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. )
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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. :)
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.
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…
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! 😀
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!
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…
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.
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.
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.
Apple pie is delicious anyway you make it, I believe. This is an old recipe from a Mennonite Cookbook that my mom had when I was a kid. I made it first when I was about 15, and have loved it ever since. It is an open-faced pie, and it has a yummy custard layer under the apples.
First, mix the flour and sugar and spread in an unbaked pie shell.
Then place the apple slices on top, and carefully pour the milk mixture over the apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and dot with butter.
Bake at 350 for an hour. Serve warm or cool. A scoop of ice cream on the side pushes it over the top!
Pie-baking tip: Most pies can be baked at 350º for one hour. The edges never burn, and the bottom crust is sure to be done. Yes, sometimes it ‘cooks out’ a bit, but don’t overfill your pies, and it will be fine. I bake every pie like this.
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.
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!
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 Spent a while in my husband’s leather shop, working on some rustic, leather-bound journals…
Finished this pretty blue and brown cinch for an Arizona customer…
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! 😉
I am not usually a fan of ‘healthy, raw’ recipes. Because, lets face it – most don’t taste that good. (Unless you are one of those extreme dieters who live on organic kale chips and kombucha. 😉 ) But – I am finding a few recipes that are super healthy and taste delicious! How fun!
Here is my most recent addition to my file. It is raw, healthy, and yet tastes sweet and delicious. I dare you to try it. No really. See what you think!
They are so easy that you really can’t mess them up! Just throw everything in the food processor (or blender) for a few minutes, till ground up fine and well blended. Pat the mixture in a 9X9 pan, lined with parchment paper. Chill several hours and cut into small squares. Eat as necessary. 😉 They are fine without being chilled to, but will be softer and crumble more.