Buttermilk Ranch… from scratch

July 14, 2010

Skip to Ranch Dressing Recipe

Now anyone from the midwest will know what I mean when I say that I’m a “ranch connoisseur.”  It has taken 3 1/2 years in New York to break me of the habit of dipping my pizza, fries, sandwiches – you get the idea – in creamy ranch dressing.

“What finally broke me of the habit?” you might ask… Ranch Dressing in NYC is abysmal. There’s no other word to describe it.  A phrase that MIGHT describe this substance is “gelatinous cafeteria ranch.”  I’m not dipping my pizza into something that jiggles as one cohesive solid. Period.

I have to admit, Grandma Millie is responsible for my spoiled “ranch pallet.”  When you go to Millie’s two things are a given:

  1. You will leave with foil-wrapped leftovers that will NOT survive the 30 minute drive home.
  2. Dinner will be accompanied with a salad and homemade ranch.

It wasn’t until my Grandma emailed me the recipe to feature on the blog that I realized the recipe is for a DRY MIX that you combine with buttermilk and mayo.  In case you haven’t done the math as quickly as I did this is a recipe for a homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Packet.  Amazing.

(hopefully) AMUSING RANCH STORY: When I was studying in London for a month during college (thanks mom and dad), I met a really fun girl from Philadelphia named Danielle who was doing her graduate work in the UK.  Among other amusing personality traits, what made me bond with her was that she had her mother ship Hidden Valley Ranch Packets to her every month.  CLEARLY my initial reaction was similar to what I’m sure your thinking: “how trashy, REALLY?, typical American.”

After a month, I was ready to club Danielle over the head for a Ranch packet.  Seriously.  Now, I can make my own :-)

Ingredients:

  • 15 saltine crackers (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup dry minced onion
  • 1/2 cup dried parlsey flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dried dill weed
  • 1/4 cu onion salt
  • 1/4 cup garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1/4 cup garlic powderWhen Ready to Serve:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup buttermilk

What you’ll need to clean up after:

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Blender (optional)

Step One: Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl, or in a blender. Store in an airtight container.

Step Two: When ready to serve, to make 2 cups of dressing: combine 1 tablespoon of dry mix with 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup buttermilk and mix thoroughly.

-Eat Hearty!

No Rise Cinnamon Rolls

July 13, 2010

Skip to Cinnamon Roll Recipe

No matter what drama or problems you’re going through in life, one thing is certain.  Carbs are comforting.

More specifically -for me at least – a cinnamon roll is akin to the yellow “comfort blankey” of my early childhood.  There’s just something about the smell of cinnamon, sugar and YES butter, that warms the heart, calms the mind… and admittedly grows the love handles :-).

The only problem is that for some reason I HATE working with bread dough, roll dough… or any other kind of dough that involves yeast (don’t ask b/c I honestly don’t know).  For obvious reasons, this has somewhat limited my cinnamon roll baking frequency.  Until now.

I actually stumbled upon this recipe in a cookbook a friend loaned me recently: The Ladies Aide Society Cookbook from the Central Schwenkfelder Church (Pennsylvania).

What fascinated me about this recipe was that there was no egg and no yeast.  I was, admittedly, skeptical about how good this type of recipe would actually taste… but I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup crushed pecans

What you’ll need to clean up afterward:

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Baking Sheet

Step One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Step Two: In mixing bowl cream butter and cottage cheese (helps if butter is room temperature before attempting to cream).

Step Three: Stir in flour and mix together with hands.

Step Four: Refrigerate for 2-3 hours (I leave it in overnight).

Step Five: Sprinkle dough and rolling surface with flour (on both sides of dough).  Roll dough into a rectangle… should be about 1/8 inch thick (as thin as you can make it without it falling apart).

Step Six: Sprinkle, cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar and pecans evenly across rectangle.

Step Seven: Beginning at one of the shorter ends of the rectangle, roll the dough into one log (as you would for pinwheels).

Step Eight: Cut 1/2 inch medallions and place on well buttered cookie sheet.

Step Nine: Bake for 28-30 minutes.  Remove when a light golden color.  Cool on rack before serving.

-Eat Hearty!




Passionfruit Buttercream Frosting

July 1, 2010

Frosting Recipe

The  Coral Reef Cooler inspiration effect strikes again.  I’m really not sure what it is about this drink that makes me want cupcakes…. but for whatever reason, I wound up – once again – whipping up some basic white cupcakes at 11 pm and dreaming up a new frosting.

