Creamy Kale Dip

A few “fun” facts: 

1. It’s been so long since I’ve posted a recipe, I had to go in search of the last recipe I posted to remember how I format recipe posts.  

2. (insert dramatic pause with gasps and lots of  exaggerated dot dot dots)…

This is the first recipe I’ve posted in 2014… 

… (we needed some dramatic extra dot dot dots here)

… IT’S NOVEMBER! And not just November, but November 19th. What the heck?! I AM SORRY!  

3. The last time I even kind of posted a recipe was on September 20th, 2013. Even then, it was just linking to one of my recipes posted somewhere else. 

4. The last real recipe I posted was on July 13th, 2013.

5. That was 1 year and 4 months ago. That was 495 days ago. That was 70 weeks ago. (Who knew the internet had a date calculator to insert dramatic unnecessary facts.) That was several job interviews, another job, another house, hundreds of cupcakes, over a thousand cookies, way too many pictures of food, unimaginable pounds of butter and cartons of eggs, and a feature article in a food magazine ago. 

6. This is a food blog. Apparently food blog is a loose term and doesn’t always include food. Or anything. Oops. 

I AM SO SORRY! I know I don’t have to apologize to you, but I’m apologizing to me too! I have 16 posts saved in my drafts that I never finished and 500 pictures saved on my phone and on clouds that I never used. Let’s call 2014 the year of transition and the year that I got lost. It was a GREAT year, I hope to write more about just how great it was. But it was busy year. A busy busy busy year. A year where I prided myself on not following other people’s rules, loved myself more than I ever have, and loved my life more than I ever have. But it was also a year where I felt like blogging had too many rules I thought I had to follow and therefore not enough time to make perfect posts to fit into perfect rules. Not the right backgrounds, not the right lighting, not healthy enough, not decadent enough, not unique enough, too wordy, not enough words, too shallow, too deep, too broad, not broad enough, and so on. 

Today, I just want a recipe. And so I’m going to. 


If you’re a post college grad (aka old enough to want to contribute) but still the younger generation in your family like me (aka still the niece/nephew, granddaughter/grandson, daughter/son, etc. and not one of the matriarchs/patriarchs of the family), it’s likely all of the staple holiday dishes are claimed with white knuckles and when you ask what you can bring they tell you ice, cups, or canned cranberry sauce. I declare that instead of getting our own white knuckles in a passionate speech about how you’re an adult now and want to contribute too (maybe I’m the only one who has such speeches prepared), just bring that ice or those cups, and some non-claimed dish to knock their socks off and do all the talking for you (no speeches required). 

If they assign you cranberry sauce, make your own dang homemade cranberry sauce (I’ve been using this recipe for years, and now it’s MY claimed staple). Bring a seemingly fancy secretly easy fall side dish they’ve never thought of  (like pumpkin spiced roasted butternut squash or spicy roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries and toasted pecans). Bake a fall flavored dessert that’s not pie (I’m bringing pumpkin cobbler this year and giving you a pumpkin spice trifle recipe soon). And my favorite idea, MAKE THE APPS! Appetizers, not to be confused with applications. Appetizers are frequently forgotten for holiday feasts, especially Thanksgiving. But what a great idea! Instead of everyone having to sneak bites of turkey behind Mr. Protector of the Turkey’s back while waiting for the Mr. and Mrs. Always Late, be the Miss Thanksgiving Hero with your apps! 

Creamy Kale Dip

  • Servings: LOTS
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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INGREDIENTS (IN ORDER OF USAGE):

  • 1 16 oz bag chopped kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (the kind in a jar), divided
  • 1 cup fat free mayo (It exists! Kraft brand with a red cap. If you are a mayo snob, it’s in a recipe mixed with other things and is not the main star, so just try it, or go for full fat if you must.)
  • 1 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat parmesan cheese (the kind you shake on pizza)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce

DIRECTIONS:

 
Saute kale in two batches. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of garlic, distribute around pan, then add half of the kale. Saute for about 3-5 minutes tossing it with tongs until all the leaves are turning a bright green color. Don’t overcook! You just want to bring out the brightness of the kale and infuse it with the garlic and olive oil. Set first batch aside on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and repeat with remaining oil, 1 more teaspoon of garlic, and the rest of the kale. Put the second batch on another baking sheet lined with paper towels to dry.
 
