butternut squash & blue cheese spread

Call me basic, but this girl loves some squash.

butternut squash goat cheese dip I howsweeteats.com

In my humble opinion, squash should be celebrated year round – not just autumn, when it’s in season and oh-so-plentiful. Typically, I try to shop seasonally {helps with keeping my food local, costs down, etc.} but squash somehow always finds a way into my cart, shopping trip after shopping trip. It’s a versatile vegetable; salads, main dishes, soup and chili {yes, even in the spring and summer!}…I never find myself tiring of it. Good thing the hubs doesn’t either, otherwise we might have a bit of a problem.

But back to the recipe, lest I get further swept up in preaching my love for squash…

This is definitely a new, and fun, twist on a squash dish. As I mentioned above, none of us are strangers to using said vegetable in all sorts of dishes. But when racking my brain for an autumnal dish to bring on a trip, I thought “why not do something squash-based?” and sure enough, the internet didn’t let me down.  This dip is seriously delicious, and seriously addicting.

Roasted butternut squash meets up with its herbacious friends in a warm, creamy spread. It is bursting with tangy blue cheese, but not so heavy that it leaves you feeling like you need a nap after just a few bites. In fact, the lot of us polished this entire dish off in one sitting, and trust me – not a single one of us felt bad about it. You can scale back on the cheese if you’d like, but I highly suggest leaving it all in. I served it with toasted whole wheat naan bread, rather than chips; they were a bit sturdier, and the nutty flavor of the naan complemented the dip so nicely.

I could easily see this as a spread on sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, dolloped onto a vegetable-based soup or stew…the possibilities are endless! And it can be prepared ahead of time, too; just assemble the dish until the step before you bake it {seal tightly and store in the refrigerator until ready to heat through}. You’ll be the star of the party with this one. Truth.

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Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Spread {recipe adapted, slightly, from How Sweet It Is}

Squash lovers, meet your new dip addiction. Blended until creamy and smooth, lusciously rich…perfect for any get-together, and sure to please even the pickiest of palettes! The flavor combinations are out of this world. 

Ingredients:

2-1/2 cups cubed butternut squash

3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

pinch grated nutmeg

10 ounces crumbled blue cheese {I used a reduced-fat version, but full-fat would be fine as well}

1 Tbsp. EACH of these dried herbs: oregano, basil, parsley, sage

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with nonstick cooking spray.

Toss the squash cubes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Toss and bake for 15 minutes more, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

Add the squash {and any olive oil drippings} into the bowl of a food processor along with the nutmeg, dried herbs, and half of the blue cheese crumbles. Blend until completely smooth, and transfer to an oven-proof dish.**

Cover with remaining blue cheese crumbles, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until warmed through. Stir to incorporate melted cheese on top.

Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired, and fresh cracked pepper. Serve immediately with your dipper of choice.

butternut squash goat cheese dip I howsweeteats.com

*images courtesy of How Sweet It Is*

lightened up spinach artichoke dip

A lot of times, what we deem as “traditional” appetizers often get a bad rep. I mean, it’s not hard for that to happen. When we peel back the layers of ingredients and really dive in, we find that most are loaded down with heavy, not-so-healthy ingredients…full-fat mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, an oftentimes an exorbitant amount of cheese on top. And that doesn’t even take into account the accouterments {fried chips, toasted bread, crackers and pretzels}. Now don’t get me wrong! – I am a big believer in maintaining a balance; everything in moderation, exercise portion control when needed. But sometimes, you might just want to do some serious work on appetizers and not feel guilty about it!

Enter this dish…

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It’s bubbly, browned, crusty and FULL.OF.FLAVOR. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to your new favorite {and jazzed up!} spinach artichoke dip! Glancing down through the ingredient list, you’ll recognize instantly a few of my staples: Greek yogurt, blended cream cheese, etc. But what really makes this dish shine and stand out from its cousins is the explosion of spices and vegetables that we’re packing in. In just about 3 cups of dip, we’re utilizing smoky paprika, spicy garlic, onion powder, red pepper flakes{!!}, and tangy Parmesan. Seriously, your taste buds won’t know what hit them upon the first bite.

