Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken or Pork Chops and Rice

Today, I am on a deadline...but I work best that way.  I am the biggest procrastinator in the world!  In college whenever I had a big paper due, project, or presentation, I did everything but what I needed to do.  I cooked, cleaned (I hate to clean house), and I became 'Suzy Homemaker'.  Finally at 10:30 at night, when everyone was asleep, I was at my best, exhausted, but in 'my zone'.  Whatever it takes - I always meet those deadlines!
So below is not the meal I prepared last night, but should have...I fixed an elaborate meal of roast beef and all the sides...remember I had a deadline to meet! Crazy but true! 

What I should have fixed was my easy - Pork Chops or Chicken and Rice!  So here's to what I should have done...and my 'ode' to soup in the can!

I owe a lot to soup and soup mixes.  They are staples in my kitchen.  I can't imagine life without them.  I imagine my granny, making homemade based soups and stocks over a hot stove with five kids at her side.  Thank God for modern conveniences and soup in a can! 

For new cooks the recipe I am enclosing today is EASY.  Anyone can make this as it's that simple.  It's comfort food at it's best.  Along with my Italian Green Beans, a green salad, and French bread you'll have  a meal that everyone will love. 

Chicken or Pork Chops and Rice

Chicken breast or pork chops – 4 to 8 of each

1 can of cream of mushroom soup or cream of chicken soup according to your taste (because some people just hate mushrooms!)

1 pkg. onion soup mix – dry mix

4 - 6 cans water

1 stick margarine or butter

2 cups rice – Uncle Ben’s brand white rice or 2 packages of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice with seasoning packet as in the picture above...if you use Wild Rice omit/take out the onion soup mix as you have seasoning packets in the Wild Rice.

salt and pepper to taste -optional

* In a 9 x 13 inch glass dish sprayed with cooking oil, place water and soups. 
* Stir and break up soups with a whisk or fork. 
* Mix in rice evenly. 
* Place meat on top of the rice/soup mixture. 
* Dot with margarine and season with salt and pepper. 
* Cover with foil and cook on 375 degrees Farenheit for 1 and 1/2 hour or until meat or rice looks done (bottom of your dish will be slightly browned). The top of rice and meat will be slightly 'crusty'.  Do not cook too long or it will dry out the rice.  Adjust cooking time depending on your oven.

Serve with my The Ranch Kitchen's Italian Green Beans, rolls and my Winter Salad all found on this site under Recipes and Side Dishes.  This is one of my dad Al's favorite recipes!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Ranch Kitchen's Creamy Salsa Dip

It's crunch time...someone has asked me to dinner last minute and I need a quick, easy, and yummy recipe that will be a people pleaser!  I have my chips and salsa...but that's too easy.  So I look...I have cream cheese, but no sour cream...what to do?  I make up the cold dip recipe that I share with you today - The Ranch Kitchen's Creamy Salsa Dip.  It has three of my favorite ingredients, cream cheese, salsa, and ranch dip powdered mix!  I am good to go!

Years ago, in my early 20's we used every excuse to get together with friends.  Today it's a little harder with all our cattle shows and daughters in or preparing for college, but I remember how much fun we always had.  We'd get together after football games with our young kids all in their pajamas as they played and ran all through my house.  Then  the 'adults'...seems funny to call 20 something years old adults...would visit!  All of the young women were budding cooks and we really enjoyed showing off our newest recipe from either a new cookbook we found or our mom's tried and true ones.  We didn't have Google back then or the wonderful cooking sites and blogs now available to browse to find just the right recipe.  A lot of the time we improvised and made something from what we had on hand, just like I have done for you today.  This recipe is similar to my Shalise Dip that my old friend Shelli and I made up years ago!  God only knows where we found it...but it's close to my recipe below, you just substitute the Ranch Dressing powdered dip mix with French Onion Mix.   You could also make a less calorie version by substituting light cream cheese for the regular cream cheese.   I have often thought about putting a couple of drops of red food coloring in this to see if the color could be a deeper red...but I like the color just fine! 

