Archive for the ‘Cooking Recipes’ Category

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!

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.


Thank’s Hungry Southerner!

-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!

Keep it simple…SALMON

June 8, 2010

Skip to Simple Salmon Recipe

I’m intimidated by fish. There, I’ve said it.

I blame a tragic Long John Silver’s episode of my early childhood (don’t ask) for my fear of undercooked, “fishy” fish.  For those who are curious I DO like sushi rolls… but sashimi creeps me the heck out.

Despite my, admittedly, irrational fear of preparing fish (the mercury poison scare didn’t help either) I do LOVE eating it… and so I have committed to myself and to Keith (who would eat seafood every night if he could) that I will do my best to make a fish entree once per week.

In the past, I have approached salmon with an arsenal of spices, rubs, marinades, and gallons of lemon juice out of a fear of my fish being “too fishy.”  I think part of this is from growing up in a thoroughly land-locked state where reasonably priced fish is anything but fresh.  However, at the trusty Amish Market on the corner I can find very fresh Salmon fillets for $12.99 per lb (I know the price is ridiculous, but let’s just ignore it).

As a result of the “fresh factor” I felt comfortable following my good friend Laurie’s recommendation to “keep it simple [stupid]” when it comes to preparing Salmon.  I have to say, this recipe was FAST totally STRESS-FREE and HEALTHY (if you can believe it).

FUN FACT:  Salmon is one of the “moistest fishes”… meaning you don’t need much liquid in a pan to get some steam going over low heat.


  • 2 1/2 lb Salmon Fillets
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

What you’ll need to clean up afterward:

  • 1 sautee pan and lid
  • fish spatula

Step One: Pour one tablespoon lemon juice and olive oil into pan and put over medium-low heat, swirl liquids evenly across the pan.

Step Two: Place salmon fillets into pan.  Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle half the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice over the two fillets.

Step Three: Cover the pan with lid and let cook on medium low heat for eight minutes.

Step Four: Remove lid, flip fillets and repeat the seasoning from step two.

Step Five: Re-cover the pan with lid and let cook for 6-7 more minutes, or until cooked to desired texture (should be flaky and not “wet” in the middle”).

-Eat Hearty

Lianne’s PERFECT Sweet Grilled Corn

June 3, 2010

Skip to Grilled Corn Recipe

I’ll be the first to say the grill is where my culinary skills come to a SCREECHING halt.  And I don’t really know why, my Dad (father of Corn Dip), is actually an amazing Grill Chef… go figure.

HOWEVER, I have decided that summer 2010 will be my grill apprenticeship.  In that spirit, I went over to my friend Lianne’s on Memorial Day for my first class.  We kept it simple… no meat this time (she said I wasn’t ready), but I did learn a remarkably simple way to prep corn for the grill.  The end product is ridiculously delicious.

I’m tempted to say you don’t really even need to grill the corn, but as this is my grill apprenticeship I’ll shut up and stick to the recipe.


  • 4 ears of corn (chopped in halves)
  • 3-4 cups of milk (enough for the corn to float in)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Aluminum Foil (not really an ingredient but you need it)

What you’ll need to clean up after:

  • 1 medium sized pot

(Grill should already be prepped to cook meat)

Step One: Pour milk into medium-sized pot (milk should fill pot half way) and mix in sugar

Step Two: Add corn to pot and bring to a low simmer.

Step Three: Simmer for 10-15 minutes (corn should be tender enough to eat)

Step Four: Pat corn dry then rub with butter (I like to butter down a napkin and apply the napkin to the corn) and salt and pepper to taste.

Step Five: Wrap corn in aluminum foil and put on the grill for ten minutes.

-Eat Hearty!

A taste of the Caribbean…vacay in St. Thomas

May 27, 2010

Let me just say… There’s nothing more relaxing than an island vacation. I’ve been knocking the “typical beach vacation” for YEARS.  Examples of things I might have said:

“Beach vacations just SOUND boring, who wants to lay around all day?”

“What’s there to SEE on an island?  Sand, water… maybe a snake?”

“I don’t like rum… “

I was so mistaken.

