Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Ranch Kitchen's King Ranch Chicken (or Turkey)

The Ranch Kitchen's - King Ranch Chicken (or Turkey)

I'm always surprised that this recipe of King Ranch Chicken that is a mainstay at my house, few people know about it.  It's been around since the 1970's and really is just a classic chicken enchilada recipe.  My recipe below probably doesn't stray too much from the traditional ones found on the Internet, but I wanted to share it with you all today.

As I look forward to the left over turkey from Thanksgiving, this is yet another way to use a couple shredded cups into something your family and friends with enjoy.  You can use the white or dark meat or a combination of both.  At home I frequently use the white breast meat from the can or left over rotisserie chicken meat.  Along with some pinto beans either cook whole or as refried beans, Spanish rice, Nolana's Hot Sauce, sour cream, and a side salad you have a pretty easy meal and usually great leftovers for my girls in from college.

You can see on my picture above that I had to taste test it on the side to make sure it was done!  You can also easily make this recipe earlier in the day to place in the refrigerator and later in the oven and it also freezes well uncooked.  Just add some extra cooking time if you cook it from frozen.  

It's also one of those great foods we send in the south for sick friends and family.


The Ranch Kitchen's King Ranch Chicken

2 - 3 cups chicken (or turkey), shredded
1 can Rotel Tomatoes with cilantro and lime juice, not drained (reserve 1/3 can)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 package of flour tortillas cut or torn in to 2 x 2 inch squares
1 tbsp. Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning 
2 cups shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese or Mexi-blend cheese by Kraft


In a large bowl blend Rotel Tomatoes - reserving 1/3 of can, soups, and seasonings together.  Add to this your meat.  In a greased 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dish place reserved 1/3 can of Rotel Tomatoes and spread over entire casserole dish.  Add to this 1/3  of soup and meat mixture. Sprinkle 1/3 of cheese over this and top with 1/2 torn flour tortillas.  Layer 1/3 soup mixture once again, sprinkle with cheese and 1/2 of torn flour tortillas.  Last place remainder of soup/chicken mixture on top of that last layer of flour tortillas and cook covered with foil (I like the nonstick foil by Reynolds) in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbling in the center.  The last five minutes place the remaining cheese and allow it to melt.  Cut in to squares and serve.

You can also play with the soups and substitute a can of cream of celery for the cream of mushroom for a different taste.  When you live in the country and run out of what you need for your favorite recipe, you have to improvise!  


I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Alise Nolan


Monday, October 1, 2012

Jan's Chicken Stew


Jan Frost recently shared this recipe for her chicken stew on Facebook and it looked so hearty and delicious that I asked her if I could share it. 

Jan and I go way back to daughter's who were best friends, to working and laughing together at our old elementary school.  Those were fun days that have gone by too fast. 

Both Jan's oldest kids have been regulars at our house.  Jan is a great wife, mom, and cook.  Her daughter is now serving our country in the US Navy and we all could not be prouder of her!

Thank you Jan for sharing! 




                                 Jan's Chicken Stew

4 Chicken Breast, boiled and shredded
1 can chicken broth
1 can green beans, drained
1 can whole corn, drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 potatoes, cubed
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped

Boil your chicken breast. After the chicken is done, take out and set to the side. Add your can of chicken broth. Boil your potatoes and add the rest of your canned and chopped vegetables until potatoes are almost soft. Add your Rotel tomatoes, and tomato sauce and then add you shredded chicken. Let simmer about 30 min. Salt and pepper to taste.

Jan Frost

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Ranch Kitchen's Cajun Chicken Salad

 

Fall is a busy time of year around our house and ranch.  Show season is gearing back up with our Hereford cattle, school is back in swing, and along with after school commitments sometimes there isn't enough time to get a four course meal on the table. 

This past week's Thursday night was just one of those nights.  Our youngest not only shows cattle but loves tending to her little flock of market roasters for a local county fair.  After walking her cattle and then feeding her chicks and with mom and dad right beside her, dinner was running way late.  With the left over rotisserie chicken from the fridge I whipped up this chicken salad that we really enjoyed.  My husband served his on crackers, while my daughter and I ate ours as a sandwich. 

Either way, this rendition of chicken salad was a nice change and will become a regular on late nights when time isn't on my side.


Cajun Chicken Salad

2 cups shredded or chopped chicken, white or dark meat, mine was mixed
1/2 cup celery, chopped in large or small chunks
1/2 to 3/4 cup REAL Mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of Creole mustard
1/2 teaspoon Rosemary and Garlic Seasoning
2 teaspoons lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix mayonnaise, Creole mustard, lime juice and seasoning in a medium size bowl.  Add chicken and celery and then blend.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve alone or with crackers or bread.

