Cold cucumber soup

cold cucumber soup

Last summer I was lucky enough to be part of a trip to Ecuador where I helped build a playground for children. It was an amazing experience, one that I’m sure will pop up time and again on this blog as it continues to impact my life nearly a year later. My roommate during that trip was one of the coolest chicks I have ever met. Every evening she and I sat in our room and scrawled out our thoughts and impressions of the day. And while there are many many things that affected me on that trip, perhaps what I am most grateful for is the reminder of the joy writing gives to me. I journalled the old-fashioned way with ink to paper but Jess was kind enough to keep a blog during that time. My old roomie was on my mind recently because I was craving some humus and I remembered her secret ingredient was half a cucumber blended in, mmm so yummy. I didn’t have any chickpeas or tahini on hand but I did have a cucumber and lo and behold I came across this Cold Cucumber Soup at thehealthyfoodie.

chopped green onion | happyfoodbites

Super easy. Super delicious. However, like most of the soups I make, It does require some sort of blending tool (food processor, immersion blender, regular blender). But before you chop everything up and blend it all together, can I just say how freaking happy it makes me that the kickstarter to grow Reading Rainbow started yesterday and reached it’s one million dollar goal in eleven hours! Reading Rainbow made such a huge impact in my life and I’m so excited that LeVar Burton is still such a big advocate for literacy. Hurray! And now for the soup: start by chopping two green onions.

chopped seedless cucumber | happyfoodbites

Add one cup of chopped seedless cucumber. Seedless cucumbers come in several varieties, the most common being English and Persian and you should be able to find one of these at most major groceries stores but if you have a local market you can go to those are the best! The English cucumbers are longer and skinnier than traditional American ones and typically they’re wrapped in plastic. The skin on seedless cucumbers is also thinner and sweeter than its American counterpart so they are usually not peeled.1 One English cuke will easily yield you more than one cup of chopped pieces but don’t worry about measuring exactly, with a soup like this you can just eyeball the amount of yogurt to mix in.

everything into the blender

Combine chopped vegetables, one cup Greek yogurt, one teaspoon mustard, and one tablespoon each of dried dill and dried parsley in food processor and blend until creamy. Add water, if desired, to achieve preferred consistency. Note it will thicken slightly as it chills. (The original recipe called for 1/2 cup of water but the nonfat Greek yogurt is slightly less creamy compared to the regular version so I didn’t add any water to mine). This is a soup that definitely needs to sit a few hours in the fridge, and preferably overnight, for it’s best flavor. If you have mason jars, they’re perfect for this. Fill them about halfway, give them a shake right before you serve and eat right out of the jar.

Below you’ll find a printable version of the recipe with nutritional information included.

Cold cucumber soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 green onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoons dill
  • 1 tablespoons dried parsley
  • ½ cup water (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine cucumber, greek yogurt, green onion, mustard, dill and parsley in food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Add up to ½ cup of water to desired consistency.
  2. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.
  3. Serve chilled.
Notes
Soup will thicken slightly as it chills.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 91 Fat: 0 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 0 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 10 Sugar: 7 Sodium: 120 Fiber: 1 Protein: 13 Cholesterol: 0

adapted from thehealthyfoodie

I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life.

-Maya Angelou


  1. Chowhound 

Lemon sugar cookies

lemon sugar cookies | happyfoodbites

When the baking muse strikes, I like to make cookies because they’re easy to give away and (most) of these lemon sugar cookies ended up with my friend Amanda over at Dej salon here in the Valley. For the last year or so my go to dessert flavor has been lemon so when I came across these Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Sugar Cookies at Love and Olive Oil I knew I would have to give them a try.

scooping flour | happyfoodbites

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: I prefer a more laissez-faire approach with ingredients and that can be very hit or miss if attempted with baking. That being said I’m pretty happy with how these turned out. I didn’t have any lemon flavored olive oil so I set about hoping to recreate the flavor with lemon zest and juice instead. The first step, however, is mixing the dry ingredients. If you’re not measuring by weight (the most precise manner of measurement) it’s important that your flour is level and not loosely heaping over the measuring cup. While there are many ways to achieve this, I typically just dig into the flour bag with my cup and drag it across the inside flap as I pull up. That’s about as exact as this girl gets!

sift if possible | happyfoodbites

If you have one of these nifty fine mesh strainers, go ahead and use it to sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. If not, just pour all the dry ingredients in the bowl and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon to combine.

measured olive oil | happyfoodbites

In a second large bowl, we’re going to combine the sugar and the liquid ingredients.

