Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year From The Ranch Kitchen!

Here's hoping your new year is truly your best yet!  May you remember that life is meant to be lived and have more fun than you've had in years past.  And remember that above all we need to be thankful for all the little and big things in our lives because we learn how to live because of them.

Below are some recipe posts that will help bring luck in 2014 if you, like my family, are a little superstitious and eat your cabbage for good fortune, your black-eyed peas for luck, and ribs....well that's because my husbands family always eats ribs on New Years Day.  

Enjoy and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  These are some of my families favorites that we enjoy each year at New Years Day lunch! We couldn't ring in the year without them!

The Ranch Kitchen's Black-eyed Pea Salsa

Granny's Wilted Cabbage

Country Style Pork Ribs

Get cooking!  

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pecan Pie Bites

When my girls were growing up our first house had a fantastic grove of pecan trees all over our yard.  We were the only young couple in a neighborhood of retired couples and they always said our girls brought it back to life.  For years when the leaves fell off our pecan trees it took an army to rake them up.  Every other year we had a huge crop of pecans to shell and share with our families and friends.  The one thing I always enjoyed was watching our older neighbors walk the street and pick the pecans that fell there.  An industrious few would hike a leg on the side of our yard and pick those pecans that fell close to the road!  I'd always just laugh and be proud they could still do it.  The neighbors sure walked a lot more during pecan season!
My middle daughter loved our pecans most of all and we constantly had to crack and shell them for her as she would beg for them saying, "Cons momma and daddy, more cons!"  I can still hear her saying that now. 
That first house was truly a blessing for our young family and we remodeled it all with our own hands and always enjoyed living there.  Each time I eat a pecan or make something with them, I'm reminded of those times and the first years of our marriage and our two oldest girls.  It doesn't seem that long ago now, but it's been over 16 years since we lived in that little gray house in Mitchell Addition.
I love, love making this easy dessert at the holidays!  It's honestly one of my families favorites that's they pick up as they walk by as we snack all day long! I really hope you'll try it.
Pecan Pie Bites
2 cups pecan, minced fine in a food processor

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine (I actually used a light version margarine with a butter flavor and it turned out great with fewer calories)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 sleeves of graham crackers broken in to fourths and placed on a wax paper lined cookie sheet
Melt butter or margarine in a Teflon sauce pan.  Hint:  you'll want to use a Teflon pan to prevent a sugar pan mess...trust me...been there..done that...and if you don't have wax paper then use nonstick foil or foil sprayed lightly with oil. :o) 
Add to pecan mixture on the stove the sugar, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a low rolling boil (this is where your sugar, pecan mixture boils and gently pops in the middle of the pan as it cooks).  Cook on this low boil for eight minutes until mixture reaches candy stage and coats a spoon without dripping off quickly.  Stir this on and off as it cooks, scraping sides of the pan.  If you fire is too high you can easily burn this mixture. So adjust it and watch your mixture closely.
While pecan mixture is boiling, break graham crackers in fourths and place on a wax lined cookie sheet.
Once candied pecans are done, spoon immediately over the graham crackers trying to cover as much as possible. 
Cook in the oven on 375 for 30 minutes and allow to cool before serving.  Break into bite sized pieces,that about 2 inches by 2 inches and enjoy!! I like to place these in air proof cookie tins.  Layer each row between  wax paper and these will keep for up to one week nicely. 

Pecan Pie Bites are great as gifts for coworker and teachers, or just to take as a dessert that no one ever turns down!
Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie

Sharing this wonderful looking Sweet Potato Pie today from my friend Karen Steelman Shirley who I've know for just a 'few' years!  Karen and I teach in the same district and her happy spirit and kind heart is truly a blessing to me and her students.  

She posted on Facebook how she made this pie and I asked her if it could be shared on my blog.  In our little hometown we have a pie contest each year with sweet potatoes that are judged simply on the flavor of this vitamin packed vegetable.  The intent is for the spice not to overpower the flavor and I think her family recipe does just that!  

I like to bake my sweet potatoes on a foil lined cookie sheet, tips cut off and spray their skins with just a bit of oil.  

This would be an excellent addition to your holiday table! 

