Homemade Blue Cheese Dressing with Greek Yogurt

I have some uncharacteristic news: I registered to run a half marathon in November! WOAH, right? I know…I am the worst at exercising but yes, I will be running the US Half Marathon in San Francisco on November 3rd, even if that means crawling across the finish line at the 2 hour and 59 minute mark of the race.

I found out about the race from a colleague, finally got the guts to sign up, and started a training plan this week which will eventually increase to running about 40 miles a week. Wildddddd! But I was able to convince Abby (my housemate) and a few other friends to run it with me so we’ll all be training together. I’m so excited!! If you have any race tips, I’d love to hear them!

ALSOOO, a dozen of my Salted Dark Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies will be up for bid during Echoing Good’s Bake For Their Sake Online Bake Sale. The bake sales starts tomorrow, Friday, July 19th at 10am PST, and will run until 2pm on Saturday, July 20th. Echoing Good is a non-profit that works directly with the local community in Gulu, Uganda to develop farms that enable lunch programs in primary schools. The crops grown provide childen with daily nutritious meals, and Echoing Good’s program currently feeds over 1,400 kids every day. I love the vision that Molly, Echoing Good’s founder, holds and am so excited to be a part of this bake sale!

The bake sale will take place on Echoing Good’s Facebook page so head over there and bid on some delicious treats (made by an awesome group of bloggers!) for a wonderful cause :) For more information about the online bake sale, click here.

Guilt-Free Blue Cheese Dressing Made with Greek Yogurt

Now, let’s address this guilt-free blue cheese dressing made with greek yogurt :) Salads have been my jam lately but the olive oil and vinegar combo can get a little dull. I still really love making this lemon garlic vinaigrette but when I found this easy blue cheese dressing recipe on  Paleo Spirit, I had to give it a try. It’s so tasty and such an easy way to make your own blue cheese dressing. I love that the recipe calls for greek yogurt, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar–all super healthy ingredients! This version also doesn’t require buttermilk or mayonaise which is another perk if you’re shooting for a healthy but creamy dressing.

You can pair the dressing with these Spicy Buffalo Chicken and Quinoa Wraps, drizzle it over a large batch of Buffalo Fries, or add it to your favorite salad. It will taste delicious!

Enjoy! :)

Guilt-Free Blue Cheese Dressing (Made with Greek Yogurt)
 
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Recipe adapted from Paleo Spirit (paleospirit.com)
Ingredients
  • 1/2 Cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/8 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 oz. Crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the yogurt, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar together.
  2. Then stir in the blue cheese and mix until desired texture–you can make it as chunky or as smooth as you like by how much you smoooosh the blue cheese.
  3. Add salt to taste and store in the fridge for up to a week.

This past weekend was awesome. And blueberry season has officially begun!

Blueberries Morning Light

What started as Girls Night In (proof here) became such a fun adventure in helping out at the Sierra Cascade Blueberry Farm stand at the SF Ferry Plaza Farmers Market last Saturday! Some of you may remember that I also helped Armen at the Berkeley Farmers Market last year. Armen is Will’s (my good friend and college roommate’s) mom.  And this year, we joined Will’s dad, John, at the Ferry Building.

As much as I missed Armen’s wonderful personality and natural ease when chatting with her devout blueberry fans this time around, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was such a fun experience!

Ferry Building Farmers Market

I’ve gone here on the weekends before but have never been on the selling side of the stand. We go to our spot and started setting up at 7:30am on Saturday morning. We couldn’t have asked for a more gorgeous day. The morning light…was ah-mazzzz-ingggggg.

Amanda Nicole Carolyn Blueberries

 Amanda, Carolyn, and Nicole pictured above.
John (the farmer!) below.

John

Of course, Nicole and I had to show off the goods….

Nicole Steph Blueberries

Blueberries

These blueberries taste amazing too. And they’ve been certified organic for over 20 years! (See blueberry mojitos and blueberry pie recipe if you’re in the blueberry mood.)

As I mentioned last year, helping this family sell their blueberries is truly incredible. Customers come up left and right asking for John and Armen…wondering how their sons are doing, what’s new on the farm, and just being genuinely happy that the Sierra Cascade blueberries are back at the market. The blueberries were 3 weeks early this season too, something John and Armen haven’t seen in previous seasons before.

Amanda, Carolyn, Nicole, and I had a blast dishing out these blueberries to everyone. So much so that we sold out half an hour before the farmers market closed! Even though it’s blurry, I couldn’t help but post the picture of all of us below.

Blueberry Stand Group

The rest of the market was fantastic as well. As a vendor, it’s really exciting to trade your produce with the other vendors. We walked away with delicious cheese, fresh veggies, and some killer lox sandwiches.

