Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dinner in a Dish

Dinner in a dish is something I've been making for years.  Whether its out of convenience or laziness or you could call it both, this dish is something any beginning cook can make and the most experienced will love because simply put - it's easy!  It's great the first night you make it and even better the second night. And it's one of my go to dishes when I take dinner to someone for a new baby, loss of a loved one, or just because they need a home cooked meal!

On the night I made this we didn't have my regular package of Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing 'powdered' mix, so I improvised as I normally do.  When you live a bit out in the country, you just don't run back up the store for one ingredient.  So, I used an already prepared bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing (1/2 bottle) and poured that over it instead of the butter mixed with the dry dressing mix.

Dinner in a Dish

4 pork chops or 4 chicken breast or thighs
2 cans green beans, drained
6 -8 red potatoes (any potatoes will work for this), quartered

****here you either get more complicated or do like I did this time and use the bottle of prepared Italian Dressing...either way is great!
1 stick butter
1 package Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing Mix
8 ounces of a bottle of Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing Mix = 1/2 bottle

For this dish you can use any 9 x 13 inch Pyrex or any casserole dish.  You can use chicken or pork chops and tonight I chose pork chops.  You'll also see that I peeled too many potatoes and squash so the pork chops got placed on top of the green beans and potatoes.  I made sure everything got a good dose of the Italian Dressing. 

You simply divide your dish in thirds by placing 2 cans of drained green beans (I like the Italian green beans that are cut in strings) on one side, 5-8 chopped and quartered new potatoes on the other side, and place in the middle your meat.  Always spray or grease your dish lightly as it makes cleanup so much easier and doesn't cause this dish to stick.  You then either melt one stick of margarine and whisk into it your Italian Dressing mix. 
Spoon the seasoned butter over the entire casserole dish that has your potatoes, green beans and pork or chicken in it.  Or the 1/2 bottle of dressing.  As you can see below I added yellow squash from our garden that has just begun to produce.  We will have as always an overabundance of squash, so I will find every way possible to use it up!

This time I sprinkled some garlic salt on top of the entire dish just to add a little more seasoning, but this is totally optional.
Cover tightly with foil and cook for1 hour and 15 minutes on 425 or until your meat is done.
Serve with a salad and bread and dinner is done! 

You'll see instead of salad on for this dinner we had fresh radishes from our garden of my husbands and my homemade mac and cheese. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Southwestern Meal for Sure Champ VitaFerm's Blog Collaboration with The Ranch Kitchen

Today is my first recipe post for Sure Champ VitaFerm!  I am really looking forward to posting on their blog once a month creating and sharing my favorite recipes with a Sure Champ VitaFerm twist! 
This weekend I created some new recipes that I hope their readers and mine will enjoy.  Please stop by and check out my post for them at and their other great post they share almost daily

A special thank for their confidence and trust in me as we begin this fun journey together!   It's my hope that my recipes will inspire others to cook for their family and friends and enjoy how foods brings us all together!   

VitaFerm Ranch Enchilada’s

2 - 3 cups chicken, or (beef or turkey) cooked, shredded (can chicken was used for this recipe today)

2 cans Rotel Tomatoes with cilantro and lime juice, not drained (reserve 1/3 can) – you can substitute one can of Rotel Tomatoes for chopped tomatoes with bell peppers if you want to control the ‘heat’ of this recipe

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup water or chicken broth

1 package of flour tortillas cut or torn in to 2 x 2 inch squares - I love Mission Tortillas

1 tbsp. Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 cups shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese or Mexi-blend cheese by Kraft

In a large bowl blend one can Rotel Tomatoes, soups, water and seasonings together.  Add your chicken that has been shredded with a fork or by hand and blend well. 

In a greased 9 x 13 inch glass casserole dish place one can of Rotel Tomatoes and spread over entire casserole dish. 

Add one half of tortillas cut in 2 inch strips. 

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, and then sprinkle with cheese and 1/2 of torn or sliced flour tortillas. 

Last place remainder of soup/chicken mixture on top of that last layer of flour tortillas and cook uncovered 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.

Servings:  12
***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 sometimes!! 

***Side note for parents who serve crowds food this summer at National, Regional or State Shows or for large gatherings.  VitaFerm Ranch Casserole is easily double or tripled for a crowd and can be cooked in large roasters at shows. We did just that at our Jr. National Hereford Expo in Tunica, Mississippi many years ago to rave reviews!  Just make sure that you spray your roaster well with cooking oil and add a little extra water or chicken broth. Do layer your casserole, but realize that you will have to occasionally stir the mixture so that it does not stick.  Do not add the cheese in this dish until the last thirty minutes as it will stick.  If you find the mixture starts to stick or get a little crusty (burn), just add more water or chicken stock and remember to turn down your roaster on low or warm heat.


Proven Winner Ranch Kitchen Salsa

1 can Roasted Tomatoes with garlic

1 onion, quartered (I prefer a sweet onion like a Vidalia or Texas A&M 1015)

½ bunch of cilantro, fresh

1 jalapeno seeded and cut in fourths (if you like your salsa hot, don’t take the seeds out)

1 lime, juiced

1 teaspoon garlic salt

black pepper to taste

In a food processor or blender, place tomatoes, seasonings, onion, jalapeno, lime juice and seasonings. 
 I use a fork to get the juice out of my limes and lemons.  Just fork almost all the way thru and's that easy!

