Zesty Roasted Tomato Ranch Dip

Every year, in the aftermath of my defeat in the Tomato Art Festival recipe contest, I vow I will never enter again. And every year, I enter again.

This year, though, I couldn’t resist. The theme was “dips” (not salsa!), which is something I could easily bring along with me and keep in a cooler while enjoying the festival and not have to worry too much about with plating. But a dip with tomatoes? I don’t really make many dips and when I mentioned it to my husband, he said, “so you’re going to make Ro-Tel and call it a day, right?” Brilliant idea! Except Ro-Tel needs to be warm. Next.

I thought about favorite dips–mine and those of others and there were some recurring ingredients: cream cheese, sour cream, and ranch dressing mix. Those three alone are pretty good, but how to take them to the next level? And be sure that the dip features tomatoes?

I thought about previous years and how I thought I’d just toss in some pork belly just to win and I realized I didn’t have to do that; I could just get the flavor I wanted from roasting the tomatoes and adding smoked paprika. So that’s basically all this dip is. Those first three ranch dip ingredients with roasted tomatoes and paprika. But it’s damn good.

zestytomatoranchdip

I wanted to use fresh tomatoes in this recipe to keep the spirit of the contest, but truth be told, I think you could use a can of already fire-roasted diced tomatoes (Hunt’s and Muir Glen both make them) or even just a can of Ro-Tel and get a great dip that is even easier and quicker than this one is to make. Serve it with tortilla chips as a dip or use as a topping for nachos or enchiladas! But don’t skimp on the smoked paprika. I used a hot version for a great kick. If you don’t have any, add a tiny bit of Liquid Smoke instead (to taste).

Zesty Roasted Tomato Ranch Dip

Ingredients:
4 medium tomatoes (see note for substitution)
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 1-ounce package of Hidden Valley “Original Ranch” dip mix
Hot smoked paprika (see note for substitution)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Chop the tomatoes into one-inch cubes and place onto a lined baking dish or jelly roll pan. Roast until the juice has mostly dried and the tomatoes have some char, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Add the cream cheese, sour cream, and dip mix in a medium bowl and mix together until smooth. Add about a tablespoon of smoked paprika and stir until combined. Test and add more to taste. Stir in the cooled tomatoes and serve with tortilla chips.

Notes: for an easier and quicker dip, substitute one can (~15 ounces) of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, well-drained for the roasted fresh tomatoes. If you don’t have smoked paprika, you can substitute a small (one or two squirts) amount of Liquid Smoke and some chili powder.

By the way, I was once again a…let’s say, “non-winner.” But (also, once again) the competition was fierce from some folks who really brought in some unique flavor combinations and really interesting dips. It’s still a winner as far as Mr. Eats is concerned. :)

Posted in Recipes, Snacks | 15 Comments

Martha Stewart Essentials Vegetarian Vitamins for Women + a Giveaway

marthastewartgummiesIt’s time for some real talk: vitamins aren’t very exciting. I know that. And now I want you to read a whole post about them. But bear with me; these are vitamins I am excited about. The folks over at Martha Stewart Essentials emailed me recently about their line of vitamins specially-formulated for women and noted that they are all vegetarian. Oh, really? Tell me more! They wanted to introduce me to their newest vitamin, the gummy multi. What?!? Gummy multi?!? Yes! You see, a lot vitamins—particularly chewable vitamins—contain gelatin. Gelatin is not vegetarian (and not something I want to consume; here’s why). Even many of the chalky vitamins have gelatin and every gummy vitamin I’ve looked at does as well.

But not Martha Stewart Essentials. Even the gummy multivitamins are vegetarian because they contain pectin for gumminess instead of gelatin. They’re also gluten-free and contain no preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners; they are naturally sweetened and colored with real fruit and vegetable extracts and come in three natural flavors – cherry, lemon and orange. I have never been so excited over a vitamin in my whole life. Even though I eat reasonably healthy, I like the “back-up plan” of having a multivitamin every day just to ensure I’m getting what I need. I also drink plenty of water, but I have still struggled with swallowing a big ol’ pill with breakfast, so this gummy option is great. No more excuses; I just eat them as I’m preparing my tea. And they taste like candy, so they’re actually enjoyable to eat.

Along with the gummy vitamins, the Martha Stewart Essentials product line includes a number of vitamins specific to the needs of women at various stages of life. These include vitamins for Graceful Aging, Digestive Health, Bone Support, Menopause Support, and Hair, Skin & Nails. There’s also a non-gummy Women’s Multivitamin. All are made with gelatin-free capsules, so they are all vegetarian as well. They were developed in partnership with Inergetics, a company that makes a variety of nutritional supplements.

marthastewartessentialsAnyhoo, when the folks at Martha Stewart offered to send me some vitamins to review, they also offered to let me host a giveaway. Woo hoo! You guys know you need to take your vitamins and now you can try these out for free if you win. And if you don’t, you can purchase the vitamins online or at Walgreens, Harris Teeter and other retail stores.

