Buffalo Chicken Salad with Healthy Ranch Dressing

There have been a lot of salads for dinner in the MCP kitchen of late, but the warmer weather brings with it my general craving for salads. Something cool and crunchy, with an added protein, and a nice homemade dressing – yes nice healthy end to the day when I don’t feel like turning the oven on.

This recipe for a Buffalo Chicken Salad that I came across here caught my attention. A spicy chicken, served on a bed of lettuce, carrots, celery and crunchy gala apples.But instead of going with a store-bought ranch dressing, I decided to make my own – with a couple healthy tweaks.

Greek yoghurt in place of mayonnaise, spiced up with garlic powder, mustard powder and a bunch of fresh herbs. And after playing around with the ingredients for a while, I soon had a blend that I will be sure to make again.

Tangy from the yoghurt, and packed with flavour owing to the fresh herbs, this is one versatile dressing! I think you could quite easily use it as a dip too – just add a little less water…

Healthy Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley, chopped dill and basil)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs water*
  1. Combine all ingredients with 1 tbs water. Add more water if you would like a thinner dressing (or keep it thicker if you are using it as a dip).
  2. Store in the fridge until ready to use.

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

img_0521As the warmer weather approaches, so does our tendency to put “BBQs” on the menu for dinner. Mr BBB is usually in charge of the meat, while I take care of the sides – the ‘regulars’ being a green salad or oven baked potatoes.

But recently I went for another potato option…potato salad!

img_0515

An Aussie favourite – that is usually loaded with mayonnaise and bacon. But on this occasion, I created a ‘lighter’ version. Still packed with flavour, yes, however in place of mayonnaise I went with natural yoghurt – and left out the bacon all together. Instead, the salad was given a flavour kick with lots of fresh herbs and another one of my favourite – dill pickles!

It didn’t take too long to prepare, and was far from difficult. With the added bonus  that I could make it in the morning and let the flavours develop throughout the day.

img_0517A nice take on an old classic indeed!

Herbed Yoghurt Potato Salad

  • 1.5kg potatoes (desiree or something similar) I left the skins on, but you could peel them if you prefer.
  • 3/4 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 100g dill pickles, chopped
  • 3 green shallots, sliced thinly
  • Handful chopped herbs (I used dill and mint, but parsley would work nicely too)
  1. Boil the potatoes until tender, then set aside to cool slightly. Dice.
  2. Combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard, and season to taste.
  3. Add the dressing to the potatoes (while they are still slightly warm), along with the remaining ingredients. Stir gently until combined.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge until required.

Falafel with simple couscous salad and tahini yoghurt

IMG_2903 Well, lovely people, I am pleased to report that my cooking mojo is BACK!! Gone are the pregnancy-induced “must only eat carbs” cravings, and my taste for salads and desire to cook have returned. Thank goodness. On the menu earlier this week? Falafel with a simple couscous salad and tahini yoghurt. Although I did cheat and buy some pre-made falafel (an ill-fated decision, on reflection, as these were quite dry). IMG_2896 As for the accompaniments, well these came together really simply. Yoghurt and tahini – mixed together to make a ‘sauce’. A touch of lemon juice or zest would have been wonderful – but sadly  our lemon tree is struggling at the moment… IMG_2898IMG_2899 Also – a couscous salad – made simply with couscous (duh), chopped fresh tomato and parsley. IMG_2900 I threw some pita breads in the oven too – and we soon had ourselves quite the mid-week feast! IMG_2904 As I mentioned above, the falafel were quite dry – but the tahini yoghurt did overcome that to some extent (as well as being a great ‘dip’ for the pita bread). Actually, it reminded me just how much I love tahini – so expect to see it in many future dishes Smile    IMG_2910 Delish! What about you? Are you a fan of tahini?

Chicken & asparagus salad with pesto yoghurt dressing

IMG_0911 Happy Monday lovely people! We just finished a beautifully balanced weekend. Some chores, some fitness, some good eating , and some relaxation. And we are all feeling very accomplished! I am also loving what appears to be the return of my energy levels now that the first trimester has passed. Not to mention the return of my appetite for healthy foods and salads.  IMG_0905 (my dinner-making audience) Thus a delivery from the Australian Asparagus Council last week could not have been more timely. For come Friday night, and after a big lunch, I was craving salad for dinner. And with the asparagus as a starting point, the rest came together pretty quickly. IMG_0914 Grilled chicken for protein, along with the asparagus that I also grilled. IMG_0906 Piled high on a salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado and creamy feta. IMG_0901 Finished with a little ‘throw together’ dressing of two big spoonfuls of yoghurt – mixed with a spoonful of pesto. IMG_0899IMG_0902 All together now! IMG_0910 Gosh I am loving that my appetite for dinners like this has returned – so many flavours and textures in one bowl! IMG_0908 And with the warm chicken and charred asparagus – this was one tasty meal indeed. What about you? What is your favourite way to use asparagus? ps. Did you know that you can store asparagus by standing it upright in a container in the fridge,  with 1cm of cold water in the bottom (covered)?  I had no idea! Check out www.asaparagus.com.au for more handy asparagus tips! Thanks again to the Australian Asparagus Council for their surprise asparagus gift!

