Beefaroni: A New Take On A Childhood Classic

March 10, 2015

Beefaroni:  A new take on a childhood classic
I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I used to love Chef Boyardee Beefaroni when I was a child. My mother used to split one can between my brothers and I and we would each get a little piece of toast to go along with it.  It was so good!

Somewhere along the way, I grew up and had children of my own.  One afternoon I wanted to recreate for them one of the meals I loved as a child.  So, I bought a can of this magic stuff and warmed it slowly in a sauce pan while toasting some bread.  I set the table and sat down with my kids to share in this meal from my childhood...and wondered what the hell happened.  This was not delicious.  In fact, this stuff was awful!  And Orange!  The noodles had a weird fake texture...and the meat?  Just what kind of meat was that, anyway?  It didn't taste like beef at all!  Needless to say, that was the end of that.

But what if it didn't have to be, I wondered to myself.  So I set out to recreate the taste I remembered, even if it wasn't what Chef Boyardee really tasted like.  In my mind, the sauce was a little sweet, and cheesy too.  It had beef in it, but it was seasoned really lightly - not too much oregano or garlic either.  Beyond that, I wanted it to be smooth - except for the chunks of beef.  To achieve that, I minced the onions finely so when they cooked, they would only provide flavor not texture to the sauce.

The result was a prefect recreation of all the best things I remembered.  My version was quickly approved by all four of my hungry kids.  To be honest, they would laugh me right out the door if I came home with cans of plastic tasting canned pasta now.  When I say "Beefaroni," this dish will be the memory of their childhoods.

Best of all, it's a quick dish that can easily be prepared on a a busy weeknight.  I want to point out that this is *almost* a one-pot meal.  I actually used two stock pots to whip this up, but it is still a really fast and easy cleanup.

I'm finding more and more things that I used to eat as a child or young adult, to be completely disgusting now that I have a different perspective on cooking and taste.  This continues to surprise me, because I used to really enjoy eating some of these things!  If you have food you used to enjoy that you can no longer tolerate, please share it with me in the comments.  Two that come to mind for me are Stove Top Stuffing and Jenny-O frozen turkey in the square aluminum box.  When I was a young adult, this was a meal I would cook frequently.  It was fast and easy, and I thought it tasted good too.  Not great, but certainly good enough for a weeknight.  I made this same meal about two years ago and couldn't even bring myself to take more than one bite!  It's now laughingly referred to as the Great Jenny-O debacle of 2013.

Homestyle Beefaroni

Ingredients

Meat
2 lbs ground sirloin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Sauce
2 cans tomato sauce, 28 oz. each
1 can tomato paste, 6 oz.
1 1/2 cups of water or tomato juice
1 cup Locatelli Cheese
1 medium onion very finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons parsley
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons sugar

Pasta
2 pounds of cooked pasta - I used Barilla Ziti because it's the closest thing to the Beefaroni I remember as a child
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
*  Fresh basil and Locatelli Cheese to garnish

Directions

 In Pot # 1
1.  Add Olive Oil to a large stock pot and allow it to heat over medium high heat.  Add onions and cook them until they begin to sweat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

2.  Add tomato paste to the pot stirring frequently,  Allow it to cook it with the onions and garlic until it begins to soften and everything is well combined.

3.  Add water (or tomato juice), tomato sauce, Locatelli Cheese, salt, sugar, oregano, and Italian seasoning. Allow the sauce to cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, but my preference is around an hour.  Taste the sauce and adjust spices to suit your palette.

 In Pot # 2
1.  Spray bottom of  large stock pot with cooking spray.  Add ground sirloin, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, and begin to brown the meat.  Brown it until bits just start to stick to the bottom and you can see it is beginning to get a little crust.

2.  Add browned meat to the sauce pot.

3.  Wash the pot, then fill with water, olive oil, and salt.  Bring to a boil and add noodles, cooking until they are slightly past al dente.  Before draining, remove a large mug of the starchy cooking water and set aside.  Drain noodles into a colander.

Assembling the dish
1.  Add noodles back into the pot they cooked in.

2.  Pour in about half of your reserved starchy cooking water and stir gently.  You should have enough water that the noodles can move freely, but not be too watery.

