Category Archives: Ranch Kitchen

April Showers Bring Snow-plowers.

My daughter's pony.

My daughter’s pony.

In Wyoming we have a saying:

“April showers bring snow-plowers.”

Last week we had a bit of snow, again. It covered the mud and made it pretty for a day or so. We have had some type of snow/sleet/rain mix periodically over the past two weeks. Great stuff for a ranch! Moisture at this time of year should make the grass (hay) grow pretty good.

cats in snow

My parents were here for a little over a week in April. My sister Jane and her family (5 kids) came up for a couple days too. That was fun! Our kids played in the mud, fished in the creek, and just ran around like cousins like to do!

Family hotdog roast.

Family hotdog roast.

While my parents were here, we received a call about a little girl who needed a place to stay. We had said “no more foster kiddos”, but when there’s a need, the DFS tends to call anyways! Ha!

Well, hearing her story turned our hearts to mush, (every story does!) and we said ‘yes’.
foster kid

I bought a smoker/grill combo last summer. I am finally trying my hand at smoking, recently. The first attempt was tasty, but not soft enough for pulled pork. Yesterday I loaded my smoker in the morning and by evening it was done. The ribs were less tender than I wished, but the pork butt was pretty great! The elk roast is surprisingly tender too, although the outer crust is pretty hard. I may try wrapping in bacon next time. I can say I am hooked on smoking! Delicious! I miss southern bbq sometimes, so now I can finally make my own!

 

smoking meat

smoked, pulled pork

smoked, pulled pork

Smoked elk roast

Smoked elk roast. Check out that smoke ring!

The month of May promises to be full to the brim with fun events. Brandings, recital for my musical kids, church meetings, visiting with old friends, a wedding, and more brandings! 😀 Not to mention; gardening time is here! Chicks! Flowers! Woohoo! 😀 I have started working on my raised beds, and plan to finish them and plant them this month.

That’s what we’ve been up to; what about you? Anything special going on?

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms

Welcome to another guest contributor: Mrs. Kauffman. This is my sister, and she runs a gluten-free cooking blog. Her husband is sensitive to gluten, so she cooks gluten-free daily in her home. I am anxious to try this recipe, myself! You can find her blog with more delicious GF recipes right here: Gluten Free Cook Shack

This is possibly the easiest gluten free cookie recipe ever. It only takes four ordinary ingredients. And I’ve had people say they taste better than regular peanut butter cookies. But that is for you to decide and then let me know what you think. 😊

Gather the ingredients.

Gather the ingredients.

You will need:

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. baking soda

These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.

Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.

Gluten-free Peanut blossoms.
Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.

Stir together.

Stir together.

Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms.
Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Now the most important part – leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

Enjoy fresh or frozen, dunked in milk or however you like to eat them!

Gluten-free Peanut Blossoms

Gluten-Free Peanut Blossoms
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. These amounts can easily be doubled for a bigger batch.
  2. Mix the soda into the sugar a little. White or brown sugar will work.
  3. Then dump all ingredients into a bowl and stir thoroughly.
  4. Spoon on to a cookie sheet. Press with fork, if desired.
  5. Bake at 350* for approx. 10-12 minutes or until they look just barely done.
  6. Now the most important part - leave them on the cookie sheet to cool at least 3-4 minutes before carefully removing to counter. You want them to be still warm. Too hot or too cold and they will crumble to pieces. And they need moved very carefully to counter to finish cooling. Once they are completely cool; then they will hold together well.

 

Balsamic Chicken Recipe

Balsamic Chicken

I bought a family-sized package of chicken drumsticks on sale, and wanted to make them tasty and yet easy. Right now I have 3 kids I am homeschooling, a 3 year old, and an infant, so I don’t have much time to peruse cookbooks or experiment. I wanted a new fun flavor, though, so I came up with this simple marinade, and it was an instant hit!

I didn’t take time to let it marinade – it was close to lunch, so I just popped it in the oven right way. But marinating it a few hours would only improve the flavor, I’m thinkin. I baked them for most of the time in a normal oven, but the last 30 min or so, I turned on the convection roast feature in my oven, to get the skin crispy and brown. If you don’t have that feature – just turn on broiler for a few minutes – watching closely so it doesn’t burn.

