Homemade Ranch Dressing/Dip

I made this dressing/dip today to go with some of my fried chicken fingers.  I’m always motivated to make food my daughter, her husband, and especially my grandchildren will love, and chicken fingers are a pretty sure bet.  I made some homemade fried chicken fingers and a big fresh salad.  Tonight we’ll slice up the chicken and add it to the salad and drizzle it with this yummy dressing.  And as for the kids, they’ll undoubtedly opt for no salad and dipping their chicken fingers in ketchup.


I’m back home and feeling wonderful about the day I spent with my daughter and my grandkids. When my youngest grandson Ezra was savoring his first chicken tender, I said, “Did you know that Safta (that’s me) made these for you?”  He answered so adorably, “No, Safta, I didn’t know that.”  His cuteness is almost too much for me.

When my daughter took her first bite of the chicken dipped in my sauce, she shook her head and said, “Oh, this is so good.”  Her response was worth any effort I expended.

  • 1 cup Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • about 7 chives, minced
  • about 20 grinds black pepper
  • about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • about 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • about 1/2 teaspoon Litehouse brand freeze dried dill
  • about 5 shakes hot sauce, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup buttermilk (I used Friendship 1.5%)
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl; add more buttermilk if it’s too thick; refrigerate.

5 Ingredient Homemade Beefaroni

I’m always trying new recipes I think my grandkids might like.  I made this simple recipe yesterday.  I was skyping with my son Benji who’s in Vietnam right now.  We were discussing all the different recipes he wants me to make when he gets home in a few weeks. I was showing him pictures of the beefaroni I was cooking and he told me that on the night he gets home from Vietnam, he wants that dish waiting for him.

  • 1 lb. good chop meat from Whole Foods
  • 1 28 oz. can organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium to large onion chopped (optional if making for children who don’t like onions)
  • about 6-7 garlic cloves chopped
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried oregano (about 1 teaspoon)
  • about 3/4 lb. of macaroni
  • parmesan for serving

Saute onion for a few minutes in about 2 tablespoons olive oil till soft.  Add garlic and saute a few minutes. Add chop meat and brown over low flame.  Add salt and pepper and oregano.  Then add tomatoes and pure.  Break up the chunks of tomatoes with the spoon or spatula you are using to mix.  Cook over medium to low flame about 15-20 min. You don’t want to reduce or lose too much of liquid, cause you’ll need it.

Boil your water and cook pasta till al dente.  Drain, and add about 3/4 of the box or pound to the meat sauce.  You’re ready to serve.  If you are serving it later, just heat it up in the microwave, because baking it in oven will dry it out.

Shirley’s Amazing Barbecued London Broil Dinner with French Fries

This was one of my favorite dishes growing up.  I loved it with a passion, and I actually cooked it for the family on the grill.  This was the steak we had at our annual Father’s Day Barbecue when I was growing up.  Those were the best times.  Like my mother said often in the last few years, “Where did the time go?”  Over the years, whenever I made this for my mother, Shirley, she would say, “This is the only food I can eat and eat and eat.” I cooked this often for my kids and for my parents when my kids  were growing up, and at family barbecues.  My father Murray always said that this was the only steak he really liked.  People were always shocked to hear that the steak was london broil, and how simple the marinade was.  I think my mom actually got the recipe for this from our neighbors, Lenore and Arthur Velinsky.

So this past weekend, my son Danny requested that I make this for dinner for his friend Stephanie.  He wanted it to be the standard steak dinner I had growing up and I cooked for my kids all the time:  steak, french fries, salad, and LeSeur peas. I added buttermilk biscuits and homemade chocolate chip ice cream with my homemade hot fudge for dessert to the menu. Then Danny’s other great friend Mindy joined us.  Okay, this steak came out beyond beyond.  It was like butter, and so, so juicy.  Stephanie couldn’t believe it was london broil as she ordinarily hates that cut of steak.

All I can say about the steak is wow.

all you need is:

top round london broil- Look for an oyster cut if you see it. Look for a piece about 1 1/4 in. thick.  I bought this steak at Costco and it was phenomenal!  In the package came 2 steaks, and I made both.

