Cold-start Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Cup of yogurt

This recipe is for what is called a “cold start yogurt” process. It omits the need to boil the milk first because you use Fairlife milk which is ultra-filtered. This really is a very simple process – however, there are some important details to know in order to successfully achieve creamy, delicious yogurt – so you’re going to want to read this whole post before you get started.

What is Fairlife Milk?

  • Fairlife Milk is an ultra-filtered product, which runs through “soft” filters to concentrate the Milk and remove impurities
  • There is more natural protein and calcium which comes directly from the Milk.
  • Because of the Filtration process, the Milk is higher in protein and calcium.
  • There is less sugar and the Milk is Lactose-Free!
  • Fairlife Milk is not organic but is ultra-pasteurized.

DISCLAIMER:  This is not an advertisement for Fairlife. This Instant Pot cold-start yogurt recipe is not to be used with milk that hasn’t been through an ultra-filtration process, like Fairlife which is different than ultra-pasteurized. Regular milk has some bacteria that need to be brought up to 180 degrees prior to making yogurt.

Okay – back to our regularly scheduled program: I wanted a vanilla-based yogurt for this batch and opted to put the vanilla creamer and the sweetened condensed milk in the mix at the beginning of the process to get a more intensified vanilla flavor (and boy did I!).  Because this makes about 96oz of yogurt (I filled 12 8oz jars) you might want to do it at the end and divide your yogurt in half so you can have both vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt for savory purposes.

IngredientsCast of Characters

  • 1-52oz Fairlife whole milk (Fairlife does have skim milk but it will definitely change the consistency)
  • 1-cup of natural bliss creamer (or use two tablespoons vanilla extract – omit if you want plain yogurt)
  • 1/2 a can of sweetened condensed milk (you can substitute 1/4 cup of honey – omit if you want plain yogurt)
  • *2-Tablespoons of store-bought yogurt (this is the starter – you can save 2 tablespoons from this batch for your next one).

*It’s critical for you to check the ingredient list of the store-bought yogurt when you’re shopping for a yogurt starter. It must have active bacterial cultures for it to work as the yogurt starter.  A live culture usually contains at least 2 types of bacteria (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus). I used Oui for this recipe but Oikos and Fage are both good options and have unflavored plain yogurt if you’re going that route.  Dairy-free yogurt will not work. Continue reading


Blueberry Rosemary Scones

Admittedly, I’m not much of a baker… but these are so simple and take no time at all.  I’m also not much of a “sweets” person…. but I think the savory rosemary and the tartness of the lemon drizzle combined with the sweetness of the blueberry preserves… just might be perfection on the taste buds.

Adapted from several similar recipes I’ve seen online, I’ve made it my own. They’re technically not scones… but more a cross between scone, cookie, and biscuit. Call them what you will…. but I call them delicious.

Try your favorite jam with your favorite fresh herb… maybe sage and orange marmalade; or thyme and apricot jam. And try orange or lime for the glaze. I think my next attempt will be fresh mint, with a chocolate ganache center and an orange glaze drizzle. Yum – I want that now!


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup full cold heavy cream
1/3 cup Wild Blueberry Preserves (I use Bonne Maman)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from 2-3 medium lemons
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons water

For the scones: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, baking powder, rosemary, salt and margarine until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl. Gradually stir in the cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture forms a dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into until it’s a 1/2-inch thick. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter (I used a scalloped-edge rectangle shape), cut out pieces of dough and put on the prepared baking sheet. Gently knead together any leftover pieces of dough and roll out to additional 1/2-inch sheets. Continue cutting more 3 inch shapes until all dough is used. Makes roughly 12-16 scones.

For the glaze: In a medium bowl, mix together the lemon juice and powdered sugar until smooth. Gradually add the water until the mixture is thin enough to spread. Using a spoon, drizzle the glaze over the scones. Let the glaze set for about 30 minutes.

Ready to Cook?
Using your index finger or thumb, gently make an indentation in the center of each pastry. Spoon a 1/2 teaspoon of preserves into each indentation. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Transfer the cooked scones onto a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes, before glazing. Serve or store in an airtight plastic container for 2 days.

The Perfect Bite
Now, it’s important to let these cool enough to drizzle the glaze on them without it completely melting right into the scone. However, that said… they are best served fairly warm within at least 3o minutes of coming out of the oven. If you want them to look perfect wait the suggested time. If you want them to taste perfect… feel free to rush the wait time. It’s your prerogative!

The Perfect Pairing
If you’re feeling a little British after making these… enjoy them with a steamy hot cup of your favorite breakfast tea. I, on the other hand, was just given a bag of Kona coffee beans – sent straight from the Big Island. So I was feeling a little like a Euro Haole… or something like that.

The Perfect Health
Did you know that Rosemary Aids in Alzheimer’s Prevention? Read more here

Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

I love these blueberry oatmeal bars. They’re delicious as an afternoon snack, or even a midnight snack, or even for breakfast! They’re easy to make and are always a hit!

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold butter
1 cup blueberry preserves (I try to find low-sugar natural preserves)
Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients plus the vanilla and mix well.

Add the cold butter and cut it into the dry mixture using two dinner knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal and is no longer powdery. Do not over-mix… bits of butter will still be visible.

Ready to Bake?
Set aside about half of the oat mixture; press firmly into the pan. Bake until lightly browned at the edges (but not completely baked)… roughly 13-15 minutes.

