Lamb Gyros! My New go to Meal!

We have been buying a lamb at our local 4H sale for quite a few years. If you haven’t had lamb, you are missing out. If you had lamb and didn’t enjoy it, the chef or restaurant had no idea how to cook it properly.  Lamb is absolutely delicious.

The other day my cowboy cooked up a lamb roast on the traeger. It was delicious. The next day we were going to be heading to town and would be  in and out from the ranch. I knew we would not have a chance to eat up the leftovers. I remembered the Gyros I had eaten in New York at the Sheep and Wool festival. I sliced the meat very thinly and froze it in baggies. That way each biggie was enough for Gyros for our family of four.

Today I grabbed the rest of the ingredients from the store and made our meal. They were everything I remembered. The taztziki sauce was simply delicious.

Head out this week and buy yourself a lamb roast. Look for one that is grown in America.(It’s important to support our farmers and ranchers!)
Lamb Gyros

Start with a lamb roast. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Nothing fancy. Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Cook on your traeger or in the oven until done to your liking. Serve with mashed potatoes, green beans, and mint jelly.

The next day slice the meat very thinly.


Taztziki sauce

1/2 cup cucumber peeled, seeded, and shredded. Then squeezed through a towel to remove excess water

2 cups Greek yogurt

1 clove garlic minced

1/2 tsp salt

1tbsp olive oil

Mix all together and let sit in the fridge for several hours
In a pan or griddle sauté the sliced lamb with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I also add a little garlic powder.  In another pan or at the end of the griddle heat up one piece of pita bread turn it occasionally to keep it from burning.

When all is cooked and warm build your pita. Add a good amount of the sauce to the pita, then pile with meat and your favorite fixings.

Sliced olives, lettuce, tomato, sliced red onion, oregano, mint, and the sauce all combine to make a great gyro.


Conquering Cheesecake 

Cheesecake is one of those oh no items that many of us fear to make. I can say with all honesty I use to feel that way. Then in 2012, I decided to tackle it head on.

I attempted several recipes before I found one that I felt was good.  Then I read pages of tips to baking it correctly. After several attempts I finally got it down.

Amazingly it turns out almost every time. I think it has cracked twice. But both times I overfilled the pan.

So here is to conquering the scary cheesecake.

It’s Not a Krystal’s Burger, but It’ll do!

Where I grew up we have the best little fast food place, it’s called Krystals. I know it is just fast food, but when you move away and can no longer consume grease covered fries and small fist sized burgers, you get a craving. It’s crazy but true. When I go home to Tennessee there are a few musts on my list that I make sure to cross off every time.

1. Eat at Krystals
2. Eat at Chick-fi-la
3. Go to Grandmother’s
4. Eat at the Great Wall
5. Well eat anywhere else

Do you see a theme? Yes, eating is number one. You see in my small little town in Wyoming. We have Arby’s, McDonalds, Taco John’s, and Pizza Hut.  We don’t eat out very much, but then again you see our choices. So when I cross the Mississippi River I get down to business. There used to be Sonic and Cracker Barrel but those have moved west and I can enjoy them when I go to the big towns.

Back to the Krystals burgers. Well I found a recipe that is very similar to the taste of those little burgers. They are so good, that I think they are better. Well they are better because I can have them whenever I want. HAHA

Now there is a weird ingredient in this recipe. I was skeptical at first, but do it, just throw it in there. You won’t even know it exists. Trust me. I make these all the time in large batches. Then I wrap them in foil and throw them in the freezer. They are awesome to heat up in the oven. It is a great little thing to have on hand because you never know when someone will stop by and you need lunch or a snack for them. These work wonders. Plus I can throw them in the freezer at the cabin or wherever I am going for an emergency dinner if needed.


Little Krystal Knockoff Burgers

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1.5-2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 pkg Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
½ cup milk
1 pkg slider burger buns or small rolls sliced in half
1 pkg American Cheese Slices,thick sliced

1. In a large bowl mix burger, soup mix, peanut butter, and milk. Spread the meat mixture on a cookie sheet with lip. Use a cup or rolling pin to roll over the meat to smooth it out. Put it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. The meat will shrink. Take it out of the oven and put the diced onions all around the edges to flavor the meat. Place back into the oven for about 15 minutes.

