Homemade Ranch Dressing

I can’t believe I have never tried making homemade ranch before. It was SO worth the less than 10 minute effort that I had to put in! The original recipe called for fresh herbs, I use dried for the sake of time, and it’s great.

I highly recommend you use this dressing on a homemade Porta salad (you Madisonites know what I’m talking about). Aaron and I love to recreate the Porta salad from Paisans. It is loaded with amazing toppings including: salami, turkey, ham, garbanzo beans, shredded cheese, diced green peppers and diced tomatoes. We also like to add cucumbers and hard boiled eggs to make it more filling.

And yes as you can see from the picture I like to make salads at home in a big mixing bowl, ha!

Homemade Ranch Dressing


  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  •  1/2 cup sour cream
  •  1 teaspoon dried parsley
  •  1 teaspoon dried dill
  •  1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  •  1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  •  1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped (optional)
  •  Dash hot sauce (optional)
  •  1/4 buttermilk or milk (as needed for desired consistency)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add milk or buttermilk if needed to reach desired consistency. Chill for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Makes about 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from Food Network




Filed under Salads

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta


I have to give my hubby Aaron credit for finding this recipe. He and I have made it 4 or 5 times in the last few months, and we do not usually repeat a recipe that often. It’s loaded with flavor, veggies and is meat-free. It can be eaten warm, room temp or cold (I prefer it cold-room temp). The combination of sweet from the raisins, spice from the curry and salty feta is perfect!

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

  • 1 cup uncooked couscous
  • 1 medium head of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons curry powder (I usually use 2)
  • 1-2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese, freshly crumbled


  1. Cook couscous according to the directions on the package. While the couscous is cooking steam the broccoli until it reaches your desired tenderness (about 5-8 minutes).
  2. In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients (except for the feta). Add the couscous and broccoli when they are done cooking.
  3. Serve in bowls and top with the crumbled feta.

Makes about 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

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Filed under Main dishes, Side dish

Turkey and Bacon Lettuce Wraps with Basil Mayo

The best time of year for people who love to cook is upon us! Summer time! I love, love, love all of the local fresh fruits and vegetables available this time of year. My hubs and I even decided to have our own vegetable and herb garden this year. We went a little overboard and have TONS of plants, so hopefully we have a bountiful crop! Here’s our first baby tomatoes:

These wraps are a low-carb version of a BLT (plus avocado, because of course everything is better with avocado!). Give ’em a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Turkey and Bacon Lettuce Wraps with Basil Mayo

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 6 slices deli turkey
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • small red onion, thinly sliced

For the basil mayo:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. For the basil mayo: combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Stick it in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Assemble the wraps in this order: lettuce, turkey, mayo, bacon, avocado, tomato and red onion. Roll up the wrap and enjoy!

Makes 2 wraps.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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Filed under Main dishes

Black Bean and Corn Guacamole Dip

Spring is in full swing, yippy! This dip will be the perfect thing to bring to that spring or early summer pot luck/cookout. It’s really simple and a crowd pleaser. The black bean dip perfectly compliments and adds pizzazz to the more traditional guacamole.

It’s so good that you can even accidentally put cinnamon in place of chili powder and it’s STILL good! (Yes, I did that, I will always make sure my spices are in their correct spot from now on 😉

Black Bean and Corn Guacamole Dip


  • For the Black Bean Dip:
    • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
    • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • salt and pepper
  • For the Corn Guacamole:
    • 2 ripe avocados
    • juice of 1/2 lime
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • salt and pepper
    • 3/4 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
    • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Toppings:
    • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (could use feta or shredded monterey jack)


  1. Add garlic clove to food processor and process until chopped. Add the remaining ingredients for the black bean dip and process until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and add more spices or salt and pepper if necessary. Smooth into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan.
  2. In a medium bowl add avocados, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper then mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in thawed sweet corn and cilantro then smooth on top of the black bean dip. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes and crumbled Cotija cheese on top and serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

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Filed under Side dish

Chia Seed Pudding

I know chia seeds have been a “thing” for a while now, but I just recently jumped on the band wagon. This pudding might look a bit odd in the picture, but it is delicious! After being refrigerated overnight it develops a very tapioca-like consistency. It’s the perfect mid-morning or afternoon snack, and is quite filling.

If you want to learn more about chia seeds here is an article explaining some benefits: http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

Other ways I have used chia seeds are in my morning oatmeal and in place of protein powder in my spinach and frozen fruit protein shakes.

Chia Seed Pudding


  • 1 cup  unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (sometimes I will do 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract)
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds


  1. In a medium bowl whisk together all ingredients. Let stand on the counter for 30 minutes.
  2. Cover tightly and refrigerate over night.
  3. Enjoy plain or topped with fruit and nuts!

Makes 3-4 servings.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 

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Filed under Snacks

Overnight Slow Cooker Oats

The snow is coming… What better way to wake up on a snowy morning than to a crock pot full of warm oats?! It takes a total of 10 minutes to throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot, and it will keep well in the fridge for several days. Depending on how hot your slow cooker gets (mine tends to get super hot when it isn’t stirred every few hours) you will probably have to add some milk in the morning so it isn’t super thick. 

By the way, have you seen ‘Cooked’ on Netflix? It’s based on the book by Michael Pollan. We have watched the first two episodes so far, and I would definitely recommend it! 

Overnight Crockpot Oats


  • 2 cups steel cut oats (you must use steel cut oats, not old fashioned oats which would cook down to mush)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 5 cups of milk (almond milk or cows milk, sometimes I use a combination of both)
  • 2 apples, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger


  1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir well.
  2. Cook on low overnight. If you have a programable digital crock pot it would be ideal to set it for 5 or 6 hours on low, and then it will turn to warm after 5 or 6 hours until you wake up. You just don’t want it to get so hot that it burns. 
  3. Add more milk if needed and serve.

Makes about 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from my wonderful Mother!


Filed under Breakfast