Chicken Scampi and a Website Nightmare

Well, much to my dismay I’ve wasted almost an entire day on my website……and I didn’t get much accomplished. It’s funny that you sign up for a website….pay a lot of money…..and yet, you are still expected to do the majority of content addition. I’ve about had it with the new website conversion for Cowgirl Swank…..I was seriously thinking about starting on some wine at 11:30 this morning! But…..I didn’t……not that it would have mattered…I’m working from home today. Well, it may have mattered….I may be in bed right now…for the night! 🙂

I couldn’t indulge in wine while trying to avoid my website anguish….I needed to spend some quality time with my son, try to makes heads or tails of the content I need to add, write a few articles for some new projects I’m working on, clean a bit, and do Dance Party 3 with Stone. All of that is done so now I can sit down and enjoy. I really do love to blog. It’s kind of like therapy for me. I don’t have to worry too much about punctuation…..(don’t you just love my excessive dots?)…….I do!! 🙂

Anyway, enough about my website nightmare today. On to something more fun…..Chicken Scampi! Have you ever eaten at Olive Garden? Chances are you have….it’s truly one of our favorite places to eat. Just give me pasta and bread sticks and I’m happy as a clam….so is Shane…..so is Stone. Well, Shane needs to add meat to his because……he’s a carnivore, I swear! 🙂 Anyway, Olive Garden has to most awesome Chicken Scampi ever. This recipe was inspired by their dish. I have made it time and time again until I got it just right. I’ve had several errors and mishaps along the way, but this is the final recipe that I’ve come up with. It is a bit time consuming concerning preparing the chicken, but I can honestly tell you that it is worth the effort!

Chicken Scampi

  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lawry’s Seasoning
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Italian Seasonings
  • Olive Oil
  • ½ Green Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • ½ Red Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • ½ Yellow Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • ½ Orange Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • Purple/Red Onion, cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Angel Hair Pasta, cooked al dente
  • ¾ cup White Cooking Wine or White Wine
  • ¾ cup Heavy Cream

Place flour, salt, pepper, and seasonings (about ½ tsp. each) into a shallow dish and mix well with a fork. Place milk in a shallow dish. Beat in an egg. Dredge chicken first in flour, then dip into milk, and then dredge again in the flour. Place breaded chicken on a rack and allow to rest 10 minutes before cooking. While the chicken is resting, cut peppers, onions, and mince garlic. *I actually made the chicken the night before so I don’t have pictures. Sorry! I may try to add some at a later date if I can remember.*

Saute peppers, onions, and garlic in a large deep skillet over medium heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

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Season peppers, onions, and garlic with a little bit of salt and pepper. Saute until peppers begin to brown. Remove from skillet.

Add another couple tablespoons of olive oil in hot skillet. Place chicken in skillet. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side until the chicken has browned on both sides. Remove chicken from pan. Deglaze the pan by adding white wine to the pan and add more ½ tsp of each seasoning (Oregano, Cilantro, Italian Seasoning). Scrape the bottom with a spoon scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add heavy cream and mix well. Return cooked vegetables to the pan and stir. Add cooked pasta to the skillet.

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Add more salt, pepper, and seasonings to taste if you like. Plate the pasta and sauce, placing a few pieces of cooked chicken with each plate.

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I wasn’t very “on the ball” about taking pictures this time around. I will do better next time. I actually didn’t plan to make this until later on in the week, but sometimes certain things sound good….and that’s what happened! Like I said, I made the chicken the night before which I’ve never done before. The result? Still delicious! Give this one a try….it’s a keeper! ~Cheyenne

Cheyenne’s Breakfast Burritos

We woke up to a fresh blanket of snow and it’s still coming down ever so softly. Sundays are a great day for me to get a jump start on my menu plan for the week. I usually try to plan what I will be making for the week as I only go to town on Mondays and Wednesdays now. I used to go in up to five days per week, but since we moved the store and downgraded back to a shop setting I’m not required to be there as often. I go in on the days that Stone has school so it works out well for us (timing wise and financially it all makes more sense). Planning on Sunday allows me to get my shopping list ready so that I only have to go to the store one of the two days that I’m in town.

Sundays are also a great day for me to make my breakfast burritos. I make a huge batch so that we can eat them for several breakfasts throughout the week. They keep really well in the fridge and the freezer so they are perfect for whenever we decide to eat them. I developed this recipe through trial and error. There are a lot of variations on breakfast burritos, but I’m proud to say that these are completely “mine”. 🙂

Cheyenne’s Breakfast Burritos

  • 1 package of breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean’s Regular Sausage)
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 – 5 oz. can of Diced Chiles
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • Oregano
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin
  • Chili Pepper
  • Minced Garlic
  • 12 Eggs
  • 2-3 cups of Cheese, shredded
  • 12-16 Flour Tortillas (I use the large ones)
  • Taco Sauce or Salsa
  • Tin Foil

Put the entire package of sausage in a deep skillet. Break up into small chunks and start to brown.

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Add potatoes and onion.

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Stir well breaking up the sausage into tiny chunks as it browns. Add chiles and seasonings. I use a teaspoon or two of each seasoning, but it really just depends on how you like it. You can always add more later! Also, don’t worry….the chiles don’t make them too spicy. If you desire more spice, you may want to use two cans instead of one.

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Cover and simmer until potatoes are done.

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Add eggs, mix well.

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Cover and continue to cook. Stir the burrito mixture well. Taste the mixture and add more seasonings to taste, if needed and stir again.

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Add cheese.

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Turn off heat and allow it to sit for a minute or two. Stir the burrito mixture well to mix everything  together.

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Tear of 12-16 sheets of tin foil (about 12-15” in length each).