Sweet Potato Pie

4 sweet potatoes, baked and mashed
1 2/3 cups evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pie shells/crust, ready made

Bake four large sweet potatoes or yams in the oven on 250 degrees until soft to the touch (when you squeeze them they should feel like they will come apart).  This should allow you six cups of potatoes.  Mash them and add 1/3 cup butter that has been softened.  To this add 4 beaten eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 2/3 cups evaporated milk and all spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and ground cloves). Mix all together and beat well with a mixer until smooth.  Pour into pie shells and bake on 425 approximately 45 minutes until done. This will make 2 - 9 inch pies.  

Thanks so much Karen Steelman Shirley for sharing this pie from your family member Dale Montgomery! 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Candy Corn Trash

Fall is my favorite time of the year. My favorite foods like sweet potatoes or yams as we call them are seasonal during this time of the year and I love fall desserts most of all!  

The other day as I was observing a teacher friend in her great classroom, I spied a good looking dessert!  It took all my will power not to dive into the bowl and continue watching her teach!  It was healthy, with just the right amount of chocolate and had my fall favorite candy corn candy mixed in it.  Have I told you how much I love candy corn...especially candy pumpkin corn?!! Well it's my favorite!  It's ALL over my house in little crystal bowls so I can snack on it throughout the season!

Later in the day, I shot this picture off my cell phone and asked for the recipe from another fellow teacher friend.  It's so easy she said! And it is...but that doesn't mean it's not good! I love cooking that isn't hard!

Come to find out its a 'dump recipe', meaning you throw in a little if this and a little of that and presto you have a fun, visually appealing dessert anyone would love!!  With that said, any combination of nuts or other candies would be great in this!  And if you can not find the popcorn described below, make your own and drizzle melted chocolate over the top of it before mixing with the other ingredients.

Thanks Nedra for the recipe and Gail for setting it in front of me!  I'm already planning how I will make this festive at Christmas!

Candy Corn Trash

Indiana Black and White Pop Corn (this batch was bought at a local Sam's Club and has chocolate on it)  
1 - 2 cups (1 bag) of Candy Corn
Fall colored M&M's
Reese's Peanut Butter M&M's

Mix all 4 bags together and enjoy! 

Happy Fall!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chocolate Pumpkin Kiss Cookies

Our girls were all home this weekend to help support our littlest sister and her Reserve Champion Broiler at a local festival.  It was wonderful having them home a second weekend in a row and it could not have made their little sister more happy.  Mom and dad were pretty excited too. They got to see all their grandparents, family and some friends,eat some home cooked food, decorate little sisters room (Thanks big sis) and most importantly just be home! 
Right before my middle daughter went back to college she baked these cookies to take back for her 'Build' committee meeting to a big old group of Aggie boys.  She says they enjoy her sweets and she wanted to make something with a fall feel to it.  I'm proud of these kids as they are part of Texas A&M's first ever 'Build' where they are in the middle of completing a Habitat for Humanity house with the help of students and staff.  It's a huge project and one that will impact a family and give them a better life. Tonight those hard working boys and girls will benefit from these great cookies she prepared. 
Finding the Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses can be a problem as we had to walk the grocery store a few times to find two bags...so they must be popular!  The combination of the devil's food cake mix and the pumpkin filling was really a great combination and topped off by the kisses! 
This recipe is simple enough for any beginning or experienced cook and certainly something that would be good at any fall celebration.  They packed well for the trip back in a container and should keep for about a week.
Credit for this recipe goes to the blog I Heart Naptime at http://www.iheartnaptime.net/chocolate-pumpkin-cookies/.  It's a wonderful site full of great recipes!  Thanks so much!

Click on the recipe here for Chocolate Pumpkin Kiss Cookies for recipes cards or to email to save!
1 box devil's food cake mix (chocolate will work too or your favorite cake mix)
1 -15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 bag Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses
Pre-heat oven to 350°.  In a large bowl combine cake mix and pumpkin. Stir or use a mixer until dough is smooth. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat. Scoop cookie dough onto the pan and then bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove pan and allow to cool for one minute on pan. Gently press kisses in the center of the cookies and then place cookies on a cooling rack.
***Bethany allowed her cookies to cook about five minutes before she added the kisses.  She always uses a melon or cookie scoop to make them uniform in size.






Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Ranch Kitchen's Beef Stroganoff

Click here for easy print version of The Ranch Kitchen's Beef Stroganoff

One of my favorite things to do is re-invent leftovers.  I wrote years ago on my blog of my husbands sudden like of leftovers after the first grocery bill and week of marriage.  He decided then and there on our limited income that I could cook every other night and reinvent my left overs. 

God love his mother as she cooked fresh every night for her three sons and husband.  My mom being a working mother cooked every night as well, but learned to use what she had and be creative on those nights when leftovers were what was left! 

Tonight was definitely one of those nights when the leftover steak from a few nights ago became my version of beef stroganoff.  I simply sliced against the grain the sirloin steaks, sliced up an onion and quickly tossed them both over a little olive oil mixed with one teaspoon of my favorite Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning. 

I then added a can of cream of mushroom soup, one can of beef broth and continued to cook on medium heat until the mixture came to a low boil. 


The heat was then turned down to low and I added one cup of sour cream, mixed that all together and continued to cook on low for about ten minutes.  I served this beef stroganoff over fettuccine noodles. 


You'll notice in the first picture above that my simple salad did not have a tomato in it, but yellow squash instead.  I got this little jewel of an idea years ago from my good friend Sandra Southwell who is a great cook in her own right.  I'd never had fresh squash in a salad and it's a really fresh addition.  Looking back now that was some twenty or so years ago, but I still remember the great meals we had at her house when her daughter was a new born. 

So, take what you have and reinvent dinner.  It's definitely cheaper and usually is far better than how you cooked it the first night. This stroganoff was husband and daughter approved and looked like I had cooked from scratch!


The Ranch Kitchen's Beef Stroganoff

2 precooked sirloin steaks, sliced against the grain
1 onion, sliced in half, then quarters and into one inch slivers
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth
1 cup sour cream
Prepared noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes

Slice sirloin steak against the grain.  That means do not cut the meat in the same direction the meat runs, but across it.  Slice one onion in 1 inch slices.  In a skillet add 2 teaspoons olive oil with the steak and onion.  

Saute on low until steak and onion are cooked through and onions are translucent.  Add 1 can of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of beef broth.  Cook on low until mixture begins to boil.  

Add sour cream and continue to cook on low heat until mixture is heated through and on a low boil.  

Serve over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.  

Traditionally this is served over egg noodles, but tonight the pantry only had fettuccine!  

Cook's Note: You can also used ground beef that has been browned as the beef in this dish instead of steak. 


Hope you'll give my version of beef stroganoff a try.  When grilling or smoking measts, always cook extra and your meals for the rest of the week are a snap.  

I've used brisket and leftover roast to create this beef stroganoff as well and it always turns out great!

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Grilled Tomatoes with Cheese

One of the last hauls from our garden in the summer of 2013

Grilled Tomatoes with Cheese

Before I tried these grilled tomatoes, I would have thought it was pretty much a crime to smother my fresh, garden tomatoes in cheese and grill them.  But, when you try this simple recipe, you'll understand why. The acidity level remains on these fresh or if you buy organic tomatoes; and the grill brings out that sweetness that you usually only get in the summer.

Make sure you use the non-stick foil or spray your foil with oil before placing your tomatoes on it.  Use any variety of cheese and grill until the cheese is just melted.  I like to season the tops of the tomatoes with garlic salt and pepper before I add my two layers of cheese.

Grilled Tomatoes with Cheese

5 - 6 medium or large tomatoes
Parmesan cheese, grated
Colby Jack or cheddar Cheese, grated
Garlic salt, pepper or to taste

Prepare foil lined pan for spreading oil evenly, dredging the tomatoes on both sides to moisten in the oil.  Sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and then top last with Colby Jack or cheddar cheese. Grill on a medium heat/fire until the cheese is melted.  Serve immediately with any main or side dishes. 

This is one of my husbands favorite ways to eat tomatoes. 



Friday, October 11, 2013

Brandi's 1,000,000 Calorie Strawberry Cupcakes...Darn these are good!

