Chicken Shawarma

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So often I’m asked “what’s in this?! It’s so good!” And it’s usually the spices that get that reaction.
This dish is incredibly simple to make but boy, does it pack flavor.  Using yogurt to marinade helps tenderize the chicken and keep it moist.  You can serve in with Naan or pita bread along with hummus, baba ganoush, and cucumber salad.  Or with some rice and veggies too.  Don’t skimp on the spices, they make it amazing!

CHICKEN SHAWARMA

1 1/2 -2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
olive oil, for cooking

For marinade:
1 cup plain yogurt (low fat is fine, but not fat free)
1/4 cup olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1 T smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

If using chicken breasts, butterfly or cut into strips so they are similar in size and there is more surface area for the marinade to get in and flavor.
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.  Add the chicken, cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least an hour.  Sometimes I do this in the morning, for cooking that evening for dinner, but I wouldn’t do earlier than that.
Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Remove from marinade and cook (working in batches as needed so as not to overcrowd the pan.)  Flip after browned on one side, then cook until heated through.
Cut chicken in strips and serve.

Chicken Shawarma

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 -2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
  • olive oil, for cooking
  • For marinade:
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (low fat is fine, but not fat free)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 T smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • If using chicken breasts, butterfly or cut into strips so they are similar in size and there is more surface area for the marinade to get in and flavor.
  • Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Add the chicken, cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least an hour. Sometimes I do this in the morning, for cooking that evening for dinner, but I wouldn't do earlier than that.
  • Heat a skillet or griddle over medium high heat and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  • Remove from marinade and cook (working in batches as needed so as not to overcrowd the pan.) Flip after browned on one side, then cook until heated through.
  • Cut chicken in strips and serve.
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    Greek Quinoa Salad

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    It’s been one crazy summer here.  I’ve been determined to finish up all of my lists of projects and ideas before September, and since I lead a 4-H group, we HAVE to participate with the county fair!  Enter: easy meals that store well.  This is one of those.  I can make it ahead of time and grab a bowl for a quick lunch, or add some chicken for a dinner.  If you have adventurous eaters this would be great for a lunchbox salad as well.  If you haven’t tried my Asian Quinoa Salad yet add that one to the list too!
    You can change up the add ins of course too to your liking.  Sometimes I leave the garbanzo beans out, especially if I’ll be serving hummus as well.

    GREEK QUINOA SALAD
    1/2 cup quinoa
    1 cup water
    1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
    1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half, or diced tomatoes
    1/4 cup red onion, diced
    1/4 cup olives, diced
    1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 1 can, drained)
    3 T fresh dill or parsley, finely chopped
    3 T fresh basil, finely chopped
    1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

    For dressing:
    1 T lemon juice
    1 T red wine vinegar
    2 cup olive oil
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    salt and pepper to taste

    Bring the cup of water to a boil in a medium pot.  Add quinoa and return to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
    Fluff quinoa and let sit 5 minutes, covered, and off the heat.   This will make 2 cups cooked quinoa.  You will know it’s cooked because the outer hulls are popped off.
    Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.  Pour over quinoa and chill.  Add remaining salad ingredients.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.
    Serve with additional dressing if desired.

    Greek Quinoa Salad

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup quinoa
    • 1 cup water
    • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
    • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half, or diced tomatoes
    • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
    • 1/4 cup olives, diced
    • 1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 1 can, drained)
    • 3 T fresh dill or parsley, finely chopped
    • 3 T fresh basil, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
    • For dressing:
    • 1 T lemon juice
    • 1 T red wine vinegar
    • 2 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    • salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions

  • Bring the cup of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Fluff quinoa and let sit 5 minutes, covered, and off the heat. This will make 2 cups cooked quinoa. You will know it’s cooked because the outer hulls are popped off.
  • Place all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well. Pour over quinoa and chill. Add remaining salad ingredients. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  • Serve with additional dressing if desired.
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    DIY Glitter Desk

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    My youngest loves art and sometimes it takes over our house a little bit.  I wanted to do a desk in her room for her room but I wanted it to be something different.
    I started with this old school desk for $5 from City Liquidators in Portland, Oregon.

