Category Archives: Ranch Kitchen

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.

 

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

 

 

4.0 from 1 reviews
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

zucchinipieThe 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, right?

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

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. 

Brisket.

Brisket.

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
Gravy

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.

 

 

Cooking For The Ranch Crew ~ Part 1: The Menu

Does your job include cooking for the ranch crew? Mine does, sometimes. :) I was not raised on a ranch, cooking for the crew, but I had the blessing of being taught to cook by a mom who was raised Amish. I was raised in a Mennonite home, myself, and let me tell you; a Mennonite Sunday dinner is some of the best food you’ve ever eaten! 😉 Ok, maybe I am a bit prejudiced…

the menu

Anyways. Here you are, your boss wants you to cook for 12 men and you have no idea what to cook. Let me just say that you better serve beef. if you are on a ranch in the American West, I can almost guarantee they will want beef. Maybe pork will get by, but chicken probably won’t. Once our boss bought some fried chicken and put it on the table for a joke.
Yep. It’s that much of a joke around here! 😀

How to cook for the ranch crew, Part 1: The Menu

Hurried photo because 25 cowboys were waiting! ;)


First, you need a menu. I usually pick a type of beef first, then work around that. A typical menu for me is  something like this:
Beef Roast
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy

Green Beans
Broccoli Salad
Jello Salad
Dinner rolls
Homemade Pies
with ice cream.

Yes, I know that is a lot of food! But these guys are hungry! They usually get up before the sun on these cattle-working days. They catch, saddle and trailer their horses to our ranch. Then they ride out a couple miles, round up and bring in several hundred head of cows, then sort, vaccinate or load them. By lunch, they can put away lots of  food! :) It is satisfying, really. They don’t care if I forget the salt or the potatoes are lumpy. (Or they are just too polite to mention it.) Anyways, I figure two normal serving per person, when I am cooking for the ranch crew!

How to cook for the ranch crew, Part 1: The Menu

Can I just point out something to y’all here? The only people wearing hats inside the house here are: A woman, and a man who was not ranch-raised. I was raised with old-fashioned manners. Can I just say that if you eat in my house I want that hat off, ok? Thank you. ;)

OK, now go make your menu.
Step 1: Choose your meat. Think of a cut of meat you are comfortable making. I love roast, because it can be in the oven on low all night, then you just have to keep it warm till noon. It can sit in there for awhile without causing any damage.

Step 2: Choose your vegetable. Peas, beans, corn, whatever you like.

Step 3: Choose your salad. I like salads that have the dressing already on them, like broccoli salad or layered lettuce salad, but any salad will work. It likely won’t be the star of the show anyways, just sayin’. Don’t spend all day on the salad. 😉

Optional step 4: Choose a jello salad. This is entirely up to you, but they will probably like this better than the green salad, ok. 😉

Step 5: Bread. Some kind of bread, whether it is biscuits, dinner rolls, cornbread, anything. Preferably fresh from the oven.

Step 6: Choose your dessert. Pies, cobblers, cakes, cookies, cheesecakes… they love it all. But be warned; they may take a second (third?) helping of beef instead of dessert. Yes, this happens frequently, and no, I am not offended. That just means me and the kids can pig out be rewarded with the leftovers later. 😉

Have fun making your menu! And I’ll be back soon with the cooking help…

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.

cowboys


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.

cowboys

 

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. :)