Alise Nolan

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mandarin Orange Cake

Potlucks at my school are the best!  Especially when the potluck only involves sweets to celebrate birthdays! Rosilyn Perry is our queen of planning and baking!  Each week she helps out our life skills classroom with their weekly lunch by donating desserts unselfishly.  And this week for our birthday end of the month celebration she brought this delicious, light, fluffy Mandarin Orange Cake! The icing is so light and cloud like and is a perfect addition to the cake beneath it!

It was a huge, huge hit and will now be a dessert that I serve my own family all year long, not just in the summer as 'Roz' as we call her suggest!  It's one of the best cakes I have eaten in a long, long time!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did!  Thanks Rosilyn for sending me the recipe!  I snapped the pic with my phone!


Mandarin Orange Cake 
1 Yellow cake mix (mix as directed)
1 can Mandarin oranges (drained)
1 tea. orange favoring (optional)
 
Mix cake as directed and fold in oranges and flavoring.
Bake 350 about 35 min. test after 25 min..  This cake seems to take a little longer to bake.
 
Topping:
 
1 reg size cool whip
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1/2 can large can crushed pineapple with juice.
 
Mix pudding and pineapple with juice.  Mix well and let set a few minutes.  Fold in cool whip.  Make sure the cake is very cool.
 
I find that this cake needs to stay refrigerated until time to serve.  Great Summer time dessert.

Rosilyn Perry

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homemade Double Chocolate Fever Ice Cream


Homemade Double Chocolate Fever Ice Cream


This is one of my first guest blogs from my good friend Paula Acheson from Kansas!  She is a wife, mom, cancer survivor and cook extraordinaire!  She makes anything she does look easy and she is one of my biggest supporters of my blog.  I know that if Paula gives me a recipe it's 'golden' as they say.  Paula and I forged our friendship over the backs of our cattle stalls years ago while feeding our hungry state associations.  She shared with her the fruit cup recipe I have on my blog that you can find on the recipe page under Paula's Fruit Cups.  They are healthy and a refreshing treat for breakfast or anytime of the day. 

Paula gave me this recipe a couple of months back and I apologize for taking so long to get it in.  Today, we made our second batch of this ice cream with Devil's Food chocolate pudding mix and we are still licking the bowl. Last time we used vanilla pudding mix to equally good results!  I used a fine grade of Mexican vanilla that we think really made a difference and reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup.  The girls helped mince Hershey's bars into small bits and we place 1 1/2 bars into the mixture before we poured it into the ice cream maker.  With the Cuisinart we allowed the ice cream to freeze for 1 hour. 

Today I had to precious little helpers with my daughter Audrey and niece Zoe.  They love to help me cook and when I mentioned ice cream they ran screaming into the kitchen!  I used my Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet machine that thanks to Paula I am finally using after 3 years in my cabinet! 

Paula's guest blog:

Its County Fair time here in central Kansas and the one thing we all look forward to at one of our evening get togethers is Sandy's Fresh Peach Homemade Ice Cream.  Gets everyone excited for one of our county 4-H's Annual Ice Cream Social that is the week end following the fair.  So many flavors to choose from you may just have to go back.

The girls nicknamed this ice cream because it is super chocolatey they say!


Homemade Ice Cream

2 1/2 c. sugar (I use less - taste it & use what your family likes) - today we used Devils Food (Alise)
1 Lg. or 2 Sm. boxes instant pudding (vanilla, chocolate, whatever you like)
4 cups heavy (whipping) cream (I also use less unless for a special occasion)
3 Tblsp. vanilla
Milk (I have used choc. milk for deeper choc. flavor

Mix sugar, pudding mix, cream, vanilla & part of milk in a mixing bowl. Pour into freezer can; add additional milk to fill can to within 3-4 inches of top. Place in freezer; start motor, add ice & salt (5:1 ratio) and freeze. When motor stops, remove paddle, drain excess water, add more salt & ice, cover with towels or blankets, & allow to ripen for several hours (or eat immediately if you must!). Makes 1 1/2 gal (6 qts).

Variations:


Peach: Best with big, juicy Colorado peaches in August/September! Cook 10 large very ripe peaches (peeled and diced) with some of the recipe's sugar until soft, then cool (or process in blender or food processor); proceed with vanilla recipe using 2 T. vanilla and 2 T.
almond extract.

Rocky Road: use choc. pudding, 16 oz. mini marshmallows,
16 oz. cocktail peanuts (chopped), 1 bag (10-12 oz.) mini choc. chips (cut back on sugar due to marshmallows). Very chunky.
Frosty: use choc. pudding, less sugar, add malted milk powder to taste.

Strawberry: mash very ripe strawberries & mix with a bit of sugar, allow to stand for 15-30 minutes to juice up, proceed with vanilla recipe.

Can make about any flavor you can dream up with this one.

Paula Acheson

Kansas Fair and Paula's friends enjoying the Peach Ice Cream!
 



It's finger licking good!

