Tag Archives: cheese

Making Your Own Fresh Mozzarella

I recently discovered how easy it would be to make my own mozzarella. So about two weeks ago now the husband and I decided to go for it, we had been considering it for a while but eventually you just need to jump in. We ordered the vegetable rennet on Amazon and Amazon Prime had it to us in time for use on Saturday. We made roughly two pounds of cheese that first Saturday, for just a little over $5, seriously. Now depending on the cost of milk in your area a pound of fresh mozzarella can run you from $2.5 to $6 a pound, it just depends on what you are paying for milk. I found making our own fun and far more cost-effective than buying it. I will give you the recipe and let you be the judge for yourself.

Making Your Own Fresh Mozzarella

This last Saturday, we celebrated our oldest daughter’s fourth birthday, and we had homemade pizza for dinner that night. Now I could have easily pulled out the frozen ball of cheese from the week before for use on the pizzas that night but a friend wanted to try his hand at it. So we let him make the cheese for the pizza that night. I gave him the directions I had, and the husband and I helped him, with our experience we gained from the time before. In under an hour, probably closer to half an hour, we had fresh mozzarella for pizza.

Making the mozzarella leaves you with lots of whey. Now the whey need not go to waste. It can be used in baked goods in place of water, in smoothies, or even in soups.  If you come up with other suggestions I would love to hear them!

Fresh Mozzarella (adapted from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company)

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid

1/8 teaspoon double strength liquid vegetable rennet ( or 1/4 tablet rennet, or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet. Read the directions on your rennet to see which you have. We have the double strength so that is what my directions here are for.)

1 gallon whole milk (Almost any milk can be used in place of whole just be sure your milk is not ULTRA-pasteurized)

1 teaspoon table salt

Supplies

A non-reactive pot that will hold at least 5 quarts

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Thermometer that can accurately read temperatures as low as 85 degrees

8 inch knife or a spatula that is long enough to cut the curds (It does not need to be a sharp instrument just a long enough one.)

Large sieve (A slotted spoon or cheese cloth will do. I just prefer a sieve)

Microwavable bowl

*Rubber gloves (This last item is not needed, although some people might like to use them. I do not use them myself. I just make sure my hands are throughly washed before handling the curds and I prepare myself for handling hot curds.)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl measure 1 cup of cool water. Gently stir in your citric acid, until dissolved.
  2. In a second small bowl measure 1/4 cup cool water. Gently stir in your rennet until dissolved.
  3. Add your milk and your citric acid solution to your large pot. Gently stir your milk and citric acid solution until they reach 90 degrees. (All temperatures are in Fahrenheit, for the record, for my friends from around the world.)
  4. Once the milk has reached 90 degrees add your water and rennet mixture, while stirring your pot continually until you have reached the count of 30. Then stop stirring, remove your pot from the heat, and cover your pot. Let the pot sit covered for 5 minutes.
  5. After 5 minutes you will need to uncover your pot, and check the consistency of the milk. The milk should have set and resemble silken tofu. If you can not tell by visual inspection gently touch the top. (If it has not set let your milk sit another 5 minutes.)  Cut the curds into a grid pattern, ensure that you cut all the way through the curds with your knife reaching the bottom of the pan. I recommend about one inch size squares.
  6. Put your curds back on the burner. You will need to cook them until they reach 105 degrees, stirring the pot of curds all the while. You don’t want to break up the curds too much, so stir the curds along the grid pattern you cut previously. As you cook them more they will further separate  from the yellow whey.
  7. Remove the curds and whey from the heat, and continue to stir them for another 5 minutes. (You will need to reserve roughly 1 1/12 cups of whey for storage of your cheese.)
  8. Using your sieve separate your curds from the whey. Put your curds in a microwave-safe bowl once separated.
  9. Put your bowl full of curds in the microwave for one minute. Using your sieve drain off the additional whey that is in the bowl. For the record, at this point the curds should resemble cottage cheese.
  10. After you have strained them, gently fold the curds over on themselves a couple of times. They should still be loose at this point. (You may also want to use the gloves, if you find the curds too hot to handle.)
  11. Check the temperature of the curds. You want the curds to be at 135 degrees. If they are not at 135 degrees microwave in 30 spurts checking temperature after every 30 seconds, until they have reached 135 degrees. (They will not be able to properly stretch until they reach 135 degrees.)
  12. Once the curds are up to temperature, you will need to stretch them. Sprinkle your salt over the curds and work it in with your fingers. Using both hands, fold and stretch your cheese . You will want to be careful to not over work your cheese. You will know  it is  done when it is firm and has a glossy sheen.
  13. At this point you can shape your cheese into one round ball or a couple smaller ones. If you shape it into several bite sized balls those are called: bocconcini.
  14. You can use it immediately. Store it in the fridge, in the whey, for up to a week. Or you can freeze it, being sure to completely submerge it in the whey, for up to six months. The whey you are using for storage of the cheese should also have one teaspoon of salt added. (Frozen will not have quite the same texture as fresh. So recipes where fresh is required such as caprese salad, don’t use the frozen. The frozen can be thawed out and used for lasagna or pizza wonderfully though.)