 
 
Mix mayo, greek yogurt, sour cream, parmesan, last teaspoon of garlic, seasonings, and spices together in a large bowl. Set aside. With more paper towels, squeeze out any excess natural waters from the kale. Use a food processor (or a good knife and elbow grease) to chop the kale up finely. Mix finely chopped kale with creamy mixture. Add liquid hot sauce to taste, probably about 2 teaspoons to give it a good kick. Let chill for at least an hour. Hollow out a bread bowl to serve it in for extra fun flare. Serve with carrot chips, celery, bell pepper sticks, crackers, or bread cubes. 
 
Note: I made this for a friend gathering with girls and guys, and everyone loved it and didn’t believe it was healthy!
 

Homemade Salsa & Smashed Beans

Meal planning ideas and inspiration come from everywhere for me. Other food bloggers inspire ideas often, restaurant dishes, cravings, the Food Network and it’s many shows that are often [read always] playing on my television, walks down the grocery isle, or just crazy brainstorming.

This meal plan inspiration was a combo! First my friend and fellow blogger Emily made my mouth water and cravings begin with a salsa recipe she posted. She adapted hers from the Pioneer Woman‘s homemade salsa recipe. Once I knew I had to make salsa, I was on the lookout for other ideas to make it into a meal. Along came Melissa D’Arabian’s Ten Dollar Dinners’ chile episode. I used her Smashed Black Beans as an inspiration to make my own version.

Note – I also added stuffed peppers to this meal that were a total flop. Melissa made cheese and corn stuff peppers, battered and fried. I tried to do a veggie stuffed pepper idea with corn, spinach and tomatoes, baked. Some recipes are great! They work out, I share them, I make them again. Some just aren’t! Real life folks. Everyone creates recipes that don’t work, even people with food blogs.

 

Green! I told you this week’s recipes could be summed up with one word, green. But seriously, how can something not be good that starts so fresh!?

Homemade Salsa

  • Servings: lots
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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(Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s recipe)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 – 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel, I used Great Value brand)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of jarred/bottled minced garlic (or 1-2 cloves to taste of fresh chopped)
  • 1 whole jalapeno, sliced (I left the seeds, but if you don’t like spicy, discard them.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup cilantro (You either love or hate cilantro, I love it. If you hate it, leave it out or add less.)
  • juice of 1 lime

DIRECTIONS:

I made mine in a big food processor, but Emily made hers in a blender. Either would work. Toss everything in and pulse/blend! Do it to a consistency that you like. I like it pretty thin. It’s like your favorite Mexican restaurant’s salsa, but BETTER! Yes. I said it. I like this made at home salsa even better than the Mexican restaurants’ versions.
Refrigerate for at least an hour. Yields about 5 1/2 – 6 cups. GUILT FREE! 0 points. Serve with chips.

 

Look at that seed! It’s got a kick. I like it, but if you are sensitive to spiciness you might want to leave out the seeds. That said, I’ll never leave them out. I was quite proud of my taste buds for handling/liking it.
I don’t know why I’ve never braved salsa before! I always thought it was some long expensive process involve blanching and skinning tomatoes plus more. The canned tomatoes in this recipes and the simplicity won me over forever. Don’t count on me serving jarred salsa to anyone again, unless I’m in an unplanned pinch.

Smashed Mexican Beans

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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CALORIES:  260 for 1 serving (via MyFitnessPal)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (I left the seeds in)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons jarred/bottle minced garlic (or 3 cloves fresh minced)
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the onions and jalapeno in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add cumin, oregano, salt and garlic. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Add the beans and stock and bring to boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes.

Remove the beans from stove top and strain, reserving the cooking liquid. Smash beans with a potato masher. Add in vinegar and cooking liquid and continue to smash until combined and a consistency that you like.

Yields about 3 cups. Each 1/2 serving is 2 points (6 servings). Slightly larger 3/4 cup servings are 3 points each (4 servings).

 

And what do you do when the main dish to go with your two yummy sides that are way better than the main dish doesn’t work out? Made the sides into their own main dish of course. Nachos! Layered with good corn tortilla chips, beans, a little cheese and avocado chicken warmed in the oven at 350 for 7-10 minutes. Topped with fresh chopped avocado and served with abundant salsa for dipping.

