Sunday Column: Husband’s Homemade Garden Tomato Soup

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The weather’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing and the tomato crop is ripening. Fall is in the air and that means sweaters and boots and soups for supper.

It’s perfect timing for the last few months of this pregnancy. I might as well load up on cream based broth and hearty ingredients accompanied by thick slices of bread or cheese sandwiches while it’s perfectly acceptable for my waistline to be thickening and my wardrobe consists of plenty of stretchy pants.

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So we’ve kicked soup season off right around here by visiting the garden and revisiting the homemade tomato soup recipe Husband concocted during the first fall  back home.

After a few years I think this September soup is a tradition now. I’ve shared the step by step, photographic journey documented in the tiny kitchen of the old ranch house on my blog every year, but this year I thought it was time I put it in the papers so the whole state would get a chance to do something really great with their tomato crop.

And last night we made it again, just shifting the ingredients a bit (celery salt instead of celery seed and skipping the dill weed because I couldn’t find it in the mess of my spice cabinet) and it turned out just lovely, just like it does every year. Little Sister was over to help me with a project, we called up mom and Pops and Husband started making up some sort of spectacular ham and cheese sandwich with like four different cheeses and we had ourselves a little Sunday feast.

And now I’m going to have to have him make those sandwiches again so I can follow him around and write that shit down, because well, we all need more versions of the grilled cheese in our lives…

So cheers to growing babies, waistlines and tomatoes. I hope you give yourself a chance to stir up this soup and sit down and enjoy it with the people (and a sandwich) you love.

Coming Home: Husband’s kitchen skills and
heavy cream make most of tomato crop
by Jessie Veeder

9-27-15
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com 

There are many things I like about our new season — more cool days, changing colors and cozy sweaters, and less bugs, lawn mowing and sweat.

Also, recently, fall means cool air coming in from the open windows at night and more reasons to steal my husband’s big flannels from his closet on my way out the door to take photographs before the sun sets on this quickly changing season.

Yes, these longer nights have their benefits. Like, my husband and I will be seeing a little more of each other across the supper table these days because supper time isn’t being ignored while we’re out in the barnyard or in the pasture somewhere squeezing every minute of sunlight from the day.

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And more time at the supper table means more time spent in the kitchen with the man I married who happens to be really good at cooking things like homemade noodles and casseroles and German heritage dishes and other things that require a large dollop of butter and an even bigger swig of heavy whipping cream — a requirement, I guess, if we want to pad up our rear ends in preparation for a long cold winter.

And it’s no coincidence that soup season comes rolling at the same time the tomato crop starts turning red, which only means that the man has been forced to come up with a delicious way to celebrate them.

And when I say forced, I mean “gently” persuaded by a growing pile of ripening tomatoes on the kitchen counter and a pregnant wife declaring that she’s starving over here.

So to honor it all, the changing season, my tomato crop, unwavering appetite, affinity for heavy whipping cream and my husband’s kitchen skills, I would like to share a recipe he concocted during our first autumn spent back at the ranch.

After finding me in the kitchen stomping, whining and nearly losing an eye to a jalapeño pepper after my first attempt at the age-old-tradition of salsa making, only to clean it all up, put my hands on my hips, reach for my goggles and declare that I was now going to attempt tomato soup — 8 p.m. — I think he felt the need to run interference.

And so I ditched the goggles, picked up a pen and followed him around the kitchen as he whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by that jalapeño pepper.

And I’m so glad that I did, because the thing with my husband’s cooking is that it’s all in his head, like a story or a song. If it’s not written down, the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

But I captured it in its original perfection and now we make it a tradition year after year.

‘Tis the season! May your tomatoes never be stranded again. Enjoy!

Cowboy’s Garden Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup (about 3 medium carrots) diced
  • ¼ of a large purple onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 12-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1½ cups heavy whipping cream (room temperature)

Directions

In a large soup pot add the diced tomatoes, carrots, onion and garlic to ¼ cup water and simmer on low for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the tomatoes start to gently boil. Stir in the tomato sauce, butter, seasonings and bouillon cubes and simmer the soup on low, allowing the onions and carrots to cook, about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, slowly stir in the heavy whipping cream and say “M’m! M’m! Good!” while Campbell sobs silently to himself.

Heat (don’t boil) for a few minutes, serve it up and have yourself a happy and well-fed fall.

Sunday Column: Winter and heavy whipping cream…

IMG_9739Out here, in this season, snow comes and goes quickly. We froze our butts off early last week, only to be welcomed by a thaw at the end of it, followed by 30 mph winds that blew the snow sideways on Sunday.

Coincidently this is also the day we chose to clean out the shop and our basement, sending me winging boxes of unusable crap into the garbage pit only to have it all fly back into my face…like three of four times…before I decided to approach the whole chore from the opposite direction. You know, wind at my back…always the right choice.

A choice made after almost the entire contents in the back of the pickup blew out across the prairie on my way to the dump, sending me flailing after it.

A choice made after the old pickup without a parking brake nearly rolled into said garbage pit while my back was turned, you know, flinging things.

Winter. Some days you’re such a bitch.

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Oh, but we have ways of coping around here.

Because when the season of snow-pelting-you-so-hard-in-the-eyeballs-they-threaten-to- freeze-shut is upon us, we strip off our forty-seven layers and head to the kitchen to whip up something warm, preferably with noodles and heavy whipping cream.

Yes, if we have to have winter, at least we have heavy whipping cream to get us through.

IMG_9779So that’s what this week’s column is about. It’s about the recipes Husband and I concoct in our little kitchen to pass the time on long winter nights.

Coming Home: Bring on the heavy cream, butter and winter weather
by Jessie Veeder
11-23-14
Forum Communications
http://www.inforum.com

IMG_2906And I realize that the holiday season is just starting, and we have a trip to Cabo in the works to help ring in the new year, so really, I should just take it easy and have a salad for gawd sake, but for some reason the thought of squeezing my pasty white squishy body in a bathing suit in a month or so is not scary enough to keep me from a second helping of Husband’s famous cream noodles.

Yes. You read it up there. Homemade noodles fried and smothered in cream.

There’s that. And then there’s the two giant pots of knoephla soup mom and I cooked up for the crew of hunters/family this weekend. And yes, it was me who convinced her to add another pot.

Because you can’t have enough creamy soup. You can’t have too much! You can always save it and have it for lunch every day until Christmas!

Want to see how it’s done? I show ya here:
Cowboy Cooks Knoephla

And don’t even get me started on the traditional holiday cheese ball I’ll be concocting on Thursday…

Or the fact that all I want for breakfast for the rest of my life is a caramel roll followed by a donut washed down with seven cups of coffee.

Because it’s winter and I’m ssstttaarrrvvinnnggg.

It’s winter and my primal instincts are kicking in.

“Stock up, stock up, stock up…” they whisper. “You don’t know where your next meal is coming from.”

And I believe the voices. Even though I do.

I do know where my next meal is coming from.

