Friday, April 26, 2013

COOKIES IN (WITH) A CRUNCH


at the ranch we are 30 minutes away from the local grocery story... which means last minute cooking and baking ideas are normally not viable options. 
but having the internet to find out if you can make cookies with limited ingredients can sometime work to your benefit. this time i found a new favorite and easy recipe- so good, i made these yummy treats twice! 
for my college roomies: this cookie is the answer to crunchy on the outside and still doughy and soft on the inside dilemma - Everyone get their favorite cookie in every cookie!


Ingredients
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter 
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla (can be omitted if you dont have any!)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chopped-up dark chocolate 
(we used Hershey's Nuggets Dark Chocolate w Almonds)

Directions
First, melt the butter in a small saucepan, and BROWN the butter.  Cook it, while stirring, until the little pieces of milk fat that are floating in the mix start to turn a caramel color.  Remove it from heat and let it cool.  Once it is cool to the touch (when you can stand to touch it) add it in a bowl with the sugar.  Mix the two together.  Add the two eggs and vanilla and mix.  Combine the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the sugar/butter/egg mixture.  After that's integrated, add the chopped up pieces of chocolate.

Grease a baking sheet and bake at 325 Fahrenheit.
Place cookies in mounds on tray and bake for 12-15 minutes!


(Recipe adapted from The Recipe Room)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

CHUCK WAGON CHICKEN TACOS




as things finally start changing from winter to spring weather around the ranch it also means time to 'spring work' the cattle. (in really simple terms, the cattle get a fly tag and immunization shots to ramp up for the spring/summer weather conditions). 
friends and fellow ranchers from other ranchers close by come to help and get the job done. the help goes back to them when they need a few extra hands on their ranch as well. 
each day is an early morning start (before the sun rises) to finish up around lunch time. one of the days this week it was our turn to bring lunch for the group and we made slow-cooker chicken tacos that turned out really delicious!


Ingredients:
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 
1 can cream of cream of chicken soup
1 can rotel 
1 package taco seasoning 
fresh cilantro, for serving (optional) 
I also added a little shredded cheddar cheese to serve on top
*I made this to feed 10 hungry cowboys- this recipe easily multiplies*

Directions: 
Put chicken, soup, and rotel in slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything. Cook on low for 6 hours. If shredding the chicken, pull the breasts out and shred; return back to slow cooker. Stir in cilantro and heat just until everything is combined.



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CHICKEN PARMESAN








blogging about all the yummy food the past few days gets me hungry every time i recap and post for you guys. 
chicken parmesan is something i can not get enough of. i only cook it when sp and i are together, its not something i would just make for myself. but it is his favorite meal and its a great meal for two!
this time around i took more step-by-step pictures and hope it makes things easier for those of your trying this recipe at home. 

ingredients
boneless chicken breast
1/2 cup flour
salt&pepper to taste

evoo
2 tbsp butter
1 whole medium onion, diced
4 gloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup wine (red or white)
*recipe works fine without wine too*
2 cans crushed or petit dicd tomatos
1 can tomato sauce
1/4 cupe fresh chopped parsley, or to taste
1 tbsp italian seasoning
1 cup grated parmesan 

directions
beat chicken breast to even size
cover in flour and salt & pepper mixture
heat evoo and butter in a large skillet over medium heat
once melted and pan is hot, fry chicken until golden brown on each side
remove chicken, set aside and keep warm

without cleaning the skillet, add onion, garlic, salt & pepper and italian seasoning 
cook for 2 about two minutes
pour in wine, reduce and scrape bottom of skillet to incorporate all the flavors
add tomatos and tomato sauce
allow 20-30 min cooking time
toward the end add the fresh chopped parsley and a hand full of parmesan cheese

**remember to start cooking your pasta while making your sauce. 
cook according to package directions

plate the pasta and sauce 
place chicken back in the skillet and cover with parmesan cheese
cover skillet for 3 minute and let cheese melt

add chicken to your plate and sprinkle meal with more parmesan if desired
enjoy!!

*if you end up with lots of extra sauce, do not fret! it will be great for your next pasta dish. keep refrigerated or frozen

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

CROCKPOT TORTELLINI

cooking for two is always more fun. when sp and i cook together, we spend the whole time in the kitchen together, slicing, dicing, mixing and laughing along the way. its where we get good quality time conversation in sometimes as well. 
this week we've cooked together every night of the week, trying new recipes to add to the rotating dinner menu. this super easy tortellini dish is a new favorite we added to the list!
i forgot to take more pictures of the process, but the steps were so simple, i didnt think to take any. but i found this great recipe here and the steps are listed out in pictures if you like to cook with a visual! since there are so many cheesy items in the dish, i served it with a super simple spinach salad to add some greens- enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 (19oz) bag of frozen cheese tortellini 
1 small bag of fresh spinach (I used about half of a 5 oz package, but more is better!)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of Italian style diced tomatoes, drained
1 block (8 oz) of cream cheese or neufchatel (less fat)
1 lb. of ground sausage or chicken/turkey sausage
4 cups of chicken broth 

Brown the sausage and put all ingredients in crockpot,
chunking up the cream cheese.
Cook on low for 4-6 hrs.

Serves 4-6 

*Keep an eye on your tortellini, it may be done sooner.
*If still soupy, leave lid off for the last half hour or so of cooking. 
*For a vegetarian version, omit sausage and use vegetable broth instead.


