Creamy Salsa Yogurt Dip

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With all the sports games on TV, and with the Super Bowl coming up, you may be looking for some different dip recipes to snack on as you’re watching! It’s always nice to have some healthier options and this is a yummy dip that’s a little more on the healthy side. It’s made with yogurt, salsa, a little bit of light mayo, and some seasoning. Shredded cheese is optional, but I really like it with the cheese, even though it’s not quite as healthy that way! The dip shown here is made with Pepper Jack cheese, which gives it a little extra spice. So, keep this in mind for the games!

CREAMY SALSA YOGURT DIP by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes about 2 cups of dip

  • 1 cup plain yogurt (use a thicker yogurt–I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt; you can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 2/3 cup chunky-style Salsa (use your favorite brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Ranch Dip Mix
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Optional: 1 cup shredded Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese

Combine yogurt, salsa, mayonnaise, Ranch seasoning, and chili powder in a medium size bowl, stirring until smooth. Add in cheese, if using, and blend well. Cover and chill for at least one hour or as long as one day before serving. Serve with assorted veggies (carrots, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, broccoli) or tortilla chips.

What types of healthy snacks do you like to make?

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Cranberry Orange Banana Smoothie

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I usually have a few bags of frozen cranberries in my freezer this time of year. During the holidays, I buy a some extra bags of fresh cranberries and freeze them so I can use them later–for recipes that I come across like this one, which I found at Williams-Sonoma. The cranberry-orange flavors in this smoothie are so good together and I used honey to sweeten it (you can also use agave nectar). It has just the right amount of sweetness and if you like cranberries, I’m sure you will love this smoothie!

yogurt-24_vanillaI like using thicker, creamy yogurts in my smoothies, like Greek yogurt, but in this smoothie I used Green Valley Organics Lactose Free Vanilla Yogurt. I had received a complimentary sample to try out, and I really liked it. This yogurt has a thick, creamy texture–perfect for smoothies! In addition to being organic and lactose free (which is important for those of you who are lactose intolerant), it’s also gluten free and has less sugar than other yogurts, so it’s very healthy!

Hope you get to try out this yummy winter smoothie–perfect for a quick, easy breakfast. Maybe not in zero-degree weather, but great for a warmer winter day! :)

CRANBERRY ORANGE BANANA SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Makes about 20 ounces, or 2 (10-ounce) servings

Add all ingredients to your blender and blend on high speed until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

It feels good to eat a little healthier after all that holiday food! Are you trying to eat healthier after the holidays too?

Linked to Tidy Mom–I’m Lovin’ It.

Frosted Yogurt Sugar Cookie Squares

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I wasn’t quite sure what to call these when I got done making them. My goal was to make sugar cookies, but to make it easier and quicker, I decided to spread the batter in a 10 x 15″ pan and make sugar cookie bars. But after I cut some of them into squares and took a bite, it kind of tasted like a sugar cookie sheet cake. I put the rest in the refrigerator, and the next day I finished cutting them into squares. Guess what? After these were refrigerated, they tasted more like sugar cookies–very thick sugar cookies! They’re actually good both ways. I thought it would be safe to call these “sugar cookie squares” because that name fits either way–whether you think it’s a cake or a cookie!

YOG6ozPLAIN_RHF_JUL2013-300x280And you probably noticed that “yogurt” is also part of the name of these squares. I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt in this recipe–in both the dough and the frosting. This yogurt is smooth, thick, and so creamy–if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it! I thought it gave these sugar cookie squares a great chewy texture and made the frosting extra creamy. Just add some sprinkles on top and you have a yummy treat to enjoy for the holidays!

FROSTED YOGURT SUGAR COOKIE SQUARES by NancyCreative

Makes a 10 x 15″ pan

  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I used Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups unbleached flour

Yogurt Frosting:

  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 6 Tablespoons plain or vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Line a 10 x 15″ baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

In small bowl, mix plain yogurt and baking soda; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Blend in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and yogurt mixture from small bowl. Gradually add in flour, a cup at a time, beating well after each addition.

Spread cookie dough evenly into lined 10 x 15″ pan. Bake at 350˚F  for 25 to 28 minutes, until just very lightly golden at edges and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cookies cool completely in pan.

Remove from pan by carefully lifting up with edges of parchment paper. Set on kitchen counter or table and spread frosting over uncut cookies, then add colorful sprinkles. Let frosting set, then cut into squares.

To make frosting: Put yogurt into a medium size bowl, then add powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well. The mixture will be thick! If you want it thinner, just use less powdered sugar.

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Do you use Goat Milk Yogurt or any other kind of yogurt in your baking or cooking?

I received some complimentary Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk products to use in my holiday baking, but the opinions expressed about the product are entirely my own. 

