Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ranchero Cookies

I have a sweet tooth. I love anything with chocolate and if it's in a cookie, then jackpot! For years I've been looking for a Cowboy Cookie recipe that had oatmeal and chocolate that created a crisp yet, soft centered cookies. Traditional Cowboy Cookies have anything from oatmeal, rice crispy cereal, chocolate chips to even shredded coconut.  Eliminating coconut, rice crispy cereal and adding in brown sugar along with granulated white sugar, I finally hit the jackpot with these Ranchero Cookies that made about 6 dozen delicious treats!

Click here for the recipe for Ranchero Cookies

With Valentine's Day this week, these cookies would be a huge hit at parties, work or just as a delicious dessert to have in your cookie jar at home anytime of the year. Trying to get ahead of  my busy week, Saturday night involved baking these cookies and watching the Olympics with my family at home.  Perfect evening in my book.

For my first batch, I made my Ranchero Cookies larger with about 2 tablespoons of batter on the cookie sheets. After seeing how large they were (about as large as my hand), I reduced the dough to 1 tablespoon in size and they were perfect. These cookies may bake faster than the 7  - 9 minutes I recommend.  Our favorite cookie scope is our ice-cream scoop at our house.  It works perfectly, especially when lightly greased with a oil.

Be careful and watch these Ranchero Cookies closely in your oven as you don't want them to get to bake too long. If you are like me, you'll want a chewy middle with a brown, crispy outer edge.

Click here for the recipe for Ranchero Cookies 

This week my Ranchero Cookies will be shared with my daughter's golf team, co-workers and high school English teachers as this recipe made so many.  You can easily halve this recipe and still have around 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of dough you place on your baking sheets.  I did use parchment paper to line my pan for easy cleanup.  I also used the convection bake element on my oven switching the cookie sheets halfway through to make sure all cookies baked evenly.

I hope you'll enjoy these Ranchero Cookies!  They will definitely be a cookie I will bake for many years to come.

The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, February 4, 2018

A January to Remember As A Family

January over the last thirty years was just one of those dreary, dull months.  Honestly the only thing I looked forward to used to be snow.  I'm an outdoor, sunshine kind of person who rarely sits down.  So January, and all the cold and wintry weather, never suited me. Then we started showing our Hereford cattle, our girls got involved in the FFA and January changed dramatically.  January is now one of my favorite months and this last one will be one I will always cherish and remember forever.

Show season at our ranch involves a lot of time spent in the barn and prepping our cattle for the Fort Worth Junior Hereford Show and the National Hereford Show there as well.  For two weekends in a row we make the treck up I-20 to Cowtown and live there almost two weeks out of the month of January.  It's an intensive month full of Scott, Audrey and Steve washing, blowing, walking and packing show supplies up for both shows.  Bethany and I pack and bake sweets!  For the junior show Audrey can only take one heifer to show because there are so many juniors and breeds across the state of Texas showing.  For the second, following weekend of National Hereford Show, breeders from across the US bring both their bulls and heifers to compete in this highly prestigious show.  We try to stay well and not come down with the 'Fort Worth crud' from the constant changes in temperatures and being around so many people.  The flu has hit our nation hard this year and I've tried to keep our family both well and loaded with vitamins in anticipation of these shows.

Audrey's first Fort Worth Stock show and still one of my very favorite photos taken by a friend

Since our oldest daughter Ilissa started showing over 19 years ago, our first large show was the Fort Worth Stock Show. In those days we traveled with our local school's FFA team which numbered over thirty one head of cattle and kids.  Add in two to three family members in there and it was one of the largest groups in the state.  In those days we used to cook meals in the barn to feed our crowd at lunch each day.  Mr. Thomas' stew was always something everyone loved and then there was that one year that everyone made spaghetti...  He blended it all together in large one pot!  That recipe is one that will go down in history for our juniors!  The kids secretly went and bought baked potatoes, hid and ate that year.  They still talk about it to this day! Fun memories!

During those humbling years and the process of building our Hereford herd Ilissa and later our middle daughter Bethany showed with many last places, second to last and mid-class showings with their show heifers.  Each year we'd excitedly come back to Fort Worth ready to show their newest heifer once again or one that was still old enough to show from the previous year.  We were always excited to see old friend and inevitably made new ones.  Just the hard work and perseverance it took and taught our girls still amazes me to this day. Our two older girls learned a lot during those years with both showing on how to lose graciously. Gradually, step by step, our cattle after seven years started to build into a herd that was competitive on the state and national level.  You can buy your cattle all day long and I promise you we did that early on to build our herd. But a home-grown win is the best of them all!

