Make Your Own Ranch Dressing Packets

homemade ranch dressing packets-001

The other day I was making a recipe that called for a packet of ranch salad dressing mix. Well, I don’t use these packets very often, so when I went to the cupboard, I found I did not have any on hand. Since I didn’t have time to run to the store and buy some, and I didn’t have time to come up with an alternative recipe, I decided to take a quick look on Pinterest to see if I could make the packets myself. I found this recipe from The Crafty Blog Stalker and it turned out perfect! The only problem was that her recipe made a LOT of dressing. Like 3 1/2 cups of the mix! That would probably last me a lifetime, so I’ve given you a smaller recipe here, which equals about 4 packets of ranch dressing mix (assuming 3 tbsp. to a packet).

Ranch Dressing Mix

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated onion
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

Mix together and store in an airtight container. To substitute for a ranch dressing packet in a recipe, use 3 Tbsp. of mix. To make a dip, I used 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sour cream, and about 1 1/2 TBS of the mix. I had to add about a tablespoon of sugar to get the taste right, but it was really good!

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

creamy split pea soup

As I mentioned last week, I have been having to “tweak” some of my usual recipes to use as part of my Daniel Fast, where I cannot eat meat (though because I am nursing and need extra calories, I have been eating some seafood), dairy, added sweeteners, leavened bread, or processed foods. To make things a little easier, I have been making a big batch of soup at the beginning of each week and eating a bowl of that soup, along with a salad, for lunch every day. This week I used my mother’s recipe for split pea soup, and tweaked it to make a vegetarian version. It was still really good, and I even served it to my mom when she came by for lunch one day and she and the boys enjoyed it with some oyster crackers as you can see from the picture! (I can’t have the crackers as part of the fast, but it was still good without them Smile)

Creamy Split Pea Soup

Ingredients
4 cups vegetable broth (for a Daniel Fast, use this recipe, or just use water)
6 cups water
1 lb. package split peas
1 1/4 cup chopped carrots
1 sliced onion
1 cup sliced celery
4 whole allspice (or 1/4 tsp. ground)
4 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf

Combine water and broth in large pot and bring to a boil. Put spices in a tea ball or coffee filter tied with string and add to pot. Add remaining vegetables, reduce heat and simmer 45-60 minutes or until all vegetables are soft. Blend thoroughly and enjoy!

Servings: Approximately 8-10 (1 cup servings)

For a non-vegetarian version, add a ham bone to the water/broth (can use chicken broth in place of vegetable broth) before boiling, then skim the fat from the surface before adding the other ingredients.

How to Make Perfect Brown Rice

I am a firm believer that healthy foods don’t have to taste awful. That you shouldn’t have to suffer through eating something just because it’s “good for you.” Doing so causes two problems – first, it makes people more likely to avoid that food in the future, thus defeating the point, or it makes them feel like because they’ve “suffered” and eaten that healthy blah-tasting food, that they can now overindulge in junk foods because they’ve had their vitamins for the day. This has always been my experience trying to eat brown rice.

I really wanted to like brown rice. After all, it’s higher in fiber and nutrients, and is digested more slowly, thus leaving you feeling fuller, and more satisfied, longer. But most brown rice I’ve had, even in national restaurant chains like PF Changs, has tasted awful. It’s like eating cardboard. It’s chewy, hard, and tastes undercooked. I wanted so much to like it, but no matter how long I cooked it, I couldn’t do much better than simply choke it down.

I had nearly given up, until I came across this recipe on Pinterest from Saveur magazine. I added a few things to the cooking water (which I usually do with white rice as well, to give it a flavor boost) and it was AMAZING! No more hard bits, no mushy, overcooked glop, just perfectly cooked brown rice. I now use this method every time I make brown rice and it is always perfect. My kids eat it up with no complaints and my husband often doesn’t even realize it’s brown rice instead of white. I can still taste a subtle texture difference between the white and brown rice, but it’s a good difference, like the difference between stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth white bread (yuck!) and a heartier bread made with whole grains. This method does take a little longer than regular white rice, so keep that in mind as you plan, but it’s well worth it!

best brown rice

Begin by boiling 6-7 cups of water in a large stockpot (the original recipe calls for 12 cups of water, but I’ve found that only about half of that water is necessary for 1 cup of rice and still turns out perfectly cooked brown rice). While the water is boiling, put the rice in a colander and rinse under cold water for about 30 seconds.

brown rice

Once the water comes to a boil, add your chicken bouillon, garlic and onion powder and stir until the bouillon is dissolved. Add the rice to the water, stirring only once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

fluffy brown rice

After the rice has boiled for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and pour the rice into a colander (if you use the same colander that you used to rinse the rice in the first step, be sure there are no uncooked pieces of rice still stuck in there – you don’t want to chomp down on one of those pieces, trust me!) and drain for about 10 seconds (don’t rinse). Return the rice to the pot and cover with a tight-fitting lid, and let the rice steam in the covered pot for 10 minutes. And that’s it! Fluff the rice with a fork, season with additional salt if you feel it needs it (I don’t usually), and enjoy your perfectly cooked brown rice!

perfect brown rice

Best Brown Rice

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked brown rice (any variety, I used long grain)
4 chicken bouillon cubes or 4 tsps chicken bouillon (alternatively, you could also substitute 4 cups of chicken broth/stock for 4 cups of water)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder

Bring 6-7 cups of water to a boil in a large stockpot (make sure it has a tight-fitting lid). Add bouillon cubes, garlic powder, and onion powder and stir until bouillon is dissolved. Rinse rice in a colander under cold running water for 30 seconds and add to the pot. Stir once, then boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and drain rice in a colander for 10 seconds. Return to pot, cover with lid, and let sit for 10 minutes while the rice steams in its own heat. Remove the cover and fluff with a fork, seasoning with salt if desired.

Adapted from (Saveur magazine)