I hope you enjoy this as much as I have over the years.  It's great at a baby shower also for a girl or a boy and I actually enjoy ridged potato chips over the baked corn variety better with this dip.

Get cooking!

The Ranch Kitchen's Creamy Salsa Dip

  • 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese

  • 8 ounces, fluid Picante Sauce

  • 1 package Ranch Dip Powdered Mix, 1 Ounce Packet

  • Allow cream cheese to soften slightly. Add the Picante sauce and ranch dip powdered mix. Using a blender or a spoon, blend everything together and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips!

    ***If you do not care for the color, add a drop or two of red food coloring.  You may also use a package of French Onion Dip Mix instead of the Ranch Dip Mix.  Enjoy!

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    The Ranch Kitchen's Salmon Marinade

    It's Spring the USA that means school is out for a week and the kids and teachers like me are very excited! This week I plan to clean my house (long overdue), eat too much, cook too much, travel, and enjoy being with my family and friends!  One of my go to dishes that we all enjoy so much is baked salmon with my marinade that I will share with you today.  To say it is easy to make is an say it is good is not giving it enough praise. 

    My dad who is heart healthy cooks salmon at least 2 times a week.  While I don't cook it that often, we cook it at least once a month.  Make sure your salmon has a good smell to it and doesn't have that fishy smell.  Also make sure it is firm to the touch and not too sticky. 

    The Ranch Kitchen's Salmon Marinade

    1 side salmon - about one half a medium sized salmon or enought to feed 8 people
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    4 tbsp. melted butter or oleo
    3 tbsp. soy sauce
    2 tbsp. lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning
    2 tbsp. water
    1/2 tsp. garlic salt

    Mix seasonings with butter, soy sauce and water.  Put salmon and marinade in a gallon size Ziploc bag and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Place salmon scales side down on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil or foil slightly greased with oil.   Reserve salmon marinade in the bag to be spooned over the fish in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Cook on 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until salmon when forked breaks apart easily.  Serve with my Asparagus with Herbed Feta Cheese (listed on this blog site), a salad, garlic bread, iced tea and you have a light, delicious meal!

    Promise you will absolutely love this and fix it often!  It's my Bethany's favorite meal and we usually fix it for her birthday!

    Get cooking and happy spring break!


    Friday, March 4, 2011

    TGIF - Thank God It's Friday Ranch Cheeseball's Friday!  And teachers LOVE Friday. I love my students and my job...but everyone loves a good weekend OFF!  This weekend I am looking forward to many things and most especially to my middle daughters 'hang out' at our place with her friends. 

    As a parent, one of my hopes was that like my house growing up, kids would feel comfortable coming to our place when they got together.  For one I don't like them all 'running' the roads and for two, I like knowing they are safe and having good 'wholesome' fun just being kids playing the Wii, watching a good movie, playing a little pool, or just eating all mine and my daughter's creations.  It's standard snack food fare that we serve, or at least it is to us.  I have found that Ruffles and Tostitos chips are the favorite. 

    I always serve my  homemade Nolana's Family Hot Sauce, Velvetta Cheese dip using the Rotel with cilantro, cupcakes, my daughters brownies and Funfetti cookies, and the cheeseball that I will share with you below.  The best reason why I serve it is that you can pretty much throw it together in about eight minutes. 

    Doubling this cheeseball is also as easy as pie!  You need a few simple ingredients that you probably have already in your pantry and that is all!  One of my mottos is that a recipe doesn't have to be hard to be good...simple is a good thing. 

    So make this for your Friday night or weekend fun event.  It's a crowd pleaser with the 'hangout' crowd and I know it will be with yours as well!

    TGIF!  And get cooking!