Friday, April 19, 2013

SEMI-SCRATCH-SOUP

 
fun fact: i do not follow recipes well. at all. 
i like to find a recipe as 'guidelines' and then i kind of add my own twist or options as it comes to me. same thing happen yesterday when i made tortilla soup to warm us up on a cold spring day. problem with just making things up, not knowing how they are going to turn out, i forget to take pictures along the way.. in fear it might not turn out. this time i wish i would have taken more, cuz it turned out AMAZING!!

i started with this recipe and made a few additions:

Ingredients:
1lb chicken breast, trimmed

15oz can sweet whole corn kernels, drained

15oz can diced tomatoes, drained

5C chicken stock

3/4C onion, chopped

3/4C green pepper, chopped

1 serrano pepper, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp salt, divided

1 tsp ground pepper, divided

Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Seasoned tortilla strips
**Additions/Substitutes:
1 fresh
jalapeño, deseeded, minced
2 tsp taco seasoning
1 10oz can rotel

**Seasoned Tortilla Strips
slice corn or white tortillas into strips
place on baking sheet
season with salt, pepper and drizzle with evoo
set oven to broil - bake for 2-3 min, until toasted 

Directions:
To your slow cooker add first 9 ingredients, including jalapeño, taco seasoning, rotel,
 plus 1 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp ground pepper. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
 
**or is desired to serve sooner, simmer low on cooktop for 2 hours. 
Prior to serving, remove chicken breasts. Transfer chicken to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for easy shredding. Alternately you may shred chicken by hand. **it should be so tender that it falls apart as soon as you touch it! Season chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Return shredded seasoned chicken to slow cooker bowl. Stir gently. 


If serving immediately, divide among bowls. Top off with a generous helping of shredded cheese and seasoned tortilla strips. Soup may be stored in the fridge for up to several days. If freezing, label containers well with soup name and date.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

STOCK THE BAR







this past weekend we hosted the final shower and hooray for the soon to be mr. and mrs. randolph with a gathering of family and friends and a 'stock the bar' party!
finding a theme for a couples shower deemed slightly challenging when we first thought of hosting this party, but when the bride to be said a 'stock the bar' party would be ideal- we knew it would be just perfect! everyone brought their favorite bottle of wine, liquor, of drink makin-basket!
we served home smoked brisket (made by my grandfather!!) beans, cream of corn and potato salad... and for a little sweetness: homemade bunt cakes and cupcakes- decorated with cat faces, the bride loves her some kitties!
fresh flowers, DIY pinnet-banners, backyard games, and seating was set up around the pool for a beautiful celebration with beautiful friends!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

SHE SAID YES


two weekends ago a major life event happened in the lane family. my sister and her boyfriend of 4.5 years got engaged!!
these two lovebirds met and dated in college and now a few years out of college they are ready to commit their lives to one another and tie 'the knot'! 
in case you are wondering why there are guns, camo, and duct-tape in the pictures above, let me tell you a little bit about this special day!
a few months back, my aunt and uncle had invited these two kids out for an afternoon of shotgun shootin' fun on their ranch. in the mean time, mr. chad (sisters finance) decided he was ready to pop the question and wanted to use their day at the ranch to do so. this way my sister would expect nothing and be completely surprised- and she was!
so they headed out for their afternoon of fun, little did she know, that both her and his family were on their way out to the ranch as well, with cars full of decorations, balloon, banners and more! while they were out shooting, i went to hide close to where mr. chad was going to propose, all decked out in camo, to be sure she wouldn't see me taking pictures. 
long story short... after a few hours, they started back towards the house, he walked her down the path of lanterns to the quilt where he got down on one knee! it was simply perfect!
once she said yes, mr. chad fired off one shot for the family to hear and they all started cheering! 
we celebrated these two with champagne, margaritas, yummy food, cupcakes and two sweet families coming together! 
it was such a special day with special memories all around- here's to these two lovebirds and this sweet time they have ahead of them!! 

Friday, April 12, 2013

PLASTIC TO FANTASTIC




good morning lovelies and happy friday!!
the weather has turned back to beautiful, sunny, warm and spring like in texas... and i cant wait to spend the weekend outdoors with family and friends. and what better way to start the weekend off than fresh flowers! i love fresh flowers in the house, and normally i would go for a soft pink or a plain white.. but these bright colors came home with me yesterday.  
carnations are not the most expensive flowers at the store, so its easy to take them out of the plastic and arrange them in your favorite vases and make them look cute, really easily!  and the best part about 'em... they last a really long time (two weeks or more)!
so here's to fresh flowers, beautiful weather and spring time!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

FROZEN, TASTY, COFFEE TREAT


last summer i was hooked on a really tasty iced coffee recipe. i bottled up several mason jars at a time to get me through the hot moths in texas. but it turns out i like frozen coffee treats better than iced coffee. and i only figured this out, after a very kinda barista got my order wrong a while back. it's true, i don't speak fluent starbucks and there was some confusion! 
but hey, i'm ok with the language barrier now, because thanks to the incident i am hooked on frozen coffee. 
so i started searching the internet for an easy, low cal, affordable alternative to my new found craving and addiction... and ta-da! this one here is satisfying the craving and the pocketbook! 

however, i did have to change it up just a little. 
to be really honest with you- i spit out the first batch. 
(everyone likes their coffee just a little different). 

here's how i now enjoy my faux-frappuccino
- 1/2 cup fat free milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp intant coffee 
(store brand is perfectly ok)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fat free vanilla coffee creamer (powdered)
- 6 ice cubes
**blended and served ice cold in a mason jar**

hope you give this a try- its a great summer frozen, cool you down, kinda drink-- cheers!