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Back in October 2012 my Foodie Pen Pal sent me a Vanilla Infusion Kit.

I could not wait to get it going. So I grabbed my Vodka and Vanilla Infusion Kit and got mixing. I was so excited to break this open and Make My Own. I had no idea something like this was even available. All you do to make your own is split the vanilla bean and fill with vodka. Then you store for 4 to 6 months, and BOOM you have your very own 7 year supply of Vanilla.  The key to making it last 7 years is to keep adding vodka to the bottle as you use it.

What makes homemade vanilla extract so much better than “store-bought”? First, you have control over the quality and type of vanilla used in the extract. Using premium grade vanilla beans will provide significantly better flavor and aroma than commercially produced extracts.  Simply take the 7 whole vanilla beans out of your infusion kit, split each bean lengthwise and add 8 ounces of 35%+ alcohol.  Any type of alcohol can be used, but bottom shelf vodka is most common because it will not add any additional flavors to the extract. Bourbon, rum and brandy can also be used. After 8 weeks, the vast majority of the extraction process is complete. For complete infusion 8 months is a typical time frame.  Once the vanilla is ready to use the vanilla beans can be removed, but If the vanilla beans are left in the bottle, the flavor will continue to evolve (just be sure the beans are always submerged in alcohol).

Well….Here is the fruit of my labor, and I love that it only required the labor of fill and wait.

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So I had to test it out!

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I made a Biscoff – Yogurt Vanilla Infused Fruit Dip.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2  6-ounces Greek yogurt with honey  (can use with any yogurt with or without honey)
  • 2 tablespoon crunchy biscoff spread or any nut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon infused vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Add what you like…this recipe is so easy to incorporate YOUR favorite flavors

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Serve with sliced apples, berries and assorted fruits.
  2. Store unused portion in the fridge for 2-3 days.

* I have frozen this dip before and it thaws well. Just be ready to whip it up as it thaws to get back the original texture.

 

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I make this little dip often and I have to say that my favorite version is this one. The combination of the crunchy biscoff and my new vanilla extract really gave it a fun crunch and a warm vanilla flavor.

Fruit Dips and Yogurt Recipes of the Past. 

Check ya Later.

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 Need some new recipes? The Sexy Vegan has done it again, with a collection of Vegan recipes under the book title of Happy Hour at Home. I adore the theme of this cookbook, Small plates, BIG FLAVORS & Potent Cocktails. He designed the book for an intimate menu serving 2 to 4 guests. It gives it a romantic and dreamy feeling. Plus the creativity and thought put into the dishes sure did make this girl an instant fan of Brian. 
Here’s the story on Brian.
When Brian Patton, a regular guy rather than a highfalutin chef, began posting videos on YouTube as his hilarious alter ego, “The Sexy Vegan,” celebrity status, including a book deal for his first book The Sexy Vegan Cookbook quickly ensued. Now, he’s done it again with his upcoming new book The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home: Small Plates, Big Flavors, and Potent Cocktails (New World Library, June 1, 2013).

When Brian began dating his soon-to-be wife, he offered to entertain her with Friday night Happy Hours at her apartment or his. After a long work week, she was ready to kick back and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine, and it was the perfect way to enjoy summer evenings. After a couple of weeks, these evenings weren’t just for two because her friends begged for invitations after hearing rave reviews of Brian’s delicious tapas and appetizers.

Brian created so many recipes that he decided it was time to put them into a book.

The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home is divided into 20 Menus, each with 3 or 4 recipes, and libation suggestions. The dishes in each menu complement each other, using similar spices and overlapping ingredients, making the menus efficient. Designed around specific themes, each menu has a unique twist but can easily be combined with other finger foods to provide everything you need to entertain vegan and non-vegan friends and family alike.

Recipes include favorites with a twist, such as yamburger sliders, seven-second salsa, cucumber almond dates, and heart of palm ceviche. The book also has innovative delights such as rhubarb pancakes and rhubarb mimosas, because, as Brian writes, “it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Brian has tested each menu and can make them in 60 minutes or less, and he offers ways for readers to increase their efficiency in the kitchen. Included with each recipe are shopping lists, making planning simple and QR codes with links to videos of Brian creating select dishes.

