Category Archives: Recipes

Memorial Day Weekend Recipes

This weekend officially kicks off the start of summer picnics! If I had to pick just one thing that I love about summer, it would definitely be the picnics. There’s nothing like getting to try great food with great company outdoors in the sunshine.

The only downside about picnics for me is that I tend to over-think what I should bring. In case you’re like me, I thought I would round up a few recipes that are major crowd-pleasers and are sure not to let you down. Have a happy Memorial Day weeekend everyone!

(Click on the recipe title to see the full post and recipe)

Healthified Buffalo Chicken Dip

People really do go crazy over this buffalo chicken dip. You can let everyone feel better about dipping into this by letting them know that it’s made on the lighter side with the healthy swap of Greek yogurt for the calorie-heavy Ranch dressing.

Sweet Corn Guacamole

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you can never go wrong with a dip or spread at large get-togethers. This guacamole is packed with fresh ingredients that just scream summer! Serve it alongside some colorful veggie chips for a pretty display.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade

As I don’t know too many kids who would be brave enough to try a tapenade, this dish is probably best reserved for a gathering of mostly adults. I enjoy this tapenade best with pita chips, but feel free to serve it with any type of cracker or bread!

Capr-easy Salad

This tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad is one of my all-time favorite summer dishes. The flavors are fresh and summery and pair well mixed in with a leafy green salad, in a sandwich made with crusty bread, or stand out just on their own.

Curry Chicken Salad

From the moment I tried this curry chicken salad for the first time last summer, I was smitten. It has become a staple in my household and I am not exaggerating when I say that I have made this salad almost every single week for the past year. It’s just a bonus that it’s on the healthy side with the substitution of Greek yogurt for mayonnaise.

Mint Oreo Truffles

I don’t think these truffles need much of an introduction or explanation as to why they are such a crowd favorite. Make them and watch them disappear off the table faster than you can say mint Oreos.

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

There is a reason why these cheesecake stuffed strawberries are still one of the most frequent items that I see on Pinterest. What better time to make them than right now as strawberries are just coming into season?

Jell-O Fruit Slices

Summer, fruit, Jell-O. There isn’t a better combination in my opinion.

Strawberry Basil Sangria

I don’t know of anyone who turned up at a party with booze who wasn’t received well. People like their drinks and this sangria filled strawberries and basil is a great way to cool off on a hot summer day!

Strawberry Basil Sangria from Pinterest

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It’s a running joke among my friends that my life is now controlled by Pinterest. From my holiday decorations to just my regular apartment decor, I draw a lot of inspiration from Pinterest.

I don’t see anything wrong with that since that’s the whole purpose of the site. It can get a little embarrassing however when I’m continually telling people that practically everything in my life – from my outfits to my food – comes from Pinterest. Where’s the originality?

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Well, this sangria is no different although I wish I could tell you that I was the person to come up with it.

About a month ago, I saw a pin for strawberry basil sangria and could barely wait to bring another pin to life. With just a few simple ingredients – strawberries, basil, apples, sugar, white wine, white grape juice, and club soda – I had a light and delicious drink that was perfect for the upcoming summer season. I differed from the original recipe slightly by chopping my basil instead of scoring it and using Pinot Grigio instead of the recommended Chardonnay. My only criticism was that I could taste too much of the grape juice for my personal preference, so next time I would probably cut back on the juice, and add it to my taste preference.

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A very happy drink, indeed.

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Just wait until tomorrow when I show you what I paired the drink with for dinner!

Mint Oreo Truffles

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The other weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Lydia’s birthday party. I was quite excited since Lydia was planning the party herself and she has a great eye for details and all things fabulous. Although she would protest, she really would make a great event planner.

My friendship with Lydia goes a long way back, all the way to infancy, in fact. Before I moved to Florida when I was seven, I spent a great deal of time with Lydia from playing with our Littlest Pet Shop toys, sleeping over at each other’s houses, and attending one another’s birthday parties – I have a lot of childhood memories that include Lydia. After moving away to Florida, Lydia and I became pen pals and would write each other letters once to twice a month (this was before email became standard). So it was very special to reunite for a birthday celebration after missing the last 18 or so in our lives.

I’m on the left and Lydia’s on the right in the picture below.