After you remove the pan from the oven, spread the blueberry preserves over the partially baked oat layer, then sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the preserves. It won’t be a solid layer, some blueberry will show. Bake until the topping is slightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before cutting into bars. Should make 9 servings. *Hint – these are best served warm, however, they need to completely cool before cutting – so once you’ve cut your bars, briefly warm in the microwave or toaster oven and then serve.

The Perfect Bite
As mentioned above, these are best served warm. If eating as a dessert try scooping a bite of vanilla bean ice cream with a warm bite of blueberry bar. Delish!

The Perfect Pairing
Enjoy with a large glass of of cold milk with breakfast or a steamy cup of coffee with vanilla creamer. As dessert, pair with a vanilla bean ice cream and some coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream. Mmmmm….

The Perfect Health
Did you know oats contain a large number of the antioxidants that may help protect cells from the process of oxidization? Scientists have recently begun to discover how oat antioxidants may benefit one’s health. Read more here.

Cranberry White Chocolate Parfait

FAT FREE! What? Yes, this delicious parfait is almost completely Fat Free and mostly Sugar Free. There’s a little natural sugar in the blueberries… but the anti-oxidants you get from this power fruit more than makes up for it. And there’s just a little sugar in the wafer crust at the bottom. All in all, this light & fluffy dessert is a perfect end to any hearty burger fest you may have this summer. And since it’s Fat Free – go ahead and add cheese to your burger!

(serves 4)

1 – 1 oz Sugar Free – Fat Free White Chocolate Jell-O Instant Pudding
1 – .3 oz Sugar Free Cranberry Jell-O
2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
1- 8 oz container Cool Whip Free (fat free, only 1 gram of sugar and 3 grams of carbs)
1/2 cup reduced-fat Nilla Wafers – crumbled (only 2 grams fat per 11 wafers. You’ll be using less than 2 wafers per parfait)
1/2 cup fresh blueberries


Whisk together first 4 ingredients until smooth without lumps.
Fold in Cool Whip until thoroughly mixed. Don’t use a mixer or beater as you want to maintain the fluffiness of the parfait.

Put Nilla Wafers into a food processor and pulse until evenly broken up. Add just a few at a time so you don’t get complete powder. You want the consistency of course sea salt.

Fill bottom of glasses or dessert cups (I used champagne flutes here) with about a full tablespoon with Nilla Wafer crumbs (use a little more if you’re using wider dessert cups) .

Top with parfait mixture leaving 1/2 inch room at the top. If using a narrow glass like these champagne flutes, it helps to use a pastry bag to neatly fill the cylinder.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. When ready to serve, top parfait with fresh blueberries. Don’t top with berries before refrigerating or they will sink to the bottom.

The Perfect Bite
As usual, I’m all about getting a little of everything on my fork or spoon. So dig to the bottom for some yummy Nilla crumbs, some fluffy cranberry white chocolate goodness and some fresh healthy blueberry. Enjoy!

The Perfect Pairing
As mentioned earlier, this light and fat free dessert is a perfect way to top off a heavy meal of burgers on a hot summer evening. Paired with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Barefoot Cellars. It has dark fruit notes of currant, raspberry and blackberry, and a velvety vanilla finish that will be a lovely compliment to the cranberry and blueberry in the dessert. An affordable Gold Medal wine that is great to pass around those big outdoor summer parties.

Did You Know?
Most Fat Free products are still very high in calories, sugar and carbohydrates. Especially sweets that are marketed as Fat Free. Even products marked “low-fat” can still be high in calories, and even fat! They’re just “lower” than the full fat version. Read the Nutrition Facts Label to make sure you’re not purchasing something that is not as “reduced” as you think it is. Read more here.

The Blu Ox Martini

This is the time of year when a cold beverage on the front porch just hits the spot. One of my favorite Spring & Summer drinks is one I came up with (or tweaked to make my own) last year. Very simple. Very good.

History of the Blue Ox Martini Name

So you’re probably wondering why I would call a redd-ish-amber-ish gradient-ish beverage a “Blu Ox Martini”.

The history goes waaayyy back… to about 5 minutes ago… when my friend Bizzle and I sat on my porch drinking them, and trying to figure out what to call them. And of course, the more we sipped, the more entertaining the titles became… but we finally settled on The Blu Ox Martini.

The Blu is for the Blueberry (and I spelled it without the “e” because, well… I’m cool like that). And the Ox comes from the antioxidants that are in this tasty beverage – thanks to the pomegranate juice and those fresh blueberries. The Ox also derives from the oxymoron of my thinking an alcoholic beverage can be an anti-oxidant. Thanks to Bizzle for pointing out that little fact. Nothing like a good friend to let you know when you’re being ridiculous.

2 shots New Amsterdam Gin (or your favorite gin – most people use vodka to make martinis, but I prefer gin as it doesn’t over power the other flavors)
1 shot Triple Sec
1 – 1.5 cup pomegranate juice, depending on size of shaker (I use Trader Joe’s organic – still trying to make this drink healthy)
Fresh Blueberries

Frost glasses in freezer while getting your drink ready. Pour shots and juice over ice in a martini shaker and shake gently. Stack blueberries onto swizzle sticks and set in glass. Pour shaken martini into frosted glasses and enjoy.

Makes 2 martinis.

The Perfect Bite
a gin-soaked blueberry off the cocktail stick, of course…

The Perfect Pairing

A good friend on the porch. Cheers!

Did You Know?
That blueberries and pomegranates are filled with rich antioxidants, anti-aging properties and essential vitamins.

Drink responsively.