Saturday, December 10, 2011

Life Sometimes Gets in the Way

It's been a while, and more than a just a week or two since I posted on my blog The Ranch Kitchen!  Life has been just a little hectic.  I have discovered a few new things this fall.  The first being that it's never easy to send even the second kid off to college.  You miss them greatly. continue to miss the first one you sent off and realize they are starting to make a life of their own! Third, little sisters seem to be resilient in how they handle both big sisters being off at school, even if mom and dad are not!   Fourth, you will go to any extreme to spend time with your girls and find that quality time when you can.  And fifth with each change in life something new seems invariably around the corner and life adapts, moves on, and you continue to get caught in the whirlwind that is life.  

With that said, I am back to the land of blogging after taking a short hiatus to start a new job, getting used to kids being off at college, running the roads on weekends visiting Texas A&M and stock shows with our retiring American Hereford Queen, and all manners of just being overwhelmed just a tad.  I am now ready to post some new recipes with help of my older two daughters who are going to help me post and manage this site from here on out.  The Ranch Kitchen has always been about my family and now my older two daughters Ilissa and Bethany will help me with recipes for this site keeping our ideas fresh and current.   They are both becoming great cooks in their own right and majoring both in communications and journalism from a graduate program at Texas Tech for our Ilissa, and undergraduate for Bethany at Texas A&M.  They should be able to teach old mom a thing or two and rev up the Ranch Kitchen site.

So, today as the holiday season draws near I wanted to share with your recipe from one of my newest addictions Pinterest that may have hindered some post I could have gotten done!  It addicting to say the least and if you are not a member, just message me your email and I can send you an invitation.  It's like a designer's/favorites' board of sorts that you 'pin' all your the ideas found on the Pinterest site or pin from your favorites bar once you download the 'pin' off Pinterest to share pictures you have found.  One of my favorite things that both my daughter's have done for me this season is to post their Christmas Wish List on Pinterest so that I can get a few hints for presents under the tree.
On my board entitled 'Oh Christmas' I have the following recipe for a Christmas Morning Cheese Danish.  It looks absolutely wonderful and I am going to make it for our staff at my school for our Holiday breakfast this weekend and for my family for Christmas morning.  On Christmas we don't eat lunch, but have a huge brunch with our girls.  It's a family tradition I enjoy after opening presents.

And I have to give credit where credit is due, as this recipe is from  You'll want to click on the website link in the previous sentence and check it out.
  • Pinned Image
Christmas Morning Cheese Danish 
2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg white
Glaze: 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Method: Preheat oven to 350* degrees and grease a 13X9-inch baking pan. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and pinch the openings together. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture over the crescent rolls evenly and then lay the second pack of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture and brush with egg white. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes.

The fun of Pinterest of reposting what others have found.  This was repinned from Food I know I am going to love a board of my friend Diane Johnson.  I am also enjoying all the wonderful ideas and recipes she post on Pinterest as well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cheater's Lasagna

Another already long week at work. The moon has been full and it is evident everywhere!  I have always put a lot of stock into the moon phases as a teacher and this week so far has not disappointed! LOL!

Tonight as I shopped for our annual tailgating weekend at Texas A&M, I wanted dinner in a hurry.  I have desserts and cheese balls to make in anticipation of our crowd on Saturday when we beat IDAHO and all the veggies and such to pack in the RV so we are ready to grill!! We are excited that both our big girls will be in Aggieland to be with us and are excited about their friends ring dunks and getting to visit with both them and their parents and our other special friends while at the tailgate and other events.  The weekend can't get here fast enough!   

Considering dinner, I thought of my love for lasagna, but wanted my own take on it.  So, with a little help from some jumbo pasta shells, store bought spaghetti sauce, cheeses, and browned hamburger meat I have a updated version I call 'Cheater's Lasanga'! 

I learned early on that as a cook you don't have to follow all the rules.  You can tweak recipes and come up with new reinvented ones that can be just as fabulous!  This new lasagna recipe is right up there with some of my favorites.  I hope you'll try it and learn to experiment more in the kitchen.  I think the thing that turns most developing cooks off are long winded recipes with ingredients that are not found in their local groceries.  Don't make life hard.  Pressing the easy button in the kitchen is done a lot of my house and you should try it! Use what you have and you'll find that you are more creative in the kitchen than you think!

Cheater's Lasagna

2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 package of jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
2 - 16 ounce cans of store bought spaghetti sauce
     - I prefer Hunts 4 Cheese Spaghetti Sauce
1 cup Colby Jack Cheese
1 - 16 ounce container of Ricotta Cheese

Brown ground beef and drain.  Cook pasta according to package directions and drain.  In a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish place one can of Spaghetti Sauce.  Spoon half of Ricotta Cheese over spaghetti sauce in 1 tsp. sections over sauce.  Please cooked pasta shells over mixture.  Add second half of Ricotta Cheese in 1 tsp. sections over pasta.  Place browned hamburger meet over mixture.  Sprinkle Colby Jack cheese.  Pour second container of spaghetti sauce on top of mixture.  Cook on 425 until mixture is bubbly and cooked through.  