True to her style, Lydia’s party was indeed fabulous. I think I nearly died three times that night from a food coma. You should check out her birthday recap for the full scoop of what was on the menu since everything she served was delectably tasty. Cookie dough cheesecake, anyone?

What really won me over though was the plate full of mint Oreo truffles.

Yes, mint.

Yes, mint Oreos in fact.

Yes, you read that right. Mint Oreo truffles.

When I was ready to leave the party, Lydia was kind enough to offer me some truffles to take home. I thought it would be rude to say that I would take them all (and the other half of that cookie dough cheesecake as well), so I very politely said that I would take two truffles – one for me and one for Mister E to enjoy the next day.

Except, let’s be real here. The next morning I woke up with a possible sugar hangover and two beautiful mint Oreo truffles staring at me in the face. Do you really think I was generous enough to save one for Mister E?

If you said yes, then you do not know me at all.

So naturally, I had to make my own batch of truffles. Whether I made them to give Mister E a chance to taste them or made them for myself so that I could eat as many as I wanted without judgement is not important. What is important is that these truffles are disproportionately tasty for being so simple to make.

Edits

Mint Oreo Truffles

(recipe adapted from Kraft and inspired by Lydia)
  1. Crush a container of mint Oreo cookies either in a food processor or in a plastic bag using a rolling pin
  2. Transfer cookie crumbs to a large bowl
  3. Stir in one package of softened cream cheese (I used non-fat)
  4. Roll mixture into 1 teaspoon size balls and place onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet
  5. Freeze the truffle balls (not completely necessary but freezing makes the truffles easier to work with)
  6. Melt chocolate (or the preferred Wilton green Candy Melts) at 30 second intervals in the microwave
  7. Dip frozen balls into melted chocolate (with the help of a fork or toothpick) and place onto a wax paper lined plate
  8. Optional – drizzle more melted chocolate on top
  9. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freeze for longer storage

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After Lydia told me how she made her mint Oreo truffles, I realized that I had used the same Kraft recipe to make original Oreo truffles years ago for my coworkers. I remember not being all that impressed at all with how they turned out and pretty much wrote the whole recipe off.

Let me reiterate here, these mint Oreo truffles are so delicious and beat out the original kind by a landslide! I think the use of the Wilton Candy Melts instead of chocolate also makes a huge difference.

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I’m surprised that I would even have to say this, but milk is a necessity of course.

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Oh, and I should warn you. You know how sometimes you make cookies but then freeze them all to help with portion control? It makes it easy to just pop one or two cookies out of the freezer at a time to satisfy a craving instead of eating the entire batch? Well, that’s what I planned to do with these truffles. Except there’s a catch. They’re still delicious when frozen! The inside part of the truffle doesn’t completely freeze, so it’s similar to eating an ice cream sandwich. Alright, you’ve been warned now. You’re going to have to find a better hiding spot than the freezer for these babies.

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup

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It’s funny to think that as little as two years ago, I didn’t like tomato soup. I don’t know where this dislike stemmed from since I’m pretty sure I never even attempted to try tomato soup growing up and give it a fair chance.

What’s kind of cool and weird at the same time, is that with the help of this blog, my very first experience with tomato soup is even documented. While I might still have been on the fence about tomato soup after my first tasting, I can tell you, I’m a full-fledged lover now! Of course I’m partial to enjoying it with a grilled cheese sandwich to dunk in it. Or some buttered up crusty bread at the very minimum.

While I eat just about any variety of tomato soup now, my absolute favorite is Au Bon Pain’s Tomato Cheddar soup. Au Bon Pain soup was served in the cafeteria at my old company in Seattle and was a nice healthy alternative to the hamburgers that I was partial to. While I initially fell for the Potato and Leek soup, I found that the Tomato and Cheddar soup was a little bit of a healthier option.

The soups were on a rotating schedule, so the Tomato and Cheddar soup usually only made an appearance once a week. I swear, knowing that there was a yummy soup option in the cafeteria waiting for me at lunch just seemed to make the whole morning better. A good soup day was only surpassed by the cafeteria’s “International Week” where I might luck out one day by finding hummus and baba ganoush being served. These were accompanied by such diverse options such as Italian pepperoni pizza and Mexican beef tacos. Yes, the cafeteria certainly liked to branch out and introduce us to new foods during that week.