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Place a tortilla on a sheet of tin foil. Add about a cup of the burrito mixture in the center of the tortilla. I normally elongate the mixture so that it is about an inch from the ends of the tortilla. (It shouldn’t be just a glob in the center.)

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Pour on a little taco sauce or salsa.

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Fold in the ends of the tortilla and roll it up. Then using the tin foil, repeat that step. You should end up with a neat little pouch.

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Continue this process until all the meat mixture is used up.

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*This recipe made 16 tortillas this time. Sometimes it’s more….sometimes it’s less….it truly depends on how much filling you use in each tortilla.*

These Breakfast Burritos are truly heavenly….great on a cold day, great when working cattle, great when out on the trail, great….well, pretty much anytime! Like I said, they refrigerate and freeze well. Looks like I have my week’s breakfasts done already….what a great feeling!

I saved one off to the side (with a little extra burrito mixture on it)  for Shane when he got in from feeding…..it was gone in like 2 seconds flat! And I got a “Good breakfast, babe” when he was finished. 🙂

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We started our day off right….hope you try this….eating one puts a little spring in your step! Enjoy! ~Cheyenne

Feeding Our Cattle & 4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup

Stone and I are home alone this morning on the ranch. My mom is in Arizona visiting her sister and the guys (Shane & my dad) are hauling hay. So, we are the feeding crew today!

Back before I had Stone I was outside all the time….I wasn’t much of a domesticated gal back then. Don’t get me wrong….I loved to cook, but I wasn’t passionate about it like I am now. After I had Stone, I was pretty much housebound for quite a few years. I’m not trying to make it sound like I was isolated….I wasn’t…..I was where I needed to be….keeping the home fire burning. 🙂 I didn’t quite know how to take the first year in stride, but eventually as Stone grew older and was able to do more I developed a true love of my kitchen and the things I could create there. I like to do a lot of things in there that involve my son. I like to think that I am preparing him to be self-sufficient later in life…..he is good help and he loves to “cook”. 🙂

Anyway, Stone is 5…..so I’ve had 5 years of not being out doing chores all day every day like I used to. I still water the horses, feed the chickens, tend to our dogs and barn cats….that kind of stuff, but as far as going out feeding and chopping water….it doesn’t happen as often as it used to…..and us being on our own doing it is almost unheard of.

I certainly wasn’t apprehensive about doing it…..I was raised a ranch girl so these kinds of things don’t daunt me…..except for when it comes to my folks’ white Dodge hydra bed pickup.

Insert some scary music…..maybe the Jaws theme is appropriate here! 🙂

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The problem is that it pops out of first gear all the time (my folks have tried to have it fixed, but I think it’s past that). So, when carrying a 1,000 lb+ bale, it’s hard to start out in anything but first gear! The seat doesn’t move closer to the petals and the seat also squishes down so short people like me can barely see over the dash. I’m sure I am quite a sight driving it! However, many cuss words and a sore hand later…..I had it mastered. We grabbed the bale we needed and headed off to feed my folks’ heifers. It really went much smoother than I anticipated! *Why not sell the pickup or get rid of it…..well, it’s paid for….and if you are a rancher you know the value of inching by when you can!*

We feed cake (cylinder compressed feed that looks kind of like a vegetative hotdog if you will), hay, and lick tubs (plastic tubs full of a hard-almost-like molasses/syrup kind of stuff full of protein, fat, and vitamins/minerals) to our cattle.

Here are some heifers bellied up to one of the lick tubs:

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We started our day off by feeding our heifers with our caking pickup. Feeding this way is so convenient and easy (the feeder dumps out however much feed you set it to dump out – from 2-8 lbs. mostly). The most important thing to know is how many pounds you need to feed to each critter. Counting (to figure out how many “dumps” to put out) is critical as overfeeding can lead to all sorts of bad problems. Stone is a great help with counting…..plus, it helps him to learn math and to see how useful it is in every day life (we’ll save the algebra discussion for future years)! Here is my co-pilot for the day:

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Every good rancher needs a good cow dog….or three! That’s what we have…..3 great girls who are part of our family. Meet Sky, Tee, and Remi……they make our lives complete!

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Once we finished feeding our heifers and breaking open the pit (our water supply for the heifers), it was time to feed my folks’ heifers with the hydra bed. My job with it was to unroll one bale of hay for the heifers. They heard me coming and boy, were they eager!

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In case you are wondering, here is what a bale of hay looks like:

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Hay bales can be all different kinds (grass, alfalfa, oat, etc.). These are crested wheat grass bales. Bales like these can weigh anywhere from 1,000 – 1,400 lbs. They are made by cutting down grass or whatever the hay bales will consist of with a swather. Then they are baled up with a baler (pretty easy to understand, right?!) Hay bales are relatively easy to feed, but there is something that is vitally important when feeding like this:  REMOVE ALL THE STRING!

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The string is what keeps the bale’s shape and keeps it from falling apart….it is called Baler Twine……and it can absolutely ruin a critter’s stomach (it can even cause death if ingested so it’s vital to ensure that it is all removed). Removing it can sometimes be a task. First, you much cut all the strings with a knife or something sharp:

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Then you have to pull the strings (this can prove to be rather difficult if the bale is frozen or if the strings get wound up – as pictured).

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I had a tangle problem so I had to cut the string much more than normal. As I walked around the side of the bale to remove the strings I saw a heifer with some of it in her mouth as she tried to gulp down some hay. Here is what it looked like when I pulled it out of her mouth:

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She had already swallowed it by the time I pulled it out. Ick, huh?! How do you think that would have looked in her stomach if I wouldn’t have caught it? I continued to cut the string and pull it until it was all off the bale. I did a second inspection to make sure and then I coiled it up and wrapped it. There’s a lot of string on just a single bale! We have a lot of this around the ranch…..we try to reuse it as much as we can. I had to chuckle over some website out there with ideas on what to do with it. This site is pretty helpful: Top Ten Things to Do with Baler Twine.