3.  Add sauce to the noodles in 2 cup increments until the noodles are coated to your preference.  I used about 5 cups to two pounds of pasta in the photo above.   Stir gently to combine.  Add more starchy cooking water if necessary to loosen it all up.

4.  Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with more Locatelli Cheese and some fresh sprigs of basil.

Tip:  Put the extra sauce on the table for anyone who wants their portion to be saucier.

Philly Style Steak Sandwiches

March 9, 2015

Philly-style Steak Sandwiches

All Winter, I've been waiting for snow.  I mean, a really good snowfall that would completely shut the roads down encourage us to stay inside and keep warm. Well, this past week it finally arrived!  I was so excited with anticipation that I planned out our snow-day food in advance.  Yeah, not kidding here...just tryin' to keep it real.

The plan was to make something hearty, warm, and filling.  This was important because I knew that guy I have a huge crush on would be out shoveling the driveway and sidewalk and I wanted to make something he'd especially love:  Philly-style Steak Sandwiches.   My take on these delicious sandwiches is a little different because it's even heartier than the original IMHO.   I use tender fork-shredded chuck roast slow cooked all day in a delicious marinade which is then reduced to sandwich-ready perfection.  To really top it all off, I served it with my homemade hand-cut French Fries.   Man food at it's finest, although the kids and I wolfed it down too.

For anyone wondering, the answer is yes.  This meal would turn out just great in a crockpot.  I love my crock pots and use them all the time when I need to have something ready when I come home after work.  I have several because my family is so big that one simply isn't enough.  That said, cooking in a enameled cast iron dutch oven low and slow all day allows the flavors to deepen and develop in a way that crock pot cooking simply cannot match.  Trust me, you will see a huge difference if you compare the two.   So if you have the time and can be home while it cooks, try it in the oven and let me know what you think!

After taking it out of the oven, I remove any bits of fat and fork shred the beef.  It's really easy because the meat is so incredibly tender.  The next step is optional, but I like the meat to be dry enough that it doesn't cause soggy sandwiches.  I put the pot on the stove top over high heat for a few more minutes just until the juices begin to cook off and it's obvious that the only thing left in the pot is moist (not wet) beef, onion, and peppers.  This further concentrates the flavor and takes it to the next level.

I serve these babies on toasted rolls with garlic mayonnaise, provolone cheese, lettuce, and a few freshly sliced green peppers.  The crunch of the roll and bold and hearty flavor of the beef makes it truly a mouthwatering experience.  And they're even better the next day.

Philly Sandwiches

Philly-style beef sandwiches

Ingredients

4-lb chuck roast
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 packet of Lipton onion soup mix
1/2 cup beef stock
1 shake Worchestire
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar 
Salt and pepper
Package of crusty steak rolls

Directions

1. Season chuck roast by liberally sprinkling with salt and pepper.  I usually use two times the amount of pepper to salt.

2.  Heat butter to medium high in an ovenproof heavy dutch oven.  When it begins to bubble, add chuck roast and sear it on both sides and the edges too if it's particularly thick.  Keep searing until it develops a lovely dark brown crust.  This is where the best parts of the flavor come from, so don't stop when it simply starts to get brown.  Take it all the way.  Don't even try to turn it for at least 8 minutes, otherwise you'll inturrupt the process and prevent the beautiful crust from forming.

3.  Remove chuck roast to a plate and allow it to rest. Allow juices to collect and do not discard them.  Now the pan is probably covered with browned bits and you might even be afraid that it'll just make a burnt mess it you put it in the oven, right?  Never fear, we're going to collect those browned bits and deglaze the bottom of your pot in the next step.

4.  Add onions and peppers to the pot and cook them over medium heat.  As they begin to sweat, the juices will begin to deglaze the pot.  

5.  When onions and peppers are soft and have done the job of deglazing the bottom of the pot, add the meat and any juices back into the dutch oven.

6.  In a small measuring cup of bowl, add the beef stock, onion soup mix, worchestire sauce, and sugar.  Mix well, and pour down over the roast.

7.  Cover dutch oven and place it in a 300F oven for 4-6 hours.  

8.  Use a fork to shred the meat and remove any obvious bits of fat while doing this.  

Note:  At this point, I usually stick it on the stove and cook on high to further reduce and concentrate the remaining juices.  Since this is going on a sandwich, I don't like it to be too juicy but hey, this is your sandwich and you can have it the way you want to.

