When the Cowboys are “Nesting”

We are finally in the last stretch of time before our cows start having calves. We have about a month to go. Before long, we will have little “doggies” as we call our newest cattle additions, running all over the place. I thought that puppies are the cutest and most playful animals, until I saw our calves playing with each other and racing around with their tails way up high. The most spectacular sight is to see them being born and getting hang of walking and milking within just few minutes. We eagerly wait for the mama and baby to create their new bond and figure out this milking ordeal. Let me tell you, I have lost so many nails, watching them struggle, desperately wanting to help the calf to find the utter, yet the best thing is to let them figure it out. We have been lucky so far, all of our cows are good mamas and claim their babies. We don’t take any chances though and have calf formula ready, just in case we need to use it.

The last month is hard for the cows and for the cowboys. As any expectant mother can relate, the last month is the longest and must have at least extra 10 days packed on! The nesting period begins for all soon to be moms to make sure all is ready for the wonderful arrival. My cowboys are also “nesting” the month before our first arrival. They want to be ready and give the calves the best chance to survive. This year, the cowboys built new shelters for our cows as April can be temperamental with weather. We intentionally don’t “calf” in the middle of the winter. We wait until the cows have some nice green grass and the calf is born into better weather. No need to rush and have little calves struggle through months of cold and snow.

The cowboss was pretty collected when we were expecting our little Peanut, big help with the new baby and many times assured me that the baby is still sleeping, when I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night to check on her. Well, he is the same with our cows. During calving season we sleep with the window open to hear all strange noises from coyotes to cows being in trouble. (And he complained about the baby monitor being too loud?!) He will go check on the mama cows a few times a night, in a crack of dawn and many times during the day. You can clearly see the excitement and nervousness on his face.

Each year, we will have a few cows who will require his help and he needs to act fast to save the mama and the calf. I try to stay calm, but I’m a nervous wreck on the inside, but I try to keep it together for him. We are both exhausted and relieved when all is set and done and we have another addition to our heard. It is not easy to pull out 70 lb calf! During this time, we try to provide the cowboss with any help he needs, cook tasty meals and keep it all together!

Ha, are you tired yet? Calving is a lot of work. I think the adrenalin kicks in for all of us during the month of April, we get through it and cherish every new calf.

Cooking a tasty meals after a long day of fussing with new calves is important on this outfit. 3T Ranch Chicken Pot Pie is always a winner after a long day or night.

We are expecting about 30 calves this year. Stay tuned for the most adorable photos!

 

3T Chicken Pot Pie

IMG_0950.jpg

I have served this deliciousness last weekend. The cowboys spent days working on our new shelters for the cows. Calving season is coming!

Easy dinner, yet with a few extra additions, you can impress your family and friends.

What to have on hand:

  • 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Seasoning for roasting the chicken: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, olive oil – 1 tsp of each
  • Ready to use pie dough – I buy Pillsbury pie dough (you will get two sheets in one pkg)
  • 1/2 bag of frozen pearl onions
  • 1 bag of frozen veggies of your choice (I have used broccoli, cauliflower and carrots combo. I use fresh veggies from my garden in the summer, but the frozen veggies in the winter will be just fine as well).
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Seasoning for the sauce: two sprigs of fresh rosemary (chopped up into small pieces), 3 garlic cloves (chopped), 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp seasoned salt (regular salt is fine too), 1tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp nutmeg (use it, it will add so much flavor)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg

IMG_0948

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Take the pie dough out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature.
  • Coat the chicken with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, olive oil and roast on a cookie sheet with a rack for about 30 minutes. Check the meat, flip it and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Let the chicken cool and in the meantime, let’s start on the sauce.
  • In a big size frying pan melt the butter and include all of the veggies along with the rosemary and garlic. Let the veggies be nicely coated in the butter.
  • Add the flour and constantly stir for about a minute, so you don’t burn it.
  • Slowly pour in the chicken stock and the milk. Continue stirring and the sauce will start to thicken.
  • Let’s spice it up – mix in all of the spices:  paprika, seasoned salt (regular salt is fine too), pepper and nutmeg.
  • Simmer on low during the time you will be cutting up the chicken into bitesize chunks. Add the chicken and stir.
  • Turn of your sauce and get your ramekins ready. I have used four individual ramekins, but you can certainly use one big pie dish.
  • Cut your dough about an inch bigger than your dish. I have used my cookie cutters to cut out fun western designs. You can use whatever you have at home or leave it plain!
  • Ladle your sauce with chicken into each of the ramekins, leaving about an inch at the top. Put your dough circles over the top and  firmly press around the edges. Put your cookie design on the top. Slit three small holes into each of the dough tops. The sauce will bubble during baking and needs to have an escape route, so you don’t end up with a huge mess.
  • Crack the egg, whisk it with a splash of water and brush it all over your dough. This will bring nice color to the dish.
  • Put the ramekins onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes. Check for doneness and if necessary bake for additional 5 minutes.

Let’s talk the salad!

  • My mother-in-law Diane makes the most delicious salads! Anytime they come over for a dinner, she has the task of bringing one of her tasty creations. Why? My cowboys don’t like fancy salads that often. Butter lettuce with Ranch is their favorite option. Bummer for me! So, we have compromised.. I have used lettuce, roasted walnuts and homemade ranch dressing. It satisfied everybody. Here is the Pioneer Woman Ranch recipe.

Dobrou chut! Bon Appetite!

Fancy Dinner under 30 Minutes – Schnitzel

FullSizeRender 2.jpg

Schnitzel with rice and asparagus is your everyday fancy dinner. It is very often requested by our son aka “Top Ranch Hand”. I like making Schnitzel, because it can be so versatile. I can use pork, fish or chicken. Let’s face it.. anything breaded is really good and you will score big brownie points with your crowd.

What is Schnitzel? A thin piece of meat that is breaded (flour, egg, breadcrumbs) and fried to perfection.

Best cuts to use: boneless pork chops, chicken breast, cod, tilapia, etc. Pork chops and chicken breast should be thin. I like to use my handy dandy kitchen hammer. Cover your meat with clear foil, so you don’t end up wearing all the meat juices and pound away on both sides. The meat will be thin in no time.

Seasoning: You can’t skip on seasoning. Season both sides of the meat with salt, pepper and paprika. You can certainly use Lemon Pepper Seasoning on fish.

Dipping stations: Once your meat is thin, seasoned, it is time to bread it. Use one dinner plate for flour, second dinner plate for egg with a splash of milk – whisk it, third dinner plate for seasoned bread crumbs – you can use Italian, garlic or Panko breadcrumbs are all great choices. Pat the breaded meat with your hands to make sure all sticks together. If you have time, but not necessary, put the meat in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This ensures, all of the flour, egg and breadcrumbs will stick to the meat.

Cooking time: Heat up a cast iron pan, pour in about 4 tablespoons of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Trust me, the butter makes it extra good. Fry the meat on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side for chicken, 4 minutes for pork and fish. I usually check that the meat is done in the middle, especially the chicken.

Sides: Mashed potatoes are always a hit. I have served our dinner with wild rice. You can make fancy rice scoops with your ice-cream scoop. (Restaurant tip). Steamed or roasted asparagus with fennel will be another great addition to your plate. Lemon! Don’t forget it! Lemon is a nice garnish for your plate, but use the juice on your meat right before you serve it. Just a few drops over the cooked meat.

Leftovers: If you have any! Schnitzel sandwich – rye bread, mustard, pickle and Schnitzel. The best travel lunch. My mom made these sandwiches for all of our road trips.

Appetizer: This was very popular for one of our dinner parties: Cut up your Schnitzel (this time chicken or pork would be the best choices) into bite size pieces, put it onto a buttered and toasted french baguette that was also cut up into bite size pieces, top it with a sliced pickle. Use a toothpick to secure and serve it on a big platter. You can also put a little bit of spicy mustard on the bread. Voila!

