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Professional Chef Jenn Wylie Shows Us How She Cooks Her Family's Favorites

Chef Wylie shows us how to make delicious granola and yogurt in her Elmhurst home.

Elmhurst resident Jenn Wylie graduated valedectorian from the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York and worked at Everest Restaurant in Chicago. 

These days, Jenn is private chef and likes to serve wholesome, delicious food to her two children. Jenn shared two of her favorites with us, and we got some useful tips along the way.

Chef Wylie’s personal favorites are toasted maple granola and her home-made yogurt she prepares from scratch. (See accompanying videos.) Her kids love to help prepare the granola because it is simple and doesn't require cutting or using the stove. Jenn’s whole family eats yogurt each morning, so she calculated that she saves $900 a year preparing yogurt herself.  Take that, "Extreme Couponing"!  

Enjoy these recipes from Jenn’s kitchen in Elmhurst:

Toasted Maple Granola

  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 C rolled oats
  • 1/2 C wheat germ
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 1 C sliced nuts (almonds are great)
  • 1/2 C sunflower seeds
  •  1 1/2 C dried fruit (raisins or craisins are good)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Mix oil, maple syrup and vanilla together in small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix rest of dry ingredients (excluding dried fruit).

Pour bowl of wet mixture onto dry mixture and mix well.  

For easy cleanup, line edged cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread mixture evenly onto pan.  

Bake at 225 degrees for 2 hours.

When mixture cools stir in dried fruit.  Store finished product in airtight container at room temperature or in freezer for future use.

Jenn’s Top Tips

Jenn makes her own vanilla extract. Split several vanilla pods lengthwise and remove seeds for another use.  Let pods dry at room temperature.  When they are dry (it may take two days), jam them into a small bottle of Vodka (Jenn uses Absolut) and close bottle. In three months you will have heavenly smelling, outstanding vanilla for all your favorite recipes.

Homemade vanilla sugar is also wonderful in dishes where vanilla is the star of the show; think homemade ice cream, sprinkled onto yogurt or in your favorite coffee. Simply strip two pods of their seeds and dry completely at room temperature for about two days.  Place two pods in 1 cup of granulated sugar. Store in an airtight container for two months for best tasting vanilla sugar.

Home Made Yogurt

  • 1 gallon milk (the better quality the milk, the better quality the yogurt)
  • 2-3 Tbsps. good quality plain yogurt 
  • 1 large pot
  • 1 pot slightly larger than the first one
  • Thermometer that measures liquid temperature (available for a few dollars at grocery store)

 To make your own double boiler, put an inch of water into a large pot. Place smaller pot inside larger pot. Pour milk into smaller pot. You now have a double boiler or Bain Marie.

 The trick to making your own yogurt is to get the temperature just right. Put your double boiler with milk onto medium high heat and place thermometer inside.  As soon as the heat rises to 185 degrees, remove the pot from the stove. (It is OK if the temperature gets a little higher, but it must reach 185 degrees.)

Keeping the thermometer submerged in the pan, wait until temperature of milk drops below 112 degrees, then whisk 2-3 Tbsps. of yogurt into the milk so it is fully incorporated. 

Cover mixture with lid, place in an 80 degree oven and let sit for eight hours or overnight. Many ovens do not allow an 80 degree setting. If yours does not, simply wrap a large towel around pot and place into a room temperature oven for eight hours or overnight. Jenn has been known to place the entire pot outdoors in the summer, provided the temperature is 80 degrees or higher.  

After eight hours you will have your own yogurt which you can store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Eat on its own or add fruit, jam, sugar.  For thicker, Greek-style yogurt, strain through cheesecloth, which Jenn buys at the hardware store because it generally costs less than purcasing it elsewhere.  

The cultures in yogurt have good bacteria, which is good for those of us who have killed a lot of the good bacteria in our bodies through years of using antibiotics. Jenn noticed much greater digestive health since eating her own homemade yogurt each day.

Use Chef Wylie’s Toasted Maple Granola as a topping for her fabulous homemade yogurt!

Jenn still cooks privately for dinner parties when she can fit it into her busy schedule as a stay-at home-mom.  She is booked in May but has some openings starting in June. Visit her Web site at www.chefwylie.com, or contact her at jenn@chefwylie.com or  773-251-5373.

Sarah April 23, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Looks great! I love the video demo-so helpful.
Susan Smentek April 24, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Chef Jenn's Maple Granola is so very tasty, we've had it prepared by her and toasted it ourselves. I made batch after batch for Christmas gifts. My husband requests that we have it again, soon. Can't wait to try the yogurt. Thanks, Chef Jenn!

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