Monday, March 13, 2017

2015 Memorial Day Weekend at the Texas Coast

My daughter Bethany put it best when she described our weekend at the Texas coast to friends before she made the long journey from Lubbock.  She said, "We will be with dear friends where I can be myself and just relax!"  Memorial  Day weekend has always been a special time for us where we usually camp with our girls and friends at the lake, but for a change this year we spent it with our dear friends Tommy and Melinda Smith and their sweet family at their beautiful beach house at Rollover Pass just off Galveston Island.

This lovely beach house was built by an Amish builder with
 peg construction.  Love it!

My husband Scott and Tommy have been friends since grade school.  They've always continued their friendship and seemed to just 'get each other' like no friend I've seen him have.  His parents were and are very dear to us.  Tommy's boys and our girls grew up together as we in turn raised our little families.  Some of our favorite memories together will always be floating the Big Cypress Creek to Caddo's bayous and lake loaded with the biggest and best water guns ready to blast each other just about the time we got to the state park.  We'd do this every summer for about five years on Memorial Day and usually have our other great friends Rex and Carol Thompson and their kids in tow.  We'd pack huge lunches and sit under the Cypress trees that dripped with moss and enjoy the beauty that is Caddo, the largest natural bayou and lake in Texas. 

I remember all of us having football parties after the Friday night game where we'd each bring an appetizer and the kids would put on their pj's while we'd all visit.  It's times like these our kids still remember and my oldest daughter Ilissa mentioned that weekend that we sure did like to have a lot of get together's with our friends she remembered growing up!

In the past year with all of our lives getting busier and kids growing up and off at college we haven't spent near the time together we should have, but we fixed that this weekend. 

A little kite flying with enough wind to keep it up until the storms came.
Anything for the baby girl of the group!

Skim Surfing.

Our youngest daughter truly enjoyed her weekend and the beach!

So it was only fitting that we spend Memorial Day weekend with Tommy, Melinda and their sweet kids Brad, Ryan, Kayla, Kara and exchange student from Italy Clara.  We swam, dodged a few rain storms, the men fished and we ate everything from fresh seafood the men caught to steaks while catching up, playing board games and dominoes.  Melinda and I both enjoyed cooking, sharing recipes and catching up about our kids. 

Board game fun.

Melinda is a fantastic cook and wowed us all weekend with some of her recipes.  Her french bread was absolutely delicious and we could have made a meal out of it alone.  The steak marinade was equally as good.  So good in fact that we even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next day along with some repurposed baked potatoes that I sauteed in butter and Tony Chachere's.  The Redfish and Sea Trout were a real treat coming from the men's previous days catches and there was enough left over for us each to bring home some frozen for later meals.

Melinda making her 'Smashed Potatoes' that were delicious!

With or without cheese these potatoes are fantastic!

Click here for the recipe for Melinda's Smashed Potatoes!

Preparing the Sea Trout for the grill with Olive Oil and Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.

Tommy preparing the Sea Trout for the grill.

Sea Trout, Melinda's Smashed Potatoes, her garlice bread, and The Ranch Kitchen's Sauteed Squash.  Just make this squash recipe without the potatoes!

This Red Fish was wonderful!

It's a weekend I hope to repeat soon and one we will always have fond memories of.  I'm so proud of their kids and when you have special friends you should always make time to make more memories. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cheers for National Margarita Day!

It's A Margarita Kind of Day! 

Yes! It's National Margarita Day! Who says you have to wait for just one day to relax on your back porch with this south of the border cocktail?  

In Texas, it's tradition to drink a salt rimmed margarita alongside your favorite Mexican foods.  At our ranch, margaritas aren't just for southwestern fare, but with our Hereford steaks, seafood and as a night time tonic after a long day. Someone once said...when life gives you lemons, get some limes and salt and make margaritas!  Now just for fun and as an added kick for a few years on our ranch, we place a few home grown jalapenos in our margarita!

The Ranch Kitchen's Rancharita - Jalapeno Margarita was inspired from one of our favorite restaurants Ranch 616 in Austin, Texas and their famous Jalapeno Margarita.  My oldest daughter resides in this fun, eclectic city that has more trendy bars and restaurants than any city in Texas. Ranch 616 is a spot we always stop at when visiting Ilissa.  This restaurant definitely has that Austin vibe to it with it's tin roofed outdoor porch and southwestern inspired menu.  Special thanks to dear family friend Terry Barber for introducing us to this fun restaurant more than 15 years ago!