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Knowing that the string was all removed, I jumped into the Dodge and fed the bale. It’s common for a bale to fall off the hydra bed arms when it gets towards the last 1/4 of the bale. Sure enough….it happened to me today….the girls jumped on it!

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No problem…..I simply jumped out of the pickup, walked back thee and proceeded to unroll the bale by hand…..by kicking it along as it unrolled.

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When I got to just the core, I left it for this lucky heifer….who looked like she just got a corner piece of some fresh baked brownies! 🙂

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Back to the Dodge I went…..I drove around to survey my work…..everyone looks happy so my job here is done for today!

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Stone and I headed off to feed the bulls some cake. Once that was completed, we had done our chores for the day. Time for us to think about lunch……what sounded good? 4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup….that’s what!

This soup always makes me think of my Grandma June (or Gram, to me). We used to eat this frequently at the local 4B’s Restaurant in Miles City, Montana (where my Grandma lived later in life and where I consider kind of “back home”). If you’ve never tried this soup…..believe me, you are going to want to make it….it’s the best tomato soup I have eaten…..EVER!!! Here is the recipe:

4B’s Cream of Tomato Soup

  • 32 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 oz., Butter
  • 1 TB Onion, chopped
  • 9 oz. Chicken Broth (undiluted)
  • 2 TB Sugar
  • Pink of Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream

Mix first 6 ingredients & simmer for 1 hour. (I melt the butter first then add the onion. I let them cook for just a minute or two and then add the tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, and baking soda.)

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Heat cream in a double broiler & add to hot tomato mixture.( actually don’t do the double broiler thing….I temper the cream by adding about a cup of the hot tomato mixture. I stir it and then I add it all to the remaining tomato mixture.)

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Enjoy! Make ½ gallon.

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As you can see…..my recipe card has been used a bit!

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This recipe has been around for as long as I can remember. Do try it if you haven’t been lucky enough to try this soup….you will be glad you did! Super easy and super good! ~Cheyenne

Downton Abbey: Have a spot of tea….and Banana Bread?!

Okay, I’m feeling somewhat witty today…..I’ve been on a addict’s kick of Downton Abbey. If you haven’t watched this delightful series on PBS then you really are missing out!

Downton Abbey

I admit that I do become “addicted” to certain television shows…..it’s a bad habit of mine, but alas…..it’s something I truly enjoy so there you have it. It’s kind of like reading a good book…..once I start it I can’t put it down until it’s finished. I’m OCD like that! 🙂 I heard about Downton a few weeks ago, but didn’t have the time to succumb to another series so I left it until last week. I found that I could watch it on Amazon for free…..imagine…..4 complete series episodes ripe for the picking! Besides the Olympics there hasn’t been much on TV so I decided to watch the first one…..and go from there. Almost a week later…..and I’m somewhat sad…..I only have one episode left of the FIFTH series….yep, I found out there is a fifth series. It’s odd because on our TV it says it’s the FOURTH series, but on UK TV it’s called the FIFTH series. No matter…..I was overjoyed to find it on PBS on my iPad so I can get up to speed!

I absolutely adore the series…..It’s set in England in the 1910’s – 1920’s. There is hardly a cuss word to be heard, no majorly inappropriate scenes, high society, lots of tea drinking (yes, I’m a huge fan of tea), courtesy, romance, intrigue……it’s absolutely marvelous!! I urge you to join the masses of fans by watching it just once….I’m sure you will be like me and be hooked!

Watching all those English gentleman’s and ladies drinking their tea brought out the tea lover in me early this year. I’ve always liked tea (hot, mind you….I’m not a fan of Iced Tea just yet)…..might have something to do with that fact that my great Aunt was British. She was a war bride and came to live on Cherry Creek (where I grew up) all the way from London! She was a Brit through and through…..I loved her dry humor…..and her tea! 🙂

My family goes through a big tea drinking phase every late winter until calving season is done. It started up a bit ago and is in full swing here (fueled by my obsession of Downton Abbey). Here is my teapot (I love it…..it’s so “me”!):

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And my very favorite tea in all the world:

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Stash tea is one of the most popular teas in the world and truly good tasting. Tea bags are quite practical, but all of a sudden I have a true interest in using loose leaf tea. I’ve found a couple of sites that explain the process. I’m going to share them with you here:

Seven Cups and Teavana seem to be the most popular tea informational sites and they both have stores (on Google). I can’t wait to delve into the whole world of tea…..new interests truly excite me! Kind of like my wine obsession…..except that I’m a very picky wine drinker….It’s National Drink Wine Day today so thought I needed to mention that…..I’ll drink pots of tea today and then go straight into my favorite wine with supper…..(My husband is in his recliner rolling his eyes…..not that I care!) 🙂

I have been home uninterrupted for a few days (watching Downton Abbey with my eyes glued to the TV). Okay, it’s not quite that bad, but I’ve been watching a lot of it……while I tend to other things of course. I decided that with all the tea we’ve been drinking that something sweet was in order to go with it. Banana Bread popped into my head…..so I decided to make some. The recipe I use comes out of a Betty Crocker cookbook that my Mom gave me many, many years ago. It was the first cookbook that I ever received from someone….and I hold it dear (even though it is almost in pieces from overuse). As you can tell by the photo (food stains and that is has fallen out of the book), this recipe has been used a lot!

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This is my old standby Banana Bread recipe…..it’s my favorite by far too. Here it is for you to try and enjoy:

Banana Bread

  • 1 ¼ cups Sugar
  • ½ cup stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans (or 4 small loaf pans) with shortening. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl.

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Stir in eggs until well blended.