Romertopf Bread: The easiest loaf of bread you'll ever make.

March 3, 2015

Romertopf White Bread:  The easiest loaf of bread you'll ever make!

Clay pots or earthen-ware may be the oldest type of cookware ever found.  In fact, they've been unearthed by archaeologists at historic sites all over the world!  We know that these ancient civilizations put these clay pots in the glowing embers of fires, and used them to bake, roast, poach, and braise all sorts of meals.  

I admit that I'm new to clay pot cooking.  My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful covered Romertopf roaster for Christmas and when I started learning about how to use it, all I could think about was bread.  I make a lot of bread in my oven, but I was incredibly excited to try it in a clay pot!  After all, I reasoned, this would have to be as close to an authentic brick oven as I was likely to get, and I couldn't wait to get started.

The basic bread recipe, which was included with my cookware, was the first one I tried.  Because you soak both pieces of the clay pot prior to putting it in the oven, it holds a lot of moisture in the pores of the clay.  This must make a lot of steam which I imagine keeps the bread moist.  The high cooking temperature keeps the crust crisp without burning it.   The end result was this amazing loaf of bread with a shiny crackled crust and incredibly tender crumb.   My children and husband loved it so much, that I've repeated this recipe many times over the past few weeks.  I even doubled the ingredients listed below with perfect results.  

Now I'm trying to learn all I can about cooking in clay pots.  If you have any recipes you can share with me, I'd love to see them!  Respond in the comments if you can share any of your favorite Romertopf recipes.

Basic Romertopf Bread Recipe

*This recipe is adapted from the Romertopf insert included with my cookware

Ingredients

1 cup lukewarm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups all purpose flour

Ingredients

1.  Add lukewarm water to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

2.  Sprinkle yeast on top of the water and let stand for around 5 minutes, until yeast is visibly softened.

3.  Stir in salt, sugar, and oil.

4.  Add 2 cups of the flour and mix until fully incorporated.

5.  Add the final cup of flour slowly and allow the machine to knead the dough until the it pulls away from the sides cleanly and begins to appear softer.  This may take 10-15 minutes.

6.  Roll the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, rotating to fully coat the dough ball.  Cover, and let stand for 1 hour in a draft-free area.

7.  Soak bottom and top of clay Romertopf for (at least) 15 minutes, by fully immersing in water.

8.  When dough has doubled in size, after about an hour, drain the bottom of the clay cooker, and pat dry.  Coat the bottom of the cooker with oil and sprinkle with corn meal to prevent sticking.

9.  Punch the dough down, shape into a loaf, and put in the bottom of the clay cooker.  Cover and let stand for 45 minutes in a draft-free area.

10.  Cut 1/2" deep slashes in the loaf of bread with a razor or sharp knife.

11.  Remove the top of the clay cooker from the water and pat dry.  Place cover on the bottom of cooker.

12.  Placed covered clay cooker in a cold oven.  Set the temperature to 475F.  Bake for 45 minutes.

13.  Remove cover and continue to cook until top is brown, which will be anywhere from 5 to 15 more minutes.  Do not put clay cooker on a cold surface when removing it from oven.  I use a large wood cutting board as a trivet.

14.  Allow to cool for a few minutes then remove bread from cooker and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Vegetable Lo Mein: A simple weeknight meal

March 1, 2015

Elizabeth Obsesses
Vegetable Lo Mein

Lo Mein is a delicious Chinese dish, featuring sliced vegetables and soft noodles that are stir fried and married in a sauce, bringing everything together.  I love it because it's so versatile.  You can make it as an accompaniment to a main course, or it can even be the main course by simply adding some meat to the mix.  It's simple because you can use whatever you have on hand and it always seems to work.  Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients.  It literally takes 10 minutes of prep and 10 minutes of sizzle, before you'll be eating and wondering why you didn't try this sooner.

I'm always looking for food the whole family will enjoy that's easy to prepare on my busy work night evenings but tastes like I spent all day cooking.  This one came together in a flash, and everyone loved it.  Everyone!  I wasn't sure my sons would try it...not only did they try it, they loved it so much I had to stop them from eating it to make sure I had enough to photograph for the blog!  Truth be told, they were appalled at this last part, but it made for a great laugh at the table.

