(Healthy) Creamy Basil Dip

I’m not big on cooking. And I almost never make up recipes more complicated than maybe adding some diced chilis to my taco meat. But somehow I was inspired today. My basil has been going crazy outside and I haven’t had cause to use it. I was thinking of what I could eat with basil that sounded good and I thought about this amazing basil dip a local greek restaurant makes. I have no idea what is in it except that it tastes like basil and it is creamy, so I presume it is a yogurt base. The restaurant is all the way on the other side of town so we never go there to eat, and so I thought what the hell. Why not give it a try?!

Shockingly, it was not only edible but pretty delicious! So I thought I would share. Gather your ingredients. Pretty basic. Except for the large(ish) quantity of basil, you probably have everything already. And if you grow your own basil, you’re set!

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That’s greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt, basil, and vinegar. Now layer everything in your food processor or blender (I used a magic bullet). I was too lazy to chop of the basil so i just tore it roughly so it would fit. 1/2 cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/8 tspn salt, 1 garlic clove minced, 1/2 tbspn vinegar, and a whole bunch o’ basil (probably around 1 cup).

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Then blend the shiz out of it until it is all mixed up. That’s it! It tasted pretty good immediately, but I stuck it in the fridge for a few hours while I figured out what to eat with it and it was even better later. I wasn’t sure what to eat it with or on, so on a whim I decided to google how to make pita. I figured it was probably too hard or I wouldn’t have the stuff, but I was totally wrong! I found this post and realized I already had all of the ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, yeast, oil) and that it actually looked pretty easy. It took a bit of time because you have to let it rise, but it was early enough in the day I didn’t mind.  I followed her directions exactly, but my pita didn’t puff. Not sure what I did wrong there (maybe not knead it long enough?) but it still tasted really good and i didn’t plan to fill it, so whatever!

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Creamy Basil Dip Recipe

1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup basil

Instructions: Put everything in a food processor or small blender and blend the crap out of it until smooth.

Servings: 4

Nutrition: 30 calories, 3.5 g fat, 3 g protein

 

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Still Saving!

Another update on our electricity savings! We knew last month that our usage had significantly dropped, but we still hadn’t seen savings from switching our electric company because the change hadn’t gone through. The change came through at the start of the last billing cycle, so I can now update about that as well!

For May, our usage continued to be significantly less than in the previous two years. It was a bit higher than last month because we turned on the AC finally, but it was still only 56% of the usage for May 2012 and 57% of the usage for May 2011. Now that our new contract came through, we were paying 6.25 cents rather than 8.7 cents per kWh. Which for this month, meant an additional savings of $16.72 (which is super impressive considering this is on the reduced usage– if we had NOT reduced our usage and just switched power companies, we would’ve saved about $30 on that switch alone).

So what’s the bottom line? For May 2011 our electric bill was $149.38. For May 2012 our electric bill was $160.00. For May 2013 our electric bill was $87.54.

I think it is safe to say this switch (or really, the company switch + reducing our usage) saved us, easily, over $60 this month. Pretty awesome for almost no effort!

U-kea, I-kea

I first heard of Ikea in college, when my roommate showed up on moving day with a flat cardboard box containing what would become our coffee table for the next year. He explained Ikea as a mecca of cheap and stylish furniture, but we didn’t have one in Ohio so I never thought much about it. Over the last eight years I’ve heard more and more about Ikea, particularly once one opened in Cincinnati (a short two hour drive away). And yet B and I had never gone.

Well, we finally remedied that a few weekends ago! My friend Amanda invited us to make a pilgrimage with her and her husband and even though we didn’t have anything specific that we needed, we thought it would be a fun trip.

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I have to say… it was quite an adventure! It was by far the biggest store I’ve ever been in. At the end of the first floor they have a cafeteria so you can stop and refuel…. that says something.

And even though we didn’t go intending to buy furniture, we are apparently not immune to the powers of Ikea! As we were walking through we started thinking of the one piece of furniture we (okay, mostly I) have been really unhappy with… can you guess?

img_6841If you guessed the too-small blue bookcase, you would be correct. So when we saw this…. we took note.

photo 2-4The cool thing about Ikea is that most of the furniture can be configured in multiple ways. So even though this looks like a huge (and expensive) unit, it could be made much smaller. After snapping a picture of the tag (which shows the location of the bookcase and doors in the warehouse) we continued on with our shopping. (We also got a light I’ll show you after I bribe Amanda’s husband into installing it for us!).

Once we got to the warehouse, B found wielding the large boxes to be a bit challenging, while I mostly found it hilarious.

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We all had a good laugh about getting the book case through the checkout, at which point we were told that the true test of our marriage would come when we got home and tried to actually put this bad boy together.

Luckily, we found it mostly pretty easy. We were missing 2 screws from our package, and the whole “you can put the whole thing together with an allen wrench they provide” thing is a total lie though. In the end we needed a screw driver, a tape measure, a pencil, and a drill with a new drill bit we had to buy. We actually made a trip to the hardware store with the directions in hand and just asked someone what we needed to accomplish the job! But, the new drill bit and extra screws actually cost us less than $5 so it wasn’t a big thing. And after a couple hours, both the bookcase and our marriage were in tact!

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Then came the really fun part, filling it up! Even though B let me do the arranging, I wanted to keep it “man-ish” being that it was located in the man cave. The bottom three shelves are functional with a basket for all B’s gaming components (controllers and cords and whatnot), his laptop and external hard drive, and all his games. The top three shelves are the fun stuff. The top shelf holds the first gift I ever gave to B (the book), a little vase I got at Ikea, and a picture of us from the grand canyon (I may replace this with a 5×7 at some point because it looks a little small… but its what I had laying around.

IMG_8014The second shelf is all about sports. A few signed baseballs, a hockey puck, and some sports books. It also includes a canvas with 16 pins on it that B has collected over the years. He has always been a collector and he has a TON of pins, so I thought it would be fun to have him pick his 16 favorites and display them. I plan to paint the canvas as some point, but B can’t decide what color he wants it so for now it remains white…

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The third shelf is for B’s love of music. It displays two books about one of B’s favorite bands (Motley Crue) and a “Rock” wall hanging that we had sitting around.

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But of course, my favorite view is always the before after. So, let’s see the before again:

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And after!

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I absolutely love it. It fits the space SO much better and really finishes off that wall. And since this is where we do 99% of our hanging out at home, I’m definitely appreciating the view a lot more. I think we may officially be Ikea believers… at least for some items. Anyone else an Ikea believer?