 

Orange Creamsicle Muffins

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Are you a fan of Orange Creamsicles? I used to eat those a lot when I was a kid! If you like that orangey, creamy taste, you’ll probably enjoy these pretty and puffy rounded-top muffins. They have a great orange flavor and the white baking morsels give them an extra creaminess. They’re finished off with a yummy orange glaze and more of those creamy white baking morsels, coarsely chopped up. This recipe makes about 14 to 15 regular-size muffins.

ORANGE CREAMSICLE MUFFINS

Makes 14 to 15 muffins

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/2 cup milk or Half & Half
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 1/2 Tablespoon orange zest (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup white (vanilla) baking morsels (aka white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a regular-size muffin pan with paper liners. In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; blend together and set aside. In medium bowl, mix sugar and oil together, blending well; then mix in milk (or Half & Half), egg, yogurt, orange juice concentrate, orange zest, and orange extract; mix until well blended. Add this mixture, half at a time, to flour mixture and stir until blended, but don’t overmix! Fold in the white baking morsels. Spoon batter (the batter will be thick) into muffin cups, filling them between 2/3 and 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean (muffins will be lightly browned on top). Cool 5-10 minutes and remove from pan, then cool completely on a wire rack. While waiting for the muffins to cool, you can mix the glaze…

ORANGE GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed and undiluted
  • 1/2 Tablespoon milk or half & half
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons white (vanilla) baking morsels, coarsely chopped, for garnish

Mix powdered sugar, orange juice concentrate, and milk together in small bowl and blend well, until sugar is dissolved. This will be a thicker glaze. Spoon over muffins and sprinkle some coarsely chopped white baking morsels on top. Let glaze set for at least 10 to 15 minutes, then serve.

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I think orange is a great muffin flavor! Do you have a favorite orange muffin recipe?

Strawberry Citrus Flax Smoothie

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Smoothies are a summer staple for me–they’re so refreshing in the hot weather! Here’s a great strawberry smoothie recipe I like to make. I love strawberries in just about anything. And I especially like this smoothie because it has healthy flaxseed in it.

LinwoodRecently, I received some samples of different healthy flaxseed superfood blends to try out from Linwoods. The items I’m trying are:

  • Flaxseed & Goji Berries
  • Flaxseed, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, & Q10
  • Flaxseed Cocoa & Berries
  • Flax, Sunflower, Pumpkin & Sesame Seeds & Goji Berries

I also received some Shelled Hemp, which I had never tried before, but it was great mixed into some Greek yogurt for breakfast! You can use it just as you would use flaxseed meal.

I’m sprinkling these blends over cereal and oatmeal, and mixing them into smoothies, for an extra healthy dose of fiber and nutrients. You could add these blends to many other foods, too, for a healthy boost–like salads, soups, casseroles, pasta, and stir fry. Or try mixing into your baked goods to make them a little healthier! I really like the variety of the Linwood blends and all the healthy ingredients that are combined with their flaxseed. These blends are available at Whole Foods; Bed, Bath, and Beyond; Fresh Market and other select stores.

I used the Linwood Flaxseed and Goji Berries blend in this smoothie, but you can use any type of ground flaxseed that you prefer. It’s a super healthy way to start your day!

STRAWBERRY-FLAX SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative

Makes about two 10-oz. servings

  • 1 heaping cup frozen strawberries
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (I like using Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup orange juice or grapefruit juice (use smaller amount if you want it a little thicker)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 banana
  • 3 ice cubes

Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and frothy.

This smoothie makes a great breakfast or healthy snack during the hot summer months! Have you tried mixing in flaxseed or other types of fiber to your smoothies?

Pineapple Mango Green Smoothie

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Yesterday was just too hot to cook! So I thought I’d make a smoothie. I’ve seen lots of healthy green smoothie recipes on the web and decided to try making my own. I was particularly inspired by some of the recipes I found at Green Smoothies Rule. The recipes I looked at had spinach in them–I’ve never made one with spinach, so I was curious to see how it would taste. I really did like it, and all the ingredients are so healthy and good for you! I read that spinach is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium and other good things. So if you want to make something cool, yummy, and healthy, you’ll want to try this out! There is a very slight spinach taste to this, so if you want less of that, use two bananas in this recipe instead of one (I’m noting that in the recipe, too).

PINEAPPLE MANGO GREEN SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative

Makes about 28 ounces, or 2 to 3 servings

  • 3/4 to 1 cup well-packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup small chunks of fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup small chunks of fresh mango
  • 1 banana (use 2 bananas if you want to mask the slight spinach flavor more)
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt or soy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk or soy milk (if you want a thinner smoothie, use 3/4 cup)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until well-blended (you may have to help stir the mixture along with a spoon at first). Serve immediately. Makes 2 to 3 servings.