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This is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and is on constant rotation in our home. This can easily be doubled or tripled for the countless summer BBQs we will all surely be attending this summer; is wonderful spread onto sandwiches; I’ve even thrown it into a fritatta with shredded chicken. A dish with many purposes; not only super healthy, but super flavorful and oh-so-flexible!

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Lightened Up Spinach/Artichoke Dip

A perfect dip for throwing together at the last minute, this is one of our go-to items for date nights at home. It’s tangy, refreshing, bubbling over with flavor…and good for you!

Ingredients:

12 ounces frozen spinach, cooked {make sure you drain it really well}

1 {14 ounce} can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped

5 ounces of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt

2 Tbsp. cream cheese {I like to use a Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend that is available at my grocery store}

2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

1 clove garlic, finely diced

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. onion powder

large pinch of red pepper flakes {optional}

nonstick cooking spray

salt & pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a round glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside {mine holds about 3-4 cups worth of dip}.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well to combine; take extra care to make sure that the cream cheese and yogurt are thoroughly mixed into the vegetables and spices.

Spoon dip into the prepared baking dish. Top with additional Parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is starting to turn golden brown and the edges are bubbling over slightly.

Serve hot with toast points, sliced vegetables, chips, etc…whatever you like.

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Enjoy!

sweet pea hummus

Like many, I tend to eat with my eyes first; taking in the different colors of the dish, its presentation on the plate, and what kinds of textures I can pick out with my naked eye.

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So when I finished plating this delightful dip, I could not wait to dive in. Just take one look at that photo, y’all – beautifully bright green with fresh basil and succulent sweet peas. We know we’re going to get a pop of bright citrus from the lemon garnish. And you can tell it’s going to have a beautiful mouth-feel because of how velvety and luscious it looks in the bowl.

I may need another moment, and another look.

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This dish practically screams “summer” to me. We’re utilizing so many fresh ingredients today, many of which you should be able to get from your local farmer’s market or co-op. Aside from the weather, I can safely say that preparing dishes with so many fresh and local flavors is one of the best parts of my summer. I look forward to it every year; seeing what I can create with what I can either grow in my backyard, or what my friends grow. It’s a fun challenge, but oh-so-rewarding; you can taste the freshness bursting forth! This hummus is no exception.

I prepared it for a graduation party, served alongside hearty dippables {crusty bread, chips, pretzels}. But I can just as easily see myself stirring it into pasta salads, smearing onto a sandwich, or heck…the base for a pizza! Let your imagination run wild – that’s how some of the best dishes come about.

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Sweet Pea Hummus {adapted, minimally, from Food52}

Ingredients:

1 can of white northern beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed

1-1/2 cups green peas {I used a frozen bag, and simply cooked and cooled slightly before assembling the dip}

2-3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

salt and pepper, to taste

4 T. fresh herbs {I used basil}

To Prepare:

Place the beans, peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and fresh herbs into the base of a food processor and pulse to combine. Next, blend at a continuous speed until thoroughly emulsified {if the mixture is too thick for your liking, drizzle in a bit of olive oil or water}.

Taste the hummus, and add salt and pepper according to your preference.

Serve alongside crunchy vegetables, chips, or toasted baguettes.

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Enjoy!

holiday baked brie

Have I intrigued you with the title of today’s recipe, y’all? Are your taste buds absolutely tantalized?

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Well, then. All jokes and silly word play aside, I have a confession to make. I did not like Brie until about a year ago. I know, I know! Crazy to think that I, a lover of all cheeses {especially the stinkier ones} could not bring myself to embrace the creamy goodness that is Brie. Perhaps I just didn’t allow myself enough opportunities to like it, I couldn’t tell you. But last year, for a Friends-giving gathering, I decided to give it a shot. Why not wrap it up in pastry? Surely I could add in and incorporate flavors that I knew I enjoyed, and transform it that way.

Y’all, one bite was all it took for me. Not to mention the friends that we had gathered with that evening. It was INHALED by all those in attendance, perhaps the most by me. I was so thankful I had given it another shot! We’re using a combination of dried fruits, herbs and honey to dress the Brie, but you can easily swap out for whatever you have on hand. That is the beauty of this dish. It’s easily customizable to whatever you have, or whatever flavor profile you’re craving.

