Category Archives: Beef

Cooking For The Ranch Crew ~ Part 2: Cooking

When you are cooking for the ranch crew, it is most important that you think ahead to how you will be serving. Will you be serving in the field or at the house? And what time will they be coming in to eat? In my experience, they don’t usually know exactly when they will be in, so you need to make sure it’s ready at noon, but be able to hold it warm till 2 pm or even later if necessary! :)

Some of the cowboys I feed regularly.

Some of the cowboys I feed regularly.

cooking for the ranch crew


Think about how much oven space you will need, and how much time stuff will take to cook. You don’t want to have 3 pans of dinner rolls and a pan of baked beans and a dessert, all needing to go into the oven at the same time! :) So think about what can be baked earlier in the morning.
I like to bake my dessert first, and then my rolls, and then stick in the beans, corn, or whatever other hot dish I may have. Pies, cobblers, and breads can be served cool. They will still be delicious, since they are fresh. But you don’t want lukewarm beans!

If I am doing a roast, I like to stick it in the crockpot or oven the night before. Then it will be super-tender by lunch.  If I am doing a smoked brisket, I will put it in the oven (or electric roaster) in the morning, and let it heat slowly. Those come pre-cooked. 



So my cooking day looks something like this:
1. Mix up dinner rolls.
2. While the rolls are rising, I make my pies. When the pies are ready for the oven, so are the rolls. I stick the rolls in the oven. After the rolls come out, I bake the pies. NOTE: I really try to bake my pies the day before, because that makes cooking day so much easier! But sometimes life happens, and I don’t get it done till the day of.
3. I make my salad. If I am also having a jello salad, I like to make that a day ahead, too. But sometimes it doesn’t happen till day of, either! 😉
4. Next, I make my potatoes, and start my veggies. By now it will be getting close to noon. I start checking off things, mentally. Bread? Dessert? Salad? Veggie? Potatoes? Meat? I may put some butter out to soften, for the bread, and get a fresh jar of jam out. Fill the salt&pepper shakers… just make sure things are there.
5. By noon, or shortly thereafter, you should have all your food ready. If everything is done, just turn the oven as low as you can, and set stuff in there to keep warm. They may be late, but if it’s all ready, then you can relax. It’s better to keep stuff warm for awhile, than to be unprepared! :) Once they showed up at 11:30, and that was a bit nerve-wracking, as I wasn’t ready. (Of course, they expect to wait if they are early, but I still don’t like it.)

Baked corn

Baked corn


cheddar and chive mashed potatoes.

cheddar and chive mashed potatoes.

I am thankful to have several kids I can call on to make a last minute sweep of toys, shoes, and other junk that needs put away. Put a large towel and plenty of soap by the bathroom sink. It’s the little things, you know?

Set the table, (make sure you have large glasses for water!) put out the jam, butter, napkins, toothpicks. Get a jug of ice-water ready to pour. You want to be as ready as you can get before they come in. Well, OK, that’s kinda my thing. I hate waiting on a meal, so I try to not make others wait! 😉

Pumpkin pie. They look brown-er because I used home cooked pumpkin, and lots of cinnamon. :)

Pumpkin pie. They look brown-er because I used home cooked pumpkin, and lots of cinnamon. :)

Here is the menu I used in Part 1:
(some are linked to recipes)
Beef Roast
Mashed Potatoes

Green Beans (Drizzle with a bit of browned butter for a tasty flavor!)
Broccoli Salad
Jello Salad
Dinner Rolls
Homemade Pies
with ice cream.

Tom Wilson and Don Berry.

Tom Wilson and Don Berry.



Cowboy Lunch

I get up at 5 am, when my husband’s alarm sounds. I love getting up early, and can’t seem to sleep after he is up. After he leaves, I get started on my lunch prep. Checking the beef that has been all night in the oven, peeling potatoes, chopping salad.

I sweep the floor, put out a fresh towel by the sink, and set the table. I fill salt and pepper shakers, dish out homemade jam, and fill the butter plate. I call the kids to do a last minute clean-up of toys and line up their shoes by the door. The food is ready, so I turn the oven to low and wait. Sometimes the boss calls me to warn me that they will be in soon. More often, I look up to see them walking across my yard.