Enjoy....recreating lasagna is as easy as you make it!  So cheat away!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Snickers Cookies

Exchanging recipes are the heart of what cookbooks and friendships are for me. Just the other day at a meeting a colleague and friend just knew I had heard of the recipe I share with you today.  I hadn't and immediately went out and bought the ingredients so that I could make these Snickers Cookies asap!  I finally made them tonight, two weeks later and am so glad I did.  My middle daughter will be proud they came out slightly browned as I tend to over toast bread and desserts as I get distracted!  :o)

So give it a try...the variations on this recipe could be endless with all the candies available in our market and grocery stores.

Snickers Cookies ala Sigrid

1 roll of ready made sugar cookies, sliced in 1 1/2 inch rounds -do not roll with out with rolling pin -
1 package of Snicker's Mini Candy Bars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice sugar cookies rolls in to 1 1/2 inch slices (see pictures).  Place one Snicker's Mini Candy into the center of each round and form sugar cookie dough around the candy, much like when you played with play dough as a child.  Place Snicker cookies on a cookie sheet and bake until slightly browned. 

Cool and serve with a big glass of milk.

These are at the top of my list now.  Get cooking.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Golden Pork Chops and Rice Casserole

I've told you how much I love to cook with Campbell's Soups right?  It's a staple in my pantry and one of the easiest ways I know to throw a dinner together in under five minutes!  The other night I was a little exhausted.  Work had gone long and the family was hungry.  So out came the Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup and Cream of Chicken Soup, a package of pork chops from our show piggy from last year, two cups of rice, water, spices, and a stick of margarine!  With a side of green beans and garlic toast...dinner was served in an hour while I caught up my youngest daughter on her homework. 

Below is the's just my variation.  You can use most soups and make a meal as good as this one give it a try. 

Golden Pork Chops and Rice Casserole

4 pork chops
1 can Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cups rice (I prefer Uncle Ben's Rice - not Minute Rice)
4 -5 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 stick of margarine cut in 1 tsp. squares

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish with Pam spray or coat in margarine.  Add soups, seasonings, water and whisk.  Sprinkle rice over mixture evenly.  Add pork chops.  Place margarine over pork chops.  Cook uncovered for 1 hour or until dish is slightly browned on top and meat is done.

Get cooking!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Perfect Pot Roast on the Stove

I learned so many things from my Granny. The first lesson was about unconditional love. My Grandmother or 'Granny' on my mother's side of the family grew up in a rather large family, as most people did in the depression. From that love of family she had five children of her own and I always marveled as she loved each for the unique individual that they were. Their wives and husbands became immediate members of our large family and felt as welcome in her home as they did their own parents. My father loved my grandmother immensely as did my husband Scott. She was spirited and everyone's cheerleader; reminding us all from time to time her years as cheerleader at her high school, and always had time for her family.

Granny's second lesson was how to give of one self. I fondly remember as a child how she would drive up to my parents married dormitory in college at East Texas State University and bring huge bags of groceries to my very needy, poor college student parents with two small children! Many times she would take my brother and I home for a week during my parent finals or just because my grandparents wanted to be with us. I vaguely remember those times, but the memories I have are of how much I enjoyed being with both my grandparents and aunt and uncles.

As I grew up, my grandparents divorced, but neither one never stopped spending quality time with my brother and I through our weeks spent at their homes. I don't think she or my grandfather for that matter ever thought twice about us being there or infringing on their weekends. That is just how it was and they wanted us in their lives.

Third, you know if you are follower of my blog, that one of the biggest lessons I learned from my grandmother was my love of cooking. She passed that on to my mom and down to me instinctively. Large family meals were an easy task for her. She was used to cooking for 3 sons, two daughters, a husband, and her sons and daughter in-laws. I remember watching in awe as she would cook a pie in the outside grill to not heat up her house and cook a roast on the stove top for meal that she needed in a hurry. Granny didn't measure and she wasn't a fussy cook, but she could make a Holandaise Sauce and the best cornbread you ever ate.

Today, I want to share with you her roast recipe with a little twist in spice that I made the other night. Not many people think of cooking a roast out of the oven. But in all honesty, it couldn't be simpler. My husband loved the new potatoes that cooked in the broth of the roast and dinner was ready in under an hour and a half on a week night! Roasts in my household are usually reserved for Sudnay night.

I used my Crueset Roaster, but any good quality pot will do. Just be careful to not boil your water out of the pan by having your fire up too high. So with that said, add water as you need too! Reduce your fire or temperature on your electric cooktop once you have brought your roast to a boil or a low simmer. Cover and in a relatively short time you will have your usual weekend dinner on a weekday night!

