Dressing and Sauces

All posts in the Dressing and Sauces category

Homemade Ranch (and Chipotle Ranch) Dressing and a Trick for “making” Buttermilk

Published February 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

I make a lot of salad dressing, mainly vinaigrettes, which are generally pretty simple.  However, one dressing I’ve never attempted to make before was ranch.  We always just buy it in the bottle – basically the only dressing I buy in the bottle.

Ranch Dressing

I’ve always been a vinaigrette girl, but when I first met Nate, he put ranch on everything.  And I seriously mean everything (pizza, sandwiches, cereal…okay, maybe not cereal).  Being that it was always around, it sorta turned me into a ranch person, too.  But just on my salad 😉  One thing I have a severe weakness for is anything with a chipotle ranch.  Any salad or sandwich with this on it, and it’s a sure bet that’s what I’m going to order.  So, in deciding to make homemade ranch dressing, I thought I better throw in a chipotle ranch, too.  Good thing I did, because it’s soooooooo good.  The ranch is great, too, but man, the chipotle ranch is the bomb!  Try it on tacos instead of Greek yogurt or sour cream.  It’ll knock your socks off!

Play around with the seasonings, and feel free to substitute fresh for dried or dried for fresh, depending on what you have in the fridge.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

TIP: Oh, and a quick tip about buttermilk.  I don’t usually have this in my fridge, and I hate buying some to only use a few tablespoons and let the rest go to waste.  So whether you’re in a pinch or you’re like me and hate buying the stuff, you can easily make your own at home with things you probably already have, milk and white vinegar.  To a liquid measuring cup, add one tablespoon vinegar, then fill with milk to the 1 cup line.  Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes before using, and viola!  Buttermilk.

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Homemade Ranch Dressing

Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman
Servings: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh dill
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk (see tip above if you don’t have any)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor, except buttermilk.  Slowly add buttermilk to desired consistency.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  This will last in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week.

To make chipotle ranch dressing, add 1/2-1 tsp (depending on preference) McCormick chipotle chili pepper.

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Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

Published July 15, 2013 by jenmatteson

I rarely purchase fancy salad dressing.  We typically have light ranch and light Italian in our refrigerator, and most of the time I just throw a vinaigrette together.  A few weeks ago, we had our neighbors over for dinner on a Friday night, and I knew I barely had enough time to throw together dinner, drinks, and appetizers, so opted to buy a “fancy” salad dressing instead of taking the extra 5 minutes it takes to make one.  FYI, a “fancy” dressing is one that wasn’t made by Kraft or the generic grocery store brand.  It also lives in the produce section, not in the grocery isle.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

I picked a lemon herb vinaigrette from Marie’s.  Never had it before, but it sounded light and fresh so I took a chance.  It was really good!  We ended up going through the bottle in about a month, which I think is quick for a large bottle of dressing.  I think we had it on every salad we ate until it was gone.  Seeing as though I hate spending money on items I can make at home, I wanted to attempt to remake this dressing at home.  A simple read of the ingredients, minus all the stuff I can’t pronounce, and I’d have a good idea of where to start.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

The weird thing was that the dressing didn’t include ONE herb.  Funny, seeing as thought it was called lemon herb vinaigrette.  I took some liberties and added some herbs, and I really, really liked this dressing in the end.  It actually tasted quite similar to the store-bought brand, and in my opinion, better.  Maybe that was because of the addition of fresh herbs 😉

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

And yes, I stored the dressing in an old olive oil bottle.  Maybe some day I’ll bother to take the label off!

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

Source: Inspired by Marie’s Lemon Herb vinaigrette
Servings: Makes about 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp xanthum gum (optional – don’t go out and buy this if you don’t have it.  It’s just nice because it’ll thicken up your dressing so it’s not so watery and resemble a store-bought dressing more closely)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh basil, minced

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric and xanthum gum.  Whisk in olive oil.  Stir in chives and basil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Parsnips with Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing

Published June 11, 2013 by jenmatteson

I like parsnips, but I don’t recall ever eating them plain (they always seem to be in something) and I know for sure I’ve never cooked with them.  I saw this recipe on Food and Wine and thought I’d expand my horizons and my veggie arsenal. In case you’re wondering, parsnips are those huge white carrot looking vegetables with the waxy exterior.