I’ll spare you all the rubbing it in about laying in the sun, snorkeling, sailboats, jet skiis, etc. (I guess I just did it… ).  But what I have to share with you over the next week (I just got back so it’ll take some time with the one billion work emails waiting for me) are a couple of the recipes I picked up on the island… watch out there’s some dangerous one’s in there 🙂

Bushwacker (the perfect beach drink)

Coral Reef Cooler

Jerk Chicken

Caribbean Stewed Chicken

-Eat Hearty!

Ginger’s (healthyish) Glass Noodles with Chicken

May 27, 2010

Skip to Glass Noodle Recipe

My dear friend Ginger recently pointed out that Grandma Millie has yet to feature an Asian inspired dish and insisted I come over and learn how to make a simple (but delicious) Thai recipe she learned from her mother.  I’m so glad I did.

Given that there really isn’t anything bad for you in this dish, it’s AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS.  Even better, it’s quick and there’s only one pan to clean up…. the best of every world.

Admittedly, I’m a little intimidated by Thai cuisine.  I LOVE it, mind you (Keith and I probably order at least once or twice a week), but have this irrational fear of cooking noodles that aren’t paired with a “classic” French or Italian sauce.  Well that has changed. Now that I know how easy it is, look for a lot more Thai dishes coming your way.

Neither Ginger or I claim this is a 100% “authentic recipe” but it’s delicious nonetheless and I (we) think you’ll enjoy.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • 2 Chicken breasts (chopped into bite sized pieces) – you can also use pork or shrimp
  • 4 oz glass noodles (we used Vermicelli, but whatever brand works)
  • 3-4 large cabbage leaves (rinsed and chopped)
  • 1/2 medium yellow/white onion (diced)
  • 1/2 regular jalapeno (diced, no seeds)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or pushed through garlic press)
  • 1 bouillon cube (chicken)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or more, to taste)

What you’ll need to clean up afterward:

  • One medium sautee pan
  • One mixing bowl

Step One: Marinate chicken in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper to taste for 10 minutes.

Step Two: Place glass noodles in mixing bowl of lukewarm tap water and let sit while cooking chicken and vegetables.

Step Three: Sautee chicken in pan with remaining olive oil until almost cooked.

Step Four: Add cabbage, peppers, onion, garlic and the bouillon cube (you can break in half to add in) in with the chicken and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Step Five: Remove noodles from bowl of water and shake excess water out (there can still be come water dripping of the noodles when you add) and stir in with the chicken and veggies.

Step Six: Add egg and stir for another minute until incorporated.  Add soy sauce to taste. *you can also add Louisiana hot sauce if you want to give it a little kick.

ANOTHER OPTION: if you want a delicious soup, just heat some chicken stock/broth in soup pot while preparing the above and add the noodle mixture to the broth… DELICIOUS.

-Eat Hearty!

Charlie’s Corn Dip…Don’t Judge (It’s Delish)

May 14, 2010

Skip to Corn Dip Recipe

In my second installment to what is apparently “dip week”, I give you my Dad’s Corn Dip.  Yes, that’s right… corn dip.

It’s funny because my Dad really started cooking when I was 10 or 11 when my Mom went back to grad school, and yet the first thing I really remember my Dad making that I just couldn’t get enough of was corn dip.

It’s possible that my mild obsession is b/c of fond memories as the only times he makes it is for the Wright-Family-New-Years-Day-Smorgasboard (I don’t know why we used the word “Smorgasboard” but, to this day, that’s what we call it), and the occasional summer bbq.  It could also be b/c there is mayo, sour cream and cheese in the recipe and you eat it with Fritos (one of my favorite chips).

Whatever the reason, I really love this dip and enjoy bringing it out every now and then for my friends in the City so they can turn their nose up and say “that’s gross” only to be licking the bowl clean when I turn around.  Oddly, I find that to be the case with many midwester recipes… like Pink Salad.

Don’t judge this dip by it’s looks… at least take a courtesy bite (as my Mom likes to say) — I guarantee you won’t “courtesy tasting” until it’s gone.