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VARIATIONS: You can substitute other fruits for the pineapple and mango: green grapes, apples, pears, peaches, and/or cantaloupe. You could also add 1/4 to 1/2 of an avocado to make the smoothie really creamy.

This is a great, healthy way to start the day or give you some energy in the afternoon!

Have you made any green smoothies yet? Do you have a favorite recipe for one?

Very Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

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I realized I hadn’t made anything chocolate in awhile! I found this recipe from Savoring Time in the Kitchen last year, so I thought it was about time I tried it out! :) The original recipe is for chocolate zucchini bread, but I decided to make muffins instead and made a few small changes…like using canola oil instead of vegetable oil and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I also added a little more chocolate chips to the batter. The recipe makes almost 2 dozen (22 to 23) really good, moist, chocolatey muffins–or you can make four mini-loaves instead (baking time will be longer). These muffins are moist yet cakey, too, and they have nice rounded tops. They’re a very yummy way to use that zucchini from your garden this summer!

VERY CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS by NancyCreative, adapted from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Makes 22 to 23 muffins (or 4 mini loaves)

  • 2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate (two 1-ounce squares)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil or non-GMO canola oil
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (or lite sour cream)
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet mini or regular chocolate chips (I prefer using the mini’s)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pans with paper liners (if making mini-loaves, grease and flour 4 mini-loaf pans).

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave baking chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, yogurt, grated zucchini, vanilla, and melted chocolate; blend well. Stir in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon (optional), and cocoa powder. Then fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Spoon into lined muffin cups or 4 mini-loaf pans.

Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If making mini-loaves, the original recipe says to bake those for 45 minutes. You might want to check the loaves around 40 minutes, just to be on the safe side…especially if your oven tends to run hot!

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Zucchini always makes baked goods so nice and moist. What do you like to bake with zucchini?

Caramel Toffee Banana Bread with Caramel Glaze

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Like many of you, when I have bananas that are getting too ripe, I like to make banana bread–especially during the cooler months of fall and winter (in the summer I put the bananas in the freezer and use them for smoothies). A few days ago, I had some bananas that were really getting ripe. I’ve been having fun lately trying out different kinds of banana bread recipes, like Pumpkin Banana Bread, for example. So I thought I’d try another flavor and found a recipe for Caramel Toffee Banana Bread on a blog called Baking Junkie, which I modified by adding extra toffee bits, a caramel glaze, and even more toffee bits sprinkled on top (I also used caramel topping instead of caramel syrup). It was really yummy! Caramel and toffee are such great fall flavors, and it’s a delicious combination with bananas. This bread is very dense and moist, too. It’s great for breakfast with a hot cup of coffee, or even as a dessert at lunch or dinnertime. This recipe makes one 9×5″ loaf.

CARAMEL TOFFEE BANANA BREAD WITH CARAMEL GLAZE by NancyCreative, adapted from Baking Junkie

Makes a 9 x 5″ loaf

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup caramel topping (I used Smucker’s®; Hershey’s® is another good brand)
  • 3/4 cup Heath® Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan (I forgot to flour my pan, and I did have some sticking on the bottom when taking the baked loaf out, so be sure to grease and flour your pan!).

In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add eggs, mixing well. Add in sour cream or plain yogurt and blend well; set aside.

In medium bowl, blend flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add this dry mixture to the egg mixture and blend until ingredients are combined. Add in mashed bananas, caramel topping, and toffee chips and mix until well-blended.

Pour or spoon batter into your prepared 9×5″ loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (Note: the recipe I adapted had a baking time of 60 minutes, but mine took 70 minutes to bake). Let loaf cool in pan for 10-15 minutes; then remove from pan and cool completely before adding glaze.

GLAZE INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup caramel topping, heated
  • 1/2 Tablespoon half & half
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Heath® Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee Bits (for sprinkling on top)

In small microwavable bowl, heat 1/4 cup caramel topping for about 20-30 seconds so it has a thinner consistency. Remove from microwave and stir in half & half, blending well. Add in powdered sugar and blend well. If you have lumps, put mixture back in microwave and heat 15-30 seconds more, then stir until lumps are gone. If you’d like the glaze to have a thinner consistency, add a little more caramel topping (heated up) to the mixture. Drizzle glaze with a spoon over your completely cooled loaf, then sprinkle with brickle bits. Let glaze set 10-15 minutes, or longer, before slicing.

