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Better Than Store-Bought – Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers with Ranch Coleslaw

Chicken fingers are one of those things that you probably have a love/hate relationship with. They make a great snack or party appetizer and without a doubt are one those things that most kids love to eat. I remember when Sean was little and went through a phase that no matter where we were – at home, visiting family or out to dinner – he just wanted chicken fingers. The problem is that so many of the chicken fingers you get in the store, from fast food restaurants or even casual family restaurants just do not taste get, at least to adults. There are lots of different chicken finger recipes you can try out there, but this one from Epicurious.com for buttermilk fried chicken fingers was a big hit. They are easy to make, have great flavor and everyone will love them. And what better pairing to make it a good lunch or dinner item than putting it with some ranch coleslaw from Bon Appetit?

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Fingers

For the buttermilk marinade:

3 1/2 cups buttermilk

3 1/2 cups milk

1 small onion, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 medium jalapeños, sliced (optional)

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2×4-inch strips, or 2 pounds chicken tenders

For the seasoned flour:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons granulated garlic

2 tablespoons onion powder

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons ground sage

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Canola oil, for frying

Homemade or store-bought ranch dressing, for serving (homemade recipe below)

In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, onion, jalapeño, salt, and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces, cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Set 2 cooling racks over rimmed baking sheets lined with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated garlic, onion powder, thyme, sage, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

In a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven, pour in enough oil to come up to 2 inches. Set the pot over medium-high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working in batches of 4 to 5 pieces, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking each piece to remove any vegetables and excess liquid, and dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. Fry the chicken pieces, turning once, until they are golden and cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes total per batch. Transfer the chicken to the wire racks and warm them in the oven while frying the remaining batches.

Serve the chicken fingers with the ranch dressing, if desired.

Ranch Coleslaw

For the Ranch Dressing:

¼ cup buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

For the Coleslaw:

3 cups thinly sliced red and green cabbage

1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup Ranch Dressing

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

To make the ranch dressing, stir together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, vinegar, and garlic powder in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

To make the coleslaw, toss the cabbage and carrot with the ranch dressing in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate the coleslaw for 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld before serving.

For the chicken fingers recipe, I actually cut the amounts in half for the recipe I was making because it seemed like a lot both for the marinade and the flour and I was only making 1 pound of chicken. It worked out well for me as I did not end up with a lot of leftover flour and the marinade did its job very well. The chicken fingers picked up great flavor from the buttermilk marinade and the seasoned flour and had a nice little zing to them from the hot sauce. For the coleslaw, I actually doubled the recipe for the dressing so I could use some with the chicken fingers and have plenty leftover for the slaw. The taste of the dressing is spot on in terms of the ranch you would expect to get and it really makes the coleslaw stand out. I used the food processor to cut up the cabbage and carrots so they would be really fine, but you could easily slice it yourself or even buy a store-bought coleslaw mix to use instead. I just happened to pick up carrots and cabbage at the farmers’ market this weekend and it was a good use for them. The chicken fingers are better anything you can buy in the frozen section of your supermarket or what you will get at restaurants and you get to control the ingredients going into them so you can make them taste how you or your kids will like them best. The coleslaw is a perfect side dish for sandwiches, burgers, ribs, pulled pork (which I will be making this week) and just about any summertime lunch or dinner. I got a picture of the coleslaw but forgot to get one of the chicken fingers. I will make them again to get another picture and post it here.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Use Up Those Easter Eggs in a Classic Cobb Salad

If you are like our home you ended up with at least a dozen brightly colored hard-boiled eggs after Sunday and needed to try to find a way to use them all this week. Sure, you can make the standard egg salad for lunches or even just enjoy a hard-boiled egg for breakfast or as a snack during the day, but you can also make good use of them in an easy meal. Cobb salad has always been one of my favorite and I have ordered it out a number of times for a meal when I want something a little different. It is the perfect combination of vegetables, protein and some nice additions like avocado, egg and blue cheese. First made at the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles by the owner, Robert Cobb, I got this recipe from Saveur magazine. While this recipe has the traditional dressing recipe along with it, I actually made my own dressing, which I will share following the recipe for the salad.

Classic Cobb Salad

FOR THE DRESSING:


¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

FOR THE SALAD:


½ head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
½ bunch watercress, some of the stems trimmed, chopped
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked and cut into ½ inch cubes
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½ inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced chives

To make the dressing: Combine the vegetable or canola oil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and garlic in a blender. Purée the ingredients to make a smooth dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set the dressing aside (or refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week).

To make the salad: On a large platter, combine the iceberg and romaine lettuces along with the watercress. Arrange the blue cheese, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, chicken, and avocado on top of the greens in neat rows. To serve, drizzle the salad with dressing, season with salt and pepper, and top with the chives. Alternatively, toss everything together in a bowl.