 

Pineapple Dreamsicle Fluff

You know I don’t love summer. I’m admittedly a little bit of a diva and I hate sweating. If I could have it my way, I’d live in a place where people had the same hospitality and helpful spirit as my great Mississippi, cooked just as well, but the temperatures would be quite different. All year round it would never be too hot to wear cardigans. In Cardiganland I’d never sweat or be hit in the face with pea soup thick humidity that makes my hair look like a mess. 
Dislike for Mississippi heat and summers aside, there are parts of summer I like. I like afternoon storms, even the ones with lightening and hail like we had yesterday. I like snow balls. I like popsicles. I like Smith County watermelons. I like paper sacks full of home grown veggies from my pawpaws garden. I like cookouts and BBQs. I like sandals. I like swimming pools. And despite my love obsession with fall and all its flavors, I actually love the flavors that go along with the rising temperatures of summer. This little easy to make treat is guilt free, full of summer flavors and reminds me of my favorite snow ball, dreamsicle! 

Pineapple Dreamsicle Fluff

Ingredients:

  • 1 can mandarin oranges, drained (in Splenda)
  • 1 can crushed pineapple, not drained (in Splenda)
  • 1 package sugar free vanilla pudding (big box)
  • 1 container of fat free cool whip 
  • coconut shavings (optional edible garnish)

Directions: 

Stir together pudding mix, cool whip, drained oranges, and pineapple with its juice until combined. Chill and eat!

Yields 5 cups and 10 – 1/2 cup servings. Each 1/2 cup serving is 1 point on Weight Watchers! Totally guilt free. I sprinkled a little shaved coconut on top of mine. 1 tablespoon of sweetened coconut is 1 point, but I didn’t use a whole tablespoon. I’m certain I will keep my refrigerator stocked with this all summer. 

What’s your favorite summer treat? 

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Veggie Fries & Skinny Sweet Onion Dip

As a meal planning maniac, I’m always on the look out or new ways to do veggies. Veggies are good for you and many are free points on Weight Watchers. I also hate being repetitive in my cooking or getting bored with the idea of anything I want/plan to cook. Therefore, I mix it up often. As I meal plan, I always start with the main dish and build around it. When I picked BLT Lettuce Wraps as a main dish for the weekly menu, I thought it would be a good time to incorporate something still healthy, but a little less healthy than my normal zero or as close to zero point veggie side attempts.

This past September a friend and I had just discovered Pinterest. We were obsessed and looking at recipes and DIY projects like crazy. She found a baked zucchini sticks recipe with a rich onion dipping sauce. I found a cute wreath idea. And thus began our afternoon. The sticks and dip were divine! I knew someday I’d make them again. The baked zucchini sticks were perfect as is, low fat and tasty. The dip however, needed some Weight Watcher friendly adjustments calling for 1 cup of full fat mayo in the original recipe (which is exactly how we made it the first time).

I like things in threes. It’s more pleasing to the eye and it just makes sense. A meal doesn’t feel rounded to me unless it has three. What pairs well with BLT Lettuce Wraps and Baked Zucchini Sticks? Sweet potato fries of course. It officially became a meal I was super excited to make.

Anything that stars with caramelized onions is a winner in my book. Onions cooking on a stove top truly is one of the best smells in the world to me. So let’s start with the dip. (In actual chronological cooking/prep order, I wouldn’t do the dip first. Cut the veggies and let them do their assigned marinating/liquid shedding tasks first. While they do that, work on the dip.)

Skinny Sweet Onion Dip

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: EASY
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adapted recipe from kingarthurflour.com’s

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 yellow or white onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 cup Kraft Fat Free Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally. Even though it’s tempting, don’t turn the temperature up to cook them faster. Medium-low, 4 or 5 on my stove, is perfect. Let them get caramelized and browned. You want to see brown. It’s essential for the flavor and color of the dip. They should cook for 25 minutes. When there is 5 minutes remaining, you can sprinkle some powdered sugar over the onions. I feel like this helps them brown a little more and adds to their sweet caramelized flavor.

