Wednesday, December 1, 2010

National Hereford Queen Bethany's Magic Cookie Bars

Sometimes good news comes in bunches...and this month we were thrilled to have our Bethany crowned as the new National Hereford Queen!  It has been a really fast month trying to purchase white suits when white is not the in color this season.  With much goggling we found what we needed and dad's credit card is a little heavier!  National Hereford Queen means that Bethany will serve a calendar year promoting Hereford cattle, their beef - Certified Hereford Beef, and their associations (AHA - American Hereford Association, NHW National Hereford Women, and NJHA National Jr. Hereford Associations).  It will be a busy, fun, well traveled year with lots of pictures I am sure to come! 

That same week we learned that she had also been accepted to Texas A&M University!  We were to extremely happy for and excited for her as it was the ONLY school she would even consider applying for!  We now have two Aggies!  And our little one says she 'thinks' she will go there as well....we'll have to apply a little pressure and brainwashing - but that's not hard to do in Aggieland!

We were also tickled maroon that A&M completed their football season with a three way tie for the conference title and won a bid to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas!  Tickets are sky high, but I think we just have to hint, hint dad...get 'em while they are hot!

Bethany attended her first show as Queen in Louisville, Kentucky with her dad in tow assisting nervously with hair soon as he found out he had to help with hair...he said..have you seen her hair...I can't do that!  Too'll see a picture above of a back shot and the hair do.  I nervously stayed at home teaching and doing my duty here....but wanted to be there so badly!

Today I am including a Magic Cookie Bar recipe I think I got off the back of a package of Graham Crackers once...these are what some people call Dolly Madison's after one of our First Ladies from over a century or so ago!  Queen Bethany makes these often to give as gifts.  They are scrumptious and pitifully easy to make...just throw some flour on your face and act like you worked hard in the kitchen!  Promise, you will make these time and time again!

Magic Cookie Bars

3 cups graham crackers, crushed finely
1 stick margarine or butter, melted
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 16 ounce package of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 large can of sweetened condensed milk
1 - 2 cups shredded coconut

Melt margarine/butter in microwave for less than one minute.  Spray 9 x 13 inch pan with oil.  Add melted margarine/butter to the pan.  Add graham cracker mixture that has had sugar mixed in it.  Blend graham crackers with margarine until blended well and press to the glass dish to form a crust.  Pour in long flowing strands the sweetened condensed milk on top of the graham cracker crust.  Sprinkle semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of this.  Sprinkle coconut on top of chocolate.  Cook in oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees or until coconut begins to toast slightly. 

Allow these to cool and then cut with a knife in diamond shapes or traditional squares. 

You may also add nuts and peanut butter morsel chips for a variation.  My girls just aren't that wild about nuts!

Here are some pics of Bethany and her dad!  Notice the hair!  Dad's can be great helpers!!
Enjoy!  Do make these....easy, easy, easy..and so darn delicious!

Get cooking!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I love about fall in Texas!

Fall in Texas is a special time.  For our family it is full of football games (cheerleading), cattle shows, FFA, 4H, and of course our annual Yamboree and Texas A&M football games!  I love when the leaves start to turn and the air is cooler...humidity is a constant where we live..and any sign of cool air is like being able to breath again! 

In a week we will have our annual Yamboree Barndance party at our ranch.  Each year since my husband and I were in our 20's we have had our friends and families out to celebrate and eat before the town's barndance concert in our old school gymnasium.  It is like a slice of Americana to go to this barndance in the middle of our old town gymnasium.  And it's become a tradition for us to have a large crowd over the eat a little Texas style BBQ.  My husband enjoys smoking brisket and ribs, while I cook a huge vat of beans and roasted potatoes.  Friends and family help by bringing all the sides to go a long with the meal and it we are lucky we have a friend with a guitar to play a little music.

This year I am especially excited as my oldest daugther will be bringing in her sorority sisters from college at A&M.  We are a little sad however because my middle daughter won't be there as she has been selected to be a voting delegate at the National FFA Convention.  :o(  But our littliest daughter gets to show all her pigs at this our county festival..and her first time to ever show a market hog.  We hope all the hogs make 'sale'...because if they don't we have to pretend the pork chop on the table came from somewhere elese all winter.

