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 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 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' 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 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 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'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

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.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Ranch Kitchen's Pasta Salad with Tomato Relish

Genius sometimes happens in the kitchen.  Sometimes, however catastrophes do happen in the form of to much salt, to many jalapenos or to much mustard!  Tonight I think I hit the ball out of the park with this recipe with the addition of tomato relish to my almost normal The Ranch Kitchen's Pasta Salad! 

The relish adds just the right amount of sweetness to the last of the garden peppers that I threw in for color and crunch. 

-Hope you enjoy it...I'm licking the spoon as I type!

The Ranch Kitchen's Pasta Salad with Tomato Relish

One box of bow tie pasta - mini or regular sized (honestly any pasta will do)
1/2 cup REAL Mayonnaise, not Miracle Whip
I omitted sour cream from this recipe due to being out and too lazy to run to the store! -If you add it, put 1/2 cup sour cream, not light sour cream
2 tablespoons of ranch dressing powdered mix
3 mild banana peppers, sliced thin
1 red banana pepper, sliced thin
1 cowhorn pepper, sliced thin
3 tablespoons green tomato relish
1 tablespoon green tomato relish juice

Cook pasta according to package directions.  In a separate bowl mix ranch dressing and REAL Mayonnaise in a bowl combining well.  Add to this your peppers along with seeds.  I did not take the seeds out, but you can.  Mix pasta with mayonnaise mixture.  Add green tomato relish and juice and stir once more.  Chill and serve! 

This should be even better tomorrow after the salad has been able to rest in the refrigerator! 

*You could also add cubed sharp cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, and olives to this!  Make it your own! 

Enjoy!  - Alise

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Susie B's Tomato Pie

Many of us are still getting bumper crops of tomatoes out of our gardens. My friend Susie Bullock shared this recipe with me via Facebook the other day and I had to share it!  She is enjoying her garden this year as many of us are here in Texas due to the great rains we are getting.  Susie has a precious family and with two daughters attending Texas A&M this fall!  

I know you will enjoy it as much as her family and friends!  

Susie B's The Tomato Pie Recipe 

Pie Crust:

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco
3 Tablespoons of ice water

Mix flour & salt together and then add the Crisco. Use a fork to mix it until it crumbles, and then add the water a tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough and then roll it out.  I used a round cake pan to get the deep dish effect.

Tomato Pie:

5 sliced fresh tomatoes (or I'm sure you could use canned ones too) 
1/2 an onion
Garlic Salt to taste ( I used a teaspoon)
Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning (I used 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 shredded cheese
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Drain the tomatoes in a strainer and then add the other ingredients and stir.

I baked the pie crust in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, and then pulled it out and added a layer of cheese to prevent the crust from getting soggy when the tomato mixture was added.  I  then put it back in the oven to cook for another 10 minutes. Then I pulled it out and added the tomato mixture and sprinkled a little cheese on top. Put it back in the oven for about 15 minutes or so.

I hope that you like it as much as I did. 

Susie Bullock