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Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

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*I use powdered buttermilk as I don’t usually have it on hand. It is so easy to use…and so convenient to have on hand whenever I need it way out here!*

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Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt just until moistened.

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Stir in the nuts.

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Pour into pans.

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Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 ¼ hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pans on wire rack.

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Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

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And there you have it…..incredible Banana Bread (if I do say so myself). Enjoy a slice with some butter and a hot cup of tea…..I swear it will be heavenly.

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I’m off to watch the finale of Downton Abbey. I am anxious to see it, yet sad at the same time. I do get to look forward to the next season coming out sometime in late September though so that gives me something to look forward to! Cheerio, good mates! 😉 ~Cheyenne (I say this with tea cup in hand!) Haha!

Cheyenne’s Steak Tips, Cowboy Potatoes & Peppermint Ice Cream

I had a great Valentine’s Day at home with the two best guys in the world! I was happy to receive another handmade card from them this year…..I added it to my collection. I absolutely love and treasure every single one of these cards! ❤

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I wasn’t expecting anything special yesterday (other than my cherished card) because I had scored some awesome boots at the Black Hills Stock Show, which were my early Valentine’s Day present (can’t beat that)! I have been admiring these Corral Boots for some time now……I ran into a sale…..and well, I just couldn’t say no any longer! If you know me at all you know that they boots are absolutely perfect for me…..I LOVE Stars….black…..and silver…..Yep, these were made for me! Plus, they are comfy and fit perfectly! 🙂

Boots

Since we stayed home on the ranch for Valentine’s Day, it was up to me to show my love to my guys through my normal means…..by cooking! I rewarded my Valentine’s with a supper fit for a king……or a cattle baron…..or cowboys…..heck, most any beef lover would have been happy! I whipped up my Steak Tips, Cowboy Potatoes, & homemade Peppermint Ice Cream! To say the least, supper was heavenly!

The first thing I started on was the ice cream (due to the fact that it needs to freeze for some time before it’s ready to be eaten). I followed a super easy Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe from Cuisinart, but I improvised to turn it into a Peppermint Ice Cream recipe. Here’s the recipe:

Peppermint Ice Cream

  • 1 ½ cups whole Milk
  • 1 1/8 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 3 cups of Heavy Cream
  • 1-2 tsp. of Peppermint Extract
  • ¼ cup of Peppermint Sticks (ground)

I recently got an Ice Cream Maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. Today, is the first chance I’ve had to use it. It was super easy…..I can see ice cream making being done regularly at our house from here on out (especially since my boys LOVE ice cream)! Here are some pics from the process I used:

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I combined everything as the recipe calls for (substituting Peppermint Extract for the Vanilla) and let the ice cream maker do its magic. When it was almost finished, I added the ground up peppermint sticks and a dash or two of red food coloring. Here’s how it looked coming out of the freezer…..and holy cow, it was amazing!! Now more long faces when the Schwan’s man is sold out of this household seasonal favorite! 🙂

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The next thing I started was the potatoes (because they take quite some time to bake).

Cowboy Potatoes

  • Red Potatoes
  • Garlic Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • Onion Salt
  • Pepper Jack Cheese, Sliced
  • Parsley

Clean and slice the potatoes (making sure not to slice all the way to the bottom).

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Place in a baking dish and brush each potato with garlic olive oil (if you don’t have garlic olive oil, you can use regular olive oil and sprinkle on some garlic powder instead).

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Add seasonings (to taste).

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Bake for 1 hour or until done in a 350 to 400 degree oven. Using a fork or knife, poke each potato in the middle to ensure doneness. If done, top with Pepper Jack Cheese (one slice per potato) and put back in the oven to melt (if the potatoes need more time put them back in the oven until done to your liking and then top with cheese).

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Sprinkle on more salt and pepper if desired and top with parsley for added color.

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And now….last, but not least…..my Steak Tips! Over the years, I have tried numerous “batter” recipes only to be somewhat disappointed in how they turn out. Some are too bulky and thick, some are too thin, some fall off when frying, some aren’t tasty at all. I finally came up with a good one. I found the beginning of this recipe on Allrecipes.com, but took it apart and reworked it to my liking. Here is what my recipe consists of:

Cheyenne’s Steak Tips

  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 2 tsp. Pepper
  • Garlic Salt (pinch)
  • Onion Salt (pinch)
  • Worcestershire Sauce (dash)
  • 2 lbs. of steak cut into bite-sized cubes (I usually end up with about 2 lbs. of steak so you may need to start out with more depending on the cut of the meat)

Cut meat into bite-sized cubes and set aside. Believe me…..our dogs were delighted with the amount of bone and fat on these steaks! 🙂

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Combine all ingredients and stir together until smooth (batter will be thick and glue-like).

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Dip cubes of steak into the batter until completely coated.

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Remove steak cubes, piece by piece and deep fry in hot oil (about 1 ½” deep or so). Turn when one side is golden brown.

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Fry until the other side is golden brown.

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Remove from oil and place on a paper-towel covered plate to drain excess oil.

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Truly, these are the best Steak Tips ever……this is my “go to” batter for most anything and everything (onion rings are awesome too)!

So, as you can see…..we had a wonderful Valentine’s Day supper!

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We were stuffed……and enjoyed watching a few episodes of a new series I heard about…..”Downton Abbey”……we are loving it….the fact that I just heard about it and it’s several seasons in already…..makes me super happy and eager to watch until I get caught up. 🙂  Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Enjoy the recipes! ~Cheyenne

Dental Nightmare & What is Runza?!

