Loretta’s corn salad

So Big Daddy is a Farm Bureau insurance agent. They are an amazing company with a reputation for excellent personal customer service. The people who work for FB are mostly just good people. Good ole folks. From the secretaries, to the managers, to the agents and the adjusters. They are family people who are hardworking and sincerely just want to help. Naturally, the secretaries there need to be extra hard working and amazing because they deal with the public and are the right hands of the agents. When BD started working there many years ago, he had an amazing secretary who is so amazing and still such a big part of our lives, it would be wrong not to mention Renee. She is an amazing cook and I imagine I have several of her recipes to share. She moved and took another job with a different agency, but still Farm Bureau. Love us some Renee and no one can replace her. She delivers a big sack of Christmas goodies to BD every year and he cannot wait to tear into them. In fact the other morning as he was brewing his coffee, he asks me if I could make some cinnamon bread (coffee cake) and I was all like “um…who do I look like? Renee?” I am not sure even if I had her exact recipe (Renee? Can I have it?) I could make mine as good as her’s. She is a great cook, baker, friend, mom and grandmother and I am not sure I qualify. So when she left, we wondered if they would ever get another amazing secretary. There have been some good ones in between but one day, Loretta walks in and BD knew. She was going to be great. And she is. Now there are 2 great secretaries. Big shout out to my girl Tanya…the Desoto Parish FB cake baker!!

Boy is Loretta ever amazing. Our kids adore her. She babysits them and they push us out the door. She is hilarious, big hearted and has a big laugh that makes you smile when you hear it. She keeps a tree in her house that she decorates even in the summer. She is one of a kind. We love us some Loretta. So one year, they had an agency Thanksgiving feast (pretty sure Loretta made that happen) and she made chicken and dressing (omg so good…recipe to be shared later) and a corn salad that made me want to do a happy dance. So so so so good. She emailed me the recipe in time for Christmas that year and I made a batch. It is perfect. I made so much though that we had a ton leftover. So BD took the rest to Bayou LaGrue and it was gone that night after dinner.
So cut to last week and BD tells me he signed me up to make Loretta’s corn salad for their upcoming agency feast. I was a little annoyed to be honest. Like “who do I look like, Loretta?! That is her signature dish!! I cannot do it justice!” I mean, I am supposed to make her dish for her?! What!? But then I remembered I am a food blogger, dang it and my readers might love this recipe. So I will make it and blog the recipe and it will be ok. And it was. And now we have corn salad for their office feast and some for our family dinner. Score! This recipe is a winner. It is fresh and tangy but sweet. It’s just a great fresh side for any meal. It provides some lovely colors for your plate (my mama taught me that was important so I try to make sure our plate is colorful). I think you will love it and I am pretty sure it will be a mainstay for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners and many meals in between. Loretta is not great at giving exact measurements in her recipes (none of the great cooks are) so I am having to improvise. You can half the recipe or you can add to it depending on how many folks you are feeding (I am channeling my inner Loretta here). You will love this recipe and if you know Loretta or ever meet her, you will love her too. Thank God for Loretta (and her corn salad recipe). Love you Lolo!

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Loretta and her hubby, Ken

Loretta’s corn salad

serves a bunch of folks…like 12

stuff you need

2 cans Mexican corn, drained
2 cans shoe peg corn, drained
4 carrots, peeled, halved and chopped 2 stalks celery, sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used green because that is what I had but the red adds color)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained (optional)
1 zucchini, halved and then chopped
1 small purple onion, diced
1 cup grape seed oil
1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper

what to do with the stuff

Ok, add all the veggies into a big bowl. Simple enough. Cover and put in fridge until the dressing is cooled.

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love all the colors!

Now, In a small saucepan, bring grape seed oil, vinegar and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, whisk fairly consistently
while the mixture boils for about 4-5 minutes. The sugar should be completely dissolved or almost anyway. Like this…

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keep whisking if the sugar is still stuck at the bottom.

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ah whisk it, whisk it real good! Chi chi chi chi chi chi chi

Allow the mixture to cool. Pour over corn salad and stir in between pours. Add as much of the mixture as you think is good. Those fresh veggies should be good and evenly covered with that sweet dressing. Yum. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and black pepper for some kick and there you have it!!!