We have a theme going on at my school on Fridays and a little guilting along the way!  Our principal loves chips with nacho cheese and beef as a treat for lunch on this last day of the school week.  The rest of us after today, also totally caloried out on Brandi's rendition of Paula Deen's Strawberry Cupcakes!  Oh my....at least a million calories for one, but on a Friday in a middle school calories don't count at all.  We've all earned it and my sugar level hasn't been this high since Christmas! 

As an Academic Coordinator, I love getting to work with teachers and especially new teachers.  Brandi is in her second year and first at my school as a fifth grade teacher and doing a marvelous job!  She and our other teachers get me excited about education all the time.  I feel, in some ways like I get to see my daughters who live off every day by watching these young ladies take on their first years of teaching.  It's fun and humbling at the same time.  I hope they know how much faith and gratitude we have in them for trying new things and being as passionate about education as they are!

These cupcakes were definitely a hit and since Brandi was 'guilted' by our principal into making them....she will next time be guilted as well by the rest of the staff, because they were just not good...but darn good! 

Thanks Brandi...keep making and bringing those cupcakes!  We also thank your husband for not keeping them at home!  ;o)

You can find the original recipe at http://www.pauladeen.com/recipes/view2/simply_delicious_strawberry_cake

Brandi's Strawberry Cupcakes via Paula Deen

1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water


Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting:
In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.
***A Ranch Kitchen note on cake pans.  For years I have had a hard time finding 8 inch cake pans.  My original set I got when at my wedding shower have long been rusted out.  I do use 9 inch pans, but prefer the 8 inch because the cakes are more compact and do not look as spread out.  Call me picky...but I am a cake pan collector.  So recently I found the perfect cake pans at Williams and Sonoma in their store, but you can easily find them on their site at http://www.williams-sonoma.com/search/8-inch-cake-pan/bakeware-sheet-pans-cookie-sheets-bakeware/results.html?words=8+inch+cake+pan&N=4294962874+73
Call it my 'hint' of the day.  You'll like this one - promise!  As my mom would warn you and I've learned from trial and error...ALWAYS place your pans in 250 degree oven after you wash them to totally dry them out from the heat.  If not and you allow water to stand in them they will rust before long and no one wants to cook a cake on rusty pans.
Get cooking!
Alise and Brandi @ The Ranch Kitchen!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Ranch Kitchen's Cherry Limeade Sherbet Punch

In the south wedding showers are done many different ways. The end result is 'showering' the bride with gifts for her home with her chosen groom.  The hostess sends out invitations, women offer to assist by either donating money toward the catering or are assigned appetizers and/or desserts to bring.  Ladies clean their houses until they shine and hostesses arrive an hour before to help with last minute preparations.
In my small town. many showers have the gifts already laid out throughout the house on tables with the cards beside each gift signifying whom they came from.  Some showers will not only have gifts laid out, but gifts guest have brought wrapped to open during the shower.  Registries are set up in our local gifts shops and it is always as easy as picking up the phone and calling in your order without a credit card!  You're billed later by mail or know to go in before and pay what's due.  Some registries in recent years are made at chain department stores like Dillards or Macy's and guest can register online to have them picked up by the bride and either brought the day before to be set up at her shower or kept at home.  In my little hometown the local gift shops bring out the gifts either the day or morning before and the main hostess where the shower is held will set all the gifts out on top of her best linen tablecloths. 
Although a lot of work is involved, I love giving showers of any kind. For one, my house gets that good, 'somebodies coming' cleaning that it normally would not get, and two my favorite foods are party foods as evident by my Pinterest Board called Party Time! Women can always make a meal out of appetizers and after eating a few petite fours (little white cakes with delicious powdered sugar icing) one of the sweetest desserts of the south... you are pretty much done for the day calorie wise!
My most recent shower was not held at my house, but at the beautiful friend of Lisa Pitman Rogers. She and her sister Donna had decorated a lovely table with a to die for crystal footed punch bowl of their mother's and assigned each hostess wonderful foods to bring.  The shower was for my long time friends Pam Clemens son Mitch and daughter-in-law to be Courtney. 