Yamboree is a homecoming or sorts.  It's always a treat to get to see old high school buddies and walk the square eating a corny dog.  My tradition is to always eat one corn dog, one candied apple, and a slice of Yam pie before midnight on Saturday night!  Sometimes I treat myself on Sunday morning to my yam pie. 

So enjoy your fall...go to a county festival near the candied apple or corndog and think how it still taste as good as when you were little.  Hope you enjoy the Yam Pie recipe below as I love her recipe.....I am actually in this look for the dark haired woman at the Yam Decorating was a really fun!

Rememer - life is meant to be enjoyed!  Happy Yamboree & Fall!

Sweet Potato (Yam) Pie

Recipe courtesy Mary Beth Johnson courtesy of The Food Network
Show: All-American FestivalsEpisode: East Texas Yamboree

  • 1 unbaked pie crust, recipe follows*
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled and mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 heaping teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (canned, half and half, cream or whole milk)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons margarine, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out 1 pie crust and place it in a pie plate. Mix all of the remaining ingredients together and pour into the unbaked pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until pie is firm. Allow to cool completely.
*Note: This filling is for 1 pie crust. The remaining 3 crusts can be used for other pies or frozen.

Pie Crust (recipe for 4 pie crusts):
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups shortening (butter flavored)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Mix flour, shortening, salt and sugar together with a pastry blender until well blended. Slightly beat egg, water and vinegar together with a whisk and pour over the well blended flour mixture. Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Divide crust into 4 equal parts. Roll each with a rolling pin and place into 4 pie pans. Flute edges of crust.
Yield: 4 pie crusts

Get cooking!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ann's Jezebel Sauce

Today I am going to give a 'shout out' to my good friend Ann G.  She is a great cook and email companion.  She is a mom, teacher, and grandmother who finds time to cook and gave me this recipe for one of my favorite sauces/spreads to put over cream cheese.  It's just a little fattening....but sometimes you have to throw all sense of sensibility to the winds and just enjoy life!  I think I could sit down and eat an entire block of this - it's that good. 

In the fall as the weather turn colder here in Texas, this is always a hit!  I personally like crackers with this, but melba toast would be great as well.

Serve it on a pretty fall plate or crystal dish.  Place crackers around it or in a basket as they will get soggy if the crackers lay on the Jazebel Sauce. 

Enjoy and get cooking! 

Ann's Jezebel Sauce

2 16 oz jars pineapple jelly
1 16 oz jar apple jelly
1 4 oz jar creamy horseradish
1 tablespoon of dry mustard - (spice)

Mix together and keeps a LONG time in refrigerator - but always use good judgement :o) .  Serve over cream cheese with crackers.  Can use 2 of apple and 1 of pineapple if like. 

Great as a hostess gift or teacher gift at the holidays!

From Ann G. 

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hair and Makeup!

In the Nolan household it's show season again! It's our first year for the youngest of our girls to show her cattle in the ring as a full fledged junior here in our Jr. Hereford Association and Jr. FFA program.  She is as excited as the rest of us!

Hair and makeup is what my husband has always called getting the cattle ready for show...that means bathed...yes we wash our cows...combed...we comb, blow their hair out with large super strenght blow house like those you would use at the car wash except these blow out hair...and them we throw on a little hair spray or oil to puff their hair out like your favorite teddy bear!  So with three girls and one older mom at our husband is always out voted...and he understands all too well the hair and make up of not only our cattle but the girls.  I tell everyone that I am the 'puff and fluff' of our outfit...I make sure everyone is fed, clothes are clean, and we are ready to show by looking our best.

Enclosed is a picture of our littliest one showing her heifer Angel.  We call her the 'showmanship hiefer' as she is not the most likely to win a show...but by far the most gentle and Audrey's favorite...she may never go out to pasture and just stay in our barn! 

If you have never watched a cow is a different kind of fun!  We love it.  It has helped make our girls into what they have become and we couldn't be prouder! 


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Ranch's Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd!


