Tag Archives: sour cream

Weep no More, My . . . Yogurt?

I hope you’re not throwing out that yogurt or sour cream or ricotta, etc. that is only a few days old, just because it seems to have developed a puddle of watery liquid where you last spooned some out. I know it doesn’t look appetizing, and I usually just pour it off, but you can stir it back in, too, and move on with your recipe.

That liquid actually has a name—whey—and it’s full of nutrients and fine to stir back in. The process of the weeping has a name too—syneresis. Read more about it here.

But if you just can’t stand seeing that liquid, there’s an easy way to prevent it. After you spoon out what you need, use the back of your spoon to smooth out the top of the remaining food, as you might do when frosting a cake. Just smooth it to the point of having no large craters where the whey can seep out.

Here’s what happens when you spoon out some yogurt and just put it away. The next day, the space is filled with watery whey:

Here’s how to prevent that puddle:

Here’s that container after a week of spooning out and smoothing—no whey!

So, if you’re grossed out by that weeping, and you know you’ve been throwing out good food, just smooth it out after using and you’ll be surprised at how brand new it looks every day.

Sour Cream Carrot Breakfast Muffins

I know it seems too soon to post another muffin recipe, but the Tropical Muffins are gone, because my husband was eating them two and three at a time. Well, these are not so sweet, with only half the sugar, and they contain the one secret ingredient that will curb his appetite—cinnamon. I can’t understand who wouldn’t like cinnamon, but there it is, and I use it to my own benefit sometimes.

In addition to sour cream and carrots, there are chopped walnuts and flaked unsweetened coconut, so there are plenty of flavors and textures in these muffins—they’re just not sweet ones. None of the additions—carrots, coconut, nuts, sour cream—are sweet, except for the brown sugar. I think the muffins would be great with some cream cheese and a nice big cup of coffee in the morning. You could certainly sweeten them up with different additions or with a sweet spread. I just wanted something hearty for breakfast.

Sour Cream Carrot Breakfast Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 375°; prepare a muffin pan with paper liners or butter.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

Preparation

  1. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and egg and continue beating until well combined.
  2. Stir in dry ingredients—flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon—just until lightly combined.
  3. Add carrots, nuts, and coconut and mix until well combined. The batter will be thick.
  4. Scoop the better into the muffin cups—it should mound high in the cups, but it will not spread out or run over.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 25 minutes worked for me.

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Revising a Recipe without a Parachute

We’ve had enough days of cold and snow to bring out a desire for some big bran muffins full of walnuts and raisins. Of course I already have a pretty perfect Buttermilk Bran Muffin recipe, just not all of its ingredients. So I just started throwing items in as substitutes, without doing the kinds of searches for correct substitutes that I might usually do.

  • I  had almost 1 1/3 cups of whole wheat flour, but needed 2 cups, so I filled the missing flour with all-purpose flour
  • The wheat bran looked to be about 1 cup, but I needed 2 cups. Whatever, I just threw in what I had and moved on
  • I didn’t have any molasses, so necessary to the typical bran muffin flavor, so I used some dark brown sugar in the same amount
  • I didn’t have any buttermilk, but I had about 1 1/2 cups of sour cream, so I threw that in, plus one container of no-sugar-added vanilla Greek yogurt to make up the 2 cups or so
  • I added a full cup of chopped walnuts instead of the 1/2 cup in the original and lots of raisins, probably more than the 1/2 cup called for
  • Instead of filling the muffin cups to the usual 2/3 full, I scooped in the thick batter so that it towered over the tops like scoops of ice cream in a cone

I wondered if any of these substitutions would adversely affect the texture or flavor of the final bread, but they turned out very good. Lighter in color and sweeter than I expected, these alternative bran muffins fulfilled my desire for a hefty and flavorful winter muffin. Follow the link above for the original recipe and experiment with your own substitutions.

Quick Pork and Pepper Ragout

Quick, because I’m using pork tenderloins instead of a cut that benefits from long cooking, like a pork shoulder. In fact, after browning the tenderloin cubes, You only add them to the sauce at the last minute before serving.

One of my freezer packs of tomato sauce was marked “tomato-pepper” because one day I had a bunch of bell peppers harvested on the same day as some tomatoes. So, instead of roasting the tomatoes with carrots and onion and garlic, I roasted them with the peppers and it all went into the blender. I’ve been waiting for the right recipe to use them. You will have a chunkier sauce if you are using fresh chopped peppers in your sauce. I’m also going to add two chopped red poblanos which may add a little zing (who ever really knows about poblanos?), and I’m marinating the pork cubes in smoked paprika for a smoky pepper taste. Our ripened poblanos turned a dark purplish-red; maybe you can pick those out  in the image of roasted peppers from one of my roasting days:

Quick Pork and Pepper Ragout

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in half inch cubes
  • Marinade:
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 3-4 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and crumbled, fat reserved (I cook mine in the oven)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • about 2 cups combination of peppers of your choice: I had about 4 bell peppers in my sauce (blended) and added 2 chopped roasted red poblanos
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced, grated, or pressed
  • 2- 3 cups tomato sauce or mixture of tomato paste and stock or fresh tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions.
Preparation
  1. Coat pork cubes in marinade and refrigerate for at least a half hour or longer. Mine sat for about 4 hours. I did not add the garlic to the marinade, because I didn’t want it to burn in the browning of the meat.
  2. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons reserved bacon fat and bring to sizzling. Add marinated pork and brown on all sides. You will probably need to cook the meat in 2-3 batches so the cubes don’t touch and create a gray, watery mess. Set browned pork aside.
  3. Add onion, carrots, peppers and garlic to hot pan. Stir until beginning to wilt, then add your tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  4. Stir in pork cubes and heat for just a few minutes.
  5. Serve over pasta; top with crumbled bacon.

If my husband weren’t lactose intolerant, I would stir in 1/4 cup sour cream at the end. Instead, I’m serving it on the side.