Sonoma chicken salad and bad days happen…but they don’t last

Image

Circa December 2008…ages were 5, 3 1/2, barely 2, and 5 months 

Ya’ll see those sweet faces right there?  Oh, that is a picture full of precious isn’t it?  I never thought I would refer to those as the good ole days because in reality they were the days of feeling like I was running through the woods with my pants on fire, being beaten with reids only to slow down long enough to breastfeed a baby, but time has a way helping you forget the crazy and remember the sweetness.  Funny maybe, but so true.  They are really the crazy ole days if I am being honest.  Having 4 kids in under 5 years leaves a mama feeling blessed and a little dazed and confused.  So now we cut to a few years down the road and for the most part we rock along at a nice little pace that works for us.  The kids are all in school, the same school, all day and things usually seem a little less crazy most days.  I feel more in control as a mom most days.  Emphasis on the most here.  And yesterday did not fall under that most umbrella.  Frankly, none of the days this week fall under the most umbrella.  Yeah, it has been a rough week parenting wise.  Maybe it has been the cold weather and the kids not getting a recess at school, but ya’ll they get in the car fighting at 3 and it continues in some form or fashion until they go to bed.  I know.  It happens.  But I finally reached my breaking point yesterday.  I said some things I was not proud of.  I pitched a big ole donkey fit and needed a time out.  It was a doozie.  The sad thing is that yesterday was a great day.  The sun was shining and here is the part you will be interested in, I got the stuff to make the MOST delicious chicken salad.  The same Sonoma chicken salad recipe from Whole Foods.  I ran across it on Pinterest and since I am a sucker for any chicken salad…I had to make it.  So I came home and made some and did a happy dance and fell in love.  It was a lovely beautiful day.  Until we got home.  All heck broke loose.  And no chicken salad in the world could fix that business.  Now, as a blogger, as a friend, as a mom in general I am all about keeping it real.  I love to share the happy successes as a mom.  That is the easy stuff.  But I am more than willing to share my epic failures or my less than shining moments.  I am a big believer in sharing the not so lovely side of motherhood just as I am willing to share the not so lovely side to my shenanigans in the kitchen.  That cake (ok every cake) that comes out not like the picture.  And after I calmed down and I shared and allowed my friends on facebook to normalize my awful mommy moment for me…I remembered…bad moments don’t make bad mommies.  They don’t.  Bad cakes don’t make bad cooks.  So yeah…I have had epic failures as a mom.  And as a cook.  This Sonoma chicken salad was a solid win though.  It is one of the most delicious concoctions that I have ever put in my mouth.  So, today is a new day and that chicken salad is even tastier than it was yesterday.  Sweet, creamy, crunchy, delicious…all you could ever want.  So I am leaving the mistakes of yesterday where they belong and moving forward with this most fabulous chicken salad recipe and I am sharing it with you.  I am more than willing to share my mistakes (if one parent can read this and know they are not alone in her days of frustration as a parent then it is worth the share) , but I am oh so happy to report my successes.  This Sonoma chicken salad falls directly under my WIN umbrella.

Image

Win!!!

Sonoma Chicken Salad (adapted from http://www.SweetLittleBluebird.com and http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com)

Serves 6

Stuff you need:

For the dressing:

1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s…always)

4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

5 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons poppy seeds

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Image

sweet, luscious, creamy dressing 

For the salad:

2 pounds chicken breasts, cooked (I used a rotisserie chicken deboned)

3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted (I made honey roasted pecans…I will tell you how below)

2 cups red seedless grapes

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced

What to do with the stuff:

In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be done up to 2 days ahead of time.

Debone  rotisserie chicken (or cook the chicken breasts until done and then shred)

Combine chicken, grapes, celery, pecan pieces in a medium size bowl.  Pour dressing over this and then stir to combine.  Serve over a bed of spring mix salad greens or between two pieces of bread (12 grain is my fave!!)

Image

look at those colors…oh mouth watering deliciousness 

To make the honey roasted pecans (Cajun Mama style, i.e. I didn’t google how to do this…I just did it.  lol!)~

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with foil.  Spread pieces or whole pecans all over the cookie sheet.  Drizzle honey over the pecan pieces.  Pop them in the oven until they are fragrant and slightly toasted or about 10 minutes.  Definitely worth the extra effort.

