Cracker Craze

Today I got a mad craving for some Cool Ranch Doritos. It may have been the discussion around the "coffee carafe" I had with my co-workers this morning about the variety of cheap yet snackalicious chip varieties available at Aldi. (Hey now, don't judge. There's nothing wrong with learning the fine art of grocery shopping on the cheap. And when you're working in the wee hours of the morning, it's conversations like this that keep you entertained, or at least keep you awake.) Or, the craving could be a result of my recent trip this past weekend to The Salt of the Earth eatery in Fennville, MI. "Who knew there'd be a thriving restaurant in Fennville - I think the whole town came here tonight" commented my father after we had been seated. (When we arrived, the number of in-house diners were sparse. In the 5 or so minutes of being seated and waiting for our server to appear, the place had transformed to quite the crowd.) While there, we not only noshed on delicious house-made bread, but we also indulged on their spicy crab dip appetizer, which came with house-made crackers. What does this have to do with Cool Ranch Doritos you say? I have a point, trust me. The crackers at Salt of the Earth were flakey and delicious, and reminded me of eating a super sized "organic" Cheez-it.

Needless to say, all of these variables got me to thinking about salty snacks. While I could have easily gone to the store and wasted my money on my guilty pleasure, I decided to save my wallet from a shallow purchase, at least this time around. So, I thought, let's get to making some homemade ranch powder. Which is really quite genius because then you can use the leftovers for homemade ranch dressing! And who doesn't love ranch dressing. To be quite honest, it's amazing I've survived the past month without a bottle in my fridge. Ranch is practically it's own food group in my house. Anyways, my first approach was to make the ranch powder and sprinkle it over some tortilla chips for a quick craving fix. Then I remembered this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (I've always wanted an excuse to try my hand at homemade crackers), and decided to combine the two ideas.  (I know, I know - I've been on a SK stint lately. But really, can you blame me?) All inspired by my craving and my recent taste of what a "real" cheese-it tastes like...!

So, here you have it folks, one of my very own "KT's Creations" recipes. And, in the usual fashion, I opted for using the ingredients I had handy (I was out of most of the ingredients traditionally used to make ranch powder - note the absence of onion powder - as you'll notice in the "make-shift" recipe that follows), so feel free to make adjustments and give your own spin on it.

"KT's Cool Ranch Crackers"
makes about 2 dozen (1 in) crackers
1-2 tbsp Ranch Powder (recipe below)
3 ounces havarti cheese, coarsely shredded 
2 tbsp butter **don't skimp! This will help bind your "dough" together.
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/8 cup AP flour

Preheat your oven to 350(F). Combine all ingredients in a food processor until the dough forms a ball, about 2 minutes. (Or, if your food processor is on the fritz like mine is, you can use a pastry cutter until the butter is incorporated, and mix the dough into a ball with your hands). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to an 1/8 in (or desired) thickness. Cut into shapes and transfer to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, arranging approximately 1/2 in apart. (If desired, garnish with a light sprinkle of salt and/or more ranch powder on top of each cracker before baking). Bake for 12-15 minutes (until edges are slightly browned). Let cool. Enjoy.

Make-Do Ranch Powder
***measurements are estimates - I pretty much just eyeballed it.
1 tbsp egg white powder (milk/buttermilk powder preferred, if handy)
2 tsp dried dill weed

1 tsp salt (or fleur de sel)

1/2 tsp dried basil (in lieu of parsley - you could also use a dash of oregano)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients. If your mixture is clumpy (typically will happen on the more humid days), grind in a food processor until mixture becomes a fine powder.

*Trendy Tip - To use any leftover Ranch Powder as salad dressing, combine one or two TBSP's and mix with one cup of mayo and one cup of milk. You could also use greek yo as a replacement for the mayo if you're watching the fat - it's what I tend to use in place of sour cream these days.

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