Monday, February 23, 2015

Brisket Fajitas and Snow Day

Off to school and back home by 11 a.m.  Snow days are fun days in the south when life comes to a fast stop when the temperature goes below 32 degrees.  We just aren't equipped to handle the ice that always comes with below freezing temperatures.  Earlier today my good friend Danna posted on Facebook a map of the US with a white colored Texas and the words CLOSED across it...that pretty much sums up snow days here! 

As an educator we realize all too well what comes with possible snow days.  First there are the excited kids, more excited parents and even more the school employees!  We all love a good day off to sit by the fire or in our chair and rest a little. 

Today our school made the decision to start the school day and attempt to make the day as the inclement weather had not hit our little community yet.  Our school district feeds so many students each day, that it's never an easy decision to not have school even with bad weather.  We realize all too well that a hot breakfast and lunch after a long weekend may be the best meal some students have had in a while.  So today before we left, our hard working cafeteria staff hammered out a 'brunch' after breakfast and by 10:15 we had two grades fed and on their way home by bus or car.  The other schools in our district are to be equally commended for doing the same thing for all their students by bagging up lunches and making sure all tummies were fed and full before the sometimes long ride on the school bus or until we see those sweet kids again the next day. 

Tomorrow is a late start for us at 10 a.m. in the hopes that the weather will hold.  If not, we'll be out again only to make up our days at most likely either our Easter break Good Friday or at the end of the year in June.  Although I so enjoyed spending my day with our Audrey today cooking sweets, catching up on some work and visiting while also watching a fun movie, I realize why school is so important in more ways than one. 


Click here for the recipe for The Ranch Kitchen's Brisket Fajitas

Thankfully tonight's dinner wasn't too much of an effort as I took the brisket from Saturday night's dinner and made it into fajitas.  Fajitas are usually made from beef skirt steak that is sauteed with onions, green bell peppers and wrapped into a flour tortilla with cheese, sour cream and Pico de Galo. 

In less than thirty minutes dinner was done and Audrey proclaimed that it was her #2 favorite meal behind what she calls my 'famous soft tacos' .  I can't share that recipe on this site as it uses a packaged seasoning!  However, so I could share with you my recipe tonight, I came up with a fajita seasoning within this recipe that you could use instead of the packaged varieties.  But, don't discount a good Lawry's or off brand seasoning.  I've used them on a regular basis simply because you just can't beat them....but if you want to, my fajita seasoning is pretty tasty too.

For my friends across the US, especially up north and for those here in Texas, I hope you enjoyed your day off and late start in the morning!  Spring is coming, but winter sure is getting in the way.  Stay warm, stay safe, and I hope and pray you get the rain you so desperately need.  I know we are all looking forward to longer periods of warm weather.  Darn that groundhog....

Remember - no one said cooking had to be hard!  Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Ranch Kitchen's Dinner for Two & Shrimp Parmesan

As our girls grow older and they are off to their own lives or activities, sometimes it's just my husband and I.  We realize that all too soon, it will just be us and 'dinner for two' will have a whole new meaning.  It's hard when you are used to cooking for a crowd or just for a family of five to begin to convert that cooking in to smaller batches. 


Last night while our youngest was at church, I quickly created this easy Shrimp Parmesan that we really enjoyed.  I used precooked shrimp that I thawed quickly in the sink in a colander and along with some squash cooked in 1/4 cup Zesty Italian Salad Dressing and water from last year's garden  we had a impressive looking dinner that didn't cause me to spend too much time in the kitchen.  On weeknights and especially when I get to spend some quality adult time with my husband, I would rather not be over a hot stove.

So whether you're cooking for one, two or even three because last minute Audrey just had to have some when she got in from church . . . this meal is a snap to throw together!  It's also easy enough for the newest cook to make to impress that boyfriend or husband! Hint, hint!

And remember, who said cooking had to be hard?

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fort Worth Stock Show, National Hereford Show Weekend & Sure Champ's 'Sweet Treats' Blog Post

Our January was full once again this year and we love it that way.  It's completely exhausting and we miss a little bit of school and work, but the memories we make will be priceless one day. 

It's all business in the ring for our girls and especially Audrey!

