Category Archives: dill

Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way

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My son loves Ranch dressing. He will literally put it on everything! We used to go through Costco sized bottles in a week at times. 
Well in my quest to try and lighten up recipes, I became very determined to come with up a ranch dressing that was healthier but didn’t lose any flavor. I mean we all have a certain way we expect ranch dressing to taste right?
I have been trying for a couple years, but have come up with things that work ok and tasted good but just not “the” ranch dressing. I was beginning to get a little discouraged until I started working with Greek yogurt a lot. I sub it for sour cream most of the time now. I love the fact that I am not only reducing fat and calories but adding protein to whatever I put it in. I decided that was one of my missing ingredients in this recipe. Between that and adding more fresh herbs I nailed it this time! I will never go back to any other dressing!

I decided to give the step by step photos a try. So let’s see how it goes OK?
The cast of characters
Add your low fat mayo
Then that tangy Greek yogurt
Now all of those fab herbs. Kevin says it looks like I mowed the yard *eyeroll*
Some minced garlic
It can’t be buttermilk ranch without the buttermilk right? Low fat of course.

OK in our house we have to add the Sriracha. A little bit just gives it a tang so don’t be afraid, give it a shot!!
And of course some good ol’ kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
You can throw it in a food processor, blender, or one of these handy dandy attachments that come with an immersion blender. Have I mentioned how much I love this gadget?!
Then you end up with a fabulous dressing for salads and veggies. I leave mine rather thick, like a dip. Then it can be mixed with some more buttermilk or even milk to thin it out for salads.
Homemade Ranch Dressing the Healthy Way
  • 1 cup low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced ( a good handful)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Dash hot sauce (Recommended Sriracha)
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk 

In a food processor or blender combine all of the ingredients and pulse until thoroughly blended. Adjust seasoning as needed. Pour into an airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 hours before using. 

Thin with more buttermilk if needed.

ENJOY!!!

Tzatziki Sauce

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With the weather getting warmer (finally) in Western Washington my mind has been drifting to fresh clean flavors. One of the things I love about Greek food is the flavors and tzatziki sauce is one of my favorite things. The taste of fresh cucumber and dill with a little pop of garlic? Mmmm so good. So now I have been trying to come up with a few Greek inspired meals. One of those meals will be a Greek burger for #sundaysupper. If you don’t follow me on Twitter give me a quick follow and keep an eye on that hash tag this Sunday. You will find so many wonderful recipes, many of which get picked up for the top 9 on Foodbuzz. It is wonderful being included in such a terrific group of bloggers.
So today’s post is the sauce that is part of many a delicious Greek meal. Tzatziki sauce. This recipe couldn’t be simpler and is so flavorful. You can use it on burgers, chicken, sandwiches, or even just dip fresh vegetables in it for a snack. It is very healthy as well. It calls for Greek yogurt, but you can use regular yogurt if you can’t find Greek style. You just have to drain it first. Place it in a strainer lined with cheese cloth over a bowl and allow it to drain for a couple of hours to get as much liquid out of it as possible.

Gather your cast of characters. No that isn’t a weird cucumber, I just started peeling before I took the picture. I get carried away sometimes.
Oops don’t forget the lemon! 
Peel your cucumbers and scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
Cube it up and toss it in a colander with a little of salt so it can lose a little bit of that water weight. 
Now drop your skinny cucumber into the food processor.
Add your garlic, dill, lemon juice, and ground pepper to the party. 
The result? Some darn tasty sauce that you will want to dive right in to!!

Tzatziki Sauce
24-ounces of plain Greek yogurt
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Kosher salt
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Cracked black pepper (to taste)
Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half. Using a spoon carefully scrape the seeds out. Chop the cucumbers and lace them in a colander, salt them and allow to sit for at least 30 mins to allow the cucumbers to release their liquid.
Add the drained cucumbers, garlic, dill, lemon juice, and black pepper to the food processor. Process until smooth. Stir cucumber mixture into the yogurt. Taste and adjust your salt and pepper if needed. Place in an airtight container and allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Can be stored for up to 2 or 3 days. Should be used as quickly as possible because the cucumbers will give off more liquid and the sauce will separate.

Lemony Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon

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Last night I did not have an idea what I was going to make for dinner. It was again another day that I had no idea how many people were going to be here and what I had planned only fed 4. With a possibility of there being 5 people eating I had to quickly switch gears and come up with something on the fly. I found a chicken recipe for the slow cooker that only took 4 hours to cook frozen (yes FROZEN) chicken thighs and I will post that next week. But now I am stumped. I have my main dish but what do I serve it with. I can’t just throw the chicken on the platter and say TADAAA dinner is served.

So into my pantry I go, thanking the Lord I chose last weekend to clean it out and organize it. Do you  have any idea how messy 4 20 year olds can get a pantry? But I digress. Yes, pantry, side dish, on the fly. Oh I am back now.

I knew I had some frozen peas and I was thinking about a pea side dish my mother used to make with them but that would take a while because you  had to  let the peas slowly defrost in the salad. Hhmmm, OK peas, pasta, bacon, green onions, yessss I am on to something. The result was a great pasta salad that everyone loved. This is on my must make again list!

