Old friends and new recipes in honor of Megan

So, on May 14, 2014, a friend of mine lost her sweet daughter in a tragic car accident.  Megan was 19 years old and had just returned from LSU after a busy semester at LSU.  She went to a party to reconnect with her friends also in from school for the summer.  It’s what those college kiddos do.  She left the party with a close friend and at some point, they hit a tree and the truck burst into flames.  Neither Megan or Blake survived the crash. Two lives cut short. Two families left to grieve. Megan leaves behind her precious mother, Crissy, her dad and two brothers.  Not to mention countless family members and good friends she made during her all too brief journey on this Earth.  I met Crissy when she was a teacher at the school my kids attend.  She had been there since my oldest started and she was always so kind and welcoming to me.  She is the kind of lady who has never met a stranger.  Her blue eyes are always bright and she has smile is on her face.  Much like the pictures I have seen of Megan recently.  Both the kind of girls who never met a stranger.  Loved by all who meet them.  So, when I heard of Megan’s passing, I immediately texted Crissy to lend my support.  It does not matter how close you are to someone or how long it has been since you have seen them, when someone loses their child, it is almost instinctual to run to them and protect them. Be there. I have always been a big believer in do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Well, naturally I made up a pot of red beans and brought them over. Crissy being the kind of lady she is, invited me and the kiddos right in. She had family visiting and I did not want to intrude, but she would not have it. She wanted to visit and see the kids. This is just the kind of lady that she is. So we went on her back porch and visited. I was so glad to spend some time with such a lovely lady that I had only really had a chance to interact with in passing at the school. The first thing she said was “I have peace. I know my baby girl lived right. She is ok.” It broke my heart and made me smile at the same time. And I knew then, I wanted to do more. I could do more. When someone is grieving, they will either want to turn into themselves and be alone (understandable) or reach out to others. Crissy being the social butterfly that she is, I wanted to make sure she had plenty of people to reach out to. Sometimes, there are no friends like old friends, and at our school, we are like family. Chrissy has been a teacher for almost 30 years and many of those were spent at our school. So I thought, why not invite some of the parents and teachers who knew her well and would like to offer their support to her in one place. So I did.

It wasn’t hard at all and everyone was eager to surround their dear friend during a hard time. The evening started about 3 in the afternoon and did not end completely until 9:30 that night. Many people brought some stuff and I provided some goodies as well. Crissy got to see some friends she had not seen in a while or at the least had not visited with in a while. It was a lovely thing to behold. The food was delicious but the friendship was the sweetest thing of all. Some of her former students came out and even though we were gathered together to grieve with our friend, there was much more laughter through the tears than anything. (As Truvy says “laughter through tears, it’s my favorite emotion!) There were bittersweet
memories of days gone by, fun stories about Megan, whose spirit was as much alive in my home as any one’s. By the end of the evening, I felt like I got to know that sweet girl and her mama just a little better. Not to sound cheesy but the whole evening was like a big hug. I am glad I took a chance and put forth the effort.

Though I did it for her, in many ways, I gained most of all. I got to be a part of something that was there before me, the bonds that were established long before I even had my first baby, much less had any in school. And I got to experience first hand, the power of female friendships and the almost healing qualities the presence of a good old friend can have. It was a blessing and I am better for it. I am glad I took the risk, rather than thinking about it and then letting the moment pass. Or being afraid of making her uncomfortable by suggesting it. Sometimes, it is best to take the risk.

Here is an article that one of Megan’s friends wrote about her…a lovely tribute to an even lovelier girl.
http://theodysseyonline.com/lsu/up-up-and-away-tragedy/42052

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these ladies have weathered many storms together

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that’s a lot of love in one room

Now, of course this Cajun mama is not going to have a get together without making up a few yummy treats and this time was no exception. I am posting all of the recipes that I prepared that evening in this post. The best part is that you can do many of the steps ahead of time (read-the day before) so the day of the party or get together is not so stressful. It definitely made my life easier, especially since the kids had just gotten out of school for the summer. Take a minute and check out these recipes. Here are the recipes…they were all a big hit!!!

