Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

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Fresh, cool, crunchy, creamy, and delicious Tzatziki, which is basically a Greek cucumber salad made with thick, strained yogurt, and seasoned with dill and garlic. Uh, yum, right? If you’ve ever had tzatziki, you know what I’m talking about!

It’s funny because I’ve known about tzatziki for a long time, enjoying it at restaurants and such, that wonderful Greek yogurt sauce dip wonder. I’ve seen several cucumber salad recipes around this summer on some of my favorite recipe sites like foodgawker; German cucumber salads, normal cucumber salads, and others. It got me hungry, so I decided to make my own. And let me tell you, I got right on it because zero cooking or baking in a recipe is a wonderful thing when the summer here in Florence has been between 90-106°F / 32-41°C since June.

I noticed most of the recipes I came across used sour cream, but I used plain greek yogurt because it’s more nutritious. Once I found a nice balance between the flavors, I wrote down the recipe and decided to share it with you guys! Then I recalled that tzatziki has very similar flavors, and although I’ve never made it nor even looked up a recipe, my curiosity got the best of me to see just how similar they would be. What do you know, I basically made tzatziki and didn’t even know it! So much for making an original recipe, haha!

So what I’m sharing with you today is my accidental take on tzatziki, similarly enough to be called so, but not THE original. If you make the changes listed below, however, you can have yourself a delicious and authentic Greek tzatziki!

What are the differences from a traditional tzatziki and the one you see below?

  • The cucumber is usually grated and drained (either by squeezing or letting sit in cheese cloth over a bowl overnight) instead of sliced. I also use more cucumber to make a creamy salad rather than a dip that features cucumber. if you want to make real tzatziki, use a half of a large cucumber or a smallish one.

  • Traditional would have more yogurt so again, more of a sauce or dip rather than a salad. For real tzatziki, double the yogurt to 1 1/2 cups / 340g.

  • For the acidic element, I used lemon juice, but vinegar of some sort is usually called for. I’ve read in Greece they most often use red wine vinegar.

  • I added more fresh dill! Because I love dill. If you think about it, this is like a creamy dill pickle dip. It has the cucumbers, the garlic, the dill….no wonder I like it so well! For original tzatziki, use about 1 Tbsp chopped.

If you eliminate the cucumbers (or shred them like the traditional way), it makes an excellent and much healthier alternative to most veggie dips. I might even like it better than Ranch!


Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Serves about 2

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup / 170g plain greek yogurt or vegan yogurt

  • generous 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

  • 2 tsp / 10g lemon juice

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 large cucumber, chopped with skin/seeds removed as desired

  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

  2. If serving immediately, add cucumber and stir to coat; drizzle with olive oil. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to serve, adding cucumber and drizzling with oil at the last minute.

Jenny’s Notes:

  • For optimal creaminess, I would use full fat greek yogurt. If you are vegan or dairy-free, use a thick/Greek dairy-free yogurt alternative!

  • In an ideal world the dressing would be made a day ahead of time and the cucumber added just before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and cuts the sharpness of the garlic a bit, without the cucumber sitting in the dressing for a day and losing its liquid. However, this makes a great last minute dish and it tastes just fine if eaten right away!

vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, veggie dip, cucumber, garlic, fresh dill, Greek yogurt, Ranch substitute
Side dish, lunch, sauces and condiments
Greek
Yield: 2
Author:

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

Creamy salad form of the classic Tzatziki sauce: Cucumbers, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh dill.
prep time: 10 Mcook time: total time: 10 M

ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup / 170g plain greek yogurt or vegan yogurt
  • generous 2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tsp / 10g lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped with skin/seeds removed as desired
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional

instructions:

How to cook Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

  1. In a medium bowl combine yogurt, dill, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. If serving immediately, add cucumber and stir to coat; drizzle with olive oil. Otherwise, refrigerate until ready to serve, adding cucumber and drizzling with oil at the last minute.

NOTES:

For optimal creaminess, I would use full fat greek yogurt. If you are vegan or dairy-free, use a thick/Greek dairy-free yogurt alternative! In an ideal world the dressing would be made a day ahead of time and the cucumber added just before serving. This helps the flavors meld together and cuts the sharpness of the garlic a bit, without the cucumber sitting in the dressing for a day and losing its liquid. However, this makes a great last minute dish and it tastes just fine if eaten right away!

