Most of my inspiration comes from not wanting to be bothered with getting dressed to make a trip to the store for a missing pantry item. I know that sounds lazy, but it is also about not having to deal with traffic lights and traffic, parking spots and other shoppers, standing in line and spending more for a convenience item that I know is just a few basic ingredients ingeniously packaged together as a magical taste creation. It's a matter of working smarter, not harder; valuing time and money... but some might call that lazy.
Somehow today I got it in my mind that I needed to make buffalo chicken dip (recipe below), and that required ranch dressing, which I didn't have. So as usual, I figured it out on my own. I read through several recipes on-line, discovered the similarities, pondered the flavors and got to work. Below is my rendition of ranch dressing, followed by a recipe for taco seasoning. When you consider the cost of those little packets of seasoning at the market, it's worth the 3 minutes it takes to make your own.... plus you know what is in it.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix milk and lemon juice together and set aside. This is a basic buttermilk substitute, of course you can substitute an actual 1/2 cup of buttermilk for the buttermilk substitute.
In a bowl mix together all the ingredients from the minced onion through the black pepper. Whisk in sour cream and mayonnaise. Add buttermilk until desired consistency. Let chill in the fridge for an hour or more to let the flavors meld together. If you are impatient, you can use it right away... it just gets better with a little bit of time to rest.
You can make this as full fat or non-fat as you like by using skim milk, fat free mayonnaise and fat free sour cream or the full fat equivalents or anywhere in between.
For ranch dip, omit milk, lemon juice, & mayonnaise. Increase sour cream to 2 cups/1 pint.
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp beef bouillon (optional, but it does make it better)
3 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Paprika
1/2 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Corn Starch
Mix all together in a jar and store until ready to use.
To use, mix 3 Tbsp with 1 pound of ground meat, add 1/2 cup of water and simmer until most of the water is gone.
Buy your spices in bulk to make this a cost effective alternative to those overpriced envelopes.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
8 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup of Cholula Hot Sauce or buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup of ranch dressing
1/2 cup of Velveeta
2 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey, or 2 cans drained
a pinch of cayenne if you want more kick
cut veggies such as carrots and celery
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl whip room temperature cream cheese until light and fluffy with an electric mixer, or use the paddle attachment on a KitchenAid mixer. Break velveeta into small pieces and whip into cream cheese until combined. Slowly mix in Cholula and ranch dressing to avoid splatters. Add chicken and whip everything until light and fluffy. Place in an 8x8 baking dish or a pie plate and bake for about 20-25 minutes, stirring once. Serve hot with corn chips and veggies.