Homemade Cream Cheese and Whey (using kefir or yogurt)

I wrote this post before we knew our oldest had a dairy allergy- She is now 7 and still reacts to dairy. However, I absolutely *loved* making unique foods from our raw milk in the past. Maybe one day we can do it again, or try it with goat milk. =)
(2019 update- we now have our own goats and use raw goat milk without any protein problems like we have with cow dairy)
Homemade cream cheese and whey from raw milk yogurt
enjoying homemade-cream cheese filled strawberries
Would you like to make your own cream cheese and have homemade, raw whey to ferment foods with? (and sip on when you’re feeling run down? You can do that! All you need is:


You know … “curds and whey?” from the favorite childhood nursery rhyme? Yep- that is farmer’s cream cheese and whey!

For kefir cream cheese and whey you will need:

  • a jar of your kefir
  • a glass bowl
  • a white tea towel or a few layers of cheese cloth material
  • some way to hang your kefir above the bowl (I use a wooden spoon hanging from the cabinet by a rubber band)

1) lay your towel over your bowl
2) pour your kefir into the towel
3) pull the edges of the towel up until they are in a nice bunch at the top
4) use a big ole rubber band to tie the towel up to a wooden spoon that is hanging from your cabinet.
5) let the whey drip down into the bowl for 7+ hours. I let it go over night, or all day depending on what time I started…

After just a few minutes. see what I mean by hanging it up?

When you are done, you will have a tangy cream cheese in your cloth (that you can use for all sorts of recipes), and whey left in your bowl! Both will last weeks (6 or more for sure for the whey… the cream cheese doesn’t make it that long around our house!) in the fridge.

***Be sure when working with kefir grains that you don’t use metal. Metals can harm your grains, so you want a cheapo plastic mesh strainer, and preferably glass jars and bowls***

The cream cheese, or “farmer’s cheese” as a friend calls it, is really good if you add in a little powdered (ground up) sucanat, or sliced strawberries. You can use it for anything you use regular cream cheese for, and it is a probiotic! So good and nutritious for your gut.

You can also do the same thing with regular, plain, full fat store bought yogurt (look for Brown Cow and Stonyfield Farms brands- I have tried both and they were great). This way, you’ll know everything is fresh and made from scratch.

However, if you don’t want to make the kefir just yet, but want to try recipes that call for whey (and make homemade cream cheese) then I TOTALLY encourage you to use the store bought yogurt. It does need to be plain, full fat yogurt- no added sugars, sweeteners, or fruits- preferably organic and not ultra pasteurized.

You can use your whey to ferment foods, soak grains, and in place of milk in some recipes (like my favorite tortilla recipe by the Prairie Homestead).

A jar of whey

So, that’s how you make kefir cream cheese and whey!

What do you think? Easy enough?

If you have questions, please ask. If I don’t know the answer, I will direct you to someone that can help.

Traditional Foods: Making Milk Kefir with a Video (or two …)

This is a repost from 2013. We are still making kefir, using our goat milk and love our kefir cheese!

I wanted to explain how easy it is to make Kefir.  I read and read about doing it, but having a friend actually show me in her kitchen made it much less intimidating.

Kefir is like a tangy, drinkable yogurt.  It’s a probiotic, naturally cultured, enzyme containing yogurt-like dairy product that is amazing for smoothies, in place of yogurt for snack, can be used for soaking grains, and the list goes on.  You can also use it to get whey.

Did I mention it is delicious?  Especially with a little
Organic Sucanatand fruit on top?  =)

Lexie’s first time trying kefir- she LOVED it!

First, what you need to make kefir is some milk kefir grains

Kefir grains look like little cauliflower or tapioca grains, that turn milk into kefir!
You can have a wonderful friend give you some (because they multiply ….) or you can buy some dried kefir grains from Cultures for Health.  There are also some sold on Amazon
For about 2 teaspoons of grains, I use about 16 oz of milk.  We use raw milk from a local farm (raw milk is healthier and can actually aid in healing the gut because all the beneficial enzymes and bacteria have not been killed off via pasteurization), but any milk will work. (2019 update- we use our fresh, raw goat milk now.)
(Passionate Homemaking has a recipe for COCONUT MILK KEFIR!  I am so excited, because now I can make kefir for my little dairy allergy-havin’ Mister!  Yay)
OK, back to milk kefir.  There are two types of kefir grains: dairy and water.  Be sure you get dairy for the yogurt-like kefir.  (I want to try water kefir grains next!  But that comes after I master sourdough bread!)