It is very quick and easy and tastes great. I actually added some black olives to the one I made along with some sliced English cucumber and red onion to help round things out. I also used mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese instead of the blue cheese since we did not have any on hand and Michelle and Sean are not big fans. Instead of using the traditional dressing, I opted to make my own buttermilk ranch dressing using another recipe I got from Saveur magazine. It is a simple way to make your own dressing, tastes better than most of the things you can get in a bottle and costs less for you to make.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon onion salt
1⁄4 teaspoon dried chives
1⁄4 teaspoon dried parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch ground dried oregano
1 cup buttermilk

Put the mayonnaise, onion salt, chives, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Beat the mayonnaise mixture with an electric mixer on low-speed for about 5 seconds, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape the dressing down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the buttermilk, beating constantly until all the buttermilk is incorporated and the dressing is very smooth, about 2 minutes more.

Cover the dressing and refrigerate the dressing for at least 12 hours. Stir the dressing well before serving. The dressing will keep, refrigerated in a cover container, for up to 2 weeks.

It has great flavor thanks to the spices and I thickened it up a little bit by adding some plain yogurt to it as well. You could easily use this as a dip as well if you wanted to or as a flavoring for other meals, like a topping for burgers.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Leftovers, Lunch, Salad

 

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A Family Favorite: German Potato Salad

Well Wednesday turned out to be much busier than I anticipated so I didn’t get to do much of anything, let alone work on blogs. Anyway, it’s back to it today with a family favorite that I made when I made the pulled pork this past weekend. One of the dishes that I make once in a while, and very often to bring to parties, is German Potato Salad. It seems to be a crowd pleaser and a lot of people like it. I make it every once in a while for just us at home and the recipe makes so much we usually have leftovers for a week to have it with lunches or dinners. If I make when we have people over, there usually isn’t much left for that to happen. I think there is something about the flavor combination of the bacon, onions and potatoes mixed in with the bite of the vinegar that just tastes so good. Give it a try an I think you’ll be pleased with it.

German Potato Salad

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 pound bacon, diced

¾ cup chopped onion

3 teaspoons all-purpose flour

8 teaspoons sugar

Salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

½ cup water

In a large pot, boil the potatoes in salted water to cover until the potatoes are just fork tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes and set them aside, allowing them to cool slightly and place in a large serving dish. In a large skillet over medium-high heat. add the bacon and fry until the bacon is just getting crispy, about 7 minutes.Add  the chopped onion and continue to cook until the onions brown lightly, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix the flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper until blended. Stir in the vinegar and water into the mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the vinegar mixture to the bacon and simmer until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes Pour the bacon mixture over the potatoes and gently mix until everything is well blended and serve.

This is great for parties because you can easily make this the night before, cover it and refrigerate it and then warm it up in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes (it can get kind of dense when it’s cold, so make sure it’s heated through) and that’s it. It makes a great side dish for barbecues as well.

My next post tomorrow will be the easy blueberry pie I made on Sunday with the pulled pork. If you would like the recipes for the pulled pork, the guacamole, the cole slaw, the barbecued beans or the ranch dressing, I have posted all of them in the past and you can just click on each to go the links of their pages. Hopefully next week now that I have my computer back, I can back on schedule with everything and get us back on our meal plan so I have some recipes to post. Until tomorrow, enjoy your day and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Cooking, Potatoes, Salad, Side Dishes

 

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A Quick Post on Quesadillas For Dinner

Tonight’s dinner is super easy and simple. I am making Bacon-Chicken Ranch Quesadillas, kind of a take one the ones you find at Chili’s Restaurant. They are very easy to make, and even easier if you already have some cooked chicken on hand. If not, all you need is to bake or saute 2 boneless chicken breasts before hand and you’re half the way home.

Bacon-Chicken Ranch Quesadillas

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced

1/2 pound bacon, diced

1 yellow or red bell pepper, cored and seeded, thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 – 3 cups shredded cheese ( I am using cheddar, but use whatever you  would like)

Ranch dressing

1 tomato, seeded and diced

8 tortillas

Butter for cooking

Cook the bacon in a skillet until desired crispness. Remove to drain with a slotted spoon. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Add the pepper and onions to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender.Add a handful of cheese to the tops to 4 tortillas. Top each with chicken and bacon, then lightly drizzle some ranch dressing over that. Top each tortilla with the cooked peppers and onions, then add the tomato and remaining cheese on top of each pile.

Top each tortilla with the remaining four tortillas. Melt a little butter in a large skillet and cook the tortilla stacks one at a time over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and cheese is melted. Add more butter to the skillet as needed. Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve with extra ranch for dipping, if desired.

