Greek Yogurt and Walnut Dip

Food

Working at Chobani, I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate Greek Yogurt into my cooking. Aside from being a great snack or mini-meal, the yogurt’s thick and creamy texture make it a healthy, versatile ingredient to cook with, and can be used as a substitute for butter, oil, cream cheese, mayo and, most commonly, sour cream.

While I’ve used Chobani yogurt in Swedish meatballs, tuna fish salad, shrimp tacos, bean dip, cheesecake and salad dressing, my simplest rendition was created using the recipe I’m featuring today: Yogurt, Dill and Walnut Dip. 

I originally found the recipe on Real Simple and love how few ingredients it takes to make a filling and healthy snack. Because – let’s be honest – dip is addicting, so the healthier the better!

INGREDIENTS

  • cups Plain Chobani Greek yogurt
  • clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, garlic, walnuts, dill and kosher salt.
  2. Top with additional chopped dill and walnuts.
  3. Serve with carrots or pita chips.
  4. Enjoy!
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HOW TO BE MORE CREATIVE IN 2017

Inspiration

New year, new you right? At this point we’re all focusing on the resolutions we made last weekend, promising ourselves that this year would be our year and that the next 365 days will bring greater satisfaction and contentment than any other year has ever seen before!

…Perhaps a wee bit dramatic but, then again, our new year’s resolutions typically are, right?

This year add another, and totally obtainable, resolution to your list by resolving to be more creative! While this can easily be reached in a number of different ways, check out my suggestions below if you are seeking a little inspiration:

Get inspired! One of the most important steps in being creative is being cognizant of where your inspiration comes from. Whether it’s books, television, poetry, film, spending time with friends and family or whathaveyou, embrace that which inspires you!

For example, I gifted myself some inspiration post-Christmas with this fabulous t-shirt:

🐉"Newt Scamander: Magizoologist" #fantasticbeastsandwheretofindthem #nerdculture #christmasgifttomyself

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Invest in new supplies. Everyone likes new toys. By treating yourself to some new art supplies or kitchen appliances, you’re much more likely to get into your workspace and actually create.

 

Consider a daily calendar. Last year I made use of the “Craft-a-Day 2016 Day-to-Day Calendar: 366 Simple Handmade Projects” desk calendar, which featured a new craft every day. While I never actually completed the crafts presented in the calendar, having it sit on my desk was a great reminder to be creative on a daily basis, and provided me with some fun ideas for future art pieces and crafts.

Try new things. If you like to cook, try new recipes. If you’re an artist, try new media. If you’re all out of inspiration, step outside of your comfort zone and make it a priority to experience new things. Go see a play, experience nature in a new way, try taking a creative course or learn a new skill.

Keep an idea book. Before there was Pinterest, many creatives would (and many still do) keep idea books. Invest in a sketchbook or notebook in which you can write, draw, paint, collage and paste all of your musings and inspirations. It’s so easy to get caught up in your mind and allow the intimidation of a blank page hold you back. Break that barrier by letting loose in your idea book!

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So while I hope you are able to stick to all of your 2017 resolutions, I especially hope that you find this year to be one filled with copious amounts of inspiration and creativity. Cheers to perpetual creation!

Feature photo retrieved from https://unsplash.com/search/creativity?photo=bYOi200uQ6w

How to Make Muddy Buddies

Food

This time of year, it’s easy to become cookied-out. In other words, feel as if one more Christmas cookie will simply cause you to burst, being as sick of them as you are.

So what sweet treat do you make when planning for a New Year’s Eve get together? Simplest answer: Muddy Buddies.

One of the easiest dessert snacks you can make in THE entire world, this treat is immensely satisfying and (quite frankly) a bit addicting.

Ingredients:

  • 9 cups of wheat Chex cereal
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Directions:

  • Measure your cereal out into a large bowl
  • Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together in the microwave (approximately 1 minute)
  • Stir your melted ingredients
  • If not fully melted, place in the microwave for an additional 30 seconds
  • Stir in the vanilla extract
  • Pour melted ingredients over top of the cereal
  • Mix everything together
  • Place the coated Chex cereal into a sealed plastic bag with the confectioners’ sugar
  • Shake it up!
  • Lay the Muddy buddies out on waxed or parchment paper to cool
  • Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or in a cool space
  • Enjoy!

Whether you’ve made these a million times or are a muddy buddies novice, I know you will enjoy this sweet and savory treat!

*Recipe and featured image retrieved from Chex.com

 

How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Food

If you’re looking for a fall food favorite that’s simple to make while still encapsulating the essence of the season, then you’re best bet is homemade applesauce. Requiring a mere five ingredients, this recipe is as easy as it is delicious.

