Tag Archives: Greek yogurt

Beef Gyros

gyro

I’ve always been a huge fan of Greek food. Regardless of the season the tangy Greek flavors of feta cheese, oregano and fresh dill inspire images of sun drenched Greek beaches. And this time of year, when the weather is especially gray and dreary, I find myself longing for a Greek Island getaway. When that isn’t possible, I head to the kitchen and cook up my own Greek feast.

These gyros, adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers, comes pretty close to channeling the Greek Island experience. Here beef is substituted for the traditional lamb (which is also delicious but sometimes difficult to find). The meat is marinated in a lemon-oregano mixture which ensures that every bite is juicy and flavorful. As a finishing touch the entire gyro is topped with Tzatziki Sauce- the yogurt, dill and cucumber sauce that Greece is famous for.

So here’s to getting your own dose of the Greek Islands. Enjoy!

BEEF GYROS

For the Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt

1 cup cucumber, diced small

3 tablespoons fresh dill, diced small

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

For the gyros:

1 pound beef steak tips, cut into bite size pieces

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups salad greens

2 tomatoes, sliced

¼ cup feta cheese crumbles

4 pita breads

  • To make the tzatziki sauce, place the cucumber and half of the yogurt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  •  Add mixture to a medium sized bowl and stir in remaining yogurt, the dill, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.
  • Add additional salt, if needed  and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • To prepare the gyros, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Add the meat to a zip top bag or bowl, and pour marinade over the beef. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 4 hours.
  • When you are ready to cook, set grill to medium low heat
  • Place the meat on the grill, (you can place meat on skewers if you prefer) and cook on each side for about 4 minutes or until they are done to your preference.
  • Let the meat rest for 5 minutes.
  • Evenly divide the meat on a pita shell, top with the salad greens, tomatoes, feta cheese and the Tzatziki Sauce.

Serves 4

 

Baked Oatmeal

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Mornings are hectic in our household. Between waking up and getting out of the house on time on the first try with everything we need for the day, eating breakfast is often a secondary thought. But eating a good breakfast is important so I am always on the look out for easy and healthy alternatives to our usual standby of cold cereal. My family doesn’t eat eggs and reheated muffins or waffles work if we have leftovers from the previous weekend. In my quest for finding something that would work I came across this baked oatmeal recipe comes from The Yankee Kitchen Ninja. And it turns out that this recipe is a family wide hit.

The oatmeal is softer than a cookie but more solid than a bowl of cooked oats. Eating it with a spoon is recommended but I’ve also included it in lunch bags as a snack where it is eaten with your fingers. I used golden raisins and dried cranberries as my dried fruit of choice but the options are only as limited as your imagination. And best of all this recipe is super easy and fast to make. Meaning you can whip up a batch in no time at all (you could even make it first thing in the morning and have it on the table for breakfast if you are an early riser). So here’s to the most important meal of the day……….

Baked Oatmeal

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup milk

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the oats, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  • Stir in the raisins and cranberries.
  • In separate bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, egg and vanilla.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir thoroughly.
  • Pour the contents into a lightly greased 9 x 9 baking pan.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and firm.

Serves: 9

Peach & Cherry Shortcake

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Strawberry shortcake is a classic summer time dessert but why not change things up a bit and substitute whatever fruit is in season? Or make it extra special by using two different fruit? Here I use fresh cherries and fresh white peaches, both of which are readily available at markets right now. The peaches are infused with a peach schnapps but if you prefer an alcoholic free version you can substitute white grape juice or even water. The cherries are made extra special with the addition of a cinnamon stick and Grand Marnier but orange juice can be substituted instead. And everything is better with real whipped cream. Plain whipped cream is nice but I love the addition of a small amount of tangy Greek yogurt. Its adds a surprising element to the topping that is sure to please.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients and multiple steps discourage you from making this recipe. The fruit sauces can be made up to two days in advance and refrigerated until ready to use. The biscuits taste best when made the same day they are served but you can easily bake them up in the morning to be served later in the evening. Only the whipped cream needs to be made at the last minute. So go ahead and serve these tasty shortcakes at your next cookout or summer time gathering. Kids of all ages will love building their own desserts.

For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and well chilled

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Pulse the flours sugar, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse to combine, about 12 pulses.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the liquid into the flour until a soft and sticky dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and quickly roll in into a rough ball.  Do not over mix.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 even pieces.  Using your hands, quickly form each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are browned and flaky.

Yields:  12 biscuits

For the peaches:

4 cups sliced white peaches

1/4 cup Peach Schnapps

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

  • Place the peaches, schanpps, sugar and cinnamon stick in a medium sized saucepan.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the peaches begin to soften.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the cherry topping:

4 cups fresh cherries, pitted

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small cinnamon stick

1/2 cup Grand Marnier liqueur, or other orange flavored liqueur

4 teaspoons corn starch

  • Place the cherries in a large sauce pan.  Add the sugar, cinnamon stick and liqueur and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer a cook for 5 minutes or until the cherries start to break down.
  • Stir in the cornstarch and whisk to combine.  Cook an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup plain full fat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat until all of the ingredients are combined and the cream forms stiff peaks.

To serve:

  • Spilt the biscuits in half and place the bottom half in a dessert dish.
  • Add peaches, cherries and whipped cream in alternating layers.
  • Top with the remaining biscuit half and a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 12

Buttermilk Herb Dip w/ Fresh Vegetable Crudite

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Sometimes it is the easiest dishes that are the best.  This is often the case when it comes to appetizers. Don’t get me wrong, I love to eat and make fancy bite-sized treats as much as the next person.  There is something special about a treat that you know took a lot of work and tastes great to boot.  But other times, simple is the way to go.  I think this is especially true as we move into warmer weather and want to put lighter, fresher, and yes, less time-consuming food on our tables.  And perhaps the easiest solution of all is good old-fashioned dip with vegetables.

