Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tomato Pesto Flatbread

The world is becoming a much smaller place. Foods I once could only find in larger, metropolitan areas are now close at hand in my local groceries. I love how we can go to my local Sam's Club and find Naan bread or a Mercado and find tomatillos anytime of the year!

Recently I've decided to try to use up my pantry before I have to throw cans and jars out due to their expedition date. I ever so slightly have a hoarding tendency when it comes to my pantry and try to always have what ever I need to cook with when the urge hits me. For the last year I've had a small jar of tomato pesto there ready for me to use and last night I finally did! 

Tomato pesto is just a really spiced up version of a tomato paste with basil and a lot of garlic. It's pricey, but well worth it.  I used this version by Classico Sun Dried Tomato Pesto that was really very good.  I plan to reinvent this on my own as soon as I can!

I placed about 2 tablespoons on my Naan bread and then added grated mozzarella cheese to it. Next time I'll add mozzarella chunks and some fresh basil as I get some from my garden. 

The Tomato Pesto bread was then baked in the oven around 400 degrees until the cheese has just melted. Using my pizza wheel cutter, I sliced the bread and served it along our marinated salmon birthday dinner for our Bethany. 

This time the bread was baked on foil, but I usually use my baking pizza stone for the best results. It makes a crispier crust. 

I telling you that I literally could have made myself sick on this Tomato Pesto bread as it was that good. This recipe will now be a 'go to' side for parties and meals at our house when we either cook this on the grill or in the oven. With a glass of Los Pinos Rodeo Red Wine, this side is perfect! 

Click here at Tomato Pesto Flatbread for the recipe. 

So be adventurous! Try new foods and spice them up to fit your lifestyle and taste!  The world thankfully is a much smaller place!  Go try it one bite at a time!  

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grandma's Potatoes

Greasy potatoes were a staple at my husband's parents house growing up and they were wonderful!  Nothing quite compares to the flavor you get from pan frying potatoes in a cast iron skillet with lots and lots of grease. My mother-in-law Billie Nolan had this potatoe dish down to an art that I'll never be able to duplicate. If my husband had a favorite meal from growing up in Indian Rock it would be this and her deer steak. Years of cooking for four men had helped her refine her cooking skills! 

Last night as I cooked birthday dinner for our 22 year old Bethany these were the potatoes she wanted. I tried to replicate this dish as I could without the artery clogging qualities and it still turned out well. I used a wok in place of a cast iron skillet and my potatoes turn out a bit crispier. 

Simple seasonings like garlic salt and pepper are my choices to use.  I also fry a small white cooking onion and chopped green pepper with the potatoes from our garden. 

I do not drain these potatoes on a paper towel as Scott's mom did as my version cooks most of the oil out of them. I like to use my Teflon coated wok as it has a larger cooking surface to cook my potatoes faster. You can even add cheese to the top at the end, but we preferred it without. 

One note of advice for young cooks and even older ones when cooking these potatoes or anything else.....wear an apron when you cook!  I cannot tell you the large number of both my professional clothes and t-shirts I have gotten oil stains on from popping grease. I know my Granny is smiling from above as she always harped on this advice.  So...wear an apron and you'll thank me later! Below you'll see a cute one with my The Ranch Kitchen logo that my sweet husband surprised me with for my girls and I 'times four' to wear in the kitchen!  My daughters were impressed that it was his own original idea! He of course made sure it was printed on a Nolan green apron!


Simple and easy, these potatoes never fail and are always a favorite at our house!  Recipes don't have to be full of ingredients or steps to be the best!  

Click here at for the recipe for Grandma's Potatoes

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Company Potatoes

Inspiration can come from anywhere, anytime and anyone.  This recipe today came from Good Shepherd Medical Center's cafeteria probably about fifteen years ago.  You'll probably think why post this recipe as it's so simple?  However, I find I get in a rut sometimes and when I see a simple recipe my 'light' turns on. 

Back then I boiled a lot of red potatoes with lots of butter. I don't do that now and their variation I think is healthier than mine and one I serve often for friends who come to dinner. 

I usually use green onions with the tops chopped in this potato dish as I like the color.  But not having any the other night, I improvised and used our garden 1015 Texas A&M sweet onions. 

So here's my recipe to Company Potatoes.  No more boring boiled red potatoes for my family or yours! 

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hot Sauce or Salsa from Garden Tomatoes

I'm almost ready to go back to work!  After an hour in the garden, another hour washing, coring and getting tomatoes into pots on my stove, then the process of peeling off the tomato skins and making salsa...I'm almost ready my garden to stop bearing or to step away from the kitchen and back to work.  I know you are now thinking...this recipe is way to intense for me...but's easy!

Each year I set a few goals of putting up fresh salsa, squash, peppers and peas in my freezer.  This morning all before noon I'd managed with a little help from my Bethany, to almost put up the amount of hot sauce or salsa as some call it to carry us through the winter and tailgates parties at Texas A&M in the fall. We even made enough quart sized bags on the side for Bethany's best friend Molly Dutton who is a really loves our Nolana's Family Hot Sauce.  Molly likes to take a few tablespoons out of the freezer bags at a time and microwave it to eat with her chips!  I would make it go further and not waste any from thawing out too much. 

This process of making salsa from scratch is labor intensive, but you can easily do it while accomplishing other tasks around your house. I however have never been able to do too much of that...