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Sweet corn salad full of fresh veggie goodness…you are so perfect

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my awesome readers. I don’t claim to know much, but I do know how important you reading what I write means to me. I appreciate your support, your comments, your encouragement and you just being along for the ride with me. I am grateful for all of you. And so much more. Hope your turkey day is wonderful and full of joy and blessings. When I count my blessings, I count you twice. Much love from my family to yours. ~AMB

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a few of my top blessings at the tree farm yesterday. If local, check out http://www.weaverschristmastreefarm.com. It’s a great experience that you will want to make a family tradition.

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My handsome Farm Bureau agent helping get our tree at the tree farm. I am grateful for such a strong sweet husband. Love that man.

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so grateful for this fur baby. He has the big job of healing hurts and bringing joy…and he does fine. We love him so.

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Susan’s baked rice

I came across this recipe the other day when I was on Facebook. I have told y’all about the Sweet and Savory Sisters before but in case you missed it…they have some really yummy recipes and my friend Angie turned me on to them. They are hilarious and just lots of fun and know all about good food! This recipe definitely qualifies as good food. Trust me on that. It is so easy and requires no fancy ingredients. I made up a batch last weekend when Big Daddy smoked a pork shoulder. It went so well with that smoked meat. I always make savory mushroom brown rice but this one is definitely a new option I will make more often. I have no clue who Susan is but let me say thank you Susan! Your rice is awesome!

Susan’s baked rice http://www.sweetandsavorysisters.com

stuff you need~

1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
6 tablespoons butter (original recipe calls for a whole stick but I decided to see if I could use less. I did and it was still delish!)
4-6 chicken bouillon cubes (I used Knorr brand and they are bigger. I used 3 of them)
1 cup uncooked white rice
2 cups water
Black pepper to taste

what to do with the stuff~
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
Melt butter in a skillet and then sauté the veggies until tender. Add the bouillon cubes and stir as they dissolve in the buttery vegetable mixture. You will know you are doing it right because the aroma will make your mouth water. Stir in rice and water and stir to combine. Pour this into your prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle some good ole black pepper on top and then cover with foil. Bake for about an hour until all that chicken buttery goodness bakes into that rice and it combines to make an irresistible rice dish and the rice is tender.
Mine took about 45 minutes to bake and be fully cooked. Adjust accordingly for your oven’s cook time. A truly delicious rice dish that will knock your socks off!!

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sautéing veggies in that butter…this is key

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stir in the water and rice

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ready to pop into the oven

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finished product. Holy yum!!!

Crockpot week extended because life gets in the way…beef and broccoli and heaven in a crockpot

Another week has flown by and I have not been feeling the whole cooking thing lately. Crockpot, microwave, on the stove or otherwise…not. feeling. it. Shame on me I know, but it is what it is. So I knew I needed to get these crockpot recipes posted. I mean…as it is crockpot week has gone into crockpot month. It’s time. I know it’s time. So this past weekend I decided the week of Thanksgiving was likely the perfect time to trot these crockpot recipes out because who wants to cook a bunch of other meals before taking on the mother of all meals? The beast. So crockpot cooking all week before sounded fine to me. Plus we will all have to pick up the pace in the coming weeks as the holiday madness engulfs us, despite some of our best efforts. So Saturday evening, I set heaven in a crockpot to cook in the crockpot (quite aptly named, I can say that) and took the roast out of the freezer so I could put the beef for the beef and broccoli to cook the next morning.
Well, little did I know how very glad I would be to have done that. I have not seen Momou in a while and I was yearning to see her. Needed to see her face. I was missing her, badly. So Sunday morning, I woke up and decided that was the day I would make the trek to AP to see her. Me and my kiddos. Plus, we would get to stop in Alex. to see my mom and dad. Awesome!!! BD was at Bayou LaGrue chasing after the ever elusive buck for the weekend and it was rainy and nasty, we were stuck inside anyhow…let’s do this! So we did. I left T-Roy in the hands of a good friend and her son…so I knew he would be happy. It was go time. But before leaving, I got that beef simmering away in the crockpot. I am not always a super duper planner…but I was on it that day. It was super easy to throw together. And off to AP we went.
Here’s a few pictures from our Sunday…it’s amazing what all you can get done while the slow cooker cooks supper for you!!

