because what is life without good food?

Posts tagged “Yogurt

Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

The other day I could feel my body needed something packed full of good nutrients and protein … I didn’t have much time to cook, so I quickly whipped up this delicious smoothie. I like how the kiwi adds a little “zing” to the taste, along with being a nutrient powerhouse. According to a study at Rutgers University, the kiwi is the most nutrient dense fruit, ounce for ounce. It’s high in vitamin C and one study showed that eating 2-3 kiwi fruits a day can reduce the potential for blood clots and decrease triglycerides. Yet another study cited the kiwi’s ability to protect and repair the body from DNA damage, which could protect against cancer. (Source: Super Kids Nutrition)

All of that, plus it makes a really yummy smoothie.

Kiwi Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie

  • 2 small kiwi fruit
  • 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 of a frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • A few fresh mint leaves

Cut the kiwi in half and scoop out the fruit from the fuzzy skin. Put the flesh of the kiwi along with the rest of the ingredients in your blender and blend everything till smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Scrumptious Sunday.


Black Grape, Walnut, & Blue Cheese Salad

with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

I found some gorgeous big, juicy, crunchy black grapes at the grocery store the other day. I am not really much of a grape lover (unless it’s WINE!), but my kids like them, so I decided to bring some black grapes home for the teenagers. But my kids didn’t eat them. I even put some in a little container for my daughter for a before-dance snack, but she didn’t touch them. I kept reminding my son that they were there … no luck.

So it seems like I’m stuck eating the grapes. I tried to think of a way to eat them that I would actually enjoy and the first thing that came to mind is a salad. I thought if I added some crunchy walnuts and blue cheese, that would probably make them palateable. And you know what? It worked! I think I may actually start LIKING grapes …

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Red or green grapes would work nicely in this salad too. Red ones would add more color, too!

  • Mixed greens
  • Black grapes, sliced or halved
  • Walnuts, toasted
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Vanilla Ginger Yogurt dressing (recipe below)

Prepare the dressing and set aside. Fill your salad bowl most of the way with mixed greens. Add a generous amount of grapes and toss to mix. Top with some toasted walnuts and blue cheese crumbles and drizzle with the Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing.

Black Grape, Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad with Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

Vanilla Ginger Yogurt Dressing

  • 1/3 cup vanilla lowfat yogurt
  • 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
  • milk or rosewater, to thin

In a small bowl, mix the vanilla yogurt with the grated ginger root. Add milk or rosewater as needed (I used a little of each) to thin out the yogurt to the right consistency to drizzle properly.

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysScrumptious SundayAll my Bloggy FriendsTuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Show & Share Wednesday and Lifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck.


Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato  and Bread Salad: something's missing ...

Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …

So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size?  You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad

Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:

  • 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
  • 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
  • 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
  • A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
  • A few roasted sunflower seeds
  • Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
  2. While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet  and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
  3. Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.

Fairy Tale Eggplant, Tomato, Corn and Bread Salad

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayFriday Favorites and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

My sister gave me this pretty parfait glass … isn’t it gorgeous? This is a simple idea to dress up a Lemon Poppy Seed cupcake (muffin? What IS the difference between muffins and cupcakes anyway?) and change things up if you are tiring of the same old cupcake. I used an unfrosted Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed cupcake for my trifle, but if you have another on hand, feel free to use that! You could change out the flavors, add fruit, whatever you like. If you use healthy cupcakes like my Zucchini Lemon Poppy Seed ones, it can make for a very healthy breakfast, snack or dessert. You could do this on a larger scale in a glass bowl using several cupcakes and a big tub of lemon yogurt for a party too.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

For each trifle you will need:

  • 1 lemon poppy seed cupcake (a normal sized one … if yours is a large-size “muffin”, half of one will do!)
  • 1 small container of lemon lowfat yogurt (or use plain yogurt and mix in lemon juice/lemon zest & some sweetener)
  • Garnish: Poppy seeds and fresh lemon slices

Cut the cupcake into small squares (about 1/2 inch wide/deep/tall). In a pretty parfait glass, carefully spoon in some of the yogurt, then add some of the cupcake squares. Top with another layer of  yogurt (reserving a dollop for the top), more cupcake squares, then a nice dollop of yogurt on top. Sprinkle the top with poppy seeds and garnish with fresh lemon slices. Serve immediately with long, fancy ice cream parlor-style spoons if you have them.

Lemon Poppy Seed Yogurt Trifle

This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures and Newlyweds Recipe Linky.


White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

with a sweet rosewater glaze

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

I have been planning/dreaming of making these scones since June, when my friend Melissa posted her Rose Butter Tea Sandwiches. I saw the rose petal sugar she used on her pretty little tea sandwiches and thought: hey I could use that in SCONES!

So, when my most fragrant rose bush was covered with roses, I gathered some and made some rose sugar and set it in my cupboard to wait for a week. A week went by, and then a month, and then another. I told my daughter I was planning to make her rose scones and her face lit up. But life got crazy and the summer got SO hot and there never seemed to be a good time to bake rose petal scones.

Now it’s fall, the temperatures are dropping and my thoughts are turning to baking again. I woke up this morning, looked at the clock and decided today is the day I’m going to make those rose petal scones.

These scones have a soft, gentle rose flavor. It’s just a light hint of rose, like a passing floral scent on a breeze.