It’s coming from my refrigerator and from the imagination of the man with deep German immigrant roots who can make anything with enough butter, flour, cream, potatoes and a side of pork.

Ugh, I’m so hungry. I can’t wait until 6:00.

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Cowboy’s Kitchen Invasion: Egg Rollin’

It’s Little Sister’s birthday today.

Here she is, gathering wood for our fire back in the olden days…

It’s also my Momma’s.

And here she is, when we were nothing but a twinkle in her eye…

They are two stubborn, competitive, well spoken and beautiful women who love to eat and who turn another year older today.

And I’m happy about that. Because without them my world would be missing the kind of tear-streaming laughter that only a momma and a sister can elicit.

We have a big party in the works for tomorrow to celebrate them properly. There will be sledding, there will be dips and chips and wine and cocktails and neighbors. And there will be cake. I will make it. It will be from scratch. And it will be chocolate.

I’m not going to make any promises about it being delicious, but that’s what I’m going to aim for.

Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing that all Veeder women have in common, when it comes to our birthdays we like to stretch the party out over a few days (or in my case, at least the entire month of August).

And so it began for Little Sister yesterday when she arrived at our place after work with a bag full of ingredients and a mission to teach Husband and I how to make egg rolls.

Now, Little Sister is notorious for calling me or Momma during an impromptu trip to the grocery store hundreds of miles away and demanding that, no matter where we are in the world, we retrieve from thin air that recipe she enjoyed so much once during her childhood…and then she proceeds to call us every ten minutes during the multiple hour process to walk her through it.

So when my dear, sweet, squishy cheeked Little Sister  informed me that she was going to make us egg rolls I was excited and intrigued and knew it probably had something to do with the man in her life.

And now we introduce: The Boyfriend.

He’s a pretty good guy I tell you. Funny and patient and brought up by a family who makes cooking a competition.

Which is actually perfect because Little Sister happens to be competitive, and, well, if you turn cooking into a sport where beer drinking and eating is encouraged, I guess she can get right on board with that.

And so this is where the egg rolls come in, the whole process a tradition in The Boyfriend’s family complete with friendly rivalry and snide remarks about who makes the best roll.

I decided we needed aprons.

Husband decided to put on his hat, roll up his sleeves, turn on some Johnny Cash, pour himself some whiskey, and sharpen his knives for forty five minutes.

I decided to document.

And so I present to you a long overdue installment of “Cowboy in the Kitchen”…with a twist.

Cowboy’s Kitchen Invasion: Egg Rollin’ with Little Sister and The Boyfriend

I promise this is easy, no matter how complicated we make it look.

I promise I’ve never had 90% of these ingredients in my kitchen before.

I promise you I will now stock up.

I promise you’re gonna love them.

Let’s get, umm, rollin…

Step One: Essential Ingredients

Ok, first things first (because you know the rules). Pour yourself a drink while you sing along to “Ring of Fire,” because, well,       this is Cowboy’s Kitchen.

Apparently when Little Sister cooks, she likes to drink out of giant mason jars. She doesn’t mess around people.

Now gather the ingredients.

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 2 packages cole slaw (you can also shred your own cabbage, but we figured this was homemade enough for Little Sister’s debut)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (not pictured)
  • 12 oz package of tofu. Cowboys, don’t be scared, here’s what it looks like in case you’ve never seen it:
  • 1/2 package cellophane noodles (we used Malifun Rice Sticks)
  • 2 packages (30) egg roll skins
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 2 T seasoning salt (Lowry’s)
  • 1 T ginger
  • 3 T Chinese 5 Spice
  • Dash of pepper to taste
  • Sweet and Sour sauce for dipping
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

Step Two: Prep

Alrighty, got it all? Good. Now heat a good amount of oil up in a fryer, enough to get those egg rolls frying.

This is Cowboy’s favorite part. He loves his fryer. He guards it with his life and has given me specific directions not to touch it.  Now that it’s out of storage, I have a feeling we’ll be having fried suppers for a good week or so. So much for New Year’s Resolutions.

Anyway, while the oil’s heating up, brown the pork in a pan on the stove. You can add a little salt and pepper here for taste if you’d like.

Now, soak those thin cellophane noodles in water (for about 10 to 15 minutes) to get them softened up.

If you feel like it, you can sing the old “Chicago” hit “Cellophane” in your best Broadway voice while waving your jazz hands about the kitchen. Your Little Sister will love that.

Step 3: Chop and Mix

Ok, now chop up those green onions. Don’t worry, Cowboy’s spent the last 20 minutes sharpening that knife so it should get the job done.

In a big mixing bowl add the coleslaw, carrots and onions and mix it all up.

Add the cooked (and drained) pork and the tofu. No need to cut up the tofu, it’s in this recipe to help the ingredients stick together.

Now add the seasoning and watch as Little Sister and The Boyfriend argue about the correct amount.

“If you screw something up, no big deal, it’s only like $12,” says the easy going boyfriend.

“Yeah, that’s what irks me. If we screw this up, we’re out $12!” exclaims the frugal little sister.

Silently hope the whole opposites attracting thing works out for them as you move onto my favorite part, cutting up the thin noodles with a kitchen scissors.

That’s Cowboy’s hopeful wondering face…

Add those noodles to the rest of the ingredients,  mix it all up and get ready to roll!

Step 4: Roll ’em up

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Time to roll ’em.

  • Grab yourself a small bowl of water and wet your counter before placing one egg roll skin flat and at an angle before you.
  • Place about a 2 T of the egg roll mix at the center of one egg roll skin
  • Fold the edge closest you you over the mix,
    then fold in the left and right side of the skin

    and roll it up in a nice and tight little wrap.

The egg roll skins should be flexible and easy to work with and when you wrap them up the corners should seal up really nice. To get this to happen, just keep your fingers wet and add water to the edges and seams of the egg roll wrapper.

Step 5: Fry ’em

This is where egg roll making becomes a team sport, so put your differences aside and work together!

  • Place the wrapped egg rolls on a cookie sheet and ask The Boyfriend to begin frying them up while you work on wrapping them. You don’t want the little guys to sit too long before you cook them because they dry up and get sticky.


  • Cook each roll 3 or 4 at a time in the fryer (or in a deep frying pan with oil) for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and place on a plate and marvel at how much more delicious they look than those professional egg rolls you’ve seen at the bottom of your Chinese take-out when you used to live in town.
  • Wonder how much it would cost to get Chicken Lo-Mein delivered to the ranch.
  • Think maybe your life could be complete if someone would come over to show you how to make cream cheese and crab wontons to go with them.
    Because this recipe makes a large batch, you can feed your guests as you go, or place them in a pan and keep them warm in the oven until supper time. You may also freeze them in plastic baggies and warm them up in the oven for another day.Or, if you’re The Boyfriend, you can sneak three or four in your girlfriend’s purse for lunch the next day.Step 5: Sit down and eat and tell the story about the cold winter day when Little Sister was born 24 years ago

    Happy Birthday Little Sister and Momma!

    Love you and love these egg rolls!