Calories

123.72

Fat (grams)

7.21

Sat. Fat (grams)

1.05

Carbs (grams)

5.89

Fiber (grams)

0.61

Net carbs

5.28

Sugar (grams)

3.78

Protein (grams)

9.30

Sodium (milligrams)

181.86

Cholesterol (grams)

4.25
Nutritional information is approximate.
Created using The Recipes Generator
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Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

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Post Valentine's Day, or Galentine's Day, you may need to take a break from chocolate.  No wait, never mind, that's silly.  Chocolate is always necessary.  What was I thinking?  But I'm sure you already have plenty of chocolate on your hands (maybe literally, put that candy bar down and get busy making this coffee cake) in the form of heart boxes, Dove dark chocolate with those hidden messages, Hershey's kisses, or in my case, Toblerone.  So instead, let's make a very white dessert (or breakfast, hey) with a delicate crumb and cheesecake filling.  Yes? Yes.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Serves 12-16

Ingredients:

For the Filling

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (1 package)

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 egg

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3 Tbsp oil

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1/2 cup yogurt or sour cream

For the Streusel

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan.

For the Filling

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat cream cheese until smooth, about 30 seconds. 

Add sugar, vanilla, and egg and beat on medium-low speed until combined.  Pour into a another bowl and set aside. 

For the Cake

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine oil and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla. 

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and yogurt to wet ingredients in thirds and halves.  Dry, yogurt, dry, yogurt, dry.  Mix only until just combined after each addition. 

For the Streusel

Combine sugar, flour, and butter in a small bowl with a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands until crumbles the size of pebbles appear.

Assembly

Spread half of the cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. 

Pour and spread cream cheese filling evenly over batter; gently swirl.

Spread remaining half of cake batter over cream cheese filling. 

Evenly sprinkle streusel over the top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out mostly clean. 

Jenny's Notes:

Love coffee cake or serving at a party?  You can double this recipe and bake in a 9x13 inch pan instead.  Increase baking time to about 40 minutes.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins

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The world is a beautiful place full of diverse people, traditions, and food.  The beauty of the age we live in is how accessible it has become to travel.  You no longer have to rely on magazines and other people's experience, or weigh the cost of time it takes to get places and the chance of death as you voyage on a ship or whatnot.  Even if you remain right where you are, chances are the other people around you are coming and going.  The world is opening up more and more, we are no longer isolated from each other.  We are exposed to different ways of thinking, culture, languages, ideals.  Sometimes we agree, and sometimes we don't, and as long as we know how to do those two things humbly and lovingly, it can be a beautiful thing.  Even when it seems the disagreements outweigh the agreements, there will always be one thing we have in common: Food. 

Never underestimate the power of food.  We can thank France for flaky, buttery pastries, crepes, chocolate mousse, and baguettes, Italy for pizza, pasta, gelato, and panettone, Germany for pretzels and bratwurst, Greece for Gyros, the middle east for hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, baba ganoush, pita, and shawarma, Turkey for Turkish delight and baklava, Japan for sushi, China for wontons, spring rolls, and dumplings, Ireland for Shepherd's pie, Mexico for tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, Canada for Poutine, U.S. for macaroni and cheese, apple pie, s'mores, buffalo wings, jambalaya, and muffins. 

To summarize, while the French are making pastries, Americans are making muffins.  Hm.  That's fine.  Taking two days to make something does not necessarily mean it will be automatically better.  (In this case, however, I think it does.)  But we don't always have the luxury of taking two days to make pastries when the fancy strikes.  Life and work happens.  Enter the humble muffin.  Simple, humble, delicious, and quick to whip up.  It has its place in the kitchen.

They tend to get a bad rap being high in calories, unhealthy, and associated with muffin tops.  I promise, their sole intent in life is not give you a muffin top.  Poor muffins.  I am here today to show you that muffins can be nutritious, not 500 calories a pop, and enjoyable to make.  I hope I don't have to tell you they are also enjoyable to eat. 

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins

12-14 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat or white whole wheat flour

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 3 Tbsp oil

  • 1/4 cup yogurt or sour cream

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup peanut butter

  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Oven 375 Fahrenheit.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease.  You may need two pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine oil, yogurt, and brown sugar.  Add peanut butter and mix until incorporated.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. 

Add 1/3 of flour mixture to the stand mixer, mixing just until combined.  Add half of the buttermilk, again mixing until just combined.  Repeat again with another third of the flour, the remaining half of the buttermilk, and finally the last third of flour.  Gently stir in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips with a spoon or spatula. 

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, and sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips over the tops. 

Bake until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes. 

Jenny's Notes:

Whole wheat flour is not necessarily healthier than white whole wheat flour, they are simply different kinds of wheat.  Whole wheat flour is a red wheat, which gives it the darker color and slightly heavier texture.  Think of it like a Granny Smith apple and a Macintosh Apple, they are different varieties of apple but equally nutritious for you. 

Using either plain yogurt or a sweetened yogurt like vanilla is fine in this recipe. 

These muffins are not overly sweet, (I think they're perfect for breakfast so you don't start your day with a sugar coma) so feel free to up the sugar if you prefer sweeter muffins. 