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

Inspired by Melissa at ChinDeep, who makes the most beautiful things with edible flowers. Plan ahead if you want to make these because it takes a week to make the rose petal sugar.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup rose petal sugar (recipe below)
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into little pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vanilla low fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon culinary rosewater (my recipe for rosewater is here)
  • about 3/4 cup good quality white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
  • Rosewater glaze (recipe below) and fresh clean organic rose petals (if desired, for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the rose petal sugar, crushing any lumps with your fingers.
  3. Add the little pieces of butter and work it into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter chunks are all broken down and the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (I use my fingers–it’s messy, but fun!)
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the egg, yogurt and extracts. Mix until just blended (dough will be soft and wet).
  5. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly 3-4 times. Pat or roll the dough into a circle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into wedges and place on your prepared cookie sheet.
  6. Bake scones for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown. Drizzle with rosewater glaze and let the glaze set. At serving time, garnish with fresh organic roses or rose petals (if you like).

White Chocolate Rose Petal Scones

Sweet Rosewater Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 teaspoons culinary rosewater

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar with the rosewater till smooth.

Rose Petal Sugar

Recipe from ChinDeep

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups very fragrant, unsprayed rose petals, washed and dryed completely

In a food processor or handi chopper, pulse the sugar and rose petals until the rose petals are tiny little confetti-like pieces. Put the sugar in a covered jar and wait for a week before you use it.

This post is an Eating the Alphabet post.

Eating the Alphabet Challenge

This month we’re cooking things that begin with the letters P, Q or R. R is for ROSES!

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This recipe was also shared at Scrumptious Sunday, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Thursday’s Treasures, Full Plate Thursday and All my Bloggy Friends.


Tomato Cuke Salad w Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tina at Mom’s Crazy Cooking has a monthly challenge for food bloggers. She asks all of us to make one certain thing on the 7th of each month … the idea is we are searching for the ultimate recipe for that one thing. This month it’s ranch dressing. Ranch I can do! I’ve made plain ranch, garlic ranch, avocado ranch, sundried tomato ranch … they were all really good, but this time I thought I would like to add some tahini (sesame seed paste) to the ranch and then lighten it up by cutting the amount of mayonnaise down. The tahini along with the fresh herbs adds such a complexity of flavor that you won’t even notice the mayo went away. This salad dressing makes an excellent dressing for just about any savory salad or a good dip for veggies or chips.

The tomato cucumber salad uses the fresh garden ingredients that are overflowing in my house right now: tomato and cucumber. I added some sweet onion, toasted walnuts and edam cheese because I thought they would taste wonderful with the fresh tomato & cucumber.

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

For each salad:

  • 1 – 2 tomatoes, that roughly match the diameter of the cucumber, cut into slices
  • 1/2 – 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • A couple thin slices of sweet onion
  • A few thin slices of edam cheese, cut into small rectangles
  • A couple tablespoons of walnuts, toasted
  • A couple Tablespoons of Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. First make the dressing.
  2. Then prep the salad by alternately layering slices of cucumber and tomato on your plate. If it’s a round plate, simply follow the curve of the plate, then tuck the last tomato or cucumber under the starting one.
  3. Top with sweet onion slices, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle each “row” of tomato/cucumber slices with a bit of the dressing. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
  4. To eat the salad, take a slice of cucumber, slice of tomato and make sure to get a little onion, cheese, walnuts and dressing on top. It’s a little messy when you’re eating it, but SO worth it!

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Edam Cheese & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

This is a Crazy Cooking Challenge post. Click on the button to see all the other wonderful ranch dressings.

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This recipe was also shared at Manic Monday, Newlyweds Recipe LinkyTotally Tasty TuesdayTalent Show TuesdayThursday’s Treasures, Weekend Potluck and Fit & Fabulous Friday.


Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

The great thing about being a food blogger is sometimes you get to have cake for breakfast. Which is a very good thing when you stayed up too late baking zucchini cakes to take along to your parents’ house for the 50th wedding anniversary party and didn’t have dinner and woke up STARVING.

I just wanted to use up the last of my zucchini before I visit my parents’ garden again. It is always overflowing with good vegetables this time of year. Besides, we are going to have lots of extra mouths to feed this weekend and it will be good to have something relatively healthy and totally delicious to snack on. The last big zucchini was big enough to make two cakes, so I made a chocolate one and this beautiful zucchini lime cake that my sweet friend Dor from La Difference Catering made when her house was overflowing with courgettes. She calls them courgettes. I think that’s a marvelously elegant word! Still I refer to them as zucchini. That’s just what we call those big green squash things here in the midwest US.

By the way, today we are on the letter Z in the A-Z Health Challenge on facebook! We made it! I have to thank all the wonderful bloggers who contributed their recipes, tips and knowledge along the way. That’s what made it so very fun. I will do a wrapup post with all the letters and their health benefits once this anniversary party is over.

For today, Z is for Zucchini! Let’s eat cake!

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

Slightly adapted from La Difference Catering. I made just a small amount of frosting because I like it light on the frosting, so if you want a heavily frosted cake, you will need to make extra frosting.

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tablespoons golden rum
  • 1 3/4 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting:

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • Topping: a few Tablespoons of chopped roasted pistachios

Directions:

  1. Set the raisins in the small bowl, pour the rum over and let them soak for a good while (an hour or so) until they plump up good.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the raisins and rum.
  4. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Mix up the powdered sugar with the cream cheese till smooth, then add the lime zest and juice. Once the cake is cool, frost it. Just before serving, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of chopped pistachios.

Zucchini Lime Cake with Pistachios

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckTalent Show TuesdayTrick or Treat Tuesday1 Month of Fun, Cast Party Wednesday, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …

So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.

For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.

Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Here’s another delicious variation …

Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi

  • 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • Several fresh mint leaves

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!

Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla

This recipe was shared at Manic Monday, Melt in your Mouth MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, 1 Month of Fun and Cast Party Wednesday.


1,2,3 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

This is a luscious, moist and healthy chocolatey cake that takes only takes a few minutes to put together (most of that time is grating the zucchini) and it’s so yummy! I made it years ago when my daughter-in-law first came to visit and we topped it with strawberries (or was it raspberries?) and whipped light cream and reveled in it. She mentioned to me not long ago how good it was and I had completely forgotten that I’d made this cake for her. I’m so glad she mentioned it because this cake is way too good to be forgotten! I got up this morning eager to look up the recipe and make it again since my sis brought me some gorgeous zucchini.