Balsamic Chicken
 
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Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • One family pack of drumsticks. Or a full 9X13 pan of preferred chicken pieces.
  • 3 TBL soy sauce
  • 3 TBL Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place chicken in a baking pan. I used a 9X13 cake pan. Chicken shrinks when baked, so squish it in there tight!
  3. Mix sauces and spices together and pour over chicken.
  4. Bake, covered, at 325 for 2 hours.
  5. Optional: broil the last 10 minutes to brown the skin.

 

Easy Breakfast Tarts

Easy Breakfast Tarts

 

Breakfast quickly falls into a rut, for me. Toast, eggs, sausage… pancakes… biscuits and gravy…
Great food, of course, but once in a while I like to switch it up. So this week, I tried my hand at inventing some tasty little breakfast tarts! Now, ‘tarts’ may be a bit misleading, since they don’t have a crumbly, homemade crust. But I hope you forgive me when you realize how simple and tasty these are. :)

Take a package of wonton wrappers, place one in each muffin cup. I gave my muffin tin a light spray of cooking spray – to keep the cheese from sticking, and give it a bit of that fried texture.

They will look like they aren’t big enough – not coming up the sides very far – but they will be fine, no worries!

Easy Breakfast Tarts

Then you add the eggs and sausage, topping with a small slice (or spoonful of shredded) cheddar cheese. I think swiss would be good, too! I used about a tablespoon each of eggs and sausage.Easy Breakfast Tarts

 

Slide it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, depending how crispy you like your crusts. Serve with fruit or juice. Perfect for little hands to grab and eat on the way to school! (not messy at all)Easy Breakfast Tarts

What are you serving for breakfast, these days? I’m always open to new ideas! :)

Easy Breakfast Tarts
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ¼ lb sausage
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 TBLS milk
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1 TBLS butter or oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400*.
  2. Whisk eggs and milk together, adding salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Fry eggs just till set.
  4. Fry sausage till no longer pink.
  5. Spray muffin tin lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Place wonton wrappers into each muffin cup.
  7. Fill wrappers with 1 tablespoon scrambled eggs, 1 tablespoon fried sausage, and 1 tablespoon (or small slice) cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 400* for 8-10 minutes.

 

Make your home smell amazing!

Home made fall scent

I have a simple way to make your home smell amazing! My husband read a Facebook post to me recently… something about orange peels and spices. I didn’t have time right then to try it, but a few weeks later I thought of it, and wanted to see if it worked. Only by then – I had forgotten the recipe! So I had to come up with my own.

It is super easy if you do any Indian cooking – you will probably already have the spices. If you don’t have the whole spices, just use the ground version, I’m sure it will work just as well. :) I just place all the spices and orange peel in a small kettle, and fill with water, and simmer on the stove-top. You want to keep an eye on it, though, as the water will all evaporate after several hours.

Home made fall scent

Ingredients:
Peel of an orange
3 whole cloves
1 cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups of water
Place in a small kettle, fill with water, and simmer.

Enjoy!

Yellow Cake Recipe

yellow butter cake2Do you ever wish for a basic yellow cake recipe? Me too. It took me years of trying cake recipes, to get the one I like best. Most recipes were too dry or too complicated. I just wanted a simple, delicious, yellow cake! Well, today I have for you a perfect recipe. It is soft, moist, and buttery. So yummy that you don’t even need frosting! 😉yellow cake recipe

 

I like to use it for Strawberry Shortcake. Just cover a piece with sliced, sweetened berries, and add a dollop of whipped cream on top. Yum!
My kids prefer it plain.
You can also use it is this recipe: Easy Strawberry Cake

yellow cake recipe

 

 

Yellow Cake Recipe
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add eggs and beat.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Add milk and vanilla, blend well.
  5. Pour into greased cake pan. (9X9 or 7X11)
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

Zucchini Pie

Zucchini PieThe legend of the multiplying zucchini is everywhere… don’t leave your door unlocked in summer, or you will find boxes of zucchini piled high! 😉
Well, if that’s the case for you – I have a recipe that will make you want more!