Granny's Perfect Pot Roast

1 - Chuck Roast
2 onion, quartered and sliced - not too thinly
7 new potatoes, quatered and sliced - not too thinly
5 - 6 cups water
2 tbs. Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 package of brown instant gravy

Wash pot roast and place in a roaster coeverd with 5 - 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil for ten minutes. Turn fire or temperature down to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes adding 1 tbsp. of Tony Chachere's Seasoning. Prepare potatoes and onions and add to the pot. Add 1 tbsp. of Tony Chacheres Cajun Seasoning, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and brown gravy packet. Mix gravy packet in pot until it is dissolved. Make sure you have enough water the entire time your roast cooks to cover your roast by 1 inch. Continue to cook for 45 minutes or until your roast is medium rare (when sliced through with a knife your roast will have a pink center - but not too pink).

When roast is cooked place on a serving tray and allow to stand/sit for 5 minutes. Slice going against the grain and spoon potatoes and onions around your roast. Serve with some Lima Beans, salad, and soft roll and it's a great meal anytime!

Thanks Granny! I love and miss you greatly!

Make this soon!  It's super simply and your family will love it!  One tip is use your left over roast with an added gravy the next day over toast!  It's wonderful!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Welcome Gilmer ISD to my 'Let's Blog About It' Ignite Inservice Session!

Blogging these days is everywhere!  Over two years ago I dove head first into the world of blogging becoming obsessed with everything to do with them!  What I found was an outlet for my writing, a way to share one of my passions in cooking, and a way to connect with new friends across the Internet!  These last two years have been both a learning experience and such a pleasure as I broaden my horizons and find a 'hobby' so to say that I can see myself keeping up with the rest of my life.

As a mother of three daughters and from a  host of great country cooks, passing down this tradition was and is important to me.  As my oldest daughter left for college,  I never got that hand written ookbook made for  her like I promised.  So, I turned to blogging to share our families recipes.  What stemmed from that simple gesture (for my daughters to learn to cook from my online journal so to say) has currently over 4,000 hits and now 5 followers.  Countless other 'followers' tell me they sign up by email to receive my 'post'. 

I have found that when I am inspired, I post.  When I have had an especially meaningful memory or meal, that is when I publish a post via my site 'The Ranch Kitchen' blog site.  To date I have over 46 post 35 followers, and try to post at least once every week if not two weeks.  However lately with the moving of both my daughters to their respective graduate and undergraduate colleges, life so to say has gotten in the way! 

Inspiration is found everywhere for my blog. The name itself stemmed from our ranch where we live we live on and of course my kitchen.  My husband says when were first married that if the house burned to get the kids, get the myself out, and not to forget my mother's handmade cookbook she wrote in her own handwriting.  He always liked her cooking and was pleased as punch I was trying to be as good as her. 

Now, if the house burns, I don't have to worry about my blog...I just make sure I back up my site from time to time, because sadly even web sites can go down and disappear.   My hope is to one day place my blog into a cookbook that can be hand held as another gift to my daughters.  Because ultimately, when I am gone one day, this blog or journal of sorts will be all that is left of me and a window into how momma cooked and how much she loved her family.

So today Gilmer ISD, as I teach you all about the relatively new world of blogging, I hope you'll see what I see!  It's a whole new world out there everyday in the digital world.  One full of constantly unfolding websites that beckon us to take a look and become a part of them.  Blogging is just that; an interactive way to not only blog on my site, but become a part of others blogs by not only commenting on them, but sharing and becoming inspired but what others do best.

So sit back, let's 'surf' the web by looking at not only my blog, but a few of my favorites!  Become a follower of my blog The Ranch Kitchen and I hope you take back with you today possibly not only something you can use in your leisure time, but see the infinite possibilities you can have with blogging in your classroom

Many thanks,

Let's get cooking,

Alise Nolan
Gilmer ISD
Academic Coordinator
2010 - 2011

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Onion Frittata

Our garden this year has given us many things...time to be together late in the afternoon, veggies for dinner and something to share with our families and friends.  Last night was no exception.  After cooking lately what seemed like chicken, chicken, pork, and pork, I decided we needed a little variety!  One of my favorite 'gotta have it' carnival foods has always been an Italian Sausage sandwich!  It's heartburn on a bun, but I can't imagine not eating one at least once each year. 

Last night I started to crave one.  As I my middle daughter went off to the store, I asked her to pick up some Italian Sausage.  With my left over Garlic Pasta recipe from the night before - I'll share that one later this week, some roasted red bell peppers and onions from our garden made in a foil pack with a little Canola oil, and a salad with fresh garden tomatoes, dinner was done in under 20 minutes!  It was a welcome treat from chicken, chicken, pork, and pork! 

This morning as I thought of what to make the 5 girls in the house as both my youngest daughters had sleep over guest, I thought of an Italian Sausage Frittata.  What resulted is the recipe I share with you today.  With some biscuits, jam, and butter, breakfast was served in under 30 minutes!  I love trying to find new ways to reinvent my left overs.  This baked egg Frittata will definitely be cooked many more times in my families future.  It was not overly greasy and with the addition of cheese and some Slap Ya Momma Cajun Seasoning, this dish was graded up to something that I decided I would put on my blog for you today!