So, you need:

  • milk
  • a jar
  • a coffee filter
  • a rubber band
  • kefir grains

1) Put your kefir grains in the jar

2) add the 2 cups or so of milk.

3). Cover with the coffee filter, secured by the rubber band, and let it sit for about 24 hours (24-36 hours is average. (the purpose of the filter is to keep bugs, namely fruit flies, out but still allow the fermentation process the air it needs.)

Leave the jar sitting on the counter to do its thing- try not to have it near fruit or other foods you have that are fermenting. You can also put it on top of the fridge or something, but I would forget it up there ….

The longer you leave it after 24 hours, the tangier and fizzier it becomes!  FUN!  And, if ever you leave it too long (which I have done) you just sorta scrape off the top layer of really thick stuff, and continue on like normal.


You can sorta see the whey starting to form “pockets” in there … that’s how you know it’s working!  Sometimes it will start at the top, other times at the bottom .. the grains sorta have a mind of their own.  =)
4) After 24 or so hours, simply pour the kefir into a plastic mesh strainer
over a bowl, so you can separate out the grains.5) When you are done, you will have your little grains in the strainer, and in the bowl you will have kefir!  Put your kefir in a jar and place in the fridge, or go ahead and use it.
6) Lastly, I take the grains and put them in a jar, add a little bit of the kefir I just made (this gets the good bacteria back in there and “boosts” the batch), and then pour in about 2 cups of milk, cover and do it all over again!

We like our kefir in smoothies, as a drinkable yogurt, and as “frozen treats,” (aka smoothie’s frozen into popsicle forms).  You can also flavor kefir in a second fermentation (like you would kombucha tea).  Learn more about that here: http://www.culturesforhealth.com/second-fermentation-milk-kefir

After they get acclimated to your milk (yes, I did just say that) they will do a great job turning the milk into kefir.

So, people joke about kefir grains being like pets … and they kinda are.

You have to keep them alive….  BUT HAVE NO FEAR!  They are so easy to keep alive.

If ever you want to take a break from making kefir, just put them in a jar or bowl, in the fridge and feed them milk every few days or so.  They need the sugars from the milk to stay alive.

They are a live organism, after all …
But with that kefir you can also make cream cheese and whey!  That post is coming soon!

Here is a 6 minute video (how embarrassing  …) on how I make kefir!


The Harvest {2018}

We made a family goal this year- spend more time at our farm this spring and summer, working as a family to not only improve some things- but to really cultivate. Every year we have a garden, and every year when it starts coming in, the rainy season begins, and things start really growing we are gone with either trips or my husband for work.

We worked very hard this year to be sure we were here so we could take care of all the things we started in the spring.

Now, my flower beds are going haywire with weeds, I really can’t keep up! But everything else is flourishing, we are harvesting regularly, and enjoying our evenings as a family working in the garden.

This weekend’s task- Freeze tomatoes!

Last weekend I canned dill pickles for the first time, (they are awful by the way … I’m not sure what I did wrong, but man are they bad!). Unless someone shares a tried and true recipe with me, we will be making bread and butter pickles from now one. haha

My children walk around eating cucumbers whole, with cherry tomatoes by the handful.

Harvest time is good.


harvest July 2018



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Traditional Food How To: Bone Broth {in the slow cooker}

I get lots of questions about how I make my bone broth.

I started out using a recipe from a book, but have adapted my own way of doing it since then.

Bone broth is FULL of nutrients that help heal the body and gut, & improve digestion.  Do a quick Google search for the benefits of bone broth, and you will see what I mean-gelatin, proteins, and nutrients dense, it is a favorite in our home.