Happy Valentine’s Day!! Hard to believe it’s the middle of February already! I already went out and hugged Doc….had to give him a special treat too. 🙂

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Yesterday, we had a rather tough day in town. We took a little overnight trip to Rapid City where we swam our hearts out. Stone loves to swim. Since we don’t get to do much of that we always try to get a little fun time in now and again when we can. We also had a couple of appointments scheduled……one being a visit to Stone’s dentist. I wish I could say that it was a happy visit…..it was not. Come to find out our little boy has extensive decay in his molars. He has had no pain whatsoever, but I was worried about a small spot on his front tooth (I shouldn’t have worried about that one I guess). I’m no dentist….so I was completely unaware of the disaster going on in his mouth. Here’s where I admit that I feel like a bad mom right now…..aren’t we supposed to know when something isn’t right with our kids? Anyway……I feel awful. Long story short….Stone has to have surgery (root canals and crowns on 6 of his teeth). I was like…….WHAT??!! I mean these teeth are just baby teeth…..they will fall out right? Well, yes, but unfortunately the decay can hinder the growth of his teeth that are yet to come in and cause major problems. So, it’s best to deal with this head on and do it all at once. I really don’t want him scarred from going to the dentist the rest of his life so this is our option…..and our third opinion. The biggest thing I truly wasn’t prepared for? THE COST!!!! Oh my gawd…….I had no idea that pediatric dental work could be so expensive. I feel sick while I’m writing this…..a deep pit in my stomach has formed. Seriously, this surgery is going to cost half of what my 2002 Chevy 3/4 Ton Pickup cost us……and NO, I’m not kidding. Our medical insurance should cover a couple thousand (hopefully), but the rest is up to us….as we don’t have dental insurance. What a nightmare! I guess this is when I need to remind myself that we have a very healthy, happy little boy…..and we will get through this. That is truly what is most important. Things can always be worse……so I will be thankful and quite complaining about it. However, everything extra we had planned for the year has just been cancelled. This too shall pass…..right?! My Grandma used to say that all the time……I know she is right…..deep breaths…..deep breaths!

So, today is Valentine’s Day. I’m making my sweetie his very favorite thing tonight……Beer Battered Steak Tips…..Cowboy Potatoes…..and homemade Peppermint Ice Cream (recipes to follow in my next post). I’m excited to use my new ice cream maker……haven’t used  it yet so it should be fun!

Today, I’m sharing a family favorite recipe with you. Runza! What is a Runza exactly?  According to the  Wikipedia answer:  A runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche or Kraut Pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, pork, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle. In Nebraska, the runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape. The bierocks of Kansas, on the other hand, are generally baked in the shape of a bun. The runza sandwich originated in Russia during the 1800s and spread to Germany before appearing in the United States. The term bierock comes from the Russian word pirogi or pirozhki and is the term for any food consisting of a savory filling stuffed dough. The recipe was passed down from generation to generation and is available throughout the Americas, particularly Argentina and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba. The recipe was spread throughout the United States by the Volga Germans (Germans from Russia) and can be found in North and South Dakota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. The term “runza” is registered as a trademark in the United States by Nebraska-based Runza Restaurants.[2]

In my neck of the woods, we’ve made it into something somewhat different…..yet similar! I don’t remember the exact date the first time my mom made this, but it was after we had moved down here. So, it was 2005 or so. I think she chose the method we use for the following factors:  quick, easy, and who doesn’t love “pie”!  (you’ll know what I mean in a minute). I have added my own “changes” to it to make it truly “my recipe”. It’s funny though…..I don’t even have this written down….it’s all in my head….that’s how easy it is. I’m going to write it out step-by-step so you can give it a whirl if you’d like to. Here goes:

Runza

  • 1 ½ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½ head of cabbage, chopped
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, to taste
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Minced Garlic, to taste
  • Swiss Cheese, sliced
  • Pie Crust

Brown ground beef and onion.

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Add cabbage, stir, and cook until almost done (transparent).

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Add seasonings.

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Pour meat mixture into pie shell (in a pie plate) and cover with cheese. *We use a pie shell because it’s so much easier than making individual pockets with dough. Plus….there are rarely many leftovers so it just makes sense to us to do it this way.*

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Add a top crust if desired (optional). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Cool, slice, and serve.

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This is truly delightful……It’s full of flavor, it is filling, and it is great on a cool day! I hope you enjoy it if you decide to make it.

Well, I’m off to redo our guest room…..it’s a nightmare and I’ve been avoiding it for some time…..it’s now time to deal with it head on…..reorganize, move some furniture, put up a new border, etc. Should be fun…..I like projects like this. Looking forward to getting it back to the way I like it.

Hope you all enjoy your Valentine’s Day…..plus, it’s Friday so that makes it extra great! ~Cheyenne

Unstuffed Pepper Soup & Snow Ice Cream

This morning I jumped out of bed and got right into the kitchen. I made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then, I went right into making some more Valentine’s Day treats. I made Chocolate Dipped Strawberries (I love these!!):

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And Marshmallow Stuffed Chocolate Strawberries…yum!

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Then I used some of the remaining chocolate to make hearts for some of the cupcakes I’m making for Stone’s preschool Valentine’s Day party tomorrow.

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Today was a snow day….not meaning that school was cancelled….just meaning that we took advantage of the white fluffy stuff to have some fun! It’s still chilly out today, but the forecast is calling for much warmer weather (Yippee!!). We had to act fast before the melting started! This icicle is huge!!

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Poor little miss chicken had snow up to her butt today (well, not in this picture as the snow had been walked down already!

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I also gazed intently at our new roping chute:

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It reminds me that brighter and sunnier days are ahead….Summer is calling my name!!!  🙂 Until then….back to the task at hand!

I’m an older mom (I’m 40) so I often get nostalgic about how fast time goes by. I love to take moments like this to spend time making memories with my son and my husband. What better way to do this than Snow Fun?!

If you have a side-by-side or a four wheeler and a sled…..you are in business! Just hook a sled to the back and let the good times roll!

