Homemade Ghee -or- DIY Clarified Butter

So many recipes in the Paleosphere call for ghee. What’s ghee? Ghee is another name for clarified butter! What’s clarified butter? The stuff that you dip your fingers into at a seafood restaurant… or lobster tail if you are trying to exhibit table manners. Seriously, how tasty is clarified butter? So tasty!

Wait? Butter is Paleo? No. Butter is not Paleo-friendly because it comes from cream, which contains casein and lactose, but when you make ghee, you remove the milk proteins and are left with a delicious nutty fat that is perfect for roasting, sautéing, searing, stir-frying, or melting and drizzling over your favorite veggie.

ANYWAY… it turns out that ghee is incredibly easy (and quick!) to make. I made this really early in the morning because I am a freak and like to wake up before the sun. True story. Then, I used it to make steak and eggs and baked apples. I even thought about putting some of it in my coffee and making Paleo butter coffee, but I thought that might be going a little overboard for one morning. Maybe I will try that next week. :-)

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • 1 pound butter
  • Glass jar for storing the ghee – I used a pint Mason jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Wooden spoon/Solid spoon to skim the foam
  • Pot

Directions:

1.  Over a low heat, melt the butter in your pot.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Use a low heat so your butter does not burn.

2.  Try to avoid stirring your butter as it is melting because you want to milk solids to foam up and separate from the fats. When it starts to look like the picture below, use a wooden or solid spoon to skim the foam off the top.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Not stirring is so hard

You might have to do this a few times to get all of the milk proteins out.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Just keep skimming, just keep skimming…

3.  When it starts to look like the photo above, let it boil for 10-12 minutes. The milk solids may start to brown and float to the side. That’s ok! You want that. That is giving the ghee a deep nutty flavor.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

5

4.  When it the bubbling slows and the browned milk solids start to fall to the bottom of the pan, your ghee is ready to be strained.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Strain any browned bits out.

5.  If you are using a mason jar, place 3 layers of cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and loosely screw on the lid. You want to make sure that the cheesecloth has a little give to it. Notice in the photo above the gap between the cloth and the rim of the lid. Strain any browned bits or foam out.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

This will be HOT. Do not grab it right away!

6.  Discard the cheesecloth. BE CAREFUL! The rim, jar, and ghee will be hot! Let it cool for a bit before you start to handle it.

Ghee - Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

Ta da!

When it cools, it will solidify and turn a nice silky color. You can just scoop out however much you need and start cooking. Since the milk proteins have been removed, you do not need to refrigerate your ghee; however, I do to be on the safe side.

Now, stop reading and go make some ghee!

Heart-Shaped Origami Bookmark

Hello, Internet! I have missed you. I have been MIA on the blog for the last six weeks because I have been furiously trying to find a job. I never dreamed it would be as hard as it was to get a teaching job, but I am happy to report that I will be teaching 7th/8th grade Language Arts come fall (read: in 2 weeks. Eek!). Woo hoo!

I have a pin board called For My Future Classroom. It was a space for me to collect a bunch of teaching-related ideas since I didn’t know what grade I would be teaching up until a few days ago. Now that I know, I have a new board called Teaching Middle School and have been furiously trying to weed through my old pins and find new pins. This got me thinking about the state of all of my other pin boards, and I went a little organization crazy. When I first joined Pinterest, I would pin things without verifying the content or the links. Thus, I had an unintentionally large collection of pins that led nowhere. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a fabulous pin and having it lead to nowhere!

I spent a good amount of last week cleaning up my Pinterest boards. I worked very hard verifying links, writing meaningful comments on each images, and choosing engaging cover images. I still have a few boards to go through, but I am about 85% finished. I hope you enjoy my shiny, new, well-organized collection of pins!

While going through my Gettin’ Crafty board, I stumbled upon a pin for a heart-shaped origami bookmark.

Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com | heart shaped bookmark

I love reading!

I followed this video tutorial from The Cheese Thief using a piece of paper that I cut from a magazine advertisement. She recommends using a 4 inch x 4 inch square in her video, but I found this to be slightly too small to manage the smaller folds. I used a 4.5 inch x 4.5 inch square and felt that the extra half-inch really made things easier for my stubby fingers. :)

This bookmark is holding a spot in The New Rules of Lifting Supercharged, which I HIGHLY recommend if you would like to get stronger, leaner (or bigger if you are looking to add muscle mass), faster, and more fit.