This is the crew that I feed several times per year. There are more, but these are some of the ‘regulars’. Only 3 work here on a daily basis – the rest are neighbors who come to help on cattle-working days. Then we go help them on the days they need extra hands, of course. That is the beauty of ranch community. When you need help, you call your neighbors, and they come help. No pay except a hearty meal. Then when they need help, they pick up the phone and call you. And you get to return the favor.

cowboy crew

These guys are so thankful for whatever I make. Many people could take a lesson. They sit around my table and tell wild stories and joke. They laugh and tease the young guys about taking seconds. They praise the cook and carry their plates to the sink when they are done eating. They walk with that peculiar bow-legged gait, spurs jingling, out the door. They set their hats back on their heads and buckle on their chaps – ready for more cattle work.



I often make a big lunch. Beef brisket, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggie, lettuce salad, jello salad, rolls, and dessert. But yesterday, I made a very simple cowboy lunch: BBQ Beef sandwiches, Asian Slaw, baked beans, and butterscotch pudding dessert.

cowboy lunchcowboy lunchcowboy lunch

After the guys are gone, I park myself in the easy chair with a plate of food and a mug of hot black coffee. Aahhh, the life of the ranch cook. 😉

What do you cook for the cowboys? (or other large group) I can always use inspiration! Tell me your favorite recipe for beef in large quantities. :)


Herbed Beef Roast ~crockpot friendly

herbed beef roast

Nothing easier or more satisfying, than putting a good beef roast in the crockpot in the morning, then coming home from a day at town/work, and lifting out tender, steaming chunks of flavorful beef – dripping with its own juices!

To make the best flavor – thaw the beef roast and sear it well on both sides. Just throw a bit of butter in the frying pan and fry each side about 3 minutes over med-high heat. Then place the roast in the crockpot, and arrange some potatoes, onions, and carrots around the edges. Sprinkle with spices and herbs, and pour some beef broth over the top. Turn it on low and leave it alone for 8-10 hours.

herbed beef roast

When you get home that evening, carefully lift the beef onto a serving tray and slice – or just pull it into chunks. This is rib-sticking goodness, easier than drive-through! :)herbed beef roastbeef roast


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Herbed Beef Roast ~crockpot friendly
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 3-4 lb boneless beef roast (chuck or pot)
  • 6 small potatoes
  • 4 carrots, peeled
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 TBL salt
  • 1 teas thyme
  • 1 teas rosemary
  • 1 teas parsley
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Sear beef roast approx 3 min per side in a hot skillet over med-high heat.
  2. Place in crockpot.
  3. Place vegetables around roast.
  4. Pour beef broth over roast.
  5. Sprinkle herbs over the roast.
  6. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.


What I’ve been doing… July ’14

Like to see what I have been up to?

Nothing too spectacular, really. Just living. Working. Cooking.  Made this simple, comforting beef pie that reminds me of James Herriot and Yorkshire. :)

Savory Beef Pie
IMG_7096Spent a while in my husband’s leather shop, working on some rustic, leather-bound journals…

leather journalFinished this pretty blue and brown cinch for an Arizona customer…cinch

So I got a bunch of stuff crossed off my list, and yet my list grows instead of diminishing! :) I am also picking, shelling, and freezing peas from my garden. Watering and otherwise tending to my precious tomatoes. I plan to do a garden update one of these days. My greenhouse is crazy and out of control! 😉

What have you been up to lately?


Basic Meatballs


Who says ground beef has to be boring? We love it around here! Meatballs are so versatile, you can make many different dishes with them. 

