Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Last of the Garden & Confetti Pasta

It's hot in Texas finally.  After a mild summer with tons of rain and low temperatures, the humidity and heat has set in.  Our garden that produced so well for us this year is now on it's last leg and veggies are not producing as much as I'd like.

This past weekend I picked some of our last banana and bell peppers from our garden and along with the basil we've grown in large quantities, I created this simple pasta dish.  As my daughter's friend Ashley said, it had a fresh taste to it using the peppers and especially the basil.  The added sour cream, Real Mayonnaise, Rotel Tomatoes and cream cheese made the pasta creamy and delicious too.  If you still have fresh tomatoes, by all means replace the Rotel Tomatoes and use them instead with a sprinkling of cilantro. If you like a little heat, then add a chopped jalapeno to it as well.

                            Click here for the recipe for Confetti Pasta.

 Pasta Salad
Confetti Pasta is just so bright, fun and colorful! 

If you serve this pasta outside, be sure to keep the bowl on top of another bowl of ice to keep this pasta chilled.  I think adding cooked chicken, tuna, salmon or even pepperoni would easily turn this side dish in to a main dish for dinner or a light lunch.

This recipe would be perfect for a church or work potluck or large family gathering or reunion.

If you have similar pasta dishes, please consider sharing them on The Ranch Kitchen Share a Recipe Section of my recipe site.  I love new recipes and would love to share yours on the blog with fellow followers.

Enjoy the rest of your July, try to stay cook and let me know how you like this Confetti Salad!

The Ranch Kitchen 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

2017 Jr. National Hereford Expo in Kentucky

Jr. National Hereford Expo backdrop for Kentucky was breathtaking!
Their  derby theme was carried throughout the entire show.
A whirlwind of a week has come to an end and as we drive the 11-hour journey home, I have time to look back on our fun, yet exhausting week at the Junior National Hereford Expo.  The words reunion, work, competitions and camaraderie come to mind as reflect on our close to 15 JNHE’s we have exhibited in as a family with our three daughters.  The days are early, long and filled to the brim with contest, showmanship’s, banquets and culminating shows that leave you with a deeper appreciation for the Hereford breed and our people.  Showin' For the Roses was a banner theme and event! 

Texas Jr. Hereford and Polled Hereford members taking our state picture before opening ceremonies.  These kids are always the loudest and sometimes wildest in the bunch!

Audrey and  Annalise decided to continue to wear their Grill Off costumes for Opening Ceremonies!  Too appropriate!

Audrey and Annalise carrying in the Texas flags.

Our Texas Jrs. at JNHE Opening Ceremonies

Louisville, Kentucky hosted our JNHE (Junior National Hereford Expo) this year to record breaking Hereford juniors and their families.  This 'cowcation' of sorts is sometimes the only vacation families get in a summer and one juniors anticipate, work toward and hone their skills during the hot months in advance for the various contest and shows by working their cattle, preparing for contest like Illustrated Speaking, Beef Quiz Bowl, Great American Certified Hereford Beef Grill Off, Livestock Judging, and Extemporaneious Speaking among others.  This year our Audrey competed with her team for Texas by preparing a Texas Stir Fry for their grill off team.  This oriental inspired meal was created by our own former Texas Jr. Hereford member Colby Rogers, who once competed with practically this same group of juniors several years back.  Now a chef, he created a recipe that was a wonderful with a few small tweaks from us due to contest rules on no beer.  

His recipe uses a Texas favorite Shiner Bock beer that we are sure would make his Texas Stir Fry even more tasty than it already was. Above and below are pictures of Audrey and her teammates as they prepared for their event in practice and later ready to go in for the contest.  Although we did not win this year, their two previous 1st places assure them that they will come back next year with a vengeance!  ;o)  Click here for the Texas Stir Fry Recipe.  

                             Our Texas kids cooked and plated this dish.

Our week kicked off with a tailgate event sponsored by participating states. Texas having competed in this event as a state back at our Nebraska, decided to put a Kentucky touch to our menu on this night and prepared a grilled Hereford beef tenderloin served in corn tortillas along with chips and salsa.   For dessert Bramman Ranches offered up their precious Mexican bicycle cart with ice cream sandwiches and popsicles for the hot crowds. 

Myself, Bethany and Rhonda Stewart of Texas.    

Working our Texas Tailgate booth serving up Hereford beef, chips and salsa!

Our decorations carried on a Texas/Derby feel with the fantastic roses and my tried and true Mexican blankets that I’ve used for every junior nationals that I can remember.  Our booth was a hot spot for sure and request for the recipe frequent.  We however could not have pulled it off without our fabulous grill masters, Monte Williams GKB Ranch crew and Jeff Chaffin of W4 Ranch along with their wives.  Scott participated in the National Hereford Women’s dunking booth and helped raise funds for their scholarships and programs.  We were impressed his trusty old Texas A&M hat got a good cleaning during the dunking!