What you’ll need:

  • 4-6 apples (I use Cortland apples myself, but any red variety of apple will do.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg

Directions:

  • Peel your apples and cut them into cubes.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker.
  • If using a large pot, cook on medium heat for twenty minutes, or until apples become soft. Mash with a fork if necessary or until desired texture is achieved.
  • If using a crock pot, cook on low heat for 2-6 hours. (Cater the cooking time to your preferred texture of applesauce.)
  • Enjoy immediately OR store is a freezer-safe container and enjoy up to a year later!

The perfect fall addition to your Thanksgiving Day menu!

*This recipe has been adapted by the author, but the original recipe was retrieved from AllRecipes.com.

Our 2nd Annual Oktoberfest

Festivity, Food

Growing up in an Italian household, I never had much exposure to German culture. That changed when I met Andy. Being more than fifty percent German, he possesses a passion for the culture of his heritage, particularly when it comes to food and drink.

Although neither of us have actually been to Germany, visiting Disney World’s Epcot theme park last summer inspired us to participate in Germany’s most famous festival: Oktoberfest.10502479_10153149017179064_3639388602894563004_n

While our ultimate goal is to one day attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, we thought, for the time being, it would be fun to have our own little take on the festivities within our own home.

What does this translate to? Well, basically a copious amount of home-cooked German foods and Oktoberfest brews. Last year, we went all out in cooking German cuisine and while most recipes remained on the menu, we decided to try a few new things as well.

OUR 2016 OKTOBERFEST MENU:

Appetizers:

  • Homemade Oktoberfest-style Pretzels
  • Horseradish Cheese Dip

FullSizeR (13).jpgMain Course:

  • Homemade Applesauce
  • Beer Bread
  • Potato Salad
  • Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Apples
  • Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Dessert:

  • Layered Black Forest Cake 

Drinks:

  • Goose Island’s Oktoberfest
  • Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest
  • Apple Frost Wine from Fly Creek Cider Mill

The new additions included the Horseradish Cheese Dip (purchased at Fly Creek Cider Mill), Beer Bread, Layered Black Forest Cake, Goose Island’s Oktoberfest and Fly Creek Cider Mill’s Apple Frost Wine.

While we purchased the Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest last year as well, this company has a unique practice of partnering with a different German brewery every fall to create a memorable brew year after year.

The 2016 Oktoberfest rendition, a result of a partnership with Mahrs Brau (established 1670) is especially satisfying and perhaps one of the best Oktoberfest beers that Andy and I have ever tasted.

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That being said, the Goose Island version is pretty tasty as well…FullSizeR (12).jpg

So although neither of us have ever been to Germany, our German spirits are certainly high. Having our own Oktoberfest celebration is our way of saluting the culture and the fabulous cuisine it has to offer.

Stay tuned for recipes!

Spicy Football Sunday Bean Dip

Food

In our household, as in most households, football Sundays are associated with cooking tailgate-style foods.

While we try to change it up from week to week, making chicken wings, jalapeño poppers, cheese dip and other assorted goodies, this spicy bean dip has become a football Sunday staple.

Extremely simple to put together and requiring few ingredients, this hot and savory dip is the fastest way to enjoying a perfect game day.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1(16 ounce) container of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (Being as I work at Chobani, I use Plain Chobani yogurt instead of sour cream)
  • 1(16 ounce) can of refried beans
  • 1(8 ounce) package of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup or 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 3-4 jalapeño peppers
  • 2 cups of Mexican blend and/or cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix all ingredients except for the shredded cheese together in baking dish. (I highly recommend leaving the cream cheese out ahead of time to soften, making it easier to mix).
  3. Mix in half of the cheese.
  4. Slice your jalapeño peppers and lay the slices on top of the dip.
  5. Spread the remaining shredded cheese on top.
  6. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese on top is thoroughly melted.
  7. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

 

How to Cook Butternut Squash in the Slow Cooker

Food

To me, butternut squash is everything you could ever want in a vegetable. It’s versatile, beautifully colored and rich, making it the perfect ingredient for fall and winter cooking.

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While making it the main component of a soup or casserole is a fan-favorite idea, there is nothing quite like a simple recipe, allowing you to truly enjoy the flavor of the vegetable.

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Having grown butternut squash in our garden this year, I was really looking forward to enjoying the rich and satisfying taste of the squash without loading it up with cream, butter or cheese.

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That being said, one of the easiest ways to cook butternut squash is in the slow cooker. While you can throw the whole thing in (skin and all) to make mashed squash, follow these instructions if you are going for a more roasted technique:

  1. Peel your squash and cut it into cubes.img_0737
  2. Place the cubes in your slow cooker.
  3. Mix in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Add kosher salt and ground pepper to taste.
  5. Cook on high for two hours or low for four hours.
  6. Enjoy!

Italian-Approved Stuffed Shells Recipe

Food

Although I do not look Italian, it is the culture that is my most direct lineage. That being said, I grew up eating a lot of Italian food. Aside from it being my favorite food to eat, it is also my favorite food to cook.

