Tag Archive: broccoli


Dipping Madness }:-)

Lately, (in the wake of all this on-campus studying) I’ve been trying to think of a good type of snack food to bring along with me to school–something super low-maintenance that doesn’t need to be heated up (since microwaves are so few and far between) and has the potential to be both healthy and inexpensive. The answer? Dip.

I think the culinary concept of the “dip” gets a bad rap these days, often being portrayed as unhealthy or deceptively fattening but when looking at some of the classic dip recipes out there, I can see why. I’ve been flipping through some Taste of Home recipes for appetizers, which included a plethora of dips but very few that actually appealed to me. I suppose it’d be better if I got down to the basis of my complaints with these recipes: Okay first of all, there is never, ever any need to put mayonnaise in dip; just thinking about it gets me feeling gross; seriously, it’s mayonnaise, leave that goopy stuff to the sandwiches. If you’re looking for healthy (yet tasty) things to substitute, I got plenty of better recommendations like lite sour cream, cottage cheese, creme fraiche, and my favorite–Greek yogurt; now that kind of protein is actually good for you, so why not make a dip using yogurt as the base? That’s what I did and it’s cheap, nutritious, and delicious πŸ™‚

Second of all, many of the dip recipes I looked at called for seasoning packets. Well, seasoning packets are boring and far too uncreative if I may say so myself πŸ˜‰ Being in Denmark, I can’t make a lot of the dips in these recipes because they call for ‘Italian seasoning’ packets or ‘ranch dressing’ packets. Yeah, they’ll be no ranch seasonings over here. But why do we need seasoning packets anyway? Because it’s easy, too easy if you ask me (ha). But seasoning packets contain way too much salt anyway (ridiculous amounts, actually) and it’s better to get the hang of making your own spice or seasoning mixes–that way you can come up with unique, flavorful combinations yourself–all the while making use of the spice pantry.

And third (finally, right?), why are dips always served with carbohydrates? Chips, tortillas, bread–as if poor humans didn’t already have to feel bad about eating some of the lusciously fattening dips out there. The best ‘dippers’ are the obvious ones: vegetables! And there are so many to choose from–carrots, snow peas, celery, broccoli, cucumber, cauliflower, bell peppers, jicama, endive, sugar snap peas, radishes–the list goes on and on πŸ™‚ Vegetables don’t have any of the fat or carbs that bread and chips do and in some instances they’re cheaper too (but always healthier so that’s good). I don’t see why a few whole-grain crackers now and then aren’t a good idea either. Ahhh, so now that I’ve listed my complaints with the dip concept I can get on to good stuff, namely the concoction I came up with }:-]

I made my dip mainly with Greek yogurt (1%) and added substance with a can of mashed beans (whatever is cheapest) and another can of artichoke hearts I chopped finely. The spice mix I used to season the dip with was New Orleans style, a blend that would normally be used in roasted chicken dishes (what can I say? I wanted to taste it!) I’ve delineated the exact measurements of the spices below to make this practical. If I had my spice cupboard with me, I’d have been even more creative but I am still quite satisfied with the result. As for dippers, I went for cheap and cheerful: carrots (they are exceptionally good in Denmark) and steamed broccoli for my veggies with a handful of crackers. The crackers I actually baked this week with a friend and, thanks to her marvelous expertise, they were surprisingly easy to make and included much healthier ingredients than those found in the crackers you’d buy at the supermarket. Our batch included rough oats, flax, pumpkin and sunflower seeds; how’s that for fiber? They are flippin’ delicious too πŸ™‚

The star ingredient in this recipe would have to be the garlic powder just because it packs so much flavor. Guaranteed this dip would not be so tasty without it. Not only is garlic powder incredibly flavorful, it packs its own health benefits too (like lowering cholesterol, the exact opposite of what using mayonnaise would do to this dip). Anyway, if you ever find yourself wanting more flavor–use garlic powder–it’s savory, salty, and best of all, garlicky!