Spaghetti and meatballs,

meatballs in cream sauce over pasta,

meatball subs,

BBQ meatballs… 

But the best part is having them on hand for those busy nights when you just don’t have time to cook! My kids (and me!!) love those frozen, fully cooked meatballs. But I refuse to buy them when I have beef in my freezer. I mean, how silly would that be? So I decided to make my own precooked, frozen meatballs. I mixed up a big batch of these and baked them for 20 minutes (would do 15 min next time) then bagged them and stuck them in the freezer. Now I can pull them out at a moment’s notice and pop them in the oven to reheat or in a pan of sauce on the stove-top. How cool is that?! :) 

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Basic Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs, ground fine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Shape into balls.
  4. Place on an un-greased baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Cool and freeze.
  6. Can double or triple recipe easily.


How to Make Lard

Ever make lard?

Wanna learn how to?

I thought so! :)


Actually, it’s real easy. I am making beef tallow here – but the directions are the same for pork lard or any kind of lard. Although I haven’t made or used any kind other than beef or pork, but I hear some people like bear lard?! ( I have one word – eww!) 😉

OK. So first you have to get some fat. Pig or beef fat. I asked for some from the butcher at the local grocery (chain store) and they just gave me a pound and a half at no cost. No guarantees on your town.

Update: My husband just bought 10 pounds from a local butcher for about .80 cents a lb. He uses it to condition his reatas.

You can skip trimming off the meat bits – it isn’t necessary. If there is a reason why you should trim off bits of meat – please leave a comment and tell me, because I truly have no idea why you would waste that kind of time. 

UPDATE: A friend informed me that the reason you trim off the meat bits is to prevent the lard from going rancid too quickly. Makes total sense! I guess because I never make much at a time, I did not realize this. I just use mine up pretty quick. So please trim the meat. I will too. 😉

) I just cut the fat into small pieces, about an inch or so.

Then you put them into a kettle with a 1/2 cup of water.

Heat it on low… first the water will evaporate and you will think this is never going to work! It’s just a bunch of stinky blobs of fat! …but keep stirring, and keep it on low, and eventually you will notice that there is a small amount of liquid fat on the bottom of the pan… then a bit more, and soon your “cracklings” will be swimming in melted lard!


Just keep it on low for about an hour, or until the crackling are pretty brown and shrunken.

Then all you have to do is strain the lard through a mesh strainer, or cheesecloth, and store it in the fridge in a glass jar. The lard will be a golden brown color when warm, and turn creamy white when cold.


I used 1½ lbs of raw fat, and it produced about 2 cups of lard.

Use the lard in pie crust, to fry things, making soap… lots of possibilities!

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Sweet BBQ Mini-Meatloaves

Beef is a staple at our house, as you have probably figured out by now! :) We have ranch-raised natural beef in the freezer, and we eat it every day. Sometimes I pull a package of ground beef out of the freezer and let it thaw – just so I have something to work with at dinnertime! I know – I should be organized enough to have a menu plan – but I am just not always that organized, ya know? 😉


Now this recipe is very quick and very delicious – due in part to the super-sweet sauce. But – before I lose you on the sugar content, let me just tell you that you can substitute any kind of liquid sweetener, like honey, agave, etc, if you want a healthier option. 😉 I don’t make this all that often – it is a treat when I do make it!

Make the sauce, slice the onion, and fry the mini-meatloaves.


Put the fully-cooked meatloaves onto a covered plate to keep warm.
(Don’t worry about the browned bits on the pan – that just adds flavor!)
Add a little butter to the skillet and caramelize the onions.
Add sauce to onions and de-glaze the pan.
Pour the sauce and onions over the meatloaves.
Serve with potatoes or pasta.


This has been one of my husband’s favorite meals for a long time. You should try it! You will like it. 😉



Sweet BBQ Mini-Meatloaves
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ⅓ cup dark Karo
  • 6 TBL steak sauce
  • 6 tsp mustard
  • 1 onion
  • 1 TBL butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  1. Mix ground beef with salt and pepper, shape into 8 patties.
  2. Fry over med. heat until fully cooked.
  3. Remove to covered serving plate, keep warm.
  4. Put butter in frying pan - add onions.
  5. When onions are sauteed, add sauce.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Pour over mini-meatloaves.
  8. Serve.
  9. To make sauce:
  10. Mix the karo, steak sauce, and mustard together.