My sweet daughter just had some of this for breakfast, so I asked her if she would take the photos for me. I think I might let her do the photography more often. She has a good eye and a different style and perspective and it makes me so happy when she helps me with my cooking and blogging projects.

A little note about fat: it is true that the low-fat diet led to a lot of health problems. I don’t advocate cutting fat out of your diet (especially not if you’re going to replace it with sugar!) Include healthy fats like olive oil, cheese, nuts and avocados, but also include lots of fiber and grains, fruits and vegies and watch your total calorie intake. I like to reduce fats and sugar in baked goods and desserts because it reduces the calories, but then I also try to add whole grains and fiber to make treats that are truly health conscious, but still satisfy my desires for a decadent dessert.

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

1,2,3 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

Adapted from Food.com. I cut down the sugar, replaced some of the oil with yogurt and replaced some of the flour with whole wheat flour and flaxmeal.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour + 1/4 cup flaxmeal (or 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup lowfat or nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups grated zucchini

Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the liquid ingredients and stir it all together.
  3. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, pour in the batter and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

123 Chocolate Zucchini Cake {Lowfat}

This recipe was shared at Weekend PotluckScrumptious SundaysFamily Fresh MealsManic Monday, Cast Party Wednesday, Thursday’s TreasuresTastetastic Thursday, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, and Foodie Friends Friday.


Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad with Feta & Pinons

This is one of those salads that came to me in the middle of the night.  I was trying to think of something different to do with cucumbers beyond the regular cucumber salads … hadn’t come up with anything, but then about 3 a.m., I woke up and thought “Pesto! Pesto would be awesome on cucumbers!” So yeah, I guess I never stop thinking about food, even when I’m sleeping.

I have a bunch of English cucumbers my mom gave me from her garden. They are the BEST cucumbers, so crunchy and sweet, tiny little seeds that are never too big, and no sharp bitter taste at all. She had brought in a box of them and said to me “this is today’s pick … tomorrow we will have another bunch like this. So you may as well take them all.”

I found a bit of buttermilk in my fridge and thought I should use that up, so I mixed it with the pesto along with some yogurt to make the dressing. Together they made this lovely creamy blend that made me smile. I had actually intended to put some chickpeas in this salad as well, but I completely forgot about them until the salad was gone. Oh well, the chickpeas will go into something else!

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

Cucumber Pesto Buttermilk Salad

with Tomato, Feta Cheese and Pinons

Salad:

  • 2  cups chopped English cucumber (or other fresh garden cucumber … )
  • 1  cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or chopped fresh tomato
  • Feta cheese crumbles
  • Pinons, toasted
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish (if desired)

Dressing:

  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons pesto (my recipe is here)

Chop up the cucumber and toss them in a bowl with the tomatoes, saving a few tomatoes for garnish on top of the salad. Mix up the buttermilk, yogurt and pesto till smooth and then toss the cucumber/tomato mixture with enough dressing to just coat the vegies. Top with feta cheese crumbles, pinons, the reserved tomatoes and fresh basil leaves and serve.

Cucumber Buttermilk Pesto Salad

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous FridaysSummer Salad Sundays and Raw Food Recipes.


Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip

{a guest post for The Black Peppercorn}

Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip

My friend Steve over at the Black Peppercorn is off on vacation, so I’m helping tend his blog while he’s away!

Steve is a great blogger who has some great recipes and beautiful photography. I’m proud to count him as one of my foodie friends.

So pop over to the Black Peppercorn for the recipe!

Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip Recipe

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysCast Party Wednesday, and Weekend Potluck.


Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

Lowfat Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

It’s hard to choose, but I think this is my favorite of all the recipes I made for my party last Saturday night. It’s a rich, decadent, creamy no-bake blueberry gooseberry mini-cheesecake made with nonfat greek yogurt and light cream cheese. The graham cracker crust is made with candied ginger, egg white and just a bit of butter.

Well, okay, you do bake the crust, but the creamy ginger yogurt filling is not baked. The gooseberry sauce is cooked on the stove and it’s quite simple to make. Then you mound fresh, sweet blueberries over top.

This cheesecake is the most Bohemian, Ally-style cheesecake I have ever made. If you have ever run across my friend Ally from Ally’s Kitchen, you know exactly what I mean when I say that. She has this bold style of cooking, food styling, and photography that transcends amazing. So I’m dedicating this recipe to my dear friend Ally.

Each part of this recipe is quite simple, so I suggest making this in steps. I made the crust and the gooseberry sauce one evening, and set the yogurt to drain overnight, then mixed up the filling in the morning. This was done days before the party, so at party time, I just pulled it out, put on the sauce and the berries, and cut little slices for the friends who wanted to try the cheesecake. Seriously, serve this in little slices. It’s really rich.

Lowfat Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

Blueberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

a.k.a. Bohemian Blue Goose Cheesecake

Adapted from Food & Wine. Makes a 7-inch cheesecake with a pretty thick crust. If you want a larger cheesecake, double the yogurt filling recipe. There will be enough of the crust (although the crust will be thinner) and plenty of gooseberry sauce to make a normal-size cheesecake.

