Women’s Ranch Rodeo….Long Live Our Cowgirl Ways!!

May has been a crazy, busy month around here for me and my family. The month is starting to wind down now and today I am giddy with excitement! Tomorrow we head to Gillette, Wyoming for the first WRRA (Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association) rodeo of the season for us up here in the north country. We haven’t had a rodeo since last September so I’m really looking forward to it. My friend, Heidi Huggins of Bucking H Designs, has worked her tail off along with her helpers to put together and awesome event for us to enjoy this weekend. Hats off to them for working so hard!!There is something for everyone…even the kiddos! Here is the poster for the Bucking H Bash:

BHB 2014

I am so looking forward to competing with my team to try our hardest to win some of the awards awards and prize money up for grabs. Here is my team:

CS Team Hyannis

One of the members has changed since this picture, but this is what we look like…..all decked out in our bright red shirts….true Cowgirl Swank color! Our team is called Cowgirl Swank so that should come as no surprise.  The three other gals on the team are:  Heidi Cuny, Randi Selle, and Rhonda Matt. Great girls who are all quite handy! 🙂

I wrote an article about the WRRA a couple of months ago, but the publication it was going to appear in hit a bump in the road so I’m still waiting to hear from them. I’ve decided that it’s fitting to publish it here on my blog as I sit here waiting for the minutes to tick by until we take off tomorrow. Hope you enjoy the read! Here goes:

I grew up idolizing cowgirls. I was lucky because I had a great role model to look up to….my mom, Lila Glade. Just like my mom, I grew up on the same ranch in southeastern Montana north of the Yellowstone River smack dab between Little Sheep Mountain and Big Sheep Mountain. In truth, I don’t believe my mom aspired to be anything but a cowgirl/ranch woman. Don’t get me wrong, she went off and got a college education. She and her teammates even managed to capture the coveted Team Championship at the College National Finals Rodeo one of the years she was there! She enjoyed college, but deep inside I think she always knew her place was out on the range. She has always loved the outdoors and the animals associated with a cowgirl’s life: horses and cattle. My mom has always been a superior horsewoman and she definitely knows her cattle. She has had many accomplishments in her career as a cowgirl. I believe her greatest accomplishment was qualifying and competing in the National Finals Rodeo in 1976.

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She may argue with me a bit on this because she has other accomplishments to choose from, but I think it’s incredible! My mom roped a little bit, but not competitively. Growing up, I had some of the best barrel horses ever to compete on. How many nine year olds do you know who get to ride a horse that went to the NFR? Not many!

The fact is I enjoyed barrel racing a lot when I was younger, but as I grew older my dad started showing me the joys of what a lariat could do. I wasn’t a roper at a really young age like some kids are today. I didn’t actively start roping until I was 12 years old. There was just something about roping that go in my blood right away. I can thank my dad for passing on his athletic abilities to just pick stuff up. That’s how it was with me and roping….so barrel racing eventually went by the wayside. I did have a slight challenge along the way because I am left-handed. My dad never viewed it as a “handicap” and he never tried to change me. He always thought lefties had an advantage when it came to breakaway roping anyway…..no crossing over to worry about! I taught myself to tie goats right-handed and it worked out just fine. I managed to win 3 state championships in high school in goat tying, pole bending, and breakaway roping. *I’ve even taken to heading right-handed now. It’s quite a process and I’m not as “deadly” as I am with my left hand, but the fact that I’m trying to master both is a feat in itself. I love heeling, but it’s good to be able to rope both ends (heading and heeling).*

I went on to rodeo one season in college. I decided college really wasn’t for me so I went off to the big city to learn about the retail world. Fast forward, 13 years…..this is where my story picks back up. I moved back to Montana in the late fall of 2004. I met my soon-to-be-fiancé in early 2005 and within a few months we moved to southwestern South Dakota and started working on my folks’ ranch (my folks had sold their ranch in Montana in early 2000 and had relocated here). I was home….and boy, did it feel good! With the help of my folks, Shane and I went into the cattle business in the fall of 2005. With that part of my life lined out, I set my sights on getting back into the arena. As fate would have it, I suffered a bad injury on the 4th of July. I was at home in our arena roping on the gentlest horse on the place. It wasn’t good. I got bucked off and as it was happening I hyper-extended my wrist on the swells of my saddle. I tore some ligaments in my left arm/wrist and cracked some bones. It took me years to get it to where I could use it effectively again. So, fast forward again to 2013….