    TGIF - Thank God It's Friday Cheeseball

    1 - 8 ounce cream cheese, not light
    1 - 8 ounce fresh grated SHARP cheddar cheese
    1 package of Ranch Dressing Mix
    paprika to cover cheeseball (optional)

    Allow cream cheese to soften slightly.  Grate cheddar cheese.  Add to the cream cheese and cheddar cheese the Ranch Dressing Mix and blend.  (I use the dough paddle on my Kitchen Aid mixer, stopping occassionally to remove cheeseball mixture from paddle).  Form into to balls on top of clear plastic wrap. You may sprinkle paprika on the plastic wrap before you put rounded cheese ball mixture in plastic wrap.  Roll, sprinkle with paprika, cover, and refridgerate. 

    I serve this with Ritz Crackers or  any brand basil tomato crackers. 

    Makes two cheeseballs.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    AHHHHHHH – Luby’s Baked Egglant Casserole

    My girls have a problem with cafeteria food….they think they hate it…but in fact they really love it.  Our family joke is eating at Luby’s!  I mention it and they scream NOOOOOOO…not because it is not good…it just isn’t what they think they want.  But each time we eat there, they enjoy and love it! And what’s not to love.  It’s home cooking…cafeteria style. 

    One of my favorite cookbooks is their Anniversary cookbook from a few years back.  It has my favorites in it like their liver. Yes…I said it….liver.  One of my crowning achievements was when my oldest daughter actually ordered it at Lubys one day for herself.  I thought…I have done it…raised a child who has ‘educated taste’ as my grandfather would say.  I make it two ways at home; Luby’s way and my mom’s way.  Once I when making it for dinner my daughters best friend ate dinner with us.  Her mom said, “She won’t eat your liver.”  But she did and loved it. Even asking for second when her parents walked in the house to pick her up.  I told her I was so glad she enjoyed dinner and NOT TO EVER tell anyone she didn’t like LIVER!  Her mouth dropped and she again told me how much she liked it.  Score one for liver lovers everywhere!

    The Eggplant casserole is another ‘educated taste’ to try at home with your family.  It’s rich in flavor and takes a little effort to make, but so worth the results.  Your kids will eat what you offer them.  Offer them variety by introducing them to…dare I say it…like spinach, eggplant, squash, and okra…and even liver.  Promise I will share my liver recipe soon!  But until then…enjoy the recipe below that I got off of Recipe Zaar.  It’s a great site and thank you to Blis who found this recipe!  It’s an oldie but goodie! And perfect at holidays or just when you are cooking all the eggplant you grew in from your garden!

    Get cooking!


    Luby's Baked Eggplant Casserole
     By: ~Bliss~ from Recipe Zaar
    Oct 13, 2007

    Recipe #258845 | 1½ hours | 30 min prep    

    SERVES 8 -10

    ·                                 1 medium eggplant (Peeled and diced)
    ·                                 1/2 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup or cream of celery soup
    ·                                 1 cup whole kernel corn
    ·                                 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
    ·                                 1 large fresh tomato (diced)
    ·                                 1 cup bacon, small Pieces
    ·                                 1/4 cup margarine
    ·                                 1/2 teaspoon salt
    ·                                 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    ·                                 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    ·                                 4 ounces shredded American cheese (about 4 slices)
    ·                                 1 (16 ounce) packet Mexican cornbread mix
    ·                                 shredded cheddar cheese (to garnish)


    Bake Mexican cornbread per packet directions. Cut into halves after baking as you will only use 1/2.  Note: If you know how to make Mexican cornbread from scratch, it's better than the individual packets, but the packets will do.


    Slice bacon into small 1/8-1/4" pieces and fry in a deep skillet until almost done (brown but not crispy). Dice eggplant, onion, and tomato into 1/4-1/2" pieces. Add first onion to skillet and cook about 5 minutes on med-low. Add eggplant, tomato, salt, pepper, garlic powder, corn, margarine and cook another 5-7 minutes. Everything is now becoming transparent and starting to mesh together nicely. Add chicken or celery soup, mix in, then add American cheese and stir until cheese has fully melted into mixture.


    Take half the cornbread you baked, crumble it, and stir into the mixture. Pour into 9x3" round casserole dish or comparable square one and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature is 165°F Remove foil and cover with shredded cheddar for final 10 minutes of baking. Do not let cheddar turn dark.