Bestest Italian Dressing Mix. . .great on everything

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • pinch of salt to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, oregano, pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, celery salt and regular salt. Store in a tightly sealed container.

To prepare dressing, whisk together 1/4 white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.

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Mayo be Gone

We love light and clean, but I also crave wicked classics that call for mayonnaise, such as homemade chicken salad.  Light or fat-free versions of mayo not only taste disgusting, but are also often loaded with chemicals.  Some call for substituting low-fat sour cream, which has produced mixed results.  What’s a foodie to do?

Enter non-fat greek-style yogurt.  My savior.  Clean, natural, and tastes like sour cream with a bit of a kick.  And no fat!  Makes much heart-healthier items such as ranch dressing, beef stroganoff (YES!), dips, chicken and potato salads. . . the list goes on.

We have both Fage and Chobani brands.  Learn more here: US News & World Report

Easy No-Knead Bread

I was reading an article by Michelle Gienow in this week’s Orlando Weekly about SOLE food.  She mentioned a wonderful recipe for no-knead bread, and the following recipe comes from the New York Times.

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

A Tip from J – Bison in Place of Beef in Tacos

Love tacos as much as I do? Try making them with ground bison. Remember, bison is leaner than even turkey.

And if you like Americanized/TexMex tacos (meaning loaded with seasoning), please forego the grocery store packets of sodium-chemical-what-the-hell-is-in-this taco seasoning, and try this mix. You’ll thank me, trust me. Thanks to Bill Echols for introducing me to this

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

J’s Trinity Spice

Many cooks keep on hand favorite spices that they use regularly, or often a blend of herbs that often contain salt.  My take is to ditch the salt, and still season to taste with the following ingredients:

  • Chili Pepper
  • Peprika
  • Cayenne Pepper (less is more here)

From a simple beef stroganoff to sauces to herb roasted potatoes, this trinity helps to enhance warmth to any meal — whether a comfort dish or gourmet creation.

Making meals leaner without anyone knowing it

It is rare to find lean foodstuffs that actually taste as good as their original counterparts.  Like low-fat or no-fat dairy items such as cream cheese.  We all know it’s not “the real thing” but we often settle in order to save on calories.

Well I have found a delicious item that is not only 75% leaner but also tastes “real.”  Al Fresco Chicken Sausage can be found in grocery stores in 28 states, and is also available online.  Their roasted garlic sausage tastes like the real thing and our guests had no idea that their delightfully wicked toad in the hole was actually quite healthy!