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Ever since that first appearance, this is one I bring to almost every gathering we attend. You’ll be lucky if you leave with leftovers. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that!

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Holiday Baked Brie 

This festive appetizer comes together in a matter of minutes, and utilizes ingredients most of us have on hand! To make it even more holiday-esque, serve it on a plate surrounded by larges branches of rosemary; it will appear to be floating on a wreath!

Ingredients:

1 sheet of puff pastry, set out and thawed accordingly

1 wheel Brie cheese {I like a double-cream version}, room temperature

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup honey

3-4 tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a rimmed baking sheet, spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Unfold the puff pastry and lay in the center of the baking sheet.

Unwrap the Brie cheese and place on the puff pastry so that it is perfectly centered. Top with the dried cranberries and rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle with the honey. Fold in the border of puff pastry so that the cheese is fully enclosed. Spray top with nonstick cooking spray so that it will get extra crisp while baking.

Bake in the upper portion of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling out slightly. Serve with toasted baguettes, crackers, assorted vegetables and hard salami.

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roasted pepper hummus

Some of my favorite recipes, whether it’s an easy entree, delicious appetizer, or fabulous cocktail, oftentimes are the ones that I come up with on a whim. A dash of this, a pinch of that – no real measurements, just adding based on what I have in the fridge and stocked in the pantry. This is one of those recipes.

I was making a dish not long ago that contained lots of bell peppers {in this case, gorgeous yellow ones} and rather than letting the scraps from where I trimmed the stems off go to waste, I decided to save them for later use. I hadn’t yet figured out what I wanted to prepare with them, but I knew that inspiration would strike. And sure enough, it did! I think I may have been driving home, or cleaning, or something else totally unrelated to cooking, but the thought popped in my mind – hummus! I ADORE hummus {see here and here, for example}. We were entertaining later on that weekend, and I knew that this would be the perfect dish to set out before the main course.

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And I’ll be honest, I’m going to humble brag because this dish turned out amazing. Roasting peppers brings out their natural sweetness and, if you choose to leave the skins on afterward, you’re treated with a slightly smoky flavor as well. We’re pairing the roasted peppers with lemon juice for a bright, tart pop. Chili powder helps highlight the roasted, charred flavor. Add garlic well….you always need garlic, in my opinion.

I could see the peppers easily being swapped out for other vegetables, too! Whatever you have on hand from an earlier dish, give it a whirl. Like I said, the best recipes are often the ones that come from nothing.

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Roasted Pepper Hummus

Gorgeously colored and packed full of flavor, you’ll instantly be hooked with your first dip! 

Ingredients:

3 bell peppers, cut into thick rings

1 can of great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced

2-4 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice

dashes {to taste} of chili powder

olive oil, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat oven t0 450 degrees.

Line a sheet pan with foil, and place atop it a baking rack. Spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

Cut peppers into large rings {if you prefer to remove the skin before processing, simply cut the peppers into quarters}. Place, flesh side up, on the baking rack. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for at 20 minutes, then under the ‘broil’ setting for an additional 10. Be sure to keep an eye on them! – you don’t want them to scorch too much, you’re just looking for a good, crisp outer layer. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

If removing the skin from the peppers, do so now.

Into the bowl of your food processor, add in the roasted peppers, beans, clove of garlic, lemon juice, and chili powder. Process until very smooth and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Give it one final process to incorporate.

Dish into serving bowls and serve with your favorite dippers! We love toasted pita bread, carrot and celery sticks, and pretzels.

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To store: cover and keep in the refrigerator. Dip will last up to a week. 

roasted asparagus

Sometimes the simplest of preparations result in the most delicious dishes, no?

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I don’t know about y’all, but give me a plate of roasted vegetables, dressed simply with olive oil and herbs, over those “other” dishes – move aside, gratins, casseroles and all your friends…I’m looking at you.

