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.
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).


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 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.