Image

Honey roasted yum

Advertisements

Extreme chocolate cake aka celebration cake

My kids love chocolate cake.  I mean, obsession, sell their toys for chocolate, lick off the floor (if I let them) LOVE chocolate cake.  I have to admit I love it too.  They get it pretty honestly.  There is nothing quite like homemade chocolate cake.  So yesterday, when my oldest had his science fair, before I went to the awards ceremony I was thinking of how I could acknowledge his achievement.  What could I make that would be celebration worthy?  What dessert could ever fill those shoes?  This one.  Extreme chocolate cake.  No, I didn’t know he had won.  In fact, he hadn’t won.  Technically.  He didn’t win the science fair.  He didn’t even place.  And there were no tears.  No melt downs.  Only a bright smile for each and every classmate that got an award. But believe me when I say, my baby had won before he even presented his project.  Before he was born, he was the brightest star in my sky.  From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I prayed for him.  I am sure all moms to be do that and I prayed for all of my babies, but I got on my knees every night and prayed for his safe arrival.  I had two miscarriages before I got pregnant with him, so the entire pregnancy I waited for the other shoe to drop.  I always worried that baby would fall right out.  So every night, I got on my knees and prayed.  To God and Mary.  And every angel and saint in heaven.  My baby was special.  I just knew it.  He was everything to me.  And even though I have had 3 other precious angels since then, he still is the sun and moon and stars.  BHB is not like any other child I have ever met.  He is quirky, he is funny, he is shy, he is outspoken, and he is his very own person.  He has beautiful gray green eyes with long eyelashes and if we let his hair grow out, he gets beautiful curls that quickly turn to a fro.  lol!   Some people have had had a hard time seeing past that.  For the most part though, my magnanimous boy has many fans.  He has been blessed to have had people in his path who see him not for his quirks, but his wonderful qualities that make him who he is.  My kids go to the best school in the whole world.  The staff, teachers and anyone who works there are more like family to us.  They have lifted and continue to lift my boy and now all 4 of my babies as far as they can or will go…higher if at all possible.  So, the celebration cake was not to celebrate him winning anything, other than him pushing himself to do his best and be a part anyway.  For challenging himself to be his best and go further than he would like to.  Don’t get me wrong…the kid is smart.  Brilliant in many ways.  But he is not a fan of public speaking so the fact that he was willing to present his project in front of the judge(s) put him in first place in my eyes.  He had already done the work, got a 99/100 on his project and the teachers at this school expect a lot…so that is no small feat.  He had the choice to participate in the actual fair.  He chose to.  And that makes me more proud than if he had actually won.  My boy is amazing.  I always knew he would be.  He shows us who he will be…we can expect all we want, but he will do things his way and he will shine.  He is the sun, moon and stars after all.

 So, for a kid this special….extreme chocolate cake is all that would do.  Now, I have told ya’ll I am baking impaired, but my baby (babies) see past that.  The cake was not pretty but it was so dang delicious.  Sometimes, things are not what they seem.  A child may seem quirky and odd but if you give them a chance, you see they are the brightest feather in your cap.  A cake may seem lopsided, crumbs in the icing, and as imperfect as can be…yet cut into it and it is the best thing you have ever tasted.  You just have to look beyond.  So, while I am quite certain this cake will turn out as pretty as it is delicious, for me it is the opposite.  This cake was as moist and delicious as it was ugly.  But like my boy, I won just by baking it.  Sometimes, win or lose…you just have to show up.  Word. ~AMB

Image

Quirks and all…this kid has got it going on!

Image

Be still my heart…precious boy

Image

 

Image

Celebration cake baby!!!  

Extreme Chocolate Cake aka Celebration Cake  (adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com)

Stuff You Need:

For the cake:

2 cups white sugar

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup brewed strong coffee

For the icing:

3/4 cup butter (ya’ll know I don’t use margarine…real butter)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

5 1/3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Yields 1-3 layer 9-inch cake (original recipes calls for 4 layer…but I don’t slice cake horizontally…ain’t nobody got time for that..but feel free to do this is you want)

What to do with the stuff:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 3 9 inch cake pans.  

In a large bowl, or standing mixer bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.  Mix in eggs, milk, oil and vanilla.  Mix for 3 minutes with electric mixer or standing mixer.  Stir in the brewed coffee by hand (trust me).  Distribute the batter evenly among 3 cake pans.  Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

To make the icing…Cream butter in until light and fluffy.  Stir in the cocoa and powdered sugar ALTERNATING (this is in all caps because I missed this part of the recipe and there were issues…) with the milk and vanilla.  Beat until the consistency is just right for spreading.  Spread icing evenly between each luscious layer and then all over the tops and the sides.  Make sure you have a gallon of ice cold milk on hand because this cake demands you drink milk with it.  Get ready for your kids or family members or husband or neighbors to do celebration cake worthy things every week so you will make this cake more often.  Seriously…this is cake is worthy of any little celebration.  Bake one today!!!!  