The night before:  Place steak(s) in baking pan.  Pierce all over with fork.  Sprinkle  very lightly with Adolph’s unseasoned Meat Tenderizer.  Pour about 1/2 bottle of original Catalina dressing over the steak(s), and spread over with a spoon to cover- even the sides.  Flip steak(s).  Pierce with fork.  Sprinkle lightly with the Adolph’s.  Pour remaining dressing over steak(s) and spread nicely.  Cover pan with saran and put in fridge.

Next day – Take steaks out of fridge maybe 30-45 min. before you are ready to grill them.  Heat up grill on high.  Place steaks on grill. Here’s where it gets a little tricky.  You want the steaks to form a crust on the bottom, because that’s where the amazing flavor will come from.  I place the cover down on my grill after the steaks are on.  But if there aren’t a lot of flames, you won’t get that crust. There isn’t that much fat in the london broil, so you may not get enough flames.  So this is what I do.  But you have to be careful- and an expert griller to use this technique.  And you have to be an adult to do it.  I take the cap of my bottle of corn oil, and I fill it with oil.  I drizzle some oil on the top of the steaks.  This oil drips down and causes very large flames to form.  Then I put the top down for a few minutes, and repeat if necessary till the bottom of the steak is nicely charred.  I flip the steak and repeat.  Once both sides are charred, using the oil isn’t necessary any more.  Now, I have a really crummy propane grill, but if you have a much better grill, you might not need to use this technique with the oil.

I’m pretty good at being able to tell when my meat is done.  But if you can’t tell, just slice one slice off an end to see how it’s going.  We like our meat medium rare.

When meat is done, take off grill, and place on clean cutting board.  Cover with aluminum foil for about 5-7 min.  Then slice meat sort of on the diagonal about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using a good knife, depending on how thick you like it.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with juices from cutting board and serve.

for my amazing -not homemade- french fries:

Heat corn or canola (I prefer corn) oil up in a large saucepan- you will need at least 32 oz. of oil.  Watch the oil.  If it gets too hot, it will start to catch fire.  I’m guessing it’s about 350 degrees or so.  Take about 20-24 oz. of Nathan’s Frozen French Fries out of the freezer and place carefully in the hot oil.  I guess alternately you could use a deep fat fryer, which I don’t have and I don’t need.  Cook over medium high heat till crisp and brown- about 20 minutes or so, and wrap in paper towels for a minute.  I just line the serving bowl I’ll be using with paper towels. Then when everything is ready to go on the table to be served, I just dump the fries out of the paper towels into the bowl.  Sprinkle nicely with kosher salt and serve.

Fried Chicken with Fresh Peaches and Strawberries and Homemade Ranch Dressing

I wanted to make a light summer dinner salad, so I cooked my recipe for “Delectable Fried Chicken Nuggets” and I made a salad of green leaf lettuce, cucumbers, sliced strawberries and peaches, slices of the nuggets, drizzled with this very light and summery dressing.  In the fall, I’ll substitute slices of apples and add some cranberries and toasted walnuts for the summer fruit. The best part of the salad was the dressing though,which I couldn’t get enough of.

for the chicken:  See my recipe for Delectable Fried Chicken Nuggets.  You can refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

for the salad:  green leaf lettuce, sliced cucumber, sliced strawberries, sliced peaches.

for the dressing:  In medium bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons Hellman’s or Kraft mayo, 1/2 cup Fage plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons white wine or champagne vinegar, pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, zest of one lemon, and about 3 tablespoons of chopped fine or snipped chive.

Note:  This also makes a good dipping sauce for the nuggets.

My New Chicken Cutlets

I made this recipe three times, and the flavors are really great.  My daughter Randi loved the chicken, so I’m sold.

1 1/2 pounds organic chicken cutlets

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil mixed with 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves grated

pinch kosher salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

sprinkling of dried oregano

about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese mixed with about 1 cup Italian bread crumbs with a few twists of freshly grated black pepper

Put the chicken cutlets in the oil and garlic mixture with the salt, red pepper, and oregano.  Then dredge in the bread crumbs and cheese mixture.