    And you’re gonna love my cake.

    See ya on the sledding hill tomorrow.

The tomatoes are ripe and you should make this soup.

It’s tomato season and I’ve got myself a batch of good lookin’ romas.

To honor their deliciousness and the end of the garden season, I resurrected a little recipe my husband concocted last fall. He calls it Garden Tomato Soup.

I call it heaven in a bowl.

I mean, who could argue with fresh garden tomatoes boiled in a buttery/cream/seasoned broth?

Not this girl.

 

So on this Monday I invite you to revisit this recipe, then visit your garden (or your neighbor’s garden) and make yourself a batch of Husband’s Homemade Garden Tomato Soup…and make your week.

Click here for the entire Cowboy Kitchen Garden Vegetable Soup Recipe Experience…

Peace, love and vegetables,

Jessie

Cowboy Cooks: Hunting Camp Stew

In case you didn’t notice all of the pickups driving a little bit slower down the highway…or that blaze orange and camouflage have suddenly appeared as a fashion statement…or, you know,   your husband/boyfriend/significant other has been missing since last Friday come  think of it, I am here to remind you.

It’s deer hunting season.

It’s official.

I think I’ve mentioned it before here, but deer hunting season is a holiday around here with its own set of traditions. Kids get out of school, basement poker becomes a popular activity, beer gets a new, hunting appropriate look and clean-cut men grow beards, wear vests, drink whisky, wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to walk miles and miles in the whipping wind only to  sleep together in close, smelly quarters in the middle of nowhere, rain, shine or snow, in what is known up here as  “hunting camp.”

Now hunting camp seems pretty rustic and masculine for the city boys whose main outdoor chore is weed eating around the rose bushes. Those boys itch for the day they can pack up their duffles with camouflage, bourbon, bullets and only one change of underwear and head for the hills and to their manly roots. Somehow it doesn’t ring as particularly romantic to the man who chases cattle out of his yard on a daily basis and frequently finds deer legs on his front porch, a gift from the canine friends he feeds perfectly decent dog food every morning.

But regardless of the man’s living situation, hanging with the guys at hunting camp is a staple of hunting season. Because really, after the big bucks are stalked and spotted and the farting, burping and scratching is freely is underway, what the season is really about is camaraderie and fellowship and getting back to the primal need of man to hunt and gather in order to feed his people.


Yes, it’s about the food. It always comes back to the food. So what an appropriate time for Cowboy to whip out his famous and simply rustic hunting camp stew. Because the second best thing to the whiskey at hunting camp is, hands down, the chow.

Our family takes great care when a wild animal is taken from our ranch. We prepare and put to use as much of the meat as we can, so this recipe  is the perfect solution for those cuts of meat that aren’t as savory and tender, but still deserve a place on your plate.

I haven’t mastered the art of cooking wild game, but I tell you when I leave it to the men in my life, they do not disappoint.

The following recipe is made with wild elk meat from an animal taken by pops from our ranch earlier this fall.

Elk meat, when prepared properly, is tender and lean and can be ground up to make delicious burger, steaks and roast. We use the leftover cuts of meat that don’t fit in those categories to prepare stir fry, appetizers, fajitas, chilli and, of course, this stew, but this recipe will be equally delicious if you want to use beef or venison.

So let’s get to it shall we?

Cowboy Cooks Hunting Camp Stew

Step 1: Grab a glass

First things first, put on your snarky apron, neckerchief, sexy cowboy hat and pour yourself a drink…oh, and remember to not say the words “sexy cowboy hat” in hunting camp.

This evening’s drink of choice: Black Velvet

Which brings up another hunting camp rule: avoid singing Alannah Myles’s “Black Velvet” at the top of your lungs while pouring yourself a drink. That will go over about as well as “sexy cowboy hat.”

Ok, when preparing himself a glass of whiskey, Cowboy sometimes likes to make his own, manly version of the famous and classy “whiskey sour”. So he adds a splash of lemon juice and an ice-cube.

No, it’s not your gramma’s drink.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.

Step 2: Gather the ingredients: 

Here’s are the simply, basic ingredients that you’re gonna need besides whiskey.

  • 2 lbs elk meat (or venison or beef) cubed into bite sized pieces…man bites
  • 10 whole cherry/Roma tomatoes
  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen peas
  • 3 large carrots
  • ½ large purple onion
  • 1 T black pepper
  • ½ t red pepper
  • 1 t thyme leaves
  • ½ t rubbed sage
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves
  • salt to taste (and don’t go easy on the salt ok)
  • ½ stick butter
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups flour

Now if you are a man in a hunting camp, you more than likely packed and prepared for this hearty meal. If you are a woman in a little house in the middle of nowhere who put “go grocery shopping” on the bottom of her to do list, right behind the laundry, you will have to run to the neighbor’s to get potatoes and onions…and then come back home only to realize you don’t have carrots either…

don't look at me like that...

Ok, now that you have everything, lets move on.

Step 3: Prep your ingredients

Bring your cups of water to a boil in a large pot. And when I say large, I mean it. We had overflow people…making this a two pot stew…for two people.

You heard me, now go scrounge up that giant pot you save for cooking giant things…

Ok, now while you’re boiling the water cut up some things:

Cube the meat into man-sized pieces

Dice three garlic cloves

I know what you're thinking...pretty fancy dish for hunting camp...

Dice 1/2 purple onion


Cube 4 medium potatoes


Dice three large carrots…take a bite—what’s up doc?

Ok, now your water should be close to boiling.

Drop the potatoes and carrots in there to get them cooking.

Step 3: The meat

Now we are going to deal with the meat.

Warm up your skillet on medium/high heat and add ½ stick butter (and a little bacon grease left over from breakfast ) and melt. Use olive oil too if you want..or just butter…or just olive oil…whatever…it’s hunting camp, you can do what you want.

Now we are going to prepare a little flour coating for the meat.

Measure 2 cups of flour in a flat tupperwear or open bowl. To the flour add the black pepper, red pepper, thyme, sage and plenty of salt.

Mix this concoction together with your hands because you are manly like that.

Then give your meat a little dusting of salt and then coat the pieces in the flour mixture.

Now make sure your skillet is nice and hot and add the meat…then grunt like Tim the “Tool Man” Taylor because that’s what you do at hunting camp.


Now add the onions and garlic too.

Cook the meat to very rare. You won’t want to cook it all the way because it will have more cooking to do when you add it to the pot.

Go ahead, give it a taste.

Good right?

Ok now you can add it to the boiling water with those delicious chunks of carrot and potato. Boil for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are nearly done.

Step 4: Finishing it up

When your carrots and potatoes are done to your liking (about 15 minutes prior to serving)  add the rest of your colorful ingredients:

In goes the corn…

and the peas…

and the tomatoes

*queue tomato dropping action sequence*


Sweat a little because it’s about to boil over….

Now add some of the leftover flour mixture to the stew and cook until desired thickness

Simmer for about 15 minutes or until everything is cooked to the proper consistency.