Dobrou chut! Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

What is a Rib Steak?

diagram-rib-cut-1500

 

We all know how delicious a Rib Eye Steak is, but what is a Rib Steak? Well, let me tell you that Rib Steak is even better than Rib Eye Steak. The Rib Eye is boneless and the Rib Steak includes the rib bone and is often called a “Bone-In Rib Eye Steak”. Rib Steaks are also the same as Prime Rib. When combined as a multiple Rib Roast Section and roasted, it is Prime Rib. When each bone section is sliced and then grilled, it becomes a
Bone-in Rib Steak.

Now, how do we cook it?

You can grill it or we cooked it last night in the cast iron pan. The important step that many people forget is to bring the meat to room temperature (at least 30 minutes), dry it with paper towel and adequately salt it.

FullSizeRender

If you are grilling the steak, cook it low and slow. If you are using a cast iron pan, make sure to heat the pan first, then pour in one tablespoon of canola oil and I also include a little bit of butter. Let it heat up again. Sear the meat on both sides, the pan should be screaming hot and sizzling. I would say about two minutes on each side, check out the nice crust on our steak. Transfer the meat onto a cookie sheet with a rack, pour your oil and butter mixture from the cast iron pan onto the meat and put it into 475 degree oven for three minutes to finish the meat. Don’t move from the kitchen, you can easily overcook the meat! Take the meat out of the oven and let it rest for about 4 minutes, cover it with foil.

Time to cut the steak and enjoy this wonderful cut. I have served the steak with loaded cauliflower mash. (Steamed cauliflower, 1/2 brick of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar, 2 chopped up green onions, 2 cloves of chopped up garlic. Mix it all together, you can also use a little bit of your steaming liquid to make the perfect texture. Sprinkle with more cheese and bacon pieces).

Gulas -Polish Sausage with Gnocchi – Dinner under 30 Minutes

What is Gulas? It is a traditional Czech meal, tasty savory sauce that is easy to make and will become a staple in your home. Gulas is typically served with beef stew meat, but we have found out that Polish sausage is even better and faster to prepare. Dinner is served under 30 minutes.

IMG_0664

Things to have on hand:

  • 3T Ranch Polish sausage – cut up
  • 1 onion – small dice
  • 1 green pepper – small dice
  • 4 cloves of garlic – chopped up
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (Hungarian Paprika is the best)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (no biggie, if you don’t have it, but adds a nice flavor)
  • 2 tablespoon canola oil or naturally refined coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 5 cups of liquid (water, chicken stock or beef stock – use whatever you have at home)
  • 2 pkgs dry gnocchi (you can buy these in the pasta isle)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic bread – Who doesn’t like to dip bread into a tasty sauce?!

IMG_0662

Let’s get cooking:

  • I love my new cast iron pot that I got for Christmas, but you can use any big frying pan that will hold all of the food.
  • Cut up onion, pepper and garlic.
  • Sauté the veggies in one tablespoon of oil until translucent. Take it out of the pan, add another tablespoon and sauté the sausage. My guys like to have a nice crust on both sides.
  • Put the veggies back into the pot, add 1 tablespoon of flour and stir until the flour has nice light brown color.
  • At this time also add your spices, but keep stirring! Paprika, caraway seeds, salt and pepper.
  • Slowly add the liquid and continue stirring until flour and spice mixture is absorbed into the liquid, no lumps. The flour will help to thicken your sauce.
  • Simmer for about 20 minutes. The sauce should have consistency of a pasta sauce. You can certainly add more water, if your sauce becomes too thick.
  • OK, now onto the gnocchi. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan (again cast iron works the best) and sauté the gnocchi. This will take about 8 minutes. We like to have a nice light brown crust on the gnocchi. We prefer this method of cooking vs boiling it. You will end up with crunchy outside and soft inside.
  • You are ready to serve! Garnish with parsley. I forgot, but it was still a hit!

Dobrou chut! Bon Appetite!