Would be great for a Memorial Day Weekend side dish!!

Lemony Pasta Salad with Peas and Bacon
1 (16-ounce) package of mini pasta
6 slices smokey bacon
3/4 cup light mayonnaise 
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (divided)
Cayenne pepper, to taste ( I used 1/2 teaspoon)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 bunch green onions, chopped whites and greens
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
8 to 16-ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed (depends on how much cheese you want, we love cheese)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add the pasta, cooking as per package instructions. Drain and reserve.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon to crisp. Drain and let cool slightly. Chop or crumble.
In a large bowl add the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons fresh dill, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and combine. Add cooked pasta, peas, bacon, and cheese. Mix thoroughly, taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.  
You can see this recipe plus many more on The Newlyweds Blog

Italian Wedding Soup

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I know I have mentioned, on many an occasion, that I have a love of all things soup. It borders on an obsession really! If you can give me a lovely liquid to slurp up with some crusty bread I am in heaven. Meat, no meat, I don’t care. There is something calming and comforting about a nice warm bowl of soup (and I am not leaving out its brothers stew, chowder, or chili). I don’t quite know why I feel this way but I know I don’t stand alone on this one. Soup lovers of the world UNITE!!
For years now I have had one canned soup that I still crave. Well it isn’t really canned, it comes in those microwavable bowls, but it is premade and I love it. Healthy Choices Italian Wedding soup. When I was working it was my lunch of choice at least 2 or 3 out of a 5 day week. Yet I never tried to make it at home? Why you ask? Hmmmm good question! Maybe I was afraid it wouldn’t be as good, maybe it was just laziness. I mean I actually LIKED this premade soup so it was pretty easy to just have Chef Mike run the show.
Now that I have been venturing into making some healthier recipes I decide I need to give this one a shot. I mean lets face it, a lot, and I mean a LOT of the soups that are “comforting” are creamy and thick and probably NOT the healthiest they could be. I knew this one would be different.
So I gathered about 4 different recipes and started forming my plan of attack. Picking and choosing the things I liked from each one to try and make the best soup possible. WOW I was hoping it would be good but I had no idea how good it would be!! I made a comment on my Facebook page “Italian Wedding Soup is heaven in a bowl” WHO KNEW? I made about 35 meatballs and a lot of broth and 3 people were able to woof it all down and want more. Well Kevin hid some in a Tupperware container for his lunch the next day, but STILL. All you  heard was slurp slurp “WOW” slurp slurp “OhEmmGee this is good” slurp slurp “Is there any more”??
I honestly can’t wait to make it again!
Italian Wedding Soup

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For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), diced
  • 3/4 cup diced celery (2 or 3 stalks), diced
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 12 ounces baby spinach, washed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine. With a spoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 35 to 40 meatballs. They don’t have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Cover with foil and reserve
In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, depending on how tender you want your vegetables. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.


Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad

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OK I know that is a mouthful (and a tasty one at that, trust me) but really it is just fancy talk for cod cooked in parchment paper with a truck load of vegetables and a yummy herb salad on top of it all. But I figured that wouldn’t fit as a title so I went with the foo foo wording.

I was really excited to cook fish again because it gave me the opportunity to use some of my O Olive Oils. Remember I won the O Olive Oil and eRecipecards.com recipe challenge a while back? Well they sent me some of the olive oils I won and they have been staring at me from my counter saying “use me, use me!!” I didn’t marinade in the oil, which afterward I thought “dangit why didn’t I marinade?” but I did give the veggies and fish a good dousing of their Myer Lemon Olive Oil. I can’t say enough about their oils. The crush process they go through just gives the oils a fresh clean flavor. You can actually taste the fresh fruit in them sooooo yummy!!

I also got to break out the new Cuisinart food processor Kevin bought me for Christmas. He was disappointed because he thought he bought the one with the wide feed tube, but I am happy with it. I can chop the bigger stuff if needed. It sure made quick work of my zucchini I can tell you that!

But enough about my toys and gadgets. Lets talk about the food. I have to admit, this recipe looks a lot harder than it really is. The hardest part is slicing all the veg (unless you have a food processor…or a sous chef  hehe). Once you get the fish in that paper the oven does all of the work. No worrying that you have overcooked the fish or wondering if you should flip it over yet. Bing, bam, boom, fish done. Top it with the herb salad and you have a wonderfully healthy and tasty meal that the family, at least my family, will gobble up in no time flat! We had 2 pounds of fish for 4 people and I only eat small portions because of my surgery. So I will say that between the 3 of them they consumed 1 3/4 pounds of fish in mere minutes!

Even if you aren’t a big vegetable person (this has eggplant which I know some people will say eeewwww to right off the bat) the veggies are sliced so thin and they cook in the oilive oil, butter, and white wine which gives them an amazing flavor. A great way to get your vegetables without having to eat plain boring ones.