The method of roasting vegetables, for some, may seem slightly boring or mundane. After all, you’re doing so little – what makes them shine, when standing on a table next to a bowl filled to the brim with steaming mashed potatoes, or crispy fried bits? That is just it, y’all! The expression, less is more, couldn’t hold more true with this discussion today.

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables to use with this preparation. The earthy, rich flavor is highlighted when exposed to the high roasting temperature. And the best part is that you lose none of the nutrients! Think of this dish as asparagus, elevated. It makes for a beautiful presentation, piled high on a crisp white plate with some lemon wedges. It couldn’t be more simple, or more delicious.

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Roasted Asparagus

Whether served alongside an entree, placed along the top of pizza, or tossed with pasta, roasted asparagus makes any dish shine. Super simple and quick to prepare, this comes together quickly. It packs a vitamin punch, too! 

Ingredients:

1 bunch of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed of woody edges

1 lemon, halved

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread the asparagus out in a single layer. Toss generously with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Place in the middle rack and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and toss to roast the other side, another 10 to 15 minutes {make sure to keep a close eye!}.

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Place on a serving dish and squeeze the fresh lemon halves on while it’s still hot. For additional flavor, you can add a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Let’s Discuss: what are some creative ways you like to serve vegetables, particularly asparagus? 

roasted carrot hummus

This twist on hummus is, without a doubt, the BOMB.

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Full of flavor and color, this couldn’t have fallen into my lap at a better time. I mean, that vibrant orange…doesn’t that just scream “autumn” to y’all?

Gorgeous presentation aside, this hummus packs a nutritional and flavor punch. We all know that carrots are full of beta-carotenes and antioxidants. They’re a great source for both vitamins A and K. It really doesn’t get much better than that, BUT! – we’re adding in fresh lemon juice and zest in here, too. Said fruit adds in another vitamin kick, that of vitamin C. This is powerful stuff, and powerful food!

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A great dish to put out for a Halloween party, or to dress up a tailgate, this is sure to win the crowd over. You won’t have leftovers with this one, I promise.

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Roasted Carrot Hummus {recipe adapted from Power Hungry}

This is a wonderful twist on a classic dip – roasting the carrots not only enhances the flavor, but results in a beautifully hued dish. Wonderful served cold or warmed!

Ingredients:

1 lb. carrots {about 6 large} cut into 1/2″ slices

6 cloves of garlic, with the skins still intact

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. paprika

juice and grated zest of 1 large lemon

1/4 to 1/2 cup of low-sodium chicken stock

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss the carrots and garlic with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread in an even layer onto the baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned – about 25 t0 30 minutes.

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Let cool, the squeeze the garlic clove out of their skins.

Add the carrots and garlic into a food processor, and sprinkle with paprika. Pulse for about 1 minute, then stop and scrape down the sides. Allowing the machine to run, drizzle in the chicken stock until it reaches your desired thickness.

Transfer hummus to bowl, and serve with toasted bread, vegetables, or crackers…whatever you like!

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hot & sweet baked chicken wings

Chicken wings. Everyone loves ’em, myself included.

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BUT! One of my biggest issues with this delicious indulgence is that it veers slightly {ok, a lot} on the unhealthy side. I’ll be the first to agree with “everything in moderation” and “it’s ok to indulge once in awhile” but what is a girl to do smack-dab in the middle of football season, when wings abound at almost every game gathering?

Rather than spending my time mulling over the loss of eating wings, I decided to come up with my own! Easy or not, it’s always fun for me to come up with healthier recipes on more indulgent treats. Y’all should know that by now.

And let me tell you, this wings are a WINNER. Every time I’ve made these beauties, there is not one scrap of a leftover. They are THAT GOOD {the emphasis of caps is totally necessary for these, I’m not joking}. The flavor of the sauce, both sweet and hot, permeates down to the core of these wings, making every bite as delicious as the one prior. The exterior remains crispy, due to the high heat of baking {no frying here!},yett the meat itself is so perfectly moist and tender. These are to.die.for.

But be forewarned! – if you show up at a party with these, don’t expect to get away attending your next one without a batch or two. Your friends might not let you through the door.

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Hot & Sweet Baked Chicken Wings

the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, these beauties are sure to please! & because we’re baking them in high heat for a long period of time, these are guaranteed to come out perfectly moist and delicious – every single time. 