I had been watching ranch rodeos for several years from the sidelines as my husband and his friends went and did their thing. I might mention that I had our son in 2008 so up until this point I was pretty content being the cheerleader and caretaker. However, something inside me started longing for my goal of roping and competing again. I had let my arm heal significantly and I felt I was “ready”. There was something about ranch rodeo that really appealed to me. Perhaps it was the team camaraderie, the events (tying down a steer looked awfully fun to me), the excitement and atmosphere of it all. Whatever it was, I was hooked….but I wasn’t ready to jump into it with the guys. I didn’t feel confident enough for that (yet).

2012 came around and one day I was on Facebook. Something about “Women’s Ranch Rodeo Association” came on the screen. I stopped what I was doing and decided to check it out. Holy cow!! Here was an entire association dedicated to WOMEN in RANCH RODEO!!

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I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I devoured what I could read there and then went on to dive into their website (www.womensranchrodeo.org). I read and read until there was nothing else to read.

In my reading, I found out that the WRRA was founded by Kansas cowgirls in 2005 and that each rodeo includes the same 5 timed events in each of their sanctioned rodeos. They are: Calf Branding, Doctoring, Sorting, Trailer Loading, and Tie Down/Mugging. Here’s what happens in each event (and here are a few pictures of team Cowgirl Swank in action):

Calf Branding – 3 Minute Time Limit. There is one roper, one brander, and two gals to hold the calves down. The roper goes in and snags a calf by one or both hind legs. She drags it out where one gal tails the calf down and the other has the rope. Once the rope is removed the brander is signaled. She runs over and “brands” the calf with a branding iron that has powder on it. Once the calf is “branded” it is let up and the roper goes back in for the second calf. Everything is repeated. Once the second calf is “branded” time is called.

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Branding Hyannis

Doctoring – 2 Minute Time Limit. All four team members start behind a line on their horses. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. They take off after their steer that is on the other end of the arena. All four members are allowed to rope. The steer must be roped with a legal head catch within the first minute. The steer must be headed and heeled. Once this is achieved, one of the non-roping team mates jumps down and marks the steers face with chalk. Time is called.

Sorting 2 Hyannis

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Doctoring Hyannis

Sorting – 3 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them are located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. While riding towards the herd, three numbers are called out over the loud speaker. They are in order (4, 5, 6 or 10, 11, 12 – for example). These are the numbers/cattle that must be cut out of the herd and taken across the chalk line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. Once a critter is across the chalk line, it cannot come back across or it is a no time. Also, no wrong numbered animal may cross the line. Once all 3 critters are across the line, time is called.

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Sorting 3 Hyannis

Trailer Loading – 2 Minute Time Limit. Cattle with numbers on them will be located at the end of the arena behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the score line. Any team member can sort, but only one rider can be in the herd at a time. While riding towards the herd, the number of the steer to be sorted and loaded will be called out over the loud speaker. This steer must be cut out from the herd and taken across the line. The steer is then trailed to the trailer and loaded in the first compartment and the door is shut. One team member’s horse is then loaded in the second compartment. Once the door is shut and latched all team members must run to a designated spot near the judge. Once there, the judge calls for time.

Trailer Loading

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Tie Down/Mugging – *This is my favorite event!* 3 Minute Time Limit. Steer will be let out at the opposite end of the arena. Team members start behind a chalk line. Time starts when the first team member crosses the line. Steer must be roped with a legal head catch in the first minute. No loop limit and all four team members are allowed to rope. Steer doesn’t have to be heeled; this is up to the teams’ discretion. After the steer is roped, he must be mugged and tied down by 3 legs. The three legs must be crossed. During the mugging process at least one team member must be in contact with rope or steer. All ropes must be off the steer and all team members must be clear of steer before calling for time. Time stops when one team member raises hands after the steer is tied down. Steer must stay tied for 6 seconds.

