August 31, 2007

Ranch Dressing, Please

The advertising cookbook shown today isn't really old but it features one of my favorite products. Ranch salad dressing mix. I'm making salad for lunch today, so perhaps that's why I chose it.

Hidden Valley Ranch Inspired Family Favorites (1998, 20 pp.) is a collection of recipes that all use a single package of Hidden Valley Original Ranch salad dressing mix to add a twist to your favorite recipes.

Remember when the iceberg lettuce wedges were the standard salad fare in restaurants? I recall only four choices of dressing ever available: Thousand Island, French, Oil and Vinegar and Bleu Cheese. Blech on the dressings and double blech on the lettuce wedges. I tried to order things that didn't come with a salad so I wouldn't have to eat them.

Things improved. I remember when Pizza Hut began offering Creamy Italian as a choice on their salad bar--a step up from the boring four in my opinion, but rather nasty when I think about it now.

Thinking about salad makes me recall the many afternoons spent with my friends in our sophmore and junior years of high school. We gathered to play endless games of Hearts and Gin Rummy at the apartment of one friend whose mother was at work.

We usually prepared one of two regular snacks, either plain tunafish sandwiches with big thick onion slices or a salad. We chopped up a variety of salad ingredients into miniscule little pieces and slathered them with Seven Seas Green Goddess dressing. Yum. Time intensive, chopping up all those vegetables into tiny, uniform squares, but we thought we were pretty grown up, fixing salad OUR way. It was a long time before I finally stopped all that chopping business.

The Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing mixes were great. Originally there was only one mix available, which called for buttermilk. I was relieved when they came out with the mix that used plain milk. Buttermilk was never a staple in my kitchen and I usually only bought it for the salad dressing. And I usually forgot and had to make an exra trip to the store. Now, I always have milk and I always have mayo, so I always have salad dressing.

Nothing tastes as good to me on a salad as a freshly mixed batch of Ranch Dressing. Forget about the bottled Ranch, it's not the same. There are lots of great choices for salad dressings available now, but HVR is still my regular stand-by.

I've seen some of the recipes in this booklet in magazine advertisements, in community cookbooks, and have eaten some of them at potluck gatherings and such. Ranch Snack Mix, Roasted Nuts from Hidden Valley, Original Ranch Oyster Crackers, Original Rach Dip, Ranch Mashed Potatoes are some of the ones I've seen in the ads. They make a pretty good cheese ball or cheese log, certainly more tasty and less expensive than those prepackaged ones you find at the supermarket.

Others recipes that seem worth considering and that appeal to my appetite are the Roasted Red Pepper Spread, the Potato Skins, the Hidden Valley Potato Salad, the Hash Brown Bake, the Original Ranch Crispy Chicken and the Original Ranch Pork Chops.

Not to my taste, but maybe to yours: Hidden Valley Glazed Baby Carrots, Burrito Wraps, Tuna Skillet Supper, Original Ranch Beef and Noodle Skillet and the Chopstick Chicken Salad. There are others, thirty-nine in all.

Illustrated with tasty color photos and all recipes conveniently located in one little booklet. I like that.


1 packet (1 oz.) Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing Mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
24 chicken drummettes (about 2 pounds)

Combine dressing mix in oil in large bowl. Add drummettes; toss well to coat. Arrange on rack placed in foil-lined baking pan; bake at 425 degrees F. for 25 minutes. Tur drummettes over; bake additional 20 minutes. Makes 24 drummettes.

Spicy Hot Variation: Add 2 tablespoons red pepper sauce to dressing mixture before cooking.

Serve with prepared HVR salad dressing.

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