Chicken Enchiladas

For nearly two weeks my husband was asking me to make enchiladas. Since I didn’t plan on blogging about them, I decided to take the easy way out and use a pre-packaged sauce rather than making it from scratch. Rick Bayless has a new line of skillet sauces on the market and they were on sale at my favorite grocery store, A&G Fresh Market. I was pleasantly surprised after reading the ingredient list because I actually recognized and could pronounce everything on there.

Ingredients:

•   Tomato (fresh tomato, roasted fresh tomato, tomato puree, calcium chloride and citric acid)
•   Water
•   New Mexico chile pepper
•   Apple cider vinegar
•   Red bell pepper
•   Salt
•   Onion
•   Garlic
•   Evaporated cane juice
•   Spices
•   Xanthan gum

My husband gobbled these up and with a mouthful of food claimed that he, “would happily eat these once a week for the rest of our marriage.” Enchiladas are a snap to make so that is fine with me!

I am a bad blogger because I didn’t measure anything as I was making these. However, I think about enchiladas the same way I think about pizza. Do you precisely measure out each topping? Or, do you just throw them on there adding more of the things you like and less of things your husband makes you add you aren’t wild about?  What’s the worst that can happen? You end up with too much cheese? Is that even possible? I didn’t think so.

Chicken Enchiladas 

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Red Chili Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 package shredded cheese
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350˚and coat the bottom of an 11 x 7 baking dish with enchilada sauce.

2. Before you start any assembly, you are going to need to shred the chicken. You can buy it already shredded or do it yourself. If you are opting for the DIY method, simply boil 2 chicken breasts in a pot of water until they are cooked through. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the water and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle. Shred by pulling the chicken apart with your fingers or by pulling it apart with two forks. Season the shredded chicken with salt and pepper or your favorite all-purpose seasoning. I used Adobo.

3. In a bowl, mix the shredded chicken with a 2-3 handfuls of cheese (make sure to reserve some for topping your enchiladas!) and a spoonful or two of the enchilada sauce. Exact measurement doesn’t matter, you are just adding a bit of the sauce to help season the chicken.

4. In a separate bowl add some sauce; if I had to guess, I’d say about 1/3 cup. This will be used to moisten your tortillas. Don’t worry about adding “too much” to the bowl. If you have leftover sauce, you can top your enchiladas with it.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 1

5. Next, dip your tortillas into the sauce making sure that both sides are coated.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 2

6. Place some of your chicken/cheese mixture in the middle of the tortilla.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 3

7. Fold one side towards the middle like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 4

8. Fold the other side over the top like so.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 5

9. Place the enchilada seam side down in a baking dish.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 6

10. Repeat this until your baking dish is full. Mine only held 7 tortillas. Yours might hold more, it might hold less.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 7

11. Top with any remaining sauce and cheese.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 8

12. Cover and bake in a 350˚ oven for 15 minutes.

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Step 9

Have leftovers? Chop them up and mix them in with scrambled eggs for a Mexican breakfast treat!

Cucina Kristina | Chicken Enchiladas | cucinakristina.com

Leftovers!

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg “Muffins”

This weekend I experimented a little in the kitchen by attempting to make Prosciutto Egg Cups for breakfast. Rather than following a tried and true recipe for the first go-round and tweaking to my liking, I tried to make up the recipe from the start. The result didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped. Prosciutto Egg Cups are supposed to look like this:

Or, like this:

But, my version looked more like egg muffins. Whoops!

They were still pretty yummy and I think the main problem was that I scrambled the eggs first rather than dropping the whole egg into the Prosciutto. That’s what happens when you don’t follow a recipe. :)

I made two, ate one, and stuck the other in the fridge to see if it would hold up overnight. It did, which is exciting because now I feel like I can make a few of these on Sunday afternoon and have breakfast taken care of for the first few days of the week! If you are going to use this as a grab-and-go breakfast item, I’d recommend heating it up. Cold eggs aren’t very tasty. In fact, they are pretty gross.