Tahini yoghurt sauce

IMG_4823 It is no secret that I love to bake. And with the abundance of sweet treats in our household lately, first the doughnuts and then the chocolate torte, you would be forgiven if you thought that is all we ate! Truthfully, I love to save my baking adventures for when there are many mouths to feed. For although I love my fair share of sugar, my waistline and general health probably do not, and it is far less tempting to eat cake for lunch when there is no cake leftover! So to prove it is not all sugar and chocolate in the BBB household, let me share with you another tasty little dish that made an appearance recently. We had a butterflied leg of lamb planned for dinner, and I wanted to make a sauce to accompany it. I can’t quite recall where the inspiration came from, although I think it was probably a cooking magazine, but with all ingredients on hand – we soon had ourselves this tasty tahini yoghurt sauce. IMG_4820 Simply, a cup of natural yoghurt, a generous tablespoon of tahini, a squeeze of garlic paste, chopped mint and chives – seasoned to taste. IMG_4821 The mint + tahini combination worked just beautifully with the lamb, and had me coming back for seconds! IMG_4824 A super easy sauce that I will be sure to make again. And one which completely reaffirmed my love for using yoghurt as a base. What about you? Made any yummy sauces recently?

Homemade yoghurt

A while ago now, I mentioned that we have been making our own yoghurt. IMG_0121 Not from scratch, but with the assistance of the Easi-yo yoghurt maker. Mainly because with 3 yoghurt lovers in our house, we were going through a lot each week and wanted to find something that was a little more cost effective. Actually, know I think about, we were originally inspired to start making our own after visiting my Aunty and Uncle almost 3 years ago now! A few people asked what my thoughts were on the process, and the product – so here they are! IMG_0113 The ‘maker’ itself – set us back around $25 (?), and we picked it up from our local supermarket. IMG_0118 The yoghurt packs themselves usually cost around $4.20- although I try to stock up when I see that they are on special and can sometimes get them for as little as $2.20. IMG_0112 Think about it – $2.20 for a litre of yoghurt……bargain! Our favourite flavour, thus far, has been the full fat vanilla. We are not huge fans of the ‘fruit’ flavoured ones, although the Greek style is also rather nice. We generally prepare the yoghurt in the early evening. Starting by mixing the yoghurt base with water in the little tub, and shake shake shake! IMG_0114 We then put boiling water into the yoghurt maker…. IMG_0115 Sit the yoghurt tub on top… IMG_0117 Close the lid, and let the maker work its magic overnight! IMG_0119 And in the morning….beautiful creamy pot set yoghurt is awaiting us for breakfast! IMG_0268IMG_0272 While this is a nice cost effective yoghurt, truthfully it will never beat my all time favourite – Chobani. So it seems only fitting that I do a comparison of the ingredients and nutritional stats for you… The Easi-yo vanilla – IMG_0124 Per 100g it has 4g protein, 14g of sugar and 144mg of calcium. As for the ingredients list, it has 64% milk solids and does have sugar added. Compared with the passionfruit Chobani – for example… IMG_0129 That has 8.1g protein (a clear winner), 11g sugar and 97mg of calcium. IMG_0130 The Chobani has 80% of milk solids, although it too has sugar added. As I mentioned earlier, overall my true favourite remains the Chobani. Although the convenience and price of the homemade version also makes it appealing when the household is going through a yoghurt-fan phase. And having a few extra packets on hand means that there is never any danger of us running out (even if we make the realisation that supplies are low later in the evening!) What about you? Do you make your own yoghurt?

Yoghurt hummingbird cake

IMG_2265 You might recall that a little while ago, a ‘great wall’ of yoghurt graced my countertop. For the ever-generous Chobani had sent me boxes of their delicious products to try, and share amongst friends and family. IMG_1985 While much of the yoghurt disappeared in the normal manner (on cereal, in smoothies, as a snack), I wanted to test it out in some baked goods. The first one being a Hummingbird Cake with pineapple yoghurt in place of oil. IMG_2235 I combined yoghurt, mashed banana, eggs and crushed pineapple in one bowl, with flour, brown sugar, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and ground ginger in the other. IMG_2238 Then divided the mixture into two baking tins, and allowed them to cook for 30 minutes or so, until golden brown. IMG_2243IMG_2244 For the icing, I made a simple cream cheese icing, and then sprinkled crushed walnuts on the top of the cake. IMG_2252 And the end result was rather elegant indeed. IMG_2257 Despite being oil free, this cake remained relatively moist. Probably not as moist as if I had used oil, but the yoghurt substitute ensured the cake was far from dry. IMG_2259 I also changed things up a bit and only used 1 cup of brown sugar (rather than the usual 2). The result was a cake that was not overly sweet, but still filled with lovely fruit and coconut flavours. IMG_2260 And, the creamy icing, with just a hint of lemon, added some extra sweetness too. IMG_2394 Delish! Yoghurt Hummingbird Cake