I am serving the leftover mango pineapple salsa, cabbage slaw, black beans and rice and guacamole with this dinner as well to round things out. You can see the recipes for all of these from Sunday’s blog, or just click here and go right to them to check them out.

This is a fast, simple dinner that is a great kid dinner as well. Sean loves quesadillas and this was a good way for us to serve them (having bacon in them doesn’t hurt in getting the kids to like them either, if your child is anything like mine and loves bacon). I told you it was a quick post today! Tomorrow is a good stir fry dinner, Sesame Chicken with Fried Rice and steamed vegetables. It promises to be a good one, so please come back and check it out. Enjoy your evening and your day!

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Poultry

 

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Your Own Hamburger Happy Meal

It’s Tuesday and it’s another mild day here in New York. While it may not have you thinking of using the grill just yet (although using it all year round would be nice), today’s dinner on the meal plan might help you think more towards summer. Today’s is Sean’s pick, and he has chosen Hamburgers and Fries with salad. Nothing special or fancy about it and everybody makes them. I love a good burger myself; I think it is probably one of my favorite things to eat and it’s great for lunch or dinner and can be made any time of the year, and it can be made quickly (which is always a plus).

Skillet Hamburgers

1 1/2 pounds (80 percent lean) ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 hamburger rolls

Mix the beef, salt and pepper together. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape the meat into a loose ball, and using your hands, flatten the balls into 1-inch thick burgers. Press the center of the patty down with your fingertips to form an indentation that is about 1/4-inch deep. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the burgers in the skillet indentation-side up and cook until the bottoms are dark brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and continue to cook to your desired doneness. Transfer the burgers to the buns and top as desired.

Everyone has their own variation of this and things they made to the meat before cooking, so do what you like the taste of best. Just a couple of recommendations on my part. Using 80 percent lean ground beef does seem to make a difference. Any more fat than this and the burgers are greasy, any less and the meat becomes dry and pretty bland. As for the indentation I put in the meat, it’s great for avoiding the puffy burgers that you often get while cooking and also leaves you a bit of a well for your toppings. As for the toppings, the list is endless. You can pretty much put anything on top of a burger, as most of us have seen thanks to cooking shows. Personally, I love sautéed onions, some pickle, maybe a slice of tomato or a slice of bacon, maybe even some sliced avocado some times. Sean goes for just American cheese and bacon on his burger. Michelle also goes for cheese and sautéed onions, and mixes in some ketchup and mayonnaise. Let me know what some of your favorite toppings are for burgers. I might be willing to try them out!

French fries almost seem a must if you are having a burger (although I do like onion rings too, or some homemade potato salad or cole slaw, but we’ll leave those recipes for summertime). Our house is mainly a tater tots kind of house as everyone seems to like them the best. I’ll be making some homemade fries when I make our Fish and Chips recipe on Friday, but here is a good recipe for homemade Oven Fries that I have made before. They turn out great and taste better than most things you’ll get out of a bag.

Oven Fries

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are soaking, coat a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Drain the potatoes, spread them out over paper towels, and pat them dry thoroughly. Toss the dried potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potatoes, cut-side down, in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet. Cover the sheet tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the sides of the potatoes touching the pan are crusty and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, scrape to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge over, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly. Transfer the fries to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Not too hard to do, if you ask me. Soaking the potatoes before you bake them is important in this recipe. They will cook much better, become crispy on the outside and be creamy on the inside. If you have a heavy-duty non-stick baking pan to use for this one, it does make your life easier as well. Just make sure you choose something to use that can hold up to the higher heat. A final note: I prefer using vegetable oil in this recipe. Olive oil leaves a distinct flavor on the potatoes that you may not want.

The final part of the meal, as we have had before in our meal plan, is a simple salad. You can check out my list of salad and accompaniments here from a previous blog entry if you like. I will, however, post a new dressing recipe today. A lot of people seem to like Ranch dressing, and you might want some to dip your fries in or use for a dip for veggies, so here is a good one to try. One note about this recipe, use fresh herbs for it. I tried it with dried and it just doesn’t work out well.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. The dressing, covered, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; whisk to re-combine before using.

If you want a low-fat option of this one, use non-fat buttermilk, non-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise and increase the amount of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons.

That about does it for today’s meal. Tomorrow is one of Sean’s favorites and Michelle picked it. We’ll be having breakfast for dinner, but it is also going to be our meat-free meal this week, so no bacon or sausage. We will be making pancakes and hash browns, and maybe some eggs too, we’ll have to see how that goes. Sean will only go for the pancakes and hash browns anyway. Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice; everyone seems to like it. Enjoy the rest of your day, have fun cooking tonight, and enjoy the burgers, if you make them. As always, feel free to leave a comment or just say hello!

 

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Potatoes, Salad

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

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