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You can take a ride with a friend

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you can take a nap

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you can visit one of your favorite people

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you can make silly faces

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you can pick pecans with your grandmother

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you can take selfies with your parents

See what I mean…I am 2 hours away and still supper was cooking. Thank you crockpot with a timer!!!

Ok now let’s get down to the brass tacks. The nitty gritty. The bare bones. Enough enough…here comes the recipes!! Both are very delicious and defy the laws of slow cooking. Are there laws? Idk. I thought it sounded good. The point is…they are both really yummy and absolutely worth the little time it takes to toss it all in. Tis the season to be crazy and tis the season to let the slow cooker do all the work!

Slow cooker Beef and broccoli

*I doubled the ingredients for the sauce but I am giving you the original recipe as I found it on http://www.worldsbestrecipes4utoday.blogspot.com

sltuff you need~

1 pound boneless beef chuck roast cut into 1 inch strips (I could not find one that small, so I used a 2 pound roast…not an issue)
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 heads of broccoli cut into florets (more if desired…definitely add 2 heads and if you use a 2 pound roast use 3)
2 tablespoons of cooled sauce from the crockpot
Hot cooked rice

What to do with the stuff~

Toss the beef into your slow cooker. For this I used my 4.5 quart slow cooker. In a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, broth, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil. Whisk together….

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And then pour over the beef. Cook on low for about 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

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everyone say it with me…set it and forget it!!! Now pack the kids in the car and head to Avoyelles!!

Ok once the beef is good and tender, take a spoon and add some of that liquid to a bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch. Remember if you doubled the sauce ingredient amounts, then double this as well.

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Now pour this mixture back into the slow cooker. Give it a stir. Now, add your broccoli florets to the mix. Cook on low for another 30 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice. And you are golden.

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might tasty my friends

Heaven in a crockpot (from http://www.recipe-diaries.com

Stuff you need~

1 box brownie mix (regular not family size is what I used)
1 package Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
4 large eggs
1/2 cup butter (I stick), melted

what to do with the stuff~

Pour all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined. Pour into a greased slow cooker. For this I used my 3 1/2 quart slow cooker (I think that is the size, either 3 or 3 1/2 quart). Cook for about 3 hours. Mine took 3 1/2 hours. Serve alone or a la mode. Vanilla ice cream. A drizzle of chocolate sauce and a sprinkling of chocolate chips (my oldest’s words exactly…he has a way with words…and has had some awesome schooling in the ELA department). Heaven I tell you. Yes heaven. Makes you make a face that looks like this…

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silly girl

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swoon worthy…or is it spoon worthy?

S’mores pie and winning

So lately I have been trying hard to come back from a few bad weeks. Losing our dog has been a hard hit to come back after and it seems like the tidal wave of crap just kept coming. I kept trying to maintain a positive attitude and thinking to myself “oh i will come back from this. Next week…that’s my week.” Yeah. No. It has not happened. It seems like life has been an uphill battle and frankly ya’ll, my legs were getting tired. A few of my kids have been struggling in school, in different ways. It has been emotionally exhausting for me (and them). There have been days where I have been like “come on!! You are kidding me right?!” But no kidding. Totally serious. It has been jacked up. I have been praying and trusting in God’s plan and then worrying some and then praying more. Luckily, as I have said before and it bears repeating, my kids go to an excellent school. More than that, they go to a school where they are loved, their individual personalities are respected and even coaxed out and praised. Everyone there is loving and kind and does their best to meet the needs of each and every child. Even with that assurance, which usually is enough for me, I was struggling. How can I help? What can I do?
But today ya’ll…today was a good day. It just was. Even with one kid calling for me to come get her because she was not feeling well, it has been a good day. It felt like I got to coast some. No biking uphill. Just riding along. I am aware that not every day can be this way. I am aware that with 4 kids so close in age, I kind of sent calm and serene days packing a few years ago. But I wonder if my friends with 1,2 or 3 kids or kids well spread out with the recommended 2 1/2 years between kids, have it any easier more often than me? I don’t think so. Because being a parent is hard, no matter how many kids you have. And no matter how many you have, some days are rewarding. You pick them up and they are smiling. A teacher gives you a thumbs up (they are awesome teachers I tell you) and all is well for a little while. Because some days you really need that win. We all do. Today I had mine. Hoping tomorrow might be half as good.
Now, speaking of wins today…this s’mores pie can definitely be considered a win. Major win folks. MAJOR! It is a ooey, gooey, melty delight and takes exactly like a s’more…only better because every bite has some marshmallow, graham cracker and melted chocolate in it. Yes. S’more perfection. Everyone in our house loved it, even my picky boy. He tried to resist but I got him to try a bite. He then at two servings . Enough said. So no matter the bad days, no matter the epic fails, when you make this pie…you are winning. And you count the little wins along the way…those matter too. But s’more good days please, if I may!!! ~AMB