Cherries and Bread

There was also an awesome stand, EatWell Farm, that came by our table and chatted with us for a while. The sweet gal then came back with homemade naturally-fermented probiotic drinks for all of us (pictured below)! So nice of her and so glad I got to taste the Cherry Lavendar flavor they make. Seriously, that’s the true spirit of a local farmer and sustainable friend right there. Plus, I’m keeping the cool glass bottles to put flowers in at home :)

Cherry Lavender EatWell

We also got to see a lot of the chefs and kitchen staff of all the local restaurants get to the market early so they could get first pick of the best produce. It was really cool to ask what restaurant they were from. flour + water even stopped by and bought a flat of blueberries! I almost fainted. That gives you an idea of the quality of these blueberries :) Here are some more photos from the Farmers Market:

Carrots

eggs

Open Faced Lox Sandwiches
Group Photo Ferry Building
After we left the Ferry Building, we went and ate dinner at Bask in North Beach with even more college friends (one who flew in from Wisconsin!), and then my parents came to the city on Monday so I got to spend some time with them. Lots of food, sun, and great times this weekend.

How was everyone else’s long weekend?

Green Monster Smoothie

How do you guys feel about juicing? I still can’t decide. I think juicing has its benefits and it’s great for cleansing but I also feel like juicing wastes a lot of the fruit/veggie when you’re just extracting the juice. I guess maybe if there were easier ways to use the left over fiber I’d be more into it?

I’m a huge fan of green smoothies though and definitely don’t mind the fiber that’s mixed in. In fact, I actually like that they’re thicker because it makes them taste heartier and I get pretty full from drinking a whole glass! Plus, I really enjoy benefiting from all the nutrients each vegetable/fruit has to offer. Party on.

Green Smoothie

This is seriously how I get my day’s worth of vegetables (and some fruits as well!), and this recipe only takes about 10 minutes to make. Lightening speed, y’all. I use this awesome blender to make a batch when I get home from work, drink half of it with my dinner and then save the other half the next morning. It might be better to make it all in the morning and then drink the 2nd half later in the same day but let’s be real, I don’t get up early enough to fit that into my routine.

Anyway, this smoothie is amazing. The added fruit makes it just sweet enough so you can’t even tell how much spinach/kale you’re taking in during each sip. Sometimes I like to switch it up and add new fruits and veggies to the mix but this is my go-to recipe whenever I want a quick, delicious, healthy green smoothie.

Here are some of my favorite things to add/experiment with when making green smoothies (on top of the ingredients used for the smoothie pictured):

  • Extra ginger! (Love me some extra spicy smoothies–does that make me a weirdo?)
  • Wheat Grass
  • Cucumber
  • Green Apple
  • Orange
  • Chia Seeds
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon
  • Celery
  • Almond Milk

What’s your favorite smoothie combo? And do you prefer juicing or smoothie-ing?

Chug, Chug, Cheers.

Green Monster Smoothie
 
 

Ingredients
  • 2.5 cups spinach
  • 2.5 cups kale
  • 1 cup 100% carrot juice
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • 2 kiwis, small/medium sized
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions
  1. Add the carrot juice, kiwi, blueberries, flaxseeds, and ginger root to a blender. Blend until everything is well incorporated.
  2. Then add the spinach and kale a handful at a time, blending after each handful.
  3. Add water and blend everything for a minute or so, making sure that the texture is smooth.
  4. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container (mason jars work great for this) and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

Jalapenos Stuffed With Quinoa, Black Beans, and Corn

I have a strange obsession with jalapeno poppers. They’re just so easy to make and great for so many occasions. But sometime they aren’t necessarily the best for you. Cream cheese? Delicious. Bacon? I’ll take 100 please. However, I can’t justify eating regular jalapeno poppers all the time. So I present to you…guilt-free poppers!

Quinoa Stuffed Jalapenos Pre-Bake

These jalapenos are stuffed with a combination of quinoa, black beans, and corn and then topped off with some monterey jack cheese. They make a perfect appetizer or snack! I can also imagine eating them with eggs in the morning or as a side dish. The quantity pictured in this post? Yeah, I almost ate all of them by myself. No regrets.

Jalapenos Stuffed with Quinoa, Corn, and Black Beans

Some jalapenos are way hotter than others though so be careful! Make sure you take out all of the seeds and wear gloves while doing so or wash your hands with soap right after. They are also tasty reheated so it’s ok if you make a few extra. Make some this weekend…or maybe make some banana chocolate chip pancakes! :)

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Black Beans, and Corn

What’s your favorite guilt-free snack?