Our family used it as the base of a homemade baby formula {and part 2 here} for our son with a dairy allergy, and a very messed up gut.  Every bit of me (and my husband) believes that bone broth helped heal our infant son’s gut, get him off medications, and get him healthy again, as an alternative to commercial formulas.  {I am not a doctor and what I write here is strictly my opinion, not medical fact}

We now give bone broth with a pinch of real salt during illnesses, cold season, and share with the dogs, chickens, and cats.

So if you want to replace the store bought “broths” and sodium in a square bullion cubes for a real, nutrient dense food, that is easy to make, keep reading!

  1. First, you have to get the bones by preparing a chicken, preferably from an organic grassfed chicken.  So, I make (an amazing) whole chicken in the crock pot or using my 9 Qt Le Crueset in the oven.
  2. Just cut up some carrots and onion, maybe some garlic, and any other veggies you like.
  3. I rub my chicken down with organic olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic.  But season yours however you like.
  4. Put your chicken in the crock pot (I start mine frozen so I cook it all day on low, but if yours is thawed 4-6 hours on low will probably cook it through nicely) BREAST SIDE DOWN, so it doesn’t dry out.
  5. Place your carrots and other vegetables in around the chicken.
  6. Add about 2 cups of water, and let it cook on low for 4-6 hours, or longer if frozen.
  7. About an hour before it is done, I flip it breast side up and season the breast really well.
  8. Pull the meat off the chicken bones and serve as you choose. (by itself, in soup, on pizza, in chicken salad, on a sandwich … the possibilities are endless.  And you can really make that meat stretch for some frugal meals!)

That is how you acquire your bones (and flavorful chicken for the week)!

{The great thing is, you can cook a chicken every week (say on Saturday, or Sunday), have chicken for recipes during the week (or freezer meals!), and make a new batch of bone broth every week for the freezer!}

Here is how you make (chicken) bone broth

You will need:

  • crockpot
  • water
  • aple cider vinegar
  • a fine mesh strainer (metal is better than plastic here, it is finer)
  • jars/plastic bags
  • funnel (not necessary but definitely helps the pouring process)

Your chicken has cooked and your house now smells good enough to attract passersby.  You have removed all the meat from your chicken, and are left with the bones, skin, etc.

  1. Place the bones back in the crock pot.
  2. Add a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.  This will draw the minerals out of the bones.
  3. Cover the bones with water, leaving 1 inch at the top.
  4. Turn the crockpot on low, and let simmer all night.  If you are feeling really froggy, in the morning add more water and let it go another 18- 24 hours.  I usually let mine go about 2 days in the crockpot.  This will cook those bones good!
  5. When the bones are done, use a big spoon to pull out the bigger, obvious bones.  Compost/trash them, or smash and feed to dogs/animals on the farm.
  6. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a big bowl
  7. Pour your strained broth into plastic bags or glass jars for freezing.
Before the broth is strained
remove the bones, fat, cartilage, etc from crock pot
  • Use a pastured chicken if you have a local source; we raise our own each year.
  • When putting your bones in the pot to cook, you can add in celery, carrots, onion … any vegetables you like (just like you did for the chicken meat).  They will only add flavor and nutrients!
  • When freezing in glass jars, be sure you are using wide mouth jars, and you stop at the fill line.  I never screw my lids on all the way until it is all the way frozen, because I lost an ENTIRE huge pot of {organic, grassfed} beef bone broth to my jars busting.  Talk about devastation.  So use the right jars and I’d suggest not sealing them air tight right away, because that liquid is going to expand up as it freezes and will need room to do so.
  • Make sure you freeze your broth in amounts you will use in a recipe.  Rarely will you use an entire gallon zip lock full of bone broth, unless you’re making a soup.  I freeze mine in pint and pint-and-a-half jars.  The pint-and-a-half jars are the COOLEST jars ever. and so versatile.
  • I also add chicken feet from our pastured chickens. Chicken feet are full of gelatin, which is a nutrient dense food when found naturally from organic sources.  This will absolutely improve any broth and make it gel so well! Bone broth done correctly should gel.
  • I suggest reading about the benefits of chicken feet in broth, because they far outweigh the weirdness of seeing chicken feet in your crockpot.  =)
I use my bone broth in any recipe that calls for broth, and add it when cooking brown rice and black beans.  Talk about FLAVOR (and nutrients!).
You can make delicious, from scratch soups like this.
Your family will thank you.
And drink every last drop from their bowls.
So there you have it- bone broth in the crockpot.  When you or someone in the family is feeling sick this winter, thaw a jar and have them drink it, or make them a soup with it.
It is truly a real, healing food.
Next time I will post how I make my bone broth from organic, grassfed beef.
Have you ever tried making bone broth?  If you try this method, let me know how it goes in the comments!