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Things don’t get much more exciting than those 5 events! I have been asked why there aren’t women’s rough stock events. I don’t have a technical answer on that except to say that I’m glad there aren’t. My 40-year-old body can’t handle much crow-hopping let alone a bucking bronco! I will say that I have been told that the WRRA’s outlook on their rodeos and events is that they want to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Even gals who aren’t bona fide ropers can participate as there are events that don’t require every single team member to rope (calf branding, trailer loading, sorting). Women’s bronc riding is only for a few select women who like to do that sort of thing (hats off to them too). The WRRA wants to showcase actual ranch events that occur on most any ranch. They want to keep it as safe as possible for contestants and animals alike. That makes perfect sense to me.

Since the WRRA sanctions the rodeos, their rules are followed and the gals participating must become members before competing. Money can be won and points are accumulated towards their World Finals, which will be held this year in Loveland, Colorado in October. Imagine, a World Finals…..for Women…..in Ranch Rodeos!! I was so excited about this that I called the phone number listed on the WRRA’s website. Enter Billie Franks into my life.

Billie FranksBillie is from Grenola, Kansas.

Billie is the Special Agent and Treasurer for the WRRA. She is quite a cowgirl and a determined leader of the association. We talked for quite a bit and struck up a friendship right then and there. With her encouragement and leadership, I decided that this was going to be “my thing”. Instantly it became my goal to get involved in this association and to hopefully host the first-ever WRRA rodeo in Nebraska.

I’m happy to report that I reached this goal last summer with the “Cowgirl Swank Classic” – Women’s Ranch Rodeo. I had a lot of help from some great people in the Crawford, Nebraska area. It’s a long story of how it all came to be so I won’t go into all of that. I will just say that with a positive attitude, hard work, and good people helping you…you can achieve most anything!

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So, what went on at the “Cowgirl Swank Classic”? Let me tell you….it was 2 days of the most amazing cowgirl action I have ever seen or been a part of! Imagine 12 teams of 4 competitive cowgirls, 48 well-trained horses, 50 head of steers, 25 head of calves, and over 2 inches of rain…..it was nothing short of the most entertaining rodeo ever! We had spills and thrills.….my pants were so dirty after each rodeo that they could have stood up by themselves….and I’m not kidding!

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CSC Branding

Me Muddy

The crowd was super….I was so worried that the rain would keep people away, but just the opposite happened. Crawford has such an amazing arena setup. It allows vehicles to pull up near the grandstands so they can look down over the arena. It truly couldn’t have been more perfect. We are still hearing comments about what a wonderful rodeo it was and how spectators and contestants can’t wait for the next one!

CS Classic Team Photo48 cowgirls competed at the 2013 Cowgirl Swank Classic. This is our group photo.

Like me a lot of the contestants are mothers and wives. We have our children and our husbands supporting us. The best part at our rodeos though is that the husbands are the ones in the stands with the video cameras ready to go and the kids playing in the dirt at their feet. Turnabout is fair play! Rodeo and ranching is about partnership. We have done it for them….and will continue to do so in the future…now it’s their turn to repay the favor….and they do it willingly. All of the husband’s I have visited with are thrilled with the advancements we are making for this sport. They truly think it is great and applaud us. They are happy to see their wives out enjoying themselves and having fun while representing our way of life. We ladies appreciate all the support we get from our families so that we can have our turn in the arena. It’s our turn to shine!

The first-ever women’s ranch rodeo in Nebraska was deemed a huge success. 2014 is going to be a very exciting year for women’s ranch rodeo in the northern region! We are in the planning stages for our second “Cowgirl Swank Classic”, which is scheduled to take place on July 20th and 21st in Crawford, NE.