True to the Sexy Vegan’s signature style, The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home is efficient, lively, and funny. On every page, he proves that seriously good — and good for you — food can be easy, fun, and delectable.

Interested? Well here is how you can get your hands on this book. Go to New World Library link here.

I have so many pages marked with recipes I want to make from this book. I look forward to cooking and serving up some serious mouth-watering small plates and some tempting cocktails.

First on my list is this Libation.

The Punchy Pineapple

Makes 1 cocktail

  • ice cubes
  • 2 fluid ounces (1 1/2 shots) spiced rum
  • 3 fluid ounces coconut water
  • 2 fluid ounces pineapple juice
  • 3 fluid ounces ginger beer
  • splash of Amaretto

Fill a tumbler halfway with ice cubes. Add the rum, coconut water, pineapple juice, ginger beer, and Amaretto. Stir with a long spoon.

Want More Information on The Sexy Vegan?

Website: www.thesexyvegan.com

Twitter: @TheSexyVegan

Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSexyVegan

YouTube: The Sexy Vegan

The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour At Home Cookbook

 *A Special Thank you to Kim, Senior Publicist of The Sexy Vegan’s Happy Hour at Home, New World Library, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Check Ya Later.

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Happy Weekend! Wanted to start my post with the Stubb’s BBQ Giveaway Winner.

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Using the Random Integer Generator.

Here is the random number:

Numbers

Pick  numbers between  and . Distinct:  
Sequence=27 
Draw stat: sum=5, avg=5.00
Draw date: 2013-06-01 06:03:09

(Sum=5 Avg=5 ) Congrats #5 wildbluewonder,

 I think burgers are my fave. Like some of your other friends mentioned, though, it’s so hard to choose!

  1. Congrats T! Your gonna love the Stubb’s line. I emailed you with the prize information. I know you will Love Stubb’s BBQ Line. I have been spicing up chicken, pork, veggies and potatoes! Really delicious products. Please, enjoy and a Huge  Thank-you to Stubb’s for Hosting this giveaway.

     

    Stubbs+ Grill=Summer Fun and Food.

Now onto another summer favorite. Chopped Salads and Beer.

Chop Salad! That seems to be my current addiction. I’ve made one almost every day since the Michigan Bloggers Meet-Up.

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I used recipes from here and here. I just chopped away and added as much or little of each of the ingredients below. No measuring.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag Mixed Lettuce
  • Shredded Carrots
  • Shredded Red Cabbage
  • Chopped Chives
  • Goat Cheese Crumbles -or- Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • Wonton Strips
  • Bolthouse chunky Blue Cheese Yogurt Dressing
  • Dried Cranberries and Honey Roasted Pecans
  • Chopped Chicken Breast

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directions:

Chop lettuce in 1/2-inch squares. Mix lettuce with the chopped carrots, and cabbage. Toss in the pecans and  dried cranberries with the dressing. Add the tortilla strips, goat cheese or blue cheese crumbles, and chives. Serve in a chilled bowl.  Top with sliced grilled chicken breast.

Also had a Applebee’s Chop Salad and a Beer. Loved this salad. It had tortilla strips, black beans, chopped chicken and the dressing was zippy and creamy.

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I am so hooked on Blue Moon Beer right now, it’s so refreshing and light.

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Check Ya Later.

 

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Hello All, hope everyone is well and enjoying the Spring Weather. I know I am. It was slow to arrive to Michigan, so I am taking advantage of any time I can get outside. So with Spring here I wanted to make a light, but hearty dinner.

I love lasagna. I love spaghetti squash. So let’s make a Spaghetti Squash Lasagna.

First step is to Roast your Spaghetti Squash.

PREPARATION:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. Drizzle cut side with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place squash, cut side up on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove squash from oven and cool slightly, to handle. Into a bowl, shred the inside of the squash with fork.

Now onto the Lasagna. Okay…Here’s the thing. I know most people omit the noodles when they use spaghetti squash, but it just didn’t seem right to me. So I added noodles. I make my own rules, what can I say.

