Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homemade is Better!

After reading the ingredients on store bought dressings and croutons, I decided to make my own dressings and croutons.. they taste so much better and they are much healthier.. I can’t imagine anyone using a bottled dressing after making fresh at home. I even take my homemade dressing and croutons with me to restaurants.

When I have to bring a dish to pass, I often take a 'salad bar' and make a few fresh dressings and the fresh croutons. As a vegetarian, this guarantees that I have at least one thing I can actually eat. LOL

These make small amounts that should be used within a week since they don't have preservatives.

Anyway, here are some recipes …. A new dressing, an old favorite and I finally wrote down the crouton recipe… well, sort of.

Caesar Dressing

I made this and it was so good that I had TWO salads last night. LOL It’s close to a Caesar but I left out the anchovies since I’m vegetarian. You can add some in if you like.

I used my bullet blender to mix this. I’d suggest that or a small blender/food processor as you need to fully blend the cheese in.

½ tsp chopped garlic (you can another ½ tsp if you are a big garlic fan)
1 cup light mayo
¼ cup skim milk (you can also use buttermilk)
1/3 cup fresh grated romano cheese (or parmesan)
2 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce (I found a vegetarian one, others have anchovy paste in them)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Blend together. If you want it thinner, use an additional 1/8 cup of milk (or more) to get it to the consistency you prefer. If you don’t have fresh cheese, you could probably use the traditional ‘dry’ stuff but I don’t know how that will change the recipe.

1000 Island Dressing

I love this dressing. So fresh and tangy. Kids usually go for this as well. Makes a good sandwich spread too. This should be hand blended with a whisk. You can double this if you need a larger amount.

½ cup light mayo
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP ketchup
2 tsp agave nectar (you can sub regular sugar or even honey)
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 t minced onion (I use the dry kind or you can use fresh)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Shelly’s Homemade Croutons

When I make croutons I don’t use a recipe. I dump and mix and taste and create.. but so many people have asked me to give them a recipe, I thought I’d do a basic one and post it.

Store bought croutons have no flavor and they contain ingredients you can’t even say.. and many have corn syrup! WTF?

You can use any bread you have/like.. I’ve made croutons with plain sandwich bread, hoagie rolls, multigrain and fancy artisan bread and they’ve all been yummy!

When you are using up your bread and it starts to get stale, toss the rest in the freezer and use it for crouton day! You can even cube it before you freeze it. Sam's Club has hoagie rolls in white and wheat (packs of 12) that are perfect to use and cheap! I often buy those, come home and cube them all and then freeze them in large baggies for quick use later.

I put the dry ingredients in a small Tupperware container with a lid to shake it up and mix it.. or you can use a small bowl and a spoon. It’s just fun to shake the crap out of it!

1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp smoked salt (you can use regular salt)
½ cup dry parmesan cheese

9 oz of cubed bread
(ok, I weighed it because I wasn’t sure how else to tell you how much to use.. honestly, just cube up what you have.. you can always add more oil to coat it)

¼ cup oil (I prefer olive or grapeseed as it’s healthy, but use what you like)
2 TBSP melted butter (this is for flavor, you can leave it out)

I use a big bowl that has a lid so I can shake the croutons but a large bowl and a spoon work fine too … put ½ the cubed bread in the bowl, add ½ the dry ingredients, add second half of cubed bread and last half of dry ingredients (this is to distribute the dry stuff) and pour the oil and butter over it, toss gently to coat all the pieces well.

Spread on cookie sheets in a single layer and bake at 350 degrees for a few minutes at a time, stirring until all sides are evenly brown. Watch them though as the cheese makes them burn faster. You can cook them less if you like a chewy crouton vs a crunchy one. Let cool and place in an airtight container.

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