Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tater Tot Casserole

Great memories were made this weekend!  Our middle daughter Bethany received her Fighting Texas Aggie 2015 Senior Ring at Texas A&M on Friday and dunked her ring with sorority sisters on Saturday night!  Getting to be foremost with all our daughters in Aggieland was wonderful in it's own right, but the added fun of getting to be around her's and some of our best friends, their sweet parents and making all those memories together will be something we will always cherish! 


Texas A&M has been college home for two of our daughters.  The years of football games and tailgates, parents' weekends, and moving them in and out of their various homes have been some of our very favorite memories.  Our favorite restaurants are there like Wings and More, La Bodega, Lane's and Chimy's.  And we enjoy The Dixie Chicken for a game of pool, and a good Aggie tent sale to buy more shirts than we will ever wear! 

We love you sweet girls.  Thanks for wanting us to be a part of your college fun weekends, being the role models you are for our little Audrey and for enriching our lives more than you will ever know! 


Tonight, as we arrived late home from Aggieland I contemplated one more meal out!  Our favorite family restaurant was calling my name as #1 I was tired and didn't feel like cooking, and #2 anytime we've been gone a while my favorite food to eat is always from there.  Feeling lazy and realizing our house guest Kyle had gone fishing on our place and Scott was busily working in our garden, I knew they'd be hungry as would our youngest thank God for the defrost button on my microwave and some frozen tater tots!  This meal was on the table in under an hour and will be great as leftovers tomorrow night when I don't feel like cooking again!

I've made this meal for years and can't believe I haven't shared it before now.  I've used ground pork  as well as beef and think ground turkey meat would be equally as good.  However, tonight I used ground beef and to be precise it was CHB, Certified Hereford Beef right off our place!  Kyle enjoyed it, as did the rest of us and I convinced him how easy it was to make!

The Ranch Kitchen's Tater Tot Casserole

2 lbs. ground beef, browned and drained
1 onion, chopped fine
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 cups grated cheddar cheese or 8 slices American Cheese slices
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or Allspice
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning, garlic salt to taste for top of casserole

Brown ground beef and chopped onion until all pink is gone and drain excess fat, if any.  Add to this both cans of soup and one can of water.  Stir well and add 1 teaspoon of Tony Chachere's Creole Cajun Seasoning and 1 teaspoon of garlic salt.

Pour this mixture in a casserole dish like a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish that has been sprayed or greased with Pam cooking spray or oil.  Sprinkle on cheese or place on 8 slices of American Cheese slices (that is what I used tonight as I was out of cheddar cheese).  Pour entire a frozen package of tater tots in a layer on top of meat and cheese mixture.  Sprinkle tater tots with a small amount of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning and garlic salt.  Place in an oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees and cook uncovered for thirty minutes or until tater tots are slightly browned! 

If you have a meat and potatoes kind of man around your house...this is a sure pleaser of a meal!  It's a meal the most beginner of cooks can make and the most experienced will enjoy for the sure ease of it!  Enjoy! 

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Campfire Cobbler

This weekend was one of many camping trips our family will take this spring and summer. We enjoyed our first camping trip at a local lake that is close to home, but far enough away that you feel like you are actually 'away'!  My husband enjoys setting out his catfish trot lines and I enjoy reading my magazines, sitting by the fire and sleeping in later than 7:30...that is my guilty pleasure....just sleeping in.  We had our good friends the Parkers out and it was nice just to catch up and enjoy their company! 

As I've gotten older I find I am a list maker and more of a planner than I have ever been. The spontaneity that I had in my youth has given way to each detail being planned out, even though I may still have to stop by the store on my way out of town.  This weekend my husband wanted to try a dessert recipe in his cast iron Dutch oven that we usually use to fry fish in.  I found an easy cake recipe all over the Internet that some call a cobbler.  It's an easy 1, 2, 3 recipe that calls for 3 ingredients plus a few sprays of Pam cooking oil.  The recipe consist of a cake mix, 1 stick of margarine or butter, and 2 cans of your favorite can of pie filling.  I chose to use a devil's food cake mix, 2 cans of cherry pie filling, and the 1 stick of butter. 

Honestly, you can use any combination of cake mixes and pie fillings for this recipe.  The next night I used instead a box of Butter Recipe cake mix and another 2 cans of cherry pie filling.  I'm envisioning for my third cobbler using peach pie filling and a white cake mix as sounds pretty good to me.  I may even drizzle caramel over the top of it or melted white chocolate.

If you cook this over the campfire as we did, make sure to cook over indirect heat (not full on high fire hitting your Dutch oven).  I also took the Dutch oven off the fire and allowed it to sit with the lid on the last ten minutes to continue cooking. 

The next night, I cooked this recipe in a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex dish in my oven at home on 375 degrees for 50 minutes.  It was just as good and would have been perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Campfire Cobbler

1 box cake mix of your choice, dry and not prepared (I used Devil's Food Cake)
2 cans pie filling (I used cherry pie filling)
1 stick margarine or butter, melted in your microwave until just turned to liquid (I used margarine)

Spray Dutch oven with Pam cooking spray generously.  Pour in 2 cans of pie filling.  Sprinkle on 1 box of dry cake mix evenly over pie fillings.  Pour 1 stick melted margarine or butter over cake mix.  You will not have enough to cover all the cake mix, so do not worry about it! 

Bake on 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until crust on top is browned over most of cobbler. 