Didn't they make the prettiest table.
Pictured is my sweet diabetic mom having some nondiabetic punch and sweets.
Love that woman! 

My contribution was my sherbet punch that I have been making for the last twenty or more years for showers, receptions and birthday parties.  I call it my Anthology Punch from the days when I hosted our district presentation of student written work for grades kindergarten through the twelfth grades.  Each student produces in class a poem or narrative that was then judged and selected to be placed in a bound book showcasing the best in our district of over 2,500 students.  Several hundred attended this function and we could have never pulled it off without the help of my teacher friends and sherbet punch that became a staple and favorite of the staff and those in attendance. 
Any combination of punches will work for this punch and I have been known to add diced frozen fruit to it when I wanted to add a little flavor.  Keep the sherbet frozen and it is best to have your 7 Up, Sprite or Ginger Ale chilled in order to not melt the punch too quickly.
I should call this 'husband punch', because my husband actually bought the sherbet for me at the grocery store in Cherry Limeade flavor when they were out of my standard pineapple that we normally use.  It turned out to be the best sherbet punch I have ever made and thankfully had I served it with the pineapple, one lady said she would have been allergic to it.  It had a beautiful pink color with pops of red from the cherry's. 
For this shower, with just at fifty in attendance, we served three gallons of sherbet with four - 1 liter bottle of 7 Up.  I usually use a one to one ratio and sometimes 1 gallon of sherbet to 1 - 1/2 bottles of 7 Up.  Ginger Ale and Sprite, or your grocery store's version of these sodas (off brands) are just as good and cheaper as well.

Cherry Limeade Sherbet Punch
1 gallon Cherry Limeade Sherbet
1  to 1 1/2 liters bottle of 7 Up soda
Place sherbet in a large punch bowl.  Gently pour soda(s) over the sherbet over the ladle first being careful not to splash it out.
With a separate large spoon, gently break up the sherbet into small pieces like what you would want served in punch cups. 
Serve and enjoy! 
***As easy as this punch is, I can't tell you how many times people have asked for the recipe.  Be creative and use sherbet or even ice creams you enjoy the most.  It's always a hit and this recipe for the Cherry Limeade Sherbet Punch was my biggest hit yet with very little left over.  *** You can find Cherry Limeade Sherbet on the ice cream isle by Golden Brook at Brookshire's Grocery Company or you can also find it at Braum's Restaurants and Grocery at their ice cream counter!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pork Roast with Onions

Truly one of my very favorite Sunday suppers to make is a beef or pork roast.  It's a simple, throw it in the oven dinner, with little to minimal prep time.  I can run to the barn, work in my yard, or just take a nap and it's done in under a few hours in my oven...(in other words I'm not standing over an oven frying pork chops).  

This pork roast I share with you today takes a little extra time by adding some sliced onions, but the end results is a flavorful roast that you can eat on for days and transform in to many other recipes throughout your week ahead.

Suggestions to reuse this pork roast are suggestions like my King Ranch Pork Enchilada's (on the recipe tab above this page), and used as the meat inside a box of Tony Chachere's Jambalaya Mix for a quick meal when momma is tired and dinner is faster at home than at a restaurant!

I used my traditional foil pack as you'll see in the picture above, because #1, I'm lazy and don't like to clean a roast pan, and #2, I'm lazy and don't want to feel life is just too short to clean a roast pan!  So, with that said...try this recipe and use the foil!  

I also baked some sweet potatoes or yams on a foil lined cookie sheet, tip ends cut off sprayed with oil along side my pork roast in the oven.  Yams are cooked when you can gently squeeze them and they give.  Hope that makes sense and please don't burn yourself squeezing too hard or without oven mitts! :o)

Pork Roast with Onions

One large pork roast (pork shoulder, butt, or loin)
4 large onions (two if you just have too), sliced in 1 inch slivers
4 cups water
garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste or  omit first three spices and use Tony Chachere's  Creole Seasoning
Pam 'Oil' Spray

