Greek Yogurt Based Ranch Dressing & Café Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

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I really, really, really love ranch dressing. It’s probably one of my greatest food weaknesses.  And I really don’t care for low-fat or low-calorie ranch dressing, it’s gotta be the real stuff.  One day it occurred to me that it was probably pretty easy to make and that I might feel a whole lot better about eating it if I knew what was going into it. Not only did it turn out to be super easy to make, but after a few experiments with Greek yogurt I came up with a recipe that’s mostly yogurt-based instead of mostly mayo-based.

I win! Pass the carrots and let’s start dipping!

The great thing about this is that you can make it dip consistency or salad dressing consistency, just by adding milk to it.  I keep this recipe hung up inside my spice pantry door now so I can refer to it quickly and easily.  All the herbs as dried, but if you had any fresh on hand I bet it’d make it even tastier! After consulting a few different recipes that were already out there, here is what I’ve come up with:

  • 1 container of plain Greek Yogurt (some are 8-oz, some are 6-oz… to be honest, it doesn’t really matter)
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 t chives
  • 1/2 t parsley
  • 1/2 t dill
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t pepper
  • Skim milk*, to desired consistency

The easiest way to make this is to put it in a container with a lid and just shake, shake, shake.

If you stopped right before the skim milk, it’s a great consistency to serve as a dip. If you want to use it as a salad dressing, just add a few tablespoons of milk at a time and keep shaking it up until it’s as runny as you’d like it to be.

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I’ve been making my ranch this way for about a year now and I’m totally addicted. Today, I discovered that it also works great as the base for one of my other favorite dressings, Café Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing. My CSA box came with a whole bunch of tomatillos this week and I immediately knew it was time to make a batch of creamy tomatillo dressing.

Now to be perfectly fair, a Café Rio purist will not find this to be spot on. There’s a lot of great copycat recipes out there for the tomatillo dressing and the ones I’ve had the most success with use the Hidden Valley ranch package. Since most of them are basically starting with a ranch dressing base, I decided to experiment with my Greek yogurt ranch and see how it turned out.

(Spoiler alert: Delicious. Now I need me some pork barbacoa burrito to go with it!)

Again, I just looked at a couple recipes and kind of went with the common theme of what most of them were doing.  I mixed it all in the food processor, which made it super easy and creamy.

  • Greek Yogurt ranch dressing
  • 2-3 tomatillos, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped & seeded
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, rough chopped

If you started with a dip-consistency ranch dressing, you’ll probably want to add the milk to make it a bit runnier and more like a salad dressing. You also don’t need to chop things up really good if you’re tossing it all into the food processor (or a blender) which makes it super easy to make. 

My grocery store sells tomatillos over by the tomatoes. You remove the outer husk before chopping. The smaller they are, the sweeter they are. I still have a few leftover from my CSA this week so I think I’m going to have to try my hand at making some salsa verde next!

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Tomato Soup: I’m Obsessed.

Something fortuitous happened to me this week.  I had been couponing a little too aggressively and as a result, I ended up with 7 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes on my shelf.  I don’t really like stockpiling food, and all these cans of tomatoes were bugging me.  Since I don’t really care for pasta dishes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to use up all the tomatoes.  I went to AllRecipes to do a search by ingredients for crushed tomatoes when I came up on this recipe for Tomato Basil Soup.

It’s no secret I love tomato soup.  But I’ve gotten picky.  I don’t really care for the Campbell’s condensed version (although in a pinch, it will do… especially if there is grilled cheese to dunk in it.)  My craving is best satiated by Panera’s version – slightly creamy, a little hint of basil, and great tomato chunk texture.  This recipe looked like a perfect replica. 

I only made a half batch to see if I liked it, and I made a few tweaks by cutting back some of the butter that seemed extraneous.  It was so good.  I know exactly where the rest of those canned tomatoes are headed. 

Here’s the half-batch recipe (made 4 1 cup servings), with my tweaks.  You can still see the original in the link above:

  • 1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  • 10 basil leaves, minced**
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T butter

**I didn’t have fresh basil on hand but I had minced, frozen basil on hand.  I get it in the freezer section of Harris Teeter.  This is the brand I use.

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How to:

1. Add the can of crushed tomatoes to the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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2. Add basil and sugar.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and butter.  Stir until butter has melted.

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3. Serve with homemade croutons!  (See below).

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Homemade Croutons

This isn’t really even a recipe… just a quick how to.  Cut up any stale bread into bite sized pieces.  Put in a ziploc bag and add just a drizzle of olive oil.  Add any type of seasoning you want (I like just a pinch of salt and dried basil).  Pour on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Flip, and bake for another 10 minutes.  They’ll keep in a tupperware or plastic bag for about a week.

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Enjoy!  I apologize in advance to Panera on Penny Rd.  You will probably see a substantial drop in your tomato soup business now.

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(Oh hey, stats!  In case you’re counting.  Per 1 cup serving: 217 cals, 14.5g fat, 628 mg sodium, 6g fiber, 6g protein.  Croutons will depend on how much bread and OO you use.  I used 3 oz bread + 2 T olive oil.  Per serving (4 svgs): 116 cals.)