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sinus infection, feeling cruddy but looking sassy. Tiny win.

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my baby loves
To read…win

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he tried it. He liked it. No loved it. Win.

S’more pie (adapted from http://www.tastykitchen.com)

Stuff you need~

1 stick real butter , softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I used Keebler brand)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (7 ounce) container marshmallow fluff
8 Hershey chocolate bars, broken into pieces
1 cup marshmallows
1/4 -1/2 cup chocolate chips

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Now, add in vanilla. Next, stir in flour, graham cracker crumbs, and baking powder. It will be a crumbly sticky mess. That’s ok.

Now spray a 9 inch pie plate with cooking spray.
Divide the crumbly sticky mess. Take one half and press into greased pie plate. Press it all over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. I used my roller thingy (dough roller I think) to help it press more easily. You could also flour your hands well when working with this dough. I would recommend that. This is the hardest part of this journey.

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Next smooth the jar of marshmallow fluff all over the dough layer. The whole jar. You heard me.

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the whole jar baby. Oh yeah.

Now, lay the chocolate bar pieces all over the fluff layer. Pay special attention to neatness and perfect patterning here. (I am so kidding. Nobody cares.)

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it’s all very precise. Not.

Now, sprinkle marshmallows over
the chocolate pieces.

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Now, press the remaining half of the dough over the marshmallows. This is not an exact process and the marshmallows will poke through. It’s all good ya’ll. Sprinkle the chocolate chips all over the top. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the marshmallows have a slightly browned look to them (I baked mine about 25 minutes.) Yum. Wow. Get the milk. It’s rich and hard to resist. You’re welcome. Tanya at Tasty Kitchen is a genius. Enjoy!!!

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WIN

Christmas cookie baking for lazy chicks

So it seems everywhere I go, the stores, around town, on Facebook…signs of Christmas coming are everywhere. Just last week, Big Daddy and I took the kiddos to the lighting of the Louisiana Boardwalk Christmas tree. It marks the beginning of the holiday season for us and the weather made it that much more festive. It’s been a wee bit chilly around here…will all over the country. Mother Nature is showing her powers off in a major way lately. Go for it sister. But all of this cold and Christmas everywhere (not to mention always being a month ahead cooking wise due to writing the food column for Red River Moms) puts a gal in a Christmas cookie baking mood a little
earlier than normal.
I have told ya’ll before that I am a cook, but not so much a baker. So when my editor for RRM asked me for Christmas cookie recipes for the December column, my first instinct was to panic! Then I recalled these recipes that I had pulled off in the past with rave reviews and I calmed down. Of course these are no Martha Stewart recipes but that is one of their main selling points. I have no time for fancy cookie baking ya’ll. If I actually get to attend a cookie exchange (BD is out of town a good bit this time of year) I certainly don’t have time to bake complicated cookie recipes. These are fun, easy, and come out delicious!! I hope you will be inspired to branch out and try these if you have not already. They will be a hit with your family, at the next cookie exchange and especially with the big man dressed in red on Christmas Eve. If I can bake these, you definitely can!! ~AMB

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all bundled up

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even T-Roy is getting in the spirit (ha ha!)

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never gets old

Andes mint cookies

Makes about 15-20 cookies

stuff you need~
1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 package Andes mints (1 per cookie)

What to do with the stuff~
Add cake mix, egg, and oil to a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Place on a silicone lined or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 8-9 minutes. Do not over bake. Take a large cooking spoon and gently smash the cooked balls down. It will just flatten them. Place an unwrapped Andes mint on each cookie. Kind of swirl it around with the back of a table spoon as it melts to sort of ice each cookie. Allow to cool completely before transferring.

