22 6 / 2012
I first made this recipe last year for a July 4th Cookout, but I made the ranch from scratch (buttermilk, chives, etc.). However, I am lazy this go-round.
Actually, I was having this potato salad as a side-dish for the Hot Brown Brown Burger, so I needed to cut a few corners. In comes the ranch dressing powder…probably one of the best inventions of our time. It’s SO much better than bottled ranch dressing could ever attempt to be.
First, I boiled about 2lbs. of red potatoes. I always add two chicken bouillon cubes to the potato water to add some flavor. After they’re fork tender, drain and chill. Next, I fried 7 chopped slices of thick-cut bacon until nice and crispy. You could totally use even more bacon; I needed the other half of the package for the burgers, so I had to refrain.
While all that was going on, I mixed up my ranch dressing. The package called for 1 cup mayonnaise and 1 cup milk to be added to make dressing, but I did 1/2 a cup mayo, 1/2 a cup sour cream, and 3/4 cup milk instead. The result was a deliciously thick dressing that was still thin enough to coat the potatoes.
Pro-tip for chopping green onion, chives, or really any herb: use kitchen shears. It’s so much easier.
After the potatoes had chilled and my dressing had set (about an hour), I just tossed all the ingredients together, adding the dressing in three different stages. Be sure to fold gently! You don’t want to mash the potatoes.
Yum. The final product will be featured in the next post about the burgers, and I don’t want to give anything away too soon. This stuff is SO addictive. It would be great with some boiled egg (though you’d probably leave out the yolk), some halved cherry tomatoes, and/or some cheese mixed in. Take this to your summer cookout, and everyone will think you are made of magic.
And who wouldn’t want to be made of magic?
Bacon Ranch Potato Salad
2 lbs. red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup chopped green onion
Bacon (1/2 a cup at least), chopped (I say the more, the merrier)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup milk
1 pkg. ranch dressing/dip mix (I swear by Hidden Valley)
Mix ranch dressing/dip mix with milk and sour cream in a small bowl and chill. Boil potatoes with two chicken bouillon cubes just until fork-tender. Drain potatoes and chill for at least an hour, or until no longer warm. While the potatoes and dressing are chilling, fry chopped bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper-towels to absorb excess grease. Once potatoes are chilled, toss with ranch dressing, adding bacon, onion, and more dressing in stages. Chill until serving. Top with additional chopped green onion or chopped chives (optional).
17 6 / 2012
So, I have purchased the goods to make Hot Brown Burgers later this week, but today is such a lazy day that I’ll probably just watch movies and make excuses to not do anything. This past week has sort of been the same. I have great aspirations to whip up fancy meals, but in the end I always go back to something simple.
For example, last night’s dinner was super easy. BUT it was beautiful, too. I don’t think there’s anything more appealing than well-cooked meat atop tender veggies. No bullshit, just food.
Yum. I marinaded the steak in some Moore’s marinade (use Dale’s or the off-brand, too…it doesn’t take much) then cooked it on my awesomely wonderful grill pan for 3-4 minutes for each side. It was tender, juicy, and flavorful. For veggies, simply chop up any combination of peppers, onions, and mushrooms that you like, and sautee them with a little oil, butter, garlic, and the juice of one lime. Et voila: Beef Fajitas.
Sure, this is a no-brainer recipe, but it’s a fantastic alternative to heating up a TV dinner or eating an entire box of mac ‘n cheese. It’s through these measures that I am able to constantly appreciate how simple and wonderful cooking can be. You don’t have to go all out every time you cook, and you don’t need a ton of crazy ingredients or a very involved recipe to enjoy cooking. Some of my favorite dishes have come from letting my imagination and creativity do their own thing.
It’s also nice to let someone else take the reigns in the kitchen every now and again. An old roommate was in town Wednesday, and we ate dinner at the local Thai restaurant called Thai Thai (creative, right?). Not being a huge fan of super spicy fare, I stuck with the normal Pad Thai for my entree, but I did get a little fancy with the appetizer.
At Thai Thai, they call this beauty the “Mermaid.” Upon a little more research, it’s known in Thai cuisine as Goong Hom-Pha (Prawns in the Blanket—how cute!). They are delicious little morsels—shrimp seasoned and wrapped in spring roll wrappers (essentially) then deep fried. They were served in a cute little hurricane-type glass with a delicious peanut-sweet-and-sour sauce. It was quite charming.
Next to cooking my own meal, dining at little local places is my favorite thing. When your food comes to your table, you can seethe hard work and intense love that was put into your meal. Try to get that at some national chain restaurant.
Whether you’re cooking a simple meal in your own kitchen, or dining on something a little more elaborate at a local eatery, take a second to savor it. Food, like life, is meant to be enjoyed!
10 6 / 2012
So far this summer, I have been using my boyfriend’s D&D campaign as an excuse to also cook delicious food. The biggest problem with trying a new recipe is having enough people to share it with, so the D&D group is great. They’re all pretty adventurous eaters too, which is a plus.
While searching for something to make this week, I found a recipe in the March (?) issue of Glamour magazine, but I very rarely actually follow any recipe word-for-word (which explains my problem with baking, but I digress), so I decided to make my own variation.
Anyway, this pizza turned out perfect. The crust was thin and crispy, the cheese spread in place of sauce was a nice twist, and with all those veggies, you could just FEEL how good it was for you.
Because I don’t have a decent phone or a decent camera, I skipped taking step-by-step pictures, but I did want to include this shot of the pizza before topping it with the mixed greens. Look how pretty! I think grilling the vegetables could work beautifully, too, instead of baking them.
The finished product was fresh, light, and completely refreshing. I didn’t add any onion, but I guarantee that a little throwing a few caramelized ones on would be fantastic too. This is the perfect summer recipe, especially if you love pizza hate that weighed down feeling you get afterward. Thanks, Glamour, for the inspiration, but here’s my twist:
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
zest of one lemon
2 pre-made thin crust pizza crusts
1 container of Boursin Light Garlic-Herb spread
extra-virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
10 sliced mushrooms (I used baby portabellas)
1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium summer squash, shaved thin with a vegetable peeler
15 asparagus spears, shaved (divided-10 cooked, 5 raw)
4oz. canned artichoke hearts
1 bag of mixed greens—about 6 cups (I used a baby spring mix with herbs)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan-Reggiano cheese blend
garlic-herb spice blend
salt and pepper, to taste
Toss mushrooms, zucchini, and red bell pepper with 2Tbsp. of oil and 3Tbsp. of red wine vinegar. Add a few dashes of the garlic-herb spice blend, salt, and pepper. Bake at 500 degrees F for 10 minutes. Toss the summer squash, artichoke hearts, and 10 of the shaved asparagus spears in oil, vinegar, and spices in the same way. Add squash, artichoke hearts, and asparagus mixture to the vegetables already cooking, and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until veggies start to turn golden.
Divide the cheese spread between the pizza crusts and spread evenly. Top pizzas with cooked veggies, and bake directly on oven rack at 400 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until crusts are crispy.
While the pizzas are baking, mix the store-bought pesto, 1/4 cup of red-wine vinegar, and the zest of one lemon to create a vinaigrette. Toss mixed greens, remaining shaved asparagus spears, and shredded cheese in the vinaigrette divide evenly between the two pizzas. Cut and serve as desired!
09 6 / 2012