Baked BLT Dip


BLT Dip

I stumbled across a couple of recipes for this dip on Super Bowl weekend, and being a lover of the infamous BLT, I just had to try it. I took things from both recipes I found, and combined them to make a scrumptious appetizer. I substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream to make this a tad healthier, and if you want to further reduce calories and fat content, you can cut the mayo in half to just a half of a cup, which will produce a bit thicker of a dip (but still yummy).

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked, drained, crumbled & divided
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Roma tomatoes (or 1 large regular), seeded, chopped & divided
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. Set aside ½ cup crumbled bacon.
  3. Mix mayonnaise, greek yogurt, and cream cheese in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Crumble bacon into mixture and stir.
  4. Add cheddar cheese, green onions, garlic powder, and one tomato, mix well.
  5. Spoon mixture into a shallow dish or pie pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling.
  6. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes, remaining crumbled bacon, lettuce and green onions over hot dip.
  7. Serve immediately with your favorite crackers or chips.

BLT Dip 3

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Mexican Tostada


Delicious Mexican Tostada

Yesterday, I found myself craving Mexican food… maybe because I felt it only right to do my part in celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Breakfast was easy – I made a Mexican quesadilla, but couldn’t decide on something quick and easy for dinner. I love enchiladas, but wanted something simpler. I then thought about tacos, which were appealing, however, desired a dish with a crunch, so a tostada seemed to fit the bill. I was having a very lazy Sunday at home, and wanted to continue on that same path, thus made this as easy as possible by using canned refried beans and store-bought tostada shells. My normal method would be to make these from scratch, but honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood to go the extra mile last night. It was all about easy, breezy and tasty… and thankfully, that it was! As I made this just for me, I didn’t do much measuring, but will try to give you some idea as to how much you’ll need for two servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 tostada shells
  • 1 can (15 oz.) refried beans
  • 1/8 head iceberg lettuce, seasoned with salt & vinegar
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • Guacamole (or 1/2 chopped avocado)
  • 2 oz. Mexican four cheese blend (or you favorite kind)
  • 4 tbsp. salsa
  • A small handful of cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat refried beans in a frying pan on medium low until warm.
  2. Chop lettuce into thin slices and add a little salt (about 1/8 tsp.) and vinegar (about 1/4 tsp.).
  3. Place tostada shells in oven at 350°F on baking sheet or oven rack, and heat for 3-4 minutes, until you can smell the aroma of them. Be careful not to burn.
  4. To assemble, place tostadas on a plate, spread the warm/hot refried beans on top, sprinkle a little cheese on top of the beans, then the seasoned lettuce, some chopped tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, a skosh more cheese (if desired), and topped off with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Tostada

Obviously, you can add additional toppings, like chopped onion, sliced jalapeños, sour cream, etc. and tailor this to your liking. I ate this like a slice of pizza, just a little bit more carefully. 

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Queso Blanco Dip


When I lived in Atlanta, I used to frequent a restaurant called La Fonda, that served a lick-the-bowl-clean queso dip which honestly, is one of the main reasons I would go there. I’ve yet to find a restaurant here in LA that comes remotely close, so I decided to try to duplicate it at home. Since it’s been about ten years since I’ve had that incredible dip, it’s hard for me to compare, but I can tell you this one is truly yummy!

Queso Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. White American cheese, cubed or broken into pieces (can be found behind the deli counter at most grocery stores)
  • 2 tbsp. diced green chiles
  • 1 pickled jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. pickled jalapeño juice
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Pinch of ground cumin, optional

Directions

  1. Toss all ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 4 minutes, stirring every minute. This will start out watery, but will form into a nice, runny dip. Be careful… the bowl will get hot.
  2. Serve immediately with chips.

Note: Microwave ovens vary, so this may take less or more than four minutes – mine took a little over three. 

Tip: The dip will thicken as it cools, so if you want to maintain the thinner consistency, keep it warm in a small crock pot on low.

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Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup


Back in January, I came down with a bout of the flu, and had little to no energy, with not much of an appetite. But, knowing that I had to eat, I wanted something warm and comforting that would require minimal effort on my part. The first thing that came to mind, was my crock pot, and what naturally followed was soup. I’ve always been a fan of baked potato soup, although I had never made it before. I perused quite a few recipes online and  decided to adjust a couple that looked really tasty. The end result thoroughly pleased me, and definitely hit the spot!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (32 oz) frozen O’Brien diced hash brown potatoes
  • 1 carton (32-oz) Progresso® chicken broth
  • 1 bag (8 oz) shredded American-Cheddar cheese blend (2 cups), plus additional for garnish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I use light)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce (optional)
  • ¼ cup real bacon pieces (from 2.8-oz package)
  • 4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup) for garnish

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in a skillet or microwave until crispy. Crumble & set half aside. Reserve 1 tbsp bacon drippings to add to crock pot (optional, but recommended).
  2. Put all ingredients in slow cooker, except for green onions and half of bacon.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Garnish with bacon pieces, green onion and additional shredded cheese (and sour cream, if desired).