Today, I’m sharing with you a deeply satisfying recipe for stuffed shells, a dish that’s both easy to make and delicious to eat.

What you will need:

1 (16 oz) box of jumbo shells

1 jar of preferred marinara sauce (I like Prego)

1 (32 oz) container of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded

parsley (fresh or dried)

salt

pepper

garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Boil your shells until they are al dente (this means that they are firm, and still have a bit of a crunch to them).
  2. Combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, a ½ cup of mozzarella, parsley, salt, pepper and garlic powder together in a large bowl. IMG_1429-0
  3. Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of your 9×13’’ pan.
  4. Drain the shells and begin stuffing them with your cheese mixture. Be generous in the amount of cheese you are stuffing your shells with.
  5. Next, cover your shells will the remaining sauce. (For an interesting twist, mix in fresh sliced mushrooms with the sauce before pouring the sauce over the shells).
  6. Cover with the remaining mozzarella.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until the shells are heated through and the cheese is bubbly.
  8. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

 

Embraced my roots to cook dinner tonight! #stuffedshells, spicy #Italian sausage and fresh vegetables 🍴

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2015-2016: Top 5 Nonfiction

Inspiration, Review

Continuing on with summer reading, today’s post is all about nonfiction. While a lot of people shy away from this category, thinking it to be dull or uninteresting, I absolutely adore nonfiction.

Why? A few reasons:

  1. It’s broad. Nonfiction could mean anything from how-to books to biographies.
  2. It can teach you. Whether you are educating yourself on a particular topic or teaching yourself a new skill, I love reading for a purpose.
  3. You don’t have to read the whole book. A lot of times, a nonfiction book can serve a purpose in a matter of pages or chapters. You don’t necessarily have to read it cover to cover.

Here are the top 5 nonfiction books that I came across this year:

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  1. “The Bright Bizaar” by Will Taylor

Category: Interior Design/Home Decorating

If you have any interest at all in interior design or decorating, then you absolutely must check out this book. Will Taylor’s sense of style is quirky and unique, while also managing to make complete sense. Having worked at a public library for the past six years, I have seen a lot of home decorating books. This one is my favorite by far.

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2. “The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook” by Dinah Bucholz

Category: Cooking

This cookbook is a lot of fun and has encouraged me to try cooking traditional British cuisine. Whether you are an amateur cook or an expert chef, this book provides recipes for a wide range of skill sets, supplying Harry Potter quotes as it does so! So far I have tried the cauldron cakes and Kreacher’s French Onion Soup, and both of which were delicious!

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3. “Rewire” by Ethan Zuckerman

Category: Anthropology/History/The Internet

I was actually required to read this book for my “Social Media Theory and Practice” course. Despite the fact that it was assigned, I truly enjoyed it! One of those books that will make you think differently about our world and digital landscape, I highly recommend this book to those who have an interest in the internet and the effect it has had on mankind.

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4. “The Art of Frozen” by Charles Solomon

Category: Film/Film Production

I have mentioned this book before, as I love the artwork and the behind-the-scenes look at the animated movie that broke records and won acclaimed awards. I loved reading about the research that went into designing the characters, costumes and architecture present in this Norwegian-inspired movie. If you’re an adult that loves Frozen like I do, then you will love this book.

 

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5. “The Wisdom of Walt” by Jeffrey A. Barnes

Category: Leadership/Success

I discovered this book when working on a PR management project. As a PR major, I wanted to learn more about the most successful communications business man in American history. Aside from supplying great leadership advice, the author is also successful in providing useful personal insight. This book will leave you feeling inspired.

Starting in on my book choice for #PR #management

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If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out my top picks for novels and series! Happy reading!

Popovers

Food

Looking for something different for breakfast? Then I would highly recommend popovers. Easy to make, these pastries reheat well and can act as great on-the-go breakfasts during the week.

All you will need are a handful of ingredients and a muffin tin (if you don’t have a popover tin handy).

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk

1 cup of flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons chilled butter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients except for the chilled butter. The consistency should resemble heavy cream.
  3. Spray your pan with non-stick spray and place on the center rack of your oven. Allow the pan to preheat for 2 minutes.
  4. After the pan is hot, cut the chilled butter into 12 even pieces and put one in each muffin cup. Place the pan back in the oven until the butter is bubbly.
  5. Fill each cup with an even amount of batter and bake 20 minutes.
  6. After 20 minutes, reduce the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.

*Do not open the oven while your popovers are baking. This will affect the consistency.

When they are done, they should look something like this:

#popovers for #breakfast!

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While I like to eat them with butter, you can also pair them with jam or syrup. So next time you are stuck with limited ingredients and are craving something different for breakfast, I hope you give popovers a go!