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  I use a convection oven that I love for even cooking.  Line a large baking dish with foil that has been sprayed with Pam Spray.  Place roast that has been seasoned liberally with garlic powder, salt and pepper or Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  Place roast with the fat side up.  Cover with onions and gently pour water on all sides of the roast.  Cover tightly with foil that has been sprayed with Pam bringing both sides together folding upward.  Place in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on size of your roast.  For a 2 - 3 pound roast, I'd cook for 1 1/2 hours.  My roast last night was a 4 pounder and took 3 1/2 hours to cook.  For the last 30 minutes I uncovered the roast and cut slits on top if it to quicken my cooking time. My reason for this last step was that I got over zealous and bought a roast that was entirely too big! :o)

Be careful when you open the foil as the steam will easily burn you!  Once you take out the roast, allow it to sit for ten minutes before cutting it as this allows the juices to set up and keep it moist!

Slice or pull pork from the bone and serve along side your baked sweet potatoes (directions above), my Unbundled Green Beans here on this site under recipes, and some rolls.
Be careful when you open the foil as the steam will easily burn you!  Spoon the drippings or juice from the roast over your pork for added flavor and don't forget the onions as that is the best part!  My husband likes to add Tabasco Sauce on top of his pork roast!

You can also cook your yams/sweet potatoes beside your pork in the same roasting pan and it is fantastic.  My roast was just so big last night that I did not have room to add the yams!


Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bethany's Chuy's Imitation Jalapeño Cilantro Lime Sauce

In Texas....or at least at our ranch, we love our salsas and dips with our chips, or tortilla chips as you might call them. Sometimes, I can almost make a meal in itself off of our 'chips and dips' and before you know it you've filled yourself up and have no room left for the main dish, or suppers as we call it in the South.
One Texas haunt of a Mexican Food Cantina or Restaurant is Chuy's.  My girls were introduced to this great restaurant chain by their agriculture advisor on their many trips across our great state of Texas.  Mr. Thomas' unique gift is not only being a great teacher and mentor to many, but finding that hole in the wall food joint that is what my girls would term 'off the chain'...or good!  Chuy's soon became one of their favorite restaurants and especially when one opened up in good old College Station or Aggieland!
My middle daughter Bethany being a hard core Pinterest pinner, found this recipe on their site www.pinterest.com  and tweaked it to fit her taste.  The result is one fantastic appetizer that you could literally just spoon out and eat.  No chips required if you don't want it...this recipe is just that darn good!
Now calories...we don't want to discuss that....  But if you are calorie conscious, you can do what her friend Molly L. did and use plain nonfat yogurt instead of the REAL Mayonnaise and she thinks it makes a thicker and healthier version.  Molly is a budding cook herself and thankfully a follower of my blog!

If you are serving this outside, be mindful of the ingredients and keep an ice bowl under your serving bowl to keep the dip safe to eat.  Bethany enjoys makes large batches of this and it keeps in the refrigerator for a week.  She told her roommates at college that they were going to be excited or 'pumped' that she knew how to make this now!     

Bethany's Chuy's Imitation Jalapeño Cilantro Lime Sauce

1 cup Real Mayonnaise or 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt (we prefer Dannon's)
1 cup buttermilk
1 to 3/4 cup jalapenos, canned or fresh & a little of the juice if from can (take out white insides and seeds to reduce heat) wear gloves or wash hands quickly :o) - you might add this to you own taste...
1 cup tomatillo salsa (store bought) or The Ranch Kitchen's Tomatillo Salsa recipe here at 
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 packs dry Ranch mix
1 teaspoon lime juice, optional 
garlic salt to taste, optional 

In a food processor or blender, pulse or chop cilantro and add tomatillo salsa, jalapeño, lime juice, Real Mayonnaise, buttermilk, and Ranch Dressing powdered mix. Pulse and then taste. You might like the addition of garlic salt.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt at a time to taste, as a little goes a long way. 

Serve with tortillas chips and enjoy!  Or a spoon like me!

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marinated Cucumbers and Onions

I think I could sometimes just drink this recipe!  As far back as I can remember my mom made this side dish.  It was always just what we all wanted. She probably didn't use as much sugar as I do and you can most certainly adjust any ingredient or spice below to your liking.

My recipe below is my rendition of her cucumber recipe.  It's fun just to experiment and make it your own. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  On a hot summer's day there is nothing more refreshing than this recipe to me. 