The Ranch Kitchen's Rancharita - Jalapeno Margarita!

A few years back friend Gerald Jones, owner of Los Pinos Winery helped Ilissa and I reinvent their trendy margarita for us to enjoy at home and post on the blog.  My husband Scott especially loves the addition of jalapeno peppers freshly cut and placed in to these Rancharitas. The longer the jalapenos sit in this drink, the bigger the kick! We usually don't have to worry about that though as they don't last long!

Make sure to also check out Los Pinos and their winery in the heart of Northeast Texas. Their Rodeo Red is our all time favorite wine and perfect with anything in my books. If you are an Amazon member, you can order their wines there.  Their winery has amazing food, live music on the weekends and a lovely porch area to sit, sip and enjoy the pines of East Texas and the beautiful views of their vineyard. 

If you have a sweet tooth like me, rim your Rancharita with sugar instead of salt.  Just dip the top rim of your glass in lime juice and gently swirl in the sugar for a tasty addition to your cocktail. The picture above shows the addition of chili powder to the rim of salt on my Rancharita.  

So tonight or any night, try The Ranch Kitchens' recipe for this Rancharita - Jalapeno Margarita.  It's a family favorite and becoming the trendy margarita in the southwestern parts of the US.  Promise, you may never go back to a traditional margarita again!


Alise - The Ranch Kitchen 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Finding Joy With My Favorite Recipes

People say to cook a lot.  And yes, that is very, very true.  After reflecting a lot over my Christmas break, I came to this conclusion about several things both big and small.  Cooking is ultimately for me one way I show joy.  It's a little thing to me that helps me wind down after a big day or clear my mind and just spend time with just little old ME.

As I reflect on the new year ahead, I will immerse myself in what brings myself, my family and those I love and work with find joy whether it be in my cooking, my actions through my help, or just in how I treat them.

As a mother, educator, daughter and sister, it's rare that I ever have time just for me.  Although I would not want it any other way, it's those that half hour or more each evening without the Internet or television where I get to stop, reflect and just concentrate on the task at hand.  Cooking has become that outlet for me over the years and a way that I get to see the instant gratification of my efforts. It's that mom always fixes this when I come home, or my husband enjoys this meal, or my youngest loves to help me make this, that drives this part of my cooking most.

Just last year, my husband placed a television in my kitchen thinking I might enjoy it.  However to date I've probably turned it on maybe five time total, because to me the distraction of it takes time away from my me time.  I'd rather immerse myself in these moments and find time to let my creativity transform a recipe or two, make my family happy and bring a smile to my heart.

So as I reflect today and look toward the year ahead on just what brings me the most joy in life outside of what ranks at the top of that list being that of a wife, mom and daughter and sister... it's these dishes below that rank at the top of my list.

So here is hoping you find joy in the new year.  Find what makes you happy and make your day, your week, your month and year ahead your best ever.  I plan to work on just that one goal each day from this point on.

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ringing In The New Year With The Ranch Kitchen

The new year is almost here and it's time to make those New Year Resolutions! This year, my resolutions are to organize my house, blog more by posting more recipes and continue to spend time doing the things we love as a family. Family is first in my life and above all things it's always my goal to make special moments and cherish the quality time I get to spend with them all.  I am extremly thankful for the year we have had and realize how lucky we are in so many ways.

Nothing speaks the New Year's foods like black-eyed peas, cabbage, Cajun Baby Back Ribs or this fun black-eyed pea appetizer below. Let The Ranch Kitchen help you ring in the new year with this medley of good luck, prosperity and healthy recipes that will start your year off right.

For starters to bring in that good luck you must have black-eyed peas.  I'm a little supersticious, so we make these from scratch on New Year's Day.  These Black-Eyed Peas are a sure fire hit and simple to make.  You can use your crockpot and cook them all day or put them on the morning of for you lunch or afternoon for your evening meal. If you are Keilbasa link sausage fan, add that to the pot as your cabbage cooks for an easy meal everyone loves too.

 Black-eyed Peas

Since cabbage is green naturally in color, it represents the color of money!  So eat lots and lots of cabbage on New Year's Day as well.  It's good for you to start with and my Granny's is Wilted Cabbage is one of The Ranch Kitchen's biggest hits.  Cabbage, my friends, is a worldwide vegetable that everyone loves and this recipe is easy, easy to make and serve. 