Add vinegar, honey, and mustard into a small food processor. I used my big one because I enjoy using it. A blender would also work if you don’t have a food processor. When the onions finish add them to the processor. Pulse until it sort of resembles the consistency of apple sauce. Fold in mayo until onion mixture and mayo are combined, smooth, and creamy. Stir in salt.

Now to go with our amazing savory sweet oniony dip, we need things to dip.

Baked Zucchini Sticks

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Original recipe at kingarthorflour.com. I pretty much followed her instructions and recipe exactly, but I used egg beaters instead of eggs, Italian seasoning instead of pizza seasoning, and part reduced fat parmesan and part regular shredded.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 – 4 small to medium straight zucchinis
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup Egg Beaters (or 2 large eggs beaten)
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat parmesan

DIRECTIONS:

Wash zucchini and cut into 3 inch sticks. She posts a perfect picture on how to cut them (I forgot to take one during that step). The way it worked best for me was to cut it in half, not lengthwise, but down the middle. Think hamburger cut not hot dog cut. Cut off the ends. Stand each half on a flat end. Cut in nines. Like a tic tac to board sort of. Two cuts north to south and two cuts across west to east. You’ll end up with 9 pieces from each half, 18 per each zucchini. Put all the pieces in a strainer and place a bowl under it. Sprinkle the entire tablespoon of salt over the sticks. Sit the zucchini in the refrigerator for at least an hour and let the salt work it’s magic. DON’T skip this step! It’s essential for ending up with firm crisp sticks and not soggy wet ones. It really does drain a lot of water (see above picture with odd light green looking liquid).

Once the hour passes, preheat over to 425. Discard zucchini liquid and rinse the sticks well with cold water. Lay them out on a clean kitchen towel and dry. Pat gently to remove any excess liquid. Dip sticks one by one in the egg and then roll in the crumbs. Use the one wet hand one dry hand method and really do them one at a time. If you dump them all in the crumbs mixture it will get gloppy and you’ll have to add more. Place on a parchment lined baked sheet close together. Bake for 12 minutes and then flip them. You can use a spatula to flip, but I find it easier to just quickly do it by hand. Bake an additional 15 minutes until browning and crisp. To reheat leftovers bake for 10-15 minutes on 375.

 

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Original recipe at tastykitchen.com. I followed the recipe exactly. I just subbed the cayenne for Tony’s like a true Mississippian/Louisianan would do.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Tony’s

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 (I cooked the potatoes and zucchini at the same time and same temp). Wash and peel sweet potato. Cut into 1/2 inch sticks. Toss the sweet potato sticks, olive oil, and seasonings in a bowl until coated. Arrange fries evenly on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and turn them. Bake for 15 minutes longer or until firm and crisping.

Happy April Fools Day! Fool some people with these healthy baked “fries.” They’ll never miss the oil and deep fryers.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year!

Nope. Not Christmas… AUTUMN! Okay… technically it’s not until September 22nd, but almost! It’s close enough for me to begin celebrating all things fall!! Living in the Louisiana (the land of few trees and even fewer than change colors) for the past four autumns, I forgot that Mississippi and places in the south can actually have autumn! Some of the trees are starting to change already. Driving down the interstate, a breeze of wind caught the leaves of a cute little yellow tree and they magically fluttered through the air. I actually got tears in my eyes and squealed “fall” in utter bliss with a big smile while driving in my car. So in my world, it is officially time to light the fall candles, put out the fall candy (it’s so cute in a mason jar!), bake all the fall things, and hang my homemade fall wreath!

And so this weekend, the official weekend of the end of summer, I fully welcomed autumn with all the love I could deliver! How you might ask? A party with the kitchen, a few cans of pumpkin, and me! I’m so thankful for this season coming now! After a month of all the chaos that is the beginning of a school year in the higher education world, I’m finally back. Life has been so busy, three weeks of training, and the first hectic week of school and students moving in. I haven’t been able to workout or eat properly at all! The good news, I didn’t gain! The bad news, I didn’t loose anything but my motivation. The coming of the season I love was just what I needed to find my motivation. I literally haven’t cooked or planned a meal in a month (food provided, eating out, lots of cereal, etc.). This week, that all changed. I planned meals for the next three weeks and had a pumpkin/autumn extravaganza!