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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

8×8 Baking Dish

Serves 4 Large Pieces

Ingredients:

  • Roasted Spaghetti Squash
  • No Boil Lasagna Noodles
  • Tofu 1 Container
  • Shaved Parmesan Cheese
  • Seasoning for the Tofu: Italian Garlic Gold Nuggets, Parsley, Salt and Pepper
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Parmesan Cheese Shaker (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press the water out of the Tofu. Crumble with a fork and season with Salt, Pepper, Parsley and Italian Garlic Gold (or any other Italian Seasoning). Mix well. Cover bottom of 8×8 pan with pasta sauce, then a layer of noodles, then spread the tofu mixture over noodles, then a layer of spaghetti squash and some shaved parmesan cheese. Repeat the process 3 times. When finished top layer should be pasta sauce and I also sprinkled in the remainder of my seasoned tofu and shaved parmesan cheese.

Bake on 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

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I just have fun when making a lasagna. I layer as much as I can depending on the ingredients. One note to stress when making this recipe, make sure you press out all the water from the tofu. Nothing worse than a watery lasagna, and of course ricotta cheese can be used in place of the tofu. I like to use either or, just depends what I have on hand.

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Recently, Meijer contacted me and asked if I wanted to try their New Cereal. I love cereal and so does my husband, so I was so excited to give them a try.  Plus their price point on cereal is a far better deal than any national brand cereal, and I really like that.

They sent 3 boxes:

  • Blueberry Muffin Squares
  • Toasted Oats
  • Fiber Complete

 

Also for anyone interested in trying them Meijer is having a 50 Percent Off Sale on Meijer brand cereals and an In-store Cereal Party in all of their stores on April 20 (11a.m.-4p.m.). This is a great event for kids, they can sample new flavors, make cereal crafts and pose for fun pictures!  I loved all the flavors, but have to say that the Blueberry Muffin Squares were my favorite and my husband loved the Toasted Oats. Hope you can make the event and stock-up your pantry with some great new flavors of Meijers brand cereal.

 

 

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Check Ya Later.

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I love hummus, eat it nearly every day. Well sometimes I get upset at the price if it’s not on sale or I do not have a coupon, so I broke down and made my own. One thing that helped me come to this breakdown was Chef Ramsey.

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Over the holidays I was at Kmart’s and saw Chef on the box and thought I needed that stat, but I did not buy it. I was shopping for toys for my doggies and on a mission to stay in my Christmas budget. So I walked away from it/him.

Well, last week I realized that my doggies needed some new chew bones so off to Kmart’s I went and there he was staring at me again! Chef, please people will talk. Well something was different this time, he had a little red flag on the price tag! It was On Sale for $14.99. The original price was $22.99 so I thought that was a good enough deal to seal said deal. So needless to say I walked out with Chef Ramsey and some chew bones for the doggies!

My current chopper is super small and I never tried to make hummus because it seemed impossible with a tiny little prep chopper, but now I had no good excuse. I had Chef Ramsey by my side.

So My “To Do List” Went Like This.

# 1 Find a Recipe:

Note: I mixed and matched recipes to make this one, but it was Inspired by Ina’s Recipe.

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1  can of chickpeas, drained, 2 tablespoons of liquid reserved
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • Paprika to Garnish

Directions

  1. In a blender, pour garbanzo beans, reserved garbanzo bean liquid, lemon juice, tahini sauce, olive oil, and salt, and . Blend until creamy and well mixed.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a medium serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika  and drizzle with olive oil over the top.

# 2 Pulled out the Chopper:

# 3 Gather the Ingredients:

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#4 Make the Hummus:

and here’s the end result.

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Hummus and Pita = Happiness.

#5 Eat the Hummus:

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#6 Rate the Hummus:

Well I love Sabra Hummus, and in no way can I say this was like Sabra Hummus. There is just something about the smooth creamy texture of Sabra that I do not think I have ever found in any other brand or homemade hummus I have eaten. BUT. This was good and hearty. I liked that it was thick and still had little bits of chickpeas that were not 100% ground up. HOWEVER. When Sabra goes on sale or I have a coupon, I will stock up. I will continue to make my own and perfect it a bit, but Sabra stole my heart and until I can mimic it, I will continue to buy it.

P.S. Thanks Chef Ramsey. Your Cool.

Check Ya Later.

Question: Whats a recipe or food item that you just cannot seem to recreate?

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I must share something, I have a New Food Love.  It’s with Wheat Berries.

But First Check out my New Tea Mug. It’s a wide mouth mason jar with a Cuppow Lid. I love it. I received the Cuppow lid in one of my Vegan Conscious Boxes. On a cold day the mason jar also doubles as a hand warmer.