It's this time of the year when I think of tailgating at Texas A&M and cooking at the State Fair of Texas for family and friends!  Each year my happiest moments are serving the recipe of Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd that I have entered below.  It's a definite crowd pleaser and along with a salad, and bread sticks, it's fills even the biggest man up! 
I think the Rotel Tomatoes with cilantro are the big difference in this recipe compared to most others.  It adds a freshness and zing that I don't taste in other recipes.  It's a dump recipe at best and if you don't have a large roaster pot - it's a must have.  I recently made an East Texas styled pork roast and sweet potatotes in it that vanished quickly!  Spray  your pan down with Pam or grease it good so your clean up won't take so long!  Always make sure to dry the pans in these roasters, as with scratches they will rust. 

I hope you enjoy this simple dish as much as my friends in our Texas Hereford Associaton do and my local FFA group!  I haven't yet made this at a tailgate, but am looking at the Texas A&M vs. Nebraska game to serve this to a few Aggies I know!
This is my huge double can easily cut this in two!


Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd

12 chicken breast, cooked and cubed (can used canned chicken and/or precooked chicken breast or thighs) 

4 large packages spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds

4 cans Hunts 4 Cheese Spaghetti Sauce or any brand will do!

4 cans Rotel Tomatoes with Cilantro

2 lg. containers chicken broth

2 lg. family sized mushroom soups

2 can’s cream of celery soups

2 large - 2 lb. packages of Velvetta Cheese (no light), cubed

*Optional – 2 – 4 large onions

Salt, pepper, and additional water to cover

Spray large roaster with Pam or oil.  Halve ingredients between two roasting pans.  Place sauce, Rotel tomatoes, chicken broth, mushroom soups, celery soups, onions and water to 6 inches from the top in the two roaster.  Bring to a boil.  Add 1 package of noodles (breaking noodles into thirds – I prefer the thin spaghetti) at a time and allow each package to soften some before adding the next.  Break apart the spaghetti with a fork to make sure the pasta does not stick together as you boil it.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add chicken.  Continue cooking on medium to high heat. 
***Add cubed Velvetta cheese the last 30 minutes as it will stick horribly if added earlier. 

Get cooking!

Alise Nolan

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nolana's Family Hot Sauce

In Texas we LOVE our hot sauce!  My girls ate hot sauce along with their baby food!  Before I felt my oldest daughter could eat the tortilla chips without choking, she would dip a saltine cracker in the hot sauce from our favorite Mexican food restaurants.  

My girls love to eat Mexican food so much, that to tease them when they asked to go out, we'd say, "Yes, we are eating at Nolana's Family Restaurant tonight!"  Of course it took them a while to figure it out....but once they did the name stuck and of course we eat at Nolana's Family restaurant a lot!  Nolana's is of course my family kitchen.  

In an attempt to make my own family recipe that did not have to be cooked, but was fresh, easy, and most importantly tasty, I came up with this simple recipe.  

Here is my attempt at hot sauce or salsa, as some might call it!  My girls love it, as does my husband.  Their friends attack it when they come over!

This hot sauce or salsa keeps well in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Nolana's Family Hot Sauce

2 can's of canned tomatoes with green chili's (not Rotel Tomatoes)
1 small sweet onion, quartered (1015's in Texas)
1 jalapeno, seeded
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cumin (optional)
2 tsp. sugar (optional)
1 bunch cilantro with stems removed\
1 half of a green pepper (optional)
1 half of a sweet banana pepper (optional)
1 lime, juiced (I cut in half and use a fork to get the juices out - works like a charm)

In a medium to large food processor put tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, additional peppers, and spices (garlic salt, pepper, cumin, & sugar.  Pulse for ten second or to desired consistency.  Add to this cilantro mixture and pulse quickly for 2 seconds.  

Cook's Note: This will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator. You can also use other onions like tradtional white and yellow cooking onions, but I think the sweet onions like Texas A&M's 1015's make the hot sauce taste better.

In hopes that your family enjoys it as much as mine does! 

Enjoy along with your favorite tortilla chips, with your Mexican food, on the side of eggs or some fresh cooked peas of any kind! 

Alise Nolan 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Big Girls Favorite Goulash!