At this point, you can fry the cutlets, or bake them.  If you bake them, you have to bake them at a high temperature to brown them.  I fried them, and that worked out well.

Chicken with a Chili Rub and a Honey-Lime Glaze

I’m always looking for new chicken recipes, and I spotted a great looking recipe on a blog called “Week of Menus.” The picture of the chicken looked incredible. I decided to make dinner for lunch for my sons Benji and Danny since they won’t be home later. I adapted the recipe a little for my taste. I served this with my fresh sauteed corn and a bagged caesar salad. My kids really enjoyed the chicken. They said it was “full of flavor and juicy as hell.” I was surprised that it turned out not to be too hot or spicy. Ingredients:4-5 chicken breast halves on the bone, or 1 chicken cut up into eighths (I buy Bell & Evans)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (that’s one more tablespoon than in the original recipe)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (that’s half the amount 0f the original recipe)
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt (I reduced the salt from 1 teaspoon as there are many other spices to make up for the reduction)
Honey Lime Glaze
1/2 cup honey (the original recipe calls for 1/3, but I felt the glaze was too thin, so I added some more honey.)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (or juice of 1 lime)
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Mix olive oil, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, and, salt together in a large bowl. Place chicken in a foil lined roasting pan. Rub and cover pieces all over with the spice mixture.  Roast for 30-35 minutes (basting once or twice during the cooking) depending on how meaty your pieces of chicken are. After 30-35 minutes, mix honey with lime juice. The skin of the chicken should be really brown. Spoon the honey mixture over the chicken. Put back in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Take out from oven.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Serve.

Chicken with the Crumbs

This is the recipe I made more often than any other when my kids were little. My kids love these oven fried cutlets as much as real fried cutlets. Danny and Benji loved them (Randi not so much- she tolerated it barely). They are so easy to make!!

  • 1 pound thin sliced chicken cutlets
  • Corn Flakes crumbs
  • corn oil or light olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Pour some  oil into a bowl.  Put the cutlets in the oil.  Then pour a generous amount of corn flakes crumbs on a flat plate. Dredge the cutlets in the bread crumbs really well.  Place the cutlets on a half sheet pan covered with foil, that you have greased with some oil.  Bake for about 25-35 minutes depending on the thickness of the cutlets.

Steak Sandwich with Fried Onions, Mustard Mayo, and Lettuce

My son Danny, my mother, and I were watching an episode  of “The Barefoot Contessa” two days ago where Ina Garten was making some nostalgic dishes for her husband Jeffrey, including a delicious looking steak sandwich. Danny said, “I want that for lunch.”  Well, Danny had to go to work, so there was no time for me to accomplish that, but last night Danny and I came close to making Ina’s recipe,  just making a few changes.  We also made some fresh Jersey corn which I make by just covering the corn with cold water in a saucepan, bringing the water to a boil, simmering the corn uncovered for 7-8 minutes, and serving with butter and salt.  I had picked up a baguette at Panera bread and that is the bread we used for our steak sandwiches.

for 2 people:

for the caramelized onions:

  • 1 14-16 oz. sirloin steak or 2 8 oz. strip steaks
  • light olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs. thinly sliced onions

for the mustard-mayo spread:

  • 3/4 cup Hellman’s mayo
  • 2 tablespoons Jewish style mustard, spicy brown mustard, or Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons coarse, grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I used the yogurt to save the calories)

for the steak:

  • 2 strip steaks, each around 10-12 oz. or one sirloin, or skirt steak

to assemble:

    • lettuce, such as green leaf or arugula to top sandwich
  • bread for sandwich such as a baguette or 2 good rolls such as ciabiatta rolls


Thinly slice 1 1/2-2 lbs. of onions.  Pour about 2 tablespoons of light olive oil in a 10 inch cast iron or other skillet.  Heat under medium high flame, add onions, sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon kosher salt,  about 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper, and about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (promotes quicker caramelization).  Let sit for a few minutes until onions are browning, then stir. As onions brown, you will need to stir every couple of minutes.