2. Take it out of the oven. Spread out the onions and add the cheese slices. Put it back in the oven for several minutes or until the cheese is melted. Add the tops of the rolls and place back into the oven. for a few minutes to steam and warm the buns.

3. Take it out of the oven. Slice the meat with a pizza cutter and pick up the sliders and place back on the corresponding bottom or the roll.

4. Let cool and what you do not consume immediately, wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. Serve with pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Yummm.


Don’t tell me I like Wassail!

In the South during the holidays there is a certain smell that lingers in stores and homes almost everywhere. It is detested by children but loved by adults. It brings the holiday atmosphere to peak performance. There is just something about Wassail that says, “Home.”  It has a very distinctive aroma that can be singled out in a room full of goodies.

As most children will say Wassail is the most disgusting drink ever dreamed up by mean adults. It is worse than apple cider. I was one of these small children and even young adults who kept good and clear of this potion. When we would visit our local Civil War Mansion called Glenmore, I would hate the smells from the brewing pots of apple cider and Wassail. It just tasted like adults and the weird drinks that they are always fussing over. Oh, it tastes so good.  Blah, Blah, Blah.

Then I became one of the adults. It was on a trip to Biltmore Estates with my Mother, my Aunt Jo, and my cousin Julie when I decided this is the best drink in the world. My mother is constantly buying Wassail mixes. She will then bring you a glass and say “Oh, try this it is so good,” and then she starts the MMMM, MMMM, MMMM. As her child, I must try what she brings me. So I do. Well at Biltmore they had some made and I tried it. I don’t know why, I have always hated this nasty stuff.  How was today going to be any different from the countless other times she asked me to try this drink.

I let the warm liquid slide down my throat and I waited for the Yuck factor to begin. I waited, I waited. It was delightful. It was good. Well that it, I have officially crossed over. I am old, I am a true adult. I am one of the ones that makes the food at holidays. I am no longer the younger generation. So it is only befitting that the enjoyment of Wassail has begun.

Oh dear, what next! How in all my 35 years have I let this drink go to the wayside. Why did I not enjoy it. Well, I’m not sure, but it is delicious. I have made it countless times since that trip. It reminds me of my mom, of holidays past. I reminds me of loved ones who are gone and it brings the holidays into my home no matter what time of year.  The smell alone can make me curl up on the couch with my mug, and close my eyes to feel those memories.

Now I have taken to making my children try it. Let me say, they hate it. Of course they would, it is something you must grow into. But the smell, will be engrained in their minds. Then that one day when they are older, with their own children sitting around the fire, they will make Wassail and cherish the taste and memories it brings.

Please give this a try. It is such a part of the South and a part of the holidays. It is a drink to share with friends, family, and for children to grimace at. Look at that pot. It makes me want to make some right now, and I can’t. I don’t have any of the ingredients and I am 33 miles from the nearest store.  I am in the worst dilemma. Someone make this for me, and bring it to me!!!

Southern Wassail

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 quarts Apple Cider
  • 2 cups Orange Juice
  • 1 can (46 oz) pineapple juice
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1/3 cup Honey

In a large pot combine all the ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a crockpot or beverage warmer to serve.  Serve warm.


The Quest for Lasagna



I started cooking for our hunters in 2012, before this we had hired a cook because I was teaching school.  Cooking for eight to ten people can make a person a little nervous.  I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to cooking. I want everything just right.  I know it’s silly. My husband is always telling me that the guys won’t care because they are just happy to eat after sitting in a blind all day. Phew! Everyone enjoys a good meal and not just a mediocre one.

Let me just say I had to cook this meal of lasagna and cheesecake for some guys from New Jersey. I was really nervous about the cheesecake because they can get amazing cheesecakes there. But then one of the guys came through the kitchen and said his wife was from Italy. OH NO!! Would this be up to par. It was! I received rave reviews and have every time I have made this.

This cooking OCD I have, inspired me to find the best lasagna I could. I can not tell you the number of recipes I looked at, read reviews on, printed out, and searched for. Let me just say there are hundreds, no thousands of recipes for lasagna. I think everyone has their own recipe that they have been handed down, found, claimed, revamped, whatever.  I however did not have one. I am more of a fried chicken type girl. Italian food is a little out of my genre.