Enjoy!

***Let me know how this recipe works for you! If you need any clarification I am here for you!***

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Thin Crust Pizzas

Today I just want to share a fun idea for lunches that even your youngest children can help you make, personal thin crust pizzas. To give you an idea how your kids can help you make these I will share what mine did when we made them. Chloe, my three-year old, put all the toppings on her pizza while I supervised, as to make sure she didn’t go over board. Paige, my two-year old, sprinkled the toppings I had already set out for her after I had put her pizza sauce on the pizza.

I also want to note that these are great for lunches because they come together quickly, and take only a little bit in the oven. I also think they are great because they can  be made according to each person’s preferences.

So today here is my recipe for the one I made myself.

Personal Thin Crust Pizzas

Fresh Mozzarella and Spinach Personal Thin Crust Pizzas ( 2 pizzas)

Fresh Mozzarella Pearls ~ half a small container or two handfuls

Italian Blend Shredded Cheeses ~ enough to lightly sprinkle on each pizza

Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves

Freshly Grated Garlic ~ 2 small cloves

Pizza Sauce ~ approximately two tablespoons

Small (taco size) Tortillas ~ 2

1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Place your tortillas on a small pan. Spread your pizzas sauce on the tortillas.

2.  Spread your handful of mozzarella pearls around each pizza, one handful per pizza.

3. Lay out your fresh spinach leaves on top of the mozzarella.

4. Sprinkle your Italian blend cheese lightly on top on of spinach.

5. Grate one small clove of garlic over each pizza.

6. Place your pizzas in the oven for 5-6 minutes. Check pizzas at 5 minutes. If the cheese is melted and bubbly they are done, otherwise let cook for another minute. Then enjoy!

 

***What sort of toppings do you like on your pizza?***

 

 

 

Caprese Salad With Purple Basil

This summer you might have seen me tending my garden if you happened to come by the house. My most successful harvest was the herbs I had planted. I experimented with several different kinds of basil this year. I had my go to basil, sweet basil. Then the next variety I was eager to work with was the Boxwood basil. I also planted a purple basil but mostly because I thought it looked pretty. So imagine my surprise when purple basil quickly became my new favorite.

I made caprese salad pasta with it. I used it in marinara sauces. I even threw it in a few odd dishes. It has this wonderful aroma and flavor that I find hard to describe, but love to savor. I took one final trimming with me yesterday after I turned over the keys.

This evening I used those trimmings to make a dish, that to me, just screams summer, caprese salad. I made it for lunch tomorrow but I just had to have a bite tonight and it was so fresh and delicious.

Caprese Salad With Purple Basil

Your main stars to a caprese salad.