Image

 

Me and my boy…I love him so…

Napolean House Po-boys and looking forward to sunnier days ahead…

Ya’ll are going to love me!!!  This is a pretty easy, makes in the crock pot and you come home to a wonderful smelling house and supper is almost ready.  How do you like me now?  I am giving ya’ll another ticket to New Orleans and ya’ll won’t even have to leave your house.  I mentioned my precious friend Angie in my post the other day I do believe.  She loves to cook, like me she cooks just about every night, and she doesn’t play around with so so recipes.  She goes full throttle, as a friend, mom, cook, you name it.  She is a little spitfire from Monroe but only small in stature.  Her personality is big.  I just absolutely love her.  She is hilarious, loves coffee and loves to text crazy emoticons that relate to whatever insane situation we have gotten ourselves into at the moment.  Like me, she loves Doxies.  In fact, she spawned my insane love of Doxies.  So as you can see, we have lots in common.  A few months after we met, she emailed this recipe to me.  My first thought was, “um yum!!” and also “sister is my kind of girl”.  I mean, willing to share a family recipe and such a fab one at that.  So, we became fast friends as did our kiddos and I am blessed to have her in my life.  First time I made this recipe, we were blown away.  It was “wow.  just wow”.  This is an authentic recipe and makes excellent, just like the French Quarter, poboy.  Obviously I need to take a trip to NOLA soon because this is the second copycat NOLA restaurant recipe I have made and posted this past week.  NOLA is calling I suppose.

I won’t go into much detail but lately Angie’s daughter has been having a few health issues.  They have been in and out of the hospital.  As a friend, it has been hard to watch.  But not nearly as hard as I imagine it has been on them to have to stay in the hospital and to watch her daughter endure all that she has.  Or for C to endure the poking, prodding and testing.  But they have.  As a friend, it has been hard not to see them.  I miss my friend.  My kids miss their friend.  Something we thought was only temporary has turned into a a more lengthy battle.  We cannot see them because sweet C cannot be around anyone who might have some sort of illness and with 4 school aged kids, my kids could have who the heck knows what.  So, we talk when we can and text when the mood strikes.  C is going to eventually be ok but it will be a long road.  Angie is a tough woman and I know she can endure, but my heart hurts for them.  It is kind of like all of this crazy winter weather.  Though we have not been hit with any blizzards or extreme cold, it has been cold enough for us here in the South.  Some of us even have some white stuff they call Sneaux on the ground (not us here in Shreveport because of some sort of freaky weather bubble but that is a topic for another time).  Just like the snow will melt, the ground will thaw, and the cold will turn to warm spring air, C’s body will get stronger and normal life will eventually resume.  The kids will be running and playing, jumping in the pool and sunning themselves on the deck while Angie and I chit chat and drink cup after cup of coffee. Sometimes I guess, you have to just hunker down, pray hard, and have faith.  That bodies will heal and that the sun will eventually shine again.  Endure the hard times by leaning on friends and when things are good, appreciating those good times.  And those people you enjoy them with.  Share good recipes and laugh.  Count your blessings and know that normalcy is a blessing.  Day to day life, though sometimes boring, is pretty perfect as is.  So just like Angie shared this wonderful recipe that forged a forever bond between us, I will extend this recipe to you.  Because that is just what we do.

Image

Ready to enjoy some fun in the sun with my friend again…soon.  I miss her face.  

Jim’s Version of Napolean House Po-boys 

Stuff You Need:

3 pound chuck roast (must be chuck)

flour

salt and pepper

canola oil

1 cup chicken broth or stock

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

melted butter

garlic powder

creole mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato (depending on how you want yours’ dressed)

loaf of french bread

What to do with the stuff:

Season flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge roast in seasoned flour.  Heat canola oil in a large cast iron skillet and then brown roast on all sides.  Put roast in 6.5 quart crock pot.  Now, add the remaining seasoned flour to the remaining oil in the skillet.  You are kind of making up a little roux.  If you don’t have enough oil left, just add a little.  You want to make a paste.  Now, whisk in the chicken stock and deglaze the pan.  You want to pick up all the little browned bits at the bottom of the skillet.  Now, pour all of this over the roast that is in the crock pot.  Lay the thinly sliced garlic over this.  Cook on low all day or until the roast is tender and you have a nice gravy.  You can shred the meat or slice it, whichever you rather.

Now, slice the French bread horizontally.  Pour the melted butter over the open loaf.  Sprinkle with garlic powder.  Turn broiler on low and slightly toast the bread until the edges are browned.  Make sure you watch the bread as it can go from perfectly browned to burnt quickly!!!  Cut loaf in half vertically to make 2 sandwiches or cut into smaller pieces to serve more. Spread mayo and or creole mustard over one half of the bread.  Spoon beef and gravy over the other half of the bread.  Top with  lettuce and sliced tomatoes if you want yours’ fully dressed.  Enjoy this delicious taste of New Orleans.  Don’t forget the napkins, ma cher!!!  C’est ci bon baby.

