Creamy Cheddar Dressing

Creamy Cheddar Dressing on Summer Greens

The Harvest of the Month at Sustainable Connections for June is Salad Greens.  I decided to pair the salad greens with a chunky, creamy, cheddar salad dressing.  The creamy salad dressing is perfect with crisp salad greens fresh from local farms or the farmer’s market.


Dressing ingredients

Creamy Cheddar Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or more if dressing is too thick)
  • 4 ounces extra sharp cheddar
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and mustard.

Stir in the yogurt, milk, cheese, garlic, and chives.  Season with salt and pepper.

Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

**This makes a chunky dressing, if you prefer a smoother dressing, mix the ingredients in a blender or food processor.


Adapted from a Cabot Cheese recipe

Peach Cake

Peach Cake

I would like you to meet my sister-in-law Norma.  Norma is a “Get ‘er done” no nonsense, hard working, practical kind of person.

Norma cracking the eggs

Norma adding the yogurt

Norma would adopt the world if she could.  She would tuck each individual under her wing and give them tender loving care.  She has a love for others that puts me to shame.  I would rather have my privacy than share my home the way she does.

In typical Norma fashion, she can throw together a dinner on the spur of the moment, complete with dessert.  Unexpected company?  No problem.  She just opens the pantry door, takes inventory of her supplies and pulls together a feast for her guests.  That is actually how she invented this dessert.  She made the cake for me and I liked it so much that I asked her if I could share it with you.  She said yes.

Norma making the cake


Norma mixing the cake

Making the Peach Cake

Peach Cake

  • 1 box cake mix
  • 1 can sliced peaches
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Drain the peaches, reserving the liquid.  Cut up the peaches and set them aside.

Mix together the cake mix, yogurt, and eggs.  Beat for 3 minutes.  Mix in enough of the reserved liquid to make a smooth batter, approximately 1/4 cup but more or less depending on the cake mix brand.

Grease a pan, it will fit one 9×13 or 2 ten inch round cake pans.  Pour 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan(s).  Spread the cut up peaches evenly over the cake batter.  Drizzle the remaining batter over the peaches.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Approximately 30 to 35 minutes for the ten inch cake pans or 40-50 minutes for the 9×13 pan.

Peach Cake


Tikka Masala Soup

Potlucks are such a wonderful invention.  It’s a time for connecting with old friends and making new friends.  It’s a time for sharing and laughing and eating.  Lots of eating.  I love that I get to try so many wonderful food that people bring.  People bring dishes that are favorites or have special meaning.  That’s the case here, a friend brought a marvelous soup in a slow cooker.  When she lifted the lid, the tantalizing smell brought me straight over.   It’s the first thing I tried and I begged her for the recipe so I could share it with you.  This soup is fabulous, but her story behind it was even better.

Tikka Masala Soup in the slow cooker

She and her husband spent some time visiting their daughter who is a Bible translator in Bangladesh.  While they were there, they visited some privately run schools.  The public school system in Bangladesh is free, but the students are required to purchase their own books and school uniforms.  Some children are so poor, that they cannot attend school simply because they cannot afford these basic requirements.  A charitable organization opened schools that are available to these poverty stricken children.   They run the schools on a shoestring and the teacher is paid a monthly salary of $10.  That’s all it takes to give these kids an excellent education and pave the road to a better life.  Can you even imagine what a blessing that is for these kids and their families?

This soup was inspired by the flavors and culture that they experienced in Bangladesh.

Tikka Masala Soup



Tikka Masala Soup

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon  paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup broth
  • 28 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1/3 cup ( 5 oz.) coconut milk

Saute the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, curry, garam masala, and paprika. Continue to saute for 5 more minutes. Move to a crockpot and add the chicken broth, rice, and tomatoes. Mix all together and cook on low for 3-5 hours.
3 tablespoons oil

  • 1 pound Paneer
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the spices and toss the Paneer in the spice blend. Heat the oil until medium high. Add the Paneer and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
Add the Paneer to the crockpot and cook on low one hour.
Serve garnished with fresh cilantro and yogurt.

Tikka Masala Soup

Mint Chocolate Hi Hat Cupcakes

I don’t know who originally came up with the idea of the Hi Hat Cupcake, but Martha Stewart was the one who really made them famous.  I couldn’t resist whipping some up back in 2010 when they hit the peak of popular.  The first cupcake dunk was really scary.  I was sure that the frosting would end up floating in the coating.  It’s magical each time you dip the soft silky frosting deep into the thick chocolate and it comes out a beautiful cone.  I can guarantee that I have never lost any frosting in the making of these cupcakes, past or present.




I decided to resurrect the Hi Hat Cupcake for St. Patrick’s day in order to highlight this Chocolate Yogurt Cupcake recipe.  Yogurt gives the cupcake a moist, rich texture without making it heavy.  The light minty frosting is a nice counterpoint to the almost brownie-like cupcake.