Spicy Yogurt Dip with Artichoke Hearts, Green Onions, and Kidney Beans

Ingredients

(for the dipπŸ™‚

1 large tub 1% Greek Yogurt

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can artichoke hearts, drained

2 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 cup milk

(for the seasoningπŸ™‚

3 Tbs. paprika

2 Tbs. chili powder

2 tsp. Cayenne pepper

3 Tbs. garlic powder

2 Tbs. onion powder

3 Tbs. black pepper

2 Tbs. salt

1 Tbs. dried Thyme

2 Tbs. dried Oregano

2 Tbs. dried Basil

1 tsp. Nutmeg

(for the dippersπŸ™‚

1 head of broccoli

1 lb. carrots

1 bundle of crackers

(1) Wash the head of broccoli and cut florets into bite size pieces; peel the stem and coarsely chop. Steam the florets and stem pieces for 4-6 minutes until tender enough to be pierced easily with a fork (this is done by placing all the broccoli pieces in a metal/plastic strainer which is then put in a pot with 2 inches of boiling salted water at the bottom; use the pot lid to cover the veggies until they are cooked). When steamed, rinse the broccoli thoroughly with cold water and set aside. (2) In a large bowl, combine Greek yogurt with all the spices (paprika through nutmeg) and stir well. (3) Put the kidney beans, green onions, broccoli stem pieces, and artichoke hearts into a blender, pulsing until smooth. (4) Add the blended mixture to the dip using a spatula. Next stir in the milk and olive oil, mixing everything together very well. (5) For the dippers, line a large plastic container with paper towels. Wash and peel the carrots, then halve them. Put the steamed broccoli florets and carrot pieces in the plastic container and refrigerate until ready to use. (6) Let the dip chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes. Serve with veggies and/or crackers, garnishing the dip with a sprig of oregano or dash of pepper if desired.

Serves 6

I am happy to have this cooled treat to munch on in my many hours spent sitting in the library. It was a little bit of work prepping all the veggies, but absolutely worth it…now at least I don’t have to listen to the grumblings of my stomach all day. I think the dip’s so good I almost don’t need the dippers, would eat this stuff with a spoon }:-)

My question: what are your favorite vegetables to use as dippers in appetizer recipes?

I feel like I may be missing some awesome ones…

09.21.11

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Hello everybody! Still over here enjoying lots of sun (and rain) in Denmark πŸ™‚ Once I get the camera up and running, I will have some relevant pictures to include; this photo is of canola flower fields, which are all over the place here, very yellow and very pretty! This week I was craving comfort food and so I decided to make a soup based off a recipe I found in the soup bible, a marvelous little book that contains hundreds of these recipes }:) Relying on basics, I made the stock from powdered bullion, used only the stems of the broccoli (all the heads we used to make broccoli salad), and threw in all leftover ingredients including a zucchini, potatoes, and a couple of onions.

In my humble opinion, the two things that made this soup as deliciously palatable as it was include (1) texture; and the fact that I found a hand-held blender-type machine I could put directly into the pot to puree all the stems and huge chunks of potatoes on the spot once they’d cooked through. The consistency of soup is often a large part of how tasty it turns out to be and while I’m all for chunky food, I wanted this soup smooth and blended, leaving only a few chunks of potatoes to remind us that it does in fact accommodate a lot of vegetables;) (2) The second thing is of course, cream. At the very end of all this soup cooking, purΓ©eing, and seasoning – I stirred in a cup of cream (that’s right, Danish cream, the good stuff:) which not only gave it a nice color but smoothed out all other tastes to make a creamy, saporous soup that savors nicely as it sits in the fridge. That was probably the best part, leftovers }:]

Creamy Vegetable Soup with Broccoli, Zucchini & Potatoes

Ingredients

2 Tbs. butter

1 zucchini, coarsely chopped

2 onions, coarsely chopped

2 heads of broccoli or 1 lb. broccoli stems, chopped

3 potatoes, scrubbed & chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup cream

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, stirring until soft, about 4-5 minutes. (2) Add the broth and 2 cups of water, bringing to a low boil. Next, add the potatoes, zucchini, and broccoli/stems. Cover and let simmer over low heat until all the vegetables are soft, 35-45 minutes. (3) Let the soup cool slightly before purΓ©eing, either in a blender in batches or with a hand-held blender in the pot; leave small chunks of potatoes if possible, but be sure to blend all the brocoli. (4) When the soup is smooth, reheat on low; stir in the cream (but make sure that the soup doesn’t boil as the cream will curdle). Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve. Soup is good for two weeks but it probably won’t last that long πŸ™‚

Serves 6

Thanks to our efforts pulling up the garden, I was given a small supply of chive blossoms. They were pretty good, crunchy with a very fresh onion taste and pretty pink petals; I served the hot bowls of soup with a couple of blossoms on top and a sprinkle of pepper. Mmmm…

Tonight our wonderful hostess is making a cauliflower curly flour soup (we just can’t get enough over here }:) Ah, bless the cruciferous vegetables in spring!

My question: What is the best vegetable to use in soup? I just love all the possibilities πŸ™‚

6.15.11