Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DIY ~ Fruity Vinaigrette and Ranch Dressing

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Will and I made a decision this year that we would do without prepared foods that use margarine and hydrolyzed oils, particularly those with soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup. That basically means no store bought salad dressings, bread, hot dog or hamburger buns, no crackers, desserts (pies, cookies, sweet rolls) or flour tortillas . . .

The bottom line is we are taking control of our lives, and that's empowering!

I am already committed to making all our bread, biscuits, hamburg and hot dog buns, and the occasional sweets . . . It's just been a matter of making it a part of my weekly routine . . . No biggy!

I've found whipping up a quick, fresh salad dressing or vinaigrette, is super easy . . . It only takes 2 minutes, tops! Why did I wait so long to try it?

Ranch Salad Dressing is this simple ~ 2 parts mayo, 1 part organic sour cream, lemon juice (I start with a tablespoon and add more as I taste) salt, pepper, and whatever herbs you want to add. This simple recipe is good even without herbs. If you choose to add them, it's best to let your dressing sit awhile, in the fridge to absorb the oils and flavors of your chosen herbs.

I like to roast a couple of garlic cloves drizzled in EVOO, wrapped in foil and bake at 350F, just until I begin to smell the garlic cooking. I use my toaster oven to save on energy and to keep the heat down in my kitchen. I mash the garlic with the side of my chef's knife, add a few chopped chives, and finely grated carrot.

Confession: Before I began making my own dressings and vinaigrettes I used lemon juice and salt on my salads and an occasional French Honey Bacon Dressing. I hated all ranch dressing, now I love it! Homemade makes such a difference when you find easy, successful recipes to use!

Fruity Vinaigrette ~ 1 part olive oil, 1 part, vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine etc), and a squeeze of honey to sweeten.

My daughter, Annie made mango jam in her bread machine, and gave us a large jar of it. So, this week I decided to add a bit of the mango jam to my vinaigrette for a zippy mango twist.

BALSAMIC MANGO VINAIGRETTE - makes enough for 2 large dinner salads

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon mango jam (any lovely fruit jam will work - strawberry, raspberry, blackberry.)

1 teaspoon raw honey (you can always add more to taste)

  • Mix ingredients together in a small bowl, using a whisk.
  • Taste, and adjust sweetness using more honey, as needed.
JULIE'S TIP: My only rule for making a vinaigrette is 1 part oil to 1 part acid. This keeps your dressings from being too oily.


After that, use your creativity! There are no rules! You can create a savory, herbaceous oil and vinegar, or you can make a sweet and fruity vinaigrette!

Start with a bed of organic baby spinach, add broccoli slaw, sweet, crunchy carrot slices, blueberries, feta, roast beef, salty bacon, raw pecans and a drizzle of Balsamic Mango Vinaigrette. Voila! You've got a meal!

Right now, I'm into fruity because I'm adding blueberries, strawberries, grapes and melon to my salad. Will doesn't like fruit in his salads (it's a childhood issue of too many salads with fruits and nuts in them), but he still enjoys my fruity Balsamic Mango Vinaigrette topping his romaine, spinach, broccoli slaw, celery, ham and tomato and cheddar salad.

It's funny, we're eating better than we ever have . . . Will, my non-fruit eater, is craving melon, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries! We are literally retraining our taste buds to love nourishing foods!

I'm beginning to clear off my garden and the gears are turning in my little head! It's time to make decisions on what we will plant in our fall and winter garden! It's time to pour over seed catalogs and order some special new heirloom varieties!

I'm beginning to salivate at the prospect of fresh homegrown, organic lettuces, carrots, kale, and Swiss chard gracing my salads! Yes, there is light at the end of our tunnel! Cooler weather is just around the corner . . . for us desert dwellers! Woo hoo!!! . . . Over at Julie's!!!



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