Well as I was looking it became pretty clear that for good lasagna you have to have a good sauce. Am I right? And good sauce is homemade. Am I right again? So therefore I decided upon a recipe that looked pretty easy and I was going to give it a try.  It turned out pretty darn good. Then with some revamping of my own. It has become my staple.

This recipe gives the most amazing sauce I have ever eaten. Yes, we eat it out of the pot as it is cooking. If you walk by the kitchen when this is simmering. You will not be able to keep your self from getting a spoon, and trying a little sample.

I will say it is a little bit of work, but the benefits are so worth it. I have also found that you MUST use diced tomatoes. I pour a little into my hand over the pot and smash around. Then pour another handful and repeat until it is all smashed.   I tried whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. They just don’t work. For some reason, it just makes the correct mixture to crush by hand.

This makes a ton of sauce. I mean you will need a large pot for this.  I usually double it, so that I can make two lasagna pans. One for that meal, and another to freeze. I am really into freezing for future meals. Makes life so easy sometimes.  You can also freeze the sauce to use in spaghetti and other pastas.

Werner Hunting House Lasagna

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

  • 1 pd sweet italian sausage
  • 1 pd ground beef
  • ½ cup onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, crush by hand
  • 2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato paste
  • 1-1 ½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, divided
  • 12 lasagna noodles or 2 pkgs lasagna sheets
  • 16 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1 cup parmesan cheeses, grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  1. In a large saucepan cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water. Season with sugar, basic, fennel seeds, italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 tsp salt.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  4. To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange 6 noodles lengthwise over meat sauce. spread with one half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Tope with a third of mozzarella cheese slices. spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Repeat layers. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make are the foil does not touch the cheese.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.


Dawna’s Taco Salad


You know sometimes when you are getting hungry, you yearn for something from home. Or maybe it is when you yearn for home you get a little hungry.  Either way memories and food seem to go hand in hand.

I’ve noticed for myself that when I am especially homesick for Tennessee that is when I crave my mom’s cooking the most. I want those smells to linger in my house. I want to taste the food and savor that memory of the last time I had this in my mom’s kitchen.  I bet we all have those certain recipes that just take us home. No matter where we are in the world, or where we are in life, we can smell that aroma or taste that food and we are back with in our childhood homes enjoying home.

Well that is what I believe this recipe is for my husband and his sisters.  For several years we would celebrate Thanksgiving down in gorgeous Craig, Colorado. Erica, my husband’s middle sister, lived in spectacular cabin placed on the hillside. Just being there over the holiday made you feel like you were in a movie. The crisp air, the cabin atmosphere, and the food. Oh my the food.

After Thanksgiving, my husband’s younger sister would whip up their mom’s taco salad. This recipe makes a ton. The girls would go shopping early in the morning and come home to this for lunch.  It will fill you up and hit the spot. Let me just say I have never settled for just one bowl. I always seem to over stuff my self again on Friday, rather than giving my gullet a break.

Today my husband asked me to make this recipe for our day tomorrow gathering cows on the mountain.  It is a long day and this salad will be a great meal.  (Although my son, who is the pickiest eater in the free world, will have none and a PBJ will be calling his name.) This was a meal from my understanding their mom would make up for large crowds and for cow work.

So Enjoy!

Dawna's Taco Salad

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 lbs of hamburger
  • 1 head of lettuce, chopped
  • 1 lrg onion, diced
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • 1 lrg can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups mayo
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • 1 family size back of Nacho Cheese Doritos

Cook the hamburger meat and drain. Add salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and allow to cool.  Mix together mayo and taco seasoning. Once the meat is cool add the mayo mixture and mix well.  Add the beans, lettuce, onion, cheese, to the meat mixture. Stir to combine.

Crush up the Doritos and add to the salad just before serving.

This is my 2nd bowl. I was trying to downsize and only have a 1/2 cup of mix before I added my chips. That makes a second bowl better right?

Notes:  I have used pepper jack cheese and it was great. Also I don’t add the chips because it makes soggy leftovers. Instead I place the crushed chips in a large serving bowl and let guests add them to their bowls.  There is always leftovers and it keeps it crunchy. I like it better, it’s a texture thing for me I think.