Italian Sausage and Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Onion Frittata

9 eggs, beaten
4 Italian Sausages, quartered and chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers and onions
1/4 teaspoon Slap Ya Momma Cajun Seasoning
1 cup Mexican blend cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Quarter and chop Italian Sausages.  Mince roasted red bell peppers and onions.  In a bowl beat 9 eggs.  Add the roasted red bell peppers and onions to the eggs and beat.  Add Slap Your Momma Seasoning and beat.  Add the Italian Sausages and mix well.  To this mixture add the 1 cup of Mexican Blend grated cheese and mix well.  Place in a well greased or buttered pie plate of oven proof fry pan.  Cook on 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until the center of the Frittata is set and the eggs are not soft.

Serve with garlic sprinkled biscuits - (biscuits slightly buttered before cooking on top with a sprinkle of garlic salt). 

Get cooking!


Monday, July 4, 2011

Paula's Frozen Fruit Cups

You can meet the nicest people when you aren't expecting it.  That was the case for me more than 8 years ago in Indianapolis, Indiana when I met Paula Achison over the back of cement cattle tie.  We were both at a National Jr. Exposition that our kids were attending.  Paula, I found out, loved to cook as much as I do.  One day our interest in what the other was making for our state group of kids while in the barns got the better of us and we introduced ourselves to each other.  I remember distinctly how impressed I was with her frozen fruit cups and after having one that day, I have remembered them to this day and our friendship has grown.  She is a wonderful mother, friend, and cattle woman who is a constant supporter of my blog and my daughter Bethany as she has served as National Hereford Queen this year.  As a member of the American Hereford Women she is a representative for all of us throughout our nation who are interested in not just our great Hereford cattle, CHB (Certified Hereford Beef), but mentoring and promoting our youth to lead our organization in the future! 
As my family adds one more thing to the cattle trailer for our trip to this years National Jr. Hereford Expo, the one thing I will be placing in my cooler will be this recipe that Paula got from a friend years ago for her Frozen Fruit Cups!  She messaged me a bit ago and told me that you can find them at the grocery store made by Glad Mini Cups in eight packs.  Packing in these little containers makes it both convenient and easy to store in your cooler.  I plan to serve these little fruit treats for breakfast one hot morning as a treat for our crew!
This year we will be eating with the state associations that will be providing lunch and some dinners nightly.  It's a huge task for these states to host a Jr. Nationals with over 1,500 head of cattle in attendance and over 900 jrs. and their parents in attendance each year.  We've been a little scared this year that our nationals may be cancelled due to flood water conditions and heavy rains north of Kansas City, Missiouri.  But thankfully for the north the rains have subsided some and for those of us in Texas we just wish they would send it our way!  Hay this year will be hard to come by. Pray for us!  Fires and drought have ravaged the ranches and land in our state this spring and summer season of 2011. 
This summer our Bethany will serve as National Hereford Queen and she could not be more excited.  She and I have planned a Queen's Tea at her insistence.  Little girls, their mothers, former National Queens and the American Hereford Women are in for a fun treat and etiquette lesson on Tea by our friend Diane Johnson of Details by Design of Fort Worth who will give an overview at our event.  Bethany is really looking forward to getting to meet all the little Hereford girls in attendance!
Good luck to all the juniors in attendance and especially our little Audrey who will be showing at her 3rd Jr. Nationals.  I will be also cooking my Chicken Spaghetti For A Crowd once again and expect to see all my 'kids' at the stalls on that day!  I'll let you know when it's on the menu.  So stop by our stalls just to visit and catch up!  Safe travels and to everyone enjoy your July.  Stay cool and please try the fantastic recipe below.  You will not be disappointed!

Frozen Fruit Cups From Paula Achison - Anita's Frozen Fruit Cups:
1 cup each of assorted fruits like cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, etc.
1 container of frozen orange juice concentrate
Mix fruit and frozen orange juice concentrate together.  Place in Glad Mini Bowls and freeze.  You can serve these frozen, slightly thawed, or completely thawed according to your taste.  ***You can use any fresh fruit that is in season says Paula. Cantaloupe, grapes,strawberries etc. Sometimes she would put in a can of peaches for the juice. The real secret to the dish she says is the frozen orange juice concentrate that you stir in undiluted. This keeps the fruit from turning brown. Then she puts the fruit mixture in small cups and freeze them.  She uses the reusable Glad Mini Bowls in the eight pack with a lid to freeze them.
Paula says that during the summer her boys would work for a large farming/cattle operation. They both enjoyed Anita's wonderful cooking as much as the money. They always were telling about something she made and the Frozen Fruit Cups was one thing she would pack in a cooler for a snack in the tractor or combine. 
Get cooking! 

Below are some pictures of our National Jr. Hereford Expo in Indiana last year!

