Well, I'm back. I never expected to let this much time go by before posting something new, but sometimes real life just says no. I won't go into the grizzly details of what has kept me away, but lets just say I am feeling much better now! I've still been collecting new recipes and even trying a few, so I'm going to start here with a really quick and easy one - Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.
I have yet to run into anyone who doesn't love ranch dressing. We love it on our salads, and we dip almost everything in it - veggies, fries, chicken strips, wings... seriously, when was the last time you had "bar food" and didn't have something that just screamed for a side of ranch? Except for desserts, there isn't much that doesn't taste better with ranch dressing.
Ranch dressing is actually about as old as I am, it was served at a dude ranch that opened in 1954 near Santa Barbara, California called... betcha can't guess... Hidden Valley Ranch. I can attest to the fact that 1954 was simply a magical year because I was also born in 1954. Need I say more? Anyway, the owner served his own concoction of buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, yogurt, onion, garlic and a bunch of other unknown seasonings. It was so popular they started bottling and selling it to guests, and it took off from there to become the best selling salad dressing in the U.S.
When I think of salads in general, what I really want is to have fresh, crisp, healthy ingredients. You can have a bowl of plain, iceberg lettuce - yes, boring I know - but if it's fresh, it's not only beautiful, but it tastes wonderful - and to douse that pretty, fresh salad with something out of a bottle filled with chemicals and preservatives is really almost criminal. So, in my quest to get away from processed foods, I went on a search for a good homemade ranch dressing recipe. If you do a Google search for "ranch dressing recipe", you will find a long list of options to pick from. I looked them all over and chose the one from About.com (under American Food) called Classic Ranch Dressing Recipe by John Mitzewich. It's easy, it's delicious, and the best part is that you can pronounce everything you put in it.
Here's what you'll need:
1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman's/Best Foods brand, but for the love of all that is holy, no Miracle Whip!)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme (I threw in a little extra fresh thyme since I had it in my herb garden)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley.
If you don't want to mess with fresh herbs, Litehouse makes a great freeze dried parsley that you can find in the produce section at Target - thanks to my friend Georganne for that tip!
All you do is combine everything in a bowl and whisk it into submission. Cover it up and throw it in the fridge for a couple of hours to thicken up and mesh the flavors before serving. This will make about a pint of thick, delicious, creamy goodness, so I like to store mine in a pint canning jar for easy pouring. You could also change this up by blending in a small avocado or a little bit of thick, spicy salsa just for something different. Go wild and enjoy!