I feel a sense of urgency to squeeze in as much summer produce as I can before all of the perfectly ripened tomatoes, peaches and corn are gone.  Sometimes I wish we had summer produce year round, but then I wonder if we would still appreciate how good and refreshing watermelon tastes during the few months we can get it, for example.

Corn on the cob is prime right now, and it is good in it’s own rite, but another one of my favorite ways to enjoy corn is in a thick and creamy soup.  I especially love when I can make a creamy and satisfying soup without actually using heavy cream and multiple sticks of butter.  This soup will give you just that.  I added dill because I love the way that dill can lighten the richness of a dish and add a whole other flavor profile.


Dilly Corn Chowder with Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree, Soup, Main dish, Healthy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Hearty, yet light corn chowder
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill weed
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • ½ cup fat-free half and half
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
Instructions
  1. In a medium stock pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir occasionally until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in thyme, bay leaf, dill, salt and pepper and broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Add potatoes and continue to boil until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add corn. Cook until corn is tender, about 2 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to low and stir in milk and half and half.
  7. Serve sprinkled with the shredded cheese and more salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Recipe adapted from Sunset.

Which summer produce do you wish you could enjoy year round?

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What will I do when the Olympics are over next week??  I’m beginning to panic.  There is officially a permanent imprint in my couch from where I sit waiting for the next gold medal to be awarded.  So I guess one thing I can do when the Olympics are over is rotate my couch cushions…..

And how is it almost the middle of August already??  Where does summer go?  The one good thing about summer coming to an end is that all of the produce that we have waited all summer for is finally ripe and ready to use!  I picked up some adorable zucchinis a couple of weeks ago and was excited to try a new recipe.  Last year I shared these zucchini recipes with you:

Cream Cheese-swirled Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Oatmeal Zucchini Sandwich Cookies

Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

This year, I am adding Zucchini Coconut Muffins to the mix.

Not only can you feel good about these muffins having a serving of vegetables inside, but they also use less sugar than most recipes and white whole wheat flour.

Zucchini Coconut Muffins

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: bake breakfast dessert side healthy coconut zucchini muffin summer

Ingredients (12 muffins)

For the muffins

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup while whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

For the glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

For the muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, mix eggs, honey, oil and brown sugar until well combined.

Add ginger, flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix until well incorporated.

Add zucchini and coconut and mix well.

Divide batter between 12 muffin cups.

Bake 16-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

Cool completely on wire rack.

For the glaze

Mix powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth and drizzle glaze over cooled muffins.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

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mix eggs, honey, oil and brown sugar

add ginger, flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda

add zucchini and coconut and mix well

divide into muffin pan and bake

cool completely before glazing

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Who doesn’t love pizza in any form?  Around Super Bowl time, I was seeing all kinds of pizza dips popping up as suggestions for game day fare.  Football is not a huge deal at our house and so I had to wait for another occasion to make a version of pizza dip.  Hosting book club last week happened to be the perfect reason to give it a try.

Many of the recipes that I have seen for pizza dips involve cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream as a base layer.  One of my favorite swaps for mayo and sour cream that makes dishes healthier is nonfat plain Greek yogurt.  It is tangy, thick and creamy without being heavily laden with calories and fat.  I also cut down on a few calories and grams of fat by using reduced-fat (part skim) mozzarella cheese.

This dip is plenty flavorful even with these healthier modifications.  Top the dip with a variety of vegetables and you’ll really have a popular dip that you can feel great about serving.

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combine cream cheese, yogurt, garlic powder and Italian seasoning

spread cream cheese mixture into pan

top with pizza sauce

sprinkle cheese over the sauce

top with chopped veggies (and meat, if using)

bake until cheese is melted and serve

 

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When you think of spring, which ingredients are you excited to cook or bake with?  Leeks and lemons immediately pop into my mind for some reason.  I love the traditional vichychoisse.  Such a simple soup of potato and leeks yet it so so beautiful and fun to dress up with croutons or sour cream.

I am kind of a Food Network junkie and a couple of my favorites to watch are Ina Garten and Giada.  It seems like no matter what they make, I am printing out the recipes 5 minutes later and adding as many of the recipes as I can to my weekly menu.  Ina made this soup a couple of weeks ago and she really turned up the flavors on the traditional potato leek soup.

It’s amazing how roasting vegetables low and slow in the oven really brings out a depth of flavor you never even knew was possible.  The preparation for this soup begins by roasting yukon gold potatoes, lovely spring leeks and peppery arugula until they are tender and caramelized and I finished it with rich, tangy sour cream.  Serve the soup with a crusty baguette so you can sop up all of the goodness.

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place chopped potatoes and leeks onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes, or until tender

place arugula on top of roasted vegetables and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until arugula is wilted

place roasted vegetables into stock pot

pour in chicken broth and use immersion blender to blend until smooth

stir in half and half

then sour cream and salt and pepper to taste

serve with warm, crusty bread

Which flavors or ingredients make you think of spring?

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Even though I am not a person who makes New Year’s resolutions, I do always find myself thinking of the things I can do better or new things that I wan tot try when January comes around.  One conscious change I have been trying to make this year is to eat more fruits and vegetables.  I love almost all produce, I just don’t feel like I know how to get enough of them everyday in my diet.

One way I have been trying to remedy this is by drinking “superfood” smoothies.  It is a simple way for me to efficiently get an extra 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies in 1 smoothie and the rest of my daily servings I can easily get in with my meals.

All I do is load up my Vitamix with 8 ounces of water (you could also use milk and or a splash of juice), a cup of fresh or frozen mixed berries, one banana and 2 cups of spinach and blend away.  Other great options to add are greek yogurt, kale and any other fruits and vegetables of your choice.

And no need to be scared off by incorporating greens into your smoothie.  All you taste is the wonderful freshness of the berries and bananas!

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