Roasted Parsnips with Mustard Vinaigrette

My bestie was in town from Duluth, so we had planned to get together on Saturday night.  Nate offered to smoke us a chicken, so I was simply in charge of everything else.  It was quite nice!  We ended up having a little party as my friend’s mom, PJ, and our neighbor and her son came for dinner.  It was honestly a weird grouping of people, but we had the best time chatting and eating and ended up staying up until almost 3:00 AM!  That’s surely a sign of a good time!  Kristin brought the most delicious LIGHT raspberry lemonade cake.  It was fluffy, sweet and tart, and the best part is that there was only 130 calories in one serving.  Don’t mind the fact that I ate two pieces…

Roasted Parsnips with Mustard Vinaigrette

Seeing as though the group had grown from 3 to 6, I was little concerned about the parsnips as they aren’t necessarily a “main steam” vegetable, and entertaining a larger group of people gives you a higher chance of picky eaters. Thankfully for me, everyone was willing to give them a try, and actually seemed to like them.  PJ said she liked them more than sweet potato fries, and she said sweet potato fries were her favorite.  What a great compliment!  I served a mustard vinaigrette as a dipping sauce, and that really gave the parsnips a tangy bright flavor, but it wasn’t even necessary.  The vinaigrette was tastey though, and adapted quite a bit from the original recipe based on what ingredients I had on hand.  I still have some leftover and it’ll make a great salad dressing as well.  Overall, these were a delicious and fun way to get out of our everyday vegetable rut!

Roasted Parsnips with Mustard Vinaigrette

Roasted Parsnips with Mustard Vinaigrette

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 lbs parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
2/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup olive oil and parsnips.  Toss to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper.  Spread the parsnips on a foil lined baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 30 minutes, until caramelized.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegars, Dijon, and sugar.  Drizzle in remaining 1/3 cup olive oil until vinaigrette reached desired consistency (you  might not need it all).  Stir in chopped parsley. Serve alongside roasted parsnips.

Recipe Swap: Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Published June 7, 2013 by jenmatteson

This week’s edition of recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at Taste of Home Cooking, was Mexican.  I was assigned creamy citrus jalapeno cilantro pesto from Jey at The Jey of Cooking.  I love pesto and I WC-Recipe-Swap-badge-1love cilantro and jalapenos, so I was looking forward to making this.  The ingredients were somewhat similar to the cilantro pesto I recently made from Thug Kitchen, but with the addition of citrus, which was appealing.

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

I had to change a few things from Jey’s original recipe, but not much.  Her recipe calls for pistachios, which I love, but Nate is allergic.  So instead, I used almonds.  I also had to add additional cilantro because my pesto was very watery.  I used the juice of one orange and 1/2 grapefruit, but maybe my fruit was really big or extra juicy, because I couldn’t get the pesto to thicken up as pictured on Jey’s post.  I added almost no oil because it was already so runny.  I should have added the juice a little at a time, but now I know for next time.

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Jey recommended serving this over chicken or tossing with pasta.  Seeing as though I’m really getting down to the wire for my 30 Before 30 list, I thought I’d take a risk and try it with tuna and check another item off.  All the flavors go really well together, so Citrus Jalapeno Cilantro Pestowhile it was a risk, it wasn’t by any means epic.  I marinated the tuna steaks in the pesto for about 30 minutes – I didn’t want to do it too long so as to start to cook the tuna with the acid in the pesto.  After quickly searing the tuna, I sliced and served it over a wasabi vinaigrette slaw and drizzled additional pesto over the tuna.  Not only was the tuna cooked to perfection (we like it rare, but feel free to cook it further if you like), but the pesto added the perfect amount of flavor, without over taking the clean taste of the tuna.  The crusted pesto added the perfect amount of crisp to the outside of the tuna, while the drizzled pesto added it a little more freshness. Nate and I both quickly cleaned our plates and adored this recipe!