Ingredients: marinade can be mixed and used to soak the chicken before cooking; I suggest a good 3-4 hours for maximum flavor absorption

2 large packages (anywhere from 2-3 lbs. & will be about 12 pieces) of bone-in, skin-on chicken wings {make sure you look for the ones that have the wing tip connected to the actual arm of the bird!)

1-1/2 cups Frank’s Original Hot Sauce

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/2 to 1 tsp. ground ginger, or to taste

drizzle of honey, optional

To Prepare:

If you have pre-marinated your chicken , remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before preheating the oven to allow them to remove some of the chill. This helps the wings to cook more evenly. 

In a large measuring cup, combine the 1-1/2 cups of Frank’s Original Hot Sauce, 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce, ground ginger, and optional honey. Whisk well to combine, and set aside.

Remove the chicken from its packaging and pat dry, making sure to remove any excess moisture. Add all pieces into a large mixing bowl, and pour in the marinade. Toss to coat, making sure every nook of the wings are coated. I really like to get in there, and just use my hands to do the mixing; it’s up to you! {just make sure to wash your hands really well}

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare your baking trays – along the bottom and sides of a rimmed baking sheet, line generously with heavy duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack directly atop the foil, and spray generously with cooking spray. Repeat with the second baking sheet, and set aside.

Evenly disperse your chicken wings among the two baking sheets. Should you have any extra marinade left, make sure to drizzle on top of the wings!

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Bake for anywhere from 60-75 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken {at its thickest point} reads 165.

Serve with slices of crunchy vegetables {celery, carrots, etc} and blue cheese dressing!

Let’s Discuss: what are some of your favorite wing flavors? Do you like sweet, savory, zingy, or any other combination?

savory sausage roll

Y’all, today’s recipe is another classic bread machine recipe.

This savory dish evokes memories of my childhood. Most Christmas Eve celebrations were spent with just the family at home. After attending Mass, my sisters/mom/myself would spend time together in the kitchen, putting together a veritable spread of tasty treats out for us to nosh on and enjoy for the rest of the evening. I can’t quite put my finger on the first year we had this, but after one bite of trying this dish, you’ll understand why it’s a frequent culinary visitor in our home.

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While I’ve veered ever so slightly from my mom’s original recipe, the foundation and flavors of this remain the same. The smoked turkey sausage holds up brilliantly to the flavors of the dried rosemary and Italian cheese we will be incorporating into the filling. Using some whole wheat flour in the dough adds a slightly warm and nutty flavor, which is perfect for this early autumn season. Its exterior is perfectly crisp and golden, making it the perfect vehicle for dipping a la fondue style, or for building an open-faced sandwich {if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!}.

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This is a great dish for entertaining with, too! It can be 100% prepared in advance, and after it has cooled, can be wrapped tightly in foil and either refrigerated or frozen until needed! Simply pop it in the oven until warm and crispy throughout, and you’ll be the hit of the party.

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Savory Sausage Roll {recipe adapted from The Bread Machine Cookbook III}

Easy to prepare and insanely delicious, this dish is great for easy meals and entertaining. The filling can be tailored to suit any taste – hot or sweet Italian sausage can be used, the type and amount of cheese can be adjusted, and other flavorings/spices can be added. This one is sure to win the stomachs over of whomever tries it! 

Ingredients: for a medium-sized roll

1 cup water {you can use apple juice, if you’d like}

1-1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1-1/2 tbsp. honey

1/3 tsp. salt

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1-1/2 cups bread flour

1-1/2 tsp. yeast

Ingredients: for the filling

1 package of smoked sausage {I like to use a smoked turkey sausage}, cut into slices

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 green pepper, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup of shredded Italian blend cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Dough:

Add ingredients listed above into your bread machine, and cook on the prescribed manufacturer settings. As a point of reference, my dough cycle runs about 1 hour and 50 minutes, or I can opt for the quick cycle and have it done in 45 minutes.

To Prepare the Filling:

When the dough has about 40 minutes left, start to assemble the filling.