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg “Muffins”
Makes 2

Prosciutto, Asparagus, Egg "Muffins" | Cucina Kristina cucinakristina.com

Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 2 stalks of asparagus, roughly chopped
  • 2 baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-6 slices of Prosciutto

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375˚.
  2. Roughly chop asparagus and mushrooms and set aside.
  3. Line 2 ramekins (you could also use a muffin tin) with Prosciutto slices until the bottom and sides are completely covered.
  4. Add the asparagus and mushrooms to the ramekins.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add eggs to ramekins.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes. (I did mine for 27 minutes because they were still a little runny looking at 25 minutes).
  7. When finished cooking, let stand for a few minutes. Slide a knife around the edge of the ramekins to loosen the “muffin.” Serve warm.

I’m Going to a Pin It Party!

Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean is hosting a Pin It Party today! She is also one of the founders of the Foodie Pen Pal program that I have been participating in each month. Her blog is great! You should check it out. By the way, are you following me on Pinterest? :)

Below are some of my favorite posts over the last year. After you are done pinning these awesome recipes, you should head on over to the Pin It Party and check out some other awesome bloggers!

1. Mason Jar Salads
Preparing my salads on Sunday evening for the entire week has been one of the biggest stress relievers of my life. It is so nice being able to wake up in the morning, open my fridge, grab one of these jars and head out the door. The lettuce stays crisp all week too!

Mason Jar Salads. Stay fresh for up to a week in the fridge. Layer hardier ingredients on the bottom and more delicate items on top. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

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2. Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad
Remember when I made mayonnaise from scratch? This is one of my favorite ways to use it! My husband routinely asks me to make this which has to account for something since he likes practically nothing!

Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad. 2 cans tuna, 1 medium apple, diced; 1 cup grapes, sliced in half; 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped; 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped; 1/2 cup celery, diced; 2-3 tablespoons mayo | cucinakristina.com

Homemade Mayo, ftw!

3. Mediterranean Zucchini Cups
These have become a staple appetizer at parties around my house. People RAVE over them and always ask for the recipe. They are so simple and healthy. They are a great in the summer, but are an even better on a gloomy winter day. One bite of these and you feel like you are enjoying lunch on an island in the sun!

Mediterranean Zucchini Cups - Great healthy appetizer or mid-day snack. Under 300 calories | cucinakristina.com

Under 300 Calories!

4. Wonton Pizza Pockets
I am trying, trying, trying to eliminate processed foods from my husband’s diet. He is quite stubborn and refuses to give up his frozen pizzas and his Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Based on the way he gobbled these down, I am pretty sure he liked these more than Totino’s (even though he won’t admit it :) ).

Wonton Pizza Pockets. Great party appetizer or kid-friendly snack. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

5. Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken
Ummmm…. YUM! That is all I have to say about this recipe! Make it tonight and make it often!

Lemon & Rosemary Roasted Chicken. Cucina Kristina | cucinakristina.com

So tasty!

Happy pinning!

Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad

Do you ever have a really great culinary idea that you are sure no one else has thought of? So, you Google it only find that thousands of people, including one of your favorite bloggers, has already thought of it?! That happened to me with this recipe. Sigh.

Alas, this recipe is super tasty and is quickly becoming a weekly staple in our house. I thought of it when I was trying to think of ways to use the homemade mayo I whipped up a few weeks ago. I was trying to think of something more exciting than deviled eggs when it hit me. A Waldorf salad!

A traditional Waldorf salad is made with chicken, apples, and walnuts and served over lettuce. I didn’t have any chicken on hand so I decided to try it with tuna and the result was nothing short of fantastic. I decided to add grapes because I like them and have seen some variations on this recipe include them. I also didn’t have enough walnuts on hand so I added some pecans to make sure the crunch factor was up to par.

The apples and grapes in this salad make it very refreshing on a hot day; it would make a wonderful picnic dish if not for the mayonnaise. You can’t win ‘em all!

Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad

Waldorf-Inspired Tuna Salad. 2 cans tuna, 1 medium apple, diced; 1 cup grapes, sliced in half; 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped; 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped; 1/2 cup celery, diced; 2-3 tablespoons mayo | cucinakristina.com

Homemade Mayo, ftw!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans tuna
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1 cup grapes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced – I used the celery to eat this tuna salad. If you are using it as a sandwich filling, you may want to up the celery to 3/4 of a cup
  • 2-3 tablespoons homemade mayo

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, add the apple, celery, grapes, pecans, and walnuts and toss to combine.
  2. Drain tuna and crumble into the bowl. Toss to combine.
  3. Add mayo and mix thoroughly.
  4. Serve using celery sticks as scoops.

