Sunday, October 31, 2010

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Source: The Pioneer Woman

Oh, sadly neglected food blog! It's been a pretty crazy couple of months, and I've been turning to my favorites instead of looking for new recipes. But I made this last night for dinner and it is SO GOOD I had to share it immediately!

I LOVE ranch dressing, but the pre-made bottles have just not been doing it for me. My husband loves salad and I make it with almost every meal on the weekends, but I barely eat any of it.

Except for this weekend. My parents were out, and I made my beloved beef bourguignon, one of my favorite all-time recipes. I barely touched the stew, though, because I was too busy gorging myself on my second helping of salad. My goodness is this DIVINE! It's also pretty simple. I don't think I will ever buy a pre-made bottle of ranch again!

I used just one clove of garlic and it was perfect. Of the optional items, I used one teaspoon of dill, and then added white pepper to taste for a little kick. I would recommend using buttermilk instead of regular milk.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

1 clove (to 2 Cloves) Garlic
Salt To Taste
¼ cups Italian Flat-leaf Parsley
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives
1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
½ cups Sour Cream
Buttermilk (as Needed To Desired Consistency)
White Vinegar (optional, To Taste)
Worcestershire Sauce (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Dill (optional, To Taste)
Cayenne Pepper (optional, To Taste)
Paprika (optional, To Taste)
Fresh Oregano (optional, To Taste)
Tabasco (optional, To Taste)

1. Mince the garlic with a knife and then sprinkle about an 1/8 to ¼ teaspoons of salt on it and mash it into a paste with a fork. Chop the parsley, chives and any of the optional herbs very finely and add to the garlic.

2. In a bowl combine all ingredients, adding other optional ingredients as you wish, tasting frequently and adjusting seasonings as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving, thin with milk or buttermilk if desired.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lettuce Wraps

Source: Group Recipes

If you've never had PF Chang's Soothing Lettuce Wraps, you are really missing out. They are SO GOOD and probably my favorite appetizer of all-time!

These aren't EXACTLY the same - I Googled "PF Chang's Lettuce Wraps" and got quite a few versions, and the lazy side in me won. This version was really easy. My only suggestion would be to halve the ginger and hot sauce - my changes are below. Enjoy!

Lettuce Wraps


16 Boston, bibb or butter lettuce leaves (or head of lettuce, rinsed, using large leaves)
1 pound ground chicken breast
1 large onion -- chopped
1/2 Cup pine nuts, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Asian chili pepper sauce (see Note)
1 can (8 ounce size) sliced water chestnuts -- drained, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions -- thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil


Rinse lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Set aside to drain.

Cook chicken in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring often to break up the meat. Add onion, garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar and chili sauce. Cook until the meat is crumbled and brown. Add water chestnuts, pine nuts and green onions. Cook until onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Stir in sesame oil. Arrange lettuce leaves on the outer edge of a platter. Spoon meat mixture in center. Allow diners to spoon meat mixture into lettuce leaves and eat like a taco.

Note: Asian chili pepper sauce can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets. Some brands contain garlic, which is fine. You can use 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes instead.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Apple Dumplings

Source: Tasty Kitchen

I've been eying this for awhile. What's not to love - the 2 sticks of butter, or the can of Mountain Dew? This was EXTREMELY well-received at a party recently and I'll definitely be making this again! Just make sure you have some vanilla ice cream on hand - it's not complete without it!

Apple Dumplings

2 whole Granny Smith Apples
2 cans (8 Oz. Cans) Crescent Rolls
2 sticks Butter
1-½ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Cinnamon, To Taste
1 can (12 Oz.) Mountain Dew Soda

Preparation Instructions

Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll.

Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

Source: Ina Garten

I'm all about no-fuss side dishes. I love potatoes. I love garlic. I love everything I've made from Ina. I love this recipe! I've made Pioneer Woman's version of garlic roasted potatoes, and they're really good, but I hate roasting whole garlic heads and then waiting for them to cool so you can squeeze out the garlic. This recipe was perfect - toss everything together, pop it in the oven, and serve! The only change I made was to also add 1/4 cup of white wine. Enjoy!

Garlic Roasted Potatoes

3 pounds small red or white potatoes
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the potatoes in half or quarters and place in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic; toss until the potatoes are well coated. Transfer the potatoes to a sheet pan and spread out into 1 layer. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until browned and crisp. Flip twice with a spatula during cooking in order to ensure even browning.

Remove the potatoes from the oven, toss with parsley, season to taste, and serve hot.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

Source: Cooking for Two

One of my favorite cookbooks has a grilling section, and I've been happily trying out the recipes. Each time I get kind of a "look" from Kevin - as in, you don't need recipes for grilling! Maybe not, but I always feel better with them, and the chicken would not have been as flavorful without the marinade! I've tried a few different fajita recipes, and this one will go in the regular rotation!