Audrey showing NH North her heifer in the junior show at Fort Worth Stock Show

This past month while at the Fort Worth Junior Hereford Stock Show our Audrey earned an honor that as a family our ranch has never achieved. When the final handshake was given, Audrey and her heifer NH North were awarded Grand Champion heifer of the horned breed!  To say we were thrilled is an understatement and to say we are still reeling from it is even truer.  This win was the result of years and years of Scott's and our girls breeding program on our ranch.  Most special of all was that this win was the product of both the sire (father) and the dam (mother) also being bred on our place.  As a breeder the best feeling of all is when the win is with the lineage of cattle totally off your place.  For Audrey and our entire family that day, this moment was even more special because we shared it as well with our great FFA chapter who had helped haul our girls all over the state and country for many, many years.  I honestly don't think our older two daughters could have been more excited even if it had happened to them.  Both in their own rights have won Grand Champion at The State Fair of Texas (Ilissa) and Houston Livestock Shows (Bethany), but Fort Worth had always been something that had eluded us. We'd hit all around the grand championship with a few division winners and been in the hunt at this show, but never achieved what for us seemed the hardest nut to crack - Fort Worth Grand Champion.

Fort Worth Grand Champion Jr. Hereford NH North with Audrey, family and Ag. Advisors Sue Witt and Kyle Keahey along with Texas Hereford royalty. 

The smile on my husbands face said it all as you'll see in the pictures above and below.  He later mentioned that as he haltered Audry's calf as she left the ring and asked her, "Do you realize what you just won?", she grew a few inches taller and could also not take the smile off her face and was in total shock.  Her sisters later told me that they mentioned to Audrey she could just 'enjoy' coming to Fort Worth after this year - no pressure- because she'd just won the pinnacle in their eyes!

I love the quiet, intensity on her face in this shot

For me as the mom, what meant the most was having our entire family there with all our daughters and Scott to watch as Audrey won.  Along with our Ag advisers Sue Witt and Kyle Keahey there,  and family friend Taylor Shackleford too, was huge to Audrey.  And to our friends and family who texted, messaged and came by to congratulate us, thank you as well. Your support and genuine smiles and words of congratulations meant the world as well to Scott, Audrey and the girls and I.

Kyle Keahey, our Ag Adivisor with our family!  So proud he is in Gilmer and as Scott said,
got to clip the Grand Champion! A rare, full face Scott smile!

Audrey with Gilmer FFA Ag. Advisor Sue Witt and Kyle Keahey

The following weekend we came home, washed some laundry, tried to rest and then Scott and Steve left for Fort Worth again on the following Thursday after arriving home on Monday.  It was time for the National Hereford Show and the Texas Hereford Association weekend of socials, meetings and show on Monday.  My favorite weekend in January was finally here where we could relax a little, visit with friends from across the state and nation and most of all be with all our girls again.

This year was even more special as Scott and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary!  On my Facebook post when I mentioned our anniversary, I told him that I wouldn't have it any other way than celebrating at a cattle show as we had for the last 20 and said here's to the next 30....he then commented, "I sure hope we can still go to a cow show when we are 83!"  It's become a tradition to celebrate our anniversary with a family dinner at least one night while there bringing along friends that have come in to town for to come to the events of the weekend.  This weekend as in many past, we enjoyed having our cousin Jennifer and husband Andy join us at one of our favorite restaurants the Silver Fox.  Thirty years have come and gone by so fast, but I could not imagine being more lucky to have Scott and our girls.  We married young as everyone did in those days. Looking back he's been my rock, best friend, supporter and biggest encourager all wrapped in one rough and tough package. I love you Scott and here's to another 30 or more years!

Anniversary dinner at Silver Fox

Throughout the entire weekend and anticipation of the National Show on Monday, our families thoughts and prayers were gearing up for another big event in our Audrey's life, her district officer election that she would compete in that Monday immediately following the show in Fort Worth.  For a period of eight years as soon as the two oldest girls showed their heifers and bulls in the National Hereford Show, we jumped in the car and headed east to the Daingerfield District FFA Convention  in just enought time for our our girls to run for district officer. Praying all the way, the girls try to take a quick nap, then gear up for their speech and thought quesions on the stage that follow while I just seriously pray that we arrive safely.  I know I make our Ag advisor Sue a nervous wreck!