Starting out with with the Fort Worth Jr. Livestock Show, our Audrey showed her Hereford heifer NH Miss Anabelle to much success.  Fort Worth has never been the easiest show for us to even place well in.  We've had some last, second to last, and more fourths, thirds and fifth places than I'd like to remember.  But with those finishes are the learning curve and realization that we don't win them all and it's one judges opinion for one day in the ring.  I want to make a tshirt one day that simply states.... 'Different Judge...Different Day.  Today I was second, tomorrow Grand Champion!' 

Showing NH Miss Anabelle to a Division Championship!

That exact qoute pretty much sums up my middle daugther Bethany's freshmen year when a second place heifer in Fort Worth garnered a Grand Champion win in Houston. Different judge, different day for sure and we realize with each show that this is just how it is.  It's not about the ribbons, but how you got there with your family in tow.

So this year we were thrilled with our first Division Championship in the Senior Hereford Heifer with Audrey's heifer.  It'll be Anabelle's last show as she is heavy bred, but she has been the type of heifer we felt confident in Audrey showing win or lose because of her temperment. 

Audrey at the Fort Worth Jr. Hereford Livestock Show.

A bit weary and with the 'Fort Worth Crud' (that's the term for a cold from the show barn), we turned around the next weekend and returned to Cowtown for the National Hereford Show weekend with a full line up of our Texas Hereford & Polled Association, Texas Hereford Auxiliary, and Texas Pollette meetings.  Audrey serves this year as our Texas Hereford Sweetheart and got to assist with the Commercial Heifer Show, Replacement Heifer Sale, Cowtown Select Sale and our annual meetings all weekend long. 

I was extremley honored and humbled to be asked to be the speaker at my Texas Hereford Auxiliary Annual Meeting and tell about the process I went through beginning my The Ranch Kitchen Blog and adding my additional recipe site.  It was fun to get to tell about my recent Chobani Greek Yogurt  - #Delicious Bowl challenge for the Super Bowl and to also thank them all for their support over the years for my blog and site.  Special thanks goes to Tonya Perez and Nia Hill of Agtown for helping me created my additional recipe site to seamlessly merge with my blog.  These families, our events and their impact on my cooking is undeniable.  It's the truest compliment when a Hereford junior like Ryon Cox continually tries my recipes while off at Texas A&M and messages to let me know.  And to my daughter's added surprise when their friends tell them, 'Hey, I made your mom's recipe!' 

It's also fun each year to know that my Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd has become a favorite and expectation on Sunday for lunch.  It's certainly not the easiest thing to plan and cook to feed the mounds of people we do on this day, but it's filled hungry kids and dad's tummies and made memories we wouldn't trade for.

This batch of Chicken Spaghetti weighed seriously 60 pounds. Thank you Ryon for not dropping it!
As you said, you would have NEVER have lived it down!

This momma also enjoyed dolling up her newest teenager  Audrey in her new blazers, hat with crown and sash this weekend as Texas Hereford Sweetheart.  It's not always easy getting ready in a barn, but we've learned to adapt over the years and pull it off.  I'm so glad daddy doesn't mind all the 'hair and makeup' over these last 27 yeards of marriage and kuddos to him for being the most wonderful example of a husband, dad and friend. We celebrated 27 years the Thursday he left to go back up to the Open Show and I'm looking forward to many more ahead with God's will.

We loved having Ilissa's friend Stewart with us for the weekend! 

Hannah Schneider our Texas Hereford Queen and Audrey as our Texas Hereford Auxiliary Meeting. Hannah has been so great with Audrey!

Each Grand & Reserve winner this weekend
received this beautiful Henry rifle specially made for the
Texas Hereford Association.

All our Texas Hereford and Polled Queen's, Sweethearts and Princesses along with Katie Nolles our National Hereford Queen holding the National Hereford Women's Original Oil by Bud Snidow which
was auctioned off at the Cowtown Select Sale.

National Hereford Show Texas Hereford Royalty


Thanks for Jack Chastain for this family shot during the Texas Hereford Social.

Happily, we closed our weekend with a Reserve Division in the National Hereford Bull Show with our newest bull NH Bam Bam with half interest while there sold to Langford Hereford Ranch of Oklahoma.  Audrey loves her bull Bam Bam (can you tell she named him) and was not very happy with her father for the partnership until she realized she couldn't show him at our state and Jr. National Hereford Expo this summer. 

As a ranch we are very excited to have our bull show this next fall at the National Hereford Shows and are excited about our newest partnerships with Langford Herefords. 