Note: this glaze is “gooier” than the typical glaze, so if you are taking this to a potluck or meal outside of your home, consider adding the glaze on the bread when you get there or carry it in a container that won’t touch the glaze; if you try to wrap the glazed bread with plastic wrap, it will get sticky and messy. But the bread and glaze are so good, it’s worth the trouble! :)

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Hope you get to try this out! Do you have a favorite banana bread recipe you like to make?

Linked to Sweets for a Saturday, Strut Your Stuff.

Pumpkin Banana Bread with Pumpkin Glaze

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I really like pumpkin bread. I really like banana bread, too. I had some ripe bananas I was needing to use up, so I decided to google Pumpkin Banana Bread and found a great-sounding recipe at About.comwhich I modified a little. I was really happy with how it turned out! It’s a wonderfully moist bread (how could it not be with pumpkin and bananas in it?) and not overly sweet, so it’s perfect for breakfast or brunch (or any time of day, for that matter).

I added a pumpkin glaze and chopped walnuts on top, and the glaze adds a nice extra touch of pumpkiny sweetness to the bread. If you’re watching your sugar intake, the bread is good without the glaze, too, and you can add chopped nuts to the batter instead of sprinkling them on top. Remember to grease and flour your pans well when you make this, and the bread will come out really easily. This recipe makes two 9×5″ loaves…you can eat one now, and freeze the other for later! :)

PUMPKIN-BANANA BREAD by NancyCreative (adapted from About.com)

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) from a 15-ounce can–you’ll use the remaining pumpkin for the Pumpkin Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 large) ripe, mashed bananas
  • 1 1/3 cups (or 12 ounces) vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional–I didn’t add nuts to my batter)
  • Pumpkin glaze (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (for sprinkling over glaze)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9×5″ loaf pans and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and allspice until combined; set aside.

In large bowl, mix pumpkin, mashed bananas, yogurt, oil, eggs, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Add the flour mixture–half of it at a time–and mix until ingredients are combined. Fold in walnuts or pecans (optional).

Divide batter between the two prepared loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let the loaves cool for about 10-15 minutes in the pans, then remove from pans and cool completely before adding glaze.

PUMPKIN GLAZE

  • 2 Tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar (start with one cup and add more if you want a thicker glaze–I just used one cup, but think I’ll add a little more next time)
  • Remaining pumpkin from your 15-ounce can (which should be about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

In small bowl, whisk whipping cream and powdered sugar together until well-blended. Add pumpkin (and cinnamon, if desired) and blend until smooth. If your mixture has any lumps, just put it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, and then mix again, and it will be nice and smooth. Drizzle glaze over cooled loaves with a spoon, and let glaze set before slicing.

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Are you a pumpkin and banana-lover, too? You’ll have to let me know how you like this bread!

Linked to Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Sweets for a Saturday, Somewhat Simple, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday.

Mediterranean Blend Veggies with Fresh Lemon Dressing and Southwestern Blend Veggies ‘n Chicken

I made these delicious and healthy organic veggies the other day, using the Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value Mediterranean Blend frozen vegetables. I added a Fresh Lemon Dressing on top, which was a nice lemony, tangy, finishing touch.

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I also made this yummy chicken and veggie dish with the organic Southwestern Blend frozen vegetables, also from Whole Foods.

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I mentioned in an earlier post that these are some of the new organic frozen food products in the Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value line. There are so many veggies and fruits to choose from, ncWFVeggiesbut the Southwestern and Mediterranean Blends are among their newest products. They can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, and many other ways. And they’re great just the way they are as a side dish with your meal.

Here are my recipes if you’d like to try them out. They’re really good and good for you!

MEDITERRANEAN BLEND VEGGIES WITH FRESH LEMON DRESSING 

  • 1 (16-oz.) package Mediterranean Blend frozen vegetables (a blend of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, green beans, red peppers, and onions)

 FRESH LEMON DRESSING (adapted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas )

  • 4 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt

Prepare vegetables according to package directions.

To make  lemon dressing, combine lemon peel, lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until thickened. Whisk in sour cream or yogurt.

To serve, drizzle dressing over cooked veggies or serve dressing on the side and dip veggies in dressing. The 16-ounce package of frozen veggies makes about 4 to 5 side servings and the dressing makes 6 to 8 servings, so you’ll have a little dressing left over–you can save that for a salad!

SOUTHWESTERN BLEND VEGGIES WITH CHICKEN

  • 1 (16-0z.) package Southwestern Blend frozen veggies (a blend of onions and red and green peppers)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked, chopped-up chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken I had purchased)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Carefully add frozen vegetables to the skillet and saute 5 minutes. Add chopped chicken and saute 2 more minutes, or until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper or your favorite seasoning and serve. Makes 4 servings.

These are both really quick and easy recipes, and so healthy! Hope you get a chance to try them sometime!