Party punch

Here is the link to the original
post I came across~ http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/19163/luscious-slush-punch?crlt.pid=camp.ZlETKOGDC2KC

Stuff you need~
Original recipe yields 50 servings 
2 1/2 cups white sugar 
6 cups of water
2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry jello mix
1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice
2/3 cup of lemon juice (bottled is fine)
1 quart of orange juice 
2 (2 liter) bottles of lemon lime soda 
What to do with the stuff~
In a large saucepan, bring water, sugar and jello mix to a boil. Allow to boil for about 3 minutes. Stir in the pineapple juice, lemon juice and orange juice. Allow to cool somewhat. Pour into two separate containers and freeze. When ready to use, defrost one container somewhat (I soaked mine in a lukewarm water bath for a few minutes and then took an ice pick to it to break it up and make it easier to pour) Pour into a punch bowl, followed by one of the 2 liter bottles of lemon lime soda. When ready, do the same thing with the other container and 2 liter of soda. It will go fast. This stuff is amazing!!! Spiked or served as is, this is one heck of a party punch!!

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Cherry cheesecake dip
http://aspottedpony.com/recipies/cherry-cheesecake-dip-fun-family-valentines-day-dessert/4959/

Stuff you need~
1-8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
1-7 ounce jar marshmallow fluff
2-8 ounce containers Cool Whip
2-21 ounce cans cherry pie filling
Package or 2 of graham crackers

What to do with the stuff~
In the bowl of your standing mixer or a mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff together until smooth. Next fold in one container of Cool Whip at a time. Pour this mixture into a large pie plate.
Cover this with the cherry pie filling. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers for dipping. Scrumptious!

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Texas trash dip
Stuff you need~

1-8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
1-8 ounce container sour cream
2-16 ounce cans of refried beans
1 package taco seasoning*
2 cups shredded cheddar jack cheese, divided

*or you can make your own…https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2014/06/10/homemade-tacoburrito-seasoning-and-an-awesome-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe-and-low-expectations/

what to do with the stuff
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix sour cream and cream cheese until smooth and well…creamy. LOL. Next, stir in both cans of refried beans until well combined. Finally, stir in taco seasoning until blended well. Pour mixture into a 9 X 13 inch dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and bake in oven until cheese is all melted and bubbly and mixture is heated through, about 25-30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips. Muy delicioso!

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Seriously this stuff is addictive

Thick fudge brownies
Excellent recipe from~
http://www.mandysrecipeboxblog.com/2014/03/thick-fudge-brownies.html?m=1

Stuff you need~

for brownies:
1 family size box milk chocolate brownie mix
1 family size box dark chocolate brownie mix
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted (12 tablespoons)
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

for frosting:
1 1/2 sticks butter or 12 tablespoons
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the Hershey’s stuff)
1/2 cup milk
5 cups powdered sugar

What to do with the stuff~
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch brownie pan or plain old baking dish with foil (trust me).
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the brownies together with a WOODEN spoon until completely mixed together. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes or until edges pull away from the pan and/or a wooden toothpick stuck in the middle comes out with no batter. Allow to cool while you whip up the frosting.
To prepare the frosting…melt the butter in a saucepan on medium low heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and milk. Cook until mixture begins to thicken a bit and just comes to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Pour the frosting onto the brownies and working quickly, smooth over the brownies. It will be fairly thick. That’s good. Refrigerate the pan of iced brownies to allow the frosting to set.
*Mandy (original blogger) makes sure to note that these are thick brownies and a little goes a long way. Cut into smaller squares. Absolutely sinful!!

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you will be glad to share these babies. They go fast and it’s a good thing. Because you will want to eat them all!

Southern Living Tangy Tzatziki pasta salad

http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/tangy-tzatziki-pasta-salad-50400000121663/

This makes a very light pasta salad with a deliciously tangy twist. It is a great vegetarian option at an potluck or party. You need to start this the night before the party.

Stuff you need~

1-16 ounce container plain non fat Greek yogurt
1/4 olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves minced, or 1 1/2 teaspoon of the jarred minced garlic
1-16 ounce package penne pasta, cooked al dente, drained and rinsed with cool water
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
3 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and diced
3/4 sun dried tomatoes, in oil, drained and roughly chopped*
1-9.9 ounce, marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

*I found these in Target, near the jarred minced garlic.

What to do with the stuff~

In a food processor, pulse first 7 ingredients for about 30 seconds or until well blended. Put in a bowl and cover. Chill overnight. (Minimum 1 hour but longer overnight to let flavors blend together).
The next day, place cooled pasta in a large bowl. Add chopped olives, diced cucumbers, chopped artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes to the pasta. I used to my (clean) hands to toss this pasta with the veggies. It was awkward using a spoon, if that makes sense. Next, pour yogurt mixture over the pasta and blend well. Gently stir in feta cheese.
Chill for at least one hour. Serve. I served mine in a trifle bowl and it worked great! Added something extra to my party table. 🙂

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so cool, light and creamy…a nice addition to any summertime potluck or party.

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Megan and her sweet mama, Crissy

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me and my sweet friend

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