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My new tea mug sure does complement my Oats in a Jar, Jar! I love jars, containers, bins, baskets and anything else that stores and organizes items. I love glass jars for food storage and serving food.

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So on to the Wheat Berries. I found these in the bulk bin section at Whole Foods and needed to try them out. I love grains and this is one I have not tried.

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After soaking them overnight, I drained and rinsed. Then add 2-1/2 cups of water and boiled for 35 minutes. NOTE: Just make sure that you do not let all the water boil out. Stir occasionally. I kept my eye on them the entire cook time, I made the mistake once and walked away while boiling rice, and all the water boiled out and I had a terrible mess in my saucepan. NEVER AGAIN.

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They are very chewy with a nutty flavor, they are now on my favorite list. Not sure why I waited so long to try them. Oh yeah, I know why…The closest Whole Foods is 40 some miles away from me and I have not found them anywhere else. Well now that I know, I can stock up and keep on hand. Win, Win.

I have been adding a 1/4 of a cup of cooked wheat berries to my Oats in a Jar Oatmeal.

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Here’s some helpful information I found on Wheat Berries over at The Food Network.

Wheat berries are a true whole grain! You may not recognize the name, but without these kernels, there would be no flour. Wheat berries are loaded with nutrients and are as easy as rice to prepare — perfect for a meal any time of year.

What are wheat berries?
Wheat berries are whole wheat kernels. They look like thick, short grains — similar to brown rice. Industrious folks grind them into whole wheat flour for baking; you may not have the time to regularly grind your own flour, but it’s a fun thing to try at least once.

When boiled, cooked wheat berries have a chewy bite and subtle nutty, earthy flavor. They’re sturdy enough to handle bold salad dressings and still delicate enough to taste delicious with some milk, honey and cinnamon.

If you like sprouts on salads and sandwiches, add a little water to wheat berries and you can grow your own wheat sprouts.

Why are wheat berries “Healthy Eats”?
Since the wheat kernel is left intact, virtually none of the nutrients are stripped away. A cup of cooked wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron. Tasty sprouts are loaded with vitamin E, a cell-protecting antioxidant, and magnesium, which is good for healthy bones and muscles.

What do you do with wheat berries?
Look for wheat berries at a health food store or in the natural foods section of your local supermarket.

Prepare wheat berries in boiling water — just like other grains. Add cooked wheat berries to soups or even chili. Serve hot as a side dish with hearty mushrooms or cold for a satisfying salad full of flavor and whole grain goodness. Wheat berries have nutty flavor so they’re great with fresh vegetables and dried fruit such as cherries or cranberries.

Read more at: blog.foodnetwork.com

Now here some of my snacks from the week.

Kale Chips, always a favorite.

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Hail Merry Macaroons I received in my Vegan Conscious Box. Chocolate Craving CRUSHED by these little Macs.

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I made my husband this Decadent Apple Caramel Cake. He saw it while grocery shopping and added it to the cart. (?)

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It was good, but really sweet. He loved it, and that’s all that matters, sometimes you have to indulge on not so homemade, not so healthy items. At least I used my Egglands Best Eggs…

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* Since finding the Wheat Berries and cooking with them I have now located them at a Health Food Store NEAR my home! Dale’s Natural Foods Store in Flint Michigan. I shop here often and turns out they have carried them all along, I guess I just never looked carefully enough in the Bulk Grain Bin Section. Apparently my Observation skills are at an all time LOW.

Check Ya Later.

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So I wanted to do a recap on some of the meals I enjoyed while getting creative using Chobani Greek Yogurt in recipes.  The promotion is called #justaddgood. Here’s the idea behind it:

Chobani Conversion Chart.

Chobani Ingredient Conversion Chart

So I’ll take you back to the original post on my Chobani Delivery.  Now let’s look at some dishes!

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Most recently I made this little frozen dessert. This recipe was adapted from Lindsay’s over at The Lean Green Bean. Lindsay has amazing recipes and she is really creative with health ingredients.