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Fabulous, Easy Steak Tips

Ok, folks. I have the best recipe for you today! I am so excited to share this one, because it is easy and delicious!  I am blessed to live on a ranch with access to great beef, but even if you have to buy from the grocery store – please make this recipe! :) It’s that good.

steak tips

First off, use whatever steak you have – I had some rib steaks in the freezer, but  whatever you have will work fine.

Mix the marinade in a bag or dish. I like to use plastic containers with lids, then I just turn them over once in a while to coat the meat.

steak tips 3

Then you spread the beef on a baking tray (with sides!) and broil on high for about 7-10 minutes. Turn them over with a spatula and broil 7-10 min more, or till desired done-ness. We like ours pretty well cooked, so if you like your steak rare, you should check the steak at 5-7 minutes.

steak tips 2I cooked ours about 9 minutes on each side, and they were well-done. Despite being well-done, they were still tender and juicy! I served them with rice and green beans on the side. the kids liked them too – even my little 5 year old who isn’t crazy about meat. :)

Fabulous, Easy Steak Tips
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4-6
  • 4 large steaks (about 2 lbs)
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons steak seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Cut the steak into one-inch pieces.
  2. pour the marinade over steak and mix well.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  4. Broil on a baking sheet under high heat for 7 minutes, turn and broil for 7-10 minutes more.



Simple Shepherd’s Pie

Who doesn’t enjoy a simple shepherd’s pie? I love how easy it is to throw this recipe together! Of course, I simplified as much as I could. Like most of my recipes, this one is easy to modify, depending on your tastes and ingredients in stock.

shepherds pie

Brown the burger, add tomato sauce and vegetables, spread it in a skillet or baking dish. (about a 2-qt size)

shepherds pie

Spread the mashed potatoes over the meat mix.

shepherds pie


Sprinkle with cheese.

shepherds pie


Bake for 30 minutes or till heated through, and cheese is melted.

shepherds pie


Serve with a salad and some delicious rolls!

Simple Shepherd's Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 can tomato sauce (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar
  1. Brown beef, drain.
  2. Mix in tomato sauce, seasonings, and vegetables.
  3. Spread in a 2 qt baking dish or 12-inch skillet.
  4. Spread mashed potatoes over meat mixture.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. bake at 350 for 30 minutes or till heated through.


Easy Beef Soft Tacos

 Soft tacos are my favorite kind of tacos! My kids like the crunchy ones, but I think they are one of the most awkward foods ever invented! Puh-lease, give me soft tacos, okay? Thank-you forever.

beef tacos

My family loves Mexican food. Well, OK, I doubt that taco seasoning and Tabasco’s rates as true Mexican, but hey. When you live many, many miles from Old Mexico – you do what you can. And I am not against ‘American-Mexican’. Or Tex-Mex, or whatever you want to call it. As long as it tastes good, and has some kick – we’re all gonna love it! :)

Here is my favorite soft taco recipe. Please make twice as many as you think you will need. Your kids will suddenly have an appetite! My nibbler of a 5-year-old can eat 3 or 4 of these babies!

(plus cake!

But we aren’t talking about cake today.

Although that would be awesome.

Because I love cake more than tacos.)

Brown your beef burger. Or antelope, deer, elk, bear – whatever. You can even use ground turkey, if you’re into that sort of thing. I’m not. Why ruin a good taco? 😉

Add one can of diced tomatoes. Any kind, my friend! Diced, stewed, with chiles, without chiles. Just whatever you have in the cupboard.Beef tacos

Add 1 package taco seasoning and one can of drained beans. I like black beans, but again – any kind will work. Stir it all together and heat through.

Spoon into a tortilla, top with shredded cheddar. Deliciousness! And so simple. If you are going to be out – just make this and stick it in the crockpot to keep warm till suppertime.

Easy Beef tacos

We eat these with homemade tortillas.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Beef Soft Tacos
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  1. Brown meat.
  2. Add seasoning, beans, tomatoes.
  3. Stir and heat through.
  4. Serve with tortillas.

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