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Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese

I took this recipe directly from my favorite recipe blog skinnytaste.com. I didn’t have agave nectar, so I added 3 extra tablespoons of brown sugar instead of the 2 tablespoons of agave. She mentioned that agave was sweeter. So, I started with 2. It wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1 more. It’s SOOO good. I’ve been eating it with apples, but I can’t wait to try it on bagel thins as well. The recipe makes a little over a cup. It’s made with 1/3 less fat cream cheese and 1 point per tablespoon. I am fairly certain I will keep this in my fridge until spring reappears! 
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Pumpkin Butter

This recipe also came directly from skinnytaste.com . I didn’t make any changes at all. She suggests 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, according to your taste. I LOVE pumpkin pie spice, so I used two. She says you can use apple cider or juice, I used juice. 2-3 cinnamon sticks, I used 3. I used Libby’s canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). Can I just tell you, this is amazing! In the comments on her blog post people asked how long it would last in the fridge, and she says 3 days. It makes A LOT, like 4 cups a lot. I plan on using it past 3 days though. I did some research and most places said you could use apple and pumpkin butters longer, up to 3 weeks. BUT still, there is no way I’d use 4 cups, so I am freezing some in ice cube trays for individual portions to store in a freezer ziplock bag. I do believe I will eat this for breakfast every day this week! It would be fabulous on pancakes, waffles, biscuits… Oh my gosh… MUST MAKE BISCUITS! My mouth is watering thinking about this yummy spread on biscuits. It’s only 3 points for a 1/4 cup! This yummy pumpkin butter is also a the key ingredient in….

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Pumpkin Spiced Lattes


Another recipe straight from my favorite! Anyone else anticipate the re-release of Starbucks’ pumpkin spiced latte every year? Or the pumpkin spiced coffee creamer that only comes out around the holidays each year. I am ecstatic when this happens every autumn! Gina (Skinny Taste’s author) to the rescue again! I followed the recipe exactly, except… It makes 2 serving and I definitely drank all of it! 3 points a serving (or 6 if you drink both like me). You need this! I also looked up how to make espresso in a coffee pot. 1 tablespoon of coffee per 1/4 cup of needed espresso. So I brewed 2 cups of water + 8 tablespoons of coffee. I’ll save the rest for another batch tomorrow. 
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And then, with all the yummy sweet pumpkiny things. I had to have an equally yummy fall dinner right? What better way to do that than in the crock pot?! My crock pot, Tyler Duff Crock Pot to be exact, is my favorite cooking tool for autumn and winter. It’s just so warm and cozy! Chicken was on sale at Sam’s, which isn’t a typical crock pot meat, but I worked with what I had and threw some stuff together that came out really yummy!
Fall in a Crock Pot Chicken


For sounding more professional, in the picture I named it Autumn in a Pot. But doesn’t fall in a crock pot sound so funny? Funny image for sure. But really, the ingredients kind of did fall in the crock pot! 
Ingredients:
-1 large sweet onion
-3 sweet potatoes, cubed
-3 boneless skinless chicken breast
-1 cup dried cranberries
-3 or 4 small Gala apples, sliced
-1 package chicken gravy mix
-chicken broth
-McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
-salt
-pepper
I tossed the onions in first, cut in half, quarters, and then once more. Threw the cubed potatoes on top of that. Sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and the McCormick seasoning. Seasoned the chicken breast on both sides with the same seasonings. Sprinkled the gravy mix over all of that. Tossed the apples and cranberries on top, poured over 1 cup of chicken low sodium, fat free chicken broth. I finished it with a little more of the maple seasoning, some nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. Put the lid on, cook on high for 4 hours, and don’t touch. It was really yummy! Very much an autumn meal: cozy, warm, and filling. 
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AND since I’m determined to eat healthy this week, I whipped up some fruity chicken salad to use for lunches. I usually do good with breakfast and dinner but not so good with lunch unless I have leftovers or plan! Breakfast this week will be full of pumpkin goodness! Since canned chicken was also on sale at Sam’s, chicken salad sandwiches will make my lunches happy!
I don’t use any full fat mayonnaise! I use a tad of fat free mayo and for the rest of the “wet” I use fat free sour cream.  A big can of chicken, dried chives, ground sage, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Red seedless grapes and 1 gala apple chopped. Perfect as a sandwich and yummy on crackers too! 
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Stay tuned tomorrow for Brownie Batter Dip, Strawberry Fluff, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce! Also, if you haven’t heard of pinterest.com, you are missing out! It’s a virtual pin board! You can “pin” things you find on the web and like or things you make yourself (I’ve started pinning all my recipes). BUT the best part is browsing other pins. Everything from food, to DIY projects, to clothes, to crafts, EVERYTHING! You should follow me: pinterest.com/kasialindsay!
I hope you can enjoy and celebrate fall too! Or mourn the last official weekend of summer, if you must. (If you are one of *those* people, hehe kidding, I love you even if you don’t love the coming season as much as me!) Happy healthy eating!

