Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Homegrown Tomato and Stir Fry Chicken Salad

A few fall-like days that had me making chili and then the temps went through the roof and now I’m on a hot weather food kick, and really getting back into my salads. I was able to make this salad thanks to a friend who gave us a bunch of homegrown tomatoes.

I’ll have to post my stir fry recipe later. It was a real hit this summer.


  • Stir fry chicken
  • Spinach
  • Medium tomato
  • Mini bell peppers
  • Goat cheese
  • Red onion (optional)
  • Dressing (only a small amount needed)

It’s a salad, so cut the ingredients to your preferred size and toss. The stir fry sauce makes up most of the dressing, but I highly recommend adding a little Ranch dressing or at least some olive oil to bring out the nutrients in the vegetables and add a little coating so the sauce can stick better. Red onions are recommended for flavor if you have to use store-bought tomatoes.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix

I love my Homemade Ranch Dressing, but it's a bit of a PITA to make because you have to measure out all of the ingredients. My solution is to mix the dry ingredients ahead of time and store them in a little jar.

I like to combine enough for six batches, so that's what this recipe makes, but you can do the math and make more or less if you want.

Ingredients for the mix:

 teaspoons dried chives
 teaspoons dried parsley
 teaspoons onion powder
1½ teaspoon garlic powder

1½ teaspoon dried dill weed
3/8 teaspoon salt (or eyeball it)
3/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (or eyeball it)

Place all ingredients in a jar, stir or shake.

To make the dressing:

Place two heaping teaspoons of the dry mix in a bowl.
Add 1/2 cup maynnaise.
Blend well with a stick blender, whisk, or fork.
Add 1/2 cup sour cream.
Blend well with a stick blender, whisk, or fork.
Add 1/2 cup buttermilk.
Blend well with a stick blender, whisk, or fork.

Cover or pour into a jar and refrigerate.

Alternatively, you can skip the sour cream and use 1 cup of buttermilk, for runnier dressing. Or, you can skip the buttermilk and use 1 cup of sour cream for dip.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Dressing

Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Dressing. This is one of the easiest dressings ever! It only requires four ingredients, and it is so good.

It's a lot like Alfredo sauce, but cold, so it is great for pasta salad if you are in the mood for a creamy one instead of one dressed with a vinaigrette.

And if you love left-over chicken Alfredo, but hate the way it gets all congealed when it's cold and then doesn't really get a good texture back when you reheat it, this is the perfect make-ahead substitute. Just cook your pasta and chicken, put them in a sealable container, toss it well with some of this dressing, and refrigerate. Perfect cold "chicken Alfredo" for breakfast!

I'm completely spoiled to homemade dressing, but it took me a while to get my system down so it wasn't so much work. When I make this one, I make a batch of Homemade Ranch at the same time. But now I premix the dry ingredients for my Ranch and store enough for several batches.

I also have an amazing batter bowl that my mom got from the Farmer's Market for my birthday. I'll have to post pictures of it later. I mix my dressings in that, using a stick blender (you can use a whisk of a fork), and then I pour them into sauce jars that I have saved.

I label them, using painter's tape, with the expiration date of the ingredient that has the closest expiration date. For me that's usually the buttermilk. That works better than just labeling them with the "made on" date because when I did that I still had to go look at the expiration dates on my ingredients to know if the dressing was good, and if I had already thrown out the containers for the ingredients I was screwed.


1 bulb garlic (roasted)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk

To Roast the Garlic:

Set the oven to about 350 or 400 (preheating is not necessary). Cut the top off the bulb of garlic. Put it in a ramekin or another little oven-proof bowl-type thing. drizzle with olive oil. Put it in the oven until it's golden brown, usually somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour. I know it's time to check it because I can smell it.

Remove from the oven and let cool! You can roast the garlic a day or two before you make the dressing and just keep it in the fridge until you're ready to go, but it's easier to squish out at room temperature.

To Make the Dressing:

Squish roasted garlic into a bowl.
Add mayonnaise and Parmesan. Blend well with a stick blender, whisk or fork. Add buttermilk. Blend well again.
Pour into a sealable container or cover your bowl and refrigerate.
Label with expiration date if desired.