Alise and Paula!
Our group of great kids from the state of Texas at opening ceremonies!

My girls last Jr. Nationals to all show in!

Audrey showing in PeeWee Showmanship Competition.  She made the Finals and top 11 with her heifer Angel, her favorite Hereford to this day!

My husband Scott and oldest daughter Ilissa smiling at Audrey showing in Showmanship!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Ranch Kitchen's Fried Green Tomatoes

Each year my husband plants a huge garden.  Each year we say it will be smaller.  Each year our garden is just as big!!  We enjoy the fresh tomatoes, potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, corn, cucumbers, watermelon, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, radishes and eggplant...and I still don't think I mentioned all that we grow! 

One result of our garden is that we have taught our daughters that when you grow one, you share with others.  Each year when friends come over they'll find veggies in a bag in their trucks and cars.  I even once thanked our local friend/doctor for a stitches on one of our girls with some garden vegetables! 

With groceries increasing in price each year and especially this one, I save a small fortune at the grocery store with our homegrown vegetables.  Since our beef comes from our Hereford cattle, on some nights most of our meal comes right off the ranch!  It's satisfying knowing that.  My mom used to say how my Grandfather would tell her and her sister and brothers the same thing and how proud he was to be able to produce most of their meal on those nights long ago! 

I hope we instilled in our daughters the tradition of gardening.  Scott is the planter and I am the cook.  It works out well that way.  There is nothing it seems that ever compares to a homegrown tomato or squash!

Just the other night I decided to cook Fried Green Tomatoes because with over 30 tomato plants we have a lot of green tomatoes!  They turned out really good.  If you have never tasted them or cooked them for yourself...they have a sweet flavor that is wonderful!  Below is my rendition of this classic Southern recipe!  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!  To me a little ketchup is a must on the side!

The Ranch Kitchen's Fried Green Tomatoes

3 - 6 green tomatoes that are on the verge of turning pink, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 package of yellow cornbread mix
1 cup flour, all purpose
1 egg
1/2 cup water

Slice your tomatoes 1/2 inch in thickness.  In a bowl place the instant yellow cornbread mix and flour and mix together well.  In another bowl place the egg and 1/2 cup water and mix until frothy.  Dip the tomatoes in the egg and water mixture and then in the cornbread mix.  In a Teflon coated fry pan place tomatoes in 1 to 1 1/2 inch of Canola Oil.  Gently turn tomatoes as they brown to a golden brown on each side.  When both sides are browned, place tomatoes on a serving platter lined with paper towels to sop up the left over oil.  Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt or regular salt.  Serve warm with a dollop of ketchup!  Enjoy!

Get cooking! 

Some are slightly browner than others....sometimes you have to step away from the pan...just don't wait too long!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Funfetti Cookies by Pillsbury and my girls!!

Funfetti Cookies! Oh the smell of it!. My Bethany makes them all the time! Simple and quick to make and you can use the Pillsbury brand cake mix or a generic brand. It uses 3 ingredients and that's it! It's a no brainer.  Just don't overcook it as I tend do all thing that are bread or of the cookie variety. My mind tends to wander and things get a bit crispy!!!!

This recipe is straight off the side of the box.  If you are like me you may miss a great recipe for years just because you just don't look. This is now one of our expected desserts for events like our Hereford shows and just the girls get togethers.  Once you try it you will see why!!

Funfetti Cookies

1 box Pillsbury Funfetti Cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Blend together and cook at 375 degrees until just browned on the bottom. Icing is great on these as well! Enjoy!

I am eating one right now as I write this!

Get cooking!

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marinated Squash from The Ranch Kitchen's Garden

The other night I tried something new.  I just don't think you can mess up squash on the grill anyway you cook it.  That night I was in a hurry.  Family was coming over for an unexpected visit and I wanted to be done with part of dinner.  Have I told you how much I love Newman's Own Salad Dressings?   Well I absolutely love them...all of them...haven't found one I don't like or love!  Their Caesar Salad Dressing that is made with oil and not creamy was my dressing of choice on this night. 

 I cut up all my squash in fourths, in small 1/2 inch slices.  To this I added a yellow onion, sliced.  And then some fresh new potatoes in small slices...make sure you do not cube your potatoes a you want them as thinly sliced, even thinner than your squash or you will have your squash cooked and undercooked potatoes! Potatoes are optional...I had some on hand so I added them.  

To the vegetables I added the entire bottle of Newman's Own Caesar Salad Dressing and tossed.  I actually kept this in the refrigerator all night and the next day as our guest stayed a little long and we had summer sausage for dinner that night instead!  Occasionally toss your squash in the dressing in the refrigerator.  A gallon Ziplock bag would be excellent for this as you could easily just turn it in the fridge every once in a while. 

When I started to prepare dinner, I used my wok to cook the marinated squash.  I used no oil, as this marinade had plenty.  I used did not use any other spices as the Newman's Own Caesar Dressing had all that as well.  I simply turned the fire under my wok on medium and sauteed my squash until they were done and soft throughout! 