Also, don’t forget to taste your work. I like a little more salt in my stew, others might want a little more heat, so adjust the seasoning as you go along your merry, manly way. This stew is pretty basic, which leave room for any kind of seasoning your manly heart desires.

Oh, and while your waiting, have someone make biscuits to go along with your hearty meal.

I am pretty gifted as far as baking goes, so I took on the task.


Yup. Ah Pilsbury, making regular wives into Betty Crocker every day.

Alright, now we’ve found ourselves adequately whiskied up and things are smelling a bit better in the hunting camp, I think it’s time for our final step.

Step 5: Eat!

Now if you’re actually in a hunting camp instead of a tiny house with your wife, I would like to imagine that you would serve this up in some of those tin camping bowls. But my white dishes with the blue design will have to do for today.

Now stand back in your apron and not-sexy at all cowboy hat as the rest of the men at camp give you some grunts and thumbs up while they devour your stew.

There won’t be any left over for lunch I guarantee…I mean, playing poker and swapping stories around the fire is exhausting.

Happy hunting everyone!

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok speaking of tomatoes…(because we were speaking of tomatoes weren’t we?) I am so excited to share with you some news I’ve been waiting for all summer while we grilled burgers outside at 10pm because we just got in and the sun hadn’t set yet. I love those days. I do.  And I love burgers, what girl doesn’t? But as the summer winds down and the days get shorter the one thing that keeps me from whining like a little girl who wants to stay up past her bedtime is this: longer nights divided by more Cowboy time in the kitchen = rich, hearty food that tastes like heaven…which results in a little something to take the edge off the cooler weather and inevitable winter…oh, and a little extra padding on my rear-end to help keep me warm.

Yes, cream and butter and hearty seasonings have blown back into my life with the autumn wind and I’m in the market for bigger stretchy pants because, you guessed it…

Cowboy’s cute butt is back in the kitchen…

And here he is, with his favorite ingredient: heavy whipping cream

and this time he’s outdone himself.

Now, I don’t like to push the man. Really I don’t. He has been busy this summer working on getting our new house squared away, building me picture frames, chasing cows around, fixing things I’ve recently broken, and, you know, working. So I haven’t asked him if he has any new recipes brewing up there under his hat. I haven’t mentioned to him that I am sstttaarrvvinng over here.  No I haven’t. But this weekend as he watched his dearly beloved sob and stomp and whine and worry and nearly lose an eye as she tackled the age-old tradition of vegetable canning only to clean it all up, put her hands on her hips, reach for her goggles and declare that she was now going to attempt tomato soup…at 6 pm…I think he felt the need to run interference.

Because he must have been starving too…and he couldn’t wait until 3 am to enjoy his wife’s amateur tomato soup attempt.

So last Sunday Cowboy swooped in and rescued his maiden in fleece pants from her overzealous self by suggesting that perhaps he could try cooking tomato soup. That maybe he had an idea for a recipe. That possibly it would be good for her to find her camera and computer and do what she does best…document it.

And boy am I glad I did. Because the thing with Cowboy’s cooking is this: it’s all in his head, like a story or a song–if it’s not written down the melody might change a bit or the plot might thicken sooner the next time around.

So I gladly handed over the metaphorical apron, grabbed my camera and notebook and watched as the man I married whipped up a little piece of heaven right there on the very same table where I was nearly murdered by a jalapeno pepper. It was a beautiful thing and I know you’re going to love it….

and I am only just a little jealous of the ease at which this man tackles life…and soup.

So grab your favorite autumn brew and those pesky tomatoes…and then grab a few more because you’re going to want to make a double batch of this stuff:

Cowboy Cooks Garden Tomato Soup

Ok, here’s what you need, gathered and deliberately documented by following Cowboy around the kitchen using the journalist skills I acquired in college, and that cute little reporter hat, pen and paper pad.

  • 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup, or 3 medium garden carrots (use more if you wanna)
  • 1/4 large purple onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic (I have to tell you, I was looking everywhere in this tiny kitchen for fresh garlic when I was making my salsa. I whined and dug and threw things around. Cowboy mentions he would like some garlic and it just magically appeared in the cupboard. This is my life. I get a mess, Cowboy gets a magic cupboard…anyway moving on)
  • 1 12 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dill weed (haha, dill weed)
  • 1 Tbsp basil (fresh would be best, but I forgot to plant basil, so dried tastes great too)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro (or dried will work too)
  • 1 tsp rosemary (we had a little rosemary debate, you know, now that I am an expert. I didn’t win. But if the little rosemary seed floaters annoy you like they annoy me, just put in a 1/2 tsp)
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
  • 4 bouillon cubes
  • 1 stick butter (or 8 Tbsp if it makes you feel better)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (get your cream out of the fridge before use and set it on the counter for a bit. This way, when you add it to the hot soup it will blend well.)

Step 1: Call your Pops who is home alone to invite him for supper. I mean, he was kind enough to grow these tomatoes (and carrots) for you.


Step 2: Serve you and  your cook an Autumn Ale, you know, to keep with the mood of the season. 

Octoberfest. Perfect.

Step 3: Sharpen your knives.

In Cowboy’s kitchen, this is the step that takes the longest. I mean, he has a knife briefcase. 

Really.

And in that knife briefcase lives this mamajamma.

I know this looks weird, but Cowboy tests the sharpness of his knives by attempting to shave the hair off his knuckles…just like John Wayne or something, I dunno.

I think I said something like “Holy Shit!”

Step 3: Chop and simmer the veggies

  • Dice three cups worth of garden tomatoes


and put those babies in large a pot to simmer on low while you prep the other veggies

  • Dice three garden carrots. Look at these heavenly creatures!

I especially like this one. Pops said he was holding the rest of the carrots together when he found him.

What a nice little carrot. I liked him so much I ate him.

Ok, yeah, anyway,  dice about one cup worth of carrots.

  • Now dice up 1/4 of that large, purple onion…

..sniff, sniff..please don’t cry.

  • Add the onions and carrots to the pot with the tomatoes
  • And pour in the tomato sauce
While the veggies and sauce simmer on low, move on to
 
Step 4: The seasoning
First, plop in the butter
Yup. The whole stick…or if you’d like, just 8 tablespoons.
Now, in no particular order add the seasonings to the pot, tasting and testing as you go to make sure you just love it.
1 bay leaf
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp dill weed
1 Tbsp basil
1 Tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
1 tsp rosemary
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (heaping) tsp chopped chives
4 bouillon cubes
Beautiful.
Now let the concoction simmer this way on low for a bit.  Have some more brew. Set your table. Read Cowboy magazine, whatever. You must cook this all up, letting the flavors blend and allowing the onions and carrots to cook.
About 30 minutes.
Onward!
Step 5: The best part

Need I say more?

