A Casual Christmas and a Happy New Year

For our family, Christmas is like a box of chocolates. While I imagine it is awesome when a big old family can count on having their big old get together, same time, same place, same awesome year by year, we tend to piece together the merriment where and when we can. That’s what works for us and our cattle.

Feeding is the main daily chore on the ranch during winter.

Feeding is the main daily chore on the ranch during winter.

We got together with my side of the family during a trip west to my parent’s farm the weekend before Christmas, and came back to the ranch while Nan and Pop took off to be with Rancher’s sister and her family in  Alaska. Being the high tech rednecks we are, FaceTime dates bridged the distances on Christmas Day satisfactorily. Otherwise, the week has been about feeding cows and hanging out as our little threesome.

RB supervises Rancher loading the truck

RB supervises Rancher loading the truck

This dog LOVES feeding cows

This dog LOVES feeding cows

The cows, heifers, bulls, and last year’s calves are in just two pastures nearby right now, so feeding is efficient. On Christmas morning, after feeding it was time to have breakfast. At Rancher’s request, I made Beef Sticky Buns. I wasn’t surprised by the request, seeing as how they are a favorite of his, and after a couple of years attempting, I haven’t recreated his mother’s Christmas breakfast casserole to his memory’s expectations. Marital tip: if you can’t agree on bread versus hash-browns for the breakfast casserole base, it is best to avoid it all together.

Beef Sticky Buns. They seem weird at first, but really they are easy and fun. A good way to save the day's sugar intake for pie and cookies.

Beef Sticky Buns. They seem weird at first, but really they are easy and fun. A good way to save the day’s sugar intake for pie and cookies.

Here is the recipe. I blogged a step-by-step of this recipe on our wedding blog if you like learning that way.

Beef Sticky Buns

Total Recipe Time: 1 to 1-1/4 hours
Makes 4 servings or 8 sticky buns

INGREDIENTS
1 recipe Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage (recipe below)
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
3/4 cup diced onion
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
1 package (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup jalapeño pepper jelly, warmed (optional) or Cream Cheese “Frosting” (optional, recipe below )

INSTRUCTIONS
Prepare Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage (below). Set aside 2 cups beef in large bowl; reserve remaining beef for another use. Add onion and mushrooms to same skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add spinach to skillet; stir to wilt spinach. Add vegetable mixture to beef; set aside 20 to 25 minutes or until mixture is cooled completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in cheese.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Unroll pizza dough on flat surface; pat or roll dough evenly to 14 x 10-inch rectangle, pinching together any tears, if necessary. Spread beef mixture on dough, leaving 1/2 inch border on short side furthest from you. Starting at closest short end, roll up jelly-roll style, pinching to close. Slice dough into 8 pieces using serrated knife and careful sawing motion; place cut-side-up on greased baking sheet.

Bake in 425°F oven 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove buns to cooling rack. While still warm, drizzle with melted jalapeño pepper jelly, if desired.

Basic Country Beef Breakfast Sausage: Combine 1 pound Ground Beef (96% lean), 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add beef mixture; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking into 1/2-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. (Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.) Makes 2-1/2 cups crumbles

Cream Cheese “Frosting”: Combine 1/4 cup softened reduced-fat cream cheese and 1 tablespoon milk in small bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over warmed beef buns.

I’m a savory breakfast person, in case you couldn’t tell. I just need some rib-sticking protein to start my day. And like a casserole, you can prep the night before. I make the beef sausage and vegetable filling and refrigerate overnight. Then you just roll them up, slice and bake, so breakfast is ready in 20 minutes flat.

Toddlers climbing ladders. This is the kind of excitement that makes a hearty breakfast important in our world.

Toddlers climbing ladders. This is the kind of excitement that makes a hearty breakfast important in our world.

Even though it was just the three of us, I still wanted to make a dinner worthy of the celebration of Christmas. Nothing says special like a beef roast so I had to go there. The other special thing about beef is there are several choices fit for feeding large or small crowds. I wasn’t willing to make a meal that couldn’t be accomplished with just my two hands (RB the 5.5 tooth’ed wonder and Rancher are not great kitchen help), under one hour. To satisfy these parameters, I chose a 2.5 lb Tri-Tip roast, and a holiday inspired recipe that only calls for five ingredients.

I cut a corner on the spuds. Which I wouldn't do if we had guests. But they really never stood a chance against the juicy Tri-Tip and fresh haricot verts.

I cut a corner on the spuds. Which I wouldn’t do if we had guests. But they really never stood a chance against the juicy Tri-Tip and fresh haricot verts.

Pepper-Crusted Tri-Tip Roast with Garlic-Sherry Sauce

Total Recipe Time: 1 to 1-1/4 hours
Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS
1 beef Tri-Tip Roast (2 pounds)
Rub:
1 tablespoon coarsely crushed mixed peppercorns (black, white, green and pink)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sauce:
1/3 cup dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 can (14 to 14-1/2 ounces) beef broth

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine Rub ingredients; press evenly onto all surfaces of beef roast.
Place roast on rack in shallow roasting pan. Do not add water or cover. Roast in 425°F oven 30 to 40 minutes for medium rare; 40 to 50 minutes for medium doneness.

Remove roast when instant-read thermometer registers 135°F for medium rare; 150°F for medium. Transfer roast to carving board; tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let stand 20-25 minutes. (Temperature will continue to rise about 10°F to reach 145°F for medium rare; 160°F for medium.)

Meanwhile, prepare Sauce. Combine sherry and garlic in small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Dissolve cornstarch in broth; add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and ground black pepper, as desired.

Carve half of roast across the grain into thin slices. Serve with half of sauce. Reserve remaining roast and sauce for Beef and Vegetable Cheese Steak Sandwich or Korean-Style Beef and Rice Bowl.

The other best part about cooking for 2.25 people and serving Tri-Tip? The leftovers. You can slice and serve it just about any which way you want (see suggestions at the bottom of the recipe). Just like Christmas, it’s the gift that keeps on giving and a great way to live throughout the year. With that, I think we’re all ready to have a fantastic New Year!

Leftovers. What's not to love?

Leftovers. What’s not to love?

4 thoughts on “A Casual Christmas and a Happy New Year

  1. Pingback: RWL’s 2013 in Food and Farm Parody Videos | ranch wife life

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