. If you have to start forcing spears into the jar, it's too tight. Use additional jars as needed.

Place the jars in your refrigerator.


Loosely cover them with the bag you brought them home from the store in to keep them in a slightly humid environment.

That's it!

Be sure to check on it every 4 days or so to drain and swap out the water.

Storing asparagus this way will keep it fresh for a week or longer (sometimes for as much as two weeks if your asparagus was very fresh to begin with!). No need to worry about wasting money on asparagus that will just get slimy and end up in the trash.
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Saturday, June 23, 2012


I have a broccoli romanesco plant that overwintered in my garden and was starting to get ready to harvest last week. I ran into a challenge since I didn't realize it wasn't a "normal" broccoli plant until I was checking it out and saw it's pretty, bright green spikes.

I did some research and found out it is closer in taste to cauliflower than broccoli and needs a little extra love to make sure the texture turns out right. I sauteed it first with some garlic and steamed it before adding some parmesean.  My two year old "helped" me cook and was SO excited to eat it when we were done. The grown ups liked it, too. In fact, I just ate a huge bowl of this (and just this) for dinner.

If you don't have a garden to grow your own, you can also get it at farmer's markets and natural food markets when it's in season, which won't be until the fall in most cases. But that's what Pinterest is for, right?

How to Make Broccoli Romanesco Parmisagna

Ingredients
1 head Broccoli Romanesco
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese plus extra for garnish is desired.


Cook it up!
1. Wash the broccoli and cut the florets from main stalk

2. Heat some EVOO in a pan. Add two gloves or crushed or minced garlic and sautee for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the broccoli and saute for approximately 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water to the bottom of the pan and cover with a lid to allow broccoli to steam for approximately 10 minutes.

4. After 10 minutes, remove the lid and allow to cook uncovered for up to 4 more minutes to allow any remaining water to cook off.

5. Dust broccoli generously with grated parmesean cheese. Cover pan and turn off heat. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

Serve it up with dinner and enjoy this tasty vegetable. My one head of home grown, organic, broccoli romanesco made enough for 2 generously sized adult sides and some snacking pieces for the toddler. Although I'll admit that I pretty much just ate a large bowl of it for dinner.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

I've been thinking about making my own yogurt at home for quite some time. When I found a gallon of soon-to-expire organic whole milk on sale for just a little over $2 a few weeks ago, I figured it was a great opportunity to try without the risk or ruining a large quantity of expensive ingredients.

My only regret?  That I didn't do this sooner!

It was soooo easy! It's a great way to save money, too. A gallon of [non-clearance] organic milk makes about a gallon of yogurt and costs around $5. A quart of organic yogurt costs about $4. If your family loves yogurt like mine does, that's a huge savings! The savings is even greater if you normally eat Greek yogurt which is frequently sold for about $1 (or more) for 8 ounces!


Ingredients / Equipment Needed
  • Slow cooker
  • Food thermometer
  • Milk (whichever kind you prefer. I even hear this works with milk alternatives)
  • About 1/2 cup yogurt
  • Cheesecloth and strainer (if you want Greek style yogurt)
  • Fruit or sweetener of your choice (optional)
That's it!

A note about your starter yogurt:
Any kind of yogurt can be used to make homemade yogurt. Pick a yogurt you like the taste of. Keep in mind, though, that plain yogurt makes pain yogurt. Strawberry yogurt also makes plain yogurt (the yogurt cultures are what multiply. Strawberries, sadly do not.).


Instructions

Step 1: Prep the Milk
Pour your milk (use at least 2 quarts but up to about a gallon) into a clean slow cooker. Put the lid on and set to low for about 2 hours until the milk reaches 180 degrees F. Keep an eye on it so the milk doesn't get so hot that it starts boiling or scalds. If this happens you will need to start over.

Step 2: Cool down
Turn your crockpot off and allow the yogurt to cool about an hour until it reaches 120 degrees F. If your crockpot is well insulated like mine is, you may need to crack the lid to help it cool.

Step 3: Add the yogurt
Take about a cup of warm milk from the crockpot and stir it together with 4-6 ounces of yogurt in a bowl. Keep stirring until the mixture is the same consistency throughout without any lumps (though "lumps" from any fruit that may have been in your starter yogurt are okay). Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and give it a stir to distribute it evenly.

Step 4: Bundle up
The goal is to keep the milk in the 110 - 120 degree range for 6-12 hours. To do this, I placed my crockpot on top of a folded beach towel, then draped another double beach towel over the top and left the crockpot turned off. I did give it a 15 min blast on low right before I went to bed for the night to make sure the yogurt cultures stayed nice and toasty. The longer it sets, the more tart and more set up the yogurt will be. I found 10 hours to be perfect for me, personally.

Step 5: Drain (optional)
Once your yogurt is done, you may see some little pools of watery stuff in there with it. This is whey. You can save it to use in baked goods or lacto-fermented veggies. Or you can stir it back into the yogurt. Up to you. If you like "Greek" style yogurt, you can set up a colander lined with damp cheese cloth over a bowl to strain the yogurt.  Keep in mind that once refrigerated, your yogurt will thicken even more. I over strained my first attempt at Greek yogurt and ended up with something of a soft cheese consistency once it got cold. If you're making a full gallon of yogurt and you get more than 16 ounces of whey, you probably want to stop.

Step 6: Store
I stored my yogurt in clean glass jars. If you are re-using jars that once housed food from the store I do not recommend using jars (or at least the lids) that used to store tomato sauce or pickled products. The scent is hard to get out of the lid and may ruin your tasty new yogurt.

I also made some personal size yogurts by added chopped frozen fruit to the bottom of 8 ounce glass jars, adding a squirt of agave and filled the rest with yogurt. Then when you want a snack, just stir and eat! Yum!

A note about canning jars: If you actually use your canning jars for canning, I do not recommend using them for storing things that metal serving or eating utensils will enter in order to remove the contents. Why? The tiny abrasions they leave in the glass can weaken your jars over time and create messy canning accidents. Keep your canning jars for canning and re-use store bought jars or use your retired jars for food storage/serving.


I hope I've inspired you to branch out and try something new that will help you save money, too!
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Carissa's Creativity Space (creativecarissa.com) became Creative Green Living in February 2013. As such the watermarks on older posts may reflect the previous site name.

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