Vegetable Lo Mein

Ingredients for lo mein

1 1-lb box of wheat noodles
1 cup bok-choy, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, julienned
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 4 oz. can sliced water chestnuts
sliced scallions to garnish
5 teaspoons vegetable oil

Ingredients for lo mein sauce

1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons corn starch
pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions

1.  Make the lo mein sauce by stirring all ingredients together.  Set aside.

2.  Boil noodles.  When al dente, drain them and return them to the pot.  Toss with some vegetable oil
     to keep them from sticking to one another.  Set aside

3.  Heat some vegetable oil on high in a large pot or (preferably) a wok.

4.  Add onions, carrots, bok-choy, and water chestnuts and cook until the onions become soft.

5.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

6.  Add the noodles to the wok and toss to incorporate with the vegetables, adding a little more
     vegetable oil if they begin to stick.  Allow them them to cook for a few moments, no longer.

7.  Add the lo mein sauce, and continue to toss until it coats all the noodles and vegetables (2-3
     minutes).  It should begin to thicken almost immediately.

8.  Serve hot and enjoy!  Don't forget to sprinkle with the sliced scallions at the table.  They're
     delicious!

Taco Phyllo Poppers With Creamy Chobani Yogurt #DeliciousBowl

January 26, 2015

#GameDay, #DeliciousBowl, #MadeWithChobani
Taco phyllo poppers with creamy Chobani yogurt
If you're looking for a super easy Super Bowl snack that is equally delicious and beautiful, look no further - you've got to try these taco bites!  Whether you plan on having a big party or it's just you and your family, these mini tacos make the perfect treat.

It only takes about 20 minutes to brown ground beef and assemble these treats, but if you plan ahead and "feed your freezer" it takes even less time.   "Feeding your freezer" is one of my favorite time saving techniques where you do the prep work up front and freeze the results for nights when you don't have time.   For example, when I go to the big warehouse stores, I buy five pounds of ground beef at a time! When I get it home, I brown it all in a big dutch oven with onions, but no other seasonings.  After all, it doesn't take that much more time to brown five pounds of meat than it does to brown one!

Once it's all browned, I separate it into one pound vacuum seal bags and freeze it.  That gives us five flexible meals that I can whip up in less than ten minutes each!  I can use the meat for tacos, pasta with meat sauce, chili, beef and noodles, or any number of meals.  It's already cooked, so all you need to do is heat it back up and you're in business.  This technique has been a life saver for me more nights than I can count.

I know we all have nights where we don't have the time we need to fix dinner.  I'd love to hear more ideas on how other people deal with nights like that.  If you've got any tips, please let me know by responding in the comments.
#Delicious Bowl, #MadeWithChobani, #GameDay
Taco phyllo poppers with creamy Chobani yogurt

 Taco Phyllo Poppers With Creamy Chobani Yogurt #DeliciousBowl

Ingredients

4 packs of phyllo cups
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 packet taco seasoning & 3/4 cups water
- Shredded cheese
- Chopped tomato
- Jalepeno peppers
- Fresh Cilantro
- Chobani plain yogurt

Directions

1.  Cook ground beef and onion until well browned (draining if necessary).  Add taco seasoning and
    water and continue to cook until most of the water cooks off.

2.  Place phyllo cups on a large cookie sheet.  Add roughly a teaspoon of ground beef per phyllo cup.

3.  Top as desired.  I assembled these in the following order:  beef, cheese, Chobani, tomato, cilantro,
     but feel free to top with all your favorites.


For more great Chobani recipes, visit their Tumblr page or the Chobani Website.

Note:  While I was asked by Chobani to participate in their #MadeWithChobani #DeliciousBowl #GameDay campaign, this recipe as well as all opinions stated are my own. 

Chobani Vanilla Cheesecake Bites #DeliciousBowl

January 25, 2015


#DeliciousBowl, #MadeWithChobani, #GameDay, #Chobani
Chobani Vanilla Cheesecake Bites
The Super Bowl is right around the corner, and I'm already obsessing about my menu.  After all, the Super Bowl is the um...well, it's the Super Bowl of cooking holidays!   I know some people might think that Thanksgiving is the center of the cooking world, but they'd be wrong.  While I love roasting turkey and making all the sides, being constrained by tradition is not nearly as fun as coming up with an outrageously different feast filled with amazing entrees and appetizers for hungry masses every year!