Image

Dredged in seasoned flour and ready for browning…gonna be good yeah.  MMMMMM!!!  

Beignets…the real deal

Ok a few things.  The other day I  am scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and I see The Sweet and Savory Sisters’ recipe for real authentic beignets. Not fried biscuits…beignets  out of made from scratch batter.  The real deal.  The full enchilada.     Well, the deal was sealed and I knew right then and there that those babies would be on our table at some point this weekend.  We all love Cafe Du Monde, right?  It is the quintessential NOLA experience.  Well, these babies will take you there.  If you have never been, first of all, bless your heart because you are missing out and second of all, the taste of these beignets very closely mimics theirs’.  Now, naturally, the ambiance that makes Cafe Du Monde what it is, is missing.  But with a plateful of these and a cup of cafe au lait, you can almost close your eyes and make believe.  They are that good.  The almond extract makes all the difference, much to my surprise.  This recipe is very simple and quick to pull together.  You just need basic ingredients and cooking oil.  I had an oil thermometer and it really made the job super easy.  Your oil needs to be at 375 degrees and stay there as consistently as possible.   My beignets came out perfectly browned and ready for all that delicious powdered sugar.  I am pretty sure these will be a Sunday morning tradition in our house from here on out.  And I hate to fry.  So for me to say this, it tells you how little trouble these were.  I encourage you to bring a little bit of NOLA home, no matter where you live.  On a spring day, when the birds are chirping and the morning air is a little crisp, you will almost swear you can hear the jazz music and the church bells ringing at St. Louis Cathedral (you can tell I have usually been to Cafe Du Monde on Sunday mornings).  And best of all…you don’t have to wait for a table!  Get the powdered sugar ya’ll…it is time for some beignets!

Now, the other thing is that I love the Sweet and Savory Sisters.  These girls have roots in Avoyelles Parish, which makes them just a little more precious to my heart.  My good friend, Angie, turned me on to them.  Like with many of my good friendships, Angie and I both love to cook and she loves good recipes.  I knew we were destined to be close when she barely knew me and emailed me a recipe for the best roast for poboys I have ever had.  Makes a poboy so close to the ones in NOLA that you will swoon.  You will want to slap your mama even if she is the most precious lady you know.  So, she continued to forward me their recipes.  I finally started getting their Facebook feed…that was a game changer.  These girls are flipping hilarious, love to cook and have a good time, yeah Cher!!  My kind of chicks.  So, maybe check them out.

Watermarked Photo (27)

the grease is gettin’ hot baby!

Beignets (from http://www.thesweetandsavorysisters.com)

Stuff You Need:

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon almond flavoring

3 cups of all purpose flour

2 Tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

oil for frying

powdered sugar

What to do with the Stuff:

Mix water, milk, egg, and almond flavoring.  Add flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar; mix until smooth.  Drop by spoonfuls into 2 inches of grease heated to 375 degrees.  Turn once to ensure even cooking.  Cook about 2 minutes on each side, depending on size it may take longer.  Drain well on paper towels and sprinkle (ok..douse) with powdered sugar.  OOOOH WEEEE!!!  Talk about good!!!

Watermarked Photo (26)

Mixing up that sweet beignet batter…

Watermarked Photo (25)

Just scrumptious…bringing NOLA home 

Linguine Casserole…

I love a nice comforting casserole.  Know what I love even more?  A comforting casserole that comes together in about an hour…from start to finish.  This one DEFINITELY falls into both categories.  I made duck gumbo for Big Daddy the other night and it was delicious.  Yesterday, I knew it was time for a lovely low maintenance casserole.  I was on Pinterest yesterday morning and came across this little beauty and knew I had found our supper for the night.  I bought the few extra ingredients I needed to make this and was all set and ready to go.  Then I went to get my hair done (not lady of leisure here my friends…it had to happen.  I had a unibrow and my hair looked insane.  I looked like I was kin to cousin It.) and rushed to do a few more errands and then to pick up my kiddos.  Of course, some days, okay more often than not, when they get in the car it is like getting a bunch of ping pong balls in a mini van that all bounce of each other and the windows.  Well you get the point.  Everyone wants to talk at once (which is a good thing, but it overwhelms me) and they have done their best to do well in school all day and be nice so they unleash their beast upon one another (and or me) and some days, honestly, I want to turn around and bring them back to school.  So I get the hungry, tired, cranky fussy things home and feed them a snack.  And oversee homework x 4.  I was ready to be done already.  I know, I know…it is wrong to feel this way.  I had missed them all day and was so happy to see their faces and hear about their day.  But those are real feelings and I did not feel like making supper.  But the little people and their daddy wanted to eat.  Somehow this keeps happening every night around 5:30.  Ha ha!!!  So, I rose to the challenge and forged ahead with making this casserole.  Even after all of that, it was so easy to put together.  And then the smell of this casserole filled the air and it drew everyone to the kitchen in anticipation of something warm to put in their bellies.  Peace was restored.  My kids were perfectly behaved and ate this with gusto.  Then I woke up from my dream.  What?  It isn’t a magic casserole people. Yeah, not exactly, but this was one heck of a wonderful meal.  My baby boy at two plates of it, but he truly will eat almost anything  Now, the others were not interested.  But Big Daddy (who is not really a cheesy pasta person) LOVED IT!!!   This is like a souped up, extra decadent mac and cheese with some ham thrown in for good measure.  Seriously guys, it is yummy all up in your tummy.  It calls for very few ingredients, but the result is rich and delicious.

Comforting Creamy Linguine Casserole (adapted from Julie’s Eats and Treats at http://www.julieseatsandtreats.com/2011/03/linguine-casserole/)

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cook Time:  45 minutes

Serves: 6

Stuff You Need:

8 oz. of linguine, cooked (linguine is the perfect pasta for this dish and this is half of a box/package…just a little FYI)

3 cloves of garlic, minced (that is 1 1/2 tsp. of the minced garlic in a jar)

2 cups cubed, fully cooked lean ham

1 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese, divided

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

What to do with the Stuff:

Prepare a 9 x 13 dish by spraying it with some cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook linguine according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  In a bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of the Swiss Cheese, and all other remaining ingredients together.  Stir in cooked pasta and stir to coat.   Pour into prepared casserole dish and cover with foil.  Cook for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven, remove foil and sprinkle with remaining shredded Swiss.  Return casserole to the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and the casserole is all bubbly and you just want to grab a fork and eat it straight from the dish.  It is done.

Image

Comforting casserole indeed.  You will LOVE it!!! 

Image

Me…without the unibrow and cousin It hair…thank heavens.

Cherry Danish Cookies aka Little Bites of Heaven

These are little bites of heaven I tell ya’ll.  When I saw this recipe come across my Pinterest feed the other day, I knew I would have to give them a try, even though I am baking impaired and have difficulty with any kind of dessert that requires me to make dough and then roll it out.  I love Six Sister’s Stuff recipes and have had lots of success with them.  If you don’t follow their blog, you should.  They are sisters who share a blog and stay connected through blogging recipes.   Having 3 sisters myself, I can definitely relate.  We all love to cook and when I make a recipe that one of them gave me in the past, or we enjoyed together, I feel a connection with them no matter where they are or how long it has been since I have seen them.  It is funny how a special recipe can do that.  How words written on a page can transcend space and time and bring you right back to a special time?  I love that about recipes.  So I really love Six Sisters’ Stuff and enjoy their recipes.  This is one that they posted and they were dead on about how these taste exactly like a cherry Danish, but in bite sized form.  They are so delicious and not hard at all to put together.  You need to make the dough ahead of time as it is best to let it chill in the fridge for a few hours at least.  It makes it much easier to work with.  After that though, there is not much to it.  And for me, the non Martha Stewart, to say this…you should know I mean that.  I am easily intimidated by dough and this is totally doable.  My two princesses and I were left to our own devices this weekend (heaven forbid) while the boys went hunting.  Somehow, we muddled through.  We made up a batch of these tasty treats and we enjoyed the results.  We did manage to save some for the boys though.  We are sweet like that.  But not nearly as sweet as these little gems.  So, if you love Danish, you definitely want to give these a try.  I think you will be happy with the results!!! ~AMB

Cherry Danish Cookies (adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff http://www.sixsisterstuff.com

Stuff you Need:

Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 Tablespoon milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 can cherry pie filling

For Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons milk

What to Do with the Stuff:

For the Cookies:

In a large bowl or bowl of your standing mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese, milk and sugar.  Beat in egg yolk.  In a medium size bowl, combine flour and baking powder.  Gradually add flour mixture into the butter cream cheese mixture, beating after each addition to make a stiff dough.  Cover with saran wrap and allow the dough to chill  in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.  As I said, the dough is easier to work with when it is chilled.

Once dough has chilled, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a pasty mat, roll out dough to about 1/4 ” thickness.  Using a 2 ” round cutter, cut out the rounds of dough.  Make an indention in the center of each circle, and add about 1 tsp. of cherry pie filling (I am trying blueberry as well next time…mix it up a bit) to the center.  Place each one on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Cool completely before drizzling with glaze.

For Glaze:

Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk.  If it is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.  If it is too thick, add a little milk.  You get the idea.  Now, in the original recipe, they say some nonsense about adding the glaze to a sandwich bag and snipping a little corner off to drizzle the glaze over the cookies.  Ummm…Cajun Mama ain’t got time for that.  Or maybe I am too lazy.  Either way, I got some glaze on my little whisk and then kind of tapped it on the edge of the bowl and then kind of waved my whisk over the cookies like it was a magic wand and the glaze was fairy dust.  I was the powerful Princess Glaze and those cookies were my royal subjects.  Ha ha!!!  Spending all weekend with just my girls has obviously given me a princess complex.  What’s a Mama to do?  Anyway, this method worked just fine for me.  Feel free to do your thing!!  As long as that glaze gets on those little bites of heaven, your work here is done.

Image

Heaven on Earth I tell you!!!  Little bites of Cherry Danish heaven.  

Buffalo chicken bites

I am a sucker for anything buffalo chicken flavored.   I could drink Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce, I do believe.  I love that buffalo chicken dip.  So, the other day when I came across a recipe for mini buffalo chicken pies, I knew I had to try them.  Until I read the recipe and something clicked in my brain.  I realized I could probably do my own thing and create a version I would rather.  Maybe some of you too.  Mission accomplished, my friends.  That’s right…just like Tom Cruise in those movies I have never seen because I am a chick flick kind of gal, I have done it.  Pretty sure I accomplished something way more fantastic than Mr. Cruise ever did.  No offense Tom, but if you want to come over here and try some of these little darlins, feel free.  I bet they will make you jump on my couch!!!  Hee hee hee!  Ya’ll know I am silly.  Anyway, ya’ll…these are some kind of delicious.  What I managed to make are poppable little buffalo bites that melt in your mouth after doing a little dance in there.  And I thought they were pretty too when it was all said and done.  So thank you to my friends as Bisquick for giving me a little jumping off point, but I do believe I took it a little further, went the distance and came out in a blaze of culinary greatness.  They shall crown me Queen of the Buffalo…wait…do I want to be the Queen of the Buffalo?  Sounds about right.  Anywho, I digress.  Without further ado, I give you a recipe straight out of Cajun Mama’s kitchen!!  Now, please know I have only made these once and while caught up in the culinary creative process, I may have left something out…so please let me know how these work for you.  And when I make them again, I will make sure about measurements and such.  Next up, I am making some Thai Chicken bites.  Yes, you heard me.  Thai is my other favorite flavor and it has to be done.  So stay tuned.  I hope you will give these a go.  They would be perfect for your Super Bowl Sunday spread.~AMB

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Stuff you need:

1 8 oz. block of cream cheese, softened

1 box of phyllo dough, separated and defrosted

1/3 cup of Frank’s buffalo wing sauce, plus more for drizzling

1/4 cup bleu cheese dressing (I used Marzetti’s…the kind that is found in the produce section in the short squatty bottle…it is so creamy and good)

1-2 Tablespoon of ranch dressing (I use Hidden Valley)

a little less than 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

3 Tablespoons  bleu cheese crumbles, plus more for topping the bites after they come out of the oven

1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken

2 green onions, green parts only, chopped

What to do with the Stuff:

Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 350.   Lay out the defrosted phyllo dough, separated into sheets on a cutting board.  Using a pizza cutter, cut  the phyllo dough into about 2-3 ” squares.  Now, I learned I needed to kind of stretch out the dough before placing it into the muffin cups.  It helps the dough to not puff up so much.  Since it is puff pastry dough, it is only doing its job but this way you get the yummy dough, without so much puffiness.   Place a square over each muffin cup.  I used a pastry tamper thingy (not the technical name) to press the dough into the muffin cup, but you can use your clean hands.   Place them into your preheated oven for about 5 minutes.  You don’t want to cook them completely, but you want them to pre cook I guess.  They will finish cooking once that luscious filling is in there.

Watermarked Photo (20)

 

Get the idea?  I thought a nice visual may help.