In a large non-stick skillet, drizzle in some olive oil and let it heat up to medium heat. Add in the sliced sausage, and cook until the edges begin to brown and the insides start to caramelize. Add in the diced onion, diced pepper, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 7-10 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the peppers have softened slightly.

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Remove from heat, and transfer the mixture into the bowl of your food processor. Pulse several times, or until the sausage has been broken up slightly {you want it to look like ground meat, with the flecks of garlic and vegetables running throughout}.

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Allow to cool until the dough has run its course; we want it to be room temperature, ideally. Once cooled to room temperature, fold in the shredded cheese.

Assemble the Sausage Roll:

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with either a Sil-Pat sheet or parchment paper {I like to give it a good spray, too, for good measure}.

Once the dough cycle is complete, flour a large surface where you will do your rolling. Turn the dough out onto the surface, and roll out into a large rectangle.

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Spread filling mixture evenly across the entire surface, leaving a small border around all four edges. Roll up, jelly-roll style, until completely encased in itself. Pinch all edges closed, and transfer to lined baking sheet.

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Rub the top with a little olive oil and sprinkle with additional rosemary to garnish, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. IMG_3627

*if you find your roll taking longer than the prescribed 45 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees and allow to finish off. It is also helpful to rotate the pan halfway through the baking process. 

Let’s Discuss: what are some other fun ingredients you could imagine putting into a dish such as this? I can totally see myself making a chicken florentine style roll….complete with shredded chicken, Itlain meats, spinach and spicy peppers!

 

tzatziki

Is anyone else overwhelmed with the mass amounts of cucumbers cranking out of your garden?

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Let’s see a show of hands.

I will admit, I’ve had to great creative over the past weeks with the amount of produce being dropped off on my doorstep. After all, a girl and her hubby can only handle so many slices of cucumbers {sprinkled with a little coarse salt, obviously} as an afternoon snack. I’ve done everything from infusing water with these guys, to spiralizing them in salads, and layering them with soft cheese wedges.

And then I remembered that I had yet to make one of my favorite cucumber snacks – tzatziki dip! This wonderfully tangy appetizer is one of my favorites – in fact, a Greek restaurant right in our downtown area makes perhaps one of the best I’ve had. I’ll eat it by the spoonful, it’s that’s delicious.

With the idea set in mind, and friends coming over for a night of cocktails/games/cooking, I knew that this would be an excellent time to tweak my recipe. Oftentimes made with sour cream and whole fat yogurt, I wanted to lighten this up slightly so that it would still be delicious, but with healthier benefits. By swapping out the aforementioned yogurt with 0% Greek, the creamy consistency is not lost, nor is flavor. The tart bite of this yogurt pairs perfectly with the zangy lemon. Fresh, spicy garlic is added in for flavor, and dill acts as the balancing beam between the flavors. A little salt and pepper rounds it all out – you’re left with nothing but a bowl of dip so bursting with flavor {and protein! thanks to the Greek yogurt} you won’t miss a thing.

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Tzatziki {makes about 3 cups}

This not only makes a wonderful dip to set out amongst other appetizers, but I absolutely love to spread it on veggie sandwiches, or use it as a topping on salads. To really ensure full flavor, make it a few hours before serving, to let the flavors truly marry together.  

Ingredients:

3 cups of Greek yogurt {I used Chobani 0%}

1 large cucumber, washed and dried well

juice of 1 fresh lemon

3 large clove garlic, minced

1-2 tbsp. dried dill, or to suit your taste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Using a box grater on the largest side, process the cucumber. I prefer to leave the skin on, as I like the crisp texture and vitamin boost it provides. If using a cucumber with seeds, grate only the fleshy outer area.

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Squeeze out any excess water and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the minced garlic, lemon juice, dill, and salt and pepper. Whisk in the Greek yogurt until combined. Fold in the grated cucumber using a spatula, making sure to fully incorporate.

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Serve alongside assorted veggies, pita bread, and crackers! Dip will last 4 days, tightly covered, in the refrigerator…though it never seems to last more than a day or so in our household ; )

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Let’s Discuss: what’s your favorite brand of Greek yogurt? Do you prefer cooking with a certain variety?