Tobins' Tastes: May 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tobins' Tapas: Easy Summer Veggie Tray With Chobani Mezé™ Dips

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipintoMeze #CollectiveBias

When it comes to entertaining, I am all about the appetizers. In fact, Justin and I love appetizers and tapas style food so much that we often have our own at home tapas nights instead of making dinner.

Traditionally we throw a huge summer party around Memorial Day but this year with Easton, we really haven't planned anything. I'm am thinking we may play it by ear and have a few people over last minute if we are up for it which means I'll be looking for easy, day of recipes that I can throw together without a lot of prep or stress. And this veggie tray with Chobani Mezé™ Dips is exactly what I'm thinking.

As much as I love making cheese and meat spreads for our guests, summer time temperatures in Florida don't really lend themselves to heavy party dishes. I love serving veggies with lighter dips but hate having to mix up the ingredients myself. We already love Chobani's regular Greek yogurts so when I saw these new Meze dips at my local Walmart I had to try them.

My Walmart has a great selection of organic and traditional pre-chopped veggies which made making this tray even easier. I literally grabbed bags of veggies, some breadsticks, pretzels and pita and a few dips and was done. The best part about all of these things is that even if you don't end up having people over they are all things you can eat throughout the week so nothing goes to waste. 

I keep a couple of large trays on hand at home to use for things like appetizer and dessert trays so I just grabbed my summeriest looking one and put a bright colored placemat on it. I then used an assortment of glass dishes for the veggies and kept the dips in their trays- no extra dishes to wash and they come with handy plastic lids that you can save to store the leftovers back in the fridge with.

For this veggie tray we served:
  • Chobani Mezé™ Dips- comes in four flavors: Roasted Red Pepper, Three Pepper Salsa, Smoked Onion Parmesan and Chili Lime 
  • Prechopped broccoli
  • Carrot chips
  • Mini sweet peppers
  • Baby tomatoes 
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Pita chips
  • Crackers
  • Pretzel rods
  • Breadsticks
  • Flatbreads

This tray is so easy to customize based on your preferences or what you have on hand in the fridge/pantry. The Meze Dips are great for warmer weather because they are so cool and refreshing and I love that are made with only natural, non-GMO ingredients. We brought this tray to my cousin's graduation party and people couldn't get over how good the dips were. With all the delicious but not always so great for you party food being served this time of year, I think people loved having a better-for-you option.

Just a heads up, these dips are found in the deli department so don't be discouraged if you can't find them with the rest of the yogurts. Right now you can print out a $1 off coupon so be sure to take advantage of it and stock up!

What are your favorite easy party foods? Any big plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cran-Apple Salad With A Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreschEats #CollectiveBias

Justin and I both consider ourselves people who love to spend time in the kitchen cooking and baking form scratch. In a perfect world, we would both get off work with plenty of time to grocery shop and then Easton would take a fortuitously timed nap or quietly play by himself for 30-40 minutes so that we could make a homemade dinner every night. In reality, Easton usually decides around 5pm that he hates napping and playing and wants to be held or entertained leaving us about 5 minutes to get dinner ready. 

In the first few months of Easton's life frozen pizza was a lifesaver. I would stock up when they went on sale at Publix and when Easton would finally fall asleep Justin and I would rush to put one in the oven and say a prayer that he would stay sleeping long enough for us to enjoy it. Our recent favorite has been Freschetta's Brick Oven Pizzas because we love how they use quality ingredients and taste like they were made fresh. Now that Eason is a little older (and we are a little more adept at this parenting thing), I try to make some thing homemade to pair with our pizza on busy nights.

This Cran-Apple Salad with homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette is an easy salad to throw together and it goes perfectly with pizza. Most of the salad ingredients are things I things I usually keep on hand- bag of salad mix, feta cheese, apples and dried cranberries. When I have them in the pantry, I add some pecans. If you want to make life even easier you can buy a bag of salad toppers with the dried cranberries and pecans already mixed together. 

I have vivid childhood memories of my mom making a fancy homemade vinaigrette for dinner parties. She use to store it in the fridge in this crystal dressing bottle with a little stopper. Every time I make homemade dressing, I wish I had something like this to store it in but since I have yet to purchase one I usually use a mason jar. The vinaigrette can be made ahead of time (hello naptime!) and refrigerated for when you are ready to eat. I made it and stored it in the mason jar to cut down on dishes. 

Cran-Apple Salad
  • One bag spring salad mix
  • 1 apple, sliced thin
  • Feta cheese
  • dried cranberries
  • pecans 
  • Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
Mix together all the ingredients and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately. 

Homemade Apple Cider Vinaigrette 
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a large mason jar. Shake to combine. Can be stored in the fridge until needed with lid tightly on. Just reshake to combine if it sits for awhile. 

Right now is the perfect time to stock up on Freschetta Frozen Pizzas because they are on sale 2/$10 at Publix. I was hoping to try out the new Artisan Crust varieties as they have 3 whole grains baked into the crust but none of my local stores are carrying them yet so I grabbed a few of our favorite Brick Oven ones. What do you like to make on pizza night?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Double Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

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Have you ever been in a dessert dilemma? In our house I would say we face one at least twice a week. What to make? What should we have as our treat this week? One of the biggest dessert debates Justin and I have is the brownie versus cookie question. 

A brownie means fudgey, chocolatey, gooey goodness but would they be too much? Too rich? A cookie on the other hand can be crispy, crunch, dunkable and easy to grab on the go which when the majority of your treats end up at a fire station is a very important quality. And so this week when I asked Justin want he wanted me to bake for his crew, he responded, "Can you make a brownie cookie? You know, a cookie that tastes like a brownie?" Done and done.

I was thinking that I wouldn't like these. I thought that they would be too dry or too crunchy. They were none of the above. It was like biting into the best part of a pan of brownies every time. Tons of that flaky crust that in my opinion are one of brownies best qualities. So chocolatey, so moist yet easy to eat, easy to grab and as Justin pointed out, you can dunk them in milk which is less acceptable to do with a huge chocolate brownie. 

Luckily most of these treats made their way to the fire station but we did keep a few at the house and after a great deal on strawberries at Target we decided to take them a step further. Stuffed with a layer of Lite Cool Whip and dotted with pieces of fresh strawberries these Brownie Cookies became the ultimate summer night treat. Rich, chewy cookies filled with cool filling and just a taste of fruit. Which in my opinion is all your chocolate should ever have. But that is an argument for another day : ) 


Double Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix Cookies
  • 1 box of chocolate chip brownie mix (I used Ghirardelli's Double Chocolate Brownie Mix)
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons of all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips for sprinkling on top (optional)
1.) Mix together brownie mix, oil, eggs and flour. Consistency of batter will be in between that of regular brownie batter and cookie dough.

2.) On a lined or greased baking sheet, place rounded, tablespoon sized balls of dough. I used a oxo cookie scoop. 

3.) You can sprinkle the top of the dough with mini chocolate chips for even more chocolate goodness. 

4.) Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Make sure to let cool before removing from the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container. 

Recipe adapted from I Take Joy

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