So, try this out this week. It's an easy enough dish that even the most inexperienced cook can prepare and wow their families and friends with!  


                                                    Marinated Cucumbers and Onions

3 - 4 cucumbers (seedless variety are best, but we usually don't use it)
2 onions sliced, white or red
1/2 cup sugar or non calorie sweetener like Splenda
3 cups cold water
2 cups white or apple cider vinegar (I usually use white vinegar)
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning spice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Pepper to taste
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (a little - 1 tsp. goes a long way)

Optional additions:

bell peppers, sliced in 1/2 inch strips
sweet banana peppers, chopped in bite sized portions (one inch in size)
tomatoes, cherry or Roma tomato varieties
dill weed, fresh or dried 


Clean and slice cumcumbers and onions in to 1/4 inch wide rounds.  Place in a large container with a lid or a large bowl. Add other vegetables, water, sugar, vinegar, and seasonings. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours or longer. I prefer overnight.  

We enjoy taking these cucumbers out at each night as a side with dinner.  They will keep for one week.

***Throughout the week we add more cucumbers and onions as they are eaten.  

To us this is one of our favorite things to eat out of our garden.  It's light, quick and easy to make!  



Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Ranch Kitchen's Summer Squash

The Ranch Kitchen's Summer Squash

Finally, finally, back to blogging and sharing my recipes!  Summer has been crazy busy...house flooded, car wrecked, two Hereford shows, braces, oral surgery, my almost broken arm, and then daughter's emergency appendectomy.  Life is good though and my glass is half full and not half empty, because through it all God took good care of us and we are all healthy.  

The above picture is of one dish I make very often in our house from the crazy amount of squash my husband's garden grows each year.  I have never really cared for boiled stove top squash, so this recipe I created is far better and allows this summer veggie to hold on to it's color and nutrients better.  

You can add any type of cheese over this squash recipe at the end right before serving or without it.  Either way, it's always one of my go to dishes when we grill or cook in the house.  It was  a huge hit at our recent Jr. National Hereford show in Kansas City and it helped bring a little bit of our garden to my annual Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd feed that I do for our Texas crowd and other state friends. 

The Ranch Kitchen's Summer Squash

6 - 8 small yellow and/or green zucchini, cut in quarters 1/2 inch thick
1 medium to large yellow or sweet 1015 onion, sliced 
1/4 cup Canola oil or grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
1 bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 - 2 teaspoons of Cajun Season, All Seasoning Spice, garlic salt/pepper, lemon pepper or seasonings of your choice.

In Teflon coated pan or wok add oil and heat on low heat.  Add squash and onions cooking on low to medium heat covered, stirring constantly allowing vegetables to 'cook down' or reduce in size.  Covering your dish with a lid will help your squash cook faster.  Also, a lot of oil is not needed due to the water in the squash that will release as you cook.  Add Cajun Seasoning like Tony Chachere's or Zatarain's,  and/or All Season Spice as you cook, tasting to see if you need more or less.  You can also add lemon pepper or any spice you prefer instead.  Cooking time is usually around 20 - 30 minutes depending on the level of your fire or heat on your electric stove top.  I have also prepared this squash in a foil pack  a lot of the time when we are in a hurry by grilling outside or in the stove.  Just place your foil wrapped squash on top of a cookie sheet in case it accidentally breaks or you'll have a mess in your stove.  Also add 4 - 5 ice cubes to help maintain the moisture in your squash as they stove seems to dry it out faster even though it is sealed in a foil pack. Always wrap your foil in an upward curl on the sides so that you do not lose your juice from your squash.

Occasionally, I add grated cheddar like Parmesan, and/or Colby Jack cheese to the top of the squash as my daughters like it that way.  

I hope you enjoy this summer squash recipe as much as we do.  When I say we eat this squash a lot...that is an understatement.  My middle daughter says no more squash when she returns to college, but my oldest one requested this for dinner tonight as part of her recovery meal from her appendectomy surgery and healthy eating plan!  Promise it's good, healthy and great warmed up the next night in the microwave.  For that reason alone, I always cook it in abundance so I have some with my next meal!