Dips and Sauces

This post is all about some of my go-to dips and sauces. In the words of my dear friend Stacy, “if there’s dip, it’s a party!”

Pumpkin Pie Dip

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (Splenda would work too)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  • 6 oz fat free Greek yogurt (I used Kroger brand)
  • 8 oz cool whip free (or Kroger brand fat free whipped topping)
  • cut up apples to dip

DIRECTIONS:

Mix pumpkin with brown sugar, vanilla and spices, blend well. Mix in yogurt. Fold in cool whip and chill in refrigerator until ready to eat. Makes about 6 cups. 3 points for 1/2 cup serving.

Tzatziki Sauce

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 oz fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and seeded (1 cup grated and drained)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Strain yogurt using a metal strainer or a coffee filter for a few hours to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside. Scoop seeds out of peeled cucumber with a spoon. Place cucumber in a mini food processor or grate with a box cheese grater. Drain the liquid from the  cucumber in ametal strainer and sprinkle with a little salt (this helps release the liquid). You may want to use the back of a spoon to help squeeze out any excess liquid. Combine strained cucumber, garlic, yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice, dill, chives and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. Makes about 2 cups. Store in refrigerator for about a week. ¼ cup is is 0 points! ½ cup is 1.

Bleu Cheese Dressing

(from skinnytaste.com)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 6 oz fat free yogurt
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise (I used olive oil mayo)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Smash the blue cheese and yogurt together with a fork. Stir in mayo, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic powder until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 1 cup. 2 tablespoons is 1 point! It’s also really yummy with a baked buffalo chicken recipe I altered.

Baked Buffalo Chicken

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 (4 ounce) chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoom vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of parkay spray butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (it called for celery seed but I didn’t have it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup above blue cheese dressing 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook 4 minutes each side until browned. Place chicken in an 9X13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine hot sauce and next 4 ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Serve with bleu cheese dressing.

Okay so, bake buffalo chicken isn’t a dip, but it has a killer homemade buffalo sauce AND is best served with homemade bleu cheese dressing.

And then there is the ever faithful staple in my fridge – dry ranch + 16 oz of fat free sour cream = 1 pt per 1/4 cup! Never choke down boring raw veggies. If there’s dip, it’s a party! 

Recipes, Recipes, Recipes

More recipes! My lovely friend, Sam Jones, has requested quite a list of the listed recipes. I could just email them to her… Or I could post them here for everyone to enjoy! I chose that option.

Chicken Ranch Cheeseball

  • Time: 2o minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
  • Print

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 big can of canned white meat chicken
  • 1 package of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 small package of nuts (I liked chopped pecans or sliced walnuts best)

DIRECTIONS:

Drain chicken and shred in a bowl with a fork, it comes out of the can in chunky pieces. Mix thoroughly with cream cheese and ranch mix. I use a fork and just stir and smash and stir and smash until it all looks the same. Now… get messy! Scoop all of it up with your hands and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball up in plastic wrap and let chill as long as you can. You can do it as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight. Roll it in the nuts before serving. If transporting roll in nuts and cover with plastic wrap again. Serve with crackers or toast.

I bring this to almost every potluck or party food type thingy I go to. So easy and EVERYONE loves it.


SCALLOPED POTATOES

I didn’t change this recipe in the slightest. I know it sounds weird and not like traditional scalloped potatoes and like it won’t be cheesy but oh my stars it’s good! Don’t change it! The thyme and nutmeg make it. It’s so good! Perfect for a Thanksgiving side dish. AND I mean… hello… Tyler Florence made it! My once-upon-a-time-future-husband-until-I-realized-he-was-married made it!

