Monday, December 29, 2014

The Ranch Kitchen's Lasagna

Lasagna is one of those meals you can feed a crowd and for sure have a few leftovers from.  Last night we fixed this easy Italian dish that my youngest daughter wanted to cook.

It's a pretty standard lasagna recipe with a pre-made spaghetti sauce that made even better with the beef from our ranch.  In my younger years I made my own homemade spaghetti sauce, but for ease and quicker meals I enjoy my Ragu and Hunt's 4 Cheese variety meat sauces now a whole lot more!  My dad tells me my spaghetti is the best and I tell him it's truly because of the home grown Certified Hereford Beef we use from our ranch that makes the difference.

You can also use ground pork instead of beef as we do this from time to time. 

We served this with my The Ranch Kitchen's Italian Green Beans, a side salad with bacon and garlic toast. 

Click here for the recipe for The Ranch Kitchen's Lasagna

Audrey browning hamburger meat in the pan.
So proud she likes to cook!
Can of tomatoes already added and first layer of lasagna noodles...then first layer of 1/3 meat sauce.
Ricotta Cheese being added.
Second layer of lasagna noodles going on.
About 4 to 5 layers of lasagna noodles...this picture is minus two more noodles.  Notice they are not cooked. 
Audrey perfecting her method.
You need a pretty big casserole dish to make lasanga. 
Last 1/2 layer of Ricotta Cheese. 
Spreading on the Ricotta is not easy and gets a little messy...but no one knows the difference!
Last layer of spaghetti meat sauce is added.  Next add foil and cook on 400 for one hour.
Ricotta Cheese is a must when making lasagna.  I like the Frigo brand best..but they are all good.
Sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese this dish is ready to eat.

Enjoy!  Alise - The Ranch Kitchen


Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas from The Ranch Kitchen & Holly Jolly Christmas Bark

This Christmas was another great one with our family.  The year has flown by.  With getting ready for the holidays along with school activities, our Hereford involvements, jobs, and most importantly our middle daughter Bethany graduating from Texas A&M, this year was full and very special. 

The week before Christmas my girls were in my kitchen cooking, cleaning (they don't like that party) and learning to make a few new dishes.  They're always a huge help and right there with me, but this year and more than in the past, they truly planned what they wanted to make to add to our sweets and meals we served our family.  It makes a momma proud when you love cooking as much as I do and see the joy of it start to happen in your daughters. 

This past week my daughters made several great sweets much to our delight. Ilissa's Holly Jolly Christmas Bark was a fun and festive to make. Using holiday inspired Oreo Cookies, white almond bark, red and green M&M's Candy's and stick pretzels this candy was a snap to put together on waxed paper. 
Click here for the recipe for Holly Jolly Christmas Bark!

Later on this week I'll be sharing Bethany's Turtle Candies that have become very addicting!

We hope your day was spent with those you love and remembering those who have gone before us with cherished memories.  Especially during the holidays I remember those taken far too soon and my grandparents who always made our holidays so special. 

Best wishes for a wonderful rest of your Christmas day, weekend if it continues with family like ours, and may we all remember the reason for the season.

Our annual Christmas Eve matching pj's picture.  Our youngest Audrey is so excited that she can FINALLY get matching ones that fit like her sisters (waist ban is rolled a few times)!
Our western themed tree. 

Merry Christmas from our ranch to your home from all of us at The Ranch Kitchen!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas with my girls and Hot Chocolate Cookies

This Christmas I have so enjoyed my girls being HOME!  With my two oldest daughters off at college and work, it's precious few times we get to spend an entire week or more together. 

One thing I look forward to each year is the baking and preparations for our family meals in my crowded little kitchen.  With all four of us cooking and baking around the bar, stove and oven my kitchen soon get a good kind of messy and I couldn't be happier.

My Bethany and Ilissa both this week created desserts to serve our family, their grandparents, our ranch manager Steve, and their assorted uncles, aunts and cousins for during the holidays.  Our youngest daughter Audrey proudly shared these Hot Chocolate Cookies for a Christmas party at her friend Jaici's and she said they were a huge hit.

Hot Chocolate Cookies rolled into balls

Add marshmallows after first initial baking and then return to the oven for 2 - 3 minutes and no longer.  You don't want the marshmallows to melt.

Place in a pretty tin and these cookies will keep up to two days out of your refrigerator.

Click on the here for the recipe for Hot Chocolate Cookies.

We hope you'll try these precious cookies!  The original recipe was from Rachel Ray's Magazine and site and a fantastic blog and site called Glorious Treats!  Please check it out!