Caprese Salad with Purple Basil

4 medium tomatoes, diced

8 oz fresh mozzarella pearls

6-8 purple basil leaves cut into strips

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Extra light will do if that is all you have, like me.)

salt to taste

1. Dice up your tomatoes. (You will want to be sure your tomatoes are as ripe as possible.) Place in medium size bowl.

2. Drain your mozzarella pearls. Then gently stir mozzarella and tomatoes together.

3. Measure 4 tablespoons olive oil into your bowl.

4. Cut basil strips and sprinkle in your bowl.

5. Lightly season with salt, and then stir all your ingredients once more.

 

Enjoy!

 

***Have you ever tried purple basil? If so what are some of your favorite ways to enjoy it?***

Pancetta Wrapped Chicken

So I have sat here for several minutes trying to think of the best way to describe Pancetta Wrapped Chicken, and I am at a loss for words. I can tell you that my family absolutely loves it and I swear I feel like it melts in my mouth, but that description still feels lacking to me. All I can really say is give it a try. I am sure you will love it just as much as we do.

Pancetta Wrapped Chicken

You will need:

Thin sliced chicken breast or tenders

Pancetta (I recommend getting Boar’s Head thinly sliced)

Spinach (Fresh baby spinach works best, but a partially defrosted frozen will work as well.)

Mozzarella slices

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

McCormick poultry seasoning

Tooth picks

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Use a rolling-pin or heavy can to roll the chicken out to an even thickness. Lay out enough slices of pancetta to go the length of 1 chicken breast. Season the chicken lightly with salt and poultry seasoning and generously with pepper. Top chicken with cheese, half a slice will do, and then add . Roll the layers together and then use toothpicks to hold together. Brush with olive oil. Bake uncovered 25 minutes. Check temperature. Cook another ten to fifteen minutes, if not at temperature. (The length of time will vary depending on how thick the rolls turn out.)

Now you will just need to pull out the tooth picks before enjoying.

 

Note: My husband pointed out that not everyone will want to use mozzarella slices. That is fine. This recipe will work great with cubed, fresh, sliced, or grated. Use what tickles your fancy, or whatever you have on have. I just prefer the slices in this recipe. I feel they make it easier to roll the chicken up.

 

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

 

This recipe is hearty enough to enjoy as a main dish or it can make an excellent side with roast chicken or a grilled steak. It is a recipe that has grown up appeal but can please even young children.  Check it out and let me know how this recipe works for you.

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

Gnocchi Mac n Cheese

Please note: As I make my cheese sauce I may adjust measurements here and there to either adequately cover the noodles I have, or to help bring it to a better consistency. (I like my sauce smooth and creamy.) I also want to point out that I use whatever cheese I have on hand that I think my children may eat, with one exception: cream cheese. I try to make sure I always have some cream cheese on hand for when I want to make mac n cheese or creamed spinach.

Ingredients

Spinach 1/2- 1  cup (depending on preferences)

Cheddar 1 cup

Parmesan 1/2 cup

Mozzarella 3 cups

Whipped Cream Cheese 1/2 cup

Cottage cheese 1/2 cup

Butter 2 oz

milk upwards of 1 1/2 cups

pepper to taste

salt to taste

one bag of gnocchi (I just bought mine from Mejier but I am sure you could find some in a grocery store near you)

light olive oil

 

Cheese Sauce Directions

1. Melt butter in sauce pan over medium low heat .

2. Whisk in a couple oz milk and creamed cheese.

3. Add spinach.

4. Start sprinkling in your mozzarella, Parmesan, and cheddar stir continually. When the mixture becomes thick and tough to stir had a few more ounces milk. Continue like this until the cheese is melted and creamy.

5. When creamy add cottage cheese and turn heat to low. Stirring occasionally.

6. Season with salt and pepper to your preference.

 

Gnocchi

Follow directions on package. You will know they are done when they all float.

 

When the gnocchi is done cooking drain, lightly cover in light olive oil. Then cover with cheese sauce.

 

Enjoy.