While onions are sauteeing, sprinkle 1 14-16 oz. sirloin steak, or 2 8-10 oz. strip steaks or a skirt steak with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  While onions are continuing to  brown, mix in a smallish bowl- 3/4 cup Hellman’s mayo, 2 tablespoons plain non fat Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons kosher style mustard or spicy brown mustard, 2 tablespoons of coarse grain mustard, and a little kosher salt. Set aside.  When onions are nicely browned, spoon them into a bowl and set aside.  Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of light olive oil in a saute pan till hot, add the steak, let sit on one side till nicely browned over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes, turn with tongs, and cook on other side, abouta 3-4 minutes or until steak feels firmish to the touch for medium rare, or longer if you like you meat more well done.  Place on cutting board, and put a tent of foil over for about 5 minutes.

Cut sections of the baguette for your sandwiches.  Shmear a light coating of the mustard mayo on both sides of bread.  Slice steak thinly, and place on bread.  Top with some fried onions, and some lettuce. Top with bread and serve.

Note:  Alternately, grill steak outside or on a grill pan inside.

Easy Glazed Teriyake Salmon

I recently made salmon that was so delicious and so easy to make. From beginning to end, this dish will take you less than 1/2 hour to make.  Remember to look for wild salmon as it is much healthier than farmed, as has less mercury in it.

For two people:

  • 2 5-6 oz. portions of salmon or one 10-12 oz. piece of salmon (wild is healthier than farmed)
  • honey- about 1 tablespoon
  • about 1/2-3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki teriyake sauce (has incredible stuff in it like pineapple juice, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, etc.)

Preheat oven to broiler setting-low.  Then, cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place salmon on sheet (if skin is still on, make sure you put the salmon on the sheet skin side down.)  In a small bowl, put about 6 oz of the teriyaki sauce and about 1 tablespoon of honey, mix till blended.  Spoon some sauce on both sides of salmon, but spoon some extra on the top.  Glaze is thin, so try to make sure some of it pools on top of the salmon.  Place under broiler.  You want the glaze to start bubbling and browning, because that’s what will make it tasty.  If it is getting too brown or burning, change oven setting to bake at 350 degrees.  But you can cook it the entire time on broil if it isn’t burning.  It will take about 10 or so minutes.  But check it after 10 minutes by cutting into a piece.  I don’t like my salmon rare, I like it cooked through, so depending on how you like your salmon cooked, it will either be done or need a few more minutes.  And that’s it.  Oh, I did get my salmon at BJ’s in a bag- it was frozen, individually vacuum sealed packets.  You can defrost them in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator.

Note:  You may want to baste the salmon halfway through cooking it, but if you don’t make sure to drizzle the glaze that’s on the foil evenly over each piece of fish.  The glaze is soooo good.

Fresh Spinach, Mushroom, And Cheese Frittata

I whipped this frittata up in no time at all for a quick lunch at my mother’s house last week for my daughter Randi, her husband Dan, and for my mother and me.  It took about 10 minutes of prep time, and about 20 minutes of cooking time.  This frittata looks and tastes beautiful!!

  • 12 extra large eggs
  • 8-10 ounces prewashed baby spinach
  • 8-10 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned and then sliced
  • 6-8 oz. grated cheese – I used pre-grated cheddar-monterey jack, but Swiss or Gruyere would be great, too
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes – optional
  • butter or olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs in bowl; set aside.  Heat a largish saute pan, then add about a tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Put mushrooms in pan, sprinkle with salt and cracked black pepper, leave undisturbed till they brown on bottom, turn and brown on other side. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.  Put a little more butter or oil in pan.  Put spinach in on very low heat, until just wilted.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes if desired.  Set aside in bowl.

Grease sides and bottom  a 10 inch oven safe non-stick saute pan with butter.  Put on stove over a medium flame.  Pour eggs in.  Run spatula around edges, lift eggs off bottom until eggs are starting to set a little, but still are somewhat liquidy.  Take off stove.   Then sprinkle the cheese on top of eggs.  Distribute spinach all over the top, and then place mushrooms over spinach.  Place in oven for about 10 minutes until eggs are cooked through and are no longer liquidy.  Slide frittata onto serving dish, or serve right from pan.