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Jalapeno Cilantro Pesto Crusted Tuna

Source: Cilantro Pesto slightly adapted from Jey of Cooking, Tuna is Pigzilla original
Servings: Pesto makes about 1 1/2 cups, 2 servings of tuna

Ingredients:

For the cilantro:
1 orange, juiced
1/2 grapefruit, juiced
1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cup almonds
1 bunch cilantro
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded
6 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
2 tbsp honey
1-3 tbsp olive oil

For the tuna:
2-8 oz sushi/sashimi grade tuna steaks
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions:

1. To prepare the cilantro pesto, combine walnuts, almonds, cilantro, onion, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse a few times, until ingredients are well combined.  Add juices a little at a time – you might not need all of it – until pesto comes together and has thick consistency.  With processor on, drizzle in olive oil until pesto has reach desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper then coat with pesto.  Refrigerate for up to 30 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-high and add tuna steaks.  For rare tuna, cook for about 3 minutes on one side.  Turn steak up on one end and cook for one minute more.  Turn once more, so first seared side is facing up.  Cook for 2 minutes.  Finally, turn once more, cooking the edge that has not yet been seared.  Remove from heat and let rest for at least to minutes.  Slice thinly and dress with additional jalapeno cilantro pesto.  (I served mine over a wasabi vinaigrette slaw and a little basmati rice).

Check out what the other ladies did for the Mexican Recipe Swap:

Guinness Barbecue Sauce

Published March 11, 2013 by jenmatteson

Nate and I are having several of our good friends over for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Seeing as though the 17th is a Sunday, we all decided to celebrate on Saturday instead.  I wanted to make something that we could graze on all day (and night), so I’ll be making pulled pork sandwiches.  Now, pulled pork isn’t at all Irish, nor is barbecue sauce, but I don’t really care.  It’s food.  Good food!  However, I did have a recipe for this barbecue sauce, which incorporates a classic Irish beer, Guinness.  So, I snuck a little Irish in there 😛

Guinness Barbecue Sauce

This was so easy and turned out so good.  If I knew anything about canning, I’d definitely make a bunch, can it, and save it forever and ever.  Or maybe I would share it with my loved ones. 😉 Either way, I LOVE this sauce.  It’s stubtly sweet, with a hint of spice, but neither are overpowering.  I was very impressed by my barbecue making skills!  Hopefully my friends will like it just as much!

Guinness Barbecue Sauce

Guinness Barbecue Sauce

Source: Adapted from Cupcake Rehab
Servings: Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter
2 onions, minced
5 garlic cloves
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
5 shakes hot sauce (I used Texas Pete’s HOT)
1-15 oz can tomato paste

Directions:

1. Over medium-heat, melt butter in medium saucepan.  Add onion and garlic and saute until they begin to caramelize, about 10-12 minutes.

2. Add molasses, beer, brown sugar, both vinegars, salt, black and red pepper and cayenne. Increase heat and cook at rolling boil for 10 minutes, stiring occasionally.

3. Lower heat and stir in tomato paste and hot sauce.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

4. Remove from heat and let sauce cool slightly.  Use an immerson blender to puree the sauce.  If you don’t have an imerrsion blender, transfer to food processor or blender and pursee.

5. Use immediately, refigerate up to one week, or can for shelf-stable sauce.

Coconut Shrimp with Two Dipping Sauces

Published January 27, 2013 by jenmatteson

Work has been insane crazy lately, which means less time for me to be in the kitchen.  Well, it’s not like I stopped cooking or anything, but we’ve just been running through old standbys, nothing new.  But, I’m back!  I have finally had a chance to get my head straight since the beginning of the year and I’m getting a move on my 30 Before 30 list.

Coconut Shrimp

Nate is out-of-town for the weekend, so Kimmy came over to keep me company (her Nate is with my Nate ice fishing).  I invited two of my other best girls to come over too, and made a ladies night of it.  I think this might be the first time we’ve gotten together to just hang, rather than do a tasting of some sort.  Not that the tastings aren’t fun, and don’t end up in debauchery anyway.  Back to the topic…so I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to make coconut shrimp – on my list!

Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce

I had to test a few before the ladies arrived because 1) I had to make sure they were delicious, and 2) it would have been too dark to get an acceptable picture – and if you remember, I want to get a bit better this year at taking pictures (without having to invest a bunch of money or space).

Apricot Rum Dipping Sauce

I went with a simple recipe I saw on Food Network along with the dipping sauce, but I came across another sauce that I also wanted to try.  Both turned out really tasty, and also a good dip for egg rolls, too!  I prefered the chili-lime dipping sauce, but the apricot rum was good, too.  The recipe actually called for orange marmalade, but I thought I’d try it out with apricot since I had that in my fridge already.  It turned out really well.  I didn’t read the directions fully, and originally just added the rum to the preserves without simmering.  Whoa!  It was strong.  After I revisited the recipe, I found my mistake and simmered the sauce for a few minutes. The shrimp was great!  Honestly, I would have liked a bit more coconut, but I liked the subtle sweetness.  The panko was a good choice to make them extra crispy.  The ladies all loved the shrimp and said they wouldn’t have changed a thing.  It was a huge success!!

Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp with Two Dipping Sauces

Source: Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
2 cups bread crumbs (I used a combo of panko and regular)
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, beaten
24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

1. In a large shallow dish, combine coconut and bread crumbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place flour in shallow dish, and beat eggs in another separate shallow dish.  Set up a dredging station, starting with shrimp, flour, eggs, coconut/bread crumbs, and then an empty platter to place shrimp before frying.

2. Working one at a time, dredge shrimp into the flour, shaking off excess.  Then dip into egg mixture, scraping on side to remove any excess.  Finally, dredge in coconut mixture, ensuring the entire shrimp is covered.  Shake off any excess.  Repeat with remaining shrimp.

3. In a large deep pan or Dutch oven, pour a few inches of oil.  Heat to 350 degrees.  Fry shrimp in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove and place on paper towel.  Serve with desired dipping sauce (Cilantro-Lime Chili and Apricot Rum dipping sauce recipe below).

Chili-Lime Sauce

Source: Adapted from Oishii
Servings: Makes 3/4 cup

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 1/2 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Apricot Rum Dipping Sauce

Source: Adapted from Food Network
Servings: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1/2 cup apricot preserves
1-2 tbsp dark rum

Directions:

1. In a small saucepan, combine both ingredients and cook over low heat.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Serve.

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Walnuts

Published December 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’m generally not a fruit-in-my-salad kind of person (unless it’s a fruit salad) but I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and try something new.  Plus, this was for my aunt’s cookie exchange, and I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary and kind of fancy. At least I thought it was fancy.  Plus, it was a Christmas cookie exchange, and pears are all the rage this time of year.  Couldn’t have been better!

Pears prior to roasting

I had the idea for the salad before I even started searching for recipes, so I ended up kind of just winging it.  I used this recipe as a starting point (and for the dressing) from Guy Fieri, but omitted the pomegranates, added walnuts, and roasted my pears with a little bit of honey.  The salad was wonderful!  At first I thought it might be on the vinegar-y side, but Nate tested his with the gorgonzola and said that really balances it out.  I’m also not a huge fan of nuts in my salad, but the walnuts gave the salad a much needed crunch.  This would be fantastic to start your holiday meal!

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinegairette

Roasted Pear Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, and Toasted Walnuts

Source: Adapted from Guy Fieri
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1 pear, halved and cored
1 tbsp honey
8 cups salad greens (I used a mix of arugula and baby spinach)
champagne vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle pear halves with honey and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  Bake until softened slightly, but still firm, about 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once cooled thinly slice pears.

2. Drizzle salad with vinaigrette as desired.  Plate greens and divide the sliced pears and top the salads.  Sprinkle with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts.

Champagne Vinaigrette

Source: Adapted from Guy Fieri
Servings: Makes 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except olive oil.  Mix well, then slowly whisk in olive oil.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

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