Thursday, September 29, 2016

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing



I'm a self-proclaimed ranch dressing snob.

I like ranch dressing, but I'm particular about it.

So please do not offer the bottled ranch dressing to me.

It's not my preference.

Which is a nice way of saying I don't like it.

It's nothing against bottled ranch dressing . . . it's that I just don't really like most bottled dressings.

Confession time is over;  back to the ranch dressing.

I like good ranch dressing.

Ranch dressing with flavor.

Ranch dressing with zip.

Ranch dressing with depth.

Ranch dressing that has "character" to it.

That's why I like this ranch dressing.

I think I ought to call it "green ranch dressing," because I mix it together in a blender, which does change the color of the dressing.

But if you want to mix it by hand, then I think you'll not call your dressing "green ranch dressing."

So, why do I mix it together in the blender, you ask?

Because I like it really, really, really mixed up.

Preference.

What's also good about this recipe is that it is "yours."

By that I mean you adjust the spices to your ranch fancy.

I have a girl cherub here that has a wee fancy for garlic.

So we added a wee bit more garlic for her fancy ranch taste.

But I'm great with that.

Because I like her taste!

So, I'll give you the amounts I used, which may or may not include things like "a dash,"

or "a smidge."

Work your ranch magic and be delighted with your preference!

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TBSP buttermilk, and more for desired consistency
2 cloves garlic, peeled (I used 3 cloves and it is noticeable)
1/4 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
3/4 oz package fresh dill, stems removed (can use dried dill if you'd rather, to taste)
1 tsp. vinegar Or fresh lemon juice
dash of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

In a blender, place all of the ingredients. In my blender, it works best to put the liquids in first, then the sour cream and mayo, then the garlic, parsley, and dill, followed by the spices.

Blend until well mixed.  Check for two things:  flavor profile and consistency. To thin:  add buttermilk, 1 TBSP at a time, mixing well after each addition.  For flavor:  what do you think you want?  Salt, dill, another dash or Worcestershire sauce?  Another thing you can do is let it set for a couple of hours and re-taste, giving the flavors time to come together.


IF you choose not to mix by hand:  in a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream and buttermilk.  Add the garlic, finely chopped, the flat leaf parsley, finely chopped, the dill and remaining ingredients.  Whisk together until combined. 
Check for two things:  flavor profile and consistency. To thin:  add buttermilk, 1 TBSP at a time, mixing well after each addition.  For flavor:  what do you think you want?  Salt, dill, another dash or Worcestershire sauce?  Another thing you can do is let it set for a couple of hours and re-taste, giving the flavors time to come together.

Store the dressing in the refrigerator until ready to use.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Smoked Chicken Pasta with Artichoke Cream Sauce

Smoking meat is one of those things I really want to learn to do.

Correction:  smoking meat is really one of those things I really want the MR. to learn to do!

He has smoked meat a several times.

But truthfully, there is an art to doing it well.

Some people call that "a knack!"

The problem is that the Mr. doesn't want to learn how to do this "art," as much as I want him to learn!

Oh, the problems we have!

But!  My smoking meat dilemma was cured a few weeks ago when a friend of ours offered to smoke some meat for us.

He's really good at what he does!

He's even won a "smoking competition."

Now!  Before you go making wise cracks about that statement . . .I already know what you might say.

Honestly, though . . . there's a lot to being able to smoke meat well.

And well he did!

After the meat was smoked, the Mr. and I put it into the freezer so that we'd have it when we wanted it.

This week, with the crazy schedule we're running around here, I pulled some of the wonderfully cooked chicken from the freezer and defrosted it.

This is what I made . . . pulled smoked chicken with pasta and artichoke cream sauce.

Sounds fancy, huh?

It is sooooo easy!

You know what "pulled smoked chicken" really is?

A lazy way of serving chicken!

Sounds fancy.

Makes the price go up if you're ordering it in a restaurant.

But truthfully, it's a fast way to remove the meat from the bone and the best part is this;

you don't even have to chop it or anything!

You just pull it . . .you get what you get!

It's awesome!