Perfect, Crispy Bacon Every Time!

Bacon, bacon, bacon. Bacon is pretty tasty, but it makes a mess when you fry it up in a pan. This method is the BEST way to get perfect, crispy bacon every time. The clean up is also a snap, which is an added bonus.

Place bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a COLD oven (do not preheat!) and bake for 15-17 minutes. Perfect, crispy bacon every time!  | cucinakristina.com

Mmmm!

Guess what? It took less than 20 minutes to make and clean up wasn’t a hot, dangerous disaster. It’s true! No greasy mess. No pouring hot bacon grease into an old soup can (although that is a fantastic way to add delicious flavor to anything you are frying or sautéing).

Start by completely covering a baking sheet in foil. It may take a few layers depending on the size of your baking sheet. I was using my toaster oven so I was able to cover my pan with a single layer of foil.

Lay bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Place bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a COLD oven (do not preheat!) and bake for 15-17 minutes. Perfect, crispy bacon every time!  | cucinakristina.com

Start with a COLD oven.

Place the baking sheet in a cold oven. Let me repeat that in case you glossed over it. DO NOT pre-heat your oven. Place the bacon in a cold oven, turn your oven to 425˚ and go do something else for 15-17 minutes. You’ll want to keep an eye on your bacon towards the end because it can burn rather quickly.

When the bacon is done cooking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer bacon to paper towels to drain immediately. This will stop the cooking process.

If desired, you can pour the bacon grease into an old soup can and save for other uses. Otherwise, let the grease cool and thicken for a few minutes before removing the foil. You can discard the foil with the grease intact and your pan will stay clean!

Place bacon in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in a COLD oven (do not preheat!) and bake for 15-17 minutes. Perfect, crispy bacon every time!  | cucinakristina.com

Crispy bacon makes a perfect triple BLAT!

This is a great way to cook a large amount of bacon at one time. I used this method when I was preparing brunch for 10 people and it worked like a charm. I was able to make an entire package of bacon in less than 20 minutes!

If you need a way to use bacon slices other than alongside eggs here are some ideas. You can use crispy bacon to make sandwiches or you can crumble the bacon and add it to salads or soups. You can also top mashed or baked potatoes with bacon. If you are a sweet and salty type of person, you could make Maple-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream. Yum!

DIY Dry-Erase Love Note Board

For the "little things"

For the “little things”

Inspired by my DIY dry-erase board, I started surfing Pinterest to get other dry-erase ideas. I was looking for something that would help me organize my pantry when I found this adorable dry-erase love note board over at A Content Housewife.

My husband and I work opposite hours so he is usually sleeping when I leave for school in the morning and gone by the time I get home from the gym at night. This is such a cute way for us to stay connected throughout the week.

You’ll need:

  • 1 frame – I got mine at Michael’s on sale for $7
  • 1 sheet of scrapbook paper – $.50

The font I used was called “Loopi” and you can download it here.

I made this for Valentine’s Day, but it would be a great one-year anniversary gift since the first anniversary is paper!

It is fun to find your partner has changed the note!

It is fun to find your partner has changed the note!

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Making homemade broth is incredibly simple and seems to really impress people. It is also inexpensive, totally customizable, and so much better tasting than any canned broth or bullion cube on the market. I make homemade vegetable broth approximately once a month. I keep a gallon sized freezer bag in my freezer and throw any vegetable trimmings and ends from my food prep into it.

Store vegetable trimmings in a freezer bag to make homemade vegetable broth

Store vegetable trimmings in a freezer bag to make homemade vegetable broth

When the bag gets full, I dump it out into a large pot of water and 4-5 hours later have a rich, dark amber broth that is perfect to use as a soup base. You can refrigerate the broth if you are using it that week or freeze it for later use. I like to freeze my broth in ice cube trays and use them to cool down hot soup. I use this method for cooling down my hot coffee.

Ice Cube Tray Measurements

2 cubes = 1/4 cup
4 cubes = 1/2 cup
6 cubes = 3/4 cup
8 cubes = 1 cup

Save Vegetable Peelings and Ends for Homemade Vegetable Broth | cucinakristina.com

Don’t discard gems like this!