This is my ice cream maker without the top on.  You'll notice the extra milk added...just a tad!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Not Your Everyday Veggie Platter

I think people truly miss the boat on a great salad!  A great salad doesn't always have to be tomatoes, lettuce, and a calorie overload of dressing.  A good salad can be anything you want it to be.  This summer in an attempt to use my favorite serving dishes and eat the bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers from my garden, I thought about color.  Yes, color.  Color does please the eye.  As teachers we always laugh at our menu from our cafeteria.  We decided long ago that color plays a major role in what they serve on our trays each day.  The combinations are sometimes surprising, but always colorful. I don't know about you, but when I serve hot dogs in my house, I always place a healthy serving of cooked spinach right beside it, don't you?  As the kids say...not!  I say all of this in dear respect for our cafeteria cooks who honestly due to their good cooking have helped me add on the pounds over the years!  I realize that menu choice and selection are far, far out of their hands! 

I could rant on this for days, so back to my recipe of the day.  This really isn't a recipe...just a way to serve a salad in a different way.  In an attempt to make my dinner colorful, I got creative with my crudites or veggie platter.  My new white dishes from Crate and Barrel are the perfect white to complement the reds, greens, whites and yellows I serve on these plates.  On the side, you can really choose any dressing from light to creamy, or with nothing at all.  I like to add color when I serve my dressing in the choice of serving bowl I use.

Below is my salad platter.  There's no recipe...so be creative. Some of you may say to yourself that you do this all the time.  But what I have been delighted with most in doing this blog is that it is the simple things to me that are new things to others.  We all were a budding cook at one time, or didn't have the privilege as I did to watch my granny and mother cook meals night after night.  We are turning into the fast food nation, when honestly if you just shop ahead and plan a slight bit ahead, meals are not all that hard to prepare. 

It's my greatest hope that it's the simple ideas and recipes I share that will ultimately prompt you to cook for not only yourself, but for your family and friends.  As a teacher ultimately at heart, and mom that hopes my girls will be proud one day that my recipes are archived and online for them, I hope to make cooking look easy to the young and old. Because it; that is cooking, really, really is.  Promise!


Note:  You'll notice the open faced hand sandwiches I have beside the vegetable platter with my favorite Ranch Dressing.  Even sandwiches can be creative! 


Simple, easy...and it doesn't have to be a work of art getting salad on the table.

Alise



Monday, August 13, 2012

The Ranch Kitchen's Creole Dressing

                                                 The Ranch Kitchen's
                                     Creole Dressing

The oldest daughter Ilissa is home and with that comes healthy eating and watching our carbs.  I know I need to do it...and I'm trying to be healthy.  So tonight instead of my Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing, I came up with this dressing for her salad.  It was so good that it ended up on top of my grilled chicken and then on top of my wild rice...healthy is definitely not always easy for me...but I have to say....it's one of the best dressings I have had in a while.  You have to shake it vigorously to mix the ingredients, so maybe I burned a few calories! 

I plan to use it as a marinade for chicken next time, saving some to spoon on top of the cooked chicken.  Make sure the saved marinade/dressing was never used on your raw chicken. 

All and all preparing this recipe took a total of five minutes or less.  I have close to 3/4 of the dressing left, as a little bit goes a long way. 

I hope you enjoy my Creole Salad Dressing as much as we did.  It gets my big and baby girls two thumbs up.  Hubby liked it as well.

The Ranch Kitchen's Creole Dressing

1/2 cup white vinegar

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, spicy brown mustard, pepper, garlic salt, oil and hot sauce until thoroughly combined. Place in a Mason Jar and shake vigorously before serving.  Spoon or pour gently on to salad greens, baked chicken, rice or pastas. 

Alise @The Ranch Kitchen 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Potatoes Nolana

As a young cook, I used recipe books extensively.  My favorites were always the church cookbooks that had members tried and true recipes.  I spent my days raising two daughters, getting my undergraduate degree in education, and trying to be the perfect little housewife, wowing my husband with my cooking.  If you've read my posts, you know that I had more than one blunder or two in the kitchen...but as my husband says, "Age and wisdom, outweighs youth and treachery".  Thank God I cook a lot better today. 

One of the first dishes I ever made was this dish called Potatoes Nolana, which I stole from somewhere from some church cookbook titled Potatoes Anna.  With my own little addition or two from time to time, it became a staple in our household at dinner.  It takes literally four ingredients and is good every single time.

You can add any number of additions to this recipe.  Cheese is sometimes sprinkled on top, along with onions between the layers if I am feeling industrious.  Make it your own and enjoy. Remember cooking doesn't have to ever be hard.  It should be stress free and never a hassle.