The cupcake and frosting recipes are below, if you want to stop there, they are delicious.  If you want to take them to the next level and add the chocolate coating, I recommend that you follow Martha Stewart’s tutorial.  This recipe makes a large batch of cupcakes so it’s perfect for a party!


Chocolate Yogurt Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup strong hot coffee
  • 3 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Appel Farms Yogurt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs + 2 egg yolks (save the whites for the frosting)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put cupcake papers in muffin pans (about 48).

In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot coffee until smooth.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl, place flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk together until combined.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, oil, eggs, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla.  Whisk together until well combined.  Using a paddle attachment, turn the stand mixer on low and slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, then add the coffee/cocoa mixture.  Beat on medium speed until combined, do not over mix.

Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full.  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.


  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract
  • green food coloring (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer or large heatproof bowl, combine egg whites, cream of tartar, water, and sugar. Using a whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, make sure that the water does not touch the bowl.  Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm.

Remove from the heat and put it back on the stand mixer.  Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract, mint extract, and green food coloring.  Beat another 2-3 minutes or until flavors and color are evenly distributed.

Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip (I used a coupler without a tip). Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a cone shape. Refrigerate immediately.

If you would like to add the chocolate coating, Martha Stewart’s tutorial is wonderful!


Cashew Butter Paneer

I’m really excited to share this recipe with you today!  This has to be one of my new favorite paneer dishes because of the crispy texture of the paneer and luscious creaminess of the sauce.  It has just the right amount of kick, but that kick is tempered by the yogurt, paneer, and coconut milk.  I am also excited because I found a really good naan at the local Safeway.  I’ve been looking for really good naan because my naan never turns out right.


Another reason why I love this is that it is so quick, easy, and it includes lots of fresh ingredients for a healthy, satisfying meal.





Cashew Butter Paneer

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Appel Farms Paneer, cubed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups roasted cashews (divided)
  • 1 (6 ounce can) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup Appel Farms yogurt (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 a small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons spicy curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 cup broccoli florets
  • chopped cilantro, for topping


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. Once hot, add the cubed paneer and cook about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towels.

In a food processor or high powered blender, add 3/4 cup cashews and the coconut milk. Blend on high until completely smooth and silky, about 3-4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, yogurt and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth. Set aside.

In the same skillet you fried the paneer, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Once hot, cook the onion about 5-8 minutes or until soft and lightly caramelized. Add the garlic, ginger, and saute for one minute.  Add the curry powder, thai red curry paste, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne and salt. Cook one more minute and then stir in the cashew mixture. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and if it seems too thick for your liking, stir in water to thin. Once the sauce is at your desired consistency, stir in the browned paneer and broccoli.  Cook until warmed through and the sauce thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve over a bed of hot basmati or saffron rice (here is my saffron rice recipe) sprinkled with chopped cilantro and 1/4 cup cashews. Top it off with some fresh naan.

saffron rice


Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Feta Dip

Feta Dip

Our neighbor Shyla has a secret garden at her house.  It’s a wondrous thing.  The entrance is by the driveway between massive rhododendron bushes.  You wouldn’t see it if you didn’t know it was there and when she invited me to it, there was a gargantuan spider guarding the entrance.  The spider sits just above eye level for me so I almost didn’t see it.  At the last moment, I performed an awkward and embarrassing dodging movement, but I successfully made it into the secret garden.  I have no doubt that my moves would have looked hilarious to anyone watching.


Shyla grows vegetables in her secret garden, more than they can eat, so she shared her bounty with me.  She and her whole family are some of the most generous people I have ever met.  Living next to a dairy farm is not always pleasant.  We are noisy, we are messy, and we are smelly, but they shrug it off and bring over pounds of rhubarb and tomatoes.



I served some of Shyla’s tomatoes with a Feta Dip and it was very popular.  I also picked up some carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, and kohlrabi from Small’s garden.  Vegetables fresh from the garden have wonderful flavor and the mellow dip compliments the flavors without overpowering them.

Feta Dip

Feta Dip

  • 1 cup Appel Farms Yogurt
  • 3 ounces Appel Farms Basil Tomato Feta (or flavor of your choice)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine and chill 1-2 hours before serving.  Can be made a day ahead.

Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese Dressing

Buffalo Chicken Wings

I don’t know about you, but the cold crisp mornings here are so delightful to me.  I love the soft blanket of fog that covers the fields in the early morning.  I love the sun breaking through the fog in glorious rays.  I love the dew sparkling in the early morning sunshine.  I especially love the rain and I eagerly look forward to more.  I know I’m not alone:

It’s not simply the arrival of rain, but the transition to a different environment and way of life. The drear has a certain dark beauty; a low-contrast softness. There’s no need to squint or close the blinds. Even the sound of the rain on our house is music to my ears, a lullaby.  Excerpt from Ready for Rain: Why Seattleites Crave the End of Summer

Fall also makes me yearn for comfort foods and at our house, Buffalo Chicken Wings is in that category.  We pair them with a salad and homemade bread to make a meal.  I’ve been making them for some time now, but recently discovered Alton Brown’s recipe and I will never go back to the old way!  Alton Brown steams them before oven roasting and that keeps them moist and not as greasy.  This is why he is my hero!

For the dressing, I mixed my favorite blue cheese, Rogue River Caveman Blue, with our own yogurt.  I have been in love with Rogue River cheeses ever since we visited them a few years ago.


Elizabeth roasting chicken wings

A tower of chicken wings

Buffalo Chicken Wings


  • 12 whole chicken wings
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Place a 6-quart saucepan with a steamer basket and 1-inch of water in the bottom, over high heat, cover and bring to a boil.

Remove the tips of the wings and discard or save for making stock. Using kitchen shears, or a knife, separate the wings at the joint. Place the wings into the steamer basket, cover, reduce the heat to medium and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the wings from the basket and carefully pat dry. Lay the wings out on a cooling rack set in a half sheet pan lined with paper towels and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Replace the paper towels with parchment paper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Turn the wings over and cook another 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and the skin is golden brown.

While the chicken is roasting, melt the butter in a small bowl along with the garlic. Pour this along with hot sauce and salt into a bowl large enough to hold all of the chicken and stir to combine.

Remove the wings from the oven and transfer to the bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2007

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Appel Farms Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I like Rogue River Smoky Blue)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Whisk the yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne in a bowl until smooth. Gently stir in the blue cheese. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors develop.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Lemon Pound Cake with Yogurt Cardamom Sauce

Pound Cake with Yogurt Sauce

I wanted to make a special cake for John for his birthday yesterday.  John is not a fan of birthday cake, especially the cloying sweetness the frosting.  When I make cupcakes, I always set a few aside without frosting, just for him.  This time I wanted something special, but easy.  Half of our Cheese Shop crew is gone on vacation so I am putting in a few extra hours this week.

Grilled Pound Cake is fast and easy to make and it has just the right amount of sweetness.  John wasn’t too sure when I put the cake on the barbecue grill, but he is now convinced that it’s what you need to do to a cake.  Grilling gives the pound cake a nice crunch on the outside while keeping it warm and moist in the center, plus the touch of smoky flavor elevates the tang of the lemon.  The Yogurt Cardamom Sauce was our daughter’s idea and recipe.  The sauce is perfect with the crunchy cake and the floral note of the cardamom adds a lovely compliment in flavor.  Based on those last few sentences, I think that I have been watching too much “Food Network” again.

Lemon Pound Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 8 ounces Appel Farms Quark
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans.
  2. Cream together the butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the quark, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla and lemon. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  With mixer on low, gradually add flour, beating just until combined (do not overmix).
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (tent with aluminum foil if browning too quickly). Let cool in pan 15 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack.  Cool completely then chill for a minimum of 30 minutes before grilling.
  4. Cut in 1/2 to 1 inch slices.  Grill over medium heat for 4-5 minutes per side or until lightly brown.   Serve warm with Yogurt Cardamom Sauce (below).

Grilling pound cake

Yogurt Cardamom Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Appel Farms Yogurt (or Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Appel Farms Quark
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • Pinch of salt

Whisk all the ingredients together, chill 1-2 hours.  Both the cake and yogurt sauce can be made the day before.

Yogurt Gravy

One thing that is tricky when cooking with yogurt is sauces.  Yogurt adds a rich, luscious tang but can be frustrating if not added properly.  Yogurt will separate if heated too quickly or at too high a temperature so proper tempering is essential.  My favorite sauce is a yogurt gravy that I serve with roast chicken and mashed potatoes.

Creamy Yogurt Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons pan drippings
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup Appel Farms yogurt at room temperature (or substitute plain greek yogurt)

Put 2 tablespoons drippings in a small saucepan. Stir in the flour. cook, stirring until golden.  Add water and bouillon cube.  Cook until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Spoon 1/3 of the roux into the yogurt and whisk.  Pour the mixture into the pan and heat to serving temperature.

Lemon Roast Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 small lemon wedge
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, beat oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Brush entire chicken including cavety with the lemon marinade.  Place celery and lemon wedge in cavity.  Place chicken in a shallow baking pan.  Pour water into pan.  Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, baste chicken occasionally with pan drippings.  Chicken will be done when the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165 degrees F.  Serve with Creamy Gravy.
Recipe from Yogurt Cookery (another favorite book) published 1978 by Sophie Kay