 Granny's Wilted Cabbage

This Black-eyed Pea Salsa is more of an appetizer for New Year's Eve, but is great as a side vegeteble  along any meal when you are wanting something a little different.  I made this in bulk this year and will serve it with tortilla chips.

 Back-eyed Pea Salsa

Next it's tradition to serve pork ribs for our meal as well on New Year's Day.  This crazily represents how pigs root their noses forward when they nudge the ground...I can't make this it means you will be going forward in the new year. At any some pork and don't go backwards. It's the other white meat and my Cajun Back Baby Ribs are the best way to make them! Just saying! You don't have to have a grill to make it, so your oven will do just fine. 

 Cajun Back Baby Ribs

So Happy New Year from The Ranch Kitchen!  Thanks for following my site. It's been such an unexpected thrill these last years adding to my site and sharing our recipes with you.  Here's to 2017 with all the luck, properity and happiness you can have!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti Family Portion Sized Recipe & 200th Post!

For years I've shared my recipes that will feed a crowd. Crowds, large family gatherings and learning to cook from a mom and Granny who fed my brothers and all their friends was normal for me.

My - The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti is no exception and for years usually the only time I make this huge batch recipe is for our Hereford family friends at our cow shows.

It sounds like a funny joke for someone who advocates for beef to showcase one of her favorite recipes being that with the main meat being chicken!  But chicken it is and my The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti has become a main dish that is expected at gatherings in the winter at the National Hereford Show in Fort Worth, the Houston Jr. Livestock Show for our Gilmer FFA kiddos and then it's a must for one meal during our National Junior Hereford Shows wherever we land across the USA each summer.

This meal is easy to make in large roaster ovens where we easily feed not just our Texas friends, but sweet family friends and guest from across the US.  If you ask my daughter's friends what meal they associate with me, it's this simple dish.  And on the rare occasion that I didn't make this during a cattle show, it's the first thing I hear about and asked just where is it?!!

So tonight as I sit to FINALLY get my recipe on my site with the family portion sized recipe, please know that although I'm used to making it for a crowd, this recipe paired down is just as good.  It will still make a large amount, but will freeze and hold over well for a few days if you just can't eat it all in one sitting as we say in the south!

In this recipe you can use chicken from a can for ease or baked chicken you cook yourself.  I prefer to bake my chicken and shred or chop into chunk sized bites.  I also will never again make the mistake to use cheaper variety thin spaghetti noodles as you only want a good 'named' quality brand that will remain firm and not become mushy. So pay the extra few cents on the noodles and you'll thank me later.

My husband is not particularly a cheese lover in anything, but he loves the addition of Velvetta Processed Cheese in this recipe.  If you want it cheesier, then add more...but only add a little at a time until you get the chicken spaghetti to the consistency you want.

To reheat this dish you can use your trusty microwave or add a cup of chicken broth to a non-stick stove top pan to warm it all back up the next night.

So without further delay and with much prodding from my dear friends for a smaller quantity recipe for my most sought after recipe here on the site that for some crazy reason I've never placed on you go!  My middle daughter Bethany once made this for her Hereford friends at Texas A&M with the large recipe found her on the site.  She had made so much, that they ate it literally for a week and then much to my surprised pawned it off on a few of her guy friends at the end of the week six days later!  I sure hoped it was still worthy of eating and the boys fared well after it being in the fridge for that long!  Kids!  Glad they enjoyed it, but about scared me to death!

Click here for the recipe for
The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghet

So eat your heart out! Share the recipe and remember that nobody said cooking had to be hard!  It's a meal like this that I have made innumerable friends with, made someone feel welcome and given them a taste of The Ranch Kitchen!

Enjoy and I hope you will make this recipe for my The Ranch Kitchen Chicken Spaghetti real soon!

If you like it, please share, comment below or on The Ranch Kitchen's Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.  To keep seeing my post on these sites you have to click to like or share to keep it current on your feed.  Sadly new settings on these sites limit pages like mine in visibility unless I pay for my post...which is pretty costly!

As always thanks for following my site, being an inspiration to me to keep on blogging and for trying out my recipes!

In closing, as I write my 200th post for The Ranch Kitchen is very, very appropriate that this The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti be the one! I honestly can not believe I've hit this mark!

So as they's been's been real...and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for following The Ranch Kitchen!  Life's an adventure and it's meant to be lived!

Alise Nolan