 

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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If the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of coffee cake is dry-crumbly-use-up-a-week's-worth-of-saliva-in-one-bite-cake, then think again.  No, no, no.  Coffee cake is supposed to be sweet, but not quite as sweet as regular cake, flavorful, and with a beautifully dense crumb.  That's fancy talk for moist.  But for the mental care of some readers who have an avid dislike for that term, I tried to avoid using it.  But I still did to explain myself.  Just can't win. 

Oh, and for some people who may be confused, there is (most often) no coffee involved in the batter.  The final product, however, pairs beautifully with a mug of coffee.  Hence the name.  (Speaking of words we don't like...mug?  No thanks.  It's like your mouth was too lazy to talk - "mmmm" - then made a huge effort and ended up with "ug."  Mmmmmmug.)  On to more delicious sounding, looking, and tasting things!! 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Makes 9-12 slices of coffee cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • scant 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp

For the Cinnamon Filling

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

For the Streusel

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 inch baking pan, or 8 or 9 inch cake pan.

Make the Cake

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together oil, sugars, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in the egg. 

In a separate small bowl mix together yogurt and milk until combined. 

Add a third of the flour to the oil mixture, mixing until almost combined.  Add half of the yogurt mixture.  Continue adding flour and yogurt mixture to oil mixture until everything is combined and has just incorporated. 

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan, spreading all the way to edges; set other half aside. 

Make the Cinnamon Filling

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. 

Sprinkle this evenly over batter in pan. 

Pour remaining batter over cinnamon filling and use a spatula to gently spread to edges, if necessary. 

Make the Streusel Topping

In another small bowl, combine sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon.  Add the melted butter and mix until crumbles form. 

Evenly distribute crumble over batter in pan. 

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Jenny's Notes:

Watch that bake time.  Toothpicks are your best friend.  I was testing this recipe using my Italian oven that didn't like to bake things on the bottom.   

REALLY like coffee cake?  Double this recipe and put in a 9x13 inch pan or two cake pans.  You can always freeze one pan!

Don't have plain yogurt on hand? You can also use sweetened yogurt and reduce sugar by 1/4 cup, Greek yogurt, fresh ricotta, sour cream, or mascarpone.  The dairy options are endless!!!!  I really liked fresh ricotta in this recipe. 

Banana Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

And Reeses's Cups. 

Cream cheese frosting is the staple frosting for pumpkin cake, carrot cake, spice cake, and red velvet cake.  I really think people like red velvet cake for the cream cheese frosting.  After all, red velvet cake is more of a barely chocolate cake with a bottle of red food coloring.  The original recipe wasn't originally artificially colored.  The color came from a natural reaction between some of the ingredients, but somewhere along the line someone decided to add a bottle of poison (aka Red Dye #40) to make it more red.  Lame.  So you will probably never see a red velvet recipe on this blog, unless it's colored with beets or something.  I'm so sorry, but red velvet is overrated.  But cream cheese frosting is not!  It's wonderful and tangy and creamy and delicious.  And if you add chocolate to it?  Ohhhh. 

Chocolate cream cheese frosting is new to my repertoire.  If it's not a part of yours, then I suggest you make this now and let the soft tang of the cream cheese awaken your taste buds while the smoothness of the chocolate soothes them over.  And it goes really well on these Banana Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes.  Nom nom nom. 

Banana Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Banana Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp oil
  • scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, peeled and well mashed
  • 6 Reese's Cups, chopped (about 1 cup)

For the Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 -2 Tbsp milk

Directions:

Make the cupcakes

Oven 350 Fahrenheit.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together oil and sugar.  Add yogurt and vanilla.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Slowly incorporate dry mixture into the wet mixture until thoroughly combined.  Stir in mashed bananas and Reese's. 

Using a measuring cup or ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until tops or lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Allow cupcakes to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Make the frosting

While the cupcakes are cooling, beat cream cheese and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add cocoa powder slowly so as not to create a cocoa powder cloud.  Then stir in cooled chocolate and vanilla until combined.  Slowly beat in powdered sugar.  Add in enough milk, 1-2 Tbsp, to make a spreadable or pipe-able frosting. 

Frost cooled cupcakes and top with more chopped Reese's, if desired. 

Jenny's Notes:

Banana cupcakes are very moist by nature, so be sure they get their full baking time.  Normally I would recommend taking cupcakes out of the oven when there are still small crumbs clinging to the toothpick, but not with banana cupcakes.  You want to make sure the toothpick is clean. 

I would recommend chopping the Reese's for the cupcakes small.  Too big and they will sink, too fine and they will get lost in the cupcake. 

You can easily substitute plain yogurt or sour cream for the vanilla yogurt in the cupcake recipe, just add a level 1/2 cup of sugar instead of the scant 1/2 cup.  (Scant in the baking world means "just less than" the designated amount.)