Homemade Ranch Dip or Dressing

Ranch Dip.JPG

One of my self-imposed resolves as a housewife is to avoid buying anything from the store that I can make homemade. Hence my recent attempt at replicating Costco fudgsicles that looked AND tasted like mud (Thankfully my husband is still eating them and as soon as they’re gone I can try another batch!)

This homemade ranch dip is something I frequently pack in Joshua’s lunch to go with whatever veggies I have on hand. He must like it because at one point he asked for a 30% increase in the amount of dip when I pack it (my dip to veggie ratio wasn’t quite high enough).

During the winter, I make it with dried herbs, but this week I was able to make it with the fresh herbs that are now available!

I personally like to use yogurt and mayonnaise in a 1:1 ratio for the base, but I think any combination of yogurt, mayonnaise, or sour cream would work.

This recipe is really quite versatile!

Homemade Ranch Dip or Dressing
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise (we like avocado oil mayonnaise)
1/2 tsp dried dill or approximately 1 T. minced fresh dill
1/2 tsp dried parsley or approximately 1 T. minced fresh parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder (I have not tried it with fresh garlic yet)
1/4 tsp onion powder or 1 T. minced green onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix everything and refrigerate. Best to let the flavors meld for a couple hours before serving.

Print Friendly and PDF

Not-Greek Tomato Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Greek Salad.JPG

I’m not Greek. I don’t like olives. And I’ve never even seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

So- I make no claims that this is an authentic Greek salad. All I’m saying is, “It’s GOOD.” And you should make it.

Not-Greek Tomato Cucumber Quinoa Salad

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive or avocado oil
1 T red wine vinegar (balsamic or apple cider vinegar would probably work too)
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 T. minced oregano

1/2 cup quinoa (measured dry), cooked and cooled
1/2 of a cucumber, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 green onion, minced (white and green part)
1/4 cup feta cheese

In a small container, mix the dressing vigorously (I shook mine in a jar).

In a large bowl, mix the veggies, quinoa, and feta. Drizzle the dressing over top and mix evenly to coat. Serve and enjoy!

I prefered mine served at room temp rather than chilling it, but it can certainly be made ahead of time and kept in the frig.

Makes 3-4 servings.

"Really Good" Egg Casserole- High Protein and Low Carb

Egg Casserole 3.JPG

My recipe names sometimes come from comments that people make about the recipe.

In this case, I told my husband this egg casserole was going to be a blog recipe and he needed to “judge” it. His response was, “It’s good!” I told him his critique was insufficient and that he needed to be as critical of my cooking as he is of his own cooking. He elaborated his original statement by saying, “It’s REALLY good!” Hence the name.

I originally created this recipe this winter when I was low on groceries and the only thing I had in the frig was eggs, cottage cheese, and some veggies. It turns out be a great meal for pregnancy because it’s high protein and low carb- just what I need!

The whole recipe has almost 100 grams of protein, so divided by 4 servings, that’s 25 grams per serving!

The veggies and meat can be omitted or substituted with anything you like, making this a versatile use-what-you-got recipe!

“Really Good” Egg Casserole
2 green onions, chopped (white and green part)
1 cup ground beef sausage (recipe here)
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
A couple kale leaves torn into small pieces
6 eggs
2/3 cup cottage cheese
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

In a 6x8 or 8x8 glass plan, layer the veggies and meat evenly.

Mix the eggs, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic. Pour over the veggies and meat. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove when the cheese is golden brown around the edges of the pan but the center is still soft to the touch. It may seem underbaked, but it will firm up as it cools.

Print Friendly and PDF
Here are the veggies and meat ready for the eggs to be added.

Here are the veggies and meat ready for the eggs to be added.

Hot out of the oven!

Hot out of the oven!

What customers are saying about our free range eggs

The dark gold yold is a good indicator that the chicken is raised outdoors and is able to forage for bugs and greens.

The dark gold yold is a good indicator that the chicken is raised outdoors and is able to forage for bugs and greens.

One thing I have noticed since raising chickens myself and also selling free range eggs from other farms for the past 5 years, is that once someone tries farm fresh free range eggs, they have a hard time going back to typical grocery store eggs.

One friend, David, says he can't enjoy an omelet at a restaurant anymore after making his own with farm fresh eggs!

Warning: Farm fresh eggs may spoil your enjoyment of restaurant eggs (except for Josiah’s coffeehouse, where they buy their eggs locally). :)

When I asked a few customers why it was important to them to buy free range eggs from a local farmer, they give 3 reasons:

#1- Flavor and “looks”

“We love the free range eggs! The taste and flavor is so much better than the bland, tasteless eggs from the store. The dark yellow yoke looks healthy and full of nutrients unlike the pale store eggs. The store eggs seem so fake after seeing all the different color eggs we get in our carton each week. The kids always like checking out what colors we get each week. We got a speckled one this week so it brought on lots of squeals of delight!” - Rebecca D.