Crust:

  • 10 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of crumbs
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (if you want to make your own, here’s a recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger sugar (the sugar that falls from the ginger pieces when you make candied ginger … you can substitute white sugar)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white

Filling:

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 oz. light cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated  ginger
  • Juice and zest from 1/2 of a lemon

Gooseberry sauce: (makes more sauce than you’ll need for the cheesecake)

  • 1 3/4 – 2 cups of gooseberries, cleaned (snip off the tough stems of the berries)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Topping:

  • Fresh blueberries
  • Mint leaves, for garnish (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 7 inch springform pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray.
  2. In a handi chopper or food processor, process the graham crackers with the candied ginger, sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and egg white and blend until the crumbs are evenly coated. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is light brown. Set the crust aside to cool.
  3. While the crust is baking, set the gooseberries and brown sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing a few of the gooseberries with a spoon to release the flavor. Remove from heat and stir in the chia seeds (they will thicken the sauce). (If you don’t have chia seeds, you can use cornstarch or tapioca to thicken the gooseberry sauce–chia seeds are just a very quick, healthy way to thicken things.)
  4. Now for the filling! First you will make a “cheese” out of the greek yogurt. Take a coffee filter and place it in a strainer or funnel over a tall mug or something to catch the juices. Put the yogurt in the coffee filter and set it in the fridge to let it strain overnight.
  5. In the morning, mix the yogurt cheese with the cream cheese, honey, ginger and lemon zest & juice till smooth and well mixed. You might need to use a blender to get it smooth. (I did!) Pour the filling into the crust and smooth it out to cover the crust. Cover and store in the fridge till serving time.
  6. Just before serving, spread the cheesecake with a layer of the gooseberry sauce, then add a tumble of blueberries (as many as you like). Serve in small slices because the taste is really rich, and garnish with a mint leaf or two, if you so desire.

Lowfat Bluberry Gooseberry Ginger Yogurt Cheesecake

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s MealsMy Sweet PartyScrumptious Sunday, Crazy Sweet TuesdayHearth & Soul Bloghop, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, and Cast Party Wednesday.


Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

It’s my one-year blog-iversary today. I am having a party in the real world tomorrow to celebrate. I’ll have a party in cyberspace too and I’ll invite all my foodie friends to bring wonderful things. There will be much revelry and champagne (with watermelon sorbet!) and good food shared.

I made these brownies for the party. I suppose you could say I made these brownies for both parties because this I will surely bring them to my virtual party too. I have to thank my sweet foodie friend Robin from Knead to Cook for the recipe for these … she made hers with raspberries. I started out doing that, too, but dropped the raspberries after the first batch because it just took too much time. I am a bit rushed this week …  (by the way that first batch turned out bad because I undercooked that batch … ooops! so I turned them into something else … another post coming soon about that … )

I also substituted some low fat cream cheese for some of the butter. I was running low on butter but had plenty of cream cheese, and besides, it just sounded good. And I used chocolate chia pudding in place of the eggs. I had some in my fridge that I needed to use up to make room for party food! Chia pudding does make a nice substitute for eggs. It even rises like eggs! Those little chia seeds are magic, I tell you.

A year ago I didn’t even know what chia seeds were … things have changed a LOT in a year. I’ve learned so much, met so many wonderful people, shared so many wonderful foods. It’s been a fantastic journey so far … and I plan to continue this journey for a long, long time. Because food is meant to be shared. It’s the most basic human connection.

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

Adapted from Knead to Cook

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter (or light butter spread … I actually used a mixture of both)
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chocolate chia pudding (recipe here … or substitute 2 eggs and add a little extra cocoa + 1 teaspoon cinnamon)
  • 1/2 cup of non fat greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup of dark or Dutch processed cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • if you want: fresh raspberries (make sure they are very dry, not wet … put one or two berries in the middle of each brownie bite)
  • for the top: mini chocolate chips (or other little candies or sprinkles)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line 3 mini muffin pans with mini-cupcake liners or spray them with cooking spray (or spray an 8×8 pan if you prefer). (I only have one mini muffin pan, so I ended up doing this 3 times.)
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar with the cream cheese and the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla, chia pudding and greek yogurt.  Blend well.  Add the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and stir till everything is mixed together well.
  3. Pour the batter into your mini muffin pans, filling them about 2/3 – 3/4 full and sprinkle each one with a few mini chocolate chips. (If you are using raspberries, put a small spoonful of batter in the bottom, add a couple berries, then top with more batter.) Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the biggest one comes out mostly clean.

Chocolate Chia Brownie Bites

This recipe was shared at Foodie Friends FridayMy Sweet PartyFit & Fabulous Friday and Crazy Sweet Tuesday.


#Tomatolove: Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

Sundried Tomato Ranch Salad Dressing

After making Melissa’s Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette, I still had a few sundried tomatoes left and I thought perhaps I should try throwing them in some ranch dressing too? Yep, it works. Tastes mighty fine. The sundried tomatoes do make it thicker, so if you want a drizzle for your salad, you’ll need to thin it out a bit.

Sundried Tomato Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing (or Dip)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 2/3 to 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 2-3 big fresh cloves of garlic
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 green onions (tops only)

Whir all the ingredients in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more buttermilk as needed to get the dressing to the desired consistency. Mine was pretty thick, but I was using it for a pasta salad so that was just perfect.

Use for pasta or potato salad, on green salads or as a dip with vegies. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing (or Dip)

This is a post for #tomatolove.

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This recipe was also shared at Summer Salad SundayScrumptious Sundays, Weekend PotluckManic MondayTip Junkie, Cast Party Wednesday and EveryDay Mom’s Meals


4th of July Fruit Kebabs with Dipping Sauces

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

After the rainbow fruit kebabs we made for my daughter’s birthday, my daughter and I thought it would be fun to do a 4th of July version with red, white and blue. We were having trouble figuring out what to use for the white, though. Are there white fruits? I suppose you could use apples or bananas … at the time, we couldn’t think of any … so we ended up going with angel food cake for the white … you could also use marshmallows.

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

But then if you have cake, you want a dipping sauce, right? Something wonderful to dip it in or to drizzle over it to make it more dessert-like.