This is also a great way to use up any vegetables you won’t be able to eat before they spoil. The smell that will seep throughout your house is amazing as this broth is simmering. The hardest part about making broth is waiting

Ingredients that can be used:

  • Carrots (shavings, tops, trimmings)
  • Parsnips (shavings, tops, trimmings)
  • Radishes (trimmings)
  • Celery (leaves, base, trimmings)
  • Onion/Shallots (all types! skins and trimmings)
  • Garlic (skins and trimmings)
  • Mushrooms (whole or scraps)
  • Fennel (trimmings, base, tops, scraps)
  • Leeks (base, tops, trimmings)
  • Turnips – I always toss a whole one into any batch of stock
  • Any vegetable you have on hand!
  • Herbs (rosemary, oregano, parsley, whatever you like!)
Freeze odds and ends for later

Freeze odds and ends for later

The great thing about this method is that your broth will change flavor depending on the scraps you collected in the bag. Generally, I make sure to add a few garlic cloves, an extra onion that is chopped into quarters, and a turnip. I find the turnip gives the broth a nice earthy undertone that is otherwise missing.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Save Vegetable Peelings and Ends for Homemade Vegetable Broth | cucinakristina.com

Simmer for ~4 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 turnip, quartered
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bag of vegetable trimmings*
  • Water – The amount of water you start with will depend on the size of your pot. Generally speaking, you want the water to reduce to about 1/3 of the original amount. The more it reduces, the more concentrated your broth will be.
  • Salt and pepper**

*NOTE: If you do not collect trimmings and want to make broth from scratch just use whole ingredients from the list above.

**Generally, I don’t add salt or pepper to my broth. I usually wait until I am cooking with it to add salt, pepper, herbs, etc. However, you should experiment and season according to your taste!

Directions:

  1. Place all items in a pot and fill with water. Leave about 1 inch from the top of the pot.
  2. Bring water to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer for ~4 hours. Times will vary depending on the size of your pot so be sure to check periodically the first time you do this.
  4. When the water has reduced to about 1/3 of the amount, remove from heat and strain.
  5. Let the veggies cool and then squeeze them over the broth to make sure you get all the flavor you can out of them.
  6. Strain again to remove any big chunks of vegetables.
  7. Freeze in ice cube trays and store ice cubes in a large freezer bag.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Homemade Sriracha Mayonnaise

I have never like mayonnaise. I can’t even tolerate it when the flavor is masked and mixed into things. Potato salad? No, thanks. Ranch dressing? Bleh! Sandwich spread? I prefer mustard. Can you imagine my surprise when one night I was craving mayonnaise? I imagine that my body wasn’t craving mayonnaise as much as it was craving fat, but either way I was too lazy to drive to the store, and I decided to make some. Yup. On a whim I decided to whip up some homemade mayonnaise.

I read this recipe from The Clothes Make the Girl and this recipe from Alton Brown and decided to combine the two. I must have gotten lucky because it came together beautifully, tasted amazing, and was super easy. Apparently, mayonnaise is rather finicky and can separate easily if not prepared correctly. 

I will be up front and honest, I have only tried this recipe once, and like I said, I may have gotten lucky. But, if you are a fellow mayonnaise hater, I strongly urge you to make some from scratch. You just may be a convert. I am!

Homemade Mayonnaise
Yields ~1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 cup light olive oil

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, combine egg yolk, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, mustard and salt. I used the blade attachment and let it whirl for about 20-30 seconds.
  2. SLOWLY drizzle the oil into the food processor. Pour as slowly as you can and then slow it down even more. This part should take about 3-5 minutes.
  3. When you have poured all of the oil into the food processor, let it whirl for another 15-20 seconds.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Sriracha Mayonnaise

Sweet and Spicy

Sweet and Spicy

Ingredients:

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, maybe a little more depending on the size of your sweet potato
  • Seasoned salt
  • 3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise (see above!)
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425˚.
  2. Peel sweet potato and cut into strips about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Toss in melted coconut oil, season with seasoned salt, and spread evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes or until they brown evenly. If you are feeling extra enthusiastic, flip them at the halfway mark.
  5. In a small dish, mix 3 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Sirarcha sauce until well combined.
  6. Dip sweet potato fries into the Sirarcha mayonnaise and enjoy the flavor explosion!