That's it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Chateau La Paws: Wine that Supports No Kill Shelters

Chateau La Paws™ Red Wine Blend | Chateau La Paws™

I tried this yesterday and I liked it a lot. What got my attention was the statement on the label:
When I saw that I had to try it! I knew right then that if I liked it, I would be buying this brand from now on. I did, and I will, and I am going to try their other flavors soon!

From their website:

Life is better with best friends. That’s why we back up our belief with action. We proudly support No Kill Organizations around the country and our labels feature adorable shelter dogs to draw attention to this great cause. It’s simple: keep dogs cared for and happy until they become members of their new families.
Please, give it a try the next time you buy a bottle of wine. If your favorite store doesn't carry it yet, ask them to!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Roasted Garlic and Cheddar Bread from scratch


  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons powdered milk
  • 1 bulb roasted garlic
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, cubed


Add water, honey, and yeast to bread machine pan. I think I may have poured more than 3 tablespoons of honey. Let sit for a while until it starts getting kind of foamy.

While you wait, cube the cheese and set it in the freezer. Add flour and the rest of your ingredients (except the cheese and garlic) to the machine. Set on dough cycle and start.

My dough cycle take 90 minutes. Dump the doughball on an oiled piece of wax paper. Place the cheese cubes and roasted garlic cloves all over the top of the dough, and then knead them in. Stretch and twist the dough into a long loaf, and place on a cookie sheet, diagonally if needed to fit. I lined mine with parchment paper. Cover with the oiled wax paper and place in a warm area of your kitchen to rise while the oven preheats. I set mine next to the oven.

Preheat your oven to 400. When it comes up to temperature, open and turn it down to 350. Uncover dough and bake for 20 minutes, then check it. It will probably need about 7 more minutes to start turning a nice golden in places.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homemade Chicken or Beef Stock

Broth or stock is the base for most soups, many sauces, and used in place of water to improve grains such as rice. Many recipes give you the option of using store-bought broth or stock, but nothing compares to homemade. Making your own is very easy, a great way to get the most out of meat you buy that contains bones, and gives you control over the flavor, any possible unwanted ingredients, and the sodium level (if you care about that sort of thing).

This is the basic method, without any salt or seasonings.

Put the bones in a pot, raw or cooked, it doesn’t matter.
Add an acid - vinegar or lemon juice (a couple of table spoons to half a cup).
Cover the bones with cold water (you can go an inch or two above the bones depending on how they sit in the pot).
Let it sit for about 30 minutes, so the acid can do its work pulling minerals out of the bone.
Turn on the heat and simmer for several hours - beef bones take about twice as long as chicken. If you are doing this on the stove or in a slow cooker, chicken bones should simmer for at least four to six hours, and beef bones need six to 12. Or, you can use a pressure cooker and cut your time down significantly (see below).
Cool, strain, and put your broth fridge overnight. Save the bones if this is your first time (see below).
Lift the congealed fat layer off the top. Your broth should have the consistency of Jell-O.

Why You Should Save the Bones if This is Your First Attempt

If your broth or stock did not gel, you probably need to toss the bones back in and simmer some more. This can also happen if you use too much water for the amount of bones.

Using a Pressure Cooker

This is much faster in a pressure cooker. Once it has come up to pressure and you’ve reduced the temperature, chicken broth takes about 45 minutes and beef takes about 90 minutes. DO read the instructions for your pressure cooker thoroughly if you are not familiar with it.

Which Bones?
I use whatever bones I have from cooking chicken. For beef, I’ve used rib bones after making ribs, and I’ve bought beef bones at the store. If I buy them, I choose a mix of femur bones and bones with lots of cartilage. Check out some of the Benefits of Bone Broth.

Seasoning and Flavoring

I often add a good handful of coarse salt. Sometimes I don’t add any flavorings. If the bones are from cooked meat your both will likely take on some of the flavor of the dish. You can use raw bones. Roasting beef bones before making your broth gives it a deeper, richer flavor. Adding roasted onion and garlic does, too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rachel vs. "The Kitchen": Simple Split Chicken Breasts

Rachel vs. "The Kitchen": Simple Split Chicken Breasts

This is so easy, but it always comes out juicy and wonderful. I make it frequently. I save up the bones in the freezer until I have enough to make Homemade Chicken Stock.

