Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hilltop Herbs Ranch Dressing

I also brought some veggies and dip to the Nursing Graduation Pinning Ceremony yesterday.  They were consumed about as fast as the Mini Frittatas. I received some requests for my Ranch Dressing recipe. Here it is.

I first tried my hand at homemade Ranch Dressing in the mid 70’s. A co-worker brought a homemade ranch dip to one of our pot-lucks at the dental lab and gave me the recipe. I have since lost her recipe, but when I started Hilltop Herbs in 1989, it was one of the first seasoning mixes I developed for bulk sales. It was a very good seller. I have often wondered about the origin of Ranch Dressing. Here is some info from Wikipedia. It has more detail than the blurb from Hidden Valley.
“In 1954, Steve and Gayle Henson opened Hidden Valley Ranch, a dude ranch near Santa Barbara, California. They served guests a dressing that Steve had developed. The dressing was popular, and they began selling bottles that guests could take home, and later opened a factory to sell packets of ranch seasoning that had to be mixed with mayonnaise and buttermilk (packets that are still available to this day). In 1972, the brand was bought by Clorox for $8 million.[1]
Clorox reformulated the dressing several times to try to make it more convenient. The first change was to include buttermilk flavoring in the seasoning so that at home one added milk rather than buttermilk.[1] In 1983, Clorox developed a more popular non-refrigerated bottled formulation. At the current time, Clorox subsidiary Hidden Valley Ranch Manufacturing LLC produces ranch packets and bottled dressings at two large factories, in Reno, Nevada and Wheeling, Illinois.[2]”

As the years have passed, I have changed my original recipe some more, to lower the sodium and fat content. I often substitute non-fat plain yogurt for the buttermilk in a pinch, but the flavor of the buttermilk really makes a difference.

Yield: 1 pint (16 oz.)

1 cup Mayonnaise (low-fat or non-fat are options)
¾ cup low-fat Buttermilk
¼ cup non-fat Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Salt                  
¼ tsp. gran. Onion     
1/8 tsp. gran Garlic    
¼ tsp. Parsley Flakes 
Dash of hot pepper sauce

Whisk all ingredients together in a one quart mixing bowl.
Store in refrigerator - a pint jar with lid works great.

For a thick dip, try mixing 1 cup of this dressing with ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or 4 oz. softened Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese).

For a little different flavor, add ¼ teaspoon ground celery seed, if you can find it, or grind your own, or add celery salt, but be sure to cut back on the ½ teaspoon of salt. You can also add a bit of dill weed, or some minced chives.

Mini Frittatas

December 10, 2011
These mini frittatas were served at the buffet after the Christmas performance of “The Night the Animals Talked” at Arnold’s Creek Christian Church. I was so impressed by these handy little appetizers, I asked for the recipe.She told me it was a recipe from Giada and she found it on the Food Network. It makes a very nice appetizer and finger food. She told me that it was easier to sprinkle food in the muffin cups first, then pour eggs over them. She also added red and green bell peppers for a festive appearance. The combination of ingredients to use is endless.

Original Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves: about 40 mini frittatas
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces thinly sliced ham, chopped
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spray 2 mini muffin tins (each with 24 cups) with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs, milk, pepper, and salt in a large bowl to blend well. Stir in the ham, cheese, and parsley. Fill prepared muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittatas from the muffin cups and slide the frittatas onto a platter. Serve immediately.
 Copyright 2011 Television Food Network G.P. All Rights Reserved

December 17, 2011
I made these for the buffet after our Nursing graduation pinning ceremony and they went like hotcakes. For the meat, I diced the last 4 oz. of smoked chicken breast from one of my brother-in-law’s smoked chickens, or “cannonballs”, as they are often called. I sautéed half a diced onion and ¼ of a diced red bell pepper and mixed it with the diced chicken. I dropped a scant teaspoon of this filling in each mini-muffin cup. Then I sprinkled a few shreds of Colby cheese on top. I mixed the egg batter using 1% milk and eggs. I poured the egg mix by scooping it with a ¼ cup measure with a spout and drizzling it over each muffin cup.

When baking, I had to bake one tray for 5 minutes extra and the other for 10 minutes extra. It may be that my oven temp is not exact. I poked them with a toothpick and lightly touched the tops to check for the eggs being cooked enough. If they felt a bit runny, I baked them more. I didn’t need to loosen the frittatas at all. After cooling for five minutes, they fell right out of the muffin tin.

I just noticed a discrepancy in the recipes. Giada says to use muffin tins with 24 cups in each tray. My mini-muffin trays have 12 muffins each. This recipe filled 24 mini-muffins almost perfectly. My trays are 8”x10” and the cups measure 1 7/8” across the top. My yield: 24 mini frittatas