Pulse salsa to desired consistency in blender or food processor. We like our salsa a little on the chunky side, so we only pulse about five times in one second intervals. Serve with tortilla chips or on the side of fresh peas or southwestern dishes!  Enjoy!

Servings:  8 


The Sure Champ Rancharita!

2 parts Minute Maid Limeade Frozen Concentrate, prepared – about 2 ounces

1/1/2 ounce Tequila, (Jose Cuervo Silver is recommended)
1 ounce orange juice

1 ounce Shiner Bock Amber Beer (a great Texas beer)

3 slices of jalapenos, seeded or left with seeds depending on the degree of ‘heat’ you like

Sliced limes
Cayenne pepper

In a medium sized glass filled ¾ full with ice.  Place one slice of jalapeno, then pour limeade, tequila, orange juice, Shiner Bock Amber Beer, and finish off with one last slice of jalapeno.  Pour into a shaker and shake like crazy.  Top the rim of your glass with margarita salt or cayenne pepper like we did for an extra punch!  Pour back into your glass, garnish with a lime and enjoy!  The addition of beer makes this drink have a wonderful froth! 

The recipe above is for one drink. 

This is now my new favorite drink and was perfect with Tex-Mex or Southwestern flavored dishes I made this weekend!

Special thanks to Gerald Jones of Los Pinos Ranch Winery of Pittsburg, Texas and my daughter Ilissa for the inspiration for this great drink idea! 

If you've never been to their great winery in the midst of the East Texas Pine trees, then you are truly missing out!  Check out their site at .  Our favorite wine of theirs is the Rodeo Red! 







Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Ranch Kitchens' Honey Mustard Spiced Pretzels

As my friend Buffy told me sometimes the best recipes are the mistakes!  This recipe turned out to be a real hit all because my youngest daughter accidentally picked up the wrong bag of pretzels! 

Me, being in a huge hurry as I usually am, prepared my seasonings on these pretzels AND THEN tasted them!  I realized all too late that she had picked up a bag of ROLD GOLD Honey Mustard flavored pretzels!  I really honestly didn't have to do a thing to them because they are already really great pretzels.  But, I guess it's a good thing I did made this mistake because these pretzels turned out super spicy and our staff liked them the best so far of all I've made most recently!  I get a little tickled as they walk in and fill up a entire bowl to make it through testing breaks or the day!

The Ranch Kitchen's Honey Mustard Spiced Pretzels

2 bags ROLD GOLD® Honey Mustard Flavored Tiny Twists Pretzels

1 cup Canola oil

1 package Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix

1 teaspoon of garlic salt
2 teaspoons of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning

Mix seasoning in oil with a whisk.  Place 1/2 bag of pretzels in a large bowl and pour 1/4 of seasoned oil on top of pretzels.  Mix up the mixture with a spoon and pour another half bag of pretzels and continue to alternate the seasoned oil and stirring pretzels. 

I usually allow this mixture to sit overnight covered with Seran wrap or as in today's case, we served it immediately! 

Enjoy!  It's spicy and not for those watching your salt intake...but it might be worth an occasional treat! 

As with all my pretzel recipes on this site, you can always bag these up and take on trips in individual baggies!


Monday, May 5, 2014

The Ranch Kitchen's Ultimate Fire Crackers

I love my spice rack!  I may use too much garlic salt, too much Tony Chachere's and usually too much lemon pepper, but cooking and making things in excess seems to be my specialty.  I love to make things in a pinch or hurry that turn out well or so said my friends. The Fire Crackers I'm sharing on my blog today was just one such recipe!

My newest quick recipe are these The Ranch Kitchen's Ultimate Fire Crackers that were over the top good and a HUGE hit at my recent snack table we put together for our teachers and staff for our recent state test.  I modified this 'fire cracker' recipe from one I had fixed a few years back to include some spices that I thought would give it the extra punch it needed.  The extra garlic salt and especially the Salad Supreme Seasoning gave it the salty crunch that I think made these the hit they were.  You can adjust the red pepper flakes to your heat index, as you may not like things as spicy or hot as we do! 

With all that said, these are slightly addicting, way bit spicy and definitely something I'll make in huge batches now for home parties, camping, traveling on the show road this summer and for potlucks as an appetizer. 

The Ranch Kitchen's Ultimate Fire Crackers

1 box of saltine crackers (4 sleeves)
1 cup Canola, grape seed or vegetable oil
1 package Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons McCormick Salad Supreme Seasoning
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes

Mix with a whisk your dry spice ingredients in a small bowl.  Add oil to this and mix well with a whisk.  Break open 4 packages of saltine crackers and place in a gallon size Ziploc bag all at one time.  Pour oil and spice mixture over the saltine crackers a little at a time. Reseal package and gently shake and move crackers around in the Ziploc baggie to move oil/spice mixture around.  Add remaining oil/spice mixture to saltine crackers, seal baggie and mix. 

I served these immediately in a large bowl. However, you can allow these to sit for 30 minutes and air dry on a cookie sheet then spoon back in to a new/clean Ziploc bag or plastic container with a top that seals tightly. 

These will feed approximately 20 people IF they don't devour more than ten crackers at a sitting!

This is the spice Salad Supreme Seasoning that I think gave these crackers the extra crunch!

These would be great packaged up in snack sized Ziploc baggies for people to grab at functions as well or to use as a snack at work or in school lunches.