Crunchy Baked (dijon) Chicken with GF Alternative

I saw the original recipe on Rachael Ray .  Her title for it was Baked Devil’s Chicken-I adapted it a bit for our family.  You may want to look at the original recipe for other ideas.

It is a deliciously spicy, crunchy fried-chicken-alternative.  The good thing is, even with the spicy dijon mustard and red pepper in the coating, my kids DEVOURED this.  And, without anything to dip it in!

Before I share the recipe, I want to share something with you.

The secret to a crispy, crunchy baked chicken is getting it up in the air- lay a cooling rack in your cookie sheet.  Place the chicken on the cooling rack so the bottoms can crisp up!

the secret to crunchy baked chicken {www.quietinthechaos.com}


Crunchy Baked (dijon) Chicken

See Detailed Nutrition Info on

Crunchy Baked (dijon) Chicken


  • 4-6 chicken breasts (or any chicken pieces you'd like)
  • dijon mustard
  • For the coating:
  • panko bread crumbs
  • dried or fresh rosemary
  • red pepper
  • paprika
  • dried minced onion
  • salt and pepper
  • *I just eyeball my spices; add them to your taste. Remember you are coating several pieces of chicken. be generous =)


  1. Set up your "stations" first:
  2. a bowl w mustard & basting brush
  3. a shallow bowl with coating ingredients
  4. Prep chicken:
  5. using a basting brush, brush the spicy brown/dijon mustard onto both sides of the chicken
  6. dip chicken into the panko bread crumb mixture
  7. flip chicken and coat other side
  8. lay each piece of chicken on rack over cookie sheet
  9. Bake at 375 for about 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is done in the middle
  10. Enjoy!

easy crunchy chicken spices

For my spices, I use an organic minced onion from Azure, dried parsley from my herb-garden-pot, my favorite real, Himalayan salt.  Also, I used panko bread crumbs because they do NOT have milk in them; the regular bread crumbs contained milk?  I like the panko- they make for a larger, crunchier coating.


***** For a Gluten Free Alternative: I like to keep the heels of our Udi’s GF Bread in the freezer. When I need to make GF bread crumbs, I just toss what I need in a zip lock bacg and smash with a rolling pin. You can also use dried coconut, or GF oats!

I served this to my family with lima beans and baked sweet potatoes- there were NO left overs! My 20 month old absolutely loved it, as did everyone else.

Do you have a favorite baked chicken recipe?  Please share in the comments!

Gingerbread Play Dough

I have been looking at a lot of different crafts for the kids and I to do together.  I came across a recipe for salt dough, which is a homemade play dough.  I had planned on trying it, then today my mom sent me a similar recipe, but there were two differences: 1) her recipe was for GINGERBREAD play dough and 2) it used fewer ingredients than the recipe I had.

Gingerbread Salt Dough
You will need:
  • 1c flour
  • 1/2c salt
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, etc to desired smell/color
  • 2tsp cream of tartar
  • 1c water
  • 1tsp veg oil
  • essential oils of your choosing

Just as in baking, mix all your dry ingredients together- the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and spices.  The spices are just for a great gingerbread smell and color.
In a separate bowl, mix the water and oil
Add water-oil mixture with your dry ingredients in a small/med pan.
Cook mixture over low/med heat for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  WARNING-it becomes thick quickly.
You will know it’s done when it starts to pull away from the sides and bottom of the pan.
When it’s done, knead on the counter until it is nice and smooth.
*don’t forget the cookie cutters and rolling pin!*

This is the best and easiest play dough recipe I have found.  When the holidays are over, exclude the seasonings and add regular food coloring for year-round fun!