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Tuna Penne Casserole w/Popchips Topping


Yesterday, I was craving some kind of “comfort food” and was trying to come up with ideas of what I could make with things I already had on hand.  My Mom used to make tuna noodle casserole when I was a child that was absolutely amazing, so I decided I’d try to make a modified version of hers. And while most people think of comfort food as unhealthy or fattening, I tried to keep this recipe as healthy as possible. I didn’t have any thick noodles in the house (which, come to think of it, I’m not sure if I’ve ever bought them), but did have penne pasta in the cupboard. Most tuna casseroles call for a breadcrumb topping and I immediately thought of using Popchips instead. I must say, it was a brilliant idea! I had/have three flavors in the house; barbeque, cheddar and sour cream and onion, and decided to go with the sour cream & onion. I think their parmesan garlic would be awesome, too (will have to try that next time)!

Ingredients

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup (like Campbell’s Healthy Request)
  • 1/2 lb. (half of 1 lb. box) penne pasta (or you can use the traditional wide noodles)
  • 1/4 can of peas
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1/8 cup skim milk
  • 2 handfuls of 2% Mexican four cheese blend
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • Popchips crumbs (about 15)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add pasta and cook for approximately 8 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  3. Get a 11×7 casserole dish and lightly grease with some of the butter. (This will prevent the casserole from sticking & also add some flavor that you won’t get from cooking spray.)
  4. Put drained can of tuna in mixing bowl and break up with a fork.
  5. Add mushroom soup, sour cream, milk, peas, shredded cheese and garlic powder to tuna and mix well.
  6. Stir in pasta and blend all ingredients together.
  7. Transfer contents to casserole dish and even the top (so it’s flat). Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan, then Popchips crumbs (I crumbled them with my hands).
  8. Melt remaining butter and drizzle over top of casserole.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes.
  10. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Creamy Cheese Grits


If you’re from the South, then you know ALL about grits. If you’re not familiar with them, they are a staple in every Southerner’s kitchen and can be found on practically every restaurant menu in the Southern states. They mainly consist of hominy (dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali) and are similar to polenta. Grits can be served hot or cold and as a base for a multitude of dishes from breakfast to dessert, depending on the additives. Shrimp with grits is a very common dish on the east or Gulf coast. It is also common for people from above the Mason-Dixon line to have sugar with their grits. So, now that you got the low-down on grits, I suggest you try out this recipe and enjoy a good ol’ Southern dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) chicken broth
  • 2 cups low-fat or fat-free milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream (see below for healthier/lighter options)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
  • 3/4 cup shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Place a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the broth, milk, cream & salt. Slowly whisk in the grits.
  2. When grits begin to bubble, turn heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.
  3. Allow to cook about 10 minutes or until thickened and smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses, hot sauce & pepper. Thin out with a little extra milk, if desired.

* To make this lighter/reduce calories, you can omit the cream altogether & substitute water or increase the chicken broth or milk. Ratio is 1 cup grits to 4 cups liquid.

Healthy Snacks


I want to talk about snacks and give you some low-calorie options for when hunger strikes in-between meals. It’s a good idea to have a snack to keep your metabolism going and the ones listed here, are only about 150 calories each! So, whether you’re watching your weight or just need a little something to hold you over ’til lunch or dinner, these are all guilt-free and pretty tasty.

  • 1 oz. healthy nuts (47 pistachios or 24 almonds or peanuts)
  • 2 whole-grain crackers with 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup baby carrots with 1/2 cup hummus
  • 6 oz. nonfat yogurt with 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 3 cups popcorn (popped in 2 tsp canola oil)
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple with 1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup fresh fruit with 1 part-skim string cheese
  • 1 cup whole-grain cereal (such as Cheerios) with 1/2 cup skim or 1% milk & 1/2 cup slice strawberries
  • English muffin pizza: 1/2 whole-grain English muffin with 1 tbsp tomato sauce & 1/2 oz low-fat mozzarella cheese (add green pepper and onion slices on top if you’d like)
  • 1 apple with 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal with sliced almonds (about 5) and 1/2 cup skim or 1% milk
  • 1 oz. low-fat cheese with 3 whole-wheat crackers
  • 1/2 small whole-wheat tortilla with 2 slices turkey (or tofurkey), 1 slice tomato and 1 small slice avocado
  • 12 whole-grain corn chips and 1/2 cup salsa
  • Fruit smoothie: 1 cup skim or 1% milk blended with 3/4 cup berries

The “BEST” Queso Dip


I will not claim that this is the best queso on this planet; however, I will say, that it’s out of this world! 

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican Four-Cheese mix
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mango salsa
  • 2 (heaping) tbsp cream cheese

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. Stir in cornstarch, then sour cream.
  3. When mix becomes hot and bubbly, stir in the cheese blend, cream cheese and salsa.
  4. Continue stirring until cheeses melt and mixture thickens, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Serve with tortilla chip or veggies.

If you want to add a little spice,  drop a couple of splashes of hot sauce in the last few minutes of cooking.