Potatoes Nolana

6 - 8 medium sized potatoes of any kind, scrubbed clean with water, peeled or left with skins on
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
salt and pepper to taste

Grease a Pyrex pie dish.  Peel and slice potatoes in 1/4 inch slices.  Melt butter in a microwave bowl until just melted.  Begin by spooning 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine in the dish.  Layer one layer of potatoes on the butter.  Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter on first layer of potatoes, then season with salt and pepper.  Continue layering until all potatoes are layered and butter is used.  Cover tightly with foil and cook in oven until potatoes are fork tender.  Be careful removing the foil as the steam will burn you horribly.  Cajun seasoning is used instead of salt and pepper sometimes!

Enjoy! 

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Friday, August 3, 2012

Certified Hereford Beef and Garlic Herb Grilling Paste


Garlic Herb Grilling Paste
Picture compliments of www.herefordbeef.net

Health conscious people every where always try to cook the leanest quality meats available.  On our ranch Nolan Herefords, CHB - Certified Hereford Beef is what we cook most often.  For those of you out there who know first hand what's it's like to raise your own beef, simply knowing what you put in to it before it reaches your table is a huge when it comes to keeping your family healthy.  It is rare that I have any fat left over when preparing my hamburger meat as most of it simply cooks away.  Compare that to the beef you normally prepare from your grocery store and you'll understand.  The flavor alone is proof that good quality beef is just about the perfect meat to serve anytime.  As someone who is forever battling anemia, beef is one way I get the iron I need. 

I can remember growing up and now as a mother the handiness of being able to open up the freezer and grab our own beef labeled from the local butcher with either the name Herbert Young (my maternal grandfather who raised commercial cattle), Walter Nolan (my father-in-law) who provided us with beef when we were first married and needed a little assistance, or Nolan Herefords, our ranch name that we now harvest our own beef from for our freezers.  

Sunday dinner beef roast will always be a favorite of mine as the smell was heavenly.  As my youngest nephew said one day as he walked in my garage...we all know how boys eat...he said, "Aunt Alise...I smell beef!"   He had the biggest smile on his face and ate a ton...precious boy.  Most of the time that is what you smell at my house around dinner time. 

Because I can't do as good a job as our Hereford friends at herefordbeef.net, the link below will help you with some history about Certified Hereford Beef. 

http://www.herefordbeef.net/commitment/ourlandandcattle

And their commitment to quality.

http://www.herefordbeef.net/commitment/ourcommitment

Each year at our National Jr. Hereford Expo, competitors compete in the CHB Cookoff event.  It's always good fun to watch and hear presentations and especially eat the winning results!  Here is a link to the 2011 junior winners from Kansas.  Texas has had some winners as well and I hope to soon share those recipes with you from my friends Sandra Warnken and Barbara Metch Holan.

http://www.herefordbeef.net/cookscorner/recipes/grilloffwinners

If you were wondering which cuts of Certified Hereford Beef or any beef for that matter are the leanest, here's your link to buy and save!

http://www.herefordbeef.net/cookscorner/buytosave

Do you wonder how to tell if your beef is done? Read more at: How to Tell When Beef is Done | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2210751_tell-beef-done.html#ixzz22UisrETT.

You can never go wrong with a thermometer or in our family we use the hand method described briefly in this article above.


When and if you get the opportunity to buy Certified Hereford Beef, give it a try.  Don't cook it too long as in our family slight pink in the center - medium well - is a good thing!

Where to buy Hereford beef...that is if you don't get it from Nolan Herefords?  Check out this link below.


****************************************************
DM BR L1 Domino 146 • Calved: 3/26/01
DM BR L1 Domino 146 of Nolan Herefords

Above is a picture of our newest bull....11 year old DM BR L1 Domino 145 who has come to Nolan Herefords to retire.  We've used him extensively in our breeding program and could not be happier his final home is with us here on our ranch.  His days are spent courting a few heifers and laying under our pine trees. 



              ****************************************

Today I am sharing a recipe right off the www.herefordbeef.net site for a great grilling paste to use on your next set of steaks.  I have a gigantic rosemary bush in my back yard that friends near by are welcome to cut from to make this paste. 

What I like most about this recipe is the easy to find ingredients that most of you will have in your kitchen  pantry.  I think the main turn off for some people when cooking is not having ingredients at hand.  My goal is to try to give readers of my blog The Ranch Kitchen ingredients in my recipes that are convenient! 


Garlic Herb Grilling Paste

This big-flavor grilling paste is delicious on a tender steak like a ribeye or filet mignon. This makes enough to use on four (6- to 8-ounce) Certified Hereford Beef® steaks.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup fresh minced garlic (from about 6 to 8 large cloves)
  • ¼ cup sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

    Instructions

    1. Mix all ingredients together in a shallow pie pan. Dredge both sides of each steak in the grilling paste and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Makes about ¾ cup.

