Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Ranch Dressing (and Dip)

I love the convenience of bottled salad dressings, but equally important is knowing exactly what all the ingredients are in those type of convenience foods. If I buy salad dressing from a store I prefer to buy the kind that needs to be refrigerated. The ingredient list on those bottles are usually a little easier to understand. I have made the following dressings from scratch: Caesar dressing, lemon vinaigrette, balsamic vinaigrette, avacado-cilantro dressing, and lime-peanut vinaigrette. Recently, I decided that I needed to learn how to make ranch dressing from scratch. Let's face it. When you make things from scratch you usually know what all the ingredients are. After looking at some other recipes online I put the following ingredients together because they sounded good to me. And guess what? I'll make this again and again.

Homemade Ranch Dressing (and Dip)
1 (16 oz) tub of sour cream (I used regular but you can use low fat or no fat, if preferred)
1 garlic clove
1 handful of dill
1 handful of chives
1 handful of flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, optional
fresh cracked pepper
buttermilk to taste

1. Peel one clove of garlic and smash or slice thinly with a knife on a cutting board. Sprinkle the garlic with enough salt to smash with a the tines of a fork and create a paste. Add the garlic paste to a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Add the sour cream to the garlic in the mixing bowl.

3. Mince the dill, finely.

4. Mince the chives, finely.

5. Mince the parsley, finely.

6. Add the fresh herbs to the sour cream mixture.

7. Squeeze a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and add to the dressing mixture.

8. Mix the herbs and sour cream.

10. Add more salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste. (You could use the mixture as is for a thick ranch dip).

11. Add buttermilk and stir until you reach the desired consistency for salad dressing or dip.

12. Use for salad or dip!

These were the recipes that I studied before creating my recipe. The Pioneer Woman and An Oregon Cottage blogs had the biggest influence on my recipe.

The Pioneer Woman's Homemade Ranch Dressing
HuffPost Taste's The Only Ranch Dressing You Will Ever Need
Chow's Basic Ranch Dressing
Simply Recipe's Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
An Oregon Cottage's Best Homemade Ranch Dressing & Dip

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Breakfast Stuffing (A Casserole with Egg, Sausage, Bread, and Cheese)

The last time my mom, dad, and brother came to visit my brother made an amazing breakfast casserole. The first time he had tried it was at a friend's house for brunch. After his first bite he knew he wanted to make if for all of us. When my husband first saw the casserole come out of the oven he said, "mmm, breakfast stuffing." We all had a good laugh because we all know how much he loves stuffing. I've been looking for an excuse to make it again because this dish is most definitely not low carb. After an early morning Easter service we had a special breakfast. I made a "Green Chile and Cheese Breakfast Casserole" and this "Breakfast Stuffing." The bonus factor is that you can prepare everything the night before and bake in in the morning!

Breakfast Stuffing (A Casserole with Egg, Sausage, Bread, and Cheese)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage
1/2 onion diced (optional)
1 lb loaf of french bread, cut into 1" cubes
1 lb of sharp cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
1 dozen eggs
1 cup of half and half

1. Break up the sausage into small pieces and cook on medium heat until cooked through. Place the sausage in a bowl off to the side, and from the frying pan drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.

2. While the sausage is cooking slice the bread into 1 inch cubes.

3. Saute the onions until soft and lightly golden brown. Mix the cooked onion into the sausage.

4. Crack open all the the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until blended.

5. Whisk the half and half into the eggs.

6. Fold the shredded cheese into the egg mixture.

7. Add the cooled sausage and onions to the egg mixture.

8. Place the bread cubes into a buttered 9 x 13 inch baker.

9. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and make sure everything is mixed well. You don't necessarily want to end up with bread and eggs on the bottom, and the sausage and cheese on top. Instead try to mix all the ingredients evenly -- so it looks like stuffing! You could bake it the same day after the bread is thoroughly moistened, or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Note: the next morning there wasn't any liquid left and some of the bread cubes seemed dry so I added four more eggs and another splash of half and half. I used a very dense and crusty loaf of bread so it needed a little extra moisture.

10. When you are ready preheat the oven to 350 and bake the casserole for 45 - 60 minutes until completely set -- a knife should come out clean as if you were testing a cake.

Note: here is the link to the original recipe from my brother's friend. Breakfast Strata

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Green Chile and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

When my husband and I lived in California we were periodically treated to the offerings of a certain catering company, La Farfalla. Over the years I had the privelidge of sampling several of their offerings. One of the many dishes I loved were these egg and cheese squares with green chilies. Now that I live in Colorado and don't have the opportunity to experience La Farfalla's catering as often, I wanted to try to recreate this tasty egg dish at home. I'm not saying this is "the" La Farfalla catering recipe. I'm sure it's not because the texture is different. After doing a search on the internet I do think it's close. Whenever I make this for church pot luck someone asks me for the recipe.

Green Chile and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
6 tablespoons of butter, plus 2 tablespoons to butter the dish (1 stick total)
10 eggs
1/2 cup of flour (you can use gluten free, if desired)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt (I use a bit more since I use unsalted butter)
2 (4 oz.) cans of diced green chilies (or the same amount of homemade "Oven Roasted Green Chilies")
1 pint (16 ounces) of cottage cheese
1 lb (16 ounces ) of shredded cheddar, Monterrey Jack or ideally a 50-50 mix of the two

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Crack 10 eggs into a mixing bowl.

2. Wisk the eggs and add the flour, baking powder and salt to the eggs.

3. Gently fold in cottage cheese just until it is incorporated.

4. Gently stir in the green chilies just until they are incorporated. If you have the time and the inclination I highly recommend making homemade "Oven Roasted Green Chilies." If you are in a hurry the canned chilies taste just fine.

5. Melt the butter and gently stir into the egg mixture.

6. Add the shredded cheese and gently mix.

7. Pour the egg mixture into a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.

8. Place the casserole in the oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Bake casserole for 35 - 45 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

Note: (In full disclosure there are hundreds of similar posts on the internet so I haven't invented anything new) I don't know who originally came up with this recipe.


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