Zucchini pie.

Yep.

OK, it’s basically pumpkin pie, but who cares? Zucchini needs used, and here’s a good way to use it!

First, you wash the zucchini, and cut it into chunks. Big chunks are fine. If there’s big seeds, maybe scrape ’em into the trash. No need to peel.
Then you plop them in a big ‘ole kettle, and put some water with ’em, and let ’em cook till tender.
Drain off the water, dump ’em in a blender, and give ’em a whirl. Actually, give ’em several whirls – you really want the puree smooth.
Then it’s ready to use.

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It is my favorite way of using zucchini, and my family’s favorite way of eating it! :)

Zucchini pie

Zucchini Pie
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 8 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  • 1 cup zucchini puree
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 TBS flour
  • ¼ tsp. cloves (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend well.
  2. Pour into a 9 inch pie shell.
  3. Bake at 350* for 1 hour.

 

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

If you are looking for a cookie that is not too sweet – consider these delightful little roll-ups. Made with a dollop of cottage cheese, they will satisfy your sweet tooth and give a you a nice shot of protein as well. I like to make these for parties because they are really pretty as well as tasty. They include the extra step of rolling them out, then cutting and rolling back up. But they are totally worth it in flavor! Dense and almost chewy – the cottage cheese gives them a delicious flavor and texture.

Country Crock® provided me with the spread to use in this recipe. (I’m participating in a fun Easter baking contest. :) )Cottage Cheese Roll-ups

 

Cottage Cheese Roll-ups
 
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Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • ½ cup Country Crock Original Spread
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 TBLS milk
  • 1 drop red food coloring (optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Cut in Country Crock Original Spread with pastry blender.
  3. Stir in cottage cheese gently with a spoon.
  4. Divide into two portions.
  5. Turn one portion onto a floured surface and roll out to ¼ inch thick. Cut into 12 wedges, roll each wedge up - starting with wide end.
  6. Place roll-ups onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat with second portion of dough.
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or till edges are golden.
  9. Cool on rack. Drizzle with glaze.
  10. Glaze: Mix powdered sugar, butter, food coloring and vanilla in a bowl. Add milk as needed.

 

 

Menu Plan For a Month: The Meals

menu plan part two

I thought I would share our meal list for this month, since some of you were asking. It is pretty simple and somewhat repetitive. 😉 But it seems that we do better if I stick to meals we know and like most of the time.

Breakfast:
Monday – pancakes and bacon
Tuesday – crepes x 2, and chile rellenos x 2
Wednesday – waffles
Thursday – eggs and toast
Friday – sausage gravy and biscuits
Saturday – baked oatmeal (never actually got this made, somehow. Just ate leftover breakfasts from earlier in the week)
Sunday – cold cereal (what I would eat every day if I could. 😉 One of my favorites!!)

Dinner: (lunch)
Monday – rice and beans
Tuesday – rice and beans
Wednesday – rice and beans
Thursday – rice and beans
Friday –  rice and beans
Saturday – rice and beans
Sunday – Okay, so our church has a potluck every Sunday noon. (yes you read that right! 😉 ) And this is the one meal I had the hardest time sticking too! I made some of the planned meals, but our Saturdays were so crazy that I ended up throwing something together quick most Sunday mornings. Yeah, so I’m thinking I will plan easier meals for next months’ Sunday dinners! :) Maybe some more freezer meals?

Supper:
Monday – Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, Indian chicken, balsamic pork loin and mashed potatoes, Navajo tacos
Tuesday (Frank’s meals) – taco salad, chicken fajitas, meatball subs, lasagna
Wednesday – sandwiches and chips
Thursday (Jenni’s meals) – beef enchiladas, chili soup, mini-meatloaves with roasted potatoes,
chicken fajitas
Friday – hamburgers and roasted potatoes
Saturday – pizza
Sunday – beef-stuffed crescent rolls, jalapenos and fish sticks, philly-cheese-steak sliders, bbq meatballs and soft pretzels

NOTE: Sunday suppers have also varied somewhat from my menu. We ended up having guests, being gone, etc. And along with the listed menu items, we always have popcorn on Sunday evening. :) My favorite tradition!