Three options occurred to me:

  1. Whipped cream: so you have a berry shortcake on a stick
  2. Strawberry (or blueberry) yogurt: a healthier option for dipping. You could even mix your own using plain yogurt and  crushed strawberries and honey
  3. Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce: oh yeah! the take-it-over-the-top, make-it-flippin-amazing option (this was my favorite … can you tell? The way the sauce soaks into the cake and contrasts with the fruit is just oh so wonderful.)

I am guessing you probably don’t need a recipe for #1 and #2, so I’ll just give you the recipe for #3. These 4th of July kebabs are a great project to do with kids … it’s a good pattern recognition exercise for little ones.

Fourth of July Red White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with dipping sauces

Red, White & Blue Fruit Kebabs with Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Sauce

The sauce is, incidentally, the very same dressing I used on my Red, White & Blueberry Salad.

  • Blueberries
  • Angel Food Cake, cut into squares
  • Strawberries, washed and cut in half
  • Wooden skewer sticks

for the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

In a small bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together until they are well mixed. Keep any leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge.

Skewer the fruit and cake on the wooden skewers to make a red, white and blue pattern. My daughter says the way to do it is to start with blueberries, then cake, then a strawberry so that you end up with a strawberry on top.

Serve with dipping sauces of your choice.

Fourth of July Fruit Kebabs with a Honey Lime Ginger Yogurt Sauce

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysTrick or Treat Tuesdays, and Thursday’s Treasures.


Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Pecans

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

My daughter was hungry for crepes the other day, but it was in the middle of my work day, so she decided to make them herself. I thought I would have to help her because she usually gets frustrated with the cooking of the crepes, but she cooked them all herself, with no help from me (except for a little whisking of the batter)! I was so totally proud of her.

There were several left after she had her own personal crepe fest which she stuffed with caramel apples (just chunks of apples that she stirred into in a caramel sauce), so I put the remaining crepes in a tortilla bag in the fridge for another day. And then yesterday I thought I might have one of her crepes. I offered to make my girl one, but she wasn’t in the mood for a crepe. I guess her crepe craving was done. Good thing, because mine has just begun.

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

  • Crepes (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup berry basil sauce (the sauce left from making Italian Cream Sodas … or cook up some fresh berries with a bit of sugar and fresh basil, then blend to make a sauce)
  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • Sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
  • Toasted pecans
  • Whipped cream or sweetened yogurt (either fruity or vanilla), for the top

Mix the berry basil sauce with the light cream cheese and greek yogurt till it’s pretty well combined. I couldn’t get the cream cheese to completely blend with the fruity sauce, but I got it pretty well mixed. Heat the crepe a bit in the microwave if it’s been chilled (like mine was) … 15 – 30 seconds should do it, then spread a good thick layer of the creamy berry sauce down the middle, leaving a little space on the ends. Sprinkle with cherries and toasted pecans, then fold over the ends and roll up the crepe.

Add a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt on top and sprinkle with berries and cherries and a few nuts.

Enjoy!

Berry Cherry Cream Crepes with Toasted Pecans

Crepes

from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs

Mix all the ingredients together to form a thin batter. You may need to whisk it a bit to get the batter smooth.

Spray a 6 to 8 inch frying pan with cooking spray and pour in 1/4 cup of the batter. Roll the pan around to coat the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of the crepe batter. Cook until the bottom side is light brown, carefully lifting the edge of the crepe to check for brown-ness. When it’s ready, gently lift the edge of the crepe and slide a spatula under it, then flip it over to brown the other side. Stack the completed crepes on a plate. Betty says to put waxed paper between them to keep them from sticking, but I’ve never had a problem with my crepes sticking together.

Don’t get discouraged if you break a few crepes in the process … they are delicate pancakes and they can be a little tricky to flip. Just munch on your ‘mistakes’ with a bit of powdered sugar (or just eat them plain, like my daughter did) … and try again.

This recipe was shared at Everyday Mom’s MealsManic MondaysTotally Tasty Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tastetastic Thursday, Thursday’s Treasures, Foodie Friends Friday and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Red, White, & Blueberry Salad

with Goat Cheese, Pinons, and a Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Dressing

Red, White & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese & Toasted Pinons

My foodie friend Justine over at Full Belly Sisters has been making red, white and blue foods like crazy lately … which got me thinking … I need to make a red, white and blue salad! It’s been in my head for a week, waiting to come to life. I’m so glad I finally took time to make it today (even though my son was upset with me for making something for myself since we had agreed to go out for lunch today … hey, it’s just a salad!)

Besides being just the right colors for the 4th of July, it’s got just the right mix of sweet, creamy, tangy and crunchy to make a super-delicious salad. Tangy goat cheese pairs so well with berries, sweet onions kick up the flavor just slightly, the pinons add a soft crunch and a slight sweet nutty flavor, and the lime and ginger yogurt dressing takes it over the top.

Red, White & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pinons

And you know what else? Before eating this salad, I felt tired and run down. But AFTER eating this delectable salad, my body felt so refreshed, revived, ready to go! Besides, all those gorgeous colors are a feast for the eyes …

Red, White & Blueberry Salad

with Goat Cheese, Pinons, and a Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Dressing

  • Mixed Greens
  • Fresh Strawberries, washed and sliced
  • Fresh Sweet Blueberries, washed
  • Sweet onion, sliced  and roughly chopped
  • Pinon nuts and/or almond slices, lightly toasted
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing (recipe below0
Fill the bowl most of the way full of mixed greens. Arrange/tuck a bunch of sliced strawberries and fresh whole blueberries amongst the greens, then sprinkle on the nuts and crumbles of goat cheese . Drizzle with the dressing and serve.

Red, White & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pinons

Honey Ginger Lime Yogurt Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together until they are well mixed. Keep any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.