Er… but back to the tomato soup now. About a year ago, I swore to myself that I would try making a Tomato and Cheddar soup at home. Well, here we are a year later. But at least I finally did it! And yes, here I go again with the Greek yogurt…

Tomato, Basil, and Cheddar Soup

Makes 6 servings
  • 2 28-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup basil, chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 tsp of oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pot. Add the chopped onion and allow to cook until tender, about three to four minutes. Add in chopped garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Pour in the two cans of tomatoes (juice and all) and the vegetable stock. Stir in the basil, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper. Place the lid back onto the pot and allow to simmer ten minutes. At the end, stir in the Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese until well blended. Use either an immersion blender or food processor to puree the soup if you prefer a smooth texture. Garnish with chopped basil and grated cheddar cheese if desired.

I bought an immersion blender back in January with the specific thought of making soups in mind. This was my first time putting it to the test, and I have to say that I am impressed! For those that aren’t familiar with an immersion blender (I wasn’t a year and a half ago!), it’s a large stick that comes with a blade attachment at the end. It works as exactly as it’s named. If you immerse the bladed end into food (like a chunky soup), it will blend just as if you had transferred the food into a real blender. And don’t worry, as long as you keep the blades immersed, it makes absolutely no mess! But keep those blades immersed… or else you could end up with tomato soup over half of your kitchen. Ahem.

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Hot Crab and Mushroom Dip

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Growing up, I read the newspaper every single day. I would get home from school, grab a package of peanut butter crackers and pour myself a tall glass of Crystal Light Raspberry Ice and settle into the booth in the kitchen with the newspaper in hand. I would always start with the Living section, which was really the best section since it usually included the celebrity gossip column, the horoscopes, the Dear Abby column, the comics, and any articles that had to do with food or fashion. All the most important things to a teenager, obviously. Once I had finished with the Living section, I would then move to the actual front page news. I would skim through all the articles, stopping to actually read only the ones with headlines that really caught my attention.

After going away to college, I stopped reading the paper. It’s so convenient to find my news online to read, and with Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, I have more than enough options with finding interesting articles to read through social media. However, during the few times that I get to go back to my parent’s house in the year, I always fall right back into habit of reading the newspaper on a daily basis in the kitchen booth. Starting with the Living section, naturally.

While I was home for Christmas last year, I came across a large article on how to host a party for New Year’s Eve right on the front page of the Living section. The article gave a couple different party ideas along with a handful of recipes to make. One of the recipes was for Hot Crab and Mushroom Dip which peaked my interest enough that I went as far as to tear the recipe out of the newspaper.

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The recipe sounded so fancy that I knew I would have to save it for a special occasion. I didn’t have to wait too long as my friend, Jennifer, decided to host a Valentine’s Day party in February. A party celebrating the supposedly most romantic day of the year certainly seemed like a special enough occasion to pull the crab dip recipe out of reserves.

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While the ingredient list is a little bit lengthy for my taste and the steps are a little bit involved, I’m so glad that I gave the recipe a chance. The dip was a huge hit at the party and I was definitely a fan of it. The recipe is from The Neelys’ and can be found here. I made a few adjustments like always, most notably the substitution of Greek yogurt for some of the half-and-half. I swear, I think I would try to sneak Greek yogurt into every meal if it possible!

Hot Crab and Mushroom Dip

recipe adapted from here

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fontina cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 12 oz. lump crabmeat (fresh or canned)
  • 2 Tbsp parsley
  • 1-1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the half a stick of butter. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and shallot to the pan and cook for three minutes. Add the flour and stir the mixture for about one minute. Pour in the half-and-half and stir until the mixture starts to thicken, about three minutes. Add in the Greek yogurt and continue to stir for an additional two to three minutes. Pour in the white wine and add the fontina and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and blends into the mixture. Gently stir in the crabmeat and parsley. Add the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper. Add more if necessary to adjust for taste. Pour the dip mixture into a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Serving with lightly salted pita chips is highly recommended.

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Like I said, this recipe isn’t a quick, throw-together-in-ten-minutes sort of thing. However, the results are absolutely delicious and are sure to impress. Just be prepared to see the dip disappear out of the bowl all too quickly!