So there you have it. A month of meals from my kitchen. Now you know what we eat, haha! Oh, and the kids really enjoy making a meal and having everyone praise and thank them for it. Frank still needs a lot of instruction, but Jenni is getting pretty good at cooking. But the main tip I have for kids cooking, is to have them start early in the evening so they have enough time to cook. They can’t throw things together like I can – it takes them about twice as long. And that’s ok – I just have to plan for it. :)

Do you have any suggestions for yummy freezer meals for Sunday lunch?
Preferably crockpot meals, since that is easiest for our kitchen crew.

Menu Plan for a Month

menu plan

Last month I asked my Facebook friends if they menu plan, and how. They gave me some great answers! I quickly decided on a plan that was suggested by a sweet ranch wife. Knowing she lives a similar lifestyle, and it worked for her – made me feel like I could do it too. 😉 So this is totally her idea, but I know she won’t care if I share it.

I got a piece of paper and a pen, and we began planning.

Supper: First, I sat down with my older kids (11, 13) and told them they will each be making one supper each week. They were allowed to pick the menu for that meal. So they each picked four meals.

Then, I wrote in the meals that we eat every week. We have ‘Saturday Night Pizza’ and Friday Night Burgers’. We do this every week and we love it! We also have been pretty consistent with Wednesday night sandwiches, so I went ahead and put that down too. So now I had 5 nights already done. I went ahead and planned the other two night of meals, and wrote them down.

Dinner: (lunch) We are eating mostly rice and beans for lunch. Easy, healthy, and we all like them. A lot. I make tortillas about 2-3 times per week as well. About one dinner per week ends up being leftovers from all the suppers.

Breakfast: I made a week’s menu for breakfast, and then just used the same weeks’ plan every week for the month. Next month I will be changing the breakfast menu, although I have a feeling the kids would rather I stick with the same food. They seem to really like knowing what food is going to be which day! :)

Then I took my menu and made a grocery list of all the supplies I needed for all the meals. I made two nice lists; one for Sams Club and one for Walmart. These are the main places I shop for food. (One reason I decided on the monthly menu, is because we get paid monthly, and I like to buy in bulk. It works better than shopping every week. )

One item I put on my grocery list was a whiteboard. I picked one up at Walmart for 8$. It is big enough to write my meals on, and it has a side panel that I can jot down grocery needs that come up during the month. Then I can just snap a photo of the list when I go shopping again. (theoretically!)

Anyways. So we had a huge shopping trip, spent hundreds of dollars and came home resolving to eat only beans and rice for every meal from now on!! (Food is crazy, I’m telling you! )

So far it has been nearly 3 weeks, and we are loving it! (I took the photo last Monday!) The kids and my husband like to walk over and see what meals we are having for the day. The older kids are enjoying cooking their chosen meals, too. They pretend they are on ‘Chopped.’

Cons: To really make this work for you, I think you have to stick pretty closely to the plan. Which I am doing. But I know during some seasons of life I couldn’t have done it.
Pros: It saves money and headache if you can stick to it. I just have to look at the board and I know what I am making for supper. No more last minute guessing.
The family loves it. Plus it’s healthy, although I have always cooked from scratch.
Things I would change: Next month I will plan for a couple quick meals that I can make for unexpected guests, etc. Maybe a couple freezer meals? I will also set aside a portion of money for fresh fruits/veggies later in the month.

Anyways, it is totally working and I am loving it. Since I only have 10 meals for the whole month to plan by myself, I feel so much more free to get on Pinterest and pick out a new one or two to try. 😉 I do love cooking and resisted a menu plan for years because of my tendency to ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’. That is fine but when I am homeschooling 3 kids, and have a toddler, and frequently cook for the ranch crew, etc, etc… I must take charge of my time wisely. I am very thankful for this plan.

So the big question is: Do you menu plan? How? Do you stick to the plan? Do you eat the same things regularly? I’d love to hear your thoughts!