The winner of this giveaway will receive TWO bottles of these fabulous gummy vitamins plus five bottles from the selection of other vitamins in the Martha Stewart Essentials line, which (as noted above), includes Graceful Aging, Digestive Health, Bone Support, Menopause Support, and Hair, Skin & Nails. To enter to win, just leave a comment with the vitamin you would like to make sure is in your prize pack along with your two bottles of gummy vitamins.

For one additional entry (leave a separate comment to get credit for this entry!), tweet the following: Enter to #win a #giveaway of Martha Stewart Essentials vegetarian gummy vitamins & other supplements from @lesleyeats http://ow.ly/zPUhl

Limit 2 entries/comments per person. The contest will be open from now until Friday, August 8 at 1pm CDT and is only open to residents of the United States. The winner will be chosen at random and be notified by email that afternoon and will have until Monday, August 11 at 1pm CDT to respond with a valid mailing (street)address. If there’s no response by that time, I will choose another winner.

This contest is now *closed.* Congratulations to commenter #2, Alexandra!

Posted in Giveaway, Product Reviews | 22 Comments

Zucchini Noodles + a Veggetti® Giveaway!

I have to admit: I’m a pasta addict. My favorite comfort food is macaroni and cheese, though I’m almost as happy with just a big bowl of linguine or fettucine with some good olive oil and a little seasoning. But carbs. So many carbs and calories. Which is why I’ve been meaning to get a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles for a long time, particularly since my friend, Leah posted this recipe for zucchini noodles with lemon cream sauce.

And then, as luck would have it, the folks over at Veggetti® asked me if I’d like to try it out. Please and thank you!

While my brand new Veggetti® spiralizer was on the way, I happened upon a cooking demo that my friend, Trish of Nutrisha was hosting at the West End Farmers Market. She was using a Veggetti®! She told me it was very important to not overcook the “noodles” (they’ll turn to mush) and to use a fresh, firm squash for best results (it’s a lot more difficult to spiralize a…not-firm squash). I learned that it’s also a good idea to get a long, slender zucchini with a decent-size stem that will make it easier to grip and turn.

It's best to choose vegetables that will easily fit inside the Veggetti without being too thin.

It’s best to choose vegetables that will easily fit inside the Veggetti without being too thin.

Try to find a good stem that will act as a "handle" when turning the squash.

Try to find a good stem that will act as a “handle” when turning the squash.

This spiral core comes out the other end. I just threw it in with the "noodles."

This spiral core comes out the other end. I just threw it in with the “noodles.”

Trish shared this recipe (I made a few minor changes) for a nice, light Veggetti® that is a great side dish or “salad.”

Summer Squash “Spaghetti”
adapted from Trish Marzella Mathisen of nutrisha.com
serves 1-2

1-2 cups spiralized zucchini (from 2 medium zucchinis)
1 tablespoon softened goat cheese
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
¼ cup chopped onions or leeks (white portion)
1 clove/teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a spiralizer, create veggie noodles by twisting (no need to peel first) through as shown (on the “thick” side).

Combine the goat cheese and lemon juice in a large bowl and set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, add oil, onions, and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions have become translucent and the garlic becomes fragrant. Turn the heat up to medium high, add the “noodles” and cook for about 1-2 minutes, gently tossing to coat with oil until the noodles have softened (do not overcook). Remove from heat and scrape into the bowl with goat cheese and lemon juice. Toss to coat the noodles with the cheese sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.

I’m not going to lie; nothing can replace a really good noodle, but with a tasty sauce like this one (or Leah’s), spiralized veggie noodles can be a really great substitute. You can use them in place of wheat noodles for just about any dish that would normally require a long, thin noodle. It’s particularly helpful when you want to make a light dish that’s healthy and gluten-free and/or diabetic-friendly (and vegan, too!). And not only can you use it for zucchini, but for carrots and cucumbers as well. They make a fun garnish or filling for spring rolls.

The Veggetti® is available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens, CVS and numerous other stores that have an “As Seen on TV” section. However, you can win a Veggetti® PLUS a $25 Visa gift card by entering my giveaway! To enter:

Leave a comment telling me which pasta recipe (the name is fine, but a link would be great) you’d most like to try with Veggetti® noodles.

For a bonus entry (leave an additional, separate comment), tweet about this giveaway on Twitter. Whatever you’d like to tweet! Just please include my Twitter handle (@lesleyeats) and a link to this post. For example: “I’m ready to Veggetti! Win a spiralizer and gift card from @lesleyeats http://ow.ly/z8fy8”

Limit 2 entries per person. The contest will be open from now until Tuesday, July 22 at 1pm CDT and is only open to residents of the United States. The winner will be chosen at random and be notified by email (please be sure your comment includes a valid email address) that afternoon and will have until Friday, July 25 at 1pm CDT to respond with a valid mailing (street)address. If there’s no response by that time, I will choose another winner.

Note: this contest is closed. Congratulations to commenter #24, Liz!

Disclosure: The Veggetti®, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Ontel.

Posted in Giveaway, Product Reviews | 75 Comments