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    I unscrewed the base and scrubbed everything with an SOS pad.
    I coated the desk top with modge podge and went to town with glitter….yes, I keep it in a spice jar.  We go through a lot of glitter, so I combine the last bits to make a “rainbow” glitter.

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    Let it dry completely.  Looks good, but needs another coat!  Use a dry paint brush to brush the loose glitter off.
    Repeat again, coating with modge podge and another coat of glitter.  I used a combination of coarse and fine glitter.  In the last coat I added some glitter shapes as well.  It kind makes a fun “I spy” game.
    The last step is applying a “Pour on high-gloss epoxy” I purchased it at Michael’s, it can get a bit expensive but you can use a 40% off coupon if you get it at Michaels.  Here’s a similar one on Amazon.
    This makes the desk super smooth and shiny.

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    Then I spray painted the base a cute pink. before reattaching.

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    I added a shelf and some pegboard above the desk for storage, along with the bookcase/hutch next to it.  We’ll see how well it contains the art projects/ supplies!

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    I love how sparkly it is!

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    I left the pegboard really big since I figure the upper part she can use to display her art.

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    I’m sure we’ll paint the bookcase a fun color sometime, but we love how this turned out!  What a makeover for a $5 desk!!!

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    Sweet Pork Taco Salad

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    Proof that last minute dinners don’t have to suck… or be handed through a window.  I keep sweet pork in my freezer for just such a night. All though I’ve made it with cooked shredded chicken many times too and loved it just as much.  In fact if I’m having a crazy errand day ending with a trip to Costco, I grab a rotisserie chicken to shred just for this.  Then I freeze the bones to make stock for another meal later.  Either way it’s delicious.  The sweet pork freezes really well so I love having some on hand.  

    SWEET PORK TACO SALAD

    Sweet Pulled Pork

    Black beans (I make them like this)
    Shredded lettuce
    Tomatoes, chopped
    White Onions, chopped
    Tortilla Strips (I just cut tortillas in strips and bake or fry)

    For Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing:
    1 cup packed cilantro leaves
    3 cloves garlic
    1/2 cup sour cream (I use light)
    1/4 cup lime juice
    1/2 cup olive oil
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Blend salad dressing ingredients together in a blender until well blended.
    Toss with salad ingredients.

    Sweet Pork Taco Salad

    Ingredients

    • Sweet Pulled Pork
    • Black beans (I make them like this)
    • Shredded lettuce
    • Tomatoes, chopped
    • White Onions, chopped
    • Tortilla Strips (I just cut tortillas in strips and bake or fry)
    • For Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing:
    • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use light)
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    Instructions

  • Blend salad dressing ingredients together in a blender until well blended.
  • Toss with salad ingredients.
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    Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms

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    I’ve always loved using whole wheat but have never been a big fan of whole wheat pasta.  But I’ve been trying to use more whole grains and less refined flour so I experimented with a couple brands.  And I was super happy to find one we all love.  Delallo for the win! I find it locally at New Seasons Market but it looks like you can order it from their website as well here.
    I love mushrooms but if you don’t, you can leave them out for a roasted garlic sauce… because everyone loves roasted garlic.  At least in my book.

    This is a hearty and super satisfying meal and bonus, it comes together in a flash!

    PASTA WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND MUSHROOMS

    1/2 lb whole wheat capellini (or spaghetti if you like)
    2 T unsalted butter
    1 lb mushrooms, halved
    2 T roasted garlic paste
    2 T whole wheat flour
    1 cup chicken broth
    1/2 cup milk (I use fat free)
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

    Cook the pasta according to package directions. (Capellini only takes a couple of minutes to cook, so I bring a pot of water to a boil while I’m making the sauce, then cook the pasta when the sauce is almost done.)
    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, until caramelized.
    Add the roasted garlic paste and flour and continue to cook for a 1-2 minutes.
    Add milk and chicken broth and stir until thickened, a few minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
    Add the noodles, and some of the pasta cooking water to the sauce if needed to thin and coat the noodles.
    Top with basil and serve.

    Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 lb whole wheat capellini (or spaghetti if you like)
    • 2 T unsalted butter
    • 1 lb mushrooms, halved
    • 2 T roasted garlic paste
    • 2 T whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup milk (I use fat free)
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

    Instructions

  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. (Capellini only takes a couple of minutes to cook, so I bring a pot of water to a boil while I'm making the sauce, then cook the pasta when the sauce is almost done.)
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes, until caramelized.
  • Add the roasted garlic paste and flour and continue to cook for a 1-2 minutes.
  • Add milk and chicken broth and stir until thickened, a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the noodles, and some of the pasta cooking water to the sauce if needed to thin and coat the noodles.
  • Top with basil and serve.
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    Baba Ganoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

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    I don’t like eggplant… at all.  Or so I thought.  Enter Baba Ganoush.  None of the weird eggplant texture and all smoky, roasted flavor thanks to the long roasting time and smoky spices.  We eat hummus frequently and this is a nice way to mix it up a little bit.  My favorite way to eat it is with cucumber slices but flatbread is good too.  Especially Naan.
    And this is actually better made ahead of time, so it’s perfect to make a day or two ahead of time.

    Baba Ganoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

    1 medium eggplant
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    2 garlic cloves
    2 T lemon juice
    1 T olive oil
    1 T plain yogurt (low fat is fine)
    1 T tahini paste
    1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    1/4 tsp cumin

    Pierce the eggplant 6-8 times and place in a glass baking pan.
    Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, then turn over.  Continue baking for 45 more minutes.
    Wrap pan with foil and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
    Remover outer peel and any larger clumps of seeds in the middle.  Don’t worry about getting all the seeds, but the more seeds that are left in, the more bitter the dip will be.
    Break up the eggplant and spread out in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and mix in.
    Place in a fine sieve and let drain for 15-20 minutes.
    Place in a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
    Chill (overnight is best) and serve.
    If desired, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional paprika.
    Serve with pita bread, pita chips, or cucumber slices.

    Baba Ganoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)

    Ingredients

    • 1 medium eggplant
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • 1 T olive oil
    • 1 T plain yogurt (low fat is fine)
    • 1 T tahini paste
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/4 tsp cumin

    Instructions

  • Pierce the eggplant 6-8 times and place in a glass baking pan.
  • Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, then turn over. Continue baking for 45 more minutes.
  • Wrap pan with foil and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remover outer peel and any larger clumps of seeds in the middle. Don't worry about getting all the seeds, but the more seeds that are left in, the more bitter the dip will be.
  • Break up the eggplant and spread out in the pan. Sprinkle with salt and mix in.
  • Place in a fine sieve and let drain for 15-20 minutes.
  • Place in a blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Chill (overnight is best) and serve.
  • If desired, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with additional paprika.
  • Serve with pita bread, pita chips, or cucumber slices.
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    Spiced Paneer Cheese

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    Paneer cheese is just as easy and quick as Fresh Farmer’s Cheese, but you can do something kind of amazing with it.  You can sear it to get golden crispy edges.. just think about that for a minute… Oh, and did I mention it’s amazing with smoky spices in it? Kind of like the bacon of cheese.  Smoky, deep, a little spicy even if you like.  You can even use it in curries.  I can’t decide which version I like better, the curry spiced one, or the smoky paprika spiced version.  So make both and you decide.  You can make it plain without spices of course as well (which might lend better for curries).  Either way, yum!
    Before you start, read this post about choosing milk for cheesemaking, and about equipment here.

    SPICED PANEER CHEESE
    yield: over 1 lb

    1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
    1/2 cup lime juice
    desired spiced, optional (omit for plain paneer)*
    2 T kosher salt (or to taste)

    Prepare your strainer.  Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
    Pour milk  into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
    Whisk in spices (reserving salt for later)
    Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 200 degrees F.
    You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy.  Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.