Click on this link for Hot Sauce or Salsa from Garden Tomatoes for detailed instructions on how to prepare this recipe.  Below I have some pictures that were part of the process.  Since on my recipe page I can only include one picture per recipe, these pictures will help detail out starting from fresh tomatoes to prepared hot sauce.  

Serve this hot sauce along side tortilla chips, as a side for cooked peas or Mexican food.  


Step 1: Place cored tomatoes (tomatoes that have the top and bottoms sliced out of them) in a pot of hot water.  Bring the water to a boil and then turn off.  Allow tomatoes to sit for twenty minutes and then carefully drain off hot water and replace with cold water on top of the tomatoes.  This will allow your tomatoes to cook before pealing off the skins.  You won't find a picture here as I forgot to take imagine a large (HUGE) pasta pot filled to the brim with tomatoes and hot, boiling water!

Step 2:  Peel skins off tomatoes all while holding them over a colander over a pot. This will allow you to save the tomato juice and freeze seperately to use in soups and stews for later.

You can see how easily the skins come off.  This is why you want to core your tomatoes before you place them in the hot water. 

 Tomato skins should peal off easily once they have cooled. 

My helpers in the form of my neice Alex and daughter Aurey who went to get onions from our barn that my husband has put up for us to use throughout the year.  You can tell from the floor that they didn't remember to dust off the dirt from them before placing them in my potatoe holder! 

Fresh ingredients like these limes, onions, and peppers make a huge difference when making fresh hot sauce.  Below you'll see how to deseed a jalapeno if you don't want your salsa too hot.  The seeds and pith hold most of the heat in peppers, so removing this will help those of you who like your salsa or hot sauce a little milder.  Just remember to wash your hands immediately after handling peppers or wear kitchen gloves to work with them.  You'll thank me later and so will your eyes...

My handy dandy Cuisinart that I couldn't live without.  Just make sure you remember to place the removable top back in the lid....I got in a hurry and had a small disaster....  I used about 10 to 12 tomatoes to each recipe thereby doubling my recipe that you will find below.  Make sure you are careful to clean all the skin off your tomatoes as you don't want anyone to possible choke on them as they do get a bit sticky.  Some people chose to make their salsa or hot sauce with the skins on,  but I've found that freezing the tomatoes in this way in the salsa is better with the skins removed. If you chose to leave the skins on, then do not use the hot water method with the pots as described above. 

I also made a fresh batch with the skins on that we ate immediately, but as I said I don't recommend freezing them this way.  The tomato skins do crazy things when frozen and to me it changes the flavor and consistency.

 Clikc on the name here for Nolana's Family Hot Sauce

Note: The only thing you'll need to leave out of the recipe is the sugar as with fresh, garden tomatoes you get plenty of natural sweetness.  ***You'll see the tomato juice to the left in the top, first picture that I also froze up to use later in stews and soups. 


Hope you'll try making your own hot sauce from fresh ingredients you have from your garden or from your local grocery story or farmers market. Nothing compares to it and you'll find if you are like us that you will rarely ever buy store bought salsa again.

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen


Monday, July 21, 2014

Hot Pepper Sauce

As a child picking peas in the early morning dawn was not my favorite thing to do.  I really dreaded even more the bushels and bushels of peas I had to shell at my grandfather's each summer to help stock his freezer.  The only time I ever talked back to the man who was my second father was when he strolled in for lunch from his work at the Gulf Oil Distributorship and asked me how many peas my brother and I had gotten shelled that afternoon.  After my not so smart comment he smiled, laughed and told me he'd have me another bushel or two to shell the next day. My brother was furious with me...and I'll never forget that moment.

Looking back now I realize it instilled character, helped feed my family and now as an adult we shell our own (or sometimes get the pea sheller to do the work - thank you Gayla)! 

We love our black-eyed, purple hull and cream peas in the south!  And the recipe I share with you today is probably the easiest one to date on The Ranch Kitchen site.  I've made this Hot Pepper Sauce usually every other year from the peppers from our garden.  Family and friends get these as gifts to use as a sauce over their peas or to use in their cooking.  This Hot Pepper Sauce is not my original recipe and only God knows where it came from, but it's how we make it and hope you'll give it a try. 

You can use any variety of hot peppers. We used peppers my Audrey and I had picked from our garden like Anaheim, Serrano, jalapenos and some Cowhorns.  She decided to make it a game and see who could find the largest pepper.  You'll see her large, red Anaheim pepper in the picture above.  She won! 

For this pepper sauce today we even placed a few sweet banana peppers in the jars for the light green coloring.  As we filled the jars we were careful to make them eye appealing by spreading out the red and green colored peppers so that you could see them from the outside of the jar.  But, make sure you wear gloves as you make this or immediately scrub your hands well after dealing with hot peppers.  A touch to your eyes will make you realize that you don't want to do that again and it's never fun get pepper juice in an open cut or your eyes! 

As an added touch we placed rafia straw around a few of the jars that we will give as a gift this afternoon to her favorite teacher Mrs. Laster and her sweet husband.  You can even make your own recipe label tags as we have done before.

Use this Hot Pepper Sauce over fresh cooked peas and beans or any Tex Mex or Mexican recipes as a flavoring.  Just be careful with the amount you spoon over your dishes as a little bit goes a long, long way!

Click here for The Ranch Kitchen's Hot Pepper Sauce.

Alise - The Ranch Kitchen