Archive for July, 2010

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 🙂


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!