add olive oil to sugar | happyfoodbites

I always use less sugar than recipes call for and I was leery that adding the extra liquid from the lemon juice plus using less “solid” (sugar) might make my dough too runny but I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be if I decreased the oil so instead I increased the flour from the original recipe to 2.5 cups which worked well.

grainy paste | happyfoodbites

Give the oil and sugar a quick stir to make a grainy paste. I typically only keep turbinado sugar stocked in my cupboard (thanks Dad) which is less processed than white sugar but that doesn’t mean it’s healthier! Turbinado sugar is pressed sugar cane juice which is then heated to evaporate the moisture and create the crystals which are larger and more brown when compared to granulated white sugar.1 It’s important to remember that all added sugars (which are different from natural sugars such as those found in fruits) are something to eat minimal amounts of; it’s definitely not an every day treat but once or twice a week is okay for most people.

The current recommended daily maximum amount of added sugar is 6 teaspoons (or 24 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (or 36 grams) per day for men (numbers which personally, I think are still too high). If you’re a gal who drinks 3 coffees per day with 2 teaspoons of sugar in each one (or tea with honey), you’ve hit your daily added sugar limit without putting a single solid piece of food in your mouth. And there is an overabundance of sugar to be found in almost any processed or packaged food. Our current U.S. nutrition labels do not differentiate between natural and added sugars but there are some proposed changes in the works including clarification of serving sizes, vitamin D and potassium amounts, and new required information for the consumer on what added sugars are in products. For a straight forward overview of the proposed changes check out the FDA post here and whether you agree or disagree, add your voice to the public forum here.

add lemon zest and lemon juice | happyfoodbites

Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice.

mix in two eggs | happyfoodbites

Mix in two eggs and stir until smooth.

fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients | happyfoodbites

In a lot of baking, when you combine the wet and dry ingredients, you usually add the dry into the wet in two to three small steps. When you see directions to “fold in” think of it as a more gentle type of stirring2 the kind of gentleness you use to pick up the new kitten you just brought home. Here’s a video demonstration of folding in both flour and more delicate eggs whites.

starts out lumpy | happyfoodbites

The dough will look lumpy after the first addition of the flour mixture but don’t despair! Keep folding in a small amount at a time.

finishes soft and slightly oily | happyfoodbites

Once all dry ingredients are combined, the dough will be soft and slightly oily.

refrigerate dough covered in plastic wrap | happyfoodbites

The consistency of this dough was very similar to my Grandma’s recipe for molasses cookies and she calls for her dough to be refrigerated for at least 30 minutes before baking. I split the dough and baked half of it immediately and the other half after 30 minutes of refrigeration. The refrigerated dough ended up more moist than the batch baked immediately so I recommend covering the dough and placing it in the fridge for half an hour before baking. (Quick tip, when refrigerating dough, make sure to press a layer of plastic wrap directly against the dough to prevent the top of it from drying out).

scoop one tablespoon ball of dough at a time | happyfoodbites

Pour a small pile of sugar on a plate. And roll one tablespoon sized balls of dough. (If you don’t have a cookie scoop you can use a regular tablespoon or grab pieces of the dough with your fingers. The scoop just helps to keep all the cookies close to the same size so they bake more evenly).

dip one side in sugar | happyfoodbites

Dip one side of the ball of dough into the plated sugar. Place the balls, sugar-coated side up, on your baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat and press down slightly with your fingers. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes or until edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. These cookies don’t spread much so you only need to leave about an inch between them.

baked cookies

Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

plate of cookies

At only 74 calories and 4 grams of sugar per cookie, I don’t feel guilty having two! Cookies will keep in an airtight container for three days. Share and enjoy!

Below you’ll find a printable version of the recipe with nutrition information included.

birds eye view with bow | happyfoodbites

adapted from loveandoliveoil

Lemon sugar cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 34
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup turbinado sugar, plus more for rolling
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sugar and olive oil and mix with a spatula until it forms a grainy paste. Add lemon zest and juice, eggs, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients until just incorporated. The dough will be soft and oily. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour a small pile of sugar onto plate or small bowl. Using 1 tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into a ball and dip one side in sugar. Arrange on a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet, and press down lightly to flatten cookies. Leave one inch between cookies.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until edges start to turn light golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Cookies are best enjoyed the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cookie Calories: 74 Fat: 3 Saturated fat: 0 Unsaturated fat: 3 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 12 Sugar: 4 Sodium: 56 Fiber: 0 Protein: 1 Cholesterol: 14

adapted from loveandoliveoil

 Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

-Mathe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married


  1. wiseGEEK 

  2. Seasoned Advice 

Chili lime chicken tacos with roasted pineapple

chile lime chicken tacos with roasted pineapple

I was a travel nurse for a few awesome years and I was able to visit every one of the lower 48 states while I worked around the country. Sadly, I never ventured much outside the “standard American” cuisine during that time and I’m sure I missed out on many amazing local flavors. (Although I did have a freshly made beignet in New Orleans, which is like a square doughnut without a hole, and it was totally scrumptious1). Today I am a much more adventurous eater as you can see by these chili lime chicken tacos with roasted pineapple. Are they the most adventurous thing I’ve ever eaten? No, that would probably be whole chicken feet at an authentic dim sum lunch with my friend Dickinson. But these tacos are so delicious, even if you don’t think of yourself as an adventurous eater you must try them!