Country Style Pork Ribs

Recipe Details
Country Style Pork Ribs - picture compliments of www.porkbeinspired.com.
Sometimes I think cooks shy away from cooking ribs of any kind in the kitchen. They believe it is delegated to the outside grill and not to the indoor oven.  For years I have cooked all styles of ribs in my house much like you would do a simple roast.  Even though we raise Hereford cattle on our ranch, I do love pork ribs.  Probably the thing I like best about pork ribs is the ability to have tons of left overs that can be used for my favorite of all pork enchiladas that I cook usually the next night or two after the first night of our rib dinner. 

Foil is your best friend when cooking ribs, because no one enjoys scrubbing baked on grease off a pan.  I simply prep my foil with cooking spray and lay in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish or roasting pan.  I then layer my ribs, seasoning as I go with Tony Chachere's More Spice or their Creole Seasoning and then add water to just up half of the ribs.  Next I secure my foil on top by folding upwards with the bottom piece of foil to make an airtight packet for the meat to steam/cook in.  In my convection or regular oven I turn the temperature to 400 degrees and cook about 1 and one half hour or until the meat forks easily away from the bone and the meat has turned white.  You do not ever want to eat pork that is pink and not cooked well.  As I rule I allow the ribs to sit five minutes and then I place on a platter and cut in serving size chunks to serve.  Sometimes during the last thirty minutes I will brush with BBQ sauce and uncover the meat for those last few minutes of cooking time.  Make sure you have used enough foil so that no water escapes and cooks under your packets.  The bake on mess you will have is never any fun later.

This is  a go to meal when I have a large group of guest or family over.  I am always amazed that people have never had them.  We haven't found anyone who doesn't always love country style ribs.

I usually prepare a large amount so that I can use the pork in a variety of ways like my enchiladas I describe earlier.  The Ranch Kitchen's King Ranch Enchilada's  are wonderful when you use left over shredded pork instead of chicken.  A lot of the times I will also use the left over rib meat in jambalaya or in open faced BBQ sandwiches the next night.  Since these ribs do tend to be fatty, I always remove the fat and discard.

I am sure you can find other ways to use your left over pork or for that matter beef rib meat.  If you have a recipe, I'd love to hear about it. 


Country Style Pork Ribs

4 - 8 Country Style Ribs (bone in or out)
4 cups water
Pam Cooking Spray
Tony Chachere's More Spice, Creole Seasoning or any quality BBQ Seasoning
Foil
Glass or metal roaster

Prepare pan by spraying with cooking spray.  Lay foil in the bottom of pan making sure that foil comes out by at least 5 inches or more so that when you attach the 2nd layer or top piece or layer of foil they will fold together easily. 

Season meat and place in a single row with fat side up.  Add water to just up half the pork ribs.  Cover with remaining foil, forming a packet by folding foil upwards.  Cook on 400 degrees fahrenheit for 1 - 1/2 hour or until pork is cooked.  Be careful when unfolding the foil as the steam that escapes will burn your hands and arms. 

Allow meat to sit for at least five minutes to seal in juices.  Remove to a platter and cut in serving size pieces. 

You really can't get much simplier than this meal and the smell coming out of your kitchen will make everyone beg for dinner!  Enjoy!

I also have enclosed a link to the www.porkbeinspired.com site that will give you more ideas for great country style rib and pork recipes.  Give these country style pork ribs a try this weekend.  You'll love them. 

http://www.porkbeinspired.com/RecipeDetail/1970/Carolina_Country_Style_Ribs.aspx#.UBvVzlbmFCk.blogger

Remember that no one said cooking had to be hard!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Black-eyed Pea Salsa

In the south we are all about our black-eyed peas.  Anytime of the year is a good time to eat them cooked fresh, from out of the freezer, or out of the can.  Above is a recipe I threw together trying to mimic a good friends 'Black-eyed Pea Salsa'.  If you read my blog often, you know I am all about easy cooking recipes.  I work a full time job and run girls around the country...so what I fix usually takes minimal time and ingredients.  Hope you enjoy my rendition.

Black-eyed Pea Salsa

2 cans black-eyed peas with jalapenos, drained
1 bell pepper, chopped fine
1 sweet onion, chopped fine
1 16 ounce bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
1 4 ounce jar of pimentos, drained
2 tablespoons granulated sugar or 2 packets of Splenda
Salt and pepper to taste

Drain black-eyed peas.  Add bell pepper, sweet onion (I love the 1015's onions), and pimentos.  Add bottle of Zesty Italian Dressing.  Stir well.  Add 2 tablespoons of sugar (less if you are watching your sugar and you can substitute Splenda).  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Place in a gallon size Ziploc bag a chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 23 hours.  Serve as a side with dinner or with tortilla chips.  This is always a favorite at New Year's eve or anytime.  This salsa gets better the longer it marinates in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stuffed Jalapeno and Chicken Poppers & Lazy Girl Stuffed Jalapeno and Chicken Poppers




Left overs can be a wonderful thing.  Years ago my new husband...my only husband, had the grand idea that I cook fresh each day.  After he saw the time in the kitchen it took me and the grocery bill, he quickly agreed with me that left overs can be a wonderful, if not a fantastic thing.  Since that first week or marriage I have 'repurposed' many nightly meals with the leftovers from the evening before. 

Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers is one such meal.  Simple, delicious, and a little time consuming, these appetizers were a great way to use up the multitude of peppers from our garden.  The hubby loved them as did the youngest daughter who both have iron stomachs and love anything spicy.

I made these poppers two ways.  One traditional and one is what call the lazy girls way due to being industrious and cleaning far too many jalapenos!  Both turned out great!   

Make sure that if you don't want a burning sensation in your eyes that you either wash your hands well after cleaning your jalapeno peppers or wear gloves.  The fumes can also be intense and hard on you as well from washing the jalapenos in the colander.  If you like your poppers hot, do not clean out the insides.



Stuffed Jalapeno and Chicken Popppers

20 - 30 jalapenos, cut in half and membranes

1 block cream cheese, cut in strips

1 chicken breaks cut in strips of 1/2 inch wide

1 package of bacon, sliced in thirds

Black pepper to taste

Prepare jalapeno peppers to be stuffed by slicing in half and cutting away membrane with seeds.  Wash in a colander and drain well.  Add to this 1/3 cream cheese slice to poppers, then chicken, wrapped by 1/3 a slice of bacon.  If you wrap the bacon tightly and lay open edges down you do not have to toothpick the poppers. Place in a greased 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish.  Sprinkle with fresh cracked black pepper.

Cook on 350 in your oven until bacon is crispy.  Serve immediately. 


Lazy Girls Stuffed Jalapeno and Chicken Popppers

10 - 15 jalapenos, cut in half, membranes removed and cut in small pieces

1/3 block of cream cheese

1/2 chicken breast cut in cubes, (you can use dark chicken meat as well)

1/3 package of bacon, cut in small cubes and separated

Black pepper to taste

Lightly grease a small rectangular dish.  Prepare jalapenos by slicing in half, removing membranes and seeds and chopping in to small bits.  Layer jalapenos first in a small dish.  Top with cubed chicken breast.  Next add cream cheese, then bacon sprinkled on top.  Add two to three chopped jalapeno peppers as a finisher or garnish on top.  Cook on 350 degrees until bacon is crisp.  Serve hot. 

Cooks Note:  Use gloves to handle these peppers and wash hands thoroughly afterwards...don't touch your eyes...ouch!

 Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Summer of 2012 & Jay W's Man Potatoes



This month I've been gone from home quite a lot lately!  For two weeks life evolved around cattle, hot weather, long drives, FFA, my girls, my husband, good food and friends and wonderful memories!  Now that all the laundry is done, my  home is back in order, wisdom teeth are out on the middle daughter, the youngest little one has done 4H Camp, and the oldest daughter is finishing up her time in Lubbock, I can get back to my blogging by telling you a little about my last month and sharing a fun, easy new recipe for Jay W's Man Potatoes (Jay - I renamed them!).


The last two weekends in June and the following weekend in July ending on the 8th, my family enjoyed our time with our Hereford family in both Belton, Texas and Grand Island, Nebraska showing cattle at the Texas Jr. State Show and the Junior National Hereford Expo, and brought up in to a bow with our attendance at the Texas FFA Convention in Corpus Christi.  Thank God for my Suburban and my gas card...and time off in  the summer.  I am thankful that my job allows me the time to be with my family and make these memories that mean so much to us. 





Both Hereford shows and the Texas FFA Convention were extremely successful for us this year and we are still smiling from the girls successes.  With each win, we realize first hand the work, time in the barn, and amount of 'family' it takes to get the job done.  It's a family affair that has helped instill an undeniable work ethic in our daughters and a sense of sportsmanship.  Because, we aren't always winners, and learning to lose gracefully happens more often than the winning does. 


Our Bethany won Grand Champion Bred and Owned Heifer at our Texas State Show and our Audrey won several first in class with her new younger heifers. Our newest show bull won Reserve Grand Champion Bull and we were all super proud of that accomplishment.  As always we enjoyed great food and got to reconnect with friends.  W4's Ranch once again cooked a chuck wagon style BBQ dinner for us all that is always a favorite of our family and both sets of lead advisor families the Chafin's and the Radde's and their great kids Logan and Ashley led a great 2012 State Show.  I don't know if they do weddings...but my oldest says one day she wants them to do hers! 