Scott got dunked quite a bit, including once from myself, Audrey and Bethany!

We also attended the National Queen Tea hosted by Annah Dobson of Wisconsin on that Sunday afternoon.  It was a fun event that little girls truly look forward too.  The cookie decorating was a huge hit with Annah and her mother putting on a fun event.  Below are my girls with Annah. Back when our Bethany was National Hereford Queen, bringing back the tea for our little girls was one of her initiatives.  We can't tell you how proud we are of how it has grown with each new queen's added touch and service project over the years.  

As the week rocked on my daughter Bethany and good friends Becky and the three Stephanies broke loose from the barns and took our own little bourbon tour in the gorgeous countryside of Kentucky at Woodford Reserve.  Only an hour from Louisville in Woodford County this gem of a bourbon distillery uses only Kentucky corn and products to create a delicious bourbon steeped in tradition.  It’s been years since any of us had bourbon balls (a sweet chocolate balled candy with just a touch of bourbon for flavoring) and we learned that when you pair it with a good Kentucky bourbon, you have a winning combination!  We got a little tickled at our tour guide as he warned the Texas ladies not to swig the bourbon…  We did however learn one little fact while there that bourbon is the same thing as whiskey, but can only be called bourbon when distilled in Kentucky. After two small ‘fingers’ of bourbon, I think I remembered that little fact right…
                                          Woodford Reserve Distillery

So enjoyed Bethany being with us at JNHE and this bourbon tour.

Just before the bourbon goes in to barrels it goes in the broilers!  These were gorgeous.  We all smelled like a glass of bourbon when we left...not too bad if I say so myself!

Bethany doing the proper 'sniffing' of the bourbon before you sip it!

'Sipping' our Kentucky Woodford Bourbon!  The smell was intoxicating! :o)

The Kentucky coutryside near Woodford Reserve we had to get out
and give the Texas A&M Gig'em sign!

My Bethany and I!

Just in the nick of time I made it back for a the National Hereford Women summer meeting where I demo’d three recipes from The Ranch Kitchen.  Of course, one recipe I served was beef inspired and I cooked up my My Big Girls Favorite Goulash that I will also be featuring at the State Fair of Texas this fall.  Alongside this I served my Penne Pretzels and Nolana's Family Hot Sauce and chips as appetizers that are always hits at our Hereford shows (click on links in this sentence for recipes). These dishes are easy to prepare while at shows or make and bag before you leave to serve later. 

As luck would have it though, my cooker did not work, so thankfully the Lockhart's whom we cooked with for dinner each night had a grill that I used to prepare my goulash on! Murphy's Law was in full gear on me that a.m. at 6:30 before the bourban tour...but I did not let it stop me.  With a little help from Scott and friend Sarah Hamman, The Ranch Kitchen got everything cooked, warmed up and ready to serve! Thank you!

              Thank you National Hereford Women for asking me to speak
                                  at your summer meeting.  It was fun! 

Having the opportunity to speak at the NHW meeting was very special to as a former board member.  My time on the board will always be a favorite memory because of the women who have became dear friends and the impact we made toward our National Junior Hereford Association members.  These ladies work tirelessly for 4 years running the various scholarships, contest and raising the much needed funds to enable them.  It was a real honor being asked to give back to a group that has done so much for my girls and all our juniors. 

Sweet NHW friend Beth Blinson that I served on the board with during our day.
 Love her and her great family!
As is tradition in Texas we eat together each day.  Life has become much easier at these shows now as Monte Williams, his family and EC Rosson love to do all the cooking.  Breakfast tacos (remember we are from Texas) and great lunches were prepared each day for our more than 100 plus Texans in attendance.  Families, sponsors and our Texas Hereford/Polled Hereford Associations come together to make sure are meals are funded and worrying about meals midday are not an issue.  Many years ago, dear friend Felicia Marks and I started this tradition as a way to bring our two associations together and proudly it has done just that.  Special thank you also to Sarah Hamman for taking care of the hospitality table each day as well with snacks and such for our kiddos and adults and to our parents for sending home baked sweets.  

Later in the week a tradition of our ranch Nolan Herefords is to sponsor a watermelon feed for our hungry group.  With the assistance, our daughter Bethany, Audrey and our sweet friend Randi, not only our barn group was fed but half the US as I got a little over zealous buying watermelons.  It was the cutest thing watching Randi and Audrey whiz by on her cart all over the barn handing out slices of watermelon to the hot and hungry families. 

Scott cutting up watermelon.

Sweet friends twins loved the watermelon! 