Happy Friday! :)

Quinoa, Black Bean, and Corn Stuffed Jalapenos
 
Prep time

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Ingredients
  • 6 jalapenos (12 halves)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cut the jalapenos in half and take out the seeds (use gloves or wash your hands with soap directly afterwards).
  3. In a bowl, mix together the quinoa, black beans, and corn.
  4. Scoop the quinoa mixture generously into each jalapeno half. I found that using a spoon to shape a mound works best.
  5. Place the poppers on a baking sheet (with a few inches between each of them) and then bake for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, sprinkle cheese on top of each popper and then place back in the oven for 15 minutes.
  7. Allow poppers to cool for 5 minutes and then serve immediately.

 

What an incredible week. With your help, kindness, and support:

We raised $3,000! 

Almost to the penny! I wasn’t exactly sure how this auction was going to turn out when I was brainstorming the idea about a month ago but from the time I sent out initial emails to the last minute of the auction, I was stunned by how much love and generosity we received from fellow bloggers, friends, and total strangers. I also caught myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions at the playful competition going on between bidders…so amazing! Everyone wanted to help, and it was truly inspiring to see individuals (from all over the country) come together to make this Holiday Auction a reality!

Between 25 food bloggers, 20 friends/readers, and a total of 54 items up for bid, I think it’s safe to say that this event was a great success!! For those who have met Lori, you know that she is a fighter and that her positive spirit has never broken, regardless of the obstacles she’s encountered. Her unwavering strength and loving personality are truly inspiring to everyone she meets. I am very lucky to have Lori in my life and am so thankful for everyone who helped make this season so special!

A HUGE, gigantic shout out to everyone (listed below) who contributed items to the auction. Not only did they donate a delicious good but they are also covering the shipping cost of the item they contributed (and some have more than one item!). Without the contributors, this auction wouldn’t have been possible. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you for making this Holiday Auction so successful. I am entirely grateful to feel the warmth and generosity from so many fantastic people this holiday season. :-)

- Steph

A Message from Lori 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

When Stephanie approached me with this idea a little while back, I have to admit I thought it was brilliant.  I was very touched by her thoughtfulness then and tonight I sit even more touched by the generosity of all of you! It was a smashing success and I am so incredibly thankful to everyone who participated!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who donated their baking talents, crafting skills, and cookbooks!! You made everything sound and look so irresistible that it would have been impossible to visit the site and not want to bid!! Many of you I have never met before, but with the wonders of technology and a mutual love for all things delicious, I felt my support community expand and when you truly feel that, well, its like I got to enjoy a little bit of all these treats at once—just warmed me through and through.   And to all my friends who participated and even got their families to whip up a few things— you just make me feel so blessed everyday, and it keeps me fighting and positive. THANK YOU ALL!

Thank you so much to everyone who bid and donated!!! I am still a little shocked at all the generosity that just came pouring in over this last week! I know you will all thoroughly enjoy your winnings, and if you were out bid I am also sure that the good karma for your participation will see that many wonderful baked goods surround you this holiday season.

Thank you so much to everyone who spread the word and led the bidders to the site!! All of you social media gurus really made this an epic turnout!!

And of course, thank you so VERY much to Stephanie and Life Tastes Like Food for hosting such a wonderful auction.  The pages were beautiful, the idea was genius, and the whole thing epitomized what an amazing combination love, creativity, and good eats can be! You are the best!

Sincerest thanks,
Lori Hammond

P.S. In recent news, there was a major breakthrough in Leukemia treatment! Here is a story of a young girl who was saved by a new treatment! http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/health/a-breakthrough-against-leukemia-using-altered-t-cells.html?_r=0

Thanks to people who donate to cancer research, like everyone who participated in this auction, hopefully more life saving treatments will come to fruition and save many more lives!!

 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

***************************************************************

Bloggers Who Contributed to The 2012 Holiday Auction:

52 Kitchen Adventures – Bakerella – Bakerita –Bites Out of Life – Brown Eyed Baker
Cookinfood.com – Family Spice – Foodness Gracious – Iowa Girl Eats –Kath Eats Real Food
Life Tastes Like Food – Love and Olive Oil –Mrs. Schwartz’s Kitchen – Pass the Sushi – Savory Simple
Skinnytaste.com – Smitten Kitchen – Social Potato Chips – Spoon Fork Bacon – Steph’s Bite by Bite
Teatime Adventures – The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen –The Picky Eater – White on Rice Couple

Reader/Friends Who Contributed to The 2012 Holiday Auction:

Amanda – Armen – Caitlin – Camilla – Carolyn and Liz – Caty – Celia
Claudia – Dinah – Jenna – Kristin – Lauren – Lori – Meghan
Monica – Nicole – Rachel – Sheeter – Shelly – Val

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