Thursday, July 21, 2011


I did it! I made a healthy, very low fat & high flavor Ranch dressing!! Can you tell I'm excited?  For years I have been avoiding creamy dressings in fear of excess caloric intake and now I beat the system!

OK- enough celebrating.  I shouldn't keep you waiting like this; my apologies.

This recipe yields about 1/4 Cup of dressing.
You will need:
3 Tbsp Fage 0% [fat-free] Greek Yogurt, or your preferred brand of Greek style yogurt
4 Tbsp Buttermilk
1/4 tsp dried Parsley Flake
1/4 tsp dried Chives
1/8 tsp Onion Powder
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp White Vinegar
a few turns Cracked Black Pepper
  • Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. If you desire a thicker dressing, add another Tbsp of yogurt. Taste it. Is it salty enough? I like my dressings a touch on the salty side because it is the primary flavoring agent my vegetables, but if you are sensitive to salt or have high blood pressure, please adjust the salt levels as needed.
  • Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so all of the flavors can get acquainted.
The colors in this photo are way off, but what matters is the consistency of the dressing. It isn't thin & runny like a low-fat dressing, you can see it clinging to the tomatoes and coating them nicely. As for the lettuce, I swear it was a vibrant green and not picked out of a trash can. I'm in the process of investing in a really nice camera. Patience young jedis.

You may substitute fresh ingredients if you would like, I felt the dried herbs & spices would get me closer to the original flavors of the stuff you buy on a shelf. I'm not interested in reinventing Ranch Dressing, I'm interested in making healthy food taste as "good" as the junk on the shelf... or better.  Speaking of ingredients, let's compare recipes:

List of ingredients in a popular, store-bought brand of Ranch Dressing:
Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Non-Fat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors [Soy], Spices, Less than 1% of: Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artifical Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA* as Preservatives, Disodium Incisinate and Disodium Guanylate.

*EDTA could be a typo, the label was difficult to read.
Regardless of what the letters are, or stand for, would you even know what it is? I don't,and I'm currently taking a biochemistry class, and averaging an A-, mind you.  And how how about all of the soy & soy by-products used? Know anyone prone to breast cancer or ovarian cancer? Do you want them eating estrogen with their salad or chicken wings? I sure don't. And how many different forms of sodium do they need? Just thinking about it elevates my blood pressure.  Let's not overlook the monosodium glutamate [MSG, folks.]- sprinkle that on my raggedy old flip flop and it will be palatable. The modified food starch is great too, gotta love those GMO's.

Do your jeans & your health a favor and use this recipe in place of that stuff in a bottle.  It should keep in the fridge for 5-7 days in a sealed container. Enjoy, and indulge!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Its hot.

If its scorching in Vermont, I don't even want to think about the weather in Jersey, let alone Philly. Anyways, its time for dinner and I'm saving the cold, crisp, refreshing salad for tomorrow's rumored 98 degrees.  Did I mention that I'm living sans air conditioning?

Unless you're on the raw foods diet you're probably used to having some sort of a cooked meal, but who the hell wants a hot plate with heat like this??  I came up with a happy medium tonight; its hearty enough to be dinner, but light enough to suit a sweltering summer:

Balsamic BBQed Chicken with Pesto Farfalle & Arugula.

Let's get the chicken started first, because it needs to marinate for at least 3-12 hours.

You will need:
6 boneless, skinless Chicken Thighs. bone-in is fine, but nix the skin.

2 large cloves of Garlic, peeled
1/4 tsp cracked Black Pepper
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Put the chicken thighs into a large ziploc bag and pour the marinade on top of them. Using a spatula, finger, or chicken thigh, make sure there is no honey lingering in the bottom of the processor and get it into the bag with the meat.
  • Seal the bag, pressing out excess air, and work the meat to be sure each thigh is completely covered.
  • Move it to the fridge & let chill for 3-12 hours.
  • Preheat your grill, or grill pan, to medium-high. Once the grill is hot place the chicken on it, leaving enough room between pieces to rotate them. Allow the chicken to sit, undisturbed for about 4.5 minutes, then rotate the thigh 90 degrees and allow to cook for another 4.5 minutes [if using bone-in thighs, increase cooking times by 2.5 minutes each].  Flip the chicken over and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Necessities for the Pesto Farfalle & Arugula:
1/2 box DeCecco Farfalle pasta
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/2 lb Baby Arugula, for for organic
1/2 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/4 Cup Pesto [recipe will follow]
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil & 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt, then add the pasta. Cook until al dente, DeCecco usually advises accurate cooking times.
  • While the pasta is cooking, put the pesto & tomatoes in the bottom of a large glass bowl with a tiny pinch of salt to season the tomatoes.
  • Strain the pasta and quickly add to the bowl, its OK if some of the pasta water comes along with it, its extra flavor. Toss to coat.
  • Allow the pasta to sit for about 5 minutes and then fold in the arugula. 
  • Eat.
1/2 Cup Basil Leaves
1.5 Tbsp sliced Almonds
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
1.5 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Blend in food processor until mostly smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Use immediately or store in fridge. To prevent oxidation or browning of the pesto, pour a little olive oil over top, gently press a piece of plastic wrap on top of the oil and then wrap the container with another piece of plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
Do yourself a favor and make this dish for your next cook-out, I promise it will be a big hit [and you won't miss sweating over a hot grill, trying to scrape off the gloopy, burnt bits of BBQ sauce].

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

AAAARGH, mateys

I sampled Kraken rum for the first time yesterday...

and I will tell you- it went down like a beauty; I had to study so I couldn't unleash the beast. This rum is as smooth as it is potent.  Don't let the "extra-dark" intimidate you, this rum is not harsh and mixes beautifully.  I had it over ice with a little Gus Dry Soda... looks like I have found my new favorite cocktail for the summer! If you happen upon this rum, definitely pick it up.  It was only $18.99 at an over-priced liquor store, so chances are you may be able to score it for less! I love the bottle & label design as well.  As soon as this bottle is empty I'm funneling some canola oil into it and it will be sitting pretty on my kitchen counter for easy access when I'm cooking.