Once the veggies are nice and cooked, measure yourself out a heaping cup of your room temperature heavy whipping cream and slowly stir it into the soup.
Now say “mmmm….mmmmm….mmmmm….” while Campbells sobs silently to himself…
Let warm for a few minutes and…well…what you will have there people is some damn good tomater soup.
Damn good!
So waste no time…
Step 6: Serve it up!
If you want, make yourself a grilled cheese to go with it.
But honestly, you won’t want to touch that stupid sandwich. My photos in the dim lighting of my home do not do it justice.

All you will want is this soup.

Forever.

And Ever.

Amen.

Cowboy Cooks Crunchy French Toast

Well Cowboy got his cute butt back in the kitchen this weekend. It was no big deal, except the clouds opened up, the sun shone down on the barnyard and all the animals and the birds in the woods met me outside in the morning spring air and joined me in my pouffy dress as I  spontaneously choreographed a song and dance number appropriately titled “Hallelujah.”

And then after my big finish I pulled myself together and promptly joined Cowboy inside because I didn’t want to miss this. I mean he’s been a busy man who, despite my protesting, has left his apron folded up for so long he actually forgot about it. But this weekend enough was enough. After weeks of overcooked noodles, undercooked chicken, Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, lunch, dinner and bagels for dessert I was carb loaded, tired of googling recipes with three ingredients and ready for some real, hearty, cooking.

And ready for breakfast, Cowboy style.

Turns out I was not the only one who has been impatiently awaiting Cowboy’s triumphant return to his craft. Cowboy’s dad has been phoning in his requests for recipes for Cowboy to tweak and try for months. Recipes he’s concocted or dreamed about while flipping through and falling asleep to home renovation channels, reality TV and hunting shows.

Yes, this breakfast idea came into Cowboy’s culinary life via a phone call from his dad, who has probably found the only hunting program on the face of the planet that has a cooking segment. But I guess you come across some surprising programming when you are faced with insomnia and one trillion channels.

Anyway, after three prodding phone calls from his loving father, Cowboy caved and began the process of analyzing the ingredients and making tweaks to Cowboy this recipe up.

So I’d like to take a moment to thank father-in-law for his persistence. See, lately I’ve had this brilliant idea to partake in lunges and boxing and weight lifting and other torturous activities under the guidance of a DVD staring a couple TV personalities who go by the name of Jillian and Bob. Did I mention the lunges. Lots and lots of lunges.

So for the love of Martha, I was starving.

Let’s get to it.

Cowboy Cooks Crunchy French Toast


Step 1: Hydration

This particular morning called for the classic Orange Julius.

My recipe:

  • 6 oz frozen orange juice from concentrate
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • 10 ice cubes

Throw in a blender and blend away.

And then gasp as your husband grabs the vodka and turns you into a sinner and your innocent Orange Julius into something much less family-mall-day and a little more rock-star rebellious–The Vodkaulius. Or, if you have Malibu rum you could turn your morning into a tropical getaway by creating what we fondly refer to as The Malibulious.

Please don’t judge us.

Step 2: The Ingredients

Ok, once you are adequately hydrated and liquored up at 11 am, fumble around the kitchen and gather the following:

  • 8 slices of bread (Cowboy likes Texas Toast the best. Wifey couldn’t find Texas Toast at the grocery store. We worked through it)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream (yes, I said it)
  • 2 cups flakey cereal (We used Honey Bunches of Oats, but corn flakes or some sort of bran could work too)
  • A sprinkle of cinnamon
  • A sprinkle of sugar

Now step back, throw some bacon on the griddle, take a sip of your VodkaMalibulious and wonder how you could go wrong with heavy whipping cream, sugar and vodka in the morning.

You will not come up with an answer.

Moving on.

Step 3: Mix it up

  • Warm up your griddle or pan to about 350 while you mix up the ingredients and wait on the bacon (because if you think you are going to have a Cowboy breakfast without bacon your are sorely mistaken my friend.)

  • In a casserole dish or other flat container crack three eggs

  • Add the cream, milk and vanilla

  • Then whisk (or fork) it all together

  • Sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar. We have a fancy 2-in-1 cinnamon and sugar grinder because apparently we use the combo enough to warrant this type of purchase. Try not to be jealous.

  • Here’s where Cowboy, in his true spontaneous recipe fashion, threw me a curveball secret ingredient and reached for the brown sugar I didn’t know about (and neither did you) and added a few pinches of the sweet stuff. Ok, ok, things were getting serious around here. I started lunging.

  • Ok, now set that concoction aside, in a separate casserole dish add your cereal

  • And crush it up a bit, Cowboy style (or you know, you could use a utensil if you aren’t man enough to use your knuckles…geesh)

Step 4: Cook it already

Alrighty, now we bring it all together.

  • Make sure your griddle is saturated with cooking oil and the oil is nice a hot.

  • Dip a piece of bread in the egg/milk/sugar/crazy healthy concoction, fully coating both sides, regular french toast style

  • Then move the saturated bread slice over to the cereal and coat it evenly on both sides

  • Now throw it on the griddle

and continue the process until your griddle is full of coated bread and the house smells like breakfast and sweet cinnamon and sugar and everything that’s right and good with the world.

  • Cook the toast about three minutes on this side or until the cereal is nice and golden brown. While you’re waiting get your syrup and bacon and all your breakfast additions ready to roll so you won’t have to wait one extra minute to eat. Now flip ’em over!

  • Wait another three minutes or so, plate the golden, sweet, crunchy breakfast toasts up and turn around to find that your dear wife has called your in-laws and they are waiting patiently with their own Vodkauliouses, bacon, syrup and snarky napkins for this hunting show inspired, father suggested, breakfast item…and that same wife is lunging and singing a Disney song. And then whisper to yourself “what have I become?”

And enjoy…with bacon and maple syrup…

or bacon, eggs and a little splash of summer in the form of homemade Chokecherry syrup.

Ahhh, heaven is a sunny weekend and breakfast at the ranch.

Have a great Monday…

If you need me, I’ll be lunging…

Pizza Cook-off: Cowboy vs. Cowgirl

Ah, pizza! Pizza for breakfast. Pizza for lunch. Pizza at suppertime. Hell, pizza for a snack. I do it. You should too.

In honor of the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday extravaganza, you know, where Dominos Pizza is expected to deliver 1.2 million pies to Americans in our homes where we are all whooping and hollering and sporting jerseys, Cowboy and I decided we wanted in on the action.

Not the jersey thing, but the pizza thing.

But we had to get creative, because it turns out Dominos doesn’t deliver out here.

What? It’s only 90 miles of blowing, drifting snow and now, I heard, a little ice will be splashed in for good measure. Geesh.

Oh, the price we pay to live in the wilderness.

Anyway, it just so happens that Cowboy has in his super secret hiding place where his super secret recipes are stored a super secret, super crunchy, super thin, super easy pizza crust recipe.

And then, of course, he has in his super secret cooking brain super delicious homemade pizza concoctions that never fail him—i.e.: the breakfast pizza, the chicken alfredo pizza, the taco pizza, and of course, the BBQ beef pizza.

And that’s what he’s cooking for us today.

Perfect. Can’t wait. Sounds hearty and meaty and cheesy and very, very Cowboy.