Old is only a word, right?  Well tomorrow I will feel old!  My oldest daughter will be 22!  Along with our other daughters, she has been a blessing.  She receives her Aggie Ring in November and graduates from college in May!  We couldn't be prouder!  

Whenever she comes home...she wants our local Mexican food restaurants chips and hot sauce first - and then this dish.  It was the first thing she cooked at college for friends when they all took turns Summer 1 session cooking for each other during the week and watching their favorite summer shows.  

Happy Birthday my big girl!  Now all you have to do is access Mom's site to get your favorite recipes!

My Big Girls Favorite Goulash

2 lbs ground meat, browned (cooked until pink is gone - and drained) :o) - we use Certified Hereford Beef 
1 can stewed tomatoes or canned tomatoes, chopped
1 can Rotel Tomatoes with green chili’s (I like the one with cilantro & lime juice best)
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup sugar
3 tsp. chili powder
4 cans water ( or more as needed to mixture cooks and does not dry out and cause pasta to stick or burn)

2 cups bowtie, egg or macaroni noodles
1 tsp. garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste (1 tsp. of each)
1/ 4 block of large Velvetta Cheese – equals 1 cup chopped
Optional – ½ bell pepper or sweet banana pepper, chopped

Brown hamburger meat and drain. Add tomatoes with liquid from can. Add on onion, sugar, chili powder, water, noodles and spices. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer (low heat). Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender. Add Velvetta Cheese the last 10 minutes or it will stick. Cook in a non stick – Teflon – pan.

Get cooking!


Monday, September 6, 2010

The Ranch Pasta - Literally!

Today I spent a great day, resting - which I never do and once again making my pasta!  This is one of my youngest girls favorite sides that I make.  It's fast and easy...and since I discovered Ranch Dressing in the economy size at my nearby Sam's's even better than easy.  Also...don't discount your store brand take-off Ranch Dressing mixes because they are good as well.  Today was my husbands birthday and friends invited us to their place to celebrate it with them, as they were also celebrating a birthday as well. What a great day!  Thanks the Hayes family!

The Ranch Pasta!

2 packages pasta (any style shells will do)
1/2 cup REAL Mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package Ranch Dressing powdered mix
1 cup cubed sharp cheddar or jalapeno cheese
garlic salt to taste (optional)

Bring water to boil and add pasta.  Boil until pasta is done.  My check for pasta being cooked, is if it forks easily in half, then it is done.  Drain in a colander and cool with running water.  Use a spoon to stir pasta gently around in order to stop cooking process as the cool water runs over it.   Allow pasta to drain well as you complete the next step.  In a mixing bowl, add REAL mayonnaise and sour cream to the Ranch Dressing mix.  Add pasta to Ranch Dressing mixture, stirring to blend.  Add cheese to this and season with garlic salt.  Transfer to another bowl and chill in the refrigerator.  This is always better after it has been allowed to sit in the fridge at least a day. 

You can also add chopped olives, ham, turkey, canadian bacon, real bacon bits, tomatoes, sweet Texas A&M 1015 onions or red onions, and sweet corn to this to add some variety.  You can also squeeze one lemon over the ranch dressing mixture to add a little extra flavor.

Get cooking! 


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pene Pretzels - A Movie Night Favorite!

One of my favorite things as you know is to cook...but more than that it is always to be with my family.  My husband and 3 daughter/extended family (mom, brothers, nephew & nieces) keep me forever cooking.  

My middle daughter loves to have friends over and she is becoming a great cook in her own right.  Whatever your occasion may be, she's going to bake or make these Pene Pretzels...because that is just what she does.  

She's the first to call you on your birthday, be it midnight as her friends and sister know, and my proudest moment with her cooking was when one of her dear friends realized I made the cookies and not Bethany...and that wasn't a compliment on me.  What he meant is that Bethany always watches her baking better than old mom -  who is very easily distracted.  

My husband says I can cook about anything, just not bread as it is always burned as I am forever doing 20 things at once. 

I got this recipe from my husbands best friends 3rd was the hit of the wedding and when they accidentally got spilled everyone jumped up because they were so darn good. 

These are a go to snack for my daughters movie nights at our house.