If you don't have a Mr. that will smoke the chicken for you,

or a friend who will . . .

just use unsmoked chicken.

Or go to your favorite bbq joint and order yourself a chicken quarter or two and pull your own chicken.

Smoked Chicken Pasta with Artichoke Cream Sauce

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
2 cups heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2 . . . whichever you have
8 oz dried pasta, cooked (you know I used gluten free)
pulled smoked chicken (use as much or as little as you want or have)
salt and pepper to taste

After draining the artichoke hearts, pour the cream or 1/2 and 1/2 (or a mixture of the two) into a sauce pan and add the artichoke hearts.  Bring the two to a low simmer and heat thoroughly for 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a large pan of water, seasoned generously with salt, onto boil.  When the water is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook according to directions.  The last 3 minutes of cooking, I added the pulled chicken to the boiling pasta to heat the chicken thoroughly.  Drain the pasta and chicken when the pasta is done.

After the cream and artichokes are heated and been simmering a bit, add the cream mixture to a blender and puree.  Do this in small batches so that the hot liquid doesn't create a huge mess in your kitchen or on you!  I ran the blender for several minutes, as I wanted as smooth of a sauce as possible.

Taste the sauce and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, place the pasta and chicken and pour the hot cream sauce and mix well.

Serve immediately.

*If you need more sauce, just add more heavy cream, 1/2 and 1/2, or even milk.  I used 1/2 and 1/2, because that's what I had . . .but it also cuts the calories from the heavy cream and we didn't know any better to know if the taste was compromised!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ranch Roasted Potatoes




I can't even remember what I was fixing but I needed a side dish to serve with it.

Oh wait!  Just typing that sentence made me remember what I was making!

Ham!

Which reminded me . . .

I'm going to post my ham recipe!

But not right now.

Right now, it is about the potatoes.

Since I was making a ham, I wanted to have a complete meal.

You know, not the one-dish-call-it-good meal.

But a meal that resembled thought,

and preparation,

and time,

and love,

and all those things!

I had some potatoes in the refrigerator.

I keep my potatoes there because I don't use them fast enough to keep them in a cute potato basket.

Because if I kept them in a cute potato basket, my potatoes would be gross.

And unusable.

So I keep them cold so they won't get gross so fast.

Now, before you start thinking about all the bad things that happen to cold potatoes.

I know.

The starch changes to sugar.

They don't taste the same as if you store them "naturally."

They have a different texture if they've been stored in the refrigerator.

Yes -- you are right.

But I'm neither a potato farmer, or a potato connoisseur,

so I don't mind the subtle difference that I can't even really detect.

I took my cold potatoes and made this recipe.

My premise:  an old recipe for oyster crackers.

If it's good enough for crackers, then it's got to be good enough for potatoes!

Ranch Roasted Potatoes

2 lbs. of your favorite potato, cleaned and cut into potato cubes*
1 pkg. dry ranch seasoning mix
2 TBSP oil
11/2 tsp dried dill
1tsp. lemon pepper
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional
1 tsp. course ground pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

With cleaned and cubed potatoes in a mixing bowl, sprinkle all of the dry ingredients over the potatoes.  Pour the 2 TBSP of oil over the potatoes and stir to coat evenly, mixing the potatoes, oil, and seasonings together well.

Crockpot Method:

Spray the crock liner with pam and place the seasoned potatoes into the crock pot.  Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2.  Check for desired doneness half-way through the cooking time.  Make adjustments as necessary for your size crock pot, the size of potato cubes, and the amount of potatoes being cooked. (Perhaps you are like me and you made this and doubled the recipe for a  larger group).

Baked Method:

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with pam, or line the cookie sheet with a silpat liner.  Place the seasoned potatoes on the lined cookie sheet.  Place in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes.  Check for desired doneness.  Stir the potatoes occasionally to allow for even cooking and browning.

*I used russet potatoes, as it is what I had in the refrigerator.  Yukon gold, red potatoes, or fingerlings would be great to use.  2 lbs. of potatoes easily serves 4-6 people.  Of course, it all depends on serving size.