Which got me thinking…hey I might have something to contribute here that doesn’t involve a hunk of cheese in the shape of a holiday figure.

I might have an idea for a pizza that is very light, very vegetably, very colorful, very, very…well…Cowgirl.

And so the Cowboy vs. Cowgirl pizza challenge idea was born. To which Cowboy replied, “Whatever, you don’t stand a chance noodle arms.”

And I, with my quick and clever wit shot back “No, you don’t stand a chance…you, you…beef arms…”

Silence.

I turned and ran the three steps to the bedroom and cried in the corner while I hugged my knees, realizing I started something that couldn’t be undone, much like that hobbit movie with the ring and the, well….nevermind.

Anyway, this ain’t gonna be pretty.  But I’m brave, despite the size of my muscles and the range of my cooking skills.

Great idea.

Just.

Great.

Either way, Cowboy or Cowgirl, I think you will enjoy these recipes. If anything, just prepare the crust and add your own toppings, because really, you can’t go wrong.

So let’s get ya going on the crust while I pull myself together and put on my Cowgirl cooking outfit.

The crust:

Below is a picture of Cowboy’s super secret recipe that has been with him since freshman year of college. A recipe he no doubt acquired from his momma or his sister and wrote down in a dark room with only one light bulb dangling from the ceiling and then promptly folded it up and shoved it in his underwear drawer or under his mattress or in the ceiling paneling until he needed it again.

Well, at least that’s what it looks like.

Ok.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees while you gather the following ingredients.

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ¼  tsp dry yeast – bread machine yeast

Photo for you, cause I had no idea what this was...

Pour all of these ingredients in a big bowl and mix together.

Here you will see Cowboy using his Christmas present from his biggest fan, my momma

It seems like cheating, it’s so easy, but if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid mixer, that’s ok. Neither did we all of our lives and we were not pizza-less. Just add the above ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands until everything is mashed together and you achieve the proper consistency so you can roll it out successfully and get it to the pizza pan.

You may have to add a bit more flour as you go to get it just right.

Ok, this look familiar?

Sprinkle flour on your surface and plop down the dough.

Roll out with rolling pin until it is stretched out big enough to cover your pizza pan.

Spray your pan with cooking spray and transfer the dough.

This recipe makes enough dough for you to decide if  you would like your crust a bit thicker or a bit thinner, because who’s the boss? Not Tony Danza. You. You’re the boss.

Now, use a knife to cut off the excess dough.

What you do with that dough is up to you.

I made a pizza dough snowman.

Of course I did.

Ok, “Ta da!” the crust is ready. Perfection.

Cowboy and I both used this pizza dough recipe, but I cooked mine for about 5 minutes to get it nice and brown and crispy before adding the toppings and throwing the pizza pie back in the oven to heat it up.

Cowboy piled all the toppings on the uncooked crust and put it all in the oven to melt together.

So let the games begin…with my pizza. Because I like the phrase “Ladies First.”

Always have.

Cowgirl Pizza
Chicken-Bacon Pesto

Once I convinced Cowboy to prepare my crust for me (which you will notice wasn’t quite as beautifully executed as the one he took ownership of) by using my wit and charm and negotiation skills I prepared the following toppings.

  • 3 chicken breasts, seasoned, baked and shredded
  • ½ lb of bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 ½ cups feta cheese
  • 1 can artichokes, drained, rinsed and chopped
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Chopped green onions
  • Olive oil
  • 1 package pesto mix (or make your own, that would be better. But you know who you’re dealing with here…I had to make the packaged pesto twice because of a common mishap I have with reading directions on the back of packaged food items. Happened all the time in college with hamburger helper…I’ll tell you about it sometime)

The oven was preheated to 350, so I threw my pizza crust in there for about 5 minutes to get it nice and golden brown while I incorrectly followed the instructions on the back of the pesto mix package and then started over and stirred it up correctly for crying out loud.

When the crust was finished I took it out of the oven and spread the pesto mix over the crust and began layer my toppings, under Cowboy’s watchful and judgment-filled stare…(oh, and his underdeveloped camera skills)….

I accomplished all this while, enduring, before I even poured myself a glass of wine (which I had to postpone until the project was complete to ensure total concentration…) comments such as these:

“Where’s the cheese?”

“Chicken? Chicken is for vegetarians.”

“Sniff, sniff…what’s that smell? Hmmm…yeah…well, what ever…”

“What are those green things? Artic-whats?”

“Well, if you call that pizza.”

My confidence was shaken.

But I held it together and when my toppings were beautifully assembled on the not so beautiful crust, I put the pizza in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes while I ran back to the bedroom and cried a little.

The buzzer beeped

I came out.

I pulled my pizza from the oven and cut us some slices…

Silence.

I ate three peices.

Despite his skepticism and his lack of love of artic-whats, vegetable chicken and feta cheese, Cowboy had two.

I think that’s what I call a hit.

So I poured myself a glass of the good stuff and left the dishes for the dogs.

It’s about time they started earning their keep around here.

Now Cowboy’s turn, which is sure to involve a fair amount of cheese and seasoning and patience and calm, cool and collectiveness that I have never possessed…oh Martha Stewart, we don’t stand a chance….

Cowboy Pizza
Zesty BBQ Beef


Ok, it took Cowboy a day to recover from the shock to his system that was my pizza. So day two, Cowboy began his pizza excursion by digging in the freezer for a 3.5 lb beef roast, seasoning it to his liking and  submerging it 3/4 of the way in water in our crock-pot…

…and slow cooking it for a good five to six hours.

If you need to, click here for the basic instructions for cooking a beef roast–there are about a million different easy ways to cook it, but takes some time and patience, which I don’t seem to possess either. I will tell you it was torture milling around the house with this slab of meat cooking and smelling so deliciously scrumtious and hearty all day. All. Day.

By the time we got started on the pizza project it was 5:30pm and I was sure I was going to die of starvation.

Ok, so while the beef is finishing up its cooking process, pour yourself a glass of whiskey (because Cowboys can cook while they drink…seems to make it better, not worse. Someday I will master the only multi-tasking activity males possess)

Looks like we need to call the liquor store to see if they deliver...

…and gather the following ingredients for the BBQ sauce.

Sauce


  • 1 18 oz bottle of BBQ sauce
  • ½ cup Jelly – Strawberry or Grape
  • 2 Tblsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 ½ Tblsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tblsp garlic pepper
  • 1 Tblsp minced onion
  • 1 tsp Steakhouse seasoning grinder (Cowboy says: “I don’t know what this is exactly, but it’s got a bunch of delicious shit in it”)
  • 1 tsp red pepper
  • 1 Tblsp cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • A couples shakes of celery salt
  • 4 ounces of scotch (or whiskey of course)

Oh, and also grab yourself the following for the pizza toppings:

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese

Ok, pour all of the sauce ingredients, except the scotch, into a big bowl.

Then, to help you get all of the BBQ sauce out of the bottle, pour the scotch into the BBQ bottle, shake it up and dump the concoction into the bowl too.

