3 Ingredients that you should add to your kitchen

Caraway Seeds

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Caraway seeds are a great addition to mashed potatoes. Boil your potatoes and during this process, add about 1 tablespoon of caraway seeds. Caraway seeds have a warm, sweet, and slightly peppery aroma. The seeds will get soft and add a new twist on your mashed potatoes.  Check out these health benefits!

Marjoram

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The round, light green to light gray-green leaves possess a pleasant aromatic odor and have a warm, slightly bitter taste. I like to use dry marjoram in Potato Latkes. Add about 1 tablespoon of dry marjoram into the shredded potato mixture.

Parsley Root

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Parsley root is light beige, shaped like a carrot, but slender like a parsnip. The flavor is described as a taste between celery and carrots with a little parsley leaf and turnip. Parsley root is delicious in potato salads. Peal and cook your parsley root with potatoes and carrots when making a potato salad. Cut up the soft parsley root and include it in your potato salad. Great texture  and taste!

What You Can Find at Home Soup

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That is what my mom always called this hearty soup. It has so many variations and it never disappoints. Basically, you search through your fridge or pantry to see what you have on hand. It is raining, the baby is sleeping and I have zero desire to hit the store! The Cowboss and Top Ranch Hand are also going to have the Wolfpack football practice tonight in the rain. So, I figured, I better make them a good warm meal that can fight off any cold! Important note: Feel free to substitute for the veggies you don’t have from my list. Really, any veggies that you like will do.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery chopped
  • 4 big carrots chopped
  • 1/2 cauliflower small florets
  • 1 corn or 1/2 bag of frozen corn
  • 4 medium size potatoes cubed
  • 1 3T Ranch ham hog
  • parsley
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1-2 teaspoons of nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to sauté the veggies

Directions:

Sauté onion, celery, carrots, cauliflower until translucent. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to the veggies. (I usually add just one teaspoon of nutmeg and taste it again before the soup is done, if it needs the additional teaspoon. The nutmeg will bring out the flavor). Add the flour and constantly stir for about a minute until the veggies are all coated. Now it is the time to add the milk. Stir as you are pouring the milk in. The liquid will thicken.  Pour in the stock and water, stir to make sure you don’t have any lumps. Include potatoes and cauliflower into the liquid. Time for the star of the show the ham hog. It will add so much flavor and some meat will also fall off into the soup. You can peel of the meat from the bone when the soup is done. Cook on low to medium heat  for about 45 minutes. Check for seasoning. Depending on the type of your stock, you may need to add more salt. This would be a good time to add the additional teaspoon of nutmeg, if needed. Garnish with parsley. Dobrou chut!

Italian French Toast

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Last week was a fall break for our son Luke and as a Ranch Mom I needed some quality morning time with my Top Ranch Hand. We had a plenty of ranch projects lined up for that week and nothing starts a busy day better than a belly filling breakfast.

Italian French Toast

Ingredients:

  • Italian Panettone bread (Costco sells this tasty bread during the fall/winter season)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 milk or heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of oil

Directions:

  • Mix eggs, milk or heavy cream, cinnamon and salt.
  • Turn your cast iron pan on medium and poor in oil.
  • Cut 1 inch slices of the Panettone bread and dunk it into the egg mixture.
  • Fry for about 3 minutes on each side.

Perfect compliment to this breakfast is 3T Ranch Breakfast Sage Sausage and scrambled eggs. We were ready to tackle our ranch chores.

Next day, I made a delicious Italian French Toast Casserole and used the rest of the Panettone bread! This would be great to make on Christmas Day or for visitors, they would be impressed! Note: I include oats in the topping also! Pioneer Woman French Toast Casserole.

Potato Chips

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We have been on a potato roll!  The top ranch hand loves helping his dad aka the cowboss rather than hanging out in the kitchen, but this time his tastebuds that love potato chips won! Here we go!

Potato Chips

This requires a little bit a prep, but trust me it is worth it and you will be licking all of your fingers.. twice!

Ingredients:

  • 10 medium yukon gold peeled potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of salt for each batch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper for each batch
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika for each batch
  • top ranch hand ingredient: blue cheese
  • paper towels

Directions:

  • First, peel and thinly slice your potatoes. I found the best way is to slice them in your food processor.
  • Put the sliced potatoes in a deep pan and cover with water. Let them hang out for about an hour. Don’t skip this step, the starch in the potatoes is your enemy, preventing you to have nice crispy chips!
  • Heat your deep fryer to 355 degrees.
  • Dry the potatoes, dry the potatoes and dry the potatoes. You NEVER want to put wet potatoes into your deep fryer, you don’t want to get hurt. The oil would bubble up really quickly. I have used my trusty salad spinner to dry the potatoes and then pat them dry even more with paper towels.
  • Separate the chips into individual pieces.
  • Fry your potato chips for about 5 minutes. Stir the potatoes a couple of times with metal spoon or fork. You will do about 5 – 6 batches, depending on the size of your deep fryer. Don’t overcrowd it!
  • Have a  cookie sheet ready with more paper towels to pat them dry.
  • Immediately sprinkle with dash of salt, pepper and paprika.
  • Tip from our top ranch hand: sprinkle your chips with salt and pepper (omit paprika) and this time top with crumbled blue cheese. We didn’t believe him, but it was finger licking good! 