Enjoy your holidays!

Alise, Ilissa, Bethany, and Audrey  - The Ranch Kitchen

Alise's Note - December 1st, 2018 - These cookies continue to be a huge hit at our house and now our most requested cookie at our Cookie Exchange and by teachers who get them as gifts each year.  They are so worth the extra effort and change them out with the sprinkles in January and make them look wintery with blue and silver sprinkles.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast Casserole

Here's another easy breakfast casserole that a friend and I made the other day for our campus breakfasts!  Little did Buffy and I know we each had made almost the exact same recipe....she knows our motto! 

Click here for the link to Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast Casserole

I like to call it The Ranch Kitchen's Green Eggs and Ham Casserole because of the green chili's that bring such a great flavor to it.  I literally threw this together in ten minutes the night before.  I cooked it and reheated the next day in our cafeteria for ten mintues in one of their jumbo steamers and was able to serve our staff.  Someday I want commercial size appliances....hint...hint Scott.

Each year our secretaries Anita and her daughter Tori serve an assortment of sweets and their famous pumpkin roll.  It's a tradition we all enjoy.  The rest of our administrators help by pitching in and serving egg casseroles, doughnuts, muffins and croisants. 

Buffy made this casserole with sausage instead of ham and cooked it in her crock pot all night on a medium heat. I think her idea is better and especially for Christmas morning this year!

Hope you enjoy it.  Later this week I'll share my Principals 'Bobby's Egg Ring Casserole' that was a hit as well! 

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sure Champ December Post

This past year has gone faster than I've wanted it too.  Life the older I get seems to have a sneaky way of doing that, but I have no complaints. They year has been a good one with many memories and milestones for our family.

This month's Sure Champ Blog Post Recipes from the Ranch sums some of our year up and shares some recipes we'll be making at our ranch this month. December is a busy time, but when you plan a bit ahead, it's never to hard to get a healthy meal on the table in no time.  Check out the recipe tab above for all my recipes!  

Have a great rest of December and I'll be posting as I can to share more family friendly recipe that are from staple items most cooks have readily on hand in their pantries.

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Alyse & Ruthie's Chocolate Chip Cake

Have I told you how much I love chocolate?  I adore the smell, the thought and all the different flavors of chocolate! My house has candy bowls of sweets and chocolate throughout and found I'm the only one that really eats them.  I don't really eat them a lot, but a small snack size Hershey's Kiss seems to curb my appetite and hold me until dinner.

Alyse Jones Bennett at our school's Thanksgiving luncheon with her wonderful cake!

Today I'm sharing another Alyse's recipe and not mine for Alyse and Ruthie's Chocolate Chip Cake.  It's a dense, rich and decadent cake from a young teacher at our school.  She didn't follow her Aunt Ruthie's recipe directly, but the results were wonderful!  It sometimes gets a bit confusing having two Alise's on our campus, but we are blessed to have her as she is a fantastic science teacher and cares about 'her' kids so much.

Click here for Alyse and Ruthie's Chocolate Chip Cake!

This cake would a great desssert for anytime of the year.  It would especially be enjoyed this week during Thanksgiving as it has most the ingredients you already have in your pantry and refrigerator.  The original recipe called for 8 ounces or sour cream, but Alyse decided on 16 ounces and it was over the top good. 

Very proud of this young cook. If you'd like to also share recipe on my site it's easy.  Just click on the link at the top or here to Share a Recipe and create an account.  Promise it's super simple and won't take you but a minute.

Once you submit and I check it over, I'll submit!  If you'll leave your email in the text of the recipe (I'll delete it before I submit), I'll let you know when your recipe goes live.  It's a great way to catalog and share your recipes with family and friends!  And I love getting new family favorite recipes for my site!

Enjoy and thanks Alyse for sharing this recipe!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Artie's Sugared Green Beans

I love having friends contribute to The Ranch Kitchen!  This recipe today came from dear friend and coworker Carol Elder who teachers at my school.  She's a wonderful cook in her own right and says she learned everything from her sweet mother Artie Montgomery.

Daughters and sons I think keep their parents memories alive by recipes and her mom's Artie's Sugared Green Beans is a real keeper.  We all enjoyed this during our Thanksgiving Potluck at school the other day and thankfully I had my camera in hand!  My girls and I will most certainly be making this for Thanksgiving and for many years to come.

Click here for the recipe for Artie's Sugared Green Beans!

It's a simple dish to make and is pretty in a crystal bowl like the one Carol served this dish in.

Thanks so much for Carol for sharing this recipe today and for teaching my Audrey! She's one of the best teachers out there!  To teach is to touch a life forever!