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Talk about some fun times! The horses were even intrigued at all the laughing!

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I decided to climb on with Stone…..and share in the fun!

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My hubby almost got this picture centered….haha! Bless his heart for capturing the moment anyway. 🙂

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Stone and I wiped out…..and broke the sled…..so bigger measures had to be taken! I swear……we laughed and laughed and laughed…..I honestly don’t remember the last time I laughed so loud and so long……it felt GREAT!!!

Shane saved the day by using our calf sled as our replacement.

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Talk about one happy little boy……and a happy dog….Remi got to ride along. Tee and Sky were a bit unsure so they didn’t jump on board!

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We were wet when we got done….and cold, but the smiles were a mile wide…..and our stomachs hurt from laughing so much…..I love making memories like this! ❤

I rewarded my guys with hot chocolate when we came in……and Snow Ice Cream! I followed a really easy recipe off of Allrecipes.com. Instead of milk I used heavy cream…..it was delicious. The guys loved it and there are leftovers in the freezer for later tonight. I like Ice Cream….don’t get me wrong, but one or two bites is enough…..not Shane & Stone…..they could eat a gallon together….and I’m not kidding!

Snow Ice Cream

  • 1 gallon of snow
  • 1 TB of Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup of Sugar
  • 2 cups of Heavy Cream

Mix until well blended. Enjoy….freeze leftovers.

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After the Ice Cream was put into the freezer, I decided I’d better get the cupcakes done for Stone’s Valentine’s Day Party tomorrow. No special recipe here (this time anyway)……but we had a lot of fun decorating them!

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Stone preschool classmates will hopefully love these! My mom commented earlier today that she can’t imagine the time I spend on doing things like this. It’s true….I do spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but it’s my sanctuary……therefore, it never feels like work…..until I get to the “doing dishes part”…..then it feels like the threshold of hell…..haha, just kidding…..well, kind of….. 🙂

So, it’s the middle of the afternoon and it’s time to start thinking about supper. Actually, I already know what we are having…..Unstuffed Pepper Soup…..and is it ever good! I ran across this recipe back in the winter of 2004. I’ve added a few more seasonings, but more or less kept it the same. I don’t remember what little cookbook it came out of, but I have the original recipe card. Here it is:

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I love the stains on it….and my scribblings. It’s obviously “Excellent” in my book….and it’s 4 points on the Weight Watchers point system (that was some time ago when I was focused on that)! Just to save on typing and time, I’m not going to type out the entire recipe since the recipe card is above.

I start out by browning the ground beef quickly adding the onion.

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I then add the green peppers.

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Today, I didn’t have crushed tomatoes. All I had was diced. So, I improvised and blended them up!

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Add the rest of the ingredients (not including the rice) and simmer for 30 minutes or so.

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At this point, I add several seasonings to this soup that aren’t called for (I do this all the time). Perhaps, they may be too salty for some, but this is what we like.

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, Salt, Pepper, Onion Salt, Minced Garlic, and Sugar. I use a teaspoon or two off all the seasonings except the Sugar. I used about a tablespoon of it to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Mind you…..this is what our tastebuds like….you may want to make the soup the first time how the recipe is written (I do this with every new recipe I make). Then you will know how to doctor it up to suit you or your family’s liking.

Then, cook up the rice….add it….heat through….and voila….an incredible soup to enjoy!!!

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One thing about it…..this soup is AWESOME!! It’s great the next day….or two….and it’s superb frozen as well.

I hope you enjoy these two recipes…..and take some time out of the craziness to enjoy the small things in life…..for I truly believe they are the BIG things in the scheme of things. 🙂 ~Cheyenne

Black Tie Calf Fry and Sugar Cookies (Part. 2)

Imagine my surprise when we actually made it in to the Black Tie Calf Fry in Chadron last night in the middle of a winter storm warning! I was supposed to be ready to go by 4:30. Shane drove up at 4:45 and I was just as he had left me…..no makeup….hair not done…..and in my sweats! He was quite surprised…..mostly because he knows how frustrated I’ve been lately at Mother Nature always ruining our plans. We discussed going for a few minutes and we decided….what the heck! My brother and his two boys were here from Montana so Stone had no intention of going with us. We stopped to drop him off at my parents’ house on our way and visited a bit. Then….off we went. We rarely go anywhere without Stone so this was definitely one for the books!

The Black Tie Calf Fry was a lot of fun! Maybe I should back up a step or two…..perhaps you are unsure what a “Black Tie Calf Fry” is exactly?! Well, let me enlighten you! Overall, it’s the annual fundraiser for the Chadron State College Rodeo team. The “Black Tie” part signifies dressing up for the event…..the “Calf Fry” portion signifies calf fries……or calf testicles, if you will. Yep…..it’s really just another way to say “Rocky Mountain Oysters”.  These are usually collected at branding time when the male bull calves are castrated, which turns them into steers. A lot of people seem to enjoy calf fries…..I’m not one of them. They are too chewy for me. I actually don’t mind eating one or two fresh ones as they cook on the branding stove (my great uncle Walt taught me how to eat these when I was quite young). As far as eating them on a plate at a fancy outing…..nope! So, that explains the Black Tie Calf Fry.