My husband loved it and so did I.  The marinade did not overpower the squash and cooked off nicely in the wok.  If you don't own a wok, you would enjoy it.  I use mine often and it is easy to clean up.

I hope you'll try this recipe for Marinated Squash!  With the overabundance we now have in our garden, I am trying all sorts of new ways to prepare and serve it!

Marinated Squash

6 yellow squash, sliced
3 zucchini squash, sliced
3 potatoes, slicked (optional)
1 onion, sliced
16 ounce bottle of Newman's Own Caesar Dressing - oily one...not creamy

Slice both yellow squash, zucchini in fourths no larger than 1/2 inch in width.  Cut onions and potatoes in smaller sized 1/4 inch slices.  Add Newman's Own Caesar Dressing to this and marinate in the refrigerator over night for at least 2 hours. 

Cook over medium heat in a Teflon coated skillet or wok until all vegetables are soft.  


Get cooking!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pizza on the grill. A Ranch Kitchen fast dinner.

Pizza on the grill has become a new Nolan family tradition.  Back in the fall our middle daughter Bethany decided to host another one of her 'hangouts' with friends at our house.  Scott had recently finished construction of our new outdoor kitchen off our back porch.  To say we love it, is an understatement.  We use it most nights in the spring, summer, and early fall.  It's yet another place for our family to reconnect and actually sit down as a family and eat dinner.  This summer it has served as a place to clean all our vegetables from our garden and ripen a tomatoe or two.  On that late fall night, Bethany and friends made pizza, ate her brownies and just enjoyed being teenagers!  It was fun and heartwarming to watch the kids use our new outdoor kitchen, realize that they were safe in our home, and enjoying each others company.  Later this, our older daughter Ilissa and her high school buddies  came out from their respective colleges around Easter grilled pizzas on the porch as well.  Below I posted some pictures of our
new outdoor kitchen and our girls gatherings!

Pizza has become a fun, fast, entertaining dinner to make in a pinch or just because we want it.  Anyway you chose to fix it is the right way, with whatever toppings you have on hand.  One note is to make sure whatever you put on top is precooked.  Any meats should be done so that they are simply heated up as you do not want to put raw meat on your pizza. The Turkey Pepperoni that you can find in your deli section at the grocery store is really one of our favorite meat toppings to use.  I also like to simply slice up deli honey ham or turkey to use as a meat topping as well.  We use a good grade spaghetti sauce that I keep in my outdoor refridgerator, and our favorite cheeses are mozzarella and Mexican blends.  From our garden or the produce section of the grocery store we use sweet onions, fresh tomatoes, banana and bell peppers as extra toppings depending on everyone likes/dislikes. Italian seasoning/spices are great and I like to grind these on top of our pizzas to give it a fresh taste.  Another great options is that you can also do the mini pizzas and allow everyone to make their own home styled pizza.

When it comes to you grill, be careful not to have your fire to high and allow your grill to heat up some before placing your pizza on it.  We have found that a pizza stone is the best thing to use as it heats your pizza and keeps your crust from burning.  You can grill your pizza directly on the stone or place on foil on top of the stone.  I like the foil on the stone idea best as it makes it easier to take your pizza off the grill.  I've not dropped one yet...but the fear of it makes me use the foil. 

My dad always brings me in this fantastic flat bread when he visits us and this bread is my favorite to use for our homemade pizza.  Its about 13 inches long and 9 inches wide and is enough for five of us to each have two heaping pieces of pizza.  In the deli section of our grocery store they have good selections of pizza bread that is already cooked or flat breads as well now.  You can use dough, but I suggest you use the pizza stone, as otherwise your dough will burn.  Remember to continue to peal up the crust off the foil or stone to check for either your fire being too high or your crust getting to crispy...I usually server the outside pieces to my dear husband as he likes his almost burnt!  Men!

I hope you will try pizza on the grill can always make it indoors...but the grill just makes it more fun and a great opportunity to just relax with your family.  Last night we attended a rodeo in  the town next door that had awared Bethany a nice scholarship.  It's always my favorite rodeo that I enjoy going too.  After arriving late home, my husband, our Bethany and her best friend Ashley thought that pizza sounded good.  So with very little effort, pizza was complete and on our plates in under fifteen minutes. 

So...this summer grill you or your family members or friends some pizza.  With a salad, fresh cantaloupe, and maybe even a dessert pizza on the grill...dinner is served.

Get cooking!

Outdoor kitchen..and our dog Aggie!

Our outdoor kitchen...grilling!

Outdoor kitchen porch view.

Outdoor kitchen view from back yard.

Ilissa and friends in from college.

Bethany and her Gladewater Rodeo Scholarship!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Chicken Picata by The Ranch Kitchen

Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Today is bittersweet for me! My middle daughter is graduating from high school!  We are very, very proud of the young woman she has become, with good moral values, determination, and example she has become for her younger sister!  She is off to college at our favorite university Texas A&M.  Gig'em!  We love you Bethany!  I thank God for his many blessings. 