Enjoy your week long break and Thanksgiving!  You deserve it as all our teachers and students do!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Sure Is The Best Broccoli Rice Casserole' and November Sure Champ Recipes From the Ranch Blog Post

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and my mother and I are starting to think about our family meal.  It's always a huge effort to cook for our growing family and certain dishes are traditions each year. 
This year, as in the past, I will cook my newest recipe for 'Sure Is The Best' Broccoli Rice Casserole.  This recipe was recently posted on the Sure Champ November Blog Post along with some other favorite holiday favorites from around our ranch. 

Click here for the November Sure Champ Recipes from the Ranch Blog post. 

This cheesy rice dish with broccoli and onions is one of my husbands favorite sides and usually a part of his birthday dinner.  It's a southern staple dish at holiday dinners. 
For this recipe I switched from the jar of processed cheese to 1/2 lb. of Velvetta and liked the difference it made.  I usually use more cream of mushroom soup and felt that only one can was needed.  Instead of frozen broccoli, I used fresh and chopped them finely.  I also used sweet white onions, instead of the harsher (eye tearing) white cooking onions.  You could leave the onions out, but I think it's a huge part of this dish. 
Once your rice is cooked, throwing this casserole together is easy.  I've also included with this recipe how to cook the perfect rice.  I thank my mom for that huge lesson.

It's great to have as the next day as leftovers or to send home with family.  A lot of the time I put the casserole together, cover tightly with foil, and do the final baking the day of Thanksgiving (or Christmas & Easter) to help take some stress away from my day.

You can also click here for the recipe for 'Sure Is The Best Broccoli Rice Casserole'

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 
Alise  - The Ranch Kitchen

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Audrey's Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Creamy Peanut Butter Icing

It's cold in Texas!  This southern girl is not ready for winter!  But, we have a fire in the fireplace for the third time this week and are all cozy and warm.  

My youngest daughter wanted to bake this afternoon, so after a quick trip to the local Walmart we are sugared up from her latest creation of Audrey's Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Creamy Peanut Butter Icing.  

Audrey even placed and took the photos of these cupcakes for this post.  She was excited I'd be posting about them this afternoon.  

It warms my heart that she is starting to care about cooking and enjoys baking just like her sisters and I.  Baking treats for my younger brothers was how I started cooking.

Click here for Audrey's Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Creamy Peanut Butter Icing.  

The addition of chocolate chips coated in a few tablespoons of flour made these chocolate cupcakes really decadent.  The flour allows the semi sweet chocolate chips to not clump at the bottom of each cupcake and 'float' sticking to the cupcake batter as they bake.  

The Creamy Peanut Butter Icing tasted just like the center of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup a favorite candy of mine and was delicious alone.  

I always think back to my Granny telling me one time to not just sit and eat cake icing.  I looked at her and said I would never do that...but I knew since she was diabetic that must have done a time or two by her!  She looked pretty guilty after that discussion and I figured out just what she had done!   

One side note is so to allow your icing to chill in your refrigerator some before icing your cooled cupcakes.  We used a Wilton Cakes icing decorating tip to get the effect you see on the cupcakes in the pictures.  These cupcakes should be refrigerated also with the cream cheese icing and not left out for more than a half hour. 

After taking the pictures Audrey was too cute when she said, "Mom...we should have sprinkled crumbled Oreo Cookies on top of these cupcakes!"  Too cute!  We hopefully have a future blogger on our hands and maybe one day she will take over this site! 

Hope you enjoy these cupcakes as much as we have this afternoon.  Her daddy had two and is usually is not a big sweet eater.  

Thanks Audrey for the cupcakes!  Her big sister Bethany will thank her as well!  She has a surprise in store as they are coming to Aggieland this afternoon with her roommate Colin who came home for the weekend!  Enjoy Bethany, Colin and Carly!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Chicken Fried Marinated Deer Steak

No one..and I mean no one could cook deer steak like my mother-in-law Billie Nolan.  If I could choose a meal that she could make for me, her deer steak would be my top choice.  Looking back I know it was a combination of her blackened cast iron skillet and many, many years of cooking for the men in her family.  Her deer steak and 'greasy' potatoes are two of dishes that remain ingrained in my memory and that of my husbands.

Now in her older years, she doesn't cook as much as she once did, but I'm sure could cook this dish by memory if she had too.

Tonight my husband had already thawed out the deer steak for our dinner and I enjoyed catching up with him while cooking.