In a medium sized bowl, combine cream cheese and Frank’s hot sauce until creamy.  Next add the other ingredients and stir well until combined.  Now, using a  small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop some of the filling into your pre baked phyllo dough cups.  You may have some filling leftover.  I used that to make my buffalo chicken stuffed mushrooms (recipe coming soon) but you can always make more of these if you want and have phyllo dough leftover.  You want the filling to come just about even to the tops of the cups or maybe a little bit over.  Not piled too high though.  Now, slip these babies back into the oven and let them cook until the cups are golden brown and the filling is all bubbly.  About 5 more minutes.   When they come out of the oven,  sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. of bleu cheese crumbles over each cup and then drizzle a little Frank’s buffalo sauce over each one.  Let them cool for about 10 minutes and then transfer to a serving plate.  If they last that long.  (Cue evil laughter…muahhahahahahaha!)  Enjoy my little buffalo chicken lovers!!!

photo (53)

 

Oh poppable, savory little bites inside a tasty pastry dough cup…I love you.  Get in my belly!!

Crawfish Casserole

Boy do I have a treat for ya’ll today!!!  My sister came across this little gem several years ago and it has been tucked away in my favorites box for a while.  You know how you find a new favorite and you cook it for everyone you know and then forget about it?  That is what happened with this recipe.  It is absolutely delicious and very simple to prepare, but I forgot about and since it is Festival Season in Louisiana, I decided it was time it made a comeback.  I write the food column for a local magazine, Red River Moms, it is called Cajun Mama Cooks and this is one of the recipes I put in the February issue.  It will quickly become one of your family favorites.  The results are so lip smacking, a mouthful of flavor and a taste that is pure Louisiana.  If you don’t live in our wonderful state, you can make this casserole and make do like you are here.  I really hope you will give this one a try, it is truly a favorite in my household and it should not be tucked away in a recipe box.  It should be shared and enjoyed and celebrated…so I hope you do just that! ~ AMB

 

Crawfish casserole 
Serves 6-8Ingredients 

1/2 cup butter
2 (12 oz.) bags of seasoning blend (frozen vegetables aisle)
1 tsp. or two cloves minced garlic 
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 lb. crawfish tails with fat
1 1/2 cooked rice 
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs 
4 tablespoons dried parsley 
1/4-1/2 cup shredded cheddar 

Directions 

-Cook rice and set aside. 
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees 
-In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté seasoning blend until tender. Add garlic a few minutes before the other veggies are completely tender. Stir in soups and crawfish tails, fat and all.  Let this simmer a few minutes. Stir in cooked rice, breadcrumbs and parsley. Feel free to add a little more rice if you feel it needs it. Transfer to an oven safe 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top. Bake for about 25 minutes or until bubbly. 
-season with Tony’s or salt and pepper to taste 

 

Image

 

You should make this…you really, really should.  

Crawfish Corn Crab Bisque and Everyone has an opinion…

So I am definitely going to give you a recipe that you are going to really love.  Or I hope you love.  You may hate it.  I really cannot be sure.  If I worried about if 100% of people who follow my blog would dig every recipe I posted, I would probably be frozen by worry and never post anything.  And this is how I will lead into something that has been on my mind this morning.  For no particular reason except we live in a world of over opinionated, vocal people.  It seems some days everyone is a critic.  Or wait, is that everyday?  And in our social media connected world, we are bombarded by how many likes for this posts, different groups swaying us to one side or the other.  Or the worst…people putting down entire groups of people.  To vaccinate our kids or not?  To breastfeed or not?  Pro life or not?  You know what I mean.I was going to just simply give you a lovely intro into corn crab bisque and then deliver the recipe.  I had another post all started.  But I decided, heck, everything else is controversial…I bet bisque can be too.  I love the word bisque.  I think it sounds pretty.  I like most words that are also words that describe colors.  I love color, so this makes sense.  And as I type this, I am betting when someone reads it they will think…that’s stupid.  Eye roll.  That’s ok.  I do it too.  I read people’s stuff and even when I really like them or appreciate what they are writing, a certain sentence annoys me.  But you know what?  I do not feel the need to tell them this.  I move along.  My opinion is important…to me.  Maybe to Big Daddy.  Some days.  I am pretty sure he is rolling his eyes inwardly much of the time I am yammering on about this or that.  Don’t get me started on my kids.  I think they hear dolphin squeaks when I say anything other than “candy, cake, bouncy house…” you get the picture.  See, someone once told me something. I found it highly crass at the time, but that was back when I was sure my opinion mattered all day, every day.  As a woman approaching her 40’s, I know now…it does not.  And that is fine.  Anyway, he said “opinions are like buttholes, everybody’s got one” (he actually said the other word but I know my audience and some of you all may not like that.  So fair enough) That is so true.  Everyone is a critic.  I am a VERY opinionated person.  Some of you who know me well already know this.  But if  you know me via Facebook or on my blog or on my Cajun Mama page…I hope you don’t see that.  Most of the time, I have strong feelings one or the other on most topics.  The difference is…I don’t share them most of the time.  I try not to.  My daddy taught me at a young age that you never speak of religion or money in mixed company.  That was back in the 80’s when those were the main hot topics.  Now hot topics range from abortion, home schooling, breastfeeding, vaccinations, vegan, working out every day, spanking, time out.  Every conversation is a virtual landmine of controversy these days.  I refuse to engage.  I know my feelings about these things, and sometimes I don’t.  I have many deep conversations with close friends about their viewpoints.  But since our whole lives are an open forum…Facebook, Twitter, and other forums I have not even tapped into yet…I choose to use caution.  I don’t have to share my unsolicited opinion on any topic.  I find it wise not to.  Of course unless asked.  Even then, I tread lightly.  I try really hard not to judge or point fingers because another thing I learned long ago when I was in my social work methods class was “when you have one finger pointed, you always 3 others pointed back”.  I have tried really hard to live my life focusing my energy and attention on the 3 pointed back at me.  Self awareness is key in this over opinionated world we live in.  I mean, when I scroll through my Facebook feed, and I see people judging other people’s GRAMMAR or making comments about bandwagon Saints fans…I roll my eyes.  I think those two things are the DUMBEST thing ever.  Do we not have anything else to worry about?  I DO NOT share my opinion or tell someone else that they are silly for even posting such nonsense.  Why?  Because I am wise enough to know, those same people probably think some of the stuff I post is nonsense.  Fair enough.  So you do your thing and I will do mine.  I am assuming when we get to the pearly gates, our opinions on most of  these topics will not be factored in.  Only how we treated one another.  So I focus on respecting your opinion.  I pray you will respect mine.