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tub pineapple chobani yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tin crushed pineapple (drained but reserve 1/2 cup juice)
  • * cream cheese icing & walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line 2 round spring form cake tins.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, spices and bicarb soda into a medium bowl. Stir through the coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the banana, eggs, yoghurt, vanilla and pineapple / juice.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.
  5. Divide the mixture among the two cake tins. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Finish by layering the cakes with cream cheese icing, and topping with chopped walnuts.

What about you? Ever baked with yoghurt?

Spiced yoghurt fish

I decided to do something a little different with our weekly fish dinner last week. Rather than batter the fish, or simply pan fry it, I decided to ‘marinate’ it in a spice / yoghurt blend – and I must say – I was rather pleased with the results. First – the marinade… IMG_2603 Using a mixture of ground cumin, turmeric, paprika, lemon juice, garlic and yoghurt. IMG_2604 Which I used to coat the fish, and allowed it to marinate for an hour or so. Then, to cook the fish, I placed them on a rack over a baking tray… IMG_2605 And baked them for 20 minutes or so in a hot oven. IMG_2609 Served with a side of greens. IMG_2612 And we had ourselves quite a tasty fish dinner. IMG_2610 I particularly loved the bright colour – thanks to the turmeric! What about you? Are you a fan of using yoghurt in savoury dishes?

Harissa lamb and quinoa

IMG_3239 Warmer weather = BBQs in the BBB household, and we have wasted no time this Spring in doing just that. While I prepare the ‘sides’, it is not unusual for me to send Mr BBB outside laden with some sort of protein to grill on the BBQ. And this occasion was no different. Inspired  by a recipe found in a Real Living magazine issue. During the course of the afternoon, I marinated some lamb rump steaks in a mixture of harissa paste, olive oil and garlic. IMG_3226 And put together a rather tasty minted yoghurt – using natural yoghurt, fresh mint and honey. IMG_3228IMG_3230 I also created a quinoa salad (in place of the suggested couscous) using some other tasty ingredients… IMG_3231 Spring onions, more fresh mint and shelled pistachios. IMG_3232 Combined with a few cups of cooked quinoa. IMG_3236 Easy! IMG_3237 Then when the little Miss retired for the evening, I sent Mr BBB outside to grill the lamb, and plated up the remainder. IMG_3238 Quinoa, sliced lamb, drizzled with some of the yummy minted yoghurt. IMG_3240 This was one tasty dish – and despite the earlier preparations, relatively fuss free. IMG_3241 Between the spiciness of the lamb, and the sweetness of the minty yoghurt, I had one happy tum. IMG_3243 This dish will certainly be making more appearances over the Summer. What about you? Do you have a favourite way to prepare lamb?

Yoghurt dill potato salad

Potato salad is a rather iconic addition to any Australian BBQ, with many people having a ‘favourite’ recipe that they turn to when asked to “bring a salad”. Mostly rich in mayonnaise, however, it is probably not the healthiest salad option on the menu (and the mayonnaise content also making it a salad that is best avoided by pregnant ladies). With that in mind, when Mr BBB and I invited some friends around for a BBQ the other evening, I wanted to create a potato salad that was both waistline and pregnancy friendly. And with only 4 ingredients and a few simple substitutions from the ‘normal’ ingredients, we had ourselves a suitable potato salad in no time at all. potatosalad A yoghurt dill potato salad! Just potatoes I used desiree)… IMG_4266 Boiled… IMG_4264 Cubed… IMG_4267 Meanwhile – the dressing… IMG_4268 Just natural yoghurt, fresh dill and mustard. IMG_4270 All together now. IMG_4272 And my ‘healthier’ potato salad was complete. IMG_4273 Unlike some potato salads that can be quite rich owing to the mayonnaise, this one remains relatively light due to the substitution of natural yoghurt. IMG_4275 The yoghurt and mustard also add quite a zing, and pair nicely with the abundance of fresh dill throughout the salad. IMG_4274 Overall, a lovely fresh take on an old classic. Yoghurt dill potato salad (serves 10-12 as a side dish)

  • 2kg desiree potatoes
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbs mustard (I used dijon)
  • Handful fresh dill, chopped
  1. Boil the potatoes until just tender, drain, then set aside to cool. Cube and place in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yoghurt, mustard and dill to make the dressing.
  3. Pour the dressing over the potatoes, and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour, to allow the flavours to develop.

What about you? Do you have a favourite potato salad recipe?