2012 Bred and Owned Champion Texas Hereford State Show




Following that five day show, we came home, regrouped and headed out to Grand Island, Nebraska.  It sounds rather exotic, but corn, maize, and soy beans surround this nice little town where the Nebraska State Fair Grounds are housed.  By far it was the cleanest, nicest, most well put together barns we have ever stayed eight days at.  The town was just as nice, and the Nebraska host committee was outstanding with their hospitality table's daily snacks!   With a great water park on the grounds and Hereford contest and shows days in the mix, Audrey had an especially grand time with her sweet friend Riggin, Devon, Savannah, McKenzie, Taylor and all the rowdy boys in our Texas association!  Thank God for the exhibition halls and 'Big Ass Fans' (they are honestly called that - huge airplane propeller styled fans scattered throughout the stock barns).   San Antonio, Tyler, and anyone town or state looking to build barns need to visit the Nebraska State Fair Grounds.  Truly every detail was thought out down to the wash racks that doubled as tornado shelters...I told the girls to hold on the wall bars if we had one come along.  :o)


This year I got the bright idea that we all would rent rv's and stay on the grounds.  Just let me say, although it was a great idea, the time it spent to pack to stock our rented camper was the worst part.  I forgot my pillow...forgot paper towels, and most of all missed my own motor home stocked with all my kitchen supplies and such.   Even though I tried my best to bring most things in large utility boxes and pack enough towels for a family of four for the week,living out of the limited closet space, with large luggage all over the floor, Scott walking in with his boots on nightly, and the girls mostly sleeping on the make out coach or table due to how uncomfortable the beds were, was exhausting.  The further north you get the later the sun sets, although we griped about this as we lay our heads down each  night, we pretty much collapsed after our extra long days with no problem.  I thank part of that to my new found love of whipped vodka and orange soft drinks...thanks to my ladies friends from Amarillo!  I am what you call an 'immature drinker'...it needs to taste like Kool-aide and one will do me. 


Most nights that week we cooked with our friends the West, the Venerables, and the Stephensons.  To say we ate well was an understatement!  The men had hauled all their cooking equipment, grills, fryers, and coolers in anticipation for cooking for a crowd each night.  Scott brought up catfish for a Texas fish fry that was a huge hit!  Jay West and Scott Venerable had precooked briskets and pork roast that we had one day for dinner that was a huge hit.  Jay makes a mean Jay West Special and some darn good beans, and the 'Man Potatoes' I'll share with you later in this post.  Jay cooks as much as I do and probably a little more.  He is a hand in the kitchen and for sure at the cow shows.  Jay, Scott V., and my Scott formed a new alliance called Scott.net....a little too much Miller Light with a  Jay West Special or two helped these men get a little creative....hat's were made later in the week to publicize this new venture by Curtis Curry and Scott.net is almost born....almost being used liberally...






My favorite meal of the week was the beef cured and cooked by Scott Venerable.  It was cooked Brazilian Churrasco 'flame grilled' soaked in rock salt and was over the top fantastic!  Along with Bratwurst, grilled pork chops, and the crazy assortment of appetizers and side dishes all the West, Venerable, Curry and other women added to each night's meal, we all were completely stuffed and enjoyed eating with new and old friends each night. We all enjoyed the AMAZING fireworks on July 4th that happened to be from the horse track adjacent to our rv lot....thank God the wind pulled the smoke after the finale away from us.  Grand Island puts on one fantastic show! I was so glad my dear friend Paula Acheson (Paula's Fruit Cups) of Kansas was able to attend with her husband.  Our friendship was made a long time ago over the back of the cattle ties.


So glad Paula and her husband, and Sherry and friend could join us!
Being with our friends like this, eating, watching fireworks, and just doing what we love is a tradition I hope we continue each summer! I am thankful to the men and women who helped out this year and especially for their work in preparing each nights massive meals.




To say thank you to everyone is not enough to all the moms and dads who helped also serve each days lunch.  Each day our mid-day meals were graciously provided by funds from our Texas Hereford/Polled Hereford Associations from both the auxiliary, junior and men's funds.  Moms and dads chipped in to cook hot lunches, make Sam's runs, pick up an occasional pizza, and help me cook my 'Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd' one day.  Cooking for 140 people each day takes an enormous amount of planning as I know from past experience.  Karen Smith and Susan Chachere did a fantastic job and all our families were well taken care of each day due to their efforts.  Many thanks ladies!


Texas truly dominated team competitions this year with wins in the big Hereford Quiz Bowl, Team Fitting, Showmanship, and Scholarships.  Our Bethany received the 'Golden Bull' Scholarship/Award at the Expo and we now can have it join our oldest daughter's Ilissa's on the game room mantel.  To us it's the highest honor you can receive in our association, proving that your child put both time and effort toward their junior associations and the Hereford breed.  We really appreciate Bethany's being honored and receiving this award.  We are so very proud that both our daughters have received this scholarship!



Bethany really enjoys showing her bull NH Cherokee...it's not her favorite thing! 



The judge congratulating Audrey on her Bred and Owned Division Champion.  He asked if she minded being named that...she told him that she didn't!