(Original post Dec 2011)
Here is Lady (15 months old) playing with play dough for the first time:

 She was really only interested in the cookie cutters at first .. and yes she arranged them in size order?
” Hrm .. maybe I will touch it a little”
She did not like the texture of the dough at the beginning.


More with the cookie cutters ..


Then I made her name out of the play dough and she liked it!  Her favorite letter from her name is “i,” so she enjoyed playing with the “ball” on the “i.”  When I spell her name out loud, it goes something like this:
Me- “l, e, x
her- “I!!  I!!! I!!! I!”
her- “LEXIE!”

It’s a lot of fun!  So, our first go at play dough was a success.  There were a few snacking attempts, but overall she did really well!  This has made me less fearful of doing more crafts and activities with her, for sure!

Try it out with your little one!

What are some of your children’s favorite activities, crafts, etc to pass the time and learn?

Easy, Nutritious Protein Smoothie Recipe

We have been making protein smoothies for several years  The kids love them, and it helps us all get protein when we might not otherwise.

  • Handful of frozen berries
  • 3-4 tablespoons of coconut milk kefir, Or favorite dairy yogurt
  • a few gulps of cartoned egg whites
  • a scoop of Plant Fusion protein powder
  • drop of vanilla extract
  • scoop of flax seed or chia seeds
  • a few tablespoons of Great Lakes Collagen
Blend until it is all smooth and yummy-fied.
these are always a favorite in pur home.

Easy Freezer Meal Plans {MyFreezEasy- a review}


One of the biggest downfalls I have encountered in our homeschool (and daily life in general) is when I fail to plan- menu plan, that is.  Thankfully, there is MyFreezEasy!  We have been using the MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership and so far it has saved me several times!

I love having my freezer stocked with foods for the month, to avoid hitting the grocery store for more than just produce every other week.  But what I love even more is having a freezer stocked with actual meals that I can pull out to thaw, or cook straight in the crockpot from frozen to done- and MyFreezEasy has done all the prep work of meal planning for me!

What I don’t like about meal planning and freezer cooking?  Hours (or weekends) spent prepping, chopping, mixing and combining recipes for the freezer.  With MyFreezEasy, I can get 2+ weeks worth of meals prepped and in their containers for the freezer in just an hour, or even faster depending on the plan I have chosen.

We received the Premium Annual Membership- this includes the ability to change up the meals in your monthly plan.

How Does it Work?

When you sign up with MyFreezEasy, you get access to 8 different meal plans for the month.  These include:

  • Traditional Plan – 10 meals: mix of different types of meals
  • Gluten-Free Plan – 10 meals: completely gluten-free, including sides
  • Slow Cooker Plan – 10 meals: all freezer to slow cooker style
  • Clean Eats Plan – 10 meals: all “clean ingredients”
  • 20 Meals Plan – 20 meals: mix of different types of meals
  • All Chicken Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using chicken breasts/chicken thighs, so you can get the chicken on sale and stock your freezer
  • All Ground Beef Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using ground beef so you can get the ground beef on sale and stock your freezer
  • All Pork Chops Plan – 10 meals: all recipes using pork chops or pork tenderloin so you can get the pork on sale and stock your freezer

I personally used the all chicken meal plan, because I have such a hard time with chicken recipes that all my kids will eat.  They just aren’t fans of chicken breast.  So I used this plan and so far, no one has complained once!

Each month you receive new meal plans than the month before; so if you really enjoyed a certain plan or recipe, simply save it on your computer, and print for your records.

Each plan includes:

  • shopping list (different organizational options to choose from)
  • details on how to assemble your meals
  • printable labels for your bags and meals if you’d like
  • videos with tips and tricks for the recipes in each plan
  • dairy free modifications for all recipes (our family has dairy allergies, so this is perfect for us)
  • Gluten-free modifications on all recipes as well

With the premium annual membership you can create your own meal plans, customize already existing plans, and have access for a “my favorites” section in your account, PLUS 2 months free!