As I thought about today what recipe to share with you over the Memorial Day weekend!  A friend the other day asked if I had a good Chicken Picatta recipe....and I just did.  I love Chicken Picatta especially from The Cheesecake Factory or Grand Lux Cafe in Las Vegas, Dallas, and/or Houston!  This is my rendition of it and I hope you like it.  A special thanks to Campbell's soups for taking a ton of work out of this recipe!  The can is my friend!

Chicken Picata by The Ranch Kitchen

4 – 6 chicken breast – seasoned with salt and pepper - can be slightly pounded flat if you like
1 onion sliced thin - optional
juice of one to two lemons, depending on size and your preference
1 can cream of chicken soup – not light version
1 can cream of celery soup – not light version
½ to 1 cup water to thin soups
½ cup capers with 2 tablespoons brine/juice
2 tablespoons of Canola Oil or Grapeseed Oil
1/8 tsp. (not much) garlic salt, salt and pepper to season

Brown your chicken in a non-stick skillet with some canola oil – 2 tablespoons.  When almost done, add your onions and saute until slightly opaque.  Add soups, lemon juice, water, 1/8 tsp. garlic salt and more pepper if needed – you can use white pepper if you don’t like the black pepper.  Cook until chicken juices run clear and there is no longer a pink middle.  Taste and see if you need more lemon juice, caper juice/brine or seasonings.  You can also slice lemons in a thin circle to serve on top. I serve this over Angel Hair pasta.  This is the closest I have come to replicating The Cheesecake Factories/Grand Lux CafĂ© (owned by same company) in Dallas at the Galleria and in Houston.

***As you celebrate this Memorial Day in our U.S.A. remember those who fought for our freedoms.  I thank my grandfather Herbert Young who's service to our country was in the Pacific Theatre in World War II. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti For A Crowd. One of my most requested recipes.

Summer is almost here!  I can't wait! It' my turn to relax!  This summer I will be moving daughters to two different universities, attending cattle shows, getting in a little traveling like camping at the lake in our RV, going to Sonoma, California for a Hereford Gala, and most of all just being home.  I plan on enjoying my yard and vegetable garden, outdoor kitchen (thanks Scott) and gearing up for a very busy fall with new students in my classroom and plenty of trips to see my girls.  Because as my husband said to our youngest daughter, we are going to visit them until we don't miss them so much! :o)  I know they are going to be so excited about that!

I realized that I had NEVER shared my most requested recipes for you all!  It's the Ranch Kitchen's Chicken Spaghetti For A Crowd!  Each year this is a staple at all the Hereford cattle shows we attend like the National Jr. Hereford Show this summer, the State Fair of Texas in the fall; in the winter the Southwestern Exposition in Fort Worth and the Houston Livestock Show in the spring.  You can't go wrong with this it's a filling, stick to your ribs kind of meal that fills the biggest man up.  My friends kids tell me that when they are at the shows they expect this meal...thanks Taylor S.! 

I guess one of the reasons I cook is to bond with others at these shows.  There is nothing like a 'home' cooked meal to do that in a barn full of cattle.  I've met some of the nicest ladies over the back of a stall as we all cooked for our state associations and families.  Each year my family spends about a month or more with our 'Hereford Family'.  The memories, friendships made from across our state and nation, are something we hold dear to our heart.  It's hard work raising both our kids and our cattle.  The folks we have grown to love are some of the best examples of what we want our kids to become and I thank them for that.  Some years our vacations are the cow shows...because after you've already been gone two or more weeks to cattle event like our shows or our PRIDE leadership retreats/camps, getting in another vacation just isn't happening as school quickly approaches. 

So I hope you'll try this recipe and share it with a crowd like we do!  It takes a little planning ahead like cooking and freezing your chicken before you go if you are like me and don't really care for chicken ala can...chicken in the can.  But it's so worth it.  Many years ago my sweet husband surprised me with a lock box on rollers to put all my cookware, utensils,and food supplies in for our week long shows.  It has proved to be invaluable and gets lots of use. I know most women wouldn't get excited about a lock box for food....but it has been my right hand man at shows.

I also hope you discover the many meals you can make with a large electric roaster oven.  I love the portable aspect of these ovens. Any brand will work...just remember to grease it slightly as if you don't you'll have a mess to clean up!  I love my roasters and will share later in the summer some of my go to meals that I fix at our summer shows.  In all honesty we enjoy our meals that we prepare in the barns to going out to eat at these shows, because a week -7 or more full days of eating out makes one yearn for home cooking the most!