Red, White, and Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese & Toasted Pinons

By the way, Justine at Full Belly Sisters made a Red, White & Blue Salad too! Go check out her version.

This recipe was shared at Patriotic Potluck, Summer Salad SundaysScrumptious SundaysManic Mondays and Trick or Treat Tuesdays.


Hotsy Totsy Summer Shrimp Dip

Hotsy Totsy Summer Shrimp Dip

Calling this a shrimp dip is a little misleading because it’s got SO much more than shrimp in it … there’s bacon, and asparagus, and grilled corn cut off the cob, sweet onion, Havarti, Gorgonzola and cream cheese, greek yogurt, some seasonings of course… and then, to give it a little summer heat, some Sriracha sauce. It’s like a taste of summer in every bite.

Hotsy Totsy Summer Shrimp Dip with Bacon, Asparagus, Corn & Sriracha

Hotsy Totsy Summer Shrimp Dip

  • 1/3 cup roasted asparagus, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup light cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup cooked corn (I cut the kernels off a cob we had cooked on the grill, but thawed frozen corn would be fine too)
  • 1/3 cup cooked, chopped shrimp (tails removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Red Robin Seasoning (if you don’t happen to have any, you can make your own with this recipe)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cooked, chopped lower-fat bacon
  • 1/2 cup shredded Havarti cheese
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 – 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or more (add more or less according to how spicy you want the dip)

Directions:

  1. Heat a frying pan up over medium heat till it’s hot, spray with cooking spray, and sautee the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and soft. If the mixture gets dry or starts to “burn”, add a splash of wine, then cook until the liquid from the wine has disappeared.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix the onion/garlic with the rest of the ingredients until it’s all thoroughly mixed. I started with the cream cheese because the heat from the onions will melt the cheese and make it easier to blend with the rest of the ingredients, then added the other things one by one.
  3. When I started cooking, I really meant this as a hot dip, but I ended up eating it cold because it’s SO hot outside … but really more because I was soo hungry by the time I finished it that I didn’t want to wait for it to bake. So hey, if you want, you could put this in an oven-safe baking dish and bake it up till it’s all hot and bubbly … or serve it cold with toasted pita chips, crackers, baked bagel chips or tortilla chips. Or vegies. Vegies always make good dippers.
  4. Garnish with a shrimp and some snipped green onion or chives.
(By the way, thank you Patti and Tara and all my Boho tribe friends for helping me name this one!)

Hotsy Totsy Summer Shrimp Dip with Bacon, Asparagus, Corn & Sriracha

This recipe was shared at Patriotic Potluck, Everyday Mom’s Meals, Scrumptious Sundays, KM’s Seafood Bloghop and Totally Tasty Tuesdays.

It was also featured at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen’s Seafood Frenzy Friday.


Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

A while ago, I spent a day playing with rhubarb and one of the things I made was ginger rhubarb sauce … the reason I made that sauce was for this idea for a rhubarb rum cake I had floating around in my head.

The first time I made the cake, I was really unhappy with it. It just wasn’t the cake I had pictured in my mind. I gave it to the neighbor and she and her dad loved it, so I figured perhaps I was being too self-critical.

So I made the cake again, with a few improvements. I fed some to my friend and asked him for his feedback. He is not a huge rhubarb fan so he liked that the rhubarb was not “in your face” like so many rhubarb dishes are. I, on the other hand, AM a rhubarb fanatic so I love “in your face” rhubarb dishes, but that wasn’t what I was going for here. I was trying to let the taste of the ginger, the rum, and the rhubarb gently interplay with each other.

I was worried that the cake was too dense, but he challenged me there. Who says a cake has to be light and fluffy? After I tossed out that pre-conception, I fell in love with this cake. It’s moist and dense and flavorful. It does have that delicate interplay of rhubarb, rum, and ginger and they really play so nicely together. I’ve been eating this cake for breakfast all week. Yes, breakfast. What? Who says you can’t eat rum cake for breakfast? I replaced all of the butter in the cake with the ginger rhubarb sauce, used half whole wheat flour for fiber, added pecans and rhubarb, it’s even got yogurt in it. It’s really not so bad for you. I think it’s a very pleasant way to start your day… or if you prefer, you could serve it with afternoon tea or at a dinner party.

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Low fat}

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

Adapted from Squidoo

  • 1/2 cup ginger rhubarb sauce (recipe here … if you don’t want to make the sauce, substitute some applesauce)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Rum syrup / glaze (a.k.a. “cake paint”)

  • 1/3 cup ginger rhubarb sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup golden rum

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the rhubarb ginger sauce, honey & sugars to make a smooth mixture. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and yogurt and whisk till smooth.
  2. Add the flours, ginger, salt & baking powder and stir till everything is fully incorporated into the batter. Fold in the rhubarb & pecans.
  3. Spray your baking pan with cooking spray and then dust with flour. I used my grandma’s bundt pan (even though the batter filled it only about half-way), but you could also bake it in a 13x9x2 inch pan if you like. Pour the batter into your pan and bake at 325 for about 50 minutes. Test it with a toothpick to see if it’s done. Let it cool for 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven, then turn the bundt pan over onto a plate.
  4. Make the rum syrup by heating the ginger rhubarb sauce with the sugars and butter till hot and bubbly, then stir in the rum.
  5. Using a basting brush, “paint” the cake with the rum syrup several times, giving it several minutes to soak into the cake between paintings. My daughter helped me with this part. She loves painting things. She decided the glaze should be called “cake paint”.

Ginger Rhubarb Rum Cake {Lowfat}

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck.


Bacon & Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dip

Yeah, I’m on a dip kick lately. I’ve been feeling kinda down, and I like to munch and dip when I’m sad. My ultimate “comfort” food is potato chips and french onion dip (the kind made with real sour cream), but I have come to realize that eating it just makes me feel worse than before, so I kinda stay away from that store-bought stuff now. Today I tried making my own home-grown version of french onion dip. With bacon. Because bacon makes everything better, right? And the greek yogurt has the same rich texture as sour cream, but it’s good for you, so it makes you feel BETTER after eating it instead of sinking you deeper into depression.