This year, I'm whipping up these delicious vanilla cheesecake bites using vanilla flavored Chobani Greek Yogurt in the batter.  They are amazing and turned out even better than I imagined.  So good, they may just be my new "go-to" cheesecake recipe.

Now - what is everyone else having for Super Bowl Sunday?  I need some more ideas, so please respond in the comments!
#DeliciousBowl, #MadeWithChobani, #GameDay, #Chobani
Chobani Vanilla Cheesecake Bites

Chobani Vanilla Cheesecake Bites #DeliciousBowl

Note:  this recipe uses a mini cupcake tray.  They are about very small, about 2" in diameter.  You can scale this recipe up and use regular cupcake sizes or even a full 8" pie plate, but you would need to bake it longer.  Just keep baking it until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Level:  Moderately Easy
Total Time:  40 minutes
Prep:  15 minutes
Bake Time:  25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean)
Yield:  About 4 dozen mini cheesecake bites (about 1 1/2" diameter)

Ingredients

Crust
          1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
          3 tablespoons sugar
          4 tablespoons melted butter

Cheesecake
          2 8oz blocks of cream cheese, softened
          1 cup vanilla flavored Chobani Greek yogurt
          1 1/4 cups sugar
          1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
          3 eggs

Directions

1.  For the crust, add graham cracker crumbs and sugar to a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add melted
     butter and mix it into the sugar/crumb mixture with the tines of a fork until the crumbs are well
     coated with butter.

2.  For the cheesecake, add cream cheese and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle
     attachment.  Beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

3.  Add eggs one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next one.

4.  Add the Chobani Greek Yogurt and vanilla extract.

5.  Filling the trays:  add just under a teaspoon of the graham cracker crumb mixture to each well of a
     mini cupcake tin that has been prepared with cooking spray or butter. (Better yet, don't be like me!  
     Use mini cupcake liners!) Using a spoon or the bottom of a small salt shaker, press the crumbs
     firmly into each well.  You want to pack them down and slightly up the sides of the wells firmly.

6.  Add a heaping teaspoon of the cheesecake batter to each well.  It should be level with the top of
     the pan, but not overflowing.  Put the mini cupcake tray onto a cookie sheet to catch any drips that 
     may happen during baking.

7.  Bake in a 350F oven for 20-28 minutes or until the edges begin to get ever-so-slightly brown and a
     toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

8.  Using a thin small knife, loosen the edges of all of the mini cheesecakes if they appear to be
     sticking at all.  Invert the tin onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

9.  Garnish as desired, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For more great Chobani recipes, visit their Tumblr page or the Chobani Website.

Note:  While I was asked by Chobani to participate in their #MadeWithChobani #DeliciousBowl #GameDay campaign, this recipe as well as all opinions stated are my own. 

Chobani Chicken Fingers with Chipotle Chobani Dip #DeliciousBowl

January 23, 2015

Chobani Chicken Fingers with Chipotle Chobani Dip 
Years ago, when I was a new mom,  I made it a point to keep a bag of frozen chicken tenders in the freezer for nights when I just didn't have the time to get a "real" dinner on the table.  I thought this was a good mom thing because it kept us out of the local drive-throughs.  Those days are a distant memory now for two reasons:  first, I learned how easy it is to whip up delicious fresh chicken fingers  from scratch and second, my children will no longer tolerate anything that's not "home-made".  I laugh about it, but they're quite serious.  They know the difference and now they won't let me live it down!

These chicken tenders are made using Chobani Greek Yogurt as a base in the marinade instead of buttermilk.   Like buttermilk, it helps to tenderize the meat, adds flavor, and helps to retain the moisture in the chicken throughout the cooking process.  While buttermilk is tangy, the yogurt is more tangy and tastes creamier, too.  Because it's thicker, it coats better and makes the best fried chicken I've ever had.

But these are chicken fingers, right?  They're born to dip!  So I made the most perfect dip for these babies.  I took one of my favorite flavors, honey-chipotle, and added it to creamy, cool Chobani plain yogurt.  This is a match made in heaven because it cooled the heat of the peppers and enhanced the flavor of the chicken beautifully.  They were so good that we're going to have them again for the big game next week...I just need to triple the recipe listed below!