Audrey with all our Gilmer FFA Ag Advisors.
Selfless, dedicated and love all our in Gilmer like their own!

A huge part of our girls lives are and will always be the FFA and a tradition for them is running for leadership positions in our chapter and then district, area and state levels.  This weekend it was finally our Audrey's turn and we all could not have been more excited for her or anxious.

Candidate #5 Audrey Nolan from Gilmer FFA!

With our first two girls, the practice for their speeches and competitions were always a part of our nightly routine where they'd get up and say them during commercials or with anyone that would hear them.  Audrey is different however and prefers to practice in her own way, quietly and more intensive with a great deal of self reflection.  More like her dad in many, many ways, her style works for her, but makes her mom a little nervous!  However, by the end of the night and a stellar speech performance and question response, Audrey was name our Daingerfield District officer from over 15 neighboring chapter FFA kids!  Our goal was to just be an officer.  When her name was called out last, I've never seen our sweet girl more confident and proud of herself than that night.  

Audrey as Daingerfield District President performing closing ceremonies.

As she closed the convention as the new president, all the years of watching our two older girls came flooding back with a great sense of pride.  Audrey was following in her sister's footsteps, but making on her own place in the world, one step at a time.

All smiles and a huge thumbs up for our Audrey!

As I reflect on the last two weeks, I give credit to God first of all for holding us safe and allowing us to do what we do as a family.  The life we live is fast paced and full of love, laughter and lots of hard work.  Agriculture, our beloved Hereford cattle, their people, associations and the FFA have left indelible marks in our hearts and soul.  Each of these, without a doubt have shaped our daughters in to the young women they are and have become.  We could not feel more blessed and thankful.

For a month that used to be dull, January is anything but but that now.  This past January was one for the record books in our little family's lives and we realize more than anything the events of it were years in the making.

Alise Nolan
The Ranch Kitchen 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Whole30 Southwestern Meatloaf and Beef Recipes!

Sometimes you just need a little comfort food. Some of you may remember the old beef campaign from years ago... "Beef. It's What's For Dinner!"  Thankfully beef is on the menu for Whole30 and that is no surprise to us.  As ranchers we realize first hand not only the heritage behind raising our own beef, but the health benefits from a great cut of lean beef.  Our ranch raises Hereford cattle and it's the only beef we serve on our table.  There simply is nothing better in our estimation than a flavorful Hereford Ribeye steak, cheeseburger, or recipe made with our delicious farm raised beef!

As a rancher and former President of the National Hereford Women, I would be totally remiss if I did not post a blog with ways to incorporate beef or our beloved Hereford beef into your month of Whole30.  My recipes from my blog and recipes from Certified Hereford Beef are staples in homes across the US and world for that matter.  Hereford cattle, their associations on the state and national level and their wonderful people are what helped raise our daughters in to what they are today.  For that we will be forever thankful.  The beef cattle industry has instilled both work ethic and family values on a daily basis.  Beef is on our table most nights for more reasons than one.

For more beef recipes click here for Certified Hereford Beef's Recipe website

As you look through my recipes on and off the Whole30 tab, you'll see many, many beef recipes.  As my daughter Bethany and I continue our second month on the Whole30, we are creating new recipes daily that incorporate healthy and lean beef.

For today's post and to kick your week off, we wanted to share with your a piece of not only our heritage, but yet another meal we served our family and rancher, daddy, husband Scott to raves review.

The Ranch Kitchen's Whole30 Southwestern Meatloaf is just that and Ranchman - husband Scott approved. Baked in your cupcake or muffin tins, these little meatloaves are full or flavor and something we think you will add to your recipe list.  These flavorful, mini meatloaves are perfect to serve your hungry family or for yourself as a wonderful evening meal or lunch the next day as you meal prep to be successful on the Whole30.

Click here for the recipe for Whole30 Southwestern Meatloaf
Since flour and bread are off limits on the Whole30, you must be creative when finding substitutes.  For us, Almond flour was our go to as an ingredient to bind recipes together as in our Whole30 Southwestern Meatloaf,  To be honest we did not even miss the torn bread bits I put normally in my meatloaf, and the almond flour was a wonderful substitution.

To add a southwestern flavor, I used fresh, chopped green chile's such as Poblano's (you can used canned if compliant) and then a really wonderful sugar free - compliant BBQ sauce .  It was a wonderful substitute for the sugary ketchup I normally place both inside and on top of this meatloaf.

