Tag Archives: Greek yogurt

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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Healthified Buffalo Chicken Dip

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You didn’t think I would serve just cake at Mister E’s birthday party, did you? Of course not! I had to have something savory to balance out all that sweet frosting. Being that the party was to start at 7 p.m., I went back and forth for a while over whether to serve a real dinner or a spread of appetizers. I didn’t necessarily want to go through all the effort of making a full meal, but on the other hand, I didn’t want to leave any guest who might have skipped dinner starving. So, ultimately I settled somewhere in the middle and decided to serve up some hearty appetizers.

It wasn’t difficult to come up with my first appetizer – mini burger sliders with a condiment bar. However, deciding what to serve alongside the sliders was proving to be a challenge. The guests were mostly Mister E’s guy pals, so I wanted to keep a “manly” theme for the food. After tossing out such options like mini bbq chicken pizzas and beef empanadas, my friend finally suggested the answer to my problem – Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Mister E and I had tried buffalo chicken dip once before several years ago at a party. We were both smitten after the first bite and I even raved to my mother how she absolutely had to make this dip for my brother. Well, life happened and as time went on, I completely forgot all about the hot and creamy dip.

I did a little searching around online and finally settled on this recipe to use. After I had finally completed all of the cake madness on the day of Mister E’s birthday party, I got to work on making the buffalo chicken dip. The main ingredients to the dip are: chicken, cream cheese, Ranch dressing, blue cheese, hot sauce, and mozzarella cheese. Actually, those are all the ingredients. Pretty simple, huh? The only deviation I made to the recipe was to use poached chicken that I shredded in place of the canned chicken. All the ingredients were combined in a small baking dish and then baked in the oven until everything was hot, gooey, and golden on top.

The dip turned out to be such a hit at the party! Everyone loved it, but me most of all since there was just enough for me to enjoy leftovers the next day. While eating the leftover dip, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty for eating such an indulgent dip two days in a row (along with multiple pieces of the birthday cake). It got me thinking that there just had to be a way to lighten the dip up since a lot of the ingredients weren’t necessarily unhealthy on their own. When going through the list, I narrowed in on the Ranch dressing in all of its full-fat glory as being the main contributor to the unhealthy-ness of the dip. If I could just find a way to replace the dressing, I could eat all the buffalo chicken dip in the world completely guilt free!

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Then it hit me. If I were to mix Ranch seasoning mix with 0% Plain Greek Yogurt, I don’t think anyone would be able to tell the difference once it was mixed in with hot sauce. The very next day I put my theory to test.

Healthified Buffalo Chicken Dip

 

(lightened up from this recipe)

  • 1 8-oz package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp Ranch seasoning mix (more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (more or less to your taste preference)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 large (or 2 small) chicken breasts, poached and shredded
  • celery or tortilla chips for serving

Directions:  Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt with the Ranch seasoning mix. Add more seasoning to taste. In a small baking dish, mix together cream cheese, hot sauce, Greek yogurt mixture, and a 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Stir in blue cheese and chicken. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of the dip. Place the dish in the oven and cook 20-25 minutes – until the top has begun to turn a golden color.

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The best part about this dip was that I completely forgot that it was “healthified”! It tasted every bit as rich and indulgent as the original version, even when only eaten with the celery sticks. That’s a win in my book!

However, the second best part of this dip would have to be the method I figured out to eat the leftovers on the next day.

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Sometimes piling chips and plopping a big spoonful of dip onto your plate can be less than visually appealing. And we all now what a pain it is when you pile so much food onto your plate that all the sauces and dips end up touching all the other food.

I thought it would be much more practical for a party to serve the buffalo chicken dip in little celery boats, crudite style, making them much easier for guests to grab and hopefully a little less messy to eat. To make the celery boats, I cut the celery stalks into thirds and then shaved a very thin peel off the bottom to make a flat bottom and help ensure that the celery wouldn’t tip over.

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To take the buffalo chicken boats once step higher, let your guests “heat it up” or “cool it down” to their own taste level by setting out additional hot sauce and blue cheese as toppings.

Oh, and yes, for those of paying attention to the sequence of events in this post, I did in fact eat buffalo chicken dip four days straight. But it was mostly with celery sticks, which I’ve been told have negative calories or something like that, so I believe I’m good.

Mother-Daughter Weekend

This past weekend, my mom came to visit me in Connecticut. I can’t believe it had been EIGHT months since I had seen her last. Statements like that just make me sad. I’m hoping now that we’re on the same coast, it’ll be easier to make trips home more often to see my parents.

But this past weekend with my mom was absolutely perfect and so much fun! On Saturday, we had a fun get-together with the family at my uncle’s house (pictures can be seen here). It was a blast filled with lots of laughs and food. My mom and I made an Aloha Cake which I really enjoyed since we don’t get a lot of chances to bake or cook together. It didn’t hurt that the cake turned out be delicious!

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Also part of our Mother-Daughter weekend – retail therapy! Three cheers for Labor Day Weekend sales!

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Our mother-daughter weekend also included a spicier and healthier update on the classic chicken salad – Curry Chicken Salad. Now, I grew up believing that I wasn’t a fan of chicken salad. I think I still stand by that statement, so I’m going to make this salad the exception. It’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little nutty. All of my favorite things! The traditional salad is healthified by subbing nonfat Greek yogurt for most of the mayo. And don’t worry, you can’t taste the tanginess of the yogurt since the curry flavor is strong enough to mask it.