  • 2 cans fiesta corn
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 small can diced jalapenos
  • 1 bundle green onions (chopped)
  • 2-16oz pkg shredded cheese
  • 1 small can of green chiles

What you’ll have to clean up after:

  • Mixing Bowl
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Can opener

Step One: Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir.

Step Two: Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving (you don’t HAVE to, but it tastes much better).

-Eat Hearty!

What’s your Guacamole?

May 12, 2010

Guacamole Recipe

As we are (or were before the cold weather) heading into the summer months, it seems appropriate to talk about guacamole.

“I love guacamole.”  That’s really all I need to talk about it.

BBQ’s, drinks on the roof, or just an impromptu gathering: Guac is the perfect nosh.

It’s got everything I like: salt, a creamy texture, and you eat it with chips.  And there is NOTHING better to get a party and the conversation started than to prepare your guacamole with people standing around.  What’ s so interesting about the “guacamole prep” conversation is that it almost always hinges around what other people put into theirs.

So, I’d like to have a digital guac’ conversation: below is my “recipe” (it’s really all to taste, so my measurements are very conservative so as not to over spice)… please leave your guacamole recipe as a comment…unless you’re one of those super-secretive-recipe-people.  In that case, I’ll understand if you don’t participate.

Ingredients (makes around 6 cups)

  • 5 avocados (cut in half and pitted)
  • 1/2 medium red onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1-2 diced tomatoes (around 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (start with 1/2 and add to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • Juice of 2 limes

Step One: Scoop out avocado halves with spoon into a medium mixing bowl.  It helps to make 4 or 5 horizontal AND vertical cuts (making a criss-cross pattern) in the avocado before scooping it out — minimizes mashing later.

Step Two: Mash up the avocado with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency (I like mine a little lumpy).

Step Three: Add the remaining ingredients and stir.  Add additional amounts of spices to taste.

-Eat Hearty!

Millie’s Ten-Minute Donuts

April 28, 2010

Watch out people, this is a Millie Original. In fact, the first time I actually had these little “gems” (get it “gem donuts”… eh.. EH) was on a ski trip with my parents, sister, and Grandma Millie.  It was Christmas morning and after opening stockings, Grandma starts whipping these up and informs me that she used to make them with my Mom all the time (imagine my outrage at having never before been treated to homemade donuts).

Since then, I have now trotted these out at a couple of brunch parties.  Donuts make a fantastic party: simply give everyone there own brown paper bag with a coating of their choosing (powdered sugar, cinnamon and sugar, etc.) and everyone can coat their own hot donuts.  Make sure to brew a big pot of coffee and prepare yourself for swiffering after 🙂


  • Canned biscuits (one biscuit is one donut… I usually do at least 20… often 30 if we’re being honest)
  • Enough vegetable oil to float a biscuit in a stock or soup pot.
  • Cinnamon and Sugar for coating (can also use powdered sugar or make a glaze from powdered sugar and a little milk)

What you’ll have to clean up after:

  • Soup or stock pot
  • Fork or tongs (for turning)
  • Your counter, floor… maybe yourself?

Step one: Place oil in soup or stock pot and heat on medium-high heat.  Oil is ready when you place one of your donut holes (see below) in oil and it begins to bubble and fry while floating.

Step two: Remove biscuits from can and lay each out on flat surface.  Using a vanilla lid or other small circle, cut a hole in the center of each biscuit (keep the cut out piece for donut holes later 🙂 ).

Step three: When oil is ready, place prepared biscuit into hot oil and let float and fry until golden on one side (depends on heat of oil, but watch closely… can be as quick as 15-20 seconds), then flip (using tongs or fork).

Step four: When opposite side is golden remove from oil and place on paper towel to sit for a minute (if you can wait that long… I’ll often down one after 20-30 seconds).

Step five: After a minute, toss in preferred coating and serve.  These are BEST when hot. As they cool they become a little more “biscuit like”… still good, but nowhere near as good as when hot.

Repeat steps 3-5, until you’ve cooked all your donuts.  You can float as many in the oil as you can comfortable turn.  Be extremely careful when frying… it’s VERY hot.

Serve as you go along: drink a lot of coffee, have good conversations… and try not to think of the calories :-).

-Eat Hearty!