Along with chopped onions and garlic powder, salt and pepper, these little meatloaves were both filling and made almost two muffin tins.  We had enough for both dinner that night and a few lunches for the next two days.

Do make sure as you combine the meat with the other ingredient and that you do not over work the mixture as it will toughen your meat and make it chewy after cooked.  Just gently combine until all ingredients are worked through and then place in your lightly greased muffin tins.  I used extra virgin olive oil for my muffin tins.

We served our Whole30 Southwestern Meatloaf with our Whole30 Mashed Potatoes and a side of grilled asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  We were all totally filled up afterward and loved this wonderful meal.

Click here for the recipe for Whole30 Mashed Potatoes

Throughout the week ahead we will post several of our Whole30 beef recipes for you to add to your weekly meal plans.  Beef and it's flavorful cuts are the perfect addition to both your diet and meals as you plan ahead.  It is also so simple to reinvent a great steak in to fajitas the next night or a quick beef stew.

To help you with meal prepping, here is a sampling of some Whole30 compliant recipes we've added to our site recently.  They are all Ranchman approved and loved by everyone in our family because Whole30 for us had to be tasty and feel like we weren't missing a thing.

So, remember that healthy beef is on the table at our ranch and just plain good for you!

I'll leave you with one of my very favorite beef campaigns of years ago...

Have a great week ahead and stay warm out there!

Alise & Bethany

Friday, January 5, 2018

Whole30 Breakfast - Start Off Your Day Right!

We've heard it all our lives.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This saying and motto is so, so true.  I once heard that you should eat like a king at breakfast, eat like a queen at lunch, and a pauper at dinner. Sound advice.

Metabolism wise, we know our body gains a ton of fuel from our morning breakfast. But far too few of us really eat what we should in the a.m.  I've been very guilty of not eating breakfast and it helped me gain some of the unwanted pounds I put on before the Whole30.

As my daughter Bethany and I meal prepped our way through the Whole30, breakfasts were made in advance on Sunday and midweek as needed.  We love anything spicy around our ranch with ground beef especially, and then turkey and sausage.  So, as you'll see below, two of our recipes can be adapted to include the meat of your choice.

Sunday afternoons around our ranch kitchen became meal prep central around 3:30.  Bethany would prep, I would help prep and clean up the pots and really enjoyed our time together.  Whatever main meal we prepped for lunches for the week, was what we served my husband and youngest daughter each night. 

One of my greatest pleasures is watching my girls enjoyment from cooking.  Each of them in their own way are wonderful cooks. Ilissa likes to cook main dishes, Bethany loves to bake and meal prep, and Audrey has started to dabble in cupcakes and candies. Whole30, for Bethany and I was yet another way for us be together and get healthier at the same time.

The breakfast we share with you are all tried and true by us.  They were tasty and above all easy to make.  The most novice of cooks can make these recipes below. As always, if you have questions, email me off my site here or message me from The Ranch Kitchen Facebook and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.

Easy Whole30 Breakfast!

Whole30 Turkey and Egg Muffins - these were very good and easy to pop in the microwave to warm up for a minute and then eat on the go.  A lot of the time I'd eat one for a mid-morning snack too.

Click here for the recipe for Whole30 Turkey and Egg Muffins

Whole 30 Pumpkin Pie Custard - custard for breakfast! Why yes!  This was a really good little custard.  You do need to let is sit out a while in the refrigerator before you slice it and we recommend cutting it up the next day.  Warm it up a little as well if you like and you have either breakfast on the go or a nice snack after a meal.

Click here for the recipe for Whole30 Pumpkin Pie Custard

Whole30 Fiesta Breakfast Casserole - this savory little breakfast casserole is what I had for breakfast today and for the past few days.  Bethany cut these into serving size squares that were about 3 inches by 2 inches and we microwave them each day for breakfast. Yesterday morning I added an avocado to it on the side for a really tasty meal. If you like your food a little spicier, you can add a dash or two of compliant hot sauce like Franks Hot Sauce brand. 

Click here for the recipe for Fiesta Breakfast Casserole

Whole30 Sweet Potato Power Bowls - this was our first week 'go to' when we started the Whole30 back in November.  I had a hard time even finishing this bowl several mornings as it is so filling.  It's really good and the addition of the Chai Seeds with raspberries and blueberries gives it that extra pop of flavor.  We warmed bowls up, but you can eat this breakfast cold.