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup

As I promised here is the recipe for this wonderful soup.  Trust me that hits home on a cold night. I made it in the morning for lunch. I was all alone and it was fantastic.  My husband and children really don’t care for this very much, so I was so happy to make it just for myself.  They are not real fans of gnocchi.

I left one container in the fridge,which I enjoyed for lunch today. The rest I put in containers and froze for another time. I am an avid freezer of everything. I hate for stuff to go to waste, so if I can freeze it I do.

Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups half/half
  • 2 (14oz) cans of chicken broth
  • 1 cup carrots, finely diced or shredded
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 pkg gnocchi
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp parsley

In a large pot, combine oil and butter. When melted add onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the half/half.

In another pot cook gnocchi according to pkg directions.


Add carrots and chicken to the soup mixture.  Once the mixture thickens add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and turn to a simmer.


Once it thickens again add the gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings.  Simmer until heated thro


ughly. Before serving season to taste.


This is the basic recipe. I will tell you that I deviate from this every time.  I seldom cook the gnocchi in another pot. I know there is a good reason, but to me why dirty another pot, when I can throw it in with the soup and leT it cook there. So when I add the chicken and carrots, I also add the gnocchi.  I guess it is just one of my pet peeves. If it turns out okay, why mess with more dishes to clean later.


I also have used heavy cream instead of half and half and it turned out just fine. My reasoning was that it was in my fridge and I didn’t have that much milk to thin it out.  I guess it was just a much creamier and a much higher calorie count then the above recipe. Also it was oh, so good!


What a Ham!


This summer at the local county fair market sale, we bought a 4-H pig from one of the kids. It is a great sale and the kids get a wonderful price for their animals. Most kids use this money for college. Our kids have sold steers the last couple of years and it is a great learning experience. Sometimes the buyers will donate the animal back to 4-H and they sale it at actual market price for buy backs. This is when most people can actually afford to buy one of the animals. The businesses will pay way above average to help the kids out.

Some animals are taken right away to be processed, However some go on to enter the Wyoming State fair. If they go to state then the processing plant will contact us when it is ready.

We had bought a lamb the year before and still had some left, so I pushed my husband toward the pig. He would rather have more lamb, but I wanted to get something else. So hence we have a pig in the freezer. Next year we will probably get another lamb, but for now we have some of both to eat.

At our place I keep all of the meat at the hunting house in two deep freezes. As I need it I go over and bring back what I want. It is just easier. In the deep freeze here at the house I keep all the other freezer items such as veggies, bread, ice cream, etc.

Well yesterday when I was digging in the freeze I found the fresh ham roast. I had never cooked one before, but why put it off. So out it came and I put it in the sink overnight to thaw. I am a terrible planner, so having it thaw in the fridge would have taken days, and I don’t plan that well. So overnight in the sink works well.

This morning we headed into town for church. It was a nice day and I was able to drive my new little car that the kids named the rocket. It’s a blast. I will share that story soon. Anyway on the way home I was searching different recipes for fresh ham. I found a couple and as usual did my own thing. I have to. It is what works with my pantry and what works for me.

I put this huge roast on my roasting rack. Oh My! It is easily 15 pounds if not more. I scored it and put cloves all over it.  My son wanted to know what was sticking out of it. LOL..  I let it cook at 350 for about 5 hours and then began basting it with sauce.  I basted it about every 15-20 mintues for around an hour. Then I poured what was left over the roast and cooked it another 15 minutes.  At this point I took it out and let it sit while I prepared some mashed potatoes to go with it.

Usually I try to do the southern traditional thing of something green, white, and yellow at every meal. However tonight it was just mashed potatoes and ham. That was plenty.  It turned out great and received reviews from all the family.

I will say I am going to have to come up with some recipes to use up this huge ham besides sandwiches.

Dr. Pepper Glazed Fresh Ham

  • Servings: 12-15
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

  • 1 large fresh ham, 15 pounds
  • 2 cans of Dr. pepper or similar beverage
  • 3 tsp ground mustard
  • 6 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • cloves

Score the ham in a criss cross pattern. Insert cloves where they meet.  Cook at 350 degrees for about 5 hours or 20 minutes per pound.