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 – buy the best brand possible – good quality (it's a goey mess if you don't) 

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

4 cans Rotel Tomatoes with lime and cilantro

2 lg. containers chicken broth - 16 ounce

2 lg. family sized cans cream of mushroom soups

2 lg. family sized can’s cream of celery soups

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

*Optional – 2 – 4 large onions, chopped

***you can also add green bell peppers, diced

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.  Don't go crazy with the water or it will make a mushy mess.  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

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fajitas Over a Campfire - W4 Ranch & Lake Whitney

Camping in our RV - Motorhome is one of my very favorite things to do!  I never dreamed I would enjoy it so much!  The things I like most are that you are gone from home with your only obligation being to relax, sit by the fire, fish, swim, and ride around in the boat!  My girl love to wake board and I enjoy just watching them try new tricks! 

This weekend we spent at Lake Whitney State Park in Texas. It is a lovely park that has beautiful clear water!  My husband and youngest daugther went down the day before for a daddy/daughter trip as I had to teach and my middle daughter had an FFA Scholarship Interview.  We were attending a sale at W4 Ranch which is a Hereford Ranch outside Morgan, Texas for the Texas Hereford Association entitled 'Hats off to Herefords'.  Many thanks to W4 and all the Hereford breeders who brought or bought cattle at this sale that helped benefit the association.  We got some great pictures of our Bethany on the place as well.  It is absolutely a gorgeous ranch!  I can just imagine an Indian or cowboy coming over a bluff on horseback!

Later on that day, we spent the afternoon after the sale riding around on parts of their over 50,000 acre ranch!  You'll see some other pictures I have posted below as well....notice Audrey's grip on my arm...we were at the top of the cliff!  She is her mommas child....we both HATE heights!  We enjoyed our time with the Hartley's of H2 Ranch and the Coffelts of Whitney FFA.  It was nice to catch up with them away from a cattle show. 

Photo courtesy of

One of my favorite things to cook while we are on one of our camping trips is fajitas.  It's easy as cooking a steak on the grill.   I foil wrap my onions and bell peppers in a little oil, Cajun seasoning, and a few ice cubes to make sure my vegetables don't cook too quickly.   Once we have our meat and onions cooked and tortillas warmed over the fire, you simply need your salsa, guacamole, and chips and your meal is done!  Paper plates are set out, as are our fine plastic forks and knives.  Serve your favorite beverage or margaritas and enjoy your night under the stars!

Skirt steak is my preferred cut of meat that I use for my fajitas, but I have been known to take out some of my CHB (Certified Hereford Beef) round steaks from our herd to use as my beef.  A lot of this meal you can get ready at home and throw in your cooler or refrigerator.  I really like the new non-stick foil also for cooking these fajitas as it just released so well and helps me not overcook my meats.

I hope you'll find time to camp at one of the many state parks in your area.  It's an activity I wish we had done earlier with our older girls, but we are making up for now with our youngest daughter! 

W4 Ranch Bluff
Scott has talked about the view from the top of this for years and we finally got to experience it!
Here we are on top of the bluff..notice our little ones white knuckles!


The Ranch Kitchen's Easy Fajita Marinade!

3 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 - 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt - I like mine salty
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

Add skirt steak to this marinade in a plastic bag or container.  Refrigerate 30 minutes, making sure to coat all of the steak in the marinade.  Grill on top of your fire on non stick foil or in a foil pack.

Serve in flour tortillas with roasted onions, peppers, and jalapenos!  This recipe is great along with refried beans, Spanish rice, guacamole, and Nolana's Family Hot Sauce!  Don't forget a very large fishbowl Margarita!  Sit back and enjoy!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Ranch Kitchen's Salmon Patties or Croquettes

One of my favorite comfort foods has always been salmon patties or as some call them salmon croquettes!  I try to always keep two cans of a good quality red salmon in my pantry at all times for when I start to crave them.  I put a twist off my mom's recipe that is fantastic and added some dill to it.  I have also added mint before and it is equally as good. 

It's a basic recipe that I fry in Canola Oil and serve with home style french fries, a salad, and usually green beans or corn on the cob.  Be warned though....your kitchen will have that salmon smell...but it is worth it.  Just clean your pan pretty quick!

The Ranch Kitchen's Salmon Patties or Croquettes

2 - 16 ounce cans of red salmon, drained and cleaned (little bones out - you can leave them in or out.  I prefer out!
1 onion chopped fine
2 eggs beaten
1/ 4 cup milk
1 tablespoon of mustard spread (from the squirt jar or jar)
1  - 2 tsp. dill or mint to taste...I personally like  2 tsps.
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 sleeve of Saltine Crackers, crushed in their have to be gentle for this to work!

Place cleaned salmon in a large bowl.  Add to salmon the onion, milk, eggs and Saltine Crackers and blend with a fork.  Add seasoning as you continue to blend ingredients.  Form into palm sized patties, making sure that all edges are smooth and not ragged.  Fry in 1 inch of oil until both sides are browned.  I like mine well done and crispy...but it is up to you how long you cook them.  After you take the out of the pan, drain the salmon patties on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with extra garlic salt.

Enjoy!  I also love them cold as to me they are that good and make sure you have ketchup on hand!

Get cooking!