For Love of Chobani


As mentioned before, I absolutely LOVE Chobani. From shakes to chicken salad, I am constantly trying to find different ways to add it into my recipe book.

Since I started studying today for my dreaded midterms that are to take place next Monday, I am going to keep this post short and sweet, just like my recipe. Being back in school, it is important for me to mix up meals that I make, especially since cooking for one person is expensive and leaves you with leftovers that can last for days (normally a good thing, but when you have had the same meal over and over AND over, your taste buds want to shot you).

That is why I made some chicken salad that I can pack for my lunch on school days (yes, I have a lunch box) and made some honey mustard dip to go with it. It is in my humble opinion that you can dip anything in honey mustard and it will taste good, so I decided that since I use Chobani as a ranch dip base, it can be made into a honey mustard base. This recipe is short, sweet, and as easy as one, two, three.


Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce





  • Whisk all ingredients together. Chill before serving.


Can that Can: Roast Your Own Red Peppers


Based off my past posts, my readers can see that I have a deadly sweet tooth that influences practically everything that I make, even my salads. From a Summer Salad with fruit to a Honey Cinnamon Vinaigrette, my sweet tooth is going to give me one heck of a cavity if I’m not careful. That is why sometimes it is important for me to mix up my salads with vegetables as topping to reduce my daily sugar intake.  One vegetable, which gives me a little bit of that sweetness that I crave, is roasted red peppers.

My love of roasted red peppers started out with Sabra’s Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, which has become my lunch of choice during these hot summer days. Sabra has even been thoughtful enough to create a travel size Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Pretzels package, which helps me avoid devouring a whole tub of hummus in one sitting (I am/not ashamed that I have done this on more than one occasion).

After discovering roasted red peppers, I tried to buy jarred ones at the grocery store to give my salads a Mediterranean flare, but was disappointed by the metallic taste that they had from the canning process.  After trying several different types of roasted red pepper makers, I decided that it was time to take it into my own hands and roast my own peppers.

Roasted vegetables is not a new concept to me, because I have been know to roast a smorgasbord of veggies for a meal, but having to peal the peppers was daunting. Being a resourceful college student, I googled and googled ways to roast red peppers and condensed the 10 to 20 steps most sites had in a way that I could easily understand and follow (and hopefully you can too).

Once you have roasted your own red peppers once, you realize how easy it is to truly start from scratch while cooking, giving you confidence in the kitchen and allowing you to avoid unnecessary calories and preservative in your food. So go to your local grocery store, by pass the canned food isle, and head straight to the produce department to roast your own peppers!

How to Roast Your Own Red Peppers

  1. Preheat broiler on high heat
  2. Brush sweet red pepper with olive oil* and place on baking sheet lined with foil
  3. Broil pepper on top rack for 5 minutes on each side or until charred
  4. Remove pepper from oven and place in sealed plastic bag for 30 minutes
  5. Once cooled, cut top off of pepper and underneath running water peal skin of red pepper
  6. Slice pepper open, remove seeds, and slice into size of choice

*use olive oil, not extra virgin olive oil to avoid smoking

The last time I roasted red peppers, I used it to top a salad along with cucumbers, toasted pecans, feta cheese, and the always-popular Miller Family Salad Dressing. I can honestly say, my sweet tooth was satisfied and could even have dessert without going over my daily-recommended amount of sugar for the day. In my book, that is a perfect ending to a perfect meal.


A Veg-table


Typical of dieting, when you stop eating certain foods, at first all you want to eat and tend to think about is what you are giving up. It is now day 4 of my 2 Week Challenge of not eating foods containing gluten, but I have decided to focus on what I can have, not what I can’t. Despite this motto, It was a torture when on Day 2 my family wanted to go to Carmine’s Pie House (seriously???) To squash my Italian cravings before they became full-blown pizza binge eating (which would be inevitable), I decided that the next day I was going to make my own Italian dish.

Luckily for me, the dough of the pizza is not what I was drooling over, but instead it was the sauce so I decided spaghetti would be just the thing I needed. Rachael Ray has a great recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs, but again I hit a roadblock when I saw that the ingredients included breadcrumbs. Seriously, no, SERIOUSLY????

I know that the breadcrumbs help binge the meatballs, so I took a detour and decided that Rachael’s base of the sauce was a good place to start for a typical spaghetti sauce, but to toss out the meatballs on the side of the road and pick up eggplant instead.