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Another wonderful occurrence is other people having the same idea I did. They have taken it upon themselves to promote this awesome association/sport and put on their own rodeos. Hyannis, Nebraska was second last year with a two-day rodeo in September. They are planning for the second “Cowgirl’s Duel in the Sandhills” to take place August 2nd and 3rd. Three newcomers to the WRRA are Gillette, Hermosa (possible), and Cheyenne. Gillette, Wyoming will open the season with their two-day “Bucking H Bash” rodeo on May 31st and June 1st. Hermosa, South Dakota is looking at a possible date during their fair in August and Cheyenne, Wyoming is hosting a one-day rodeo on September 21st, which will close out the season for the northern division.

The great thing about how much interest has been generated in our area is that the ladies of the WRRA sat up and took notice. They are excited to have added us as their “northern division”. I was really glad to be voted onto their board of directors in December as was Mckenzie Minor from Hyannis, Nebraska.

McKenzie Minor McKenzie Minor is from Hyannis, Nebraska.

Together, we are pushing for even more expansion in the northern region in 2015. I envision additional rodeos taking place in Colorado, Montana, and hopefully North Dakota in the near future. With that said, if you are interested in hosting a WRRA rodeo in your area in 2015, please contact me. I would love to explain the process to you and answer any questions you may have. We are also searching for sponsors and people who want to get involved in this incredible association. Feel free to contact me at any time! I can be reached at thenativecowgirl@yahoo.com or on my cell at 605-891-1827. I look forward to hearing from some of you and continuing to work to spread this great association as far as we can.

As I said at the beginning of this column, I have always idolized cowgirls. The best thing is that through my life I became one. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I revere my fellow cowgirls. We may come from different backgrounds or similar ones. We may “cowgirl” in different ways, but one thing is for sure: we are kindred spirits. We try hard and we don’t take no for an answer. We love our horses and our families. We are winners inside and outside the arena. Long live our cowgirl ways!

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My Mom – My Hero

I woke up to rain this morning and not the dreaded snow I figured might be here (no branding for us today either). I can’t celebrate yet though as I’ve heard there is snow all around us so I’m sure we will see some before the day is done. Let’s just say that there will be lots of green grass around here soon and I am very thankful for that!

Today is Mother’s Day so I am going to pay tribute to my mom. I wrote an article about her a few weeks ago and I’m sharing it with you. Here goes:

Easter is now over and Mother’s Day is quickly approaching. I’ve always enjoyed this holiday of sorts as it was the perfect time to let my mom know just how much I love and admire her. Now that I’m a mother, I love the day even more. When we lived in Montana, Mother’s Day was usually spent at the horse races in Miles City. Those were such fun Sunday afternoons and I sure do miss them.

The last five years or so our branding has been held on Mother’s Day. I’m not really sure how this happened, but it did and it has stuck. On one hand a gal may be upset to have to work so hard on “her” day, but we ranch gals look at it differently. Aside from shipping our calves, branding is one of the most important days of the year on the ranch. It’s a day to appreciate the fruits of our labors over the long cold winter months. It is truly heartwarming to see all the cows and calves bunched up together. That sight is a true testament to all the winter feeding, chopping ice, checking during calving, and all the prayers we say when Mother Nature throws a fit during the spring months (calving season). It’s a time to gather with friends and neighbors, work hard to get the task completed, share a great meal, and then shoot the heck out of things. That last statement is a fun one. After our branding, we have a skeet shooting marathon. It’s a blast….literally!

My mom and I work together to accomplish many things on the ranch (branding dinner is a big one). I’ve been planning our upcoming day for the past week by ordering vaccine, taking inventory on our branding supplies, and planning our menu. As I was thinking about my mom and what role she will play this year, I remembered something that brought a smile to my face. I owe her my life on more than one occasion. No joke!

It was June 1999. I was home helping my mom and dad back on the ranch in Montana on Cherry Creek. We had gone to the Harms place to do a bunch of riding and check on the cattle. Foot rot was prevalent that year so we brought doctoring supplies in case we needed them. During our riding we came upon a cow and calf. The cow was pretty crippled up with foot rot, but we managed to trail them to a set of corrals we had there. The plan was to rope the cow, tail her down, and then give her a big dose of LA 300. It’s funny how plans sound so direct, so doable, and so easy. I can honestly say that most of the plans around here never go….as planned!

 I can’t remember now why, but my dad had to rope on the horse my mom was riding. If any of you know my mom (Lila Glade) you know that she was a top barrel racer in her day. She won the circuit in Montana and competed at the NFR in Oklahoma City in 1976. She trained many barrel horses, which is why I did so good in the barrels and poles in youth and high school rodeo. Well, my mom rode a barrel saddle. Dad often told her that she should ride a roping saddle, but that just wasn’t for her. She wasn’t a roper! So, imagine my dad climbing on her horse…..into her barrel saddle, which had no rubber on the horn. I’m not sure why we proceeded at this point, but we did. The cow was quite feverish so we knew we had to get this job done as quickly as possible….or suffer the consequences. Luckily, my dad is one heck of a roper. The first loop he threw he caught the cow by a leg. Not being faint of heart, I jumped in and began to tail the cow down. I can’t remember if I got her down or not, but I do remember that my dad started yelling to get the heck out of there. With no rubber on the saddle horn, the rope started to slip as the cow fought. He did what we could, but he couldn’t keep his dally. The cow got up and she was MAD!!! Of course, the pen we were in was a big one. I took off for the fence, but as luck would have it I had worn my slick Roper boots that day. There was a bunch of milk weed growing in the pen. As I scuffled backwards trying to get turned around to run for the fence I slipped and fell flat on my butt. I looked up just in time to see the cow charging towards me. I swear she hesitated, leaped in the air, and pounced right on me (she may have even snickered a bit). She landed hard right on my left shin and my right inner thigh. She rolled me good. I remember thinking it was the end. I was yelling and hollering and choking for air at the same time. When I came to my senses I realized I was only about 20 feet from the fence. I clamored to get up and get to safety, but just as I did here she came for round 2. Holy cow….she was within three feet of me when this bright color went flashing in front of her face. She veered off and ran to the opposite side of the pen where her calf was. I limped over to the fence and tried to catch my breath. Dad rode over to make sure I wasn’t missing a limb or bleeding internally….he said, “Yell a little and the pain will go away.” We half-laughed about what he had said. It’s something we always say when someone is hurt, but not hurt really bad at our place. My Grandpa Art was famous for saying that in all kinds of situations. It has provided comic relief at just the right moment for many years around here. As we talked about what had happened it dawned on me that the bright color I had seen wasn’t my life flashing before my eyes….it was my mom’s coat! She had bravely run up there and waved it in front of that crazy cow’s face. Imagine my surprise that my mom was secretly an amazing bull fighter! I don’t know how she got the gumption to get that close to the cow, but to this day I am ever so thankful that she did. I could have suffered some serious damage if she hadn’t intervened.

Eventually, we got the cow doctored and I managed to work the rest of the day. The next morning I woke up to a purple egg on my shin and an even uglier sight on my inner thigh. To this day, I can’t feel part of my shin. I guess that old cow got the last laugh on me in a way. Over the years, I have acquired quite a few scars and pains that I feel frequently, but each one of them has a story. Maybe that’s why we have them….so we won’t forget. I definitely will never forget that day in June and what I learned. I learned just what a mom will do for her offspring (human or otherwise). I will never forget my close call or the fact that my mom is my hero….then and today. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and to all of the other moms out there! I hope you enjoy this special day that celebrates just how amazing we all are!

Here we are together back in 2007:

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My mom loves her horses and it shows!

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My mom has accomplished some awesome things in her life!

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She is a great mom and a wonderful grandmother too. Yep, she’s my hero….what more can I say! Love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day! ~Cheyenne

Mexican Steak Skillet – And More Winter!!

It’s amazing how this spring has kind of put a hamper on my blogging. In a perfect world, I would get to sit down every morning and blog away. However, I live in reality so this is the way it is! It makes me that much more thankful and appreciative when I do get to sit down to write. 🙂

I’ve had quite the week. I felt a bit strange about a week and a half ago, but I didn’t think much about it. A couple of dizzy spells and upset stomach, but nothing major. Last Friday (May 2nd) rolled around and holy cow……I was in a bad way. I let things go until Saturday morning (the day my folks were branding) mostly because I was hoping it would go away and I didn’t want to pay for emergency room fees. Well, the pain didn’t go away…it got worse. So Saturday morning I ambled into the walk-in clinic in Chadron, which is 30 miles from our house. It was determined that I had a severe bladder infection.

