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How To Make Greek-Style Yogurt

If you’ve ever had Greek yogurt you know just how thick, rich, and creamy it is.  There are few things its texture and smoothness can be compared with…buttercream, or even ice cream, maybe?  But if you’re a fan of Greek yogurt you also know that it’s actually healthy for you, unlike buttercream, ice cream, etc.  Just how thick is it, you say?  To me, it’s like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream.

Its uses are endless and it’s great in both sweet and savory contexts.  My husband calls it lebaneh and eats it with pita bread and olive oil.  It can be used in smoothies, as a topping for fruit, mixed with herbs as a dip for veggies, as a substitute for mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, etc…its uses go on and on. 

The only downfall of Greek yogurt is it’s price, but that’s easily remedied by turning regular yogurt into Greek-style yogurt at home (a 32 oz container of plain yogurt only costs $1.99!).  I’d say that’s a pretty sweet (or savory) deal.

Greek-Style Yogurt

Greek-Style Yogurt

Greek-Style Yogurt

(Yield:  ~20 oz, or ~2/3 of the container that you started with)

32 Oz Plain, Low-Fat Yogurt (you don't have to make this amount, just make as much or as little as you want)

32 Oz Plain, Low-Fat Yogurt (you don't have to make this amount, just make as much or as little as you want)

 

32 oz container plain, low-fat yogurt

1 strainer fitted over a bowl

3 coffee filters (or cheesecloth)

Plastic wrap

Place the strainer inside the bowl; place the 3 coffee filters overlapping inside the strainer so that they hang over the strainer’s edge.  Put the yogurt on top of the strainers and cover it with plastic wrap.  Leave this in the fridge for ~1 day (more or less depending on how thick you like your Greek yogurt), making sure to empty the whey that collects in the bottom of the bowl.

 

NOTE:  You can use the whey for other things (it’s protein rich!), so don’t discard it.  Blend it with fruit for a pre-workout smoothie…add it to cooked oatmeal…add it to recipes for baked goods…you get the idea.

Overlap the Coffee Filters, and Allow Some to Hang Over the Edge

Overlap the Coffee Filters, and Allow Some to Hang Over the Edge

The Yogurt Is Basically At the Top of the Strainer At First

The Yogurt Is Basically At the Top of the Strainer At First

You'll See the Whey Start To Drip Off Almost Immediately

You'll See the Whey Start To Drip Off Almost Immediately

Whey That Has Collected After 2 Hours

Whey That Has Collected After 2 Hours

The Yogurt's Volume is Reduced After Straining Overnight

The Yogurt's Volume is Reduced After Straining Overnight

Thick Enough to Stick to the Back of a Spoon Held Upside-Down

Thick Enough to Stick to a Spoon Held Upside-Down

International Philly Cheesesteaks

International Philly Cheesesteaks

International Philly Cheesesteaks

With steak, sautéed peppers/mushrooms/onions, and cheese, these sandwiches are a spin-off of classic Philly-style cheesesteak sandwiches.  However, they take on a completely new flair by being packaged in Greek phyllo dough.  They’re baked until the phyllo is golden and crispy, and the end product actually looks similar to Chinese eggrolls.  They’ve got something for everyone…

International Philly Cheesesteaks:

(Yield:  24 sandwiches, 2-3 sandwiches per serving)

Colorful Veggies

Colorful Veggies

Thinly Slicing Across the Grain

Thinly Slicing Across the Grain

~1 lb thinly sliced beef, thinly sliced across the grain

6 oz fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, or any combination), thinly sliced

2 TB olive oil

~½ tsp grill seasoning (if you don’t have this, just use salt and pepper to taste)

~1 TB Worcestershire sauce

~4 c fresh baby spinach (optional)

~12 oz cheese (cheeses that work well are Bleu, cheddar, American, mozzarella, and pretty much anything else you can think of)