To insure that I didn’t lose the flavor of the eggplant, I roasted it first with Italian seasoning. I also added more veggies to make it a hearty meal that won’t leave me hungry in two hours. I know that Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser has the skinny rule of “going to bed hungry”, but how do you sleep when your stomach is rumbling so much that it sound like there is a bear in the bedroom?

With the sauce complete, most of you are probably waiting anxiously on your seats to see how I over came the biggest roadblock of all, the pasta. It may seem like I-95 is shut down with no way to go around it, but do not fret, because spaghetti squash is here to save the day.

Spaghetti squash is so easy to make that I am not even going to have to add another section for directions. All you have to do is the following:

1)   Preheat your oven to 410°

2)   Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds

3)   Place squash halves in baking dish, insides down

4)   Fill baking dish with 1inch of water

5)   Bake squash for 40-45 minutes

6)   Remove squash and allow to cool on plate for 5 minutes

7)   Scrape insides of squash with fork to remove “spaghetti”

8)   Top “spaghetti” with sauce and eat up!

Looking back, I realized my WHOLE meal consisted of only vegetables, hints the name of this post “A Veg-table”. That is an accomplishment in my family, since I don’t think that we, meat-eaters, have ever had a solely vegetable meal in our lives and enjoy every morsel. I’m pretty that Rachael is going to be kicked out of the house and Simply Southern Kitchen is here to stay.


Veggie Spaghetti


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 eggplant, diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crush tomatoes with basil
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup baby portabella mushroom
  • 2 beef bouillon
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 425. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and place eggplant onto sheet. Spray eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Roast eggplant for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every so often and set aside once slightly browned. While eggplant is roasting, place olive oil, onion, and garlic in large pot over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until translucent. Lower heat and add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef bouillon, and mushrooms for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add roasted eggplant, spinach, and parsley letting simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve over pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

2 Week Challenge


I’m on my way home from vacation and decided that the best way to follow through with my 2 week challenge is to post it on my blog to keep me honest. After 5 days in the beautiful Bahamas, I have decided to go gluten free, cold turkey, for the next 2 weeks.

I normally try to just eat healthy and avoid most gluten products, but since summer has started I have been slacking. Please don’t judge me for going on a fad diet until you hear out my reasonings.

The main reason to go gluten free is my overall health. When I was 16 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and have struggled with remaining in remission since I finally did go into remission when I was 21. For years I was sick and have found that being consistent with what I eat has helped me control my disease. This summer, I have found myself slipping in how I feel and want to go back to those carefree days of not worrying about being sick.

When I felt my most energetic and healthy, I was avoiding most things that had gluten in them, caffeine, and carbohydrates. All of these things where what I lived off off when I was my sickest only due to the fact that carbs and carbonated drinks tended to settle my stomach.

Coming home from a great trip to the Bahamas, I only wish that my Ulcerative Colitis hadn’t been so troublesome. I had a blast, don’t get me wrong, but that worry of my stomach was close in the back of my mind.

Therefore, to avoid losing my health, which I worked so hard for, I am going to give being gluten free a shot to see if all the bread, sweets, and beer I have been consuming really is the reasoning for my current blimp of not feeling well. It maybe hard, but a mere 14 days is something I think I can handle.

Since I am going to start tomorrow, I of course I had have my last meal (metaphorically speaking) at chickfila with all the fixings. Now that I am fat and happy (not metaphorically speaking), hear goes nothing!!!!

Just a side note, several people, including my grandmother, have celiac disease so I know the benefits and struggles of going gluten free from first hand experiences.

Healthy Competition: The Carrot Cake Battle


“Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.

No, you can’t.
Yes, I can. No, you can’t.
Yes, I can. No, you can’t.
Yes, I can,

Annie Get Your Gun

HAPPY OLYMPICS 2012! I am beyond excited that it is the night of the London 2012 Olympic kickoff. I am sitting on my couch with a beer in hand cheering on the good ole U-S-of-A.

Every two years the Olympics are a time for the world to forgo their differences and come together to compete for the greatest sporting events in the world. I am beyond proud to call myself an American and also a Gator, as the University of Florida’s Marching Band will preform before the opening ceremonies, several UF athletes will be competing, and UF’s swimming coach Gregg Troy will be coaching the men’s US swimming team. Not a bad representation of my alma mater at all in my opinion.

