Category Archives: Ranch Kitchen

How to make pancakes.

My kids love pancakes for breakfast! I have to say; their syrupy sweetness also goes pretty good with my morning cup of black coffee! :) So, I thought I would share my super easy recipe for fluffy pancakes.

How To Make Pancakes - Easy recipe!

The great thing about this recipe, is that you can just put all ingredients in one bowl and stir! I use a whisk and beat it good, till it is well mixed. You can also use an electric mixer – or even a blender. But the fastest way is just to whisk it good. It is ok if there are a few lumps in the batter. When you fry the pancakes the lumps will disappear. The batter is pretty runny, so you can add less milk for a thicker batter – which will also make slightly thicker pancakes.


How To Make Pancakes, easy recipe

You can use any skillet – but for our large family, I like to use my electric skillet. I can fry 4 at a time, which really speeds things up. Sometimes I make the pancakes a bit smaller, and fry 6 at a time. My Presto® electric skillet was a wedding gift – 17 years ago!! I didn’t use it much the first 7 years, but for the past 10 years I have used it quite a lot. I can also throw an egg on there with the pancakes, or some sausages…

It is non-stick, which makes cleanup a breeze. I usually think nonstick will get scratched too easily, but this skillet has lasted a long time. The spatula pictured is steel – probably not the best choice! But I am careful, and so far it has been fine.

How to make pancakes, easy recipeHow to make pancakes, easy recipe diyHow to make pancakes - easy recipe diy

We like syrup on our pancakes – but honey, maple syrup, or fruit is also delicious! Right now the days are getting colder, and somehow pancakes seem like the thing to make for the kiddos! They like peanut butter on theirs – which I encourage for the protein. :)

How to make pancakes, easy recipe diy

How to make pancakes.
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 14 pancakes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in bowl.
  2. Mix will with whisk or electric mixer.
  3. Use a ¼ cup measuring cup to pour onto hot griddle or frying pan.
  4. Fry till there are bubbles all over pancake - about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Flip to other side and fry for another 1 minute or till golden brown on bottom.
  6. Stack on a plate and cover with towel to keep warm.
  7. Spread with butter and drizzle with syrup.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 pancake

 

Easy Jello Pudding Cake Recipe for your Holiday party!

When I was a kid, my mom made easy jello pudding cake often. It was one of my favorite desserts! The pretty jello paired with the creamy pudding was just great. Especially in the heat of a Southern Illinois summer – it was so refreshing!

Easy Jello Pudding Cake Recipe

Mom used strawberry jello most frequently, but sometimes she experimented with green or orange. I have used a white cake with blue jello(raspberry) for July 4th, green jello (lime) with pistachio pudding for St. Patrick’s Day, or red (strawberry) for Christmas. So many fun options!


The pudding is one of my favorite parts. I am not a huge fan of thick frosting, but this pudding is  just right. Creamy and sweet, but not too sweet! :)

The other great thing about this easy jello pudding cake, is how simple it is. First, you bake a cake mix according to directions on box. I use yellow but you could also use white cake mix.

When it comes out of the oven, let it cool 10 minutes while you mix up the jello. Mix 1 package jello (any flavor) with 1 cup hot water. When it is dissolved, add 1/2 cup cold water.

Poke lots of holes in the cake, with a fork. Make sure you get around the edges.

Take a large spoon and spoon the jello over the cake, slowly. This is somewhat tedious, but keep at it. Pay special attention to the higher areas where it just wants to run off. Keep spooning jello until it is all on. It seems like a lot but it will be fine. 😉 Then set your cake in the fridge to chill for several hours. Easy jello pudding cake recipe

After the cake is cold, mix the pudding and pour it over.Easy Jello Pudding Cake Recipe #holidayEasy Jello Pudding Cake Recipe #holidayEasy Jello Pudding Cake Recipe #holiday ;

Jello Pudding Cake Recipe
 
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Author:
Serves: 24
Ingredients
  • 1 yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 box jello (any flavor)
  • 1 box vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
Instructions
  1. Prepare cake according to directions on box.
  2. Cool cake 10 minutes.
  3. Mix jello with 1 cup hot water till dissolved. Add ½ cup cold water.
  4. Poke cake with fork.
  5. Slowly spoon jello over cake.
  6. Chill cake for an hour.
  7. Mix pudding with milk.
  8. Pour pudding over cake.
  9. Serve.