2 packages Athens phyllo dough

Cooking spray

~¼ c sesame seeds (optional)

Cheese Choices, Clockwise From the Top:  Crumbled Bleu, Mozarella, White Cheddar, Sliced American

Cheese Choices, Clockwise From the Top: Crumbled Bleu, Mozarella, White Cheddar, Sliced American

Preheat the oven to 400F; allow the phyllo dough to come to room temperature.  Heat the oil in a large pan (with a lid) on medium-high and add the mushrooms; sauté for ~5 minutes with the lid off, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the peppers and onions, put the lid on the pan, and sauté for ~5 more minutes (stirring occasionally to make sure that the veggies don’t burn; if necessary, you can add a splash of water).  Turn the heat up to high and push the veggies to one half of the pan; add the meat and let it sauté separate from the veggies (the meat should only take ~3 minutes to brown since it’s cut so thinly).  Once the meat has browned, stir it into the veggies; turn the pan off and set the meat and veggies aside to cool slightly.

Mushrooms Cook Up Better if They're in the Pan Alone At First

Mushrooms Cook Up Better if They're in the Pan Alone At First

Adding the Peppers and Onions to the Mushrooms

Adding the Peppers and Onions to the Mushrooms

Push the Veggies to One Side to Brown the Meat

Push the Veggies to One Side to Brown the Meat

Each sandwich will contain 4 phyllo sheets; make sure to use a damp towel to cover the phyllo that you’re not working with.  Lay a sheet of phyllo down and lightly spray it with cooking spray; put another sheet on top of it and lightly spray it; continue two more times until you have a stack of 4 phyllo sheets.  Place the cheese (~.5 oz per sandwich) across the center of the prepared phyllo; if you’re using spinach, place a few leaves on top of the cheese; spoon ~3 TB of the steak and veggies onto the spinach.  Fold the long sides over the filling, and then fold one end over the middle and roll it into what looks like a large eggroll.  Repeat this until all sandwiches are rolled. 

Preparing the Filling

Preparing the Filling

Folding the Long Sides

Folding the Long Sides

Rolling Over the End

Rolling Over One End

Line the sandwiches up seam side down on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Lightly spray each sandwich with cooking spray and if using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on top.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Before Baking

Before Baking

Golden, Crispy, and Delicious

Golden, Crispy, and Delicious

Cream Puffs, Hold the Cream and Hold the Puff

One of my husband’s all-time favorite desserts are cream puffs (who doesn’t love light-as-air pastries filled with creamy goodness and iced with chocolate?).  I originally thought up this recipe for a party at a friend’s house, and everyone loved it (they compared it with cream puffs or eclairs)…my friend has been making it ever since!  These light cream puffs are delicately airy, and just sweet enough to satiate your sweet tooth.  But don’t worry, they’re delicious enough to keep you away from real cream puffs.  😉

Light Cream Puffs:

(Yield:  12 puffs)

Light Cream Puffs

Light Cream Puffs

Vanilla Cream (Adapted From allrecipes.com)
 
2 c low-fat milk (I used light vanilla soymilk)
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TB salted butter
6 oz Cool Whip Free
 
Mix together the brown sugar and cornstarch in a pot; once combined wisk in the milk; place over medium heat and bring to a boil (takes ~10 minutes), stirring frequently.  Once the milk mixture reaches a boil, boil for ~2 minutes, stirring constantly, and then shut off the heat.  Add the vanilla and butter and allow to cool completely in the fridge.  Once the milk mixture is chilled, it will look like custard; at this point, fold in the Cool Whip.
 
Heating the Milk Mixture

Heating the Milk Mixture

 
 
 
 
 
 
Custard-Like Consistency After Chilling

Custard-Like Consistency After Chilling

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Light and Fluffy After Folding in the Cool Whip

Light and Fluffy After Folding in the Cool Whip

Peanut Butter Cream
 
2 TB natural unsweetened almond butter
2 TB creamy peanut butter
3 oz Cool Whip Free
 
Wisk the almond and peanut butters together, then wisk in the Cool Whip ~2 Tb at a time.
 