Keeping with the theme of healthy completion, I want to share with you my challenge of taking on J. Alexander’s carrot cake, which several weeks ago my grandmother came over for dinner ranting and raving about. Being a fan of anything that is covered in cream cheese frosting, I instantly had a craving for a slice of heaven myself.

Being a broke college student who works at a bike shop part-time to make some dough and also a health fanatic, I though it was more economical and wasteband-ical to make a carrot cake at home. I had seen Skinnytaste’s Super Moist Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting in the past and decided to adapt it to my own liking, which I seem to be doing a lot more off.

Skinnytaste is a great blog, because it is focused on making tasty, yet good for you food. Most healthy blogs and chefs can keep the calories low and create a beautiful meal, but when amateurs like myself try to recreate them at home the recipes leave something to be desired. In the spirit of the Olympics, I’m not going to smack talk and call anyone out.

Any who, I made Skinnytaste’s carrot cake, but changed some things, which led to a chain reaction of other changes. First, I decided to not strain the canned crushed pineapples to add even more moisture to the cake, because if not careful carrot cake can be a crumbly, dry mess.  Second, due to the mixture being more liquid, I opted to put it in two round cake pans to avoid a soggy center and burnt sides. Third, due to having more surface space, I doubled the cream cheese frosting recipe to ensure there was enough frosting to go around. Fourth (not part of the chain reaction, but also important in my book), I added more coconut and cinnamon to amp up the flavoring. Fifth (and being a southern), I subbed walnuts for pecans and mixed in some nutmeg for warmth.

Luckily for me, all the experimenting paid off, because my grandmother was so impressed with the carrot cake, saying that it is was WAY better than J. Alexander’s. Therefore, mission accomplished, challenge WON.

I know for a fact that Mawga wasn’t just being a loving grandmother and trying to boost my self-esteem, because she requested me to make it the next week yet again. I, being the obedient and loving granddaughter, complied. Two weeks now of eating carrot cake and I am still not sick of it. That says something!

I may not be an Olympian, but hopefully with a little of my help (and also a little bit of Skinnytaste’s) you will be inspired to recreate your own favorites at home. Just don’t forget to share them with your loved ones. After all, cooking, just like the Olympics, is all about bringing people together.

Cheers and go USA (and UF)!

Doubly Layered, Doubly Good:

Emily’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from Skinnytaste)


Batter Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots, peeled
  • 20 oz. can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
  • 3/4 cup toasted, chopped pecans 1/2 cup for topping

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 2- 8 oz 1/3 fat Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together remaining ingredients, except pecans. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients while continuing to mix with beaters. Once thoroughly combined, fold in pecans.

Divide batter into two round cake pans that are coated with Pam. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until center thoroughly cooked and bounces back when touched.

Cool cakes on rack and then put in refrigerator to keep cool.

Once cake thoroughly cooled, make frosting by beating together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until relatively fluffy. Remove cakes from pans and invert. Top each cake with half of the frosting, and then layer cakes. Crumble remaining pecans onto the top of the layered cake.

To avoid the top layer from slipping off the bottom, you can use three toothpicks to secure it, but remember to remove toothpicks once serving cake.

Waste Not, Want Not


Now that I have tons of Honey Cinnamon Pecans at my disposal, I have been trying to find different ways to use them beyond me eating a handful at a time (which I often do). As fate would have it, I stumbled upon a salad dressing recipe entitled Honey Cinnamon Vinaigrette from Southern Living magazine that is sooo similar to the pecans I just had to try it out.

Thankfully it is grilling season and my dad was grilling pork chops earlier this week, allowing me the opportunity to test out the dressing. I used what was available in the fridge to put in the salad due to the economics of being a college student mooching on the parents for the time being. I tossed blueberries (from my Morning Fruit Shakes), Granny Smith apples (a daily snack), blue cheese crumbles (ever salad MUST have cheese on it, that’s the law), and of course crunched up Honey Cinnamon Pecans on top of spring mix. Whisk up the Southern Living dressing, drizzle over the salad, toss, and eat up!

The sweetness of the dressing balanced the tartness of the Granny Smith apples perfectly. I couldn’t have planning it better myself. I did plan it though when I made the salad two days after that…. And then two after that….