Who said Cowboy’s weren’t thrifty?

Now mix it all up!

Ok, your roast is smelling delicious and is ready to be brought out into the world.

*Cowboy only used about half of his roast for the pizza, so if you have a big 4 lb roast, cut it in half and use the other half for sandwiches or something. That would be good.

Now shred your roast with a fork

And then cut it up a bit more with a knife

Now taste your sauce to make sure it is delicious. Add spices and more scotch if you need to.

Next, combine your shredded roast and the sauce in the crockpot and cook on high (or 350, depending on your roasting method) for about an hour to let the seasoning and sauce soak in and make it nice and tasty.

And add that onion if you want to. Or you can save it for the top of the pizza.

While you wait, this would be a good time to prepare your pizza crust and preheat the oven to 350.

And listen to Cowboy say things like:

“If this roast is any indication of what my pizza is going to taste like, your pizza doesn’t stand a chance….”

And wipe away tears.

Ok, like I said, Cowboy chose not to pre-cook his pizza crust. So when your roast is done, slap your BBQ beef concoction onto the uncooked pizza crust you prepared.

Now it’s time for the cheese! Cowboy was wondering where it was? Well, he found it.

Place pizza in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crust and cheese are a nice golden brown…

…and you will have this…

And it will be delicious.

And resemble, in no way, the pizza your wife came up with.

And you will determine that to compare the two would be like comparing apples to oranges…just like you and said wife.

And said wife will say: “That means we both win!”

And you will say together, in wedded bliss unison: ” Take that Dominos.”

And ride off into the sunset.

Happy Super Bowl Weekend party people! I hope your team wins.

Cowboy Cooks Heavenly Caramel Rolls

It’s Wednesday. Ughhh. Sometimes Wednesday’s are hard. You know, not the beginning of the week, not quite the end…just smack in the middle. Uff. If you’re sitting in an office or at home with the kiddies or maybe you’re driving down the road ( hopefully not reading this…geesh, pay attention) I would like to invite you to visualize Sunday with me.

Ah, sweet Sunday. It’s coming my friend.

Sunday mornings are one of my very favorite things on the planet.

Sunday mornings and coffee.

Because Sunday mornings involve pots and pots of coffee, sipped slowly out of my favorite mug with my feet up and nowhere to be. So I guess coffee is what really puts Sunday mornings up and over the top for me.

Cups and cups of coffee.

And these caramel rolls.

Coffee, caramel rolls, Sunday morning…the best…

…add this guy milling around the kitchen in his sexy cowboy flannel jammies and that’s it…I’m done.

Pretty sure my heaven is a big ‘ol pile of Sundays.

Anyway, I am sure most of you have your Sunday morning rituals that are pretty damn fantastically relaxing and cuddly and cozy and full of caffeinated beverages. But just in case you want to send it on over into the simple, heavenly, gooey, caramelicious, sugary, sweet category, Cowboy would like to share this recipe. A recipe his momma makes at every family gathering where there are mornings involved.

And I’ll tell you, a house full of relatives in the AM while the coffee is still brewing might have you shaking in your slippers, but you no longer have to worry in situations like this, because before you even pull these out of the oven, the aroma alone rouses the most bear-like guest out of hibernation…

…on occasion, there has even been applause.

Standing ovations.

Those reaction may have been solely mine, but still.

So without further adieu, I present you a glimpse into our Sunday mornings and these perfectly effortless caramel rolls.

P.S.: In case you were worried, there will be no photos displayed of me in the glory of the morning sunrise. The world (and the Schwann’s man) is in no way ready…

Cowboy Cooks His Mamma’s Heavenly Caramel Rolls:


Three simple ingredients:  (I know, I know…only three ingredients!!! Wow, Cowboy’s gone soft. But I must remind you, this is a day of rest…)

  • Package of frozen pre-made cinnamon rolls (6 rolls make one 8X11 pan. 8 rolls make one 9X13 pan)

Go ahead and save that little packet of cream cheese frosting for your toaster strudel. What you are about to create will not hold a candle.

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (or you can use half and half if you are thinking a little skinnier. But as Cowboy would like to remind you “Heavy is better…same goes with every recipe”)

  • 1 cup brown sugar (and if your wife forgot to seal the brown sugar last time she had oatmeal…which was like three years ago, if she remembers correctly…your sugar might be a bit lumpy. But don’t get mad at her. Be proud that she’s eating oatmeal and don’t worry, cause the lumps will cook themselves on out of there.)

Regarding the measurement of cream and brown sugar, Cowboy has somethin’ to say:  “The important part is that it goes on in equal parts. The amount depends on how gooey you want your rolls. If you want to use two cups of each be my guest you rebel, but I have never had a complaint at one cup each.”

Just like Cowboy to be so darn flexible.

Now let’s get going:

Step 1: Think about breakfast the night before. Take your frozen cinnamon rolls out and place in a greased 9X13 or 8X11 pan.

Put the pan in the oven overnight  so they rise while you dream of Matthew McConaughey, or, you know, saving the world.  (But for goodness sake, don’t turn the oven on! That’s not the kind of warm Sunday morning we are going for here…)

Step 2: Wake up, wipe out the eye crusties and before you go any further, for cryin’ out loud, get your coffee brewing. Pour yourself a cup of Joe in your favorite mug…

Perhaps your mug dons a snarky comment. Whatever. Your mug, your intentions. And I will NOT say it’s a fine morning sir. I don’t know how parallel the two run…

Then if you are, you know, going to a later Church service, go ahead and splash a generous amount of the sweet stuff in there…

But if you are going to Church during it’s regularly scheduled programming, I don’t think Jesus will mind if you treat yourself to a little splash. I mean, he was the guy who turned water into wine…

…I’m just sayin’…

Ok, that’s better. Now open the oven and declare “Martha Stewart they’ve risen!”

Take the rolls out and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees

Step 3: A little trick to make your life easier when you are ready to dig in. Loosen the edges of the rolls with a spatula so the caramel runs down the sides of the pan and the rolls don’t stick. You will be glad you did.

Step 4: Pour brown sugar and cream in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk together until they are nice and blended.

Cowboy would like to remind you that this is heavy whipping cream, so if you overachieve and mix it too long you will have yourself some whipped cream, and that kind of vigor is just crazy…especially in the hours before the sun comes up.

Now pour the concoction (that has no hope of not being delicious) over the rolls.

Step 5: Put the pan in the oven and check in 20 minutes (if you can wait that long)

Here is where Cowboy gets to use the random Christmas present I purchased for him in a moment of weakness. I mean, with all of this new cooking technology at our fingertips (i.e. our 1955 oven and the first microwave ever invented) he was dying for a kitchen timer magnet.

Best. Present. Ever.

While you wait, have an orange or something. You know, to balance out the damage you are about to do when you eat the entire pan of these rolls…

…trust me, if you don’t grab these rolls out of the oven and immediately retreat with your fork into the nearest room with a lock, you will at least be tempted.