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    Turn off the heat and add whichever acid you have chosen.  Stir very gently just to combine.  If you don’t see the curds separate add more acid, 1 T at a time.  Stir gently for 2 minutes.  This helps the curds release more whey.

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    Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the prepared lined strainer.  If you aren’t sure if you got all the curds, strain the whey to the side of the curds.
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    Drain for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle salt and any other seasonings and quickly fold in.

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    Let drain for a few minutes, then lightly squeeze the muslin to release more whey.
    Gather the ends of the muslin and twist to release more whey.  Lay a plate and place a weight (filling your empty milk just with water or a pot works well) on top.

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    Press for 15-30 minutes, then cool to further firm cheese.

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    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

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    *SPICE IDEAS:
    Curried Paneer:
    Use 2-3 T curry powder
    Smoky Spiced Paneer:
    Use 2-3 T smoked paprika, 1 tsp ancho chili powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and use smoked salt instead of plain kosher.

    Paneer can by seared in a hot skillet.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
    Add sliced or cubed paneer and flip when browned.  Cook until browned on other side.
    Sprinkle with salt if desired while hot.

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    Spiced Paneer Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 1 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
    • 1/2 cup lime juice
    • desired spiced, optional (omit for plain paneer)*
    • 2 T kosher salt (or to taste)

    Instructions

  • Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
  • Pour milk into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
  • Whisk in spices (reserving salt for later)
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 200 degrees F.
  • You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy. Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.
  • Turn off the heat and add whichever acid you have chosen. Stir very gently just to combine. If you don’t see the curds separate add more acid, 1 T at a time. Stir gently for 2 minutes. This helps the curds release more whey.
  • Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the prepared lined strainer. If you aren’t sure if you got all the curds, strain the whey to the side of the curds.
  • Drain for 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle salt and any other seasonings and quickly fold in.
  • Let drain for a few minutes, then lightly squeeze the muslin to release more whey.
  • Gather the ends of the muslin and twist to release more whey. Lay a plate and place a weight (filling your empty milk just with water or a pot works well) on top.
  • Press for 15-30 minutes, then cool to further firm cheese.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
  • Paneer can by seared in a hot skillet. Heat a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  • Add sliced or cubed paneer and flip when browned. Cook until browned on other side.
  • Sprinkle with salt if desired while hot.
  • SPICE IDEAS:
    Curried Paneer:
  • Use 2-3 T curry powder
  • Smoky Spiced Paneer:
  • Use 2-3 T smoked paprika, 1 tsp ancho chili powder, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and use smoked salt instead of plain kosher.
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    Fresh Farmer Style Cheese

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    I know I said Ricotta is the “gateway cheese” but this follows close behind.  This is cheese at it’s simplest.  Milk, acid, and some salt for flavoring.   If you want an impressive appetizer, nothing beats lemon or citrus cheese with some crackers.  You could use it to make something more involved, but honestly if you make homemade cheese you should let it shine in it’s most pure and simple form.
    Queso Blanco is refreshing with spicy foods, and the perfect pairing to Mexican food.
    Now, enough chit chat, GO MAKE CHEESE!!!!
    Before you start, read this post about choosing milk for cheesemaking, and about equipment here.

    FRESH FARMER STYLE CHEESE
    makes approx. 1 lb

    1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
    1/4 cup acid* (see note at bottom of recipe)
    kosher salt to taste (start with about 1/2 tsp)

    Prepare your strainer.  Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink. (or line a mold with butter muslin, pictures later on for those directions)

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    Pour milk and into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
    Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 200 degrees F.
    You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy.  Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.

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    Turn off the heat and add whichever acid you have chosen.  Stir very gently just to combine.  If you don’t see the curds separate add more acid, 1 T at a time.  Stir gently for 2 minutes.  This helps the curds release more whey.