NH Bam Bam recieves a first in class and Reserve Division at the National Hereford Show shown by Langford Herefords.

Had to snap this of my husband Scott.  Very rarely will you find him without
dirt or God knows what else on him. Hard working for sure and this picture
taken just after getting the cattle show ready!

Holding those Grand and Reserve banners.

Grand Champion Drive - with NH Bam Bam to your front far left.  Proud, proud moment!

This Monday, as soon as we arrived home and Audrey began to catch up on her homework and came down with the 'vicious virus' as I hate to call it, I sat down finally to finish my Sure Champ Blog for February.  I decided to share dessert recipes that we take to our stock shows each year that everyone seems to enjoy.  These are also recipes that I have made for Valentine's Day parties, and are easy to transport and keep well for the week in my big black 'meal' box on wheels.  Years ago my husband surprised me with my box for all my cooking aparatuses and home baked goods.  Because of it I'm more organized at shows and can do my part in serving our family and friends over a cookies or my Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd. 

My Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd with Bam Bam looking on. 

So now as I sit here blogging about my week, I realize yet again how very lucky we are to be a part of the agriculture and Herford family.  It's full of work, we spend probably way too many weeks and weekends away from home, but it's afforded our girls a work ethic and friendships that will carry them through their lives ahead. 

Friend Eric Debord, Scott and Steve our Ranch Manager
looking on as their kids show in the National Hereford Show.
Our next big show will be the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and I'm already planning toward it.  Warmer weather and spring break looks pretty good to this true southern girl who's a little tired of the cold winter we've experienced so far. 

Before the Grand Champion last moment to visit.

It was great having Katie Nolles back in Texas as our National Hereford Queen.  She did a wonderful job all weekend and always represents the Hereford breed so well!
So enjoy February and Valentines Day.  And if you are knee deep in stock show season like us, best of luck! 

And we hope you'll try some of the sweets on the Sure Champ blog Recipes from the Ranch post for this month entitled 'Sweet Treats for Your Sweetheart'.  None of these recipes are difficult to make and we promise you'll love them as much as we do.  It's been a lot of fun blogging for Sure Champ VitaFerm this last year! 

Click here for the Sure Champ's Recipes from the Ranch 'Sweet Treats for Your Sweetheart' February Blog post!

Happy Valentines Day from our ranch to yours!

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

One of the very newest additions to our Hereford family is Bode, son of dear family friends Jason and Jaci at his first National Hereford Show in Fort Worth!  He was a trooper and slept through much of the show. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Granny's Rutabagas


If there was one dish my Granny was famous for with my husband it was her Rutabagas.  I guess it's the Irish/Scott in him because he does love his root vegetables and especially eating them raw. 

My Granny loved my husband Scott and instantly as soon as I brought him to her house for our first family gathering installed him as family.  Scott in turn loved my Granny and we all miss her very much. 

Her cooking inspires me to this very day and I'll never be able to fully replicate her cornbread, because it was never probably made the same way twice.  After cooking for a family of seven she had mastered cooking from her eyes and not a measuring cup or spoon.  Granny was a self taught cook who loved a good cook book like I do and her cooking shows back when Julia Child's and Paul Prudhomme was about all that could be had.  But oh how everyone learned from them and still do!

A few weeks ago, I decided to surprise Scott with his favorite vegetable that I don't make near enough.  After calling my mom to make sure I was making Rutabagas they way they did, I got to work. 

This easy dish was on the stove in under ten minutes flat boiling in water with simply butter, salt and pepper.  I served it along side my daughter Ilissa's favorite pasta called My Big Girls Favorite Goulash without the added Velvetta cheese this time, and we had a pretty starch loaded meal. Sometimes you just need those starches and I thought the Rutabagas actually complimented the goulash pretty well. 

Scott was delighted and even my daughter loved them.

Rutabagas would also be good mashed as well with a little extra butter. We enjoyed them just as they were cooked, drained with a little added salt and pepper.

Click here for Granny's Rutabagas

Hope you'll give them a try. Rutabagas are slightly sweet and totally delicious.  Don't let their hard outer core or the name turn you away. They are easily pealed and cubed when you don't buy them too large.  I bought Rutabagas that were about the size of a girl's softball.

Hope you'll try them! 

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen