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The Pioneer Woman Review: “Cutting Down Cedars”

Ree is out and about on this week’s episode of The Pioneer Woman, and she’s not the only one.

Her family is working on all sorts of things including homeschool co-op activities, cutting down cedar trees in the pasture and my favorite, grocery shopping. Ree is in charge of the shopping today, and we get a glimpse at her shopping trip as she picks up salad fixings and some ‘secret’ convenience ingredients for a dessert.

With her loved ones all working on different projects, Ree is going to make a big lunch for when they all return to the ranch. She gets things started with a Salad Bar Salad. Now, many people have different salad bar salad building techniques and according to Ree, her family has about three toppings that they like to pile onto their mounds of iceberg lettuce: cucumbers, grated carrots and cheddar cheese.

This is The Pioneer Woman

While Ree doesn’t exactly agree with their minimalist view of a salad bar, she is happy to give them what they love. She tops this salad with a few sunflower seeds (for her taste) and a homemade Creamy Italian Salad Dressing recipe made of garlic, mayo, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh herbs.

This flavor packed dressing will definitely perk up the simple salad. Homemade dressings are a great trick to perk up any ho-hum salad.

Next on the menu is Rigatoni with Chicken Thighs. I love the fact that she uses chicken thighs in this recipe as opposed to the standard chicken breast that has been done countless times. Chicken thigh recipes are moist and flavorful.

Ree starts out with several boneless skinless chicken thighs (convenient and flavorful – yes, please!) that she chops and browns in her large cast iron skillet. After the chicken is cooked, it gets removed from the pan and Ree adds onions to the rendered chicken fat. She then adds some chicken stock, tomato sauce, a bit of sugar and salt and pepper. After the sauce simmers for a bit, Ree adds the chicken back to the sauce and the whole thing gets tossed with a batch of cooked rigatoni.

This pasta recipe looks simple enough for a weeknight meal, but flavorful enough for entertaining company and it has definitely made it onto my ‘must make’ list.

To go with the pasta and salad, Ree is whipping up a mouthwatering loaf of Garlic Cheese Breadsticks. She starts with a big loaf of French bread that she cuts in half lengthwise. She brushes on garlic infused melted butter onto the cut sides of the bread and then layers on slices of mozzarella cheese. After a quick sprinkling of chopped parsley, the loaf gets baked in the oven until hot and bubbly. Ree cuts the entire loaf up into bread sticks that will be easy to pass around at the table.

For dessert, Ree is taking little help from the store by using store bought peanut butter cookie dough. She is making a batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies which is a recipe that she’s been making since she was a girl.

There is something very nostalgic about these simple peanut butter cookies. Plus, it never hurts to have a super quick and easy dessert recipe in your back pocket when you don’t have the time to bake completely from scratch. Ree cuts pieces of cookie dough and places them in mini muffin tins. After baking the cookies, she pops one mini peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie. Talk about easy and simple!

Ladd and the kids come in from their day in the fields, where they spent time chopping down mini cedar trees and skipping stones in the creek. They all are thrilled with Ree’s meal, and I can’t blame them. It’s a big lunch full of comfort food that would hit the spot after a morning of hard work.

This episode has a great balance of homemade and convenience recipes that many home cooks look for. We often desire for everything to be made from scratch, but the realities of our lives and busy schedules often limit how much we can actually do everyday. And with families that need to be fed 7 days a week, it’s helpful to have recipes like these, that are home cooked even if they aren’t entirely from scratch.

Join us next week for an all new PW where Ree is whipping up a hearty meal for the cattle movers – and visit our section of Pioneer Woman recipes now!