Ok…whew.  For those who like bisque, are interesting in trying bisque…I hope you are still with me.  Cajun Mama likes to talk so forgive me.  This recipe for Crawfish Corn Crab bisque is delightful.  That’s right.  DE-LIGHTFUL.  It can be a wonderful starter for a meal you are making, or it can stand alone with a salad and a warm loaf of French bread.  Ya’ll know I am a sucker for a versatile dish and this one fits that bill.  You can change it up as you choose.  You can omit crawfish tails and add shrimp.  You could just use crab meat.  Add more spice if you wish.  Make it your own.  What I love about this soup is how hearty and creamy this soup is.  It melts in your mouth like butter.  Big Daddy got this recipe from a gentleman who works for Tony Chachere’s and he brought it home from the hunting camp and said I needed to try it asap.  So I indulged him.  Oh my.  It was wow.  Just wow.  And at the time my tootie girl was about 4 and she loved it.  And my little bull in my china shop loved it.  2 out of 4 kiddos eating a dish is pretty good around here…so it is definitely something your kiddos may love.  I know there are many recipes for corn crab bisque or chowder going around.  This is by far the easiest and the best…in my opinion.  LOL!!!  Now, the only glitch is, this recipe calls for a product that can be hard to find.  I had to order a case from Amazon.  But I am going to give ya’ll an alternative and also show you what the product container looks like.  It is Tony Chachere’s Cream of Mushroom Mix.  I am sure it was developed by the Tony’s people to use to promote this product.  It is some good stuff and 1/2 cup mixed with milk can be used in a recipe that calls for cream of mushroom soup.  Definitely good stuff to have around if you can find it.

Crawfish, Corn and Crabmeat Bisque

Stuff you need:

4 Tablespoons butter (the real stuff whenever possible people)

1 large onion, diced fine

1-15 oz. can cream style corn

1 quart of half and half (that’s the tall one)

1 pound peeled deveined shrimp OR 1 lb. crawfish tails

1/2 pound (1- 8 ounce block) Swiss cheese, shredded

3 Tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Cream of Mushroom Mix

OR  about 1/2 can of cream of mushroom soup

1-10 3/4 ounce cream of potato soup

1 lb. lump crab meat

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

3 green onion tops, chopped

In a 3 quart pot, melt butter and add onion.  Saute until tender.  Whisk in Cream of mushroom mix to make a blond roux.  Ok, if you cannot find the mix, what I could do here is add in 3 Tablespoons of flour and continue on (later you will add in that half a can of cream of mushroom).  Add corn, soups (cream of potato if you have the mix, both a can of cream of potato and 1/2 can of cream of mushroom if you don’t), half and half, crab meat, shrimp and or crawfish.  Bring this to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat.  Stir in grated Swiss, parsley and green oninos.  Season to taste with Tony’s Seasoning or Mexi-Cajun Seasoning (I love that stuff in this with the Tony’s.  A little of this and that…yum!!)  Remove from heat and serve.  This yields about 12 servings…or 6 servings if you are serving some hungry Cajuns.  Bahahaha!!!  True Dat!

Image

My bowl of bliss…mmmmmmm