 

Scottish Egg Recipe

 

Easy Scottish Egg Recipe

The wind whipped about me mercilessly, as I waited for the cowboys to get their food and coffee. The sun was shining and the temperature hung around 45*, but it didn’t feel that warm on the open prairie. The sound of cows lowing and calves bawling drowned out the talking and laughter of the cowboys.


When I looked in the foil-covered pan sitting on the tailgate, I saw something that looked like sausage balls. I took one, because I love sausage! The hot sausage warmed my cold hands, and I  bit into it as the Wyoming wind whipped my hair. Inside the sausage was a hard-boiled egg!

Then I remembered… Cliff had told me that this ranch served something called “Scottish Eggs”. His description of a hard-boiled egg inside sausage had sounded delicious. I was happy to get a chance to try them. Somehow, it seemed the perfect food for a branding snack. Hot, easy to hold, full of protein – to give the cowboys energy.

Easy Scottish Egg Recipe

I relished every bite, and resolved to go home and make them myself! Since that day on the wide and windy prairie, I have made them often. Today I want to share with you this incredibly easy, filling breakfast food.

The process is incredibly simple. You take a pound of bulk pork sausage, divide into 6 equal parts, and flatten each part. Then you place a hard-boiled egg on top of the sausage, and wrap the sausage around the egg. The wrapping is the hardest part – you might have to squish it a bit to get the egg completely covered. You can divide the sausage into only 5 parts for a thicker sausage layer, if you like.

Easy Scottish Egg RecipeEasy Scottish Egg RecipeEasy Scottish Egg RecipeEasy Scottish Egg Recipe

Scottish Egg Recipe
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Scottish
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 lb pork sausage
Instructions
  1. Peel the eggs
  2. Divide the sausage into 6 equal portions
  3. Smash each sausage ball flat
  4. Lay egg on sausage
  5. Wrap sausage around egg
  6. Place on a pan
  7. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

 

5 meal ideas for the ranch crew.

Gathering cows

meal ideas

Do you need some meal ideas for the ranch crew? It’s easy to run out of ideas for meals, when you have to cook for a dozen or more hungry cowboys. Especially if you need to cook several days in a row!


I’ll be the first – and maybe only – one to say; I love cooking for the ranch crew! But even I run out of ideas. I get into a rut and then I hate my own cooking, haha! Thankfully, cowboys seem to be fine with the same foods over and over again.

I have been on ranches where they expect a feast: 1-2 kinds of meat, potatoes, several vegetables, several salads, several desserts, plus rolls and drinks.
Some ranches take a more relaxed route, and tend to have more normal fare; meat, a couple sides and a dessert.
My husband has told tales of ranches he’s helped on, where they served only a small sandwich or burrito and nothing else. Yikes!

But aside from the obvious; Have Plenty Of Food rule, I thought I’d share some of my favorite meals to make for the crew.
Cowboy throwing a loop

table full of food

Meal idea #1
BBQ Sandwiches
Chips
Watermelon
Baked Beans
Jello Cake

Meal idea #2
Roast Beef
Mashed potatoes
Corn casserole
Spinach salad
Pie with ice cream

Meal idea #3
Brisket
Cheesy potatoes
Green Beans
Layered salad
Cherry Cheesecake

plate of food prime rib

Prime rib!