Please DO NOT try to slice all these potatoes by hand! I started doing that, and then realized my cheese grater has a slicer on the slide. Use a slicer! There is no way you can get them as thin as they should be by hand plus it is way quicker!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/scalloped-potato-gratin-recipe/index.html


Stuffed Turkey Burgers

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 45 minutes
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • seasonings
  • 1 egg
  • bread crumbs (or crushed crackers)
  • sliced onion
  • sliced mozzarella (or any cheese you like)
  • spinach leaves
  • mushrooms
  • whatever you want to stuff with!

DIRECTIONS:

1 lb makes two BIG burgers or 3 medium burgers. 4 are doable, but they are really small and hard to form with the stuffed stuff (that’s fun to say). Mix meat and what ever seasonings you like (I used Tony’s, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, and parsley flakes). Use seasonings generously. Turkey is blander than ground beef. Mix in the egg and a little bread crumbs to make it stick and hold. If you are making 2 burgers, separate meat into 4 equal sections. If you are making 3 burgers, separate into 6 sections. Flatten our each section. Take one section and top with a slice or wedge of cheese, sliced onions, spinach leaves, etc. Don’t use too much! It won’t close if you do. Take another flattened section and place it on top. Fold and mash the edges together until all the stuffed stuff goodness is packaged inside the meat. You can grill these or bake them. I’ve done it both ways. If you bake, bake at 350 for 30ish minutes. You have to judge your oven. Turkey is poultry so make sure it is done, but don’t overcook. Just watch it close. On the grill 7-10 minutes on each side. Yummy on a bun or without! I like them with A1 too. Good with homemade onion rings or sweet potato fries or potato salad!


THE SECRET LIFE OF HUMMUS

So… I LOVE hummus. Like, I know you say you love hummus, but I REALLY LOVE hummus. The Sabra brand in the store and one other are the only ones that compare to real Mediterranean hummus (or the restaurant versions I’ve experienced). They are supper yum and I could eat the whole container with a spoon, BUT it’s still not as good as the restaurant one. I’ve attempted to make hummus before, and it was okay, but just not as good. I discovered a year or so ago that tahini is the secret to hummus. Since that discovery, I have been on the hunt for tahini. Who knew it was so hard to find where I live?! I finally found it at a gas station, of all places, in Slidell that sales Mediterranean food. It looks like a jar of liquidy peanut butter. I followed the recipe I found exactly except for one fun fact the guy at the gas station told me!

This very nice Mediterranean man told me the secret to great hummus! It sounds crazy… but it works! So follow the recipe but make two small adjustments. Before you dump the chick peas in the food processor, heat them up just a little bit. Maybe like 45 seconds. Just enough to give them a little warmth. And then… the secret! Add 1 cup of ice. Yes ICE! It sounds crazy but somehow it works! It makes is silky smooth just like they serve it in Mediterranean restaurants. Mix all the ingredients with the ice in the food processor until all the ice is crushed. It should be a creamy, smooth, velvety texture. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and sprinkle with paprika or salt and pepper to make it all pretty! Serve with warm pita bread or pita chips or spoons! Okay well only serve it with spoons if I’m there. I told Mr. Nice Mediterranean man that I’d keep the secret, but he gave me permission to share.

http://www.food.com/recipe/hummus-11424


Roasted Pinenut and Feta Couscous

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: EASY
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 2 ounce bag of pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese
  • juice of two lemons (4 tablespoons)

DIRECTIONS:

Bring chicken stock, salt, and olive oil to a boil. Add couscous, stir, and remove from heat. Cover for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Add pine nuts (you could toast them first if you wanted), lemon juice, and feta.


TWICE BAKED POTATOES

 Instead of using 4 big potatoes I used 8-10 small red potatoes. I did it exactly like the recipe. Be careful when you scoop not to break the shell/skin since it holds the filling. I also used Real Bacon bits instead of bacon. These are really good! They are really pretty as well. I topped mine with green onions.

http://www.food.com/recipe/best-twice-baked-potatoes-79595


Hashbrown Casserole

  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: EASY
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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds frozen hash browns
  • 1/2 cup melted margarine
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 2 cups grated cheese (I use sharp cheddar)

DIRECTIONS:

Thaw potatoes. Mix first 8 ingredients together and place in a 9×13 casserole dish. Add topping. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour. You can use low fat soup and sour cream and 2% cheese for a lower calorie casserole.