“There is a distinct difference in the color and flavor of eggs from free range chickens compared to store bought, commercialized, mass-produced, caged hens that are fed pesticide infested grains.” - Dottie N.

“We choose the eggs in large part because they just taste better! Oh and they are just plain prettier, inside and out!” - Kristin S.

“I've honestly never been a big egg fan, but eggs from pasture raised chickens don't taste "egg-y" to me. They taste buttery, rich.” Deb H.

#2- Health benefits

“Healthier chickens produce healthier eggs. Amongst other nutrients that are found in higher levels in free range chickens, is vitamin B12 -- which is the one nutrient many vegetarians (like me) have a difficult time getting in their diets.” Deb H.

“We like the health benefits of the eggs from an Omega fats and cholesterol standpoint, and the easy and more cost effective source of protein that they are.” Kristin S.

“Eggs are a good source of protein. I look for eggs from free range chickens. It is important to me that the chickens are allowed to forage for plants/greens, seeds, insects and worms (which is their natural food source).” Dottie N.

#3- Buying from a local farmer you trust

“I do very much like to support local producers as much as I can. That is very important.” Kristin S.

“Factory egg-laying operations are cruel. The more educated I've become about the horrific short lives the layers lead, the more we insist on eating eggs from happy chickens who have been allowed to wander around in the sun and fresh air, eating bugs, worms, plants, etc (when there isn't a foot of snow on the ground).” Deb H.

Cool Lemon Dill Cucumber and Quinoa Salad

IMG_2543.JPG

Cool Lemon Dill Cucumber and Quinoa Salad

1/2 cup quinoa

Cook the quinoa and cool for several hours before making the salad.  If you need instructions, go here.

Dressing:
2 T. plain yogurt
1/2 T. lemon juice
1/2 T. honey
1/4 tsp salt

Mix the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

Salad:
1 cucumber, cut however you like
1/4 cup minced green onions (during the spring) or purple onions (summer/fall)
2 T. minced dill

Cut up your vegetables and mix with the quinoa.  Incorporate the dressing.
Enjoy!
Serves 2-3.

Print Friendly and PDF
I used our spiralizer to cut the cucumbers into spiral ribbons, but you could chop them with a knife, too.

I used our spiralizer to cut the cucumbers into spiral ribbons, but you could chop them with a knife, too.

Herbed Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad.JPG

Inspired by the idea of making pita pockets with my new sourdough starter, I decided to make chicken salad to go along with it. After three days of anticipating a chicken salad sandwich, I was really craving it, and this recipe did not disappoint when I made it Tuesday evening after a full day of packing orders and making deliveries! It only made 2 servings though, so in the future I will double it to have enough for leftovers.

Herbed Chicken Salad
Serves 2

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use avocado oil mayonnaise)
1/3 cup plain yogurt (you could probably substitute sour cream if you prefer)
1/2 T lemon juice
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp raw local honey
1/2 tsp salt
1 T. minced fresh dill or 1/2 tsp dried dill
1 minced green onion (white and green part)
2 1/2 cups chicken, diced

Mix everything and serve! I especially liked mine served with cucumbers inside the pita pocket- a crisp, juicy addition to a flavorful filling inside a homemade sourdough pita pocket.

Leave a comment if you make it!

Print Friendly and PDF

Nothing-Like-Olive-Garden-Dressing

This salad included lettuce, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, red onions, pine nuts and Olive Garden dressing

This salad included lettuce, hard boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, red onions, pine nuts and Olive Garden dressing

This was THE salad dressing that made me enjoy a salad for the first time EVER.

You see, the salad dressing that I grew up on was ranch and ranch was all I ever had.  Salads were not something I enjoyed as a kid or teen.

Then one night we were having dinner with friends and they served a salad with purchased Olive Garden dressing.  I was mind blown.  I actually liked this salad!

All along, I thought I disliked salads, when in reality it was the ranch dressing I disliked!  I realized I liked the Olive Garden dressing because it was sweet (compared to ranch dressing which is more sour).

I immediately set about to make a homemade copy-cat version of the Olive Garden dressing.  Over the years it has morphed into something that is nothing like the original Olive Garden dressing (I don't even remember what that tasted like).  I just know that this dressing is GOOD. 

I also know that for me to relish a salad, it has to have something sweet on it.  I love making different combinations of fruit+veg that compliment each other, such as:

-Chicken, apple, cashew salad with honey mustard dressing
-Taco or TexMex salad with cilantro and mangos
-Blueberries or strawberries on a salad with lemon poppyseed dressing
-Grapes on an Italian-flavored salad with this dressing:

Nothing-Like-Olive-Garden Dressing

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise and/or plain yogurt*

  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar

  • 1 T. lemon juice

  • 1 T. olive oil

  • 1 T. honey

  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder or 2 roasted garlic cloves (see how to roast garlic here)

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning

Combine all ingredient and mix well.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

*Use whichever is your favorite, or use a combination.
 