Honey Cinnamon Vinaigrette

(Adapted from Southern Living)


  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • dash of salt*
  • 1/4 cup canola oil


Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. If you are not going to use immediately, run container storing the dressing under hot water to give dressing a less viscous consistency.

*The recipe called for ½ tsp of salt, which seemed too excessive

‘Merica, A Land of Nuts


I am a complete freak when it comes to nuts. Sweet, salty, spicy, nuts can top off any meal or be the perfect midday snack. As mentioned before, I am a sucker for sweets so of course nuts covered in a sugar coating are the perfect selling point no matter what item it is on a restaurant’s menu. Unfortunately, these little sweets from heaven can turn a normally healthy meal into a dessert in no time with all the sugar they contain (not that my taste buds are complaining).

Being health conscious, but someone who refuses not to give up their favorite things, I decided to create my own sweet nuts to put on my salads at home. That way, I will know exactly what goes into my salad and how many calories it contains.

Considering that it is almost the 4th of July and I am a patriotic redneck at heart, I decided to use pecans since they are the only tree nuts native to North America. While pecans can get a back rap due to their high fat content, According to the National Pecan Shellers Association they actually are high in healthy unsaturated fats that can lower “bad” cholesterol. They also contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals on top of being ranked one of the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants.

Okay, okay, enough fun facts for today… I could go on forever.

Used a base of honey instead of egg whites, because I like the candy, glass-like coating it creates. To cut the sweetness, though, I decided that cinnamon (as always) would be the perfect ying to the honey’s yang.

One last thing, if you like to have a little kick, try subbing the cinnamon with cayenne pepper. It is out of this world.

Honey Cinnamon Pecans


  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Preheat oven to 350. In small bowl, mix all ingredients. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet that has been coated with no-stick cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir with fork to separate and then bake for 8 to 9 more minutes. Stir with fork and let cool.

I am Woman, Hear Me Roar


Move over macho men, I’m coming for ya! No longer is grilling a man’s sport, as I have recently taken the grilling into my own hands, dubbing myself a grill MASTER.

Okay, okay, maybe I am being overzealous, but the grill has been daunting me as the evil furnace did for Kevin in Home Alone. But just like Kevin, I finally conquered my fears this weekend and decided to grill…my whole ENTIRE dinner.

Being an amateur, I decided that it was probably best to grill chicken breasts, since it is hard to mess them up too badly (right??). I did, however, decide to make my favorite recipe for Hawaiian chicken, which could have been shooting myself in my own foot being that I have high expectations for it.

Luckily we have a gas grill at my parents’ house, allowing me to avoid all the manual labor of dealing with coals (this could be considered cheating to all the TRUE grill masters out there, but give me a break; I’m taking baby steps here). Therefore, all I did was light the grill, set it to medium-high heat, and let the grill do all the work.

The caramelization of the pineapple and the juiciness of the chicken from the grill cannot be recreated with any other type of cooking in my opinion. The grill even perfectly cooked the zucchini ribbons (tossed in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) i had as a side. Therefore, it must be said, that the grill has turned out to be my new best friend (sorry oven) and I cannot wait to try out some more complicated recipes in the future.

So for all the other people out there who are afraid of the grill, seize the day and go grill! I promise that you will not be disappointed, but if you are just remember, practice makes perfect.


Hawaiian Chicken


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, tenderized with mallet
  • 1 large can sliced pineapples in juice
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


Flatten chicken with mallet to 1-inch thickness. Put all ingredients in Tupperware to marinate including pineapple juice withholding actual pineapple slices. Chill for at least 4 hours in refrigerator. Turn chicken over every hour or so. Preheat grill at medium-high heat. Place chicken on fully heated grill, cooking for 6-8 minutes per side. Baste breasts often with marinate juices to create caramelized coating. Put pineapple slices on the grill when chicken almost fully cooked, flipping once. Serve pineapples on top of chicken.

Aloha Summer!


Welcome to summer and hopefully the beginning of me blogging again! It has been a crazy year so far as I have gotten a puppy named Abbey on top off going back to school to obtain a Master of Science in Management at UF. It has been surreal being back at my old stomping grounds of Gainesville (and midtown), but luckily for me I have met some amazing people to make all the hard work in school and with the new pup worth while. Last week I finished my summer classes and am now back in Jacksonville for the next 2 months. I will miss my independence of living on my own (considering I’m back at the rents house), but its also exciting to have more time to do the two things that I love the most: reading and cooking.

