because what is life without good food?

Posts tagged “Pepper

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing (Low Sodium Option)

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

I found some lovely ripe avocados at the store today and it just occurred to me that avocado would be delicious in a Ranch Salad Dressing. Maybe I live in a hole, but why haven’t I ever seen that before?

Before today, that is. Because here it is! Tada! Super quick, super healthy, super delicious, and if you have someone who is watching their sodium, then just leave out the salt! It’s still fantabulous.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

To reduce sodium: If you leave out the salt altogether, this salad dressing has 75 mg of sodium per 2 Tablespoons; with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, this dressing has 149 mg sodium. I did a quick check and store-brand ranch dressings have sodium content ranging from 200 to 500 mg in 2 Tablespoons of dressing.

Makes about 1 cup of dressing (8 servings/2 Tablespoons per serving)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. 1% milk
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • About 1/2 a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Several chives
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 3 green onions (tops only)
  • 1/4 of a ripe avocado (you could probably even add more avocado if you want …)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (Leave out the salt altogether if you want less sodium … I made sure to taste it before I added salt, and it was delicious.)
  • 1/3 c. nonfat greek yogurt

Whir all the ingredients except the yogurt in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Stir in the yogurt. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge.

Lowfat Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing with Low Sodium Option

This recipe was shared at Newlyweds Recipe Linky and Full Plate Thursdays.

Red Robin Seasoning (Copycat recipe)

and a wealth of other seasoning mixes from my friend Carla

Red Robin Seasoning (Copycat recipe)

In general, I am not fond of chain restaurant food–I prefer to sample the local fare wherever I am–but there are a couple places I do like, and Red Robin is one of my favorites.  It’s basically a burger joint, but their burgers are SO good (just thinking about that California Chicken burger makes my mouth water) and their fries are SO crunchy and tasty. I think a big part of what makes them so special is the seasoning they use. Oh it is SO good!

They are also amazing mixologists at Red Robin; in my bartending days I “stole” one of their menus (with permission of course!) just to take it home and try to recreate some of their yummy mixed drinks. I still have that menu. My mother got in trouble when she tried to throw it out when she helped us move one time.

If you ask them at the restaurant, they will usually let you buy the seasoning. I have done that many times.

But what do you do if you live nowhere near a Red Robin? (Like me, now.) You either do without the seasoning, or you find a way to make your own. One day I stumbled across this copycat recipe for Red Robin Seasoning and I had to try it. While it tasted pretty authentic just the way it was, I adjusted it a little to my tastes. And scaled it up–because I use a lot of Red Robin Seasoning. Now I have to keep my dad supplied with this seasoning because he has become about as addicted to it as I am. (And I need to have some on hand when I am cooking at their place!)

I use this seasoning on just about everything I cook  in place of salt (the savory dishes anyway!) It is amazing on potatoes and eggs. And meats. Fish. Chicken. Um, yeah, just about everything. I refill my Red Robin Seasoning shaker with it, which reminds me of all the good times I’ve had at Red Robin.

Red Robin Seasoning

Copycat Red Robin Seasoning

  • 3 packages cup-a-soup tomato soup mix (about 7 1/2 T.)
  • 10 T. salt
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 4 T. granulated garlic
  • 1 T. basil
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 t. freshly ground black pepper

Mix all the seasonings together in a bowl. Funnel into a spice shaker because you are going to want to shake this stuff on just about EVERYTHING!

A Wealth of Seasoning Mixes from Carla

I’ve also collected a bunch of helpful seasoning mixes from my foodie friend Carla at Carla’s Kitchen Confessions. If you are on Facebook and you haven’t liked her page, go do it. She is awesome. If you ever need a seasoning mix in a pinch, she will help you out!

~HOMEMADE SELF-RISING FLOUR~ 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoons salt = 1 cup self-rising flour.

‎~HOMEMADE TERIYAKI SAUCE~ 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup oil, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons ground Ginger, 2 teaspoons ground mustard or yellow mustard, 6 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons), salt to taste. Mix together & use to marinate meats. Store in the refrigerator.

‎~HOMEMADE BAKING POWDER~ 1/3 teaspoons baking soda & 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter.

‎~”ALMOST” EMERIL’S ESSENCE~ 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried thyme. Mix well & store in airtight container.

‎~HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIE SPICE~ 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground Ginger, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/2 tablespoon allspice. Mix well & store in airtight container, will keep for about 6 months.

‎~HOMEMADE TACO SEASONING~ 1/3 cup dried minced onion, 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 tablespoon dried oregano. Mix well & store up to 6 months in an air tight container. Makes 1 cup mix. Use 2 tablespoons per 1 pound of meat. {you can adjust the amount of the red pepper flakes}

‎~Paula Deen’s House Seasoning~ 1 cup salt, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup pepper. Mix well, store in airtight container.