Pene Pretzels

2 large bags of pretzels
1 package Ranch powdered dressing mix
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 - 2 tsp. garlic salt
1 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil

1. Mix together Ranch powdered dressing, lemon pepper, & garlic salt. 2.Add spice mixture to the oil in a medium size bowl.  In a large bowl (giant actually), begin to place 2 cups of pretzels at a time.  
3. Continually stirring and scooping mixture of spices and oil, one tablespoon at a time and drizzle over the pretzels.  
4. Continue this process, layering pretzels over 'wetted' pretzels until all of the spice/oil mixture is gone and pretzels are coated.  
4. Taste a pretzel.  If it is not salty enough, sprinkle more garlic salt.  But be careful or you can sprinkle too much! 

At our state and national cattle shows, I usually place these in individual sandwich bags and put out as snacks in the afternoon.  It's always a hit and especially good with an adult afternoon beverage.  ;o)  

I hope you love this as much as our family and my daughter's friends do.  It is always highly requested, especially by those big old football boys! 

Get cooking - Alise

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chicken in a Dish!

I think I wore my sweet husband out on this once I learned how to make it...I got this recipe out of a cookbook written by my favorite Aunt Eileen's sister-in-law's mother.  My husband once said if our house burned, get the kids, my mother's handwritten cookbook she wrote for me, and myself and leave...I think I would get this cookbook as well...because as a young wife and mother...this cookbook and recipes were my 'go to' recipes that I could get on the table fast...and were darn good!  This recipe I put in my ladies club cookbook from years ago (we were all young and looking for easy fast recipes for our families)  It's easy and a no brainer...when you see how easy it is you'll be like, "Why didn't I think of that?" Thank God for creative cooks...I aspire each day to be one.

Chicken in a Dish

6 - 8 chicken thighs or 4 chicken breast, skinned (be healthy!)
1 package Zesty Italian Dressing Mix (powdered)
1 stick margarine or butter
8 medium sized new potatoes, quartered
2 cans French style green beans, drained  - regular green beans are fine to use...just not as fancy!
garlic salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to  375 to 400 - depending on how much of a hurry you are in!  I seem to always cook on 425..freaks people just have to watch your dish!

In a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish, coated with Pam non-stick cooking spray (or oiled), place chicken in the center.  Add to this green beans on one side and potatoes on the other.  In a microwave safe bowl, heat margarine
or butter in the microwave until just melted.  Add to this Zesty Italian Dressing Mix and blend.  Spoon butter and Zesty Italian Dressing Mix over the entire chicken, green bean, and potatoe mixture.  Make sure you coat the ingredients evenly.  Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste.  You can substiture Sea an attempt to be healthier.  I love Sea is my new favorite.

Cover with foil tightly and cook for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 careful not to burn yourself with the steam when you take off the foil.  Depending on your oven; whether it be a convection oven or not, monitor this dish carefully after the first 45 minutes the first time you make it so that you do not overcook it. 

Serve with some Lipton Cold Brew Iced Tea (my new favorite easy tea), French bread or Texas Toast, and a salad...and you have a simple meal anyone can make! 

Get cooking! 


Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Artichoke Spread - One of my most requested recipes!

Alise's Artichoke Spread

1 can of Artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 cup Real Mayonnaise
1 bar cream cheese

In a food processor, pulse artichokes until the consistency of small diced onions.  Add Parmesan cheese, Real Mayonnaise, and cream cheese.  Blend together.  Place in a slightly greased dish and heat until melted.  You may use a crock pot on high until melted, stirring to make sure it does not stick. Then place on low.  Or heat in an oven safe dish.  I serve this with fresh French bread or croutons. 

The Ranch Kitchen's First Post

Here I first official blog about my life, our ranch, and my love of all things related to cooking.  My life is always on the go, we raise and show Hereford cattle, and cooking for my family and friends is an outlet for me.  My hope is that I my recipes and post will touch a cord with those who follow it.  I thank those cooks who have most inspired me in my life, my mom and my Granny...who both felt that one of the ultimate expressions of love was a home cooked meal and your family around the table or kitchen with you.
I write this blog as much for myself as for my daughters in hope that they too will carry on the tradition and hand down the recipes of our families.

Let's cook...