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Curry Chicken Salad

  • 2 chicken breasts, poached* and shredded
  • 6-oz. container plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 2 tsp yellow curry powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Alternatively, you can mix mayonnaise, yogurt, and curry powder separately. Taste, and make adjustments before mixing in with other ingredients.

* You can prepare your chicken breasts using your preferred method of baking or substitute rotissary chicken from a grocery store.

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Now, for all you doubters out there, all I can say is that I used to be one of you. Mayo, yogurt, and chicken just sound gross to me when combined together. But trust me – it works. And for anyone afraid of curry, feel free to start off by mixing in just a small amount (1 teaspoon) and work your way up until you find a level of flavor that you’re comfortable with.

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My mom and I ate the curry chicken salad pretty much every way possible. Plain, on its own. On top of a bed of greens. In a sandwich. In a wrap. With blue corn tortilla chips. The possibilities are endless!

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What are some of your favorite things to make with someone else in the kitchen?

Just Checking To See If You’re Still Reading

Warning: This post contains about a billion Prince pictures. If you don’t like cute, fluffy-faced dogs, please don’t read any further.

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Oh, hi guys! I’m pretty sure I failed my goal of blogging more consistently after disappearing for almost the past month. Sorry about that. Truth is, things have gotten pretty crazy in the world of MFP and unfortunately, blogging just wasn’t able to take a priority in my life. I have an exciting announcement coming up soon, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to wait another week to hear it. But once you do, hopefully all this cryptic talk will make more sense.

Moving on…

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of my friend Jenny coming to visit me all the way from Colorado!

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Jenny actually moved to Seattle and started work at the same company right around the same time as I did. We became fast friends and started volunteering with the same high school group and even adopted our dogs around the same time. Ever since she moved to Colorado about a year ago, both Prince and I have really missed her company, so it was fun having her around for a couple of days.

While she was here, we indulged in things like sushi and maple flavored ice cream.

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We also partied it up at a Girl Talk concert with friends. This was my first  encounter with Girl Talk and all I can is that it’s… different, but in a very fun way. For those not familiar with Girl Talk, it’s basically a guy who does mash-ups using very short clips of a wide variety of songs. Because the clips are so short, in a way, he turns them into an entirely new song.

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But don’t think that Jenny’s visit was all fun and games. Since Jenny was prepping for a half marathon in a few days, I joined her on one of her short, tapered runs. She was nice and let me set the pace and let me take all the walking breaks that I needed. :-D

We also polished off several containers of Chobani and quite a few black bean burgers like it was our job. It was nice to have a houseguest that shared my interest in healthy living and who didn’t balk at the idea of trying a Green Monster smoothie.

Thankfully the sun peaked through the clouds for a few hours on Jenny’s last day here – just long enough to spend some time at Alki Beach.

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Prince had a grand ol’ time. Coincidentally, this was his first encounter with salt water. I don’t think he’s a fan.

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Between a combination of being busy and being lazy, some of my recent eats, have been incredibly basic and easy:

Whole Wheat English Muffin topped with Peach Butter

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The spicier one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches (minus the salsa)

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A black bean burger (can you tell that I’m obsessed?) topped with a sweet potato, salsa, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (<—AMAZING combination)

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CPK’s BBQ Chicken Pizza… hey, every girl needs a little frozen pizza in her life.

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Grilled breakfast sandwiches

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And soup! My latest obsession is Progresso’s High Fiber Minestrone soup. I seriously need to try making this on my own – anyone want to suggest any recipes?

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Naturally this soup pairs well grilled cheese!

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Perfect for the rainy day.

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And some of Prince’s recent eats:

Peanut Butter…

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and yogurt…

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Also consuming some (er, most) of my time this past week has been The Pillars of the Earth.

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I picked this book up a few years ago from Barnes & Nobles, but could just never get into it and have left it to collect dust on my bookshelf ever since. Well, I found out last Friday night that after you make it through the first 50 pages, it’s highly addictive. I found myself struggling to stay up until the wee hours of the morning just because I refused to put the book down. It was honestly that good.

For those who are curious, the book is set in England during the 1100’s. The story follows the lives of five major characters across a span of forty years as a small village sets out to construct a new church that is plagued by corruption, greed, and political unrest. If you liked movies such as Robin Hood and Ever After, I think you’ll really enjoy The Pillars of the Earth.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this view out of my bedroom window this evening:

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Has anyone else read The Pillars of the Earth? Any book recommendations for me?

Pear Muffins

You can never count on creativity to come when you need it. Take last week for example. I had beautiful, sweet, juicy pears that I wanted to turn into muffins. But for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with any ideas on how to go about it. So, I cheated. I basically used my carrot muffin recipe and just played around with the proportions a bit. A little bit more of this, a little less bit of that, and voila! Pear muffins.

Tasty, but not unique.

Pear and Walnut Muffins

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided
  • 2 pears
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup 0% Greek yogurt

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices and set it aside. In another bowl, whisk together both sugars, honey, vanilla extract, eggs, applesauce, and yogurt. Peel your pears. If you desire muffins with pear chunks, dice the pears. If you want a smoother texture, grate the pears. Stir pears into your wet ingredients. Pour pear mixture into the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in a cup of the chopped walnuts. Pour batter into a greased muffin pan. Top each muffin off with a few of the remaining chopped walnuts. Bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Now, almost a week after making these, creativity finally struck. I wish I had forgone the spices and turned these into cranberry pear muffins. That sounds way better.

Oh well. I’ll just have to wait for the next time I have two wonderful pears sitting in my fruit basket. For some reason, I think that I’ll be just fine with what I have for now!