homemade vanilla bean syrup

makes a 1/2 pint

Making simple syrup is a snap in the microwave, but fi you prefer to do this on the stove top, then combine the water & sugar in a small pot, bring to a boil and let simmer for 1 to 2 minute until the sugar is completely dissolved. Proceed with adding the vanilla beans and extract as directed in the recipe below.

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup sugar

1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise & seeds scraped

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine water and sugar in a microwave-safe glass cup. Cook on HIGH for 3 minutes. Pour ino a clean, glass canning jar and stir in the vanilla bean seeds and extract. Keep uncovered until completely cooled, then screw on top and and let steep for a day or two. May be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Note: This recipe is based on using a 1000 watt microwave oven.

Homemade Yogurt

Makes about one quart

Besides the world of flavor you’ll experience, cooking from scratch is a real budget saver. Some recipes like homemade yogurt actually let you multi-task your sleeping hours too. All the work is done overnight, and no fancy gadgets are needed. Yes, there are yogurt makers on the market. Some people have even used their slow cookers. There’s one appliance, though, that most of us all already have—an oven. Simply using the light in your oven, creates the perfect setting to make yogurt.

This recipe makes an American-style yogurt. If you prefer a thicker, Greek-style texture, place a piece of cheesecloth in a strainer, then set the strainer over a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the strainer, let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and get ready to wake up to homemade Greek yogurt.

2 cups whole or 2% milk

3 tablespoons plain American-style yogurt

1 quart sterilized glass mason jar, with ring and lid

Instant read thermometer


Turn the light on inside your oven to “preheat” it 30 minutes before starting.

Pour milk into a 2-quart pot and heat over low flame until it reaches 170ºF. Remove from stove and let sit until it cools to between 105ºF and 110ºF.

Meanwhile, set the yogurt out in a small dish to let it come to room temperature (about 70ºF).

Stir the yogurt into the cooled milk, and pour into the mason jar. Cover and screw on top. Place jar on a rimmed baking sheet and place on the center rack of the oven for 8 to 10 hours. Stir, then store in refrigerator for up to one week.