In the meantime combine coke, mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Continue to simmer until it reduces.

Brush the ham with the sauce every 15-20 minutes. Pour the additional sauce over the ham and let it cook for 10-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes.


Maybe Minestrone

I am not a huge TV watcher. I can take it or leave it and I would say 98% of the time I leave it.  However there is one exception. I do DVR Pioneer Woman, Barefoot Contessa, and Trisha Yearwood. There is one more but I haven’t watched any of the shows yet, so I can’t even remember the name.  Oh well, these are my big three. Everyone in my house knows that if Mom sits down and turns TV on, it is going to cooking shows.  Well it is what I do.

This morning started much the same as usual, take the kids to the bus stop and come back here for my breakfast before I begin cleaning or tackling any other to do items.  I have been eating the Pioneer Woman’s Spinach Artichoke dip for breakfast. I made it a couple of days ago. Look that one up on her blog. It is amazing!!!

Well I decided to catch up with Mrs. Ina.  She was making a great soup called Minestrone. Never made it before. However lots of chopping, lots of cooking. The longer I watched the more I thought I can make this. I have NEARLY all the ingredients. Well Decision made. The end of the show Ina and her husband were in front of the cozy fire and that topped it for me. I want to be warm and cozy enjoying this soup.

As I looked at Ina’s recipe, it immediately became apparent that I was going to have to improvise. I did not have a lot of the ingredients and since I live 33 miles from civilization, I would not be getting them anytime soon.  However I was already invested so here we go. Check hers out at Hopefully next time I will have all the stuff to make it her way. When living on the ranch the main lesson I have learned is flexibility in all things. You gotta make things work.

Here we go. Her recipe uses pancetta. I don’t have any, never have. So I am going for bacon. Is that the same. I hope so. Maybe they are close and it will give a similar taste. I chopped it up with my handy-dandy kitchen shears and cooked it until almost crumbly, but not crunchy. I have a high hate for crunchy bacon. EWWW!

The next couple of items goes extremely well. I have carrots, onions, celery, but no squash. I figure potatoes will do. So I chop up a couple of those and throw them in. I let them cook with garlic, thyme. I do not have any canned tomatoes. But what I do have is a can of tomato sauce and some fresh tomatoes. I throw that in with about half a can of water. I add the 4 cups of chicken stock from my freezer. (Darn if I had thought ahead. I just made it and put in the freezer yesterday.) I let it all cook for about 30 minutes until the veggies were tender.

I then added 2 cups of dry elbow noodles. That was all I had besides rainbow spirals. I do not have any beans what so ever. I have never been out of beans. I am not sure what has happened to my cabinets. I am usually overly stocked on everything. I am thinking a major shopping endeavor is going to happen soon in my future.

I add 1 block of frozen chopped spinach and let it melt in the pot. I add some more chicken stock. Yep the rest of what I made. At this point my pot is almost to the spilling point. However I add just another handful of noodles. I figure they will soak up some extra moisture.  My chicken stock also has some chicken that came off the bones. So I do have some of that floating in my pot. Not sure how this is going to turn out.

It begins to thicken. The noodles are done. I add just a little more salt and pepper. Ladle myself a bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese. Not bad. Not bad at all. Wow, I can only imagine if I had made it properly as in her recipe, but this is pretty good.

Here is my recipe. If you make it let me know it I need to adjust something. Sometimes I forget my exact substitutions.


How many utensils can I fit in that pot? I know crazy.

Connie's Substitution Minestrone

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 5-7 pieces of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, washed and diced with skins on
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 can of water
  • 4 tomatoes, washed, and diced
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry pasta
  • 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
  • Shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon over medium heat until brown, but not crunchy. (unless you like crunchy)  Add the onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, tomato sauce, water, tomatoes, and 4-5 cups of the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce and cook uncovered at a simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add the dry pasta and spinach.  Cook at a simmer until the pasta is done. Adjust seasonings as needed.

Serve in large bowls, with parmesan sprinkled over the top.


Oh, it’s yummy. Hopefully the hubby will agree when he arrives home off the mountain.