Cook and serve along side ice cream or alone!  It's an easy dessert dish that you can create any number of ways and perfect to make for large crowds in a crock pot.  If you bake in a crock pot, prepare as directed above and cook on high heating element for 4 hours. 

These pictures may look like the cobbler is a little overdone, but honestly not a burnt piece in it. But do be careful and watch it closely if you chose to cook it over your campfire!


Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mexi Corn

Before we know it side dishes can get pretty boring on a weeknight meal.  To liven our corn up the other night I added 1/4 cup of La Costena Green Mexican Salsa or Salsa Verde. 
Yes, it was simple,easy and wonderful! I used one can of corn and 1/4 cup of the wonderful green Salsa Verde that we usually eat along side purple hull peas or tortilla chips, and presto, boring corn was a hit!  Give it a try! 

The Ranch Kitchen's Mexi Corn
1 can of whole kernel corn or frozen corn, thawed ( 1 1/2 to 2 cups), not drained
1/4 cup Salsa Verde or La Costena Green Mexican Salsa
In one can of whole kernel corn or from frozen, thawed corn, pour 1/4 cup of Salsa Verde and bring a low boil and simmer for twenty minutes. Depending on your tolerance for spicy foods, adjust the Salsa Verde to your taste.
Serve and enjoy!

Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pasta with Sweet Banana Peppers and Cubed Cheese

My girls and I love a good pasta salad. We make our pasta salad a lot in the summer and have several differing variations.  This one calls for fresh, sweet banana peppers and cubed, sharp Cheddar cheese.  I make a large batch of this usually a few times a month and we can take it out for dinner a few nights over the course of that week. It's great as a light lunch with a sandwich or alone.

It's also great for camping trips and is always a huge hit.  You really can put just about anything in this pasta according to what you like.  I've added not only the peppers and cheese, but olives, green or red bell peppers, red onions, sweet tomato relish and cherry tomatoes.  The possibilities are endless.   
Pasta with Sweet Banana Peppers and Cubed Cheddar Cheese
1 box spiral, bow tie, or elbow pasta, cooked, drained and cooled (I run the hot pasta in the colander under cold water and allow to drain)
4 banana peppers, seeded and chopped fine or in large chunks
1 sweet onion, chopped (red or Texas A&M 1015 - sweet white onion)
1 cup Real Mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream (do not use light as it alters the flavor)
1 package Ranch Dressing powdered seasoning mix
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Boil pasta according to package directions. Place in a colander to drain running cold water over it to cool down pasta.  You do not want to fix this pasta while the pasta is hot as it will curdle the mayonnaise and sour cream.  Make sure all your pasta is room temperature before you add your milk products.

Combine Real mayonnaise, sour cream, Ranch powdered dressing seasoning packet, garlic salt and mix well. Add to this your onion and sweet banana peppers.  Last add pasta, cheese and combine well.  Chill covered with plastic wrap before serving for flavors to come together.

If serving outdoors make sure to serve on top of a bowl with ice and place in the refrigerator as soon as you are finished serving it.


Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ultimate Taco Pie

The Ranch Kitchen's Ultimate Taco Pie
Taco pie is a dish I haven't fixed in years.  Years ago as I'm known to do, I made a recipe I found and tried it out on the first try for a party.  It was a huge hit and  sadly I've long since lost the recipe.  Tonight as I drove home I questioned just what we would have for dinner?  With two pounds of prepared frozen taco meat left over from the week before, I knew that meat would either turn in to taco soup or a really spicy spaghetti with meat sauce! 
Thank God for the defrost button on my microwave because in under 10 minutes the meat was thawed and I started to piece together my newest 'creation' or recipe for my Ultimate Taco Pie. From a recipe for a tomato pie and separate taco pie I found on the Internet, this recipe was born. My husband, daughter and her sweet friend ate it up and I have one extra pie to have for leftovers tomorrow night! 
When possible I always cook times two for the next nights meal.  I've found over the years to freeze what meat I can to reinvent in recipes at a later time.  It saves me huge amounts of time and money in the long run, and most importantly helps me get a healthy meal on the table for my family.
Ultimate Taco Pie
2 lbs. prepared taco meat
1 - 6 ounce can of chopped green chili's
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 prepared pie shells, uncooked
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 can,  7 ounce Herdez Salsa Verde
2 tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
garlic salt to taste
2 cups REAL Mayonnaise
2 cups Fiesta Blend Cheese (Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asdero Cheeses
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
Cook hamburger meat until browned. Drain excess from meat , add water, taco seasoning packet according to package directions.  Add chopped onion and can of chopped green chili's to taco meat and set aside. 
In a separate bowl mix 2 cups Real mayonnaise, 2 cups grated cheese with  Creole Seasoning and set aside. 
Place crushed tortilla chips in the two uncooked pie shells.  On top of the crushed tortilla chips pour Herdez Salsa Verde evenly as possible on top. 
Next pour meat mixture on top crushed tortilla chips.  Layer sliced tomatoes and sprinkle with garlic salt to taste. 
Spoon mayonnaise and cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes as evenly as possible.  Place in a 375 degree oven, uncovered and bake for 45 minutes or until cheese topping and crust are browned. 
Slice my Ultimate Taco Pie and serve along side refried beans, salsa or taco sauce, salad and a dollop of sour cream!
Enjoy as we sure did!
Alise @ The Ranch Kitchen!