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don’t they look delectable?

Rollo stuffed snickerdoodles

Makes about 24 cookies

Stuff you need~

1 package snickerdoodle precut dough (break and bake) or 1 recipe of your favorite snickerdoodle dough (show off!!)
1 package rollos (need one for each piece of dough)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break dough into individual squares. On a floured surface, flatten a square of dough until it is about 2 inches wide. Place an unwrapped rollo in the center. Fold the snickerdoodle dough around the rollo. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Do this with each square. Work quickly because once you flatten the dough it gets hard to work with quickly. Place in preheated oven and bake about 8-10 minutes.
TIP–allow the cookies to cool completely before you transfer them. Once cool, carefully transfer from the baking sheet to a plate. I turn them over where the bottom is facing up because the caramel is melted and ooey gooey and can make a hole in the bottom of the cookie.

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that’s some cookie perfection right there

Peanut butter blossoms

Stuff you need~

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups baking mix
Sugar
Package of milk chocolate Hershey kisses

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and mix until well combined. Stir in vanilla extract. Add in baking mix and blend well. Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, roll dough into 1 inch balls. Add some sugar to a plate and roll each ball of dough in the sugar. Place on silicone mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using your thumb (or your kiddos can do this part), make an indention in the dough. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Once you remove the cookies from the oven, place an unwrapped Hershey kiss in the indention.

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old school but so easy and delicious

Slow cooker chicken potpie stew…the madness continues

Ever have those days where you just feel disgruntled, annoyed, bothered by the slightest thing? Yeah that’s me today. And I am not even sure why. I am blessed. I wake up each day knowing this. I try to have an attitude of gratitude and a positive outlook but somedays I just feel…Blah. Ugh. Yuck. My youngest started crying in the car on the way to school saying that his stomach hurt. Let me add that he was up in the middle of the night saying the same thing. But he is a mediocre sleeper at best unless he is our bed, so let’s not get all alarmed here. We have struggled with this issue since he was a baby and I try my best to take it in stride. This is not me seeking sleep training advice because I would likely not take it. I have tried. BD has his opinions on it, my in laws have their opinions on it, my friends have their opinions on it…I guess we will do what we are doing until we do something else. Yeah I know…logical right? And then the puppy had his own sleep issues last night and I was just keyed up in general despite being exhausted. Anyway, back to today. He cries all the way to school, much to the annoyance of his siblings…and me. He is not a complainer usually. So I believed his tummy hurt but at the same time he is a kid and kids can be manipulative when they want to get their way. I am annoyed at the prospect of him staying home. I want some time to be alone and get stuff done. I admit it. It’s purely selfish on my part. Sometimes being a mom and a wife and pet owner and the other roles I love and chose gets to be too much. I admit this. So here I am, faced with this screaming child after a night of less than great sleep and I just felt…defeated. So we pull up at carpool drop off. The big kids get out in the back. Then I drive up to the front to let Goose out and hopefully Pappy. Goose gets out. He acts like he is going to get out and then comes up to the front of the van and just lays his head on my shoulder and cries. What do you do? The faculty that helps kids out are all like family and they come check on him. No. He is not having it. So I pull up to get out of the way. And I give myself a reality check. “What’s it gonna hurt if he misses a day of school? He is in 1st grade. Life has gone by way too fast as it is and somedays I start to miss the days gone by. When it was he and I running errands and he took naps and life was simple. I am not one to long for days gone by much because well it does no good and also I know in my heart that life has to move forward. So today, I gave in. Against my better judgement and knowing how badly I needed some quiet, I gave in. Because I know from experience it will not always be this easy to allow him to miss, school gets harder and the stakes are higher the older they get. So today, despite the exhaustion and frustration, the downsides to being a harried, frazzled, overwhelmed mom, I am in this moment. It looks sort of like this…
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And also a little like this…