Meal idea #4
Beefy Enchiladas
Spanish Rice
Refried Beans
Homemade Salsa + chips
Texas Sheet Cake

Meal idea #5
Stew (for cool fall days!)
Cornbread
Blueberry cobbler

prime rib branding food

NOTES & TIPS

~The brisket in Meal #3 can be done at home, or – if that intimidates you – you can buy it pre-cooked at Sam’s Club. They sell it already smoked and cured. It is really delicious!! All you have to do it put in the electric roaster (or oven) and warm it up. Super easy!

~I was nervous the first time I served stew, thinking it wasn’t fancy enough. But it was a cold day and the guys loved it! It was warm and filling. I am considering making it over the fire with my dutch ovens, this fall. 😀 Wouldn’t that be fun?

~Enchiladas are a bit different for this area. We are too far north for it to be a big thing. But my husband loves Spanish-style food, so I sneak it in there occasionally. :) The guys don’t seem to mind, as long as I have really good homemade salsa! 😉 I don’t make it more than maybe once per year, because they do like their potatoes.

I am thinking about putting together a book with all my ranch meals; menus, meats, sides, desserts, recipes, servings. Is that something that would be helpful to you? Let me know in the comments!

branding meal for the ranch crew

One of my favorite sights: the cowboys filling their plates after a hard day of work. Branding lunch with the Double 8 crew, 2017.

Branding potbranding iron

ranch crew eating lunch

The crew eating lunch at the Nimmo Ranch, 2016.

I hope this list has sparked some ideas in you for meals! Now, I have a favor to ask of you: Would you please comment with some of your favorite meals for the crew? Or any large-crowd recipe that you use and love? I’d appreciate it!

Cowboy Poetry – The Ranch Wife.

ranch wife

First published in Working Ranch Magazine.

The Ranch Wife
by Kay Schrock


The cowboy is a dashing figure
With wide-brimmed hat and jangling spur.
He’s the hero of the big screen
Riding and roping in his blue jeans.

But there is someone behind the scenes
Who tends the babies, and cooks, and cleans.
She’s not well-known to the public eye
Her life is obscure under western skies.

Up at dawn to fry the bacon
Wash the clothes, and feed the children.
When her cowboy needs help, she is called
If errands need run, or calves need hauled.

When the neighbors come – she cooks the food,
For branding and shipping and pregging, too.
She knows how to drench a leppy,
And what to do, if it’s not too peppy.

She takes a turn at the night-calving –
Dreaming of sleep she could be having!
But when the calves sell for a good price,
When her man cleans up so nice,

When she watches a stunning sunrise,
Crimson and gold – cov’ring the skies.
When she tucks her babies in bed,
Still chuckling inside from things they said,

When she rides the prairies wide,
She feels a thrill of joy inside.
She thanks God again for this wonderful life,
Wanting nothing else but to be a ranch wife!

Cooking with mamaMom and babyranch coupleIMG_0839

Blackberry Pie Recipe

blackberry pie recipeBig drops of sweat ran down my face as I gently pulled the briars away from my skirt. I gingerly stomped at the base of the brambles ahead of me, trying to mash them down away from me, so they wouldn’t grab my clothes and skin. I steadied the plastic ice-cream bucket with my other hand, careful not to allow any berries to spill.

I picked all the ripe blackberries within reach, then carefully reached through the briars to pick a few more. I reached as far as I could without spilling my bucket of berries, or falling face-first into the briars. No matter how careful I was, I would get my arm caught on a thorn, then I’d grit my teeth as I unhooked my skin. Sweat ran down my face and down my back and down my legs.

The bees buzzed lazily around the sweet blossoms, and crawled over the ripe, juicy berries. Ants scurried over the berries, too, getting their fill of the sweetness. Every so often, I’d have to pick a tick off my arms or my dress. But they were less annoying than the chiggers that I would certainly find the following day. We’d rub Avon ‘Skin-So-Soft’ oil all over our arms and legs before we began, but it didn’t work that great. We still came home loaded with ticks and chiggers.


After several hours of picking wild blackberries in the soggy, stifling heat, Mom would finally sigh and say: “Well, I guess that’s as much as we can get today. We better go home.”