There are a few things that are nagging at me, but I think the biggest one is probably the changes on facebook. Yeah, I know, my life is really easy if all I have to be upset about is the changes on facebook, but you see the social connections I’ve made on facebook are really important to me. I’ve met a lot of foodie friends on facebook (7,264 of them as of this moment) and every single one of them is precious to me. Most facebook users probably aren’t even that aware of the changes or how they impact the pages they “like” on facebook, but what facebook did is cut back the views of our posts unless we pay to “promote” them.  It feels like my fan base that I worked so hard to build was just cut from 7,000 to 700. Ouch.

But the worst part is now when someone tags my page, I can’t see that they tagged me, and vice versa.

We foodie pages used to communicate by tagging each other in our status … we did virtual parties on facebook and the invitations were lists of facebook tags. Everyone would bring a drink or dish … the way we would do this is to go to one of our food photos and tag the person having the party (plus a bunch more pages usually … hey, the more the merrier!). We did “shout-outs” telling our fans about other pages we thought were awesome and you always knew when someone else shared your page so it was easy to say thank you by tagging them back. We shared recipes amongst ourselves and tagged the creator of the recipe. Now, if someone shares my recipe or my page, unless it is directly shared from one of my own posts, I have no way of knowing it. There are no more parties. No more shout-outs. No more thank you’s.

It makes me really sad that I can’t see the posts of my friends unless I take time out to go visit their page. They are my inspiration and joy. Oh, yes, there is an alternative: I can make a “list” of my favorite pages from my personal facebook page, but this has several disadvantages:

  1. I have to leave my page to go there
  2. I can share to my page from my personal page, but it’s cumbersome, tricky and easy to screw up
  3. I can’t comment as my page from my personal page
  4. How the heck am I going to make a list of thousands of people from memory? Okay, not all of my “likers” are facebook pages, but still, there are thousands of them, built up over time. Trying to make a list of all of them is harder than putting together a list of people to invite to your wedding. You’re going to forget someone … and in my case it’s a LOT of someones.

Foodies are a tight-knit group and we are feeling right now like facebook is tearing us apart. I think many of us are turning to Pinterest to fill the gap. At least I can always see my friends’ pins on Pinterest. We have group boards that a bunch of us contribute to, and you can comment and like things just like on facebook.

We’re trying to roll with the punches, but I have to tell you it’s very disheartening. I know this is not personal, facebook is just trying to make some money off of this service they have offered us for free for so long, but can’t they do that without tearing us apart? At least let me know when someone mentioned my page. That’s business networking and analytics 101: you want to know who your referrers are. That’s how you build your network. How can you thank your referrers and help them out in turn if you don’t know who they are?!?

Sorry about the rant, I just needed to get that out … let’s get back to the dip at hand, shall we? It’s a lovely dip with the sweet taste of caramelized onions and the salty, smoky bacon, along with creamy cream cheese and tangy greek yogurt and a few chives for spite (and color). Thinking on it now, I bet some smoked paprika would be nice in this too … I’ll have to try that next time.

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Dip

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Dip

Inspired by one of my foodie facebook friends: Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish

  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 2 oz. lowfat cream cheese
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup of fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of lowfat mayonnaise (or plain nonfat yogurt)
  • 2 slices of lean bacon, fried till crisp and chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat your frying pan up to medium heat and swirl around a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan. Add the onions and reduce head to medium, stirring pretty much constantly to keep them from burning. When the onions start to brown, add a bit of the wine and cook some more, stirring the onions till the wine has evaporated, then add a bit more wine and stir and cook some more, and repeat until the onions are brown and sweet and all the wine has evaporated. This might take 20 minutes or so, but it’s worth it, believe me.

Remove the onions from the heat and put in a bowl with the cream cheese and stir. The heat of the onions should melt the cream cheese and make it easier to mix in. Add the rest of the ingredients, reserving a few bacon crumbles and snipped chives to sprinkle on top before serving. If the dip is too thick, add a little plain nonfat yogurt (not greek yogurt, the regular thinner kind) or a teaspoon or two of milk.

Serve with crackers and/or vegetables and/or chips. Whatever you prefer. You’ll need a sturdier chip, though, like a kettle chip, if you want to use chips.

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Dip

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayNewlyweds Recipe LinkyFull Plate ThursdayIt’s a Keeper ThursdayTastetastic Thursday, and Weekend Potluck.


Spinach Avocado Quesadillas

Spinach Avocado Quesadillas

It was the big day, the day the dancers prepare for all year. My girl is in competition dance so she gets so many opportunities to perform, but it all leads up to THIS. The day of the big end-of-the-year dance recital.

I thought I was being clever, but really, in hindsight, perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to plan a vacation right after recital. That meant I was scrambling at work today to finish up all the loose ends … and on top of that, I had to make sure she got fed and drank enough water and run her to rehearsal and back. And find her lost costumes and the missing jazz shoe (that never did turn up … she had to borrow a shoe from a friend!) … and help her with her hair … and then my family was coming for the recital so I was bugging my son to clean up and wash all the bedding. My mom, dad, and sis showed up at 4 and I hadn’t even showered yet! I quickly cleaned myself up and we rushed off to find some food before the recital …

It all added up to a lot of craziness and stress that really didn’t need to be QUITE that crazy. The show went really well, but I could tell at the beginning of the show that my dancer didn’t quite have her head in the game. I feel a little pang of “mom guilt”, like could I maybe have been a little less stressed and rushed today and had more patience with her?