This recipe makes a lot! Perfect for a potluck or side disk. I made it for me with baked apples for dinner. I ate leftover MANY times and still had quite a bit to freeze.

Stay tuned! More recipes requested by Sam (and posted for everyone to enjoy) to come!

Take 3

I made over Sunday dinner yet again! Recap: I made a Sunday dinner of pot roast, veggies, and rice with gravy. I used left over rice as a spring board and inspiration for my diner party meal and made chicken fried rice as an entree. On Friday (cooking day number 3), I used the left over roast! One of my favorite things my mom made when I was growing up was beef taquitos with guacamole. Until recently, and I don’t know why, I was scared to make the taquitos myself. I’ve made guacamole a lot, but never braved the taquitos until the last time I made pot roast. I was so incredibly tired of roast leftovers. Roasts are big! And I’m only one person. After the third or forth time, you start developing that never want to eat this again feeling. In order to not swear off roast forever, last time when I got to that point, I decided to just try it. They turned out great! Taquitos will always be a roast makeover meal for me now.

Make the guacamole first so it can be chilling and developing its yummy flavor while you prepare and cook the taquitos. Serve taquitos with plenty of guacamole for dipping! I also made a corn salad that I didn’t like. But you could serve with black beans, refried beans, corn, mexicorn, cucumber and tomato salad, corn salad, or anything else with a fresh and/or mexican feel. For a fun, simple, extra touch to any side or salad, slice up a tortilla in very thin strips and pieces. Fry them in the oil, let the excess drain off, pat them to remove even more oil. They add a fun extra crunch and really spark up the presentation. I used one flour tortilla and one sun dried tomato wrap.

Beef Taquitos

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx. 2 cups of chopped and shredded roast beef
  • 9-10 tortillas (I use flour)
  • toothpicks
  • oil
  • 1/4 of chopped onion (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Take your left over roast and shred and chop it pretty small. If you like onion you can add it to your beef mixture. The onions don’t get cooked really, they stay pretty crisp. I like it with onion, but if you don’t like raw onion you can nix the onion. I don’t add anything else because the left over pot roast is flavored so well. You can add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste if you like. Could even add some chopped bell pepper or lime juice. I like them simple because I love them with the guacamole. The flavors of the guacamole compliment it well.

I cover a small section of my island with plastic wrap and then start building the taquitos. I use a 1/4 measuring cup, but don’t fill it completely, just a little under. Scoop a little less than a 1/4 of a cup of the meet onto the bottom of the tortilla and roll! These aren’t supposed to be super thick. Do it to your preference and what you like, but traditionally they are supposed to be thin. Close each one with a tooth pick.

Heat your oil. I use a combination of vegetable and olive oil. I probably cover the pan 1/2 inch thick. It’s not deep frying, a pretty shallow fry. I am totally not an expert fryer. I just guess on what to do. I keep my oil heated between medium and medium high heat. Don’t over crowd you pan, they shouldn’t touch. Fry them just a minute or so on each side. They should be golden brown. Toasty, but not dark. Put them on a napkin covered plate to let the excess oil drain.

 

Chunky Guacamole

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
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(Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use 1 tablespoon of sour cream instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and coarsely mashed (you know avocados are ripe because they just barely push in when you squeeze them)

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients except avocados in a bowl. Gently stir in mashed avocados. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to a hour. Chilling is a must! The flavors get all happy and married.

I try to make a Mexican meal at least once a month, because I LOVE Mexican food. Tacos are everyone’s default, but try this! It’s just as easy and really good. It could also be an appetizer at for a party. Slice the taquitos and add individual toothpicks, but don’t forget the guacamole! Taquitos and guacamole are married! They need each other. I leave you with a vital Mexican food tip! Have you ever made Mexican food and just felt like it was missing something? The something is always lime! Add lime to your rice, your chicken for your quesadillas, squeeze it on your tacos, squeeze it on top of your taquitos!