Audrey showing NH Miss Daisy


Cattle wise, our week was a huge success both in and out of the show ring with Audrey and Bethany receiving a first, second and third in classes with their heifers and Audrey a division championship in the owned show allowing us to be a part of the Grand Champion Drive.  At a junior nationals in any breed this is a real accomplishment and the highest win our ranch or family has ever received.  I took a ton of pictures, because as Scott said this kind of win might not come around again or for a long, long time!  Many thanks to the staff of the American Hereford Association, the American Hereford Women, NJHA Directors, Amy Cowan, Angie Denton and especially Diane Johnson for manning the Hereford Club so well.  This new idea was a huge hit with breeders, parents, and guest as a way to both watch the show, have good appetizers, spirits, and catch up with friends!  We are all in hopes this tradition sticks and is at every Junior National to come!  Diane has a killer sweet smores dip I hope to share with you once she gets off her whirlwind tour of Canada! 



Bethany and Audrey with this year's National Hereford Queen Amanda Bacon.  Bethany wanted to help with the National Queen's Tea that she started last year. 


If you look closely her dad is in the background watching her show in his signature straw hat. 
He is her biggest show fan!

Once we arrived home, we didn't have much time to recuperate due to the Texas FFA Convention!  Bethany in anticipation of receiving her American Degree in the fall in Indianapolis, had placed on the area level to compete at state with her Star American Degree in Entrepreneurship and Production with her Hereford cattle herd. This past year she had won at state in her Production Proficiency with her herd and we had our fingers crossed that she could once again advance.  Bethany has always done well with her record books that detail her Hereford herd numbers, health, and maintenance.  She has had to go through a battery of interviews and computer record book keeping in order to win at each level.  Bethany also got to present her good friend Alyssa on stage for her retiring Texas state FFA speech.  She and her roommate Molly did an outstanding job!




Our oldest daughter Ilissa was at the convention as well serving her second year as coordinator for the Ford Leadership Scholars program with Texas FFA.  The last two years along with her good friends and past Texas state officers Trent McKnight (2011) and Tyler Koch (2012) she has planned a week long leadership, service, and mentor program with the ten Texas FFA members selected.  With the generous sponsorship from Ford dealers in Texas, and the assistance from CEO's and industry heads in major cities across Texas these students receive a once in a lifetime opportunity to build relationships and give back.  It was great to have all my girls in attendance, but we missed Scott.  Work called after being gone so much, however at each chance he told me where to eat, that I must go fishing, and how much he wished he could be with us.  Bethany's best friend Brittany ended up with the Stat American Award this year.  She is a great friend to our Bethany and we were happy for her.  She has been our middle girls confidant for years and she hers.  Friendships like they have are few and far between.  Whoever won was a going to be a blessing...we just knew it would come down to the two of them. 



Brittany and Bethany on stage for their award.


Molly and Bethany introducing Alyssa on stage for her retiring Texas FFA Officer speech.


Finally we arrived home...I was thankful for the laundry being done and just getting to sleep in my own bed after a half month of being away!  I've sprinkled some pictures throughout this post to give you a feeling of my month.  It's been fun, it's been real as they say...but so glad to be home and back to my preparation for the new school year.  We have a busy time ahead with Audrey on my campus, her two sweet pigs in the barn (Chubby Cakes and Sugar Plum), chickens in for the county show in thirty days, continuing to work our cattle, Bethany back at A&M, Ilissa off to Washington, DC to intern for House Ag Committee and gearing up for SEC Texas A&M tailgating!  And for me, something new that I have done for myself for a change...that surprise will come later!  Fall is hopefully going to be a great time!  I thank God for his many blessings.

Please as your read this blog realize that it is my personal blog I chose to share with my readers.  I do not attempt to be anything else or be boastful.  I am relating our life and experiences as a way for my girls to remember 'our memories', along with a recipe or two in the mix. 

- Alise


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Now to the recipe of the day! 

As I told you Jay can cook...and several of his recipes will be shared on this blog the next few weeks.  Below are his potatoes he says that all the men love when he cooks for his companies promotion/customer appreciation cook-outs.  They are easy...filling and just darn good.  He is used to doing them on the grill or smoker, but since it was 107 degrees in the daytime in Nebraska, we opted for my large electric roaster and they did beautifully.

Jay West's Man Potatoes


5 lbs. potatoes, skins on or off, and sliced in 1/3 rounds
2 cans cream of celery soup
3  jars Cheese Whiz, large
1 -16 ounce container of sour cream
2 links of smoked German sausage, diced (optional)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Slice potatoes in rounds and add to greased dish or pan.  If you are using an electric roaster make sure you grease it well.  Layer potatoes, sour cream mixture and sausage.  Top off with potatoes.  The last five minutes of cooking add grated cheese to the top of the potatoes.  Bake on 350 for one hour or around one and one half hour in the roaster. 

Thanks Jay and Stephanie for the great recipe! 



Our yearly Jr. National Hereford Expo picture.
All three girls together at the Texas FFA Convention backstage.