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    Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the prepared lined strainer.  If you aren’t sure if you got all the curds, strain the whey to the side of the curds.  You just made cheese! Yay!
    Sprinkle salt and any other seasonings and fold in.
    For a creamier cheese you can mix in a tablespoon or 2 of heavy cream.
    Let drain for a few minutes, then lightly squeeze the muslin to release more whey.  Or for a dryer cheese, tie the corners of the muslin in a knot and hang from a cabinet knob or banana tree (with a bowl underneath to catch drips) and drain for 1 hour.

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    If you want to press the cheese into a mold, gather up the ends of the butter muslin and put the bundle of curds into a cheese mold.

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    Place a weight on top and leave for 1 hour.

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    CHEESE!!!

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    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days

    NOTE ABOUT CHOOSING AN ACID:.
    To achieve coagulation (the separation of curds and whey) you need an acid.  The flavor of cheese you’ll have depends on the type of acid you’ll use.  Citrus juices will leave more of an citrus aftertaste, vinegar will have a cleaner more neutral flavor.

    Lemon Cheese:
    Use lemon juice (Can add zest for more flavor too)
    Citrus Cheese:
    Use a mixture of citrus juices, such as lemon and orange.  Just remember some citrus juices are less acidic than others, and may not be able to achieve coagulation.  For this reason I recommend using at least half lemon juice.  You can always add extra citrus juice for more flavor.  Adding zest will add the most flavor as well.
    Queso Blanco:
    Use apple cider or white distilled vinegar.  This is a nice mild cheese excellent for crumbling into Mexican dishes.

    Fresh Farmer Style Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized
    • 1/4 cup acid* (see note at bottom of recipe)
    • kosher salt to taste (start with about 1/2 tsp)

    Instructions

  • Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink. (or line a mold with butter muslin, pictures later on for those directions)
  • Pour milk and into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 200 degrees F.
  • You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy. Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.
  • Turn off the heat and add whichever acid you have chosen. Stir very gently just to combine. If you don’t see the curds separate add more acid, 1 T at a time. Stir gently for 2 minutes. This helps the curds release more whey.
  • Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop the curds into the prepared lined strainer. If you aren't sure if you got all the curds, strain the whey to the side of the curds. You just made cheese! Yay!
  • Sprinkle salt and any other seasonings and fold in.
  • For a creamier cheese you can mix in a tablespoon or 2 of heavy cream.
  • Let drain for a few minutes, then lightly squeeze the muslin to release more whey. Or for a dryer cheese, tie the corners of the muslin in a knot and hang from a cabinet knob or banana tree (with a bowl underneath to catch drips) and drain for 1 hour.
  • If you want to press the cheese into a mold, gather up the ends of the butter muslin and put the bundle of curds into a cheese mold.
  • Place a weight on top and leave for 1 hour.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days
  • NOTE ABOUT CHOOSING AN ACID:.
  • To achieve coagulation (the separation of curds and whey) you need an acid. The flavor of cheese you'll have depends on the type of acid you'll use. Citrus juices will leave more of an citrus aftertaste, vinegar will have a cleaner more neutral flavor.
  • Lemon Cheese:
  • Use lemon juice (Can add zest for more flavor too)
  • Citrus Cheese:
  • Use a mixture of citrus juices, such as lemon and orange. Just remember some citrus juices are less acidic than others, and may not be able to achieve coagulation. For this reason I recommend using at least half lemon juice. You can always add extra citrus juice for more flavor. Adding zest will add the most flavor as well.
  • Queso Blanco:
  • Use apple cider or white distilled vinegar. This is a nice mild cheese excellent for crumbling into Mexican dishes.
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    DIY Ricotta Cheese

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    Ricotta cheese is definitely the “gateway cheese”.  I’m pretty sure most, if not all, people I know have had ricotta cheese that came from a carton.  But they have also not had the chance to enjoy fresh, homemade ricotta.  It is such a vastly different product that it will instantly sell you on the notion of going to the trouble (all though, it really is incredibly quick and easy!) of making your own.  It is so scrumptious you may not even want to cook with it.  You may want to sprinkle it with salt and pepper, drizzle of olive oil, and spread it on slices of baguettes… or just eat it with a spoon.  Can you say that about a carton of mystery cheese from the supermarket?!
    Before you start, read this post about choosing milk for cheesemaking, and about equipment here.