Venison or deer steak is a really lean meat that is full of flavor and tender to eat.  I chose to marinate ours in vinegar like my mother always did.  We believe it takes out some of the 'gamey' taste and helps tenderize it even more before you fry it.

Our deer steak with my husband's favorite lima beans, mashed potatoes and gravy and 'Sure Is The Best Broccoli Casserole'. Dinner is served!

Click here for the recipe for 
Chicken Fried Marinated Deer Steak.

Should you ever get the chance to have deer steak in your home, give this recipe a try.  The men around our house love it (my husband, brothers, and nephew) and my daughters do as well.

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Low Calorie Fruit Salad with Peachy Orange Sauce

Fresh fruit trays have become a tradition at our family gatherings and not because I make them.  My sister-in-law Leslie is a wonderful cook in her own right, especially with her yam pies and homemade macaroni and cheese, but always brings along a fruit tray to each family gathering.  It's her attempt at making us all eat one thing healthy during the holidays. The kids love her fruit trays and so do the adults! 

This past weekend after my daughter's 13th birthday party and our chocolate fondue appetizer with fresh fruit, I had a super - large amount of left overs.  So for dessert last night I combined a Yoplait Peach Yogurt with 1/2 cup of orange juice to an assortment of fruit I still had on hand. 

My newest teenager loved it and asked me just where I got the recipe.  Happily I told her it was from one of her favorite teachers Mrs. Moon who taught her science in the 5th grade.  That made her smile really big.  Julie always put her to work each afternoon helping out in her room when I had to work late up at school.  Audrey enjoyed those days and especially being her teachers' helper.  We miss Julie at our school now and know she is loving retirement after many years in education!

Audrey and Mrs. Julie Moon on the last day of 5th grade.

For this recipe I used fresh strawberries, pineapple, bananas, red apples, blueberries, and then the Yoplait Peach Yogurt (individual 6 ounce - cup size) and 1/2 cup orange juice (pulp free).  You could really use any fruit or yogurt for this recipe and even canned, drained fruit would be a good addition.

Click here for the recipe for Low Calorie Fruit Salad with Peachy Orange Sauce.

This Low Calorie Fruit Salad with Peachy Orange Sauce would be a healthy addition to your Thanksgiving or Christmas table this fall and winter for sure!  Audrey loved it!  This dish was always a hit at potlucks at our school when Julie made it. 

Thanks for the recipe Julie!  Enjoy retirement! 

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Milestones and Breafast Soft Tacos


This week marked a milestone in our family when my youngest daughter Audrey turned 13!  What a blessing she has been to our family. The last of our three girls and our 'baby' is all to quickly growing up.

This weekend we celebrated with getting her ears pierced of which is a tradition with our girls when you turn 13.  We told her if Bethany her middle sister could do it she could...because she doesn't do anything that involves pain.  She did it all while holding a teddy bear provided by the Claire's assistant. 
Later on during the weekend, we continued the celebration with several of her closest friends, cousin Zoe, Nanny and had a slumber party with pizza on the grill, a chocolate fondue with sweets and fruits, cookie cake and hayride on the back porch by the fire. 
In the morning, we will have her request of her big sister Ilissa's Breakfast Soft Tacos.  Thankfully we get fresh farm raised eggs from Scott's brother Terry.  They are always put to good use, especially with my middle daugther Bethany's love for baking sweets. 
Tonight in the middle of the slumber party I am able to blog a little while watching these sweet girls put on performances for each other.  I don't know if I'd ever be able to handle boys....I guess they wouldn't be inside, but camping outdoors.  However, I couldn't imagine being any more lucky than to have been a mother of three girls. 
My mom told me tonight how lucky I was and I know she is right.  I'll gladly take a night watching these girls dance, share their junior high stories, and act like they are still not teenagers one more time...because as Scott said after the hayride, "you got this" and went to bed.  And I guess he's right.  I've got a 'passle' of girls and couldn't be more blessed! 
Soft tacos are an easy dish to put together. We love ours with scrambled eggs, sweet onions, crumbled sausage (or shredded beef or bacon), and Colby Jack cheese all rolled up in flour tortillas and topped with a tomato salsa.  This recipe is just that simple!


Click here for the recipe for Breakfast Soft Tacos.

Special thanks to our Bethany for taking this picture of Audrey!

Happy birthday Audrey!  We love you so much!  Enjoy your teenage years! 

Love, Mom

Audrey and her sweet cousin Zoe! Her and her mom Leslie always have the best gifts for our girls!

Audrey and her best friend Jaici and her sweet gift...who will be a blogger one day I'm sure!

Audrey with my husband Scott and I.

Audrey and her mom.