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Here’s how I put this all together.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
  • 1 Large container of Vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ground oatmeal
  • 4 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter or 2-3  tablespoons of regular nut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds

Instructions for Crust

  1. Mix 1/2 cup ground oats and 4 tablespoons of PB2, along with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds together.
  2. Next, slowly add 1/4 cup of water to the dry mix until it is smooth and incorporated
  3. Press the crust into a 8×8 glass pan and proceed to make the filling

Instructions for Filling

  1. Mix yogurt and crispy brown rice cereal together in a bowl.

Now put it all together

  1. Spread yogurt mixture into the oatmeal crust.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer until frozen.
  3. Remove from freezer, cut into bars.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

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It’s like a frozen rice crispy treat. They freeze well and I love them.

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So with having so much on hand and not wanting to waste a single drop I grabbed a container and made some FroCHO™ Ice Cubes to have on hand for smoothies. I have made Chobani Frozen Treats before, but I wanted more information. So I headed on over to the Chobani FAQ Webpage and here’s what I found on freezing!

Can I freeze Chobani?

Yes, frozen Chobani (or FroCHO™ as we like to call it) can be stored for up to three months. While frozen, the live and active cultures present in Chobani become dormant. But once thawed, either in the refrigerator or by your body heat when eaten, they become live and active again.

FroCHO™ will have a slightly different texture, whether eaten frozen or thawed, but makes for a refreshing treat.

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Once they were frozen, I bagged and dated them. Well I also had to try some in a smoothie, I am only human after all.

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So I grabbed 3 Chobani cubes, a frozen banana and a snack size bag of frozen raspberries and a scoop of protein powder. I keep lots of frozen fruits on hand. I have a small section of my freezer dedicated to items to make smoothies! Check out my stash here. I topped of my blender bottle with soy milk and blended. The Chobani cubes really kept it cold and super smooth.

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I love spicy, hot flavors. So when I saw Tiffany’s Post on Spicy Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas, I knew I had to make them. I meet Tiffany at the 2012 Blend Retreat. She blogs over at Snack Snark Bark. I did alter her original recipe, I did not have any celery on hand and I also omitted the jalapeno peppers. I do love spicy hot flavors, but jalapeno is just too much for this gal. I also stuffed them, I mean jam-packed them full so I only ended up with 5 enchiladas, where the original recipe called for 12 tortillas. Oops.

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Before:

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After:

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I am in love with these bad boys, they are so zippy and spicy, I had to dab my upper lip a few times! If you like Franks Red Hot, then these are for YOU.

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Super Spicy Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas

  • 5 tortillas
  • 1 ½ lbs of chicken, cooked
  • 1 cup Chobani 2% plain yogurt (in place of cream cheese)
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (same some for topping)
  • 4 oz. Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chile powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Ranch dressing for drizzling

Mix together well, stuff tortillas and fold, place seam side down in pan, sprinkle with blue cheese and drizzle ranch dressing and hot sauce and bake on 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes and enjoy.

So on to a milder recipe….Cho-Egg Salad Sandwich.

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I just diced up 2 hard-boiled eggs a generous amount of mustard along with a few tablespoons of Chobani yogurt and mixed together, tasted then added more mustard and Chobani to my taste. Toasted some wheat bread. Piled the Cho-Egg mix on the bread, then topped with Organic Pea Sprouts, and dug in, it sure did make a perfect lunch.

Made my all time favorite breakfast bowl or Cho-Cereal Bowl. Kashi Heart to Heart cereal, PB2 (not pictured), hemp seeds, cinnamon and mixed with Chobani yogurt. Love, Love, Love.

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Cho-Enchiladas. Check out my recipe/post link.

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More Cho-Cereal Bowls.

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Shrimp Taco Wrap with Chobani instead of sour cream…Very Tangy.

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I think the one thing I am currently obsessed with is the Chobani Fruit Dip. Inspired by the Fruit Kebobs on the Chobani site.

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Chobani Fruit Dip

Serves 1

2 Tablespoons Chobani Greek Yogurt

1 Tablespoon Biscoff Spread or any Nut butter

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

3 Shakes of Cinnamon

Blend together with a spoon and dip, dip away.

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I also wanted to mention that I froze 3 cups of this dip in a glass Pyrex container for a Super Bowl party. Before the party I let it thaw and whipped it up with a spoon, and the texture and flavor were as good as when it was first made fresh. CHO-Bonus.

Question of the Day: What’s your favorite way to use Greek Yogurt in your recipes?

Check Ya Later.

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