    DIY RICOTTA CHEESE
    Makes approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups

    1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra pasteurized (see milk buying guide here)
    1 to 4 cups cream (Ultra pasteurized is okay here)*
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    kosher salt, to taste (I usually add 1/2-1 tsp)

    Prepare your strainer.  Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
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    Pour milk and cream into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
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    Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 190 degrees F.
    You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy.  Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.
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    Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.  Stir very gently just to combine.  If you don’t see the curds separate add lemon juice, 1 T at a time.  Remove from the heat, cover, and leave undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
    Pour the curds and whey into the prepared strainer.
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    Drain for about 10 minutes then gently twist the ends to squeeze out more whey.
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    Scrape out into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings.
    Very gently mix in.  Over mixing will make the ricotta drier and crumblier so be quick for the creamiest texture!
    If it isn’t as creamy as you want, try adding a few spoons of heavy cream.
    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

    Note: The more cream you use, the creamier your ricotta with be.  I typically use 2 cups per half gallon of milk.
    In this instance, ultra-pasteurized is okay for the heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) because it is being used for added butterfat.  This will make for a super creamy ricotta, instead of a drier, crumbly farmer cheese.

    DIY Ricotta Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra pasteurized (see milk buying guide here)
    • 1 to 4 cups cream (Ultra pasteurized is okay here)*
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • kosher salt, to taste (I usually add 1/2-1 tsp)

    Instructions

  • Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
  • Pour milk and cream into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 190 degrees F.
  • You'll know you're getting close when the milk gets foamy. Don't let it boil though, as the cheese won't taste quite as good.
  • Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir very gently just to combine. If you don't see the curds separate add lemon juice, 1 T at a time. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
  • Pour the curds and whey into the prepared strainer. Drain for about 10 minutes then gently twist the ends to squeeze out more whey.
  • Scrape out into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings.
  • Very gently mix in. Over mixing will make the ricotta drier and crumblier so be quick for the creamiest texture!
  • If it isn't as creamy as you want, try adding a few spoons of heavy cream.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
  • Note: The more cream you use, the creamier your ricotta with be. I typically use 2 cups per half gallon of milk.
  • In this instance, ultra-pasteurized is okay for the heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) because it is being used for added butterfat. This will make for a super creamy ricotta, instead of a drier, crumbly farmer cheese.
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    http://mystainedapron.com/diy-ricotta-cheese/

    Beginning Cheesemaking

    Cheesemaking can be as complicated or as simple as you want it to be.  I have yet to delve into making hard cheese.. but I am sure in time I will 🙂 I keep thinking about getting a mini fridge to put in the garage to make into a cheesecave. But until then I will enjoy making fresh cheeses.  They take minimal time, effort, and equipment.
    I’m going to break it down for you to make it simple.
    As far as the equipment goes, this is what you’ll need to start:

    DSC07245

    Thermometer
    Large, stainless steel pot with a heavy bottom.  My favorite is one from IKEA.
    Large colander (Stainless or enamel, nonreactive)
    Measuring cups and spoons
    Long handled spoon (I prefer a stainless steel one, dishwasher safe so easy to sanitize)
    Butter muslin or nut milk bag (You can also use multiple layers of cheesecloth)
    Nut milk bags are my favorite because they work well and they are very washable.  The butter muslin does the same pretty much but the nut milk bags can be reused longer and don’t fray.

    DSC07248

    Some other non-necessity items you may want later:
    My favorite thermometer is a long glass one, here is a similar one.
    Cheese molds
    Banana tree for hanging cheese to drain.  (You can totally hang it from a cabinet knob too)

    You might have most of this in your kitchen all ready.  A good resource if you need it though is cheesemaking.com or even Amazon has some cheesemaking supplies.

    As far as choosing the right milk, read this here.

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