Chobani Chicken Fingers with Chipotle Chobani Dip

Ingredients

Marinade for raw chicken
          5 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
          1 Cup of Chobani Plain Yogurt
          2 Tablespoons of Hot Sauce
          1 Teaspoon of Salt
          1 Teaspoon of Pepper
Breading for chicken
          4 cups flour
          2 teaspoons black pepper
          2 teaspoons crushed rosemary
          1 teaspoon thyme
          1 teaspoon garlic powder
          1 teaspoon onion powder
          1 teaspoon salt
Honey Chipotle Chobani Dip
          1 lime, juice and pulp
          2 chipotle peppers* (from a can on chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
          2 tablespoons adobo sauce* (from the can)
          2 cloves garlic, minced
          2 tablespoons soy sauce
          2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
          1 teaspoon onion powder
          1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
           1/2 cup honey
           1 cup Chobani Plain Yogurt

Directions

Marinade
1.  Add the Chobani, hot sauce, salt and pepper to a large bowl and mix well.  Add the chicken strips to the marinade and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Breading
2.  Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
3.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge it in the flour mixture.
4.  Move the coated chicken to a large plate and allow the coating to dry on the chicken for about 20
     minutes.  If it appears too wet after this period of time, dredge it in the flour mixture once more.
5.  Fry the chicken in 375F oil for about 4 minutes on each side.  Remove from oil and allow to drain
     on a wire rack.  Don't drain on paper towels because it will make your beautiful crispy coating 
     soggy.
Honey Chipotle Chobani Dip
6.  Add the lime, peppers, adobo sauce, garlic, soy, vinegar, onion powder, cilantro, and honey 
    ingredients to a food processor and pulse until a thick sauce is formed. 
7.  Add yogurt to a large bowl and carefully fold in the chipotle sauce.

For more great Chobani recipes, visit their Tumblr page or the Chobani Website.

Note:  While I was asked by Chobani to participate in their #MadeWithChobani #DeliciousBowl #GameDay campaign, this recipe as well as all opinions stated are my own. 

Chobani Ranch Dressing #DeliciousBowl

January 22, 2015

Chobani Ranch Dressing
Whether you're dipping chicken strips or fresh vegetables, Ranch Dressing is king in my book.  Especially when it's homemade.  So when Chobani contacted me about helping them come up with great game day recipes to support their #madewithchobani  #deliciousbowl campaign, I knew that I wanted to start with one of my favorite things:  Ranch Dressing.

This version is healthier than ones with sour cream, but thankfully you don't have to sacrifice great taste for great health.  It has far less fat and is a great source of protein, too.   Even my kids couldn't get enough!   It only takes less than ten minutes to whip up, and it's far better than the bottled or powdered versions you find in the condiment aisle of the supermarket.

This recipe is for a basic ranch dressing, but you can spice it up to suit your own tastes by adding ingredients like jalepenos, dill, chives, chipotle, or rosemary.  The possibilities are truly endless.

Chobani Ranch Dressing

Level:  Easy
Total Time:  10 minutes  + chill time
Yield:  Serves 10+ people

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups Chobani Plain Yogurt
3/4 cups mayonaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black
pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Juice and pulp of one lime

Directions
1.  Add Yogurt and mayonnaise to a large bowl and stir to combine

2.  Add garlic, parsley, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and stir carefully until it appears well mixed.

3.  Add lime juice and pulp, stir to combine.

4.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with black pepper and paprika just prior to serving.

For more great Chobani recipes, visit their Tumblr page or the Chobani Website.




Note:  While I was asked by Chobani to participate in their #MadeWithChobani #DeliciousBowl campaign, this recipe as well as all opinions stated are my own. 

Super Moist Buttermilk Carrot Cake

January 20, 2015

Super Moist Carrot Cake

Although it's been around since the latter part of the 1800's, Carrot Cake didn't become widely available in American diners until the 1960's - and then it was viewed primarily as a novelty item.  But when viewed under the shimmering light of disco balls with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever playing in the background, this dessert hit it's stride and achieved righteous cult status in the 1970's.  What I'm saying is Carrot Cake is to the 1970's what Salted Caramel is to the 2010's.   With it's bold orangey color, it could hardly miss.  It fits right in with zig-zag print couches and plaid pants.

