Category Archives: Beef

Pizza Tater Tot Casserole Recipe

I have never cared for tater tot casserole. (my mom taught me to say I don’t care for something, rather than I hate it. 😉 ) But somewhere in the early years of our marriage, I found this recipe for pizza tater tot casserole, and I liked it! No cream of mushroom soup – just ground beef, pizza sauce and other pizza toppings, covered with cheese and tater tots!

Pizza tater tot casserole recipe. Easy, simple, good recipe for teens and kids to make!

Super easy and fast, this is a great recipe to keep in your file for those days when you just don’t know what else to make with ground beef again! 😀  It is also easy for teens to make. I am in the stage of life where I want lots of simple recipes that my older kids can make.

Pizza Tater Tot recipe, easy and delicious, different!Brown the ground beef, drain. Add pizza sauce, green pepper, pepperoni, (and mushrooms, if desired). Stir together and place in a 9×13 pan, or 2 quart casserole dish. I used a 12″ cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded cheese, and top with tater tots. (frozen is fine) Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or till tater tots are heated through, and cheese is melted. Serve with a salad and bread.

Pizza tater tot casserole recipe


Pizza tater tot casserole recipe

I am always on the look out for new, but still simple, beef recipes! This pizza tater tot casserole fits the bill perfectly. I like to keep a bag of tots in my freezer for this quick meal. You know how it is – you are planning to serve leftovers, when you get the call at 11 am that there’s half a dozen hungry cowboys to feed, instead of one! 😀

Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of like those last minute surprises! I am less stressed because I know they weren’t expecting anything. So, I pull out anything I can find, and they like it just fine!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pizza Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: main dish
Serves: 8 servings
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 (24 oz) can pizza/pasta sauce or about 2.5 cups
  • 1 cup pepperoni, cut in half
  • ½ green pepper, diced (optional)
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or pizza blend
  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  1. Brown the ground beef, drain.
  2. Add green pepper, mushrooms, pepperoni, and pizza sauce, stir.
  3. Spread in a 9x13 pan
  4. Sprinkle cheese over the meat mixture.
  5. Top with tater tots.
  6. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 30 minutes or till heated through.



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?

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

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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 15 minutes, 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?! :) 

I like to freeze these meatballs raw, too. Both ways work fine! Obviously, you will need to bake longer if you are freezing them raw. :)

My preferred method is to scoop the meat with an ice cream scoop, and then gently finish smoothing the meatballs with my hands. This way, they are all uniform in size. You can find a scoop on Amazon. 

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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.