Peanut Butter Cream
Peanut Butter Cream
Chocolate Cream
 
3 TB semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 oz Cool Whip Free
 
Melt the chocolate chips (either using a double boiler or a microwave), and wisk in the Cool Whip ~2 TB at a time.
 
Mixing the Melted Chocolate and Cool Whip

Mixing the Melted Chocolate and Cool Whip

 
Chocolate Cream

Chocolate Cream

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Phyllo Cups (aka the puff-less puff)
 
6 squares phyllo dough
Cooking spray
 
Muffin tin
 
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Allow the phyllo dough to come to room temperature.  When you’re working with the phyllo, make sure to use a damp towel to cover the dough that you’re not working with (so it won’t dry out).  Lay 1 sheet of phyllo down and lightly spray it with cooking spray; place another sheet on top and lightly spray it; place a 3rd sheet on top and cut the dough into 6 equal pieces; repeat this process one time.  Place each piece of phyllo into individual muffin tins; bake for ~8 minutes, or until golden brown; allow to cool.
 
Preparing the Phyllo Cups

Preparing the Phyllo Cups

 
Phyllo Arranged in a Muffin Tin

Phyllo Arranged in a Muffin Tin

Crispy and Golden After Baking

Crispy and Golden After Baking

To Assemble:  Place a spoonful of peanut butter cream (~1 TB) in the bottom of each phyllo shell, place vanilla cream (~1/4 c) on top of peanut butter cream, and decorate the top with chocolate cream (~1 TB).  Note:  You will have between 1/2 c – 1 c of vanilla cream leftover (it’s great eaten alone or as a topping for berries).
Light and Creamy

Light and Creamy

A Happy Anniversary…4 Years and Counting

Today is my 4 year wedding anniversary!  My husband and I had the pleasure of honeymooning in Amman and Damascus (which was literally “a whole new world” for me).  Here are some of the highlights.

One day when we were traveling through Jordan, we had to wait for a bunch of goats to cross the road.  I enjoyed this, just because it was a sight I had never seen before.

Goat Crossing

Goat Crossing

We spent a day in Petra, Jordan, which was unbelievably beautiful.  To get to Petra, you have to walk a couple miles (aka, for an eterenity in the heat of the desert) down a dirt/cobblestone road.   Along the road were interesting sights…

Rock Structures

Rock Structures

Windows and Doors Carved Into Rock

Windows and Doors Carved Into Rock

Cave Writing (yes, we saw snakes on the floor in there)

Cave Writing (yes, we saw snakes on the floor in there)

The Path Narrows Right Before Reaching the City of Petra

The Path Narrows Right Before Reaching the City of Petra

The First Building You See In Petra

The First Building You See In Petra

The City of Petra

The City of Petra

We also had the chance to visit the Dead Sea.  Sounds familiar, right?  Yeah, that’s where they get a lot of bath salts from!

The Dead Sea (I've never been, but I hear it looks like San Francisco)

The Dead Sea (I've never been, but I hear it looks like San Francisco)

A Huge Salt Rock, Lying By the Roadside

A Huge Salt Rock, Lying By the Roadside

 We spent some time Damascus, the oldest city in the world.  It’s truly an amazing place, you look around and you can see everywhere just how ancient it is.

The Courtyard at Al-Azem Palace

The Courtyard at Al-Azem Palace

One of the seller’s booths at Al-Hamadeya was blocked by all his goods.  My husband asked him how he gets in and out of his stall and he pointed overhead, to a swinging rope, which was knotted at the end.  He showed us how he swings, Tarzan style, in and out of his booth!

Shopping at Al-Hamadeya

Shopping Inside Al-Hamadeya

Omayed Mosque

Omayed Mosque

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