Every year at this event there is one or two featured speakers. I was pleased to see Paul Tierney last night. His daughter, Amy, is on the CSC rodeo team. He was also one of the featured speakers at this year’s event. I had a good visit with him and got to know him a little better. He knows my parents as he used to rodeo back in the day when they did. I love meeting people that are a positive influence. We were talking about other people that fit this bill….Walt Woodard and Tee Woolman. I was telling Paul all about the Walt Woodard Team Roping clinic that Shane and I are putting on in Chadron in May. Paul told me about a recent article about Tee Woolman….I’m going to have to look it up. In fact, he was so in tune with getting the article into my hands he called me at home this morning to tell me where to find it. What a guy!! Here we are last night:

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We enjoyed this year’s Black Tie Calf Fry…..it was in a new location and was really nice! I even scored a painting for an unbelievable price by Lori Harrington. Unfortunately, Lori passed away several years ago. I never met her, but my folks knew her pretty well. I was thrilled to get this painting…..it will be great in my spare bedroom once I get it redone. Here is my new painting:

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Well, today it’s still snowing……my folks, my brother, and Shane are working heifers today. It’s 9 degrees at 1 pm…..BRRRR!!!! The cows look pretty chilly down on the creek today…..

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Our horses aren’t thrilled either, but they were intrigued when the heifer gathering began this morning!

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I’m the camp cook for everyone today…..I actually love this role….especially when it’s cold outside! There’s a roast in the oven so dinner is on its way. I decided this morning would be a great time to finish my Sugar Cookies, so here goes…….

Yesterday, I made the dough and let it sit in the fridge to firm up overnight. Here is the recipe once again as posted on Allrecipes.com.

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Okay, here’s how I make these……I bake them at 350 degrees as my oven tends to get a bit hot and I also use parchment paper. If you’ve never used parchment paper…..do yourself a favor and go buy some….you won’t regret it! There is nothing worse than burned cookies…..I had to learn how to bake with this oven, but over time I feel like I’ve come out victorious. 🙂

Here is what I started out with today:

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Get some dough out of the bowl and work it into a ball. The dough is usually quite stiff so it takes some hand working to get it pliable.

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Put some flour on your roller and go to work. The dough needs to be left at about 1/4″ thick maybe even more if you like thicker cookies (which we do). Roll out the dough…..then put your cookie cutters to work.

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Use a spatula to get them to your cookie sheet. Add more dough from the bowl to what you have left and repeat the process.

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The fun thing about this kind of sugar cookies is all the possibilities there are……like cookie bouquets or cookies on a stick!

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Fun, huh?! Now, put them in the oven….and keep on making cookies! I bake these at 350 degrees for around 10+ minutes. I am constantly checking on them. There is nothing worse than burned cookies….or even those that got too dark. Today, exactly 14 minutes was perfect!

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The cookies should almost look undone when they come out. They will be puffy. They should have much color on the top at all…if they do, you’ve gone too far! Here is how a corner should look:

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It took me a many times of making these cookies to get my timing down just right. Something inside me wanted them to be “golden”…..I learned after several times that “golden” isn’t pretty on these cookies! This is how the backs should look:

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And the tops:

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The cookies on a stick are perfect!

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Now, it’s time to cool the cookies. I do this as I continue to make cookies…..this process takes several hours (including frosting the cookies) so you need to plan to effectively make these. Towards the end of making the cookies, I start on the icing. This is the fun part!

Sugar Cookie Icing

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Light Corn Syrup
  • 2 tsp. Milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. flavoring
  • Food Coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

Here’s what I did today:

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I used Rum Flavoring today (mostly because I was out of Strawberry….)

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I love using gel food coloring. It’s so vivid and easy to work with.

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I actually made 3 batches of the icing…..one in each color:  white, dark pink, and red. It was the perfect amount for the total amount of cookies that I ended up with.

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Decorating these cookies is really fun…..I had a blast with these!

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I even made some for our friends/neighbors with their brand on them!

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And of course, I had to made one for my little sweetheart with his name and brand on it!

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Here’s one for my big sweetheart, Shane, with our horse brand on it!

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Here’s what I ended up with…..after a couple of hours work!

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Here’s a little funny……what do you do with the last piece of dough? You know….the one that is too small to cut another cookie from, but too big to just discard? Shape it into a pancake and bake it with the last batch!

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This cookie has always been my “taster cookie”…..I don’t feel guilty eating the ugliest cookie out of the batch! 🙂 *Just a little oddity about me and my baking secrets….haha!*

I hope you all try these cookies. They are quite a bit of work, but honestly…..they are worth it!! I’ve never tasted sugar cookies that are this good…..and they are festive and fun to make based on what holiday you are celebrating.

Well, I’m off to finish lunch over at my folks’ house. I just got a radio call to come and rescue the kids from the corrals…..they are hungry and cold. Here’s Stone and “Bob” (my parents’ dog):

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Stone is giving Bob an uneasy look as Bob just swiped some of Stone’s pop-tart. Glad I left those cookies at home….they wouldn’t last long over here with this bunch! Enjoy your Sunday! ~Cheyenne

A Winter Storm Warning = Sugar Cookies (Part 1)

Well, well, well……today is Saturday, February 8th. This evening is the Black Tie Calf Fry (fundraiser) for Chadron State College’s Rodeo Team. Cowgirl Swank is donating a couple of caps for the silent auction and we made plans to go. I was looking forward to it. In fact, I have had my outfit planned for several days…..well, it’s actually the outfit I was going to wear to read my poem “The Storm Atlas” at the Black Hills Stock Show Ranch Rodeo Finals, but we all know how that turned out….Mother Nature intervened and I wasn’t able to go.

Well, she’s at it again…..we are now under a winter storm warning until Sunday at noon. How lovely of her to be so kind once again. I swear…..I’m about ready to call her out to go behind the wood shed!! UGH!!! It’s snowing…..big, fluffy flakes. It’s actually beautiful outside…..but cold. I just got in from filling up the horse’s water tank and feeding them some hay. Shane is over helping my folks sort some heifers. My brother and his two boys should be here soon as there are plans to work some heifers tomorrow. Once in awhile they come down to help my folks. Anyway, tomorrow is the day the vet is scheduled for and it’s going to be the coldest day of the week….of course, doesn’t it always seem to be that way lately?! Excuse me for sounding so glum, but well, I guess I am…..that’s just the way it is!