Cowboys Love Meat and Potatoes! Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

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My garden didn’t do so well this year, but the one thing that it did produce were potatoes! Plenty of them! I have learned from last year that storing them in our cold dark cellar didn’t do the trick and the potatoes didn’t last very long. So, we have decided to go the freezer route this year. It took us all afternoon to peel, shred or cut, blanch and then freeze, but it was all worth it to indulge into homegrown/homemade hash browns, chips, salads and our favorite mashed potatoes. I have also learned from my past failures of trying to rush the freezing process, that you DO NEED to blanch your veggies. Otherwise, they will be all soggy and you might as well throw them out.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad (Can be made with regular potatoes as well. The cowboys prefer the “regular” potatoes, but they try to please the ranch mom and try new recipe creations).

Ingredients:

  • 3 big sweet potatoes (peel and cut up into a medium dice)
  • 1 can of black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 bag of frozen corn (let it defrost)
  • 1 red pepper (small dice)
  • 1/2 red onion (small dice)
  • 1 to 2 avocados (medium dice)
  • 2 green onions – chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro – chopped
  • Dressing: 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons grain mustard (we like the spicy kind), 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil (try using roasted pepper olive oil from Costco), salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste.

Directions:

  • Peel and cut up your potatoes, toss about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on them and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Sauté your pepper, onion and green onions until translucent.
  • Time to assemble, put the ingredients into a big bowl and mix your dressing. Once the potatoes are done include them into the bowl and pour over the dressing.
  • Your salad can be served warm or cold, but I found that we did like the warm version of the salad much better. We have tried both versions. The dressing does wonders with the warm veggies.

Stay tuned for homemade potato chips recipe and tips on how to grow your best crop of potatoes. There is always the possibility of a great and fruitful garden next year, right? BTW.. 3T Ranch T-Bone steak would be the perfect addition to this salad!

Wonton Shrimp Soup

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It is chilly outside and hot steamy soup sounded like a great idea. We are big fans of Costco and their recently added organic products. During our last snack time outing to Costco, we have discovered frozen organic wontons. Not only, are they a delicious snack on its own, but including a few of them into this tasty soup sounded too good not to try it. Here is the recipe:

  • 15 wontons
  • 20 shrimp
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 Napa cabbage (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pkg Yakisoba noodles (any Chinese noodles will do) Costco sells ready to serve Yakisoba noodles
  • 1 bunch cilantro (chopped)
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 chicken bullion cube
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Pepper, salt to taste

Saute onion, carrots, Napa cabbage and garlic in canola and sesame oil until translucent. Add crumbled bullion cube and water, cook for about 10 minutes to develop flavors. During this time, pan fry your wontons (per pkg instructions). I find the wontons to hold up better in the soup, if they are pan fried first and then included in the soup. Pan fry your shrimp in butter or oil (your choice). Time to assemble the soup. Put wontons and chopped cilantro into the soup to heat through for about 2 minutes. Pour soup into bowls, shrimp goes right on top along with extra garnish of cilantro. “Dobrou chut!”

Mexican Quiche

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This recipe came from my good friend Liz and it will be one of our staples for sure! It makes two 9” pie crusts. Make basic taco meat 1lb. Follow recipe on McCormick’s taco packet. I have added chopped onion, 5 garlic cloves and fresh cilantro. Evenly divide the meat into the pie crusts. Mix together ½ cup of cream or milk, ¾ cup of salsa, salt, pepper, ½ cup of Mexican Four Cheese Blend and 6 large eggs. Evenly distribute over the meat in the pie crusts. Bake in 350 oven for about 40-50 minutes. Serve with a nice side salad. The cowboss said that cowboys don’t eat quiche, but he changed his mind after this recipe. It was a hit!

When the Girls Rule the Ranch!

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It doesn’t happen very often that the girls would “rule” the ranch, but today is the day when Peanut and I get to run our own show. We do get up early on the ranch, just can’t break the habit, but sometimes it certainly has its own benefits. Crisp morning, fall smell in air, pretty colors.. and bunch of hungry animals!

The boys are hunting for pronghorn. What is a pronghorn? Fleet-footed pronghorns are among the speediest animals in North America. They can run at more than 53 miles (86 kilometers) an hour, leaving pursuing coyotes and bobcats in the dust. Well, it took them five trips to Cabela’s, weeks of looking and practicing with their new rifles (safety first) and about a month of dreaming about this trip. Which means, the girls get to “man” the ranch for a few days.

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Typically, I’m happy with my morning ranch duties of cooking warm and tasty breakfast, while the guys are feeding our animals in the cold, rain and snow. (Just have to do it no matter what). But today, Peanut and I were excited to be the “Cowboss and Ranch Hand” and call the shots. As you can tell, we had some hungry piggies, which Peanut kept entertained, while I got all of their buckets ready.

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Most of our cows are still at the summer pastures, but this one girl needed some help as she had badly cut her leg about a month ago. The Cowboss brought her home and nursed her back to health and what do you know..? Now, we have another “dog” that likes to come say “Hi” and gets excited to get some company. I couldn’t tell who was more thrilled about the visit, the cow or our little Peanut.

Anyways, we all have our Sunday morning routines, but it is fun to change it up every once in a while. Have a great Sunday!