‎~HOMEMADE SEASON SALT~ 1 1/2 cups salt, 1 cup onion powder, 1/2 cup white pepper, 1/2 cup garlic powder, 1/2 cup paprika. Mix well & store for up to 6 months in an airtight container. {You can use black pepper, if you wish. It only changes the flavor slightly!}

‎~Homemade powdered sugar~ 1 tablespoon cornstarch to 1 cup granulated sugar. Run through blender or food processor until powder forms. {Never get caught without it again!}. You could make up several batches at once & store in an airtight container.

‎~ Salt Substitute #1~ 2 Tablespoons dry mustard, 2 tablespoons onion powder, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons paprika, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon ground thyme, 2 tablespoons crushed basil.~store in airtight container.

‎~ Salt Substitute #2~ 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon sage, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon marjoram.

‎~ Salt Substitute #3 ~ 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon crushed celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.

‎~ Apple pie spice substitution ~ 1/8 tsp. Allspice, 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg. {for extra kick, 1/8 tsp. Cardamom, optional}

‎~ Apple pie spice substitution#2 ~ ‎4 tsp. ground cinnamon, 2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1 tsp. ground cardamom

Rustic Rosemary Bread

Rustic Rosemary Bread

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.

I had a lovely date last weekend. This bread was not part of it, but that phrase keeps going through my mind today.

We had dark dark beer and mashed potato pizza. He had never tried any of the beers or the pizza–kept ordering the same beers I did–and I think he really enjoyed them. He likes that I like dark beer, keeps telling me about this meatball pizza he had in Omaha. Hmmm. Meatball pizza. That sounds good.

It’s so nice at the end of the evening to hear him say, “so when can I see you again?” … and to realize that I actually DO want to see him again.

That hasn’t happened to me for a long time.

Rustic rosemary bread

This bread turned out crusty on the outside, and soft on the inside. That might be because I forgot about it rising in the microwave and baked it 2 hours later. But it turned out just how a rustic bread should be.

Rustic Rosemary Bread

Adapted from Learn, Laugh, Cook (she posted the recipe on facebook and I didn’t want to lose it!)

  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (I forgot the Italian Seasoning but I do think it would be nice in this bread)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper — or more, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh or dried rosemary (I used fresh–you can tone down the amount if you use dried)
  • 2 and 1/2 cups of bread flour (can substitute whole wheat flour for part of the flour … I used 2 c. bread flour, 1/2 c. whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in the pan of a bread machine. I set mine to the “dough” setting, took it out and shaped it, then baked it in the oven, but if you want, you can just let your bread machine do all the work.

Your nose will go crazy from the warm rosemary scent while it’s baking.

I think next time I will add more pepper. A little more “bite” would make this bread just perfect. And maybe a little freshly shredded parmesan cheese.

Rosemary pepper bread

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

This recipe was shared at Best Bread Recipes of 2011.

Simple Savory Little Breakfast Cups

Simple Savory Little Breakfast Ramekins

I am not a very good gardener. I try, but the weeds just get away from me … and sometimes my plants bloom, but never bear fruit. I planted some pumpkins one year and the blossoms were so beautiful, but never made a single pumpkin. The flowers would just bloom, then fall off the vine. The same with my tomatoes this year. I have 6 big healthy tomato plants that made lots of blossoms, but produced only three tomatoes.

This is one of them:

My first tomato this year

It was my first tomato. I let it ripen on the vine until it was just perfect, then I wanted to find something really good to make with it.

Then I saw the Wicked Noodle’s 3- minute Breakfast Hash. The name doesn’t sound all that exciting, but her picture was so adorable. I was inspired. I got out my little ramekins, chopped up a bit of my tomato (reserving some for later … oh could I get TWO dishes out of this precious little tomato?), added some onion and cheese and egg and voila! I confess I didn’t use her microwave method–I much prefer to use my toaster oven and let it bake. Baking things has a lovely way of creating a delicious smell throughout the house …

I made two ramekins because I was making this just for myself. One ramekin with toast was breakfast and the other became my lunch. (I have a small stomach! I’m sure a guy could polish off several of these …)

Simple Savory Little Breakfast Cups


  • Frozen hash browns (or shredded potatoes)
  • Chopped tomato, onion, jalapeno or other vegies as you please
  • Shredded cheese of some kind and/or crumbled goat cheese
  • Crumbles of bacon or sausage if you please (today I added some lovely low-fat, nitrate-free free range chicken-red pepper sausage)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c. milk
  • Seasoned salt (I like to use Red Robin Seasoning) & fresh ground pepper
  • Fresh herbs if you like


  1. Spray 2 little ramekins with cooking spray and cover the bottom of each ramekin with hash browns.
  2. Sprinkle the hash browns with vegies and meat.
  3. Beat the egg with the milk and season with the salt, pepper and herbs.
  4. Pour about half of the egg mixture into each ramekin.
  5. Top with cheese.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set. If they spring back when you touch them lightly, they are done.
  7. Top with fresh herbs if you like and enjoy!
Simple Little Breakfast Cups


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