Taking it easy: back at the ranch

Summer is the time for Simplicity and Salad Dressings from Scratch

Photo: swirlsofflavor.com (check out some of her recipes)

Notice less recipes on my blog lately?  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, it’s just that I’ve been making things more on the fly and testing out simple but satisfying side dishes that can double as a whole meal.  Making more of an effort to eat less meat too while maintaining a balance of carbs and protein.  An overall healthier way to eat. Sometimes I feel it doesn’t make for an interesting food post.

However eating healthily doesn’t have to mean boring. I’ve been making a variety of very yummy veggie/rice or veggie/pasta bowls with spicy peanut sauce, teriyaki with ginger and garlic and pad thai.  I don’t always follow a specific recipe and when I do, I usually end up tweaking it.

Lots of salads too. 

I prefer making homemade dressing.  It’s easy and tastes better than bought.  If you read the ingredients on most bottles you’ll see what I mean.  Many use Canola Oil (over 90% of the canola crops grown in the United States are GMO). Many have very little nutrition with added sodium, sugar and fat. I go between simple vinaigrettes (a favourite is a mix of champagne vinegar, walnut oil, shallot and lemon juice) and Asian dressings.  Also  Martha Stewart’s red wine vinegraitte and olive oil with dijon mustard and garlic.  

I love using fresh herbs.  I think that’s the main reason I tried for the first time a homemade ranch dressing. I had nice fresh chives, dill (from someone’s garden) and Italian parsley.  Funnily enough, ranch is not one of my favourites but this one is delicious and share worthy. This fancier style ranch recipe got my attention.  It comes courtesy of Caroline Somers who I follow on Instagram.  Her website is called emptynestersfly.com and there’s a variety of good looking recipes over there.

When I first made it I put it out as a dipping sauce for veggies.  Although it was very tasty, it was not thick enough for a dip.  For a salad it was perfect.

DIY Fancy Ranch Dressing with Buttermilk and Parmesan

Photo: taken from empty nesters website

Ingredients:

2 cups buttermilk
½ cup *mayo                                                                                                       ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
2 tablespoons freshly chopped dill
2 tablespoons freshly chopped Italian parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 clove minced garlic
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon **dried mustard

Shake it up in a bottle. 

Only a couple tweaks here:

 * (I substituted regular mayo for vegenaise made with grapeseed oil)

**(I substituted dried for deli-style spicy brown mustard)

If you end up making it let me know what you think.

Sidenote for those with canines: because I have a dog and am familiar with a few herbs that can be given in small doses (like rosemary) to their food, I wanted to find out if any of the ones in this recipe were okay to include.

Chives I suspected were not good but now I know they can be poisonous if the dose is right but we don’t want to test it out…so NO chives.

Fresh Dill can be added to your dogs food but don’t overload.

When it comes to parsley for dogs, you should only feed the curly variety.  Parsley  contains a toxic compound called furanocoumarin which can be dangerous in excessive amounts. In smaller servings, however, parsley does your dog more good than harm.

Always check beforehand.