But whatever you do, definitely have more coffee…

Step 6: Ok, once the rolls are a nice golden brown color, take them out of the oven.

Grab another pan or put some tinfoil on the counter, because now you’re going to flip them over to let them out of their pan and present them to the crowd of drooling relatives that have most likely gathered in your kitchen by now.

Good flip. Now scrape the remaining caramel from the pan onto the rolls….

…pause for the applause and whistles….

..bow if you wanna…

…I know you wanna…

And say something like “Oh, this was nothing really. Effortless…wow, no need to throw roses…geesh…I just love you all. So. Much.” (wipe a tear)

Then stand back and watch them disappear.

Or, if you’re in our house, stand back and watch your wife find a few dozen reasons to walk by the pan throughout the day and take a bite or two along the way. It’s a Sunday miracle how fast a pan of caramel rolls disappears in a household of two.

Here’s to a heavenly Sunday….

…on a Wednesday…

Cowboy Cooks Crock Pot Chili

Ok party people, the holidays are officially over here at the ranch and I have dubbed it that way by taking down my beloved tree, tossing the wreath, unplugging the lights and packing my decorations up nice and neat (well, neat enough).

Because I needed to cleanse the holiday, get rid of all of the distraction so I can begin work on my will power.

I mean, the second Christmas at the in-laws over New Years really put to the test just  how many cookies and cocktail weenies and shrimps and candy canes and cheese balls a girl could possibly eat without touching a single vegetable unless I found it coated in some sort of cheese or white sauce during the last month—yup, I really pushed the limit of those stretchy pants….

…oh stretchy pants, how I love thee…

Anyway, now is the time. Back to reality.  Back to real pants. No more sugar cookies for breakfast. No more cheese ball for lunch. Because in 2 days we are hitting the slopes for a weekend of music and mayhem and physical activity, and I have exactly 48 hours to get in shape, dammit…

See ya next year...

That is what I told husband as I was lugging the Christmas boxes upstairs and instructing him to take the candy cane covered tree out of my sight…

But apparently he had other plans.

Plans that included this chili.

Because what every ski bunny needs after a long day skidding, face-first down the slopes, is a nice hot bowl of chili to ease the pain of her lack of athleticism and grace…and we are making it tonight to take with us…

…and it’s gonna be just the way Cowboy likes it, finally, so pipe down about your aversion to anything above mild and get ready to feel some real heat ok?

Cowboy staring down the spices...concocting plans...loving every minute

Well, at least the northern states’ version of heat. Cowboy would like to apologize in advance to anyone from Texas or New Mexico who knows how to assemble a chili that makes your aunt Edna breathe fire…and like it. This is a German boy’s, crock pot attempt…and it’s damn good–well as good as anything can be without butter and flour.

Ok, hold on to your long underwear, cause Cowboy’s cookin’ snow meltin’, nose de-frostin’, wool sock wearin’ chili. And he ain’t taming it down for no one…especially me.

Step One: First things first

Grab yourself a beer why don’t ya. And an apron that says exactly what you’re thinking. Oh, and a crock pot, or some version of the thing with a lid

Now gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 1/2 lbs stew meat
  • 1 large red onion
  • 8 oz container whole mushrooms
  • and as many jalapenos you can handle

    I can't handle it....!!!!

  • Brown the hamburger in the crock pot if you have the time and John Wayne is on anyway, or you can just throw it in a pan on the stove. Add some chili powder and salt and pepper if you want
  • While the hamburger is cooking chop the red onion, mushrooms and jalapenos. (I didn’t get any photos of this cause I was busy finishing off the last of the Christmas fudge, you know, to get it out of sight).
  • Now throw the hamburger, stew meat (uncooked), onion, mushrooms and jalapenos (add some of the jalapeno juice if you’re feeling brave and daring) in the pot where they can all get acquainted before the real party begins…

Now you’re ready for the hard part–gathering the rest of the ingredients to dump in the pot and stir.

Literally, that is all you do.

And taste.

And smell

And tell yourself over and over what an amazing chef you are…

I think I might even be capable of completing this recipe, if I weren't so distracted by the view...and those damn candy canes

Step 2: Ok, dig in the pantry and pull out the following ingredients:


  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Black pepper to taste (a little more than a little but a little less than a lot)
  • Red pepper to taste (Cowboy says, “Red pepper is a tricky little devil…it doesn’t taste so strong at first, but it’s the after burn that kills ya…ooofff…”)
  • 7 oz can green chilies
  • 28 oz can of baked beans
  • 15 oz can navy beans (drained) (“navy beans, navy beans, navy beans…” Lunch Lady Land? Anyone? Anyone?…)
  • 15 oz can kidney beans (drained)
  • 15 oz can pinto beans (drained)
  • 15 oz can spicy chili beans
  • 15 oz can black beans (drained)
    (Cowboy says “You don’t have to use all these  beans, but I do cause I like ’em.”)
  • 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce (if you don’t have this you can use Tabasco sauce…Cowboy can’t pronounce the name of this, but made it clear that  “it adds a delicious spicy taste to things..anything…says so right on the bottle.”
  • Oh, and you can add some Cajun seasoning too, if you’re feeling particularly southern today.
  • And last but not least, of course, the chili powder. Get acquainted with it, cause, as I was told, without it, chili is just a bunch of beans.
  • Ok, so in no particular order, open your cans and your lids and dump it all in the pot.

  • Now get that chili powder out of your holster and give it a few generous shakes.

Keep adding until it tastes good to you.

And now for, the secret ingredient: the fresh, whole cherry tomatoes. Which are apparently important and so enticing that I accidentally used a few on my salad for lunch (oh yeah, a salad…this is serious).

Anyway, Cowboy noticed. “Looks like I’m missing 5 to 6 tomatoes,” he said.

To which I replied, “Tomatoes? Tomatoes? Do those look like snickerdoodles?”

  • So now you add those tomatoes to the chili and mix it all up until you’re happy with it.

  • Now put that crock pot on low and wait.

Because it wouldn’t be Cowboy’s Kitchen without the wait. And we skipped the butter this time around, so I am sure you’re all thrown for a loop.


If you’re starving, like me, you can bring the concoction to a low boil/simmer for about 1 hour and that should be good enough to eat. But you can’t overcook it. The longer it stews the better.

Cowboy recommends the following, word for word:

“Have all this shit ready in the morning, throw it in a pot, put it on low and eat it for supper…that’s the best way to do it…”

We are going to put it in a Tupperwear, freeze it and transport it a few hundred miles to Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota, where we will fling our bodies down a slippery, ice packed mountain of danger and when we are done we will drink something to take the edge off and listen to some good tunes at a mountain music festival this weekend.

And then enjoy the hell out of this chili.

And I will work on my plan of not breaking every bone in my body, or face skidding, or crying, or panicking.

Or at least escaping death.

Pray for me.

But don’t pray for this chili.

Just make it and you shall be saved.

Or at least warmed up.

And unless you wanna come with us, I’ll see ya when I get back….

…hopefully in one piece…