So you know I had NO time to cook today. But still after scrambling with everything all morning, I really really needed to eat! I found some of the cheese mixture I’d used for my fish quesadillas in the fridge and threw together this quesadilla for lunch today in a few minutes … and it turned out really good. I’m glad I took a short break to make this … I’m wishing now that I had taken the time to make my sweetie girl the waffles that she wanted this morning. Ah well. There is always tomorrow. Finally, some time to just unwind and do as we please …

Spinach Avocado Quesadillas

Spinach Avocado Quesadillas

For the cheese mixture:

  • 1 cup cooked white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon of liquid from the beans
  • 1 Tablespoon goat cheese
  • Green onion (I used two)
  • Garlic scapes (I used two)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less according to how spicy you want it)
  • A few cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend of cheeses

For the quesadilla:

  • 2 whole-grain flour tortillas
  • A handful of baby spinach leaves
  • Chopped tomato (I used 1/2 of a medium tomato for one quesadilla)
  • Chopped red onion (just a bit)
  • Avocado, part sliced, part chopped (I used half an avocado for my quesadilla)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salsa (I used my dad’s simple salsa fresca)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or handi chopper, blend the white beans, yogurt, goat cheese, and a bit of cooking liquid from the beans till smooth. Add snipped green onion, garlic scapes, jalapeno, and cilantro and stir (or chop if you like), then blend in the shredded cheese. (You can make the cheese mixture ahead of time and store it in a covered container in the fridge.)
  2. Spread both tortillas with a thin layer of the cheese mixture. On one of the tortillas, arrange the spinach leaves, tomato, red onion, chopped avocado and cilantro. Top with the 2nd tortilla.
  3. Heat a frying pan or cast iron skillet to medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. Put the quesadilla in the pan, cover and cook briefly. Check often and when it is brown on the bottom, slide it onto a plate, then flip it over and slide back into the pan and cover to brown the other side. When both sides are brown and the cheese is nicely melted, slide the quesadilla out of the pan onto a cutting board, cut into pieces, and serve immediately topped with avocado slices with salsa on the side.

Spinach Avocado Quesadillas

This recipe was shared at Fit & Fabulous Fridays and Weekend Potluck.


Elvis’ Favorite Muffins

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana Muffins … with a Peanut Butter Filling

Elvis' Favorite Muffins (Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana with a Peanut Butter filling)

Okay, Elvis never really tried these muffins. But he should have! He would have loved them.

But then again, who wouldn’t love chocolate banana muffins with a peanut butter filling? Maybe my mother. She’s not into chocolate. I will never ever in a million years understand that. (But I still love you, Mom!)

Elvis' Favorite Muffins (Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Banana, with a PB filling)

Elvis’ Favorite Muffins

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, & Banana … with a Peanut Butter Filling

Makes 18 muffins

  • 3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lowfat milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (add more or less, depending on how chocolatey you want your muffins)
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Filling:
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the bananas, sugar, yogurt, canola oil, egg and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is thoroughly mixed.
  4. Mix the filling ingredients together. Add a little more PB or sugar according to your taste.
  5. Spray your muffin pans with cooking spray. Spoon a spoonful of batter into the bottom of each muffin pan to cover the bottom of the muffin. Top with a small spoonful (about a teaspoon) of the peanut butter filling, then cover the filling up with another spoonful of the chocolate batter.
  6. Bake at 325° for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched.

Elvis' Favorite Muffins ... Chocolate & Banana Muffins with a Peanut Butter Filling

Now … what should I do with these other three bananas? Hmm …

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdaysFull Plate Thursdays and Weekend Potluck.


Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing (Low Sodium Option)

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

I found some lovely ripe avocados at the store today and it just occurred to me that avocado would be delicious in a Ranch Salad Dressing. Maybe I live in a hole, but why haven’t I ever seen that before?

Before today, that is. Because here it is! Tada! Super quick, super healthy, super delicious, and if you have someone who is watching their sodium, then just leave out the salt! It’s still fantabulous.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

To reduce sodium: If you leave out the salt altogether, this salad dressing has 75 mg of sodium per 2 Tablespoons; with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, this dressing has 149 mg sodium. I did a quick check and store-brand ranch dressings have sodium content ranging from 200 to 500 mg in 2 Tablespoons of dressing.

Makes about 1 cup of dressing (8 servings/2 Tablespoons per serving)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. 1% milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • About 1/2 a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Several chives
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 green onions (tops only)
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado (you could probably even add more avocado if you want …)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (Leave out the salt altogether if you want less sodium … I made sure to taste it before I added salt, and it was delicious.)
  • 1/3 c. nonfat greek yogurt

Whir all the ingredients except the yogurt in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Stir in the yogurt. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky and Full Plate Thursdays.


Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

It’s National Chocolate Mousse Day today, so of course I had to make some chocolate mousse!

I lightened it up by using nonfat Greek yogurt and an egg white in place of the heavy cream, but it still tastes deliciously decadent, with deep dark undertones of Kahlua and hazelnut.

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

Makes 2 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons Kahlua
  • 2 teaspoons good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the Kahlua, cocoa powder, Nutella, yogurt and vanilla until it’s smooth.
  2. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg white at medium or high till soft peaks form, then sprinkle the cream of tartar on while still beating until the peaks are firm. Gently fold the beaten egg white into the chocolate mixture.
  3. Cover and place in the fridge for a couple hours until it’s firmed up to the desired consistency.
I garnished it with a little dollop of plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of chocolate syrup and a hazelnut.

Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella  Mousse

I thought I ought to include the nutrition information … this is from Calorie Count on About.com

Nutrition facts for Light & Luscious Mocha Nutella Mousse

This recipe was shared at Trick or Treat TuesdaysCast Party WednesdaysFull Plate ThursdaysTastetastic Thursdays, and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


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