Creamy Veggie Ranch Dip

It’s about time I started giving y’all the promised recipes from my Easter picnic date. For a lot of these recipes, it was my first time making them, and there are definitely some tweaks I would make the next time around. I’ll give you the recipes exactly as I made them, along with some notes on how they came out and how I would tweak them the next time I make them.

Today we’re starting with the creamy veggie ranch dip. It’s so good and so simple to make, and it’s also easy to customize, as you can use almost any vegetable you happen to have on hand. I got the basic idea for the recipe here, though I used different veggies and made a homemade version of ranch seasoning. We paired this dip with Triscuit crackers at the picnic. I put the leftover dip on toasted rye bread for lunch–yum!

creamy ranch veggie dip

Here’s the recipe I used:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 15-oz. can of corn, drained
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup finely chopped carrot
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried dill
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. dried chives

In place of all the spices, you could just use one packet of dry ranch seasoning, though I found using the spices to be more economical, since they had already been bought, and a packet of ranch seasoning was about $2.50 at the store. Say what??

Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and stir until all the ingredients are well-blended. Put in the fridge for several hours before serving. This gives the vegetables a chance to release more water, softening the dip a little more.

My Results

This dip wasn’t as soft and creamy as I expected. The veggie-to-cream cheese ratio was too high, in my opinion, creating a dip that was more crunchy than creamy. I also think the ranch flavor wasn’t as strong since the cream cheese was trying to coat so many vegetables. Nevertheless, the resulting dip was tasty and I would make it again in a heartbeat. If you’re trying to eat a lot more vegetables, making the dip this way and then spreading it on toast could be a really good way to add more veggies into your diet.

What I would do differently next time

First, I would just cut down on the amount of veggies I put in. I would still put in the whole can of corn, but I would probably cut back on the celery and carrot (especially the carrot) to be closer to 1/4 of each when finely diced.

Second, I would experiment with different vegetables that have a higher water content. The original recipe I found on Pinterest calls for red bell peppers and olives, whereas I used celery and carrots because they were what we had in the fridge. Carrots don’t have as high of a water content as either peppers or olives, and while celery usually has a high water content, I think the celery I used had been in the fridge for awhile and was starting to dry out.

I see myself making this a lot this summer and experimenting with different add-ins, perhaps some fresh basil, parsley, or mint. If I stumble across a ¬†particularly yummy variation, I’ll be sure to let y’all know!


Easter Picnic Date

I consider myself a feminist and I balk at the idea of gender roles. However, in a lot of ways my boyfriend and I have settled into the typical male/female roles in our relationship, without even thinking about it. One of those ways is that it’s almost always my boyfriend who plans our dates. I didn’t even really notice it until he suggested that I plan a date for us. That probably needs to change.

Since it’s finally in the 60s and 70s here in Chicago, I was excited to plan an outdoor picnic by Lake Michigan for our date yesterday. I used the occasion as an excuse to try some recipes on Pinterest that I hadn’t yet made. Maybe I should have titled this post “A Pinterest Picnic.”

Lake Michigan

The lake was gorgeous, but I made the mistake of trying to act like it’s summer and wear shorts and a T-shirt (which might be fine for lifelong Chicagoans, but was too little clothing for this Texas girl). I would have been fine, except I didn’t take into account the cold air that would be coming off the lake. As a result, I spent most of our picnic with the blanket wrapped around my legs. Oh well, lesson learned.

I’ll be posting the recipes I used over the next week, but in the meantime, here’s the menu:

Picnic foods

  • Creamy ranch veggie dip with Triscuit crackers
  • Chickpea salad sandwiches on rye bread
  • Tomato, mozzarella, and avocado salad
  • Brownies with pumpkin spice liquor
  • Vanilla almond iced tea

Homemade Oreos with Bailey’s Irish Cream Filling

Hello friends, families, and strangers of the internet. ūüôā Several people have asked me for this recipe since I made it back in…ahem…August.¬†

So…I figured it was time to fulfill my promise and finally write down the recipe.¬†

I got the idea for these when a co-worker randomly said to me that Bailey’s Irish Cream-flavored Oreos would be epic. I knew I had a recipe for homemade Oreos on Pinterest, so I told him that I could probably make them.¬†

His response was “You CANNOT say that and then NOT make them before you leave!” (I was soon going to be moving to Chicago from Austin). So, I made them. And they were delicious. My friend Erica and I took them on the road from Austin to Chicago and ate one at every state line.¬†

Homemade oreos with Bailey's Irish Cream Filling

So, without further ado, here is the recipe (which is really just a combination of the cookies from this recipe and the frosting from this recipe). 

Homemade Oreos with Bailey’s Irish Cream filling

For the cookies:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1 cup butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
4 Tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. 

2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, keeping the beater on the lowest speed. 

3. Once all the ingredients are mixed together, divide the dough in half, wrap both halves in plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator to chill for one hour. 

4. While the dough is chilling, you can prepare the filling. Combine the butter, vanilla, and Bailey’s. Slowly add the powdered sugar. The finished product should be smooth and creamy.¬†

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the baking sheet(s) (or line with parchment paper or a baking mat). 

6. Take out on portion of the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch thick. Use a cookie cutter (I just used the rim of a glass) to to cut out cookies. Place on a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other 1/2 portion of dough. 

7. Bake for 12 minutes. Let cool for five minutes once removed from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

8. Once the cookies have cooled, place the filling in a piping bag with a tip, or do what I did and put it in a large Ziploc bag and cut one of the corners. Squeeze the filling onto half of the cookies, then use the other half of the cookies to place on top of the iced cookies and complete the cookie sandwiches. 

When I finished with these, the filling wasn’t very stiff and the cookies were sliding around really easily. I put them in the freezer for an hour to solidify the filling.¬†

Yields: I think I made 24 sandwiches, though the rim of the cup I used made cookies larger than your typical Oreo cookies.