Print Friendly and PDF

These greens are like baby vitamin fairies on your salad

IMG_1917.JPG

What are microgreens?
Microgreens are baby plants, harvested when they are about 2" tall.

What do they taste like?
They taste like baby versions of the grown-up plant- so pea microgreens taste sweet like peas and radish microgreens are a little spicy like radishes. 

How are microgreens different than sprouts?
Sprouts are seeds that are germinated in water and eaten with the seed, root, and shoot.  Microgreens are grown in soil and only the above-ground portion is harvested and eaten.

Why should I eat them?
Microgreens are much more nutrient dense foods than their fully mature counterparts, because they take all of the important vitamins and minerals found in the mature plant and manage to cram them into a much smaller package.
Researchers have found that microgreens have four to six times more nutrients than the mature leaves of the same plant. 
Think of it like sprinkling baby vitamin fairies on your salad.

What do you do with them?
~ Add to salads
~ Add to wraps
~ Add to sandwiches
~ Add to smoothies
~ Share your ideas in the GG facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/781153522048964/

Here are a few things I have made with them recently:

Lettuce, microgreens, carrots, bell peppers, turkey, and pine nuts in this salad.

Lettuce, microgreens, carrots, bell peppers, turkey, and pine nuts in this salad.

Apple cashew microgreen salad with leftover grilled chicken

Apple cashew microgreen salad with leftover grilled chicken

Romaine wrap with turkey, cheese, sundried tomatoes, microgreens, and dressing.

Romaine wrap with turkey, cheese, sundried tomatoes, microgreens, and dressing.

 

 

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Chicken Wild Rice Soup.JPG

Have you ever read the “My Most Embarrassing Story” page that some magazines feature? My grandma is a subscriber to the “Country Woman” magazine and I’ve noticed how so many of the embarrassing stories happened when a newlywed was cooking for her mother-in-law.

So understandably, I was a little nervous about serving this soup (not having made it before) when my mother-in-law came over for lunch recently.

I am happy to report that I didn’t make a single goof and was complimented by both my husband and mother-in-law. I hope you have equal success with this recipe!

P.S. I have a great relationship with my mother-in-law and have no fears that I will be disqualified as her son’s wife based upon my cooking abilities. :)

This is the wild rice I used.

This is the wild rice I used.

 

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

1/2 cup wild rice blend
2 cups chicken stock (plus extra if necessary)
1/2 cup diced carrots
3 T butter
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
3 T flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup pre-cooked and chopped chicken

Note: I like to soak my rice in water (about a cup) for 6-24 hours ahead of time. This makes it easier to digest AND it reduces the cooking time. After soaking, I drain the water and proceed with the recipe. If you are not soaking the rice, then you will need to add an additional 1/2 cup of chicken broth when cooking.

Place the soaked and drained wild rice, chicken stock, and carrots in a pot. Simmer until rice is tender, about 30-45 minutes.

When the rice is nearly done cooking, in another pot, melt butter and add onions and mushrooms. Saute until onions are tender.
Add garlic, parsley, sage, and thyme and saute briefly until fragrant.
Add flour and cook for a few minutes.
Add milk gradually, whisking out the clumps. Cook until thick.
Add salt, pepper, and chicken.
When the rice is done cooking, add it to the milk mixture. If you would like the soup thinner, you can add some more chicken stock.
Best served with grated cheese on top!

Makes 3-4 servings.

Comment if you make this!

Raspberry Almond Pear Smoothie

I have made a discovery when it comes to smoothies: The right combination of fruit can make a huge difference. I have found that pairing a strong, tart flavored fruit with a mild and sweet fruit makes a winning combination.

Take for example blueberry. I personally find a smoothie with just blueberries “dull” tasting. However, adding a bit of orange juice or a whole orange makes the flavors “pop”.

Frozen strawberries can be bold and tart, but combining them with a mild and sweet banana is a classic combination.

The same applies with this raspberry pear smoothie. Pears are sweet and mild while raspberries are tart and in-your-face. The almond flavor adds interest, making this a unique and exciting smoothie. Let me know if you agree!

To get the recipe for this customizable granola with crispy clusters,  go here .

To get the recipe for this customizable granola with crispy clusters, go here.

Raspberry Almond Pear Smoothie

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
a fist-sized amount of frozen raspberries
a fist-sized amount of frozen pears (about one whole pear)
1 T. almond butter
1 scoop protein powder
a few drops of pure almond extract (can substitute vanilla)
a few drops of stevia extract (or your favorite sweetener)
6 ice cubes (this will make a thick “soft serve” smoothie- omit if you want it to be drinkable)

Blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Print Friendly and PDF