How I Used the Plan

I used a large pack of chicken breasts like these from Costco, to make several “all chicken” meals for the freezer.  Because our family is large and my small children eat like teenage boys, I doubled each recipe in one bag.



I did do some customizing/tweaking of some recipes.  If I knew we didn’t like a certain ingredient, I skipped it.  If I thought the recipe could use a little kick, like cayenne pepper, I added it.  I didn’t print labels, I just wrote the recipe name and instructions for cooking on the bag.  Oh- and even if something called for a tray, it went in a bag. =/ Because 1) I am lazy, and 2) honestly, I don’t like using aluminum trays if I don’t have to …  And I don’t currently have room in my freezer for actual baking dishes- So, into baggies they went!

Chicken meal plan recipes {MyFreezEasy review}

It was seriously that easy.  I already had the ingredients on hand, but I did look over the grocery list and loved what I saw, especially that it could be organized to suit my needs (which for me, is in the order things are found in the grocery store).

This membership really does do all the work for you- no grocery lists, no hours in the kitchen assembling meals.  Nope- it is fast, easy, and simple.  Personally, I have found that the simpler it is to do something in this season of my life, especially in the kitchen, the more likely I am to do it.  These recipes are not complicated, they do not call for tons of different ingredients, or hard to find ingredients.

MyFreezEasy really has helped change our homecshooling days for the better easier; especially with a newborn in the house!  My time to cook is very limited at this point.

Connect with MyFreezEasy

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How to Make (real food) Snowcream {snow ice cream} *with dairy free ingredients, too!*

Almost a year ago our family moved out to the midwast, {from the warm south}, to the great state of Nebraska.

Nebraska, where spring is cool and green, summer is warm and sunny, fall is crisp and orange, and winter is cold and snowy.

Yay for our first big snow!  We were supposed to get a “dusting” but instead wound up with a good 8+” in our backyard.  Coming from the tristate area of Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi, all we ever got was ice, so real snow was an absolute treat!

With our first real snow, we decided to make {real food} snow cream!

This isn’t your mama’s snow cream- there are no processed ingredients, and that means NO white sugar!

Brownie points for being an awesome mom making snow cream, and super brownie points for making it healthy for your family.

Here it is, you will need:

  • A big pan or bowl of clean snow (my picture above shows enough for at least 6 people ..)
  • Some Grade B Maple Syrup  (a little goes a looong way)
  • A little raw milk (or any milk will be fine)  *for a dairy free alternative we used rice milk*
  • Pure Vanilla Extract
  • maybe some cocoa
We added snow to our bowls, topped it with a few tablespoons of maple syrup (which surprisingly does’t taste like maple syrup when it’s not on pancakes…)
Then added about a 1/4tsp of vanilla to each bowl, and a few tablespoons of milk, maybe even a 1/4cup?
**For a chocolate variety, sprinkle with a bit of cocoa, but not too much because it can make it bitter**
And that’s it!  Delicious, and mostly healthy, snow cream!  Lexie loved it and has asked to make it every day since; I finally gave in today. Mister at 15 months isn’t crazy about cold foods, so he wasn’t a fan, and enjoyed a pear instead.
Have you ever made snow cream with your family?  What’s your favorite recipe?
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Flash Freezing and Storing Bell and Jalapeño  Peppers

Freezing Bell & Jalapeno Peppers from the Garden

We love bell peppers at our house; I use them in everything from goulash to salsa, and of course stuffed peppers!

Sadly, bell peppers are not only on the dirty dozen list, but can be upwards of $1.00 EACH!

What you may not know is they are one of the easiest plants to grow in your garden, or even a pot on the patio. One bell pepper plant in our garden puts out 20+ peppers!  The jalapeno plants put out even more!

So it is important for our family to be able to put those peppers to good use all year, without having to buy expensive, chemical laden grocery store versions.

How do you store peppers long term?  Easy!

  1. Clean and cut into strip (I even keep the tops, just pop out the center core, pull out the ribs and seeds and you’re done)
  2. Spread out on a cookie sheet
  3. Place cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours
  4. After the peppers are frozen, toss them into ziplock bags for use in recipes later!

I just pull out what I need, when I need it and chop according to my recipe.


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