As a note, do not marinate the chicken for longer the 15 minutes. The acid in the lime will turn the meat mushy!

Grilled Chicken Fajitas

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice from 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
Salt and pepper
2 (6 to 8 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2-inch rings (keep the rings together)
1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
6 6-inch flour tortillas

1. Combine 1/4 cup of the oil, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, Worcestershire, brown sugar, jalapeño, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Measure out and reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for serving. Add 1/2 teaspoon more salt to the remaining marinade and pour in a large zipper-lock bag. Add the chicken breasts and turn to coat. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

2. For a gas grill: turn all the burners to high, cover, and heat the grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave the primary burner on high and turn the other burner(s) to medium.

3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, place on the hotter part of the grill, and cook covered until well browned on both sides, about 8 - 12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest.

4. While the chicken cooks, brush the onion rings and bell pepper with remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the onion rings and bell pepper with on the cooler part of the grill and cook covered, until spottily charred on both sides, 8 - 12 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking. Transfer the vegetables to the carving board and tent loosely with foil.

5. If you wish to pre-warm the tortillas, place directly on cooler part of grill and cook about 20 seconds per side.

6. Separate the onion rings and slice the bell pepper into 1/4 inch strips. Toss the vegetables in half of the remaining marinade. Slice chicken and toss with the remaining marinade in a separte bowl. Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, and shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack or queso fresco (my favorite!) if desired.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ham and Cheese Sliders

Source: Recipe Club

I saw these on Annie's Eats and they were PERFECT for a gathering I was hosting. I wanted to make something warm that was also easy. These could not have been easier and were so tasty! I think the topping makes all the difference!

Ham and Cheese Sliders


For the sandwiches:
24 slider rolls
24 slices honey ham (or regular ham)
24 small slices Swiss cheese

For the sauce:
1½ tbsp. yellow mustard
8 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. finely minced onion (or 2 tsp. dried minced onion)
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling


Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Split the slider rolls and spread the insides lightly with mayonnaise. Fold a slice of ham to fit on each slider bun, and top with a slice of Swiss cheese. Replace the top bun to assemble the sandwiches. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet.

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except the poppy seeds in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle the sauce over the tops of the slider buns. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove the foil and bake 2 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Chicken Caesar Salad

When I told my husband we were having salad for dinner, he gave me a face and said, "I guess I'll have to have ANOTHER dinner." Put your pouting face away - after this dinner was done, he was fully stuffed and actually enjoyed it! He even said he usually doesn't like Caesar salad, but this was really good. I enjoyed it immensely as well. I have been on a real Caesar salad kick, and this fit the bill nicely!

Brining the chicken is key to flavorful, moist chicken. We used tenderloins and brined them for 15 minutes, then cooked about 3 minutes each side. The chicken was so good we've made it that way a few times just to have leftover chicken in the fridge.

Chicken Caesar Salad


Garlic Croutons
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups 3/4-inch bread cubes from baguette

Broiled Chicken Breasts
3 tablespoons table salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 inches each), trimmed of excess fat
Ground black pepper

Caesar Dressing
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 2 more teaspoons
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, minced fine
4 anchovy filets (flat), minced (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium heats romaine lettuce, large outer leaves removed; washed, dried, and torn into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. For the croutons: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 350 degrees. Mix garlic, salt, and oil in a small bowl; let stand 20 minutes to infuse flavors, then pour through fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Spread cubes in even layer on rimmed baking sheet; bake, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool croutons on baking sheet to room temperature. (Can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)

2. For the chicken: dissolve sugar and salt in 1 1/2 quarts cold water in gallon-sized zipper-lock bag or plastic container. Add chicken and seal bag, pressing out as much as as possible; refrigerate 30 minutes until fully seasoned. Remove chicken from brine, dry thoroughly with paper towels, and season with pepper.

3. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (should be about 6 inches away from heating element) and heat broiler. Spray broiler pan top lightly with nonstick cooking spray and position over pan bottom. Place chicken on pan; broil until spotty brown and firm to the touch, about 8 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to plate and set aside.

4. For the dressing: Bring 2 inches water to boil in a saucepan over high heat. Lower eggs into water and cook 45 seconds; remove with slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, crack eggs open; reserve yolks in small bowl and discard whites. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, garlic, and anchovies to yolks; whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, add oil in slow, steady stream. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be refrigerated in airtight container up to 1 day; shake before using.)

5. To finish salad: In large bowl, toss lettuce, Parmesan, and about two-thirds of the dressing to coat; divide evenly among individual plates. Remove tenderloins from chicken breasts; place in bowl used to dress lettuce, along with remaining dressing. Cut chicken breasts crosswise into 1/2-inch slices, add to bowl, and toss to coat. Divide dressed chicken evenly among plates, arranging slices on lettuce. Sprinkle each plate with a portion of the croutons and serve immediately.