Click here for the recipe for Whole30 Sweet Potato Power Bowl
Whether you prep ahead of time as we suggest, or grab a banana and boiled egg like I did many times, get in the good habit of eating breakfast.  You will not be as famished at lunch and your energy levels will stay more consistent during the morning hours.  You will help your metabolism.  Eating like a king at breakfast will become a good habit for your goal of becoming healthier in the long run.

Now go make you some breakfast this weekend in advance!  Remember, Whole30 isn't hard and YOU can do this.  Planning your meals is a big part of being successful on this program.  You will be so glad you prepped breakfast Monday morning as you run out the door to work. Your friends and coworkers may even want a bite or the recipe!

Alise and Bethany

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Whole30 Italian Beef Stew

Did you know it's national soup month?  No other month like January makes you yearn for soups and stews like this one does.  Cold weather has drastically hit the US in unprecedented ways.  Our north has temperatures in the negatives and fellow ranchers are having to literally use axes to cut through the ice to get water to their livestock.  God love and keep both them and their livestock safe.

So, as we try to warm up, stews or soup are natural meals to serve because it makes huge batches, can easily be warmed up, taste better always the next day and is Whole30 compliant!

At our ranch we love our beef and we love, love zucchini.  Each summer we grow a huge garden and lots and lots of zucchini that I used in tons of my recipes here on The Ranch Kitchen.

As we created and ate delicious meals the entire month of our Whole30 journey, this soup was another hit on our ranch. My husband and father really enjoyed it and it was absolutely fabulous to take for lunch on the few cold days we had in December.  The addition of the Italian Seasoning makes this stew smell and taste amazing too.

You'll want to use a large stock or soup pot for this recipe.  It is also easy to double this recipe if you want to even freeze some of it for a week or day later on the Whole30 when you need something to eat when life gets in the way.  This recipe however makes one large pot of stew.

To start, chop one onion, bell pepper and garlic and set aside.  I used red bell peppers that gave this stew a natural sweetness.

Brown your ground beef with the onion, bell peppers and garlic and remove any excess liquid.  Add in Whole30 compliant canned tomatoes (so sugar added) and your vegetables, seasonings and Yukon Gold Potatoes and water.  Again, we have become huge Natural Grocers fans and you can find tons of Whole30 compliant foods and condiments at their store.

Bring stew to a boil and reduce to a low simmer (low boil).  You'll cook this until the potatoes and zucchini are tender.  I promise you that the aroma is wonderful and you will find it hard not to sneak a bite or two as you make this wonderful Whole30 Italian Beef Stew!

Cooks note:  You can also use ground turkey or pork in this recipe if beef is not your choice.


We hope you enjoy this recipe along with all the others we are posting to The Ranch Kitchen site.  By now for those of you that started on the Whole30 on New Year's Day you are 3 to 4 days in.  You are probably wondering just why did I do this?  I'm having to cook a ton and my grocery bill is a little high.  But, consider these facts...  You are eating healthier, learning how to cook foods that you can and will eat the rest of your life, and most of all will feel better.

I can remember after Week 1 of the Whole30 the dramatic difference in my gut health and energy.  I had fewer breakouts from adult acne and my joints were not bothering me near as much. For me those few things were enough to keep me motivated. Plus, my daughter and motivator Bethany made the Whole30 program fun and we challenged each other daily to stay strict and not drink that glass of wine my husband would taunt me with lovingly at nights!

You CAN do this. You are already a few days in or gearing up to change your life for the better! Whole30 will help you feel better, look better and make healthier choices as to what you place in your body. As a food blogger, it's given me a boot kick in the rear to blog more and post more recipes, but most of all be a healthier influence on my daughters.

As for my husband Scott...he's another case.  However, he did lose five pounds just following Whole30 at night.  I'd like to think had he really dug down and been strict, he would have done even better.  Men...but when they really try, they can trim down faster than we ever can!

Happy Week 1 of your Whole30 adventure!  Stay strong, plan and prep your meals and make them fun.  You'll be truer to the program if you make it fun and remember that there are things in life much harder than this. You don't have to eat that tortilla chip, cookie or bread.  You are already on your way.  Don't get sidetracked.

As always, all recipes can be shared by email, pinned to your Pinterest board and copied off to use as an ingredient and recipe list to help you out. To keep seeing my blog post, please like my post on my The Ranch Kitchen Facebook and Instagram this keeps you up to date as we place new tips on the our site.

Try this hearty Whole30 Italian Beef Stew!  You will love it and so will you family.

Alise and Bethany