This time, the frosting flavor was born completely out of necessity.  I had butter, powdered sugar, but no milk.  As I pondered this problem and mulled over the idea of putting on some clothes suitable for the streets of New York (i.e. NOT my stretched out sweatpants), I happened to look at my cocktail and inspiration struckWhy not use my leftover passionfruit juice instead of milk?

After tinkering around I ended up with a rather delightful – if not a TINY bit too sweet – frosting.  I ended up adding a little lemon juice and extract for a kick and red and yellow food coloring to get the tropical color I felt passionfruit frosting should have.


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened to room temp (6-10 seconds in microwave works nicely
  • 1 1/4 lb of powdered sugar (1 1/4 boxes – the conversions of this are tricky, it’s going to be around 3 1/2 cups if you pour the sugar into the measuring cup and don’t pack)
  • 1 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons passionfruit juice (no pulp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoons lemon extract

What you’ll need to clean up afterward

  • 1 Mixing bowl
  • 1 wooden spoon (if you’re going hard core… if not, a hand mixer)
  • Measuring cup, tablespoon and teaspoon

Step One: Cream the butter with a whisk

Step Two: Combine the butter and powdered sugar and one tablespoon of lemon juice in the mixing bowl.  You can continuously stir with a spoon, use a mixer, or use your hands to mash sugar and butter together into one large lump (the quickest method).

Step Three: Start stirring (or mixing on medium speed) and adding the passionfruit juice  one tablespoon at a time.  If, after adding the remaining 5 tablespoons of liquids, the frosting is too thick, add additional juice one teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. WARNING: the juice gives the frosting a lower “melting temp” so you may want to leave it a little thicker than you normally would.

Step Four: Apply frosting to your cake, cupcake… or eat with a spoon :-)

-Eat Hearty!

Coca-Cola Glazed Meatloaf…WOW!

June 30, 2010

Go to meatloaf recipe (on The Hungry Southerner)

I really have to hand it to The Hungry Southerner Blog.  It’s rare I find any kind of recipe that rivals my grandma’s hamloaf (recipe to come)… but this meatloaf recipe just might.  Using Coca-Cola as a glaze is simply inspired. I can’t wait to make, and I had to share this with whomever would listen.

THIS is a MEATLOAF!

Thank’s Hungry Southerner!

-Eat Hearty!

What the heck is Oleo?!

June 25, 2010

I recently was loaned a cookbook by a friend.  This is no ordinary cookbook. The Ladies Aide Society Cookbook from the Central Schwenkfelder Church (Pennsylvania).

Now let me tell you, these recipes are amazing.  You’ll be seeing quite a few of them on this blog from time to time.  But there has been one overarching challenge to using these recipes – one that I often have with some of my grandma’s recipesIngredients that don’t exist anymore.

One ingredient, in particular: OLEO. I have asked myself on more than one occasion lately “what the hell is oleo”… the answer – I learned – is simple.  Margarine.

Simple, right?  Here I was convinced it was some mythical “crisco-esque” substance that would make all my cakes perfect, my muffins moist, and my brownies delectable.  All that is true, but there’s no magic to it… just plain old margarine.  The reason many grandma’s refer to Oleo in recipes is interesting.

While I’ve long been a staunch butter lover (I blame my mom)… I have been told, in certain instances… margarine is better.  Granted, it’s b/c it has more oil content and makes things unbelievable moist (along with clogging the arteries)… but still, worth considering…

-Eat Hearty

Gma’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

June 25, 2010

Chocolate Sheet Cake Recipe

You know how there are those images that cause an instant involuntary reaction – puffy clouds, a bunny, a crazy woman wearing fur on 8th avenue in the middle of July – and leave a lasting impression.  Well the sight of a plain cookie sheet messily covered with several sheets of aluminum foil puts a big smile on my face and starts my mouth “awaterin’ ” (pardon the country slang… sometimes you just need a “feel good” word).