But we’re not talking your grandmother’s rich dip laden with heavy sour cream and dried French onion soup mix.  Thanks to a combination of Greek yogurt and low-fat sour cream my dip, adapted from a Fine Cooking recipe, is lighter and filled with plenty of fresh herbs.  I used parsley, dill, and thyme but feel free to put together any combination that appeals to you.  The dip should sit for at least half an hour before serving but that will give you plenty of time to cut up the fresh veggies that you need for dipping.  Your results will be tasty with no stove required.

BUTTERMILK HERB DIP w/FRESH VEGETABLE CRUDITE

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 cup low-fat sour cream

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup buttermilk

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Crudite vegetables of your choice for dipping

  • Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir until well mixed.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Yields:  3 cups

 

Tandoori Chicken

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This recipe is a family favorite and one my husband grew up eating. It is so simple and flavorful that it has become one of my go-to grilled chicken recipes. The marinade is quite simple–yogurt and lemon juice with a touch of spice and freshly ground ginger. Don’t substitute dried ginger because the results simply won’t be the same. And do make sure you allow plenty of time for the chicken to marinade–the longer it sits in its yogurt bath the better. I often make up a batch of marinade for the chicken the night before I want to serve it and let it sit overnight and all day. The results are amazing. And while the chicken is good right off the grill, it tastes just as yummy cold the next day. Enjoy!

TANDOORI CHICKEN

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 small onion, grated

3 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root

3 pounds chicken

  • Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, onion, garlic, spices and ginger in a large non-reactive container or large ziploc bag.
  • Add the chicken ensuring that it is coated with the marinade and allow to sit for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  • Coat a grill with non-stick cooking spray and preheat it to medium-high heat.
  • Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning ever 5-7 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending upon the heat of the grill and the cut of the chicken. Baste with additional marinade if desired.
  • When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Blood Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

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One of my favorite treats as a child was chocolate oranges. These strange treats were a staple in our Christmas stockings and it was one of the things I looked forward to the most on Christmas morning. Shaped like an orange, right down to the fruit’s sections, the chocolate was infused with orange flavor and when you “smashed” them, the pieces of chocolate split into perfect little orange sections. I always knew I should savor them but the flavor combination was so enticing that it was hard to stop after eating just one or two.

Fast forward to adulthood and while I’ve outgrown my fondness for overly sweet chocolate, the combination of orange and chocolate remains enticing. And because of this, these blood orange and chocolate chip studded muffins are a favorite on Christmas morning and any morning throughout the year. The recipe is an adaptation from White on Rice Couple and these muffins are now a favorite breakfast treat for my family. I love to use miniature chocolate chips since I think they give you more chocolate for your bite. Lots of fresh orange zest and fresh squeezed juice ensure plenty of orange flavor throughout the muffin. And to ensure there really is enough orangey goodness in the muffins, they are topped with an fresh orange juice glaze. Simply put, these muffins are delicious.

BLOOD ORANGE CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

For the muffins:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Zest of 3 oranges

6 ounces miniature chocolate chips

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2/3 cup fresh squeeze blood orange juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs

For the orange glaze:

1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4  cup fresh blood orange juice

    Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Grease & flour muffin pan.

  • In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and zest until well mixed.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips
  • Combine the yogurt, blood orange juice, vanilla extract and the eggs in a large bowl, mixing until well combined.
  • Fold in the dry mixture, stirring until just combined.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan cups.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • While the muffins bake, combine the sugar and juice in a small saucepan.
  • Stirring occasionally, heat over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Set aside.
  • Allow the muffins to cool slightly then poke the tops of the muffins a few times with a toothpick.
  • Pour the warm glaze over the tops of the muffins.
  • These muffins are best served warm.

Yields: 9 large muffins

Butter Chicken

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I love the classic Indian dish butter chicken. It is simultaneously spicy and creamy and is one of my favorite comfort foods. In fact I judge an Indian restaurant on the quality of their butter chicken. Prior to their arrival of a ho-hum Indian restaurant in Albania I resorted to fulfilling my cravings when we traveled abroad. But that just wasn’t enough so I decided to make my own and much to my delight, it is so easy to make.
This recipe is adapted from Maxine Writes. I prefer my chicken to boneless so use boneless chicken thighs instead of the bone in chicken suggested in the original recipe. For the most flavorful chicken, marinate for a minimum of one hour but longer is preferable. I like to put the chicken in the marinade in the morning and let it sit all day. As with most dishes, you can adjust the seasonings to match your palate. Serve the chicken over rice, which absorbs the yummy sauce, and you are good to go. For an extra special treat, add some Naan.
BUTTER CHICKEN
For the chicken:
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon melted butter of ghee
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 Serrano chile, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/3 cup heavy cream

  • In a large plastic zip top bag, combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, tomato puree, salt, lemon juice and butter. Add the chicken and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but preferably longer.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the chicken in a single layer in a foil lined roasting pan and pour all remaining marinade over the chicken.
  • Roast 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and place all the pieces on a platter. Reserve the cooked marinade in a bowl.
  • To make the sauce, in a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat.
  • Add the ginger and garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring constantly. Use the back of a spatula to mash the tomatoes as you go. Continue until the tomatoes are completely mashed and soft, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the reserved marinade, the salt, Serrano chile, fennel seeds and chicken. Mix well.
  • Simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for another minute.
  • Serve immediately over rice.

Serves 4

 

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