Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bacon and Ranch Pasta Salad

Well, so far nothing *that* interesting today really...although some folks might think so. See, that's the problem with a lot of what I do - I don't think it's all that special, yet everyone else seems to think so. I mean really, me keeping a blog about cooking? How hard is it to cook? Apparently, it's an acquired skill...  Oh well, maybe I can share some tips.

So today for lunch I decided to make some pasta salad. But I like this really yummy "bacon and ranch" pasta salad I tried a box mix of once. I thought "well, I don't have any freeze dried peas or carrots, but I got bacon bits, pasta, and ranch, that'd be a start." so I cooked the pasta, some nice tomato, carrot and spinach stuff, and when I drained the water off, I held back like 1/4 cup and threw the dehydrated fake bacon bits into it for like, 10 seconds. While it was cooking, I made a new batch of ranch (read yesterday's post and you'll see I was out) by mixing 1c milk, 1c mayo, and 3 tablespoons of the name brand stuff (I've had homemade ranch mix, but have no idea how to make it or where to even buy what I had - but it WAS good.)

By the way, for those of you youngsters not in the know, there's a REALLY easy way to measure mayo without getting it all over. Get a glass Pyrex 2cup measuring cup. Fill to 1 cup with the milk. Now, if you remember science or math class and the lessons on volume displacement, if you spoon mayo into the milk until the milk comes up to the 2 cup line, that tells you you've put 1 cup of mayo into the milk. Now me, I like to make my ranch in an old empty and washed out mayo jar, so I kinda took the spoon and stirred up the milk/mayo mix a bit until it was small chunks instead of big ones. Pour into the clean mayo jar (no large chunks, no splashing...) and added the 3T of ranch to it, put the lid on it, and shake the heck out of it. Pretend you are using one of those shake-weights or something. I mean really shake the heck out of it for like a min or two.

When done, it'll be just like ranch from the bottle at the store, except already cold (milk and mayo BOTH BELONG IN THE FRIDGE IF YOU DON'T KNOW THAT) and it'll actually thicken up more when it sits, so if you want, you can add a little more milk and have more ranch. JUST a little bit, like ONE spoonful at a time...it thins out too much REALLY quickly!

So I have this bacon, I have this ranch, and I have these noodles. But something was missing. No crunch. Yeah, I know, pasta salad have crunch? Well, the box mix had the freeze-dried veggies, besides, I have a crunch fixation, so I wanted crunch. I pulled a couple of sticks of celery off the bunch, cut it into some celery sticks for later, and cut just a little of it into really tiny pieces. Like pencil eraser sized. About 1/4 to 1/2 a cup's worth. Mix it all together (not ALL the ranch, mind you, just enough to coat the noodles and goo everything together) and voila! Homemade Bacon and Ranch pasta salad - AND I had almost a whole batch of fresh ranch dip and some celery sticks left over.

Not doing anything that fancy for dinner tonight, just shake n' bake chicken breasts, some canned green beans (might fancy those up a little, not sure how yet) and some instant mashed potatoes cause I don't feel like pealing any or spending forever mashing them, cause I can't find the beaters to my hand mixer, and I'm kinda old fashioned about mashing them with a potato masher anyways. Besides, I got these instant "Red potato, Garlic and Parmesan" mashed potatoes that looked really good, and I thought that might go good with plain green beans and plain shake and bake chicken. Add a little class, you know?

I made something kinda cool the other day, and when I remember what it was, I'll blog about it for y'all...
Nom-Nom-Nom :P

(Editor's Note: In the end, I couldn't leave the green beans alone. I took a little butter, melted it in a pot, and threw in some chopped onions I had in the freezer, and caramelized them. Drained off the water from the green beans (canned) and threw them in when the onions were nice and brown, and then threw in some more of those fake bacon bits I had earlier (I have a food service sized can that came in a box of "emergency food" I bought)  and heated the green beans through. The steam/water from the green beans heated up and reconstituted the bacon bits, and it came out REALLY good, even for me who doesn't really like canned green beans unless they're smothered in cream of mushroom soup! Oh, and those new mashed potatoes were AWESOME! Will have to learn to make them.)

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