quick and easy plain home-made yogurt


I have decided to stop eating junk food during the week when I’m at school. I’ve only been eating healthy on weekends and it’s beginning to show on the scale. I’ve begun to feel uncomfortably bloated.  So this week, I made a pot of guisada at home to take with me for meals during the week. I also made a bowl of yogurt to go, and I’m bringing about a half dozen ripe mangoes with me to enjoy.

Mangoes are in season, and we are enjoying the bounties from neighbors, family, and friends. Even if they don’t have a tree, we share the riches. There’s nothing like a bowl of ice cold mango topped with fresh yogurt. And the best kind of yogurt is the one you make yourself. It’s so pretty, the top is like glass! It reflects the view from my kitchen window. Here is my recipe for yogurt that sets in an hour.

Plain Yogurt

1 8 oz carton of plain yogurt, it must have active yogurt cultures
1 liter whole milk

In a medium saucepan, pour the milk. Put the pot over a medium flame and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges. On a candy thermometer, this would read about 150˚F. This is called scalding milk. It takes about 10 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the milk cool to between 115˚F to 110˚F. If a skin forms on top of the milk, skim it off with a spatula and discard.

When the milk has reach the cooler temperature, add the entire carton of yogurt and stir. Transfer to a ceramic dish and cover it. Put it in a warm draft free place for about 1 hour to set. You will know it has set when the surface is solid to touch and when the bowl is tilted, there is no liquid sloshing about.

Refrigerate overnight. Or if you can’t wait that long, at least 4-6 hours. Eat the yogurt you made with fresh fruit. And like I said, a ripe ice cold mango is so delicious with home made yogurt. There is nothing more satisfying (and virtuous) than eating your own yogurt. To quote Ina Garten, “How easy is that?”


strawberry snow froyo


The warm weather is finally here! Today the temperature was nearly 90˚F and I was so glad that my Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine arrived from Amazon. This dessert is cool and refreshing, tart and slightly sweet, with a delicate hint of orange.

Strawberry Snow Froyo

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: none
Servings: 1

1 cup shaved ice
1 scoop frozen strawberry yogurt (I used frozen kefir)
1/4 cup chilled strawberry syrup (recipe to follow)
sliced strawberries to garnish

Put shaved ice in an individual serving bowl. Put a scoop of frozen yogurt on top of the ice. Spoon the cooled syrup all over the frozen yogurt then garnish with sliced strawberries.

strawberry syrup (from Emeril Lagasse):

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
Servings: 2 1/2 cups

1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, simmering for 15-18 minutes until the mixture is reduced by one-third and the syrup thickens. Cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

yogurt-marinated oven fried chicken

yogurt marinated oven fried chicken

My first summer in college when my culinary skills were nonexistent I ate Shake N Bake chicken almost daily. It was crunchy on top and on the bottom it was like eating down to the soggy bottom of a bowl of cereal! I loved it. But I avoided Shake N Bake after I was married because I found I could make my own crumb coating. In the various recipes I’ve tried, I’ve used cornflakes or breadcrumbs. Well, my son had a hankering for KFC this weekend,  but I refused to give in to his craving for fast food. It was, nevertheless, a perfect excuse to try Art Smith’s recipe for Oven -Unfried chicken. It came out quite crunchy, tender, and moist with a slight spiciness so that even my son grudgingly admitted it was as good as KFC. However, I suspect he may have been merely diplomatic, after all he knows his mother is vain about her cooking. So here is my version of Art Smith’s recipe called

Yogurt-Marinated Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts (based on a recipe by Art Smith)

Prep time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

3/4 cup low fat Greek style yogurt
1/4 cup low fat milk
1 tablespoon Sriracha Sauce (reduce to 1 teaspoon if less heat is desired)
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut in half

Crumb Coating:
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons chili pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

Cooking spray

1. In a bowl, combine the yogurt, milk, and Sriracha. Coat the chicken in the yogurt mixture and marinate at least 1 hour on the countertop (up to a maximum of 12 hours) in the refrigerator.  Lightly spray a baking tray with cooking spray and set aside.
2. While the chicken is marinating, make the breadcrumb mixture. In a large gallon size plastic bag, put the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and spices. Shake to blend.
3. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
4. Using tongs, pick up the chicken breasts, one at a time, from the yogurt marinade and put inside the bag. Shake the bag well, until the chicken is thoroughly coated.
5. Put the chicken on the prepared tray. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated in the breadcrumb mixture. Put the tray with the chicken pieces, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This dries out the crumb coating and may help it adhere better to the chicken.
6. Remove the tray from the refrigerator. Lightly spray each chicken piece with the cooking spray. Bake 30-40 minutes. Test a piece 5 minutes before cooking time is up to see if it is done. The juices should run clear or it should reach an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.