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Angela Davis is a home cook turned cookbook author, busy mom of two and creator of The Kitchenista Diaries. She’s all about taking homemade meals to the next level.

Angela's Quick & Easy: Lawry's Buttermilk Ranch

As a busy mom and private chef, I'm always looking for ways to save time and money in the kitchen. I like creating my own creamy salad dressings, but I often end up with more than I really need. One day I realized that the sauce I use for my potato salads and pasta salads was almost the same as what I make for a homemade ranch dressing. And a lightbulb went off. So I tweaked the ranch dressing recipe to be versatile for a range of dishes that I make. Now I only have to remember one base recipe that can be easily modified for what I have to work with that day.

"When I'm on the go, the less I need to think about the better!"

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"When I'm on the go, the less I need to think about the better!"

When I'm on the go, the less I need to think about the better! My Lawry’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing has come in handy as a dip for appetizer platters, tossing with salads and as a flavorful secret ingredient in deviled eggs–often all in the same day! Using Lawry’s Seasoned Salt which is flavored with garlic, spices and herbs makes it even easier to accommodate a variety of recipes. The recipe works well with your favorite mayo, whether store bought or homemade (I recommend using a pasteurized store bought mayo if you don't plan on using the whole batch of dressing within a couple days.) When you make the dressing, just use as little or as much buttermilk as you need to get to the desired consistency. I use less for dips and more for pourable sauce. My favorite combination of herbs to use is fresh dill, tarragon, parsley and basil for a traditional ranch flavor. One batch of my Lawry’s Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is enough to try all three of the recipes below, but have fun coming up with your own fun ways to use it!

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Prep Time: 15 mins | Total Time: 45 mins | Makes about 2 cups

1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk plus more as needed
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice, plus zest
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped mixed herbs (such as dill, tarragon, parsley, basil)

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mayo, sour cream and enough buttermilk to reach the desired consistency (more for a pourable dressing; less for a thicker dip).
Add the mustard, lemon juice, zest of one lemon, celery seeds, shallot, seasoned salt and black pepper.
Finally, stir in the chopped herbs. Chill for 30 minutes to let flavors meld before serving.

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Bacon Ranch Chicken Salad

Growing up, my least favorite salad dressing was ranch. That all changed once I learned how to make it myself. The creamy tang and fresh herb flavors in homemade buttermilk ranch dressing is so refreshing over greens and veggies. When I'm working from home, a big salad like this is a staple for lunch and something my 2-year-old daughter enjoys sharing with me. It also makes a great dinner on weekends. I use whatever leftover protein and veggie scraps I have in the fridge to keep things quick and easy.

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Prep Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 30 mins | Serves 1-2

2 strips bacon
2 cups mixed lettuce greens
1/4 cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, more as needed
1/2 cup chopped rotisserie chicken
1 boiled egg, sliced
1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Lawry's Seasoned Salt
Black pepper

Add bacon to an unheated skillet. Heat skillet to medium high; cook bacon until crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and crumble bacon once cooled.
Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, toss the lettuce with a tablespoon of dressing to lightly coat. Top with chicken, egg, avocado, onion and tomatoes. Season lightly with seasoned salt and black pepper. Drizzle with remaining dressing and crumbled bacon.

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Tuna Pasta Salad

Creamy pasta salads are perfect for picnics and barbecues. I've tossed this one with everything from diced chicken to roasted vegetables, but tuna is my son's favorite. In the summer, this same recipe transforms into an upscale lobster and fresh corn pasta salad, so it's pretty versatile! The flavor gets better if you give the pasta a chance to chill and absorb the dressing, so make it ahead of time if you can.

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Prep Time: 20 mins | Total Time: 1 hour | Serves 4

2 cups dry macaroni noodles
1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, more as needed
1 can solid light tuna packed in water, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt, or to taste

In salted water, boil the pasta per package directions for "al dente" texture; about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander, rinsing with cool water. Shake off excess water and set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, onions, peppers and 1/2 cup of dressing. Stir in the cooked noodles. Gently fold in the drained tuna, leaving some pieces in big chunks. Stir in the tomatoes. Season to taste with black pepper and seasoned salt.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld; add additional dressing if needed just before serving.

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Spicy Egg Salad Deviled Eggs

This is one of the easiest deviled eggs recipes I learned to make, inspired by a brunch appetizer I enjoyed at a local restaurant. My traditional recipe requires a smooth yolk filling and utilizes a piping bag. But in this version, extra egg whites are simply chopped finely and mashed with the yolks to make a chunky egg salad filling. I love the texture and flavor, plus it’s a great way to use the last of my homemade ranch dressing!

Prep Time: 30 mins | Total Time: 45 mins | Serves 6

6 extra large/jumbo eggs
1/4 cup Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, more as needed
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
Finely chopped fresh chives (optional garnish)

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In a pot large enough to fit the eggs in a single layer, bring enough water to boil so that it will cover the eggs. Once water is boiling, carefully add the eggs. Boil 12 minutes for extra large eggs or 13 minutes for jumbo eggs.  Drain water from the pot, shaking the eggs back and forth to crack the shells slightly. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool completely. Once cool, peel the eggs under running water to help remove the shells. Pat dry.

Slice the boiled eggs in half and remove all the yolks. Set 6 of the egg whites aside. Finely dice the other 6 egg whites into tiny chunks. Add the chopped egg whites to a mixing bowl with the yolks, ranch dressing, hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste. Use a fork to mash everything together until the yolk is evenly distributed and texture resembles egg salad. Add additional dressing only if needed, mixture should be moist but hold its shape.
Spoon the egg salad into the six remaining egg white halves. Garnish with chives and a pinch of black pepper. Serve immediately.