I am planning to adapt this to a whole roasted chicken recipe soon, using some of the basics from my previous post Easy, Delicious Roast Chicken and Gravy.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Homemade Red Sauce

I normally buy red sauce because it’s so quick and easy to make a yummy, filling meal of spaghetti and meat sauce with a good jarred sauce. But, I have started making homemade mozzarella and ricotta, and I am planning to use them in lasagna, so it just seemed like homemade red sauce was called for. If I’m feeling really energetic I’ll even make my own lasagna noodles.

This is the recipe for the basic red sauce, which goes well on perogies, tortellini, or as a dipping sauce for fried zucchini or bread sticks. It would work for pizza sauce, too. Of course, you can easily turn this into a meat sauce (instructions below).


1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (I prefer extra light tasting)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 bulb roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 large can whole peeled tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 regular can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
4 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
¼ cup Shiraz (red wine)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt to taste

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, basil, oregano, black pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent. Add roasted garlic.

Place the whole canned tomatoes in a large bowl and squeeze to break into small pieces. Be careful when squeezing or you’ll quirt juice all over your kitchen.

Add the broken-up tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, Shiraz, bay leaf, garlic powder, onion powder, and brown sugar to the pot and stir. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.

Turning this into Meat Sauce:

If meat sauce is what you are really after, just brown about 1½ pounds of ground beef with your favorite seasonings (I use salt, onion powder, garlic powder, basil and a touch of oregano) and drain off the excess grease. Return the beef to the pan and season some more if needed. When the meat is good and flavorful, toss it into your red sauce, stir, and simmer for a few minutes. If you are not going to us it right away, you can skip that last simmer until you are warming the sauce to serve.

This goes great in lasagna, or on top of spaghetti.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Found Recipe: Guac & Chicken Pinwheels

I came across a recipe for Guac & Chicken Pinwheels with Tyson Grilled & Ready on Twitter (retweeted by @therebelchick here).

This is so quick, easy, and good. It looks like a great way to use up some of the ingredients you have hanging around the fridge, too. I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for inviting ways to use up the rest of the fresh spinach before it goes bad.

So what we have here is some chicken, cheese, spinach and guacamole, rolled up in a tortilla and cut into bite-sized peices. It would make a great snack, appetizer, or main dish. You could even serve it up with some homemade ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Personally, I would use sliced cheddar or pepper jack in place of American cheese, and substitute some of my cook-ahead chicken for the store-bought chicken in the original recipe, but I love the idea here!

One thing that's pictured, but not named,in the original blog post is Wholly Guacamole, store-bought guac. While nothing beats homemade guacamole, I have found that this brand is quite good, and makes for a very acceptable substitute for the real thing. Normally I won't touch store-bought guac, so that's a pretty big deal.

Thanks to @therebelchick and @Momhatescooking for the headsup on this one!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Homemade Ranch Dressing

I love ranch dressing. I have always loved it, and still firmly believe that many foods are really just a tool for getting the ranch to your mouth. Many years ago I started noticing that when I ate appetizers or salad with it, I would start to feel crappy and lose my appetite before my main dish arrived.

Of course, it turned out that the store-bought ranch and mixes were loaded with MSG. I did eventually find some brands that do not have it, but after a while I get tired of them. I started making my own, but the results were hit and miss, and it was a lot of work. Finally I found a recipe that looked good. I tweaked it a bit to suit my taste. It consistently turns out great, and it’s quick and easy.

You’ll notice that I reduced the mayonnaise and increased the sour cream. That’s one of the problems I have with the better stuff I have found in stores – it just tastes and feels too heavy on the mayonnaise. I also reduced the dill and increased the onion powder. When I made it with the full portion of dill I found it overpowered the flavors.

I prefer to use my homemade sour cream, which is made the same way as crème fraîche and crema Mexicana. From what I have found so far, they are one in the same. I’m still trying to find more on that and figure out if there is supposed to be some subtle difference that I’m missing in my reading or what. I plan to write a post on that in the near future.


