Creamy Dill Dip

Original Recipe HERE

This is a handy recipe to have because, while I always have all of these particular ingredients on hand, it's extremely forgiving and can be tweaked to suit preferences.  One could use different seasoned salt or fresh onion and dill.  I wonder if it could be warmed in the microwave and served as a hot dip - maybe with a little shredded mozzarella added to make it more melty?

We ate it with baby carrots and raw broccoli.  Husband and I both thought it was good, but my kids started out enthusiastic and then lost steam.  Neither finished their portion.  My guess is the dill flavor was too strong; next time I will ease up on it.

1 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt [I used Jane's Krazy]
1/2 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 Tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 Tablespoon dill weed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan [optional]

(1) Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce until smooth.
(2) Whisk in seasonings until thoroughly mixed.
(3) Work any lumps out of Parmesan.  Whisk into dip.
(4) Store in refrigerator until ready to use (ideally several hours).

Kid Participation:
* Whisk ingredients
* Try it, tell me you like it, and then don't eat it when it's served to you

Peanut Butter & Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

Original Recipe HERE

This is based on the recipe linked to above, but I have a similar recipe bookmarked that is peanut butter-based.  I added the yogurt and peanut butter of that one to this guy, and this is the end result.  It's a good fruit dip because the cream cheese and peanut butter ensure it won't be too sweet (unlike popular ones that involve Cool Whip or marshmallow fluff).  I thought it was a success, and my kids ate all of theirs and asked for more.

We dipped apple slices and grapes in it and would've used bananas next.  Also, I served carrots and broccoli with a separate dip alongside this, and my kids both dipped their vegetables in this one instead.  Whatever...as long as they're eating the green stuff, I don't care about the unorthodox fashion.  I think this would be good with graham crackers and Nilla wafers, in which case I might throw in some mini chocolate chips to make it more of a dessert dish.

1 package (8 oz) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup plain or French vanilla yogurt
3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Fruit for serving

(1) Cream together cream cheese, yogurt, peanut butter, and vanilla extract until smooth.
(2) Add brown sugar and cinnamon.  Whisk or stir until sugar is dissolved. 

Kid Participation: Combine all ingredients.

Honey Bars

Original Recipe HERE

These were an easy thing to make since I had all the ingredients on hand.  I'm not a fan of dried fruit or nuts in something that looks like a dessert-ish bar; it confuses my taste buds and my brain cannot decide whether it's processing a sweet treat or a healthy snack.  In the cup of dried fruit the recipe calls for, I mixed craisins, golden raisins..and mini chocolate chips.  Next time I'll leave out the raisins (which I only included because my kids like them) and go with more chocolate.  I used pecans for my nut selection and thought they worked fine.  Husband remarked that he could detect the honey flavor, and I could smell it while baking, so the "honey" element doesn't get lost.

I used a 9x9 silicone pan, so my bars were pretty thin.  They baked for 19 minutes (should have been 18, but I was feeding the baby) and were done upon removal from the oven.  I let them cool a few minutes and then cut them into two large slabs.  I removed them from the pan (much easier to do than from a regular metal or glass pan) and put them on the rack to cool more quickly.

3 egg whites
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons oil (vegetable or canola)
1 cup dried fruit
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup all-purpose white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 chopped nuts
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

(1) Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8x8 baking pan.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk together salt, flours, nuts, oats, and cinnamon.
(3) Add dried fruit; stir until well-coated.
(4) In a separate bowl, whisk together honey, vanilla, and oil.
(5) In a third bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
(6) Combine dry and wet ingredients until well-mixed.  Fold egg whites into mixture; do not overmix.
(7) Pour batter into pan.  Bake 25 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk together dried ingredients
* Whisk together wet ingredients
* Crack eggs
* Pour batter & smooth in pan

Bay Area Burger

Original Recipe HERE

Husband found this recipe on a night he semi-volunteered/was semi-assigned to make dinner.  I wasn't sure if it would be enough for my palette since he likes more basic burgers and I like them fancy.  But it was really tasty.  So tasty, in fact, that I didn't put a single condiment on my burger (besides cheese).  That has never happened...ever.  I am a condiment junky.  I will no longer turn a skeptical eye toward any burger recipes Husband is drawn to.

1 lb ground beef
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

(1) Mix all ingredients together.
(2) Form into four firmly-packed balls.  Flatten to desired patty size.
(3) Grill to desired doneness.

Kid Participation: None.  Eat hot dogs instead.

Cheesy Chicken, Rice, & Bacon Skillet

Original Recipe HERE

This meal.  So easy.  So good.  So horrific for you.  It fits two out of my three requirements for feeding my family a food: is it easy? is it tasty? is it healthy?  So it'll be a comfort dish that we'll only indulge in on occasion.  I didn't bother trying to healthify it in the least, though I guess you could give it a whirl with reduced sodium bacon and broth, low-fat cheese, less butter, brown rice, and mix in some broccoli.  But everyone in attendance ate at least one bowl, so I'm inclined to keep the recipe as-is.

I left out the hot sauce from the original recipe because my kids don't like anything with heat.  And I used a mix of cheddar, monterey jack, and colby in the sauce because I don't always like how cheddar melts - and recongeals.  I also skipped the broiler step and it tasted just fine with my stirring-it-all-together method.

1/2 lb bacon [I used 12 strips]
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
4 cups cooked white rice [I used quick-cooking]

(1) Cook bacon in a large, deep skillet.  Drain; set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons bacon drippings.
(2) Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth and bubbly.
(3) Whisk in broth. Increase heat to high, whisking sauce until thickened.
(4) Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted and sauce is smooth.  Remove from heat.
(5) Reduce heat to a simmer.  Add reserved bacon drippings back to large skillet.  Sautee onion until just tender.
(6) Add cooked rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until coated and slightly crispy.
(7) Meanwhile, crumble bacon.
(8) Add chicken, bacon, and cheese sauce; stir until well combined.  Serve immediately.

Kid Participation: None.