I haven’t had a bladder infection in well over 10 years and when I did have one it never felt like this, but I’m not a doctor so who was I to question their diagnosis. Well, things didn’t get much better. I trudged around in sweats all weekend and Monday. I was hopeful that the meds were just taking their sweet time. Tuesday morning I woke up in worse shape than ever so I decided it was time to change doctors and go to the gal we normally do (she was unavailable over the weekend). So, off I went. Much to my surprise I didn’t have a bladder infection….and I never did! How can a clinic misdiagnose something so simple? Hmmmm…..well, whatever. I found myself in the middle of an exam and then a CT Scan. Have you ever had to drink the Barium they give you so they can see your organs during a scan? If you haven’t thank your lucky stars. UGH!!!!!!! After the tests were completed I was informed that I had just been through an Ovarian Cyst rupture. Unbelievable!! The pain was excruciating….and quite odd! No symptoms existed except a lot of pain and pressure down below. How crazy! Well, thanks to our lady doctor, she got to the bottom of it and I’m now almost back to normal.

We have been going through some harsh weather conditions as of the last two weeks also. In that regard I’m a bit thankful as I didn’t have to beg to be in the house on bedrest…..it was a given with our lovely gumbo out here. In the past two weeks, we’ve had around 6″ of rain and close to 12″ of snow (it didn’t accumulate much). I’m sure you can imagine the run off around here. Our creeks are out of their banks and it’s roaring! We went without power for over 7 hours on Wednesday. Shane had to go haul the lineman in so we could get the lines back up. He even helped them finish the job. What a guy!

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Doc and the other horses weren’t amused by the storm.

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Check out all of the water!

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We are thankful for the moisture! I am a bit irritated at Mother Nature though and I will admit it. Tomorrow was supposed to be our branding day, but due to her temper it has to be rescheduled to Wednesday. After looking at the forecast, it may need to be moved again! Frustrating, but nothing we can’t handle! We are under a Winter Storm Watch tonight….again…..I can’t believe it (it’s May for crying out loud)!! I’m not happy about it, but what can I do? I guess pray that it isn’t severe and that all of those baby calves and their mamas hunker down out of it until it passes. I know that this too shall pass (as my Gram used to say). It’s sometimes hard to remember that when you are in the middle of things. One thing to look forward to is LOTS of green grass and fat calves this fall. Our reward for enduring the difficulties.

Onto other things…..I do finally feel well enough to be back in the kitchen at least! Here is what I made last night and it was yummy!!

Mexican Steak Skillet

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2 cups Minute Rice
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can Rotel Diced Green Chilies And Tomatoes (10 Ounce Can)
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes (14.5 Ounce Can)
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth (more If Needed)
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin (more To Taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons Cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons Oregano
  • Steak (cut into thin bite-sized pieces) – *whatever amount you want – pre-cooked
  • 2 cups of Mexican Cheese (or whatever cheese you like) – shredded

Preparation Instructions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

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Reduce heat to low and add rice and garlic. Stir constantly, making sure the rice doesn’t burn. Cook over low heat for 3 or 4 minutes. Add Ro-tel and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let cook for 2 minutes.

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Finally, add broth and stir together. Add some salt/pepper and the cumin, cilantro, and oregano. Bring to a boil.

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Add the sliced up steak pieces and mix it all up. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 additional minutes or until rice is done.

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Add more liquid as needed; rice shouldn’t be sticky. Top with cheese, stir to ensure it is all mixed.

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When melted, serve immediately.

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Top with fresh chopped cilantro is you want to (or dried cilantro….it’s all I had…don’t judge!) 🙂

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Give this recipe a whirl….it makes quite a bit so we are having it for lunch today. Enjoy!! ~Cheyenne