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it’s a hot mess over here

So one thing that brings me hope and allows me to feel less frazzled is knowing that my lovely crockpot aka Big Red will be cooking supper for me tonight. That way I can wash the peed on sheets, clean up the doggy accident, and the other array of cleaning jobs that need to be done around here and my family will get fed tonight. I have been wanting to make this chicken potpie stew for the longest time. The only thing that has stopped me is that my kids love the Bisquick potpie and I hardly vary. Here is the recipe in case you are interested..https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2014/03/28/bisquick-chicken-potpie/. My oldest, is particularly set in his ways, has been resistant to me trying this recipe BUT we took them to a fundraiser at Cane’s last night for their school and the deal was if I took them last night, he would try the potpie stew tonight. So the day has come!!! It
Is cooking away happily right now, making the house smell so warm and homey. I will let ya’ll know the final verdict tomorrow and post a pic, but for now I will post the recipe. I found the recipe on http://www.allrecipes.com. After reading the comments, I took a few culinary liberties and made a few changes. We shall see. But the veggies are a part of the package and it is served over good ole buttermilk biscuits. I fail to see how this can go wrong.

Slow cooker chicken potpie stew

Stuff you need~

3 chicken beasts, cubed up
2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans of cream of chicken soup
2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans of cream of celery soup
2 chicken bouillon cubes
3 carrots, sliced and then quartered
1 cup diced celery
8-10 small cubed red potatoes
1/2-1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 (10 ounce) packages frozen mixed vegetables
Black pepper (optional)

What to do with the stuff

Add soups, bouillon cubes, carrots, potatoes, celery, cubed chicken and garlic powder to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low for approximately 5 hours. Stir in frozen veggies and cook about another hour. Serve over freshly baked buttermilk biscuits. I am using the frozen Grands biscuits but you can use the canned ones as well. Or bake your own…if you are that good and have the time. Lol! I am not that good. Enjoy!!

Update–this was absolutely delicious!!! It was a hit at our house!!

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Bread Pudding with brandy butter sauce

So more than a few years ago, Big Daddy introduced me to his mama’s posse of Broussard/Youngsville friends. You see, Big Papa used to run coops and after they left the Bayou Rapides coop, he was moved to the coop in Youngsville. Now, I had met Mrs. Linda and Mrs. Sandra and Mrs. Peggy (the Broussard posse) but when Big Daddy and I started dating, they kind of took me under their wing and told me all the things that Mrs. Dianne would have told me. For instance, Big Daddy’s favorite dessert since childhood (banana bars…recipe will come), memories from his years in Broussard and so on. They kind of filled in the gaps because though I had always known him, I had missed out on his day to day life and some things a mama only knows…well her and her posse. Mrs. Linda taught me how to make sausage gravy for Big daddy’s biscuits, Mrs. Sandra taught me all about jelly roll pans and banana bars, so on and so forth. They are some lovely ladies but that comes as no surprise. Mrs. Dianne was a pretty fabulous lady herself and was smart enough to surround herself with equally fabulous friends. My mama is one of them…so it’s only fair to say. She also had her Keithville posse…the woman had some good friends. So one day as we are discussing recipes, Mrs. Sandra whips out this recipe for bread pudding. It comes from Pascal’s Manal Restaurant in Nola. I have never been there and I cannot remember if Mrs. Sandra had but she raved about this bread pudding and it sounded just fine to me. At this point I was in college and I fail to remember if I summoned the courage to try to make it (I think I did) but several years later when I started preparing Christmas dinner, I made this for dessert. It is a sumptuous dessert worthy of a holiday meal. It draws oohs and aahs and will make you a star. Well maybe not a star but you will be loved by your family even more than before. That’s never bad. Even my friend Tim who I say is fairly hard to impress could not resist this bread pudding. It’s pretty dang fabulous. It does make a quite a bit of bread pudding, but if you are making it for a holiday meal, I promise it will not go to waste. The recipe is not hard but it requires large amounts of staple ingredients. That’s the beauty of it…it is so simple and requires basic ingredients and turns them into this out of this world dessert. You’ll see.

Bread Pudding

Serves 15 or more

Stuff you need~

3 loaves of French bread
1/2 gallon or 8 cups of whole milk
10 eggs
2 sticks of butter, melted
3 ounces vanilla extract

What to do with the stuff~

Cut French bread into cubes.