Sweeter words were never spoken.

We’d untie the scarves from our waists, carefully pouring our buckets of berries into the huge, stainless steel bowls. We’d climb wearily into the van, picking off the last few briars and sticks and other debris from hours trampling around in brambles higher than our heads.

If mom had a bit of extra money, she’d stop at the Little Red Barn on the way home, and buy us an ice cream cone. It didn’t make up for picking blackberries, but it sure was delicious! I would lick the ice cream as fast as I could, trying to get every drop of cool sweetness before it dripped and was wasted. The hot summer sun burned down and the wind from the open windows felt hot, not cooling at all. But with no AC, moving air seemed better than still air, somehow.

When we arrived at home, mom carefully washed the berries, and spread them on a clean towel to dry. Then she would put them in bags and into the freezer. They would make many delicious pies all year long.

But she didn’t freeze all of them – she made pie, too. And jam. But the pie was my favorite! We’d have blackberry pie for dessert, Saturday evening, then we would have a slice for breakfast Sunday morning. It was the most delicious thing I ever ate! It tasted like hot sun and sweet summertime and mom’s love.blackberry pie-3

Here is my personal recipe for blackberry pie. Mom never measured, and I don’t either. We add and taste! But just for you, I measured. I measured several times, over several weeks, trying to perfect the taste. I think I have it!

Now, I don’t live in the blackberry mecca of the Midwest, anymore. There aren’t any blackberry bushes out here, that I have found. So, I start with frozen blackberries from the grocery store.

Put them in a kettle, add some water, and let them simmer. You don’t want too much water or you will end up with a lot of sauce and not much fruit. The berries really cook down! Also, I buy Clear Jell from Amazon. You can substitute corn starch, but I do not know the ratio. Here is the kind I buy: (click on photo)

When the berries come to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Stir occasionally till it boils.

Add the clear jell mixture, and stir quickly because it begins to thicken almost immediately. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. You can fill your crust immediately, or let the filling cool. Either way works.

Tips:
–Cornstarch thickens more as it cools. Clear Jell reaches its full thickening when it boils.

–This recipe is crafted for tame, store-bought blackberries. if you use wild berries, they will definitely need more sugar! They make better pies, in my opinion, but they are much more tart. :) Fresh berries work great, too. 

–This goes well with my Pie Crust Recipe. 😉

Blackberry Pie Recipe
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen blackberries (or 3 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 2 TBLS butter
  • juice from ½ lemon (about 2 TBLS)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 TBLS clear jell
  • 2 9-inch pie crust
Instructions
  1. Put berries in large saucepan, add water. Bring to a simmer, add sugar, butter, and lemon juice. Simmer till sugar is dissolved, and butter is melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Mix Clear Jell and ¼ cup water in a cup. Stir with spoon till dissolved.
  3. Taste the blackberry mix to see if it tastes ok. Add more sugar or lemon juice, if needed.
  4. Stir in the clear jell and bring to a boil. Caution! At this point it will bubble and splash, and the filling is quite hot!
  5. Once it is at a boil and the filling is no longer cloudy, remove from heat and let cool. Fill one pie crust and top with second crust. Pinch edges closed, and bake at 350* for 1 hour.

 

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
Cook time
Total time
 
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

I don’t know about you, but chicken is one of my top comfort foods! Maybe because I ate a lot of it as a kid – and boy! was my mom ever a good cook! Growing up Amish will do that…

But this Balsamic Chicken Recipe is different than the chicken my mom made. This includes the rich flavors of balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to bring a tastiness to simple baked chicken legs.

 


Easy balsamic chicken recipeI bought a family-sized package of chicken drumsticks on sale, and wanted to make them tasty and yet easy. Right now, I am homeschooling three kids,I have 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!

Easy Balsamic Chicken recipeI 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.

We loved this balsamic chicken recipe – so easy and yummy. Let me know if you liked it!

Balsamic Chicken
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
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
Cook time
Total time
 
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.