I guess I'm just a sucker for the '70's because it's always been fashionable in my eyes.  With it's perfect blend of Autumnal spices and a thick layer of vanilla bean speckled cream cheese frosting, this is *the* perfect dessert for any occasion.  Whether you're hosting a dinner or just feeding your family on a random Tuesday night, this cake is always a hit.  This recipe is a favorite of mine because it's really easy and consistently makes a beautiful, moist, (and delicious) cake.

Do you have a favorite carrot cake recipe that you think rivals or surpasses this one?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Respond in the comments.

Click below to get the recipe.

Coming Soon...Recipes for the Big Game Using Chobani Yogurt

January 19, 2015

Big news over here! The Chobani Yogurt company emailed me this evening asking me to participate in their Superbowl campaign by developing game day food items and blogging about them. I'm so excited, I just had to share the news! So, be on the lookout for some exciting new recipes over the next two weeks!

Chicken Chipotle Tacos

January 11, 2015

Chipotle Chicken Tacos
So, earlier this week I made these chipotle chicken tacos, and they were really amazing.   As I mentioned in Mango Salsa post, we're having a cold snap here in Delaware, and I'm trying to bring back the tastes and smells of Summer with some really good hot weather food.  It was too cold to stand out and grill them like I would ordinarily (and by that, I mean like my husband would ordinarily, lol), so I pan seared them in a screaming hot skillet, then popped them in a 375F oven for 20 minutes.  That's it!  A quick peek inside revealed that they were cooked to juicy perfection.

If this was the only meal I could eat every day for the rest of my life, I would be totally okay with that.   In my opinion, the spicy, smoky chipotle peppers are the shining star of this dish, and I use them to make a marinade for the chicken.   Because these guys are bringing the heat, I temper them with a good amount of honey along with a host of other good stuff:  garlic, cilantro, soy sauce, black pepper, and lots of fresh lime juice.

I like to make up a batch of this marinade and use it to marinate chicken for at least 24 hours prior to cooking it.  I reserve at least 1/2 cup so that I can use it as a dip for the chicken after it is cooked. Of course this reserved bit is set aside and not used to marinate the chicken.

On the blogging side of things, by the time dinner was over with, it was too dark to get a good photo for this post, so I packed everything up in plastic containers and put a note on them that said "EO Photo Food - do not eat!"  My kids weren't too happy with not being able to tear into the leftovers because I was saving them to take pictures of.  This morning I began reheating, cutting, and assembling the tacos for the photos.  When I was finished, it was only 11am, and I had this beautiful plate of chicken chipotle tacos that I had no plan to eat.  I saw tiny Amanda eyeing them up so I casually asked her if she wanted them because I was done with them now.  It was funny because she was so excited at being gifted a beautiful "photo worthy" (her words) lunch and she didn't even have to make it!  She just kept asking, "really?"  "Mom, Really!?"   She loves eating my food - especially after it has been styled to perfection. 

Click below to get the marinade recipe:

Mango Salsa

January 9, 2015

Mango Salsa
This past week an Arctic Blast has whipping through Delaware, and it has been so c-o-l-d.  While I know other parts of the country have it worse, but here on the East Coast, we don't usually see temperatures that low.   They even had a 2-hour delay for most of the area schools because the temperature was only 10F in the morning.

I decided that if I couldn't get the weather to cooperate, I'd bring some color and a little bit of heat back in the form of this bright, citrusy treat.  If you're anything like me, you're looking at this Mango Salsa and longing for the warmer nights of Summer.  The bright flavors and combination of ingredients balance the heat of the Jalepenos perfectly.  Served with warmed tortilla chips or alongside a chicken breast marinated in my honey chipotle sauce, you can't go wrong.    This recipe can't get any easier and it only takes ten minutes to whip up.

Now, I need other recipes to help us warm up!  If you have any ideas, respond in the comments!

Fresh Mango Salsa Recipe

Ingredients

4 Mangos, diced into 1/4" cubes
1 Red Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
1-3 Jalepenos, seeded and chopped, to taste
Cilantro, chopped - about 1/3 cup
Kosher Salt, to taste
1 Lime, juiced, to taste

Directions

Using a large spoon, mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.








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