Cajun mama cleans too

So I cook. A lot. It would stand to reason that my oven gets dirty. Fast. Boy does it ever. And I hate to clean it. I shouldn’t say hate. Let’s say I strongly dislike cleaning my oven. Very strongly dislike. I also dislike my oven smoking like it is about to burst into flames any minute when I am baking something. The other day I had a kitchen full of peeps. It looked like this…
I love my kitchen being packed with friends and laughter…but if the oven starts smoking it is a bit too much

So I had just put the last batch of Pioneer Woman’s olive cheese bread…seriously like crack…it is addictive and it draws people to it like a cheesy savory magnet. Here is the recipe I had posted a while back… It’s good stuff y’all. But a few minutes after I put the last batch in, my oven started to smoke. When you have 20 + people in your house, in your kitchen, that is a little alarming. Yeah…I knew then it was time to clean the oven again. It’s funny now and thank heavens the smoke alarm did not go off. Ha ha!! But really. So yesterday I spent much of the day wrangling my youngest monkey (he is a cute little mess) and putting the house back together after all the fun from the night before. Cajun mama and friends can get down now. lol! I am working on a post including all the recipes from that night. Anyway, this morning I woke up and decided it was time to get ‘er done as BD and every other Southern male says from time to time. I strongly dislike oven cleaner so I don’t even have it. I am pretty sure I lose brain cells every time I use that stuff and frankly, I have lost enough during my fast track to motherhood. I will keep the ones I have thanks so much. Thanks to Pinterest, my go to cleaning ingredients are blue Dawn, vinegar and baking soda. I found a post that told me kind of how to use these ingredients to clean the oven. Here is that link But I just looked at ratio of ingredients and got to it. In a big plastic glad ware container I combined about 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup dawn. Those are guesstimates. Just combine and add more of one or other until you have a paste like substance. It’s not an exact science and you can do this.

my cleaning trifecta

Now just spread the paste all over the oven door and inside the oven. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. Use a sponge to about 10 minutes in to give it a good scrub. Then just leave it for about 20. Get back in there and scrub. Rinse your sponge in between. It is a pain to rinse it completely clean but it works. After I had gotten most of the grime cleaned up, I took a dry old towel and wiped up the wetness. Then I went back with a damp old rag and rinsed again. Then dry rag again. After it dries you may see some residue. Go back over it with a damp rag. I promise you it is mostly painless and your oven will be cleaner than when you started. I am not into perfection, I am mostly cool with good enough. Three cheers for good enough!!!!~AMB


much better. Good enough. Happy me


Mexican casserole and making it work

I love the man I am married to. Known as Clay, Big Daddy, my man, and other not so nice names somedays. Yikes. Yeah we are very different creatures who coexist quite peacefully most days. Emphasis on most days. We have been up. We have been down. We have been in between and at who really cares. Yeah. We are married sho nuff. I always think of my mom singing a line from a song “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” That should be the marriage theme song. Because it’s true. Now, I am not going to go on and on about marriage. We have only been doing this whole marriage thing for 13 years. I by no means claim to know what we are doing. But I do know a little about finding a happy medium. And trying to make it work. Trying people. Just trying. Doing little things that make his day that are not that big of a deal to me. Maybe they are a minor inconvenience but they make him happy. Like deer ground meat. Stay with me now. Yes, I am talking about ground meat. Made from deer. I must be honest and say…I am not a fan. I grew up with a daddy who hunted. We ate lots of game. Rather they did. I mostly refused. Maybe some chicken fried deer meat (but after a bad experience when I was pregnant with my Benny Boo, I swore off that stuff) but I didn’t do squirrel, rabbits, and lots of fish. Whether you consider me a Cajun or not, in our Avoyellian culture, it is customary to cook and eat many things that others might consider um…less than palatable. Lol. For instance, turtles. My daddy always went turtling during September. And he would come home and clean the turtle on Sunday when he got home. Our dog, Baby (yes I named her after the character on Dirty Dancing…I was 13…what can I say?) would drag the turtle shells all over the yard. It was so funny. Anyway, when daddy came home from turtling, I knew what that meant. He or my mom were gonna cook a mess of turtle. Yeah. Good times. I can still see those yellow eggs in the gravy and my parents looooved them. They were considered a delicacy. All I could say was “gag me with a major spoon.” No really. Gross. So after all the city boys I dated, I wound up marrying me a man who hunted. Though he has gone turtlin with daddy, turtles are not my problem. It’s deer ground meat people. So yesterday morning he says to me “baby I have got all this deer ground meat in the freezer that needs to be cooked. Can you work that into the menu?” Sigh. I dread those words. I admit that it is likely a mind over matter thing when it comes to eating game, but I just don’t care for it. In my mind, it does not taste the same and frankly I am not that big of a ground meat fan to begin with. So, I told him…take some of it out of the freezer and I will brown it and refreeze it. So, he did and tonight I was trying to think about what to make for supper. And I remembered I needed to brown that ground meat. Now, BD is a real trooper about trying my newfangled recipes and he gladly eats whatever I cook.
So I figured I owed him a meal with deer ground meat. It makes him happy and they all get fed. Score! And I do believe came up with a great recipe using deer ground meat (or regular ground meat) and they all LOVED IT!!! I hope y’all knew I would get around to a recipe at some point. Mexican casserole. Cheesy, filling and easy to pull together. I decided the general direction supper would take at 5:15 and it was ready by 6. All ingredients were in my pantry or fridge. Seriously a convenience recipe. My point in all of this rambling is…somehow day by day we make it work. Somedays are beautiful, somedays are ugly, and most days are just in between. Medium. Nothing fancy. Doing little kindnesses to keep each other happy. He makes my cup of coffee just like I like it or let’s me go over on the grocery budget (more often than not) without fussing because he knows it makes me happy to try these new recipes. I do things like cook (and eat) deer ground meat even though I could do without it. I am just fine with that. It’s called marriage. It’s not a perfect rose garden. It’s like a big patch of wildflowers. It’s all good…including this casserole!~AMB

he drives me around in the side by side at the camp and I take selfies of us or just take pics and talk. He’s happy and I’m happy. It works for us.

Making it work Mexican Casserole

serves 8

Stuff you need~

10 soft taco size flour tortillas divided
1 can Ranch style beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning
1 pound ground meat
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
*Optional–a small onion, diced
A can of corn, drained

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Brown the ground meat. If you are using the diced onion, put it in as well while browning ground meat. Drain.
Stir in ranch style beans, tomatoes (juice and all), and taco seasoning. Let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. *Add can of corn at this point too if you are using it. Tear the tortillas into smaller pieces. It does not have to be perfect. I just gather up a few and tear them in half, then in half again, and so on. Not super tiny pieces, but more bite sized. Layer half of the tortilla pieces on bottom of prepared baking dish. Now spoon half of your ground meat mixture over the tortillas. Now repeat once. Spread the can of cheddar cheese soup over the last layer of ground meat mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over this. Bake until the cheese is all bubbly and delicious looking. Yeah…about 20 minutes. Mmmmm that’s the stuff.

easy breezy beautiful….cover girl. Dinner is served. And it is good.