Oh, little side note, my parchment paper was not wide enough to wrap completely around the fish so I topped it with another sheet and folded up the sides. I even secured them with paper clips just to make sure it stayed sealed so all of the yummy steam and juices properly cooked the fish and veggies.

I know the dish looks a bit “rustic” but it is oohhhh sooooo yummy!!

This is the fish all piled up on the veggies and buttered up ready to go into the oven.
When it comes out you cut open the parchment paper and top it with the herb salad. And then…..Viola a beautiful, healthy, and darn tasty dish!!
Cod Ratatouille En Papillote with Herb Salad
For the Cod Ratatouille:
2 pounds cod, skinned
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small eggplants, thinly sliced
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
White wine
1 red pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped (we love garlic but you could use less if you aren’t a big fan)
8 sprigs fresh thyme
4 tablespoons butter, cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Herb Salad:
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 bunch of celery leaves, roughly chopped (I picked them off a bunch of celery I just bought)
1 bunch of baby dill, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the cod ratatouille, cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper that is about 2 inches wider than the baking sheet on all sides. Alternate the sliced vegetables along the length of the sheet making sure they are tightly aligned and long/wide enough to just peek out from under the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and white wine, season with salt and pepper.
Top with the red pepper, garlic, and time. Then dot it with the cubes of butter.
Top the fish with another sheet of parchment paper of the same size and roll/fold the sides and then ends up to seal the fish and veggies in tight (like I said I used paper clips to ensure it was sealed right).
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish is flaky.
Meanwhile to make the herb salad, add all of the chopped herbs into a medium bowl. In a small bowl combine the balsamic, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk it up and pour over the herbs. Toss with your fingers to get it combined. 
When the fish is done cut or tear the top open and top with the herb salad.
Serves 4 to 6

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Greek Turkey "Tacos"

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Ok, so now I am sure it looks like I am obsessed with tacos, which I assure you I am not. However, Rachael Ray is the self professed “Burger Queen” so who knows, maybe I will be come the “Taco Queen”. Seriously anything you put into a burger you could put into a taco. Both are nice hand held food options. Anything that reduces the amount of dishes to wash is alright by me. But I leave the grilling to Kevin so burgers he does, taco’s I can do.

This recipe was actually my answer to a burger patty I saw available at my local grocery store. They have a lot of pre-made dishes you can buy. Chicken Cordon Blue, Steak Pinwheels and burgers. They have bacon and blue cheese burger patties, cheddar burger patties, and they had turkey with feta and spinach patties. I decided that I wanted to make my own patties so I could add the seasoning I wanted. I was discussing the idea with my daughter Jessi and told her that I wanted to use pita bread instead of a burger bun. She felt that a patty on pita would be a bit awkward to eat so, WALA the Greek taco was born!

I did a search on Greek seasoning and Tzatziki recipes. I saw a couple of advertisements for Greek seasoning blends, but I prefer to control the amounts of each seasoning going into my recipes. You can substitute ground lamb for the turkey in this recipe. I opted for a lean turkey (97%) to lower the calories a bit. Pair it up with some rice pilaf and you have a great meal. I use the rice on the as a side but the kids just added it in with the other ingredients.

I hope you give this recipe a try. Oh and make sure you save your extra Tzatziki sause. It is awesome with veggies for a snack! If you don’t want leftover sauce, just cut the recipe in half, but we always love leftovers. Try using the Tzatziki in the place of mayo on sandwiches too!

If you can’t find Greek yogurt strained plain yogurt can be substituted.

Thanks to our local Greek restaurant Ikonos for the donation of the checkered paper to make this look so nice!

Greek Turkey “Tacos”


Ingredients


For the tacos:
1 package ground turkey (approx 1 1/4 pounds)
8 ounces baby spinach (one very large fistful)
1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
2 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/4 onion, finely chopped
8 pita

For the Tzatziki:
3 cup Greek Yogurt, strained as described below (low fat can be used)
juice of one lemon
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and chopped (save 1/4 of one of the cucumber for garnish)
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped (a good handful)
salt and pepper to taste

With a small strainer or coffee filter over a bowl, strain the yogurt for about 2 hours to get as much liquid out as possible.

Peel the cucumbers and then cut the cucumber in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrap out the seeds, then dice the cucumber, making sure to reserve half of one half  for garnish. Place the cucumbers in a colander and salt them to draw the liquid out. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Drain them well and pat dry with paper towel.

In the food processor puree the cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and fresh ground black pepper. Stir the mixture into the yogurt. Add salt to taste. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add the thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano, minced onion and minced garlic, season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking until turkey has been broken up and it browned all over. Add baby spinach and stir to wilt it down into the browned meat, then add 2 ounces of the feta cheese. Stir to combine all ingredients well. Remove from the heat.

Heat pita bread in the microwave approx 30 minutes to soften the bread.

Spoon the turkey mixture into the center of the pita, top with Tzayziki, chopped onion, chopped cucumber, and chopped tomato. Fold like a taco and eat.

Serve with rice pilaf.

Makes 8 tacos


Taco



Gyro Sandwiches



Tzatziki Sauce