ingredients for chile lime sauce | happyfoodbites

The chili lime sauce itself is super easy but you’ll find it does require some finger strength. You will need an orange, 2-3 limes, chili powder, cumin and olive oil. This sauce can be mixed up just as well in a bowl with a whisk but I whipped up the sauce while I had the food processor out for yesterday’s Mexican rice recipe since I was planning to let the chicken marinate2 overnight.

zested lime | happyfoodbites

i knew I was going to be using leftover roasted chicken and not cooking the chicken in the sauce, so I wanted it to be extra citrus-y. I started with all the zest off one lime plus 1 teaspoon of orange zest.

squeezed lime look kinda like jellyfish | happyfoodbites

While I made this yummy marinade, I discovered that squeezing limes is much harder than squeezing lemons. Lemons you can squeeze with just a few fingers but limes need the strength of both hands (or maybe I’m just a bit of a weakling haha). It took 3 limes to get 2 tablespoons of juice but I did it, woohoo! Don’t these squeezed limes kind of remind you of jellyfish?

add oil | happyfoodbites

The base for this sauce is equal parts lime juice and olive oil, so it would be very easy to adjust as needed. Add the oil to the lime juice.

add spices | happyfoodbites

Followed by the seasoning: 1 teaspoon of cumin and 2 teaspoons of chili powder.

blend or whisk ingredients | happyfoodbites

Blend or whisk until well combined.

marinate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight | happyfoodbites

Marinate chicken at least 30 minutes but up to overnight if possible.

heating marinated chicken | happyfoodbites

Since I’m using already cooked chicken, I just needed to reheat it in the skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. (If using raw chicken, baking or grilling would probably be your best option).

roasting pineapple | happyfoodbites

While the chicken is cooking, it’s time to roast the pineapple. Chop pineapple chunks into tiny pieces and place on baking sheet in a single layer. The natural sugar in the pineapple will get sticky as it cooks so make sure you use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until edges of fruit pieces are browned.

shredding cabbage | happyfoodbites

You can certainly top these tacos with anything your little heart desires. In addition to the roasted pineapple I used shredded carrots, shredded cabbage, and diced green onion.

charring the tortillas | happyfoodbites

If you’re lucky enough to have a gas stove top, don’t skip this step! Char the tortillas by placing them directly on the burner over a medium-high heat and flip every 15 to 20 seconds until edges are blackened.

2 tacos with Mexican rice | happyfoodbites

Scoop about 1 tablespoon of shredded chicken onto each tortilla and garnish with toppings of choice. Serving size is 2 tacos and they are fantastic with this Mexican rice.

Below you’ll find a printable version of the recipe with nutritional information included.

Chili lime chicken tacos with roasted pineapple
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 3
Ingredients
For the marinade
  • zest of one lime
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
For the tacos
  • 2 cups leftover shredded chicken
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons chopped pineapple, roasted
  • 4 tablespoons shredded purple cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons shredded carrots
  • 2 diced green onions
Instructions
  1. Combine lime juice, olive oil, orange zest, chili powder and cumin in food processor. Blend until combined. Pour ¾ of marinade over shredded chicken and marinate at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place chopped pineapple pieces on baking sheet in single layer. Roast 20 minutes or until edges of fruit are browning.
  3. Reheat chicken in skillet over medium-low heat for 15 minutes until heated through.
  4. Char tortillas over open flame, 15-20 seconds per side (optional). Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of chicken into each tortilla and garnish with roasted pineapple, green onions, shredded cabbage and carrots or any topping your heart desires!
  5. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 2 tacos Calories: 308 Fat: 13 Saturated fat: 2 Unsaturated fat: 11 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 26 Sugar: 4 Sodium: 125 Fiber: 4 Protein: 23 Cholesterol: 49

 Never to suffer would never to have been blessed.

-Edgar Allen Poe, The Mesmeric Revelation


  1. I had mine at the original Cafe Du Monde 

  2. For all you fellow linguists out there, here’s a link to the difference between marinade and marinate