Why does a messy foil wrap job make me happy? Good question.  The answer is my Grandma Millie’s Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Early on, Millie discovered that the best way to transport a sheet cake in your car* is to simply leave it in the pan in which you baked it and cover it with foil.  Fortunately, the cake is so good, you rarely have to leave the pan b/c it’s usually eaten in one sitting.  To this day, I see a wrapped cookie sheet and hope for chocolate cake — I seem to find myself hoping for cake a lot :-)

*I should mention, this method of transport only works if you actually get the cake into the car (klutzy baking disasters run in the family).

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick oleo
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup oleo
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoon milk (guess at this)
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)

Step One: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Step Two: Sift flour and white sugar into large mixing bowl.

Step Three: In a sauce pan bring 1 stick oleo, cocoa powder, and water to a boil.

Step Four: Add hot ingredients (from step 3) to dry ingredients (from step 2) and mix in oil, buttermilk, egg, baking soda and vanilla.  Mix well.

Step Five: Pour into a greased cookie sheet.

Step Six: Bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Step Seven: While cake is baking make frosting.  In a saucepan bring 1/4 cup oleo, cocoa powder, vanilla and milk to a boil.  Remove from stove and combine with powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and mix well.

Step Eight: Spread frosting over hot cake and let cool.

-Eat Hearty!

Bourbon Filet Mignon

June 21, 2010

Bourbon Filet Mignon Recipe

I must give credit where credit is due on this one… Thanks fresh direct. I thank my favorite grocery provider b/c they supplied bourbon-marinated 5 oz fillets that made this one of the easiest meat cooking experience of my life.

I should say, my friend Ginger (maker of glass noodles) was the one who hosted and bought the steaks.  However, I ended up cooking (as usual) in her tiny kitchen and ended up spilling half a pot of pasta on me – not my first food disaster in small NYC kitchens.

By virtue of the cut, these steaks were so tender and delicious, but the fact that they had marinated in bourbon for at least 2 days didn’t hurt (nor did the butter and red wine).  I’m sure these would be wonderful on a grill… but since they’re basically illegal in Manhattan, we made due with an oven, broiler and skillet.

Ingredients (makes four steaks):

  • Four 5 oz fillets
  • 8 oz of bourbon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (I like a Cabernet… admittedly I usually pour from the glass I’m drinking)
  • Large freezer bag
  • Aluminum foil

What you’ll have to clean up afterward:

  • Baking sheet
  • Skillet

Step One: poke 3-5 holes in steaks using a skewer.

Step Two: Place steaks and bourbon in a freezer bag and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Step Three (next day): Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Step Four: Line baking sheet with aluminum foil, place steaks on baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes on each side.

Step Five: Broil steaks for 2-3 minutes on each side (this will yield a medium rare… for rare, broil 1 minute each side)

Step Six: In a skillet combine butter, red wine and the pan juices from the steaks over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.

Step Seven: Cook steaks in skillet about 30 seconds on each side right before serving.  If your sides aren’t quite done at the same time… let them sit in warm oven until ready and then sear right before serving.

-Eat Hearty!

Arugula Crescent Roll Pinwheels

June 17, 2010

Skip to Pinwheel Recipe

Everybody needs that go to “crap-somebody’s-coming-over-with-friends-and-I-need-appetizers-STAT” recipe.

I have several of these – mostly b/c I somehow always end up entertaining — and they all revolve around canned crescent rolls and biscuits.  No one said I was a nutritionist.

I’ve cranked out these specific appetizers multiple times for friends and family.  The best thing about this pinwheel recipe is it’s versatility — you can literally put ANYTHING in these as a filling and they’ll taste (and look) amazing. The below is one of my favorites, but you should experiment and make your own mix… just be sure to include the cream cheese :-).


Ingredients:

  • One can of crescent rolls
  • 2-3 oz plain (or low fat) cream cheese at room temp
  • 3/4 cup arugula (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese (grated)
  • Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Sea Salt (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons rosemary

What you’ll need to clean up afterward:

  • Baking sheet
  • Cutting board
  • Knife

Step One: Preheat the over to the temp specified on the can of crescent rolls (usually around 450 degrees)

Step Two: On a clean surface, roll out the crescent roll dough in on piece.  You should be able to just unroll the dough, if the perforations are separating, squeeze them together.

Step Three: Evenly spread the cream cheese over the entire surface of the dough rectangle.

Step Four: Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the top of the cream cheese.

Step Five: Beginning at one of the shorter ends of the rectangle, roll the dough into one log (should be about the same length as the dough was when originally after removed from packaging).