1 cup homemade sour cream (or crème fraîche, crema Mexicana, or half store-bought sour cream and half buttermilk)
½  cup mayonnaise
½  teaspoon dried chives
½  teaspoon dried parsley
½  teaspoon onion powder
¼  teaspoon garlic powder
¼  teaspoon dried dill weed
1/8   teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


Whisk together all ingredients. I like to do this in the container I am going to store the dressing in. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so it’s nice and chilled and the flavors are well blended.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lemon Beef Thing

Lemmon Beef Thing

This is one of my favorite dishes. It is a nice change from the usual flavors we have around here. My recipe is adapted from a dish my mom used to make which was adapted from a veal scaloppini recipe. Don’t worry, there is no veal involved. In fact, there is no form of scaloppini in this recipe.


Stew meat, or any cut of beef cut into large bite-sized pieces
Onion powder
Lemon juice
Olive oil

On a plate on in a large baggie, mix together flour, salt, and onion powder. Coat the meat with the flour mixture, and shake off excess flour. I put mine on a plate or in a bowl after I shake off the flour, just to make things easier.
Heat an iron skillet on medium-high. When it’s hot add olive oil, covering the bottom of the pan. Brown the meat, placing just one layer of meat in the skillet. You are not trying to cook the meat through, just brow the outside. You may have to work in batches. I drizzle some olive oil on top of the meat while it’s in the skillet and before I flip it. If the pan goes fry of oil, add more oil.

Set the browned meat aside, and clean the skillet. This is easy, just run cold water in the very hot skillet and scrub with a nylon brush. The goal is to get the browned flour out. Put the skillet back on the stove to reheat and dry. It only takes a minute. When the skillet is hot again, add a just little oil and return the meat to the skillet. Pour in lemon juice, drizzling over meat, cover, and reduce heat to med-low. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The amount of lemon juice will vary according to how much liquid you want. It will cook down and form a thick sauce with the flour from the coated meat. You can add more lemon juice as you go if it’s drying out too much.

You can keep this warm on the stove or in the oven for quite a while before serving. Serve with on top of white rice. It goes well with steamed and buttered Brussels sprouts.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Beef Chili (no beans)

Snow, something of a rare occurrence the last few years, calls for chili. My last batch just wasn’t hot enough. It came out more like beef stew. So, this time I was hoping to step up the heat, while keeping it in range for those who can’t handle the really hot stuff. I think it came out pretty hot, meaning too hot for some, but not too hot for me. If you add some of the serving goodies below it will cool it down.

Meat Ingredients

2.5 lbs bottom round beef, cubed
Olive oil
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Black pepper

Other ingredients
1 bulb garlic, roasted
5 green chilies, roasted, peeled, and diced
1 large red onion, diced
3 jalapenos, diced with seeds
3 dried red chilies, whole with stems cut off
1½ tsp chili powder
1½ tsp caribe
½ tsp oregano
1 large can diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Serving goodies (optional)

Shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheese
Homemade sour cream
Fresh tomatoes

I roasted, peeled, and froze my green chilies a couple of months ago, so those just had to be thawed out and cut up. The dried red chilies are a PITA to cut up, so this time I just cut off the stem and threw them in whole to leach out their yummy goodness.

Preparing the Meat

Cut the meat in bite-sized cubes (or buy it that way). Put it in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the rest of the meat ingredients and toss to coat.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven on med-high. Add a little olive oil. Toss in the meat and brown. You’ll want to stir it some as it browns, and you’ll see that it produces a fair amount of juices.

Making the Chili

Add the onions, jalapeno, roasted garlic, and green chilies, and stir well. Let this cook a bit. The onions should wilt, but don’t have to be translucent.
Toss in the dried red chilies, and pour in the diced tomatoes. Add some water to the tomato can, swirl it around in the can, and pour that in. Add the dried spices, and stir.
The dried red chilies will poke down without breaking after they absorb some moisture. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Author Page on Facebook

I have finally created an author page on Facebook. I should have done it a long time ago, but I just wasn’t making the connection. So, hopefully I will see you there!