Even though I get grumpy about our weather, I am still appreciative for the beauty in nature (supplied by Mother Nature, of course). Look at the gorgeous sunrise she displayed this morning!

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This was at first light. Sights like this make me happy to be alive….especially after I got back in our warm house and had my first cup of coffee! It’s the simple things in life that are the best!

Several hours later the snow began to fall….lightly at first, and now we are under a warning! It’s amazing how quickly things can change. I do cuss her, but I have a very deep respect for Mother Nature….that will never change.

This picture was taken around lunch time. It was snowing pretty good by then.

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Then it really started coming down. The flakes were as big as saucers…..well, maybe not that big, but you get the idea! Our horses were so happy that I took pity on them!

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And the heifers were all snuggled in on the creek eating hay.

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All is good outside……plus, we have about a month to go before we start calving so the snow and cold weather aren’t a huge concern for us. The ice has been a big issue. Shane has noticed that a handful of our cows have slunk (aborted) their calves. This is always a huge worry. Normally what happens is that they slip on the ice on their way to water up. It’s really just something that happens. It’s disconcerting, but it’s out of our hands for the most part. Every year there is a percentage of every rancher’s herd that don’t calve (for various reasons). We just keep our fingers crossed and pray that the percentage is small……and that the ice leaves quickly!

Stone and I were in the house today. With Valentine’s Day approaching I decided today was a great day to make sugar cookies. I love to share these cookies with our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. I’m really picky about sugar cookies…..any old cookie just won’t do. I like the big, thick, rolled out sugar cookies. It’s fun to cut them into different shapes and decorate them. This is something that Stone and I love to do. I truly cherish every moment like this…..I can always hope that at 18 he will continue to want to make these with me, but I already know how fast time is going so I cling just a little bit harder! 🙂

If you’ve been searching for a great sugar cookie recipe I have just the one for you! I have been making this same recipe for five years and it hasn’t failed me yet! The cookie recipe is unbeatable in my opinion…..as is the recipe for the icing. I found both on Allrecipes.com. They are both keepers and my “Go To” recipes. I’ve even made cookie bouquets from this recipe (stick a sucker stick halfway in the cookie before baking and voila….a cookie on a stick!). Here is the Sugar Cookie Recipe.  The recipe itself is super easy, but these do take some time to make. For instance, I already mixed the dough, but I’m letting it sit until tomorrow in the fridge when I have time to commit to baking and decorating. Here is the printed out version of the recipe:

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ½ cups of butter, softened
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.

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Beat in eggs and vanilla.

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Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

*This recipe will take until tomorrow for me to complete. I plan to bake the cookies and decorate them then. I will post how that process goes and share with you the most amazing sugar cookie icing out there!*

I think I’m going to see what the plan is now. Shane still isn’t home yet, which means we will most likely be staying home tonight. Lots of times I’ve changed our plans to match the weather forecast. I’ve gotten used to it……sometimes I do get frustrated (especially when it means a lot to me)…..sometimes I just sigh and say, “Oh well”.  I guess this is one of those times…..I certainly can’t do anything to change it. I may just venture over to my folks’ in a while with Stone so we can all enjoy the evening and get in a good visit. Sounds good to me! Stay warm! ~Cheyenne

Cheyenne’s Spicy Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

It’s a cold one out there today…..-25 when we woke up. Nothing unnecessary gets done outside on days like this. Shane fed this morning leaving Stone and me at home base. It’s always good to have us at home on days like this with a radio in case he gets stalled, stuck, or has problems. Plus, it’s not wise to have a child out in weather like this either. I decided to make Shane’s favorite soup for lunch…..a way to thank him for braving the cold and letting us stay warm at home. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had hamburger soup or cheeseburger soup, but if you have this version is sure to delight you! I actually made this recipe up and after some trial and error I feel that I came up with a winner. So, here goes:

Cheyenne’s Spicy Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

  • 4-5 slices of Bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ lbs. of Hamburger
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup of shredded or grated carrots
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 4 oz. can of Green Chiles, diced
  • 3 cups of water
  • 4 cube of Beef Bouillon
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Lawry’s Seasoning Salt, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups of Milk
  • Thickener:  ½ cup of Milk and 3 TB. Of Flour
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups of Velveeta, cubed

Cut up the bacon and put in a large soup pot to brown over medium heat.

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After it is half done, put in the hamburger.

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Break the burger up into little pieces while it cooks, blending it with the bacon. As the hamburger cooks, add the diced onion.

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Allow to cook together for a bit until the hamburger is brown. Add the potatoes, carrots, garlic, and green chiles.

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Stir together and cook for a few minutes. Add the water, beef bouillon cubes, and seasonings.

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Allow to boil for a 15-20 minutes to allow the vegetables to soften. Add the milk and heat through. In the meantime, using a whisk mix up the thickener.

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Then slowly add it to the hot soup. Once mixed in, add the cubed Velveeta and allow to melt….stirring quite often.

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Once the cheese is melted, the soup is ready. Enjoy!

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This soup is easy to make! It’s hearty, cheesy, and cowboy-approved…..what’s not to love?! I submitted this recipe to Allrecipes.com. Hopefully they agree and put it in with all the others…..although there is no other Spicy Bacon Cheeseburger Soup recipe on there yet so I’m sure they will approve it. I hope you try this recipe…..I think you will love it!

We are all house-bound this afternoon…..may venture out to water our horses later today again. It’s important to make sure they have lots of fresh water when they are standing around eating hay. I know this…..I’m glad I’m not a critter stuck out in this weather….how brutal Mother Nature can be. Here’s hoping you are all staying warm out there! ~Cheyenne