Reading (and eating healthy) has been a struggle, since I have been trying to catch up with my friends and family this past week, but I’ve been able to squeeze in creating a delicious shake every morning to jump start my day prior to my run. Over the past few years Greek yogurt has been a go to breakfast, snack, and even dessert, but recently it has become the go to base for most of my recipes from chicken salad (as seen in my CranApple Pecan Chicken Salad), dressings, and my shake. I’m going to be a tease and only share my shake recipe, as what is all the fun in revealing your hand too soon when summer has only just started?

The best part of a morning shake with a base of Greek yogurt is that you get 30% of your daily recommended amount of calcium, between 15 to 20 grams of protein, and probiotics to help with digestive discomfort. Being someone who was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2003 and later with Osteosponia, all of these things are a top priority to me not only to maintain a healthy weight, but also a healthy immune system.  Another plus of Greek yogurt is that once I start my day eating healthy, it is easier to continue the trend of eating well.

This shake is refreshing and creamy at the same time. Feel free to add your favorite fruits, use frozen instead of fresh fruit, or subsist the sweetner with agave nectar or honey. The one thing you do need to remember: don’t forget to sit down, relax, and enjoy your morning with the shake before the craziness of the day begins.

Morning Fruit Shake


1/2 banana, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blueberries (or fruit of choice)

1- 6 oz container of Chobani 0% Plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup Almond Milk (Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla)

1 packet Splenda Zero Calorie Sweetener

1/2 cup ice


Place all the ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. If needed, add ice for thicker consistency.

To read more about the benefits of Greek yogurt go to

I am Lazy: A Love Story


I LOVE my crock pot. Many people look down on crock pot users as cheater cooks, but honestly, there is nothing like coming home to your crock pot filled with a warm meal ready to eat after a long day of work or school. The only thing in my opinion that could make the experience better is by having someone magically clean my house while I was out as well. Until someone creates a complete housewife device to do all my chores, I am going to stay dedicated to the next best thing, my crock pot.

A couple of weeks ago when it was extremely cold outside(40’s at night…BURR!), I was craving a hearty meal that wouldn’t make me hearty as well and me being lazy, wanted to make something that I could make on a Friday night and then eat off for the rest of the weekend. Who wants to cook on the weekends??? Therefore, I decided that a pork tenderloin (don’t let the word “pork” scare you as pork tenderloin is surprisingly lean) in the crock pot would be the easiest way to make a large meal that would stay ,moist even when reheated. It being fall, most of the websites that I stalked for inspiration had pork-cranberry combinations which I was itching to try. My only problem with the recipes that I saw was the fact that in the morning, I would have to either ser the meat or cook parts of the meal for a certain time and then add the remaining ingredients. If you ask me, these are not crock pot meals! Don’t the authors of the recipes know that I am lazy in the mornings?

Since I didn’t find a recipe that completely eliminated the prep time in the morning, I created my own version to meet my individual need, aka wanting the luxury in the morning of hit my snooze button a few times and get an extra few z’s. After all, I did work hard during the week and deserved it. To make my recipe, I did all the chopping and mixing at night and then threw all the ingredients in the crock pot before leaving for work. Coming home that night with my meal complete was the best ending to a long week that I could have asked for. This is, besides having someone standing at the door with a big glass of red wine for me. Oh how I hate having to open a bottle of wine for myself….

This week I have returned to school to receive a MS in Management at the University of Florida and have already settled into the role of “lazy college student” comfortably and therefore I am making this post extremely short. For my final remarks, I would like to declare to the world that I am in love with my crock pot and am thankful to have it in my life.

Apple, Onion, and Cranberry Pork Tenderloin


  • 1 pork loin
  • 1 ½ whole apples, cubed
  • 1 whole medium onions, sliced
  • ¼ – ½ cup dried cranberries
  • Rosemary
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup cranberry juice


Spray slow cooker with canola cooking spray. Place apples, onions, and dried cranberries in bottom of slow cooker (I do all chopping the night before and just put pot in fridge). Sprinkle with Onion Soup and Dip mix. Rub the pork tenderloin with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place tenderloin in slow cooker on top of apple, onion, and cranberries. In a bowl or croquet, combine white wine, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, cranberry juice, and Dijon mustard until thoroughly mixed (this can be done the night before as well). Pour liquid mixture over tenderloin in slow cooker. Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.