Step Six: Cut 1/2 inch medallions and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Step Seven: Bake for the minimum time on the roll packaging (usually 10-12 minutes) and check — pinwheels are golden when done.  Cool on wire rack for 3-5 minutes.

-Eat Hearty!

Coral Reef Cooler

June 9, 2010

Coral Reef Cooler Recipe

Let me just say, I came up with the name before thinking about the current oil spill crisis… so let’s just say this drink is in homage… (too soon?).

This all came about because of some delightful Absolut Mango Vodka I brought back from St. Thomas (for $9… I can’t say enough good things about shopping in the Virgin Islands) and the fresh Passion Fruit Juice Keith and I became obsessed with at Gladys’ Cafe in Charlotte Amalie.

I was tinkering around in the kitchen this weekend trying to find a suitable cocktail to assuage my rage at the billion degree heat… and I stumbled upon this gem.  I was lucky to be able to find passion fruit juice at the Amish Market, but realize it might not be so easily accessible for all.  I’m fairly confident pineapple juice would be an acceptable substitute.

WARNING: I make strong drinks that taste like nothing… be prepared for a “kick” after you’ve knocked one (or three) back.

Ingredients (makes one drink):

  • 2 oz Absolut Mango Vodka
  • 2 oz Passion Fruit Juice
  • 1 oz Ginger Ale
  • 2 lemon wedges (squeezed)
  • 1 lemon twist for garnish

What you’ll have to clean up afterward:

  • Martini Shaker (optional)

Step One: Combine vodka, passion fruit juice, and lemon juice in martini shaker and top off with ice.  Shake well. You could also just combine the same ingredients in a rocks glass and stir.

Step Two: Pour contents of shaker into martini glass (or rocks glass with ice) and top with ginger ale (you may use a little more than 1 oz).

Step Three: Garnish with lemon twist and serve.

-Eat Hearty!

Lemon Buttercream Frosting

June 9, 2010

Frosting Recipe

When life gives you leftover lemon twists… make lemon cupcakes?

Keith and I decided to make Coral Reef Coolers this weekend and the recipe calls for lemon twists as a garnish.  Now those of you who have tended bar (in what would have to be a ridiculously pretentious “mixology” throwback lounge), or just love classic drinks, know what a pain in the butt it is to cut a lemon twist — which is essentially a curlicue of lemon peel.

At any rate, I ended up with close to 30 lemon twists, and CLEARLY Keith and I weren’t going to have 30 Tropic Coolers and live to tell about it.  So I did the sensible thing with my leftover garnish… made lemon cupcakes to go with them.

After 3-4 drinks (which are deceptively delicious btw), I wish I could say I was in the mood to make cupcakes from scratch… but I’m just not that good.  I used a Williams & Sonoma lemon cake mix someone gave me as a gift *GASP*… which was actually pretty good.  I like to think I wasn’t totally bad — I did mess a bit with the instructions, adding zest, lemon extract, almond extract, some extra butter and a little sour cream — but I won’t claim the cake recipe.

I did, however, draw the line at canned frosting and made my own lemon buttercream that turned out deliciously, if I do say so myself.


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened to room temp (6-10 seconds in microwave works nicely
  • 1 1/4 lb of powdered sugar (1 1/4 boxes – the conversions of this are tricky, it’s going to be around 3 1/2 cups if you pour the sugar into the measuring cup and don’t pack)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (I like mine very lemony… so I use 2)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

What you’ll need to clean up afterward

  • 1 Mixing bowl
  • 1 wooden spoon (if you’re going hard core… if not, a hand mixer)
  • Measuring cup, tablespoon and teaspoon

Step One: Cream the butter with a whisk

Step Two: Combine the butter and powdered sugar and one tablespoon of milk in the mixing bowl.  You can continuously stir with a spoon, use a mixer, or use your hands to mash sugar and butter together into one large lump (the quickest method).

Step Three: Start stirring (or mixing on medium speed) and adding the remaining milk and lemon juice  one tablespoon at a time.  If, after adding the remaining 3 tablespoons of liquids, the frosting is too thick, add additional milk or lemon juice (depending on how tart you like your frosting) one teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Step Four: Stir in lemon zest for that final lemon “kick.”

Step Five: Apply frosting to your cake, cupcake… or eat with a spoon :-)

-Eat Hearty!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.