Audrey and Randi handing out watermelons. We told them to say Texas sent them!
As a fundraiser for our Randi Williams, our Texas Association and our own Shannon Worrell put together gorgeous Kentucky backdrops for juniors to take pictures in front of while at the Expo. Stunning and she is truly talented! 

Gorgeous Kentucky derby themed backdrops.  Shannon even had her son dress up as jockey!                                            

During the week, we got a visit from one of our Ilissa’s good friends, Ryan Quarles, Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture.  After meeting for their upcoming Kentucky State Fair, he walked through the barns to find us.  His family roots are deep in tobacco farming and he was a wealth of information on both that and his great state.  You could easily see how deep his love for Kentucky was and it was so great to finally meet him.  Little did we know that Woodford County and the bourbon distillery we had visited was very near his family’s farm. 
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles visiting with us at our stalls. 

The last four days of this show always culminate with showmanship contests, bred and owned heifer, steer, bull and cow/calf pair show and then the owned heifer show.  Happily, Audrey and our ranch had a good year at the expo garnering a 1st, 2nd, and 6th during the bred and owned show.  

                             Love the concentration in this picture of our Audrey

Bred and owned means that the cattle was bred and raised on your ranch under your name and not bought from another ranch to show.  To our family this is the pinnacle of shows as it is a result of our breeding program.  Starting out our oldest daughter Ilissa was part of the building process, so her cattle were almost always purchased to show until her senior year.  Bethany and Audrey showed what we raised and thankfully have had some successes.  However, those successes took many years and when you finally get upwards in class ranking at a JNHE, you realize how lucky you are.  To say the classes were deep is an understatement as the quality over the years continues to grow in the Hereford breed.  I told someone that at this granddaddy of all shows, you bring your best and it shows in the ring.

Audrey and her 1st in class with NH North in the Bred and Owned Show being judged by Mark McClintock of Texas

Happy moments were frequent this week and a huge congratulation to dear family friend Rylie Barber on being selected as a National Junior Hereford Board Member.  We couldn’t be prouder of you and know you will be a tremendous asset to the breed.   Below are some sweet shots of her and another dear family friend Taylor Belle Matheny of Kentucky who also was selected for the board.  These two will both make stellar contributions to the breed we are certain. 

   Taylor Belle Matheny's NJHA jacket reveal.

 Rylie Barber's NJHA jacket reveal! Sweet moments for sure! 

Friend Jessica Middleswarth after her retiring NJHA speech with her family. Thank you for your four great years!

One fun event that last all week long each year is the JNHE State Silent Auction with 'baskets' taking up entire tables full of regional gifts anyone from throughout the US would want.  Texas went with a 'Southern State of Mind' theme and our basket was chalked full of things symbolizing our state and the great south. I love bidding on these baskets and sometimes winning to get regional jellies, syrups, liquors and d├ęcor for our ranch. 

Texas basket with some sweet additions by Go Texan (Texas Department of Agriculture)
 and our Ilissa! 

Texas basket took up a table and a half! Love my signs I donated by local friend Margie Brown of Texas!

Maryland's basket was the winner garnering over $2000.00 in bids! 

States do the best job getting their baskets together.

As I close this long post, I’d like to thank the AHA Staff, Amy Cowan, Bailey Clanton and the NJHA Board, and the family friends the Methany’s (Suzanne is my dear National Hereford Woman board friend) who organized the Kentucky Junior National Hereford Expo.  What a fun week everyone had.  Your southern hospitality, attention to detail and love our juniors is evident in each decision you made.  

Thank you as well to Kody Graves who helped us fit our cattle along with our ranch manager Steve Decker who would not have been anywhere else but at this show. His devotion and love of our Audrey and cattle are evident in everything her does for us. 

Below are a few more pictures from throughout the show of our Texas juniors.

Randi, Maggie and Audrey had a blast rolling through the barns all week! 15 going on 7...  :o)

Texas Great American Grill Off team practice session

Our sweet Texas kids in the barns this past week.  
They always have the best time.

Also got to see some our sweet Hereford girls Sara Radar and Whitney Andras who just
happen to work for Sullivan's The Pulse who I blog recipes for!  These girls have grown up with our Bethany and Ilissa. 

Texas Great American Grill Off Team!  Mason doesn't look too upset to be with all these pretty girls! 

Audrey showing NH Miss North in the ring 

Now as Scott, Bethany, Steve, Audrey are back in East Texas we are excited to see our ranch again after the long, but fun week.  It’ll be great to be home in the great Lone Star State of Texas, but we will already be looking toward Grand Island, Nebraska next year for the 2018 Jr. National Hereford Expo, my very favorite of all barns in the US at their state fair grounds.  

As I finish this post, I think I’ll treat myself to a bourbon ball and be thankful for our week in the beautiful state of Kentucky doing what we love to do, show Hereford cattle with some of our favorite people.

The Ranch Kitchen