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Toss french bread cubes into a big ole bowl. Pour the milk all over the French bread cubes. Let the milk soak into the bread. I usually let it soak an hour or two.

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Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl.

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Mix with your hands until blended. Pour into baking pan (not greased). I use two 9 x 13 baking dishes as I do not have a baking dish big enough to hold all this deliciousness. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the bread pudding is no longer soupy in the middle.

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for the topping

stuff you need~

3 ounces brandy
4 sticks of butter (or 1 pound), softened
1 cup sugar
2 ounces vanilla extract

Add butter and remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer. Mix until smooth. Pour over bread pudding. *side note…big daddy likes his brandy butter sauce melted a little before pouring. If the bread pudding is warm enough it will melt the topping quite nicely for you. So delicious ya’ll. Just. So. Delicious.

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Crockpot ribs…crazy crockpot week continues

So this is what I have to say about these ribs…the crockpot method worked really well. They were so fall off the bone tender it was crazy. Truly fabulous. I stuck them under the broiler for about 5 minutes after dousing them with our favorite barbecue sauce. That kind of caramelized them a bit. Now I bought beef ribs and I am not sure that was the best decision. They had an awful lot of fat on them and cooked down to almost nothing. The meat that was on there was so tender and tasty, but Big Daddy said it was like a game of hide and seek to find meat vs. fat. So next time I will be buying pork ribs. Likely country style spare ribs since you have to cut them up to fit them in the crock pot anyway. Those come separated and it will cut down on cook time. That leads me to another thing…I will use my bigger crockpot next time and double the ribs. But remember we have 6 people in our family and even my picky kid loved these ribs. So that’s my take. It was pretty awesome to have ribs ready in the crockpot and with some tweaking this will be a great day recipe. So day one of crazy crockpot week in my kitchen was a semi success. But most of all…people were fed. That’s what really counts.~AMB

Crockpot ribs

stuff you need~

3 pounds ribs (again I will choose country style pork ribs next time)
1 cup water
1/4 cup sherry cooking wine
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (plus more when they are done)
Kosher salt and black pepper

what to do with the stuff~

Again, I would use a 5-6 quart slow cooker even if you don’t double the recipe. The ribs are a little bulky and hard to fit in there even when cut up some. But use your judgement. Cut ribs to fit into crockpot. Pour water and cooking sherry into crockpot. Lay ribs in slow cooker. Sprinkle adequately with salt and pepper. Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs. Cook on low for about 7 hours. The meat will be falling off the bone when they are done. When they were tender, I removed them from the slow cooker with a pair of tongs and laid them in a 9 x 13 baking dish and the smothered them in our favorite barbecue sauce. Clay’s daddy (Big Papa) has a friend who makes some barbecue sauce that is out of this world. It’s a thinner tangier sauce which is what we love. Anyway, put under broiler on lo for about 5 minutes or so to give them a nice caramelized look. Delicious! Three cheers for ribs on Monday night. Yum!

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cannot wait until next time

Crazy Crockpot Week in Cajun mama’s kitchen…the grocery list!!!

So lately everything has been upside down, inside out, crazy, nuts, like living in the wonka factory…and frankly I am just done. Worn out. Slap worn out. Stick a fork in me, I’m done. But you know…with a hubby with a constant on the go job, 4 kids in school, 3 pets (one of them a new puppy), and everything else…I cannot ever be done even if I wanted to. Ya’ll know what I mean. And lately, the drudgery of life has gotten to me. Maybe it was losing my precious Toby or maybe it’s all the rushing I am doing, trying to fit it all in and make everyone happy…but I just feel so…Blah. I am assuming at least a few of you out there get what I mean? I need some inspiration. I need some time. I need some rest. I need some peace. I need less laundry, more reading a good book. Less time in the kitchen, more time chilling with the fam. I know every woman (and man) knows just what I mean. I need life to stop being so freaking busy and hard!!! How realistic is that though? I am nothing if not realistic and I am pretty sure life is not going to get easier or more calm. So I must adapt. I must pull up my big girl panties, pour a cup of coffee and get it done. So in my effort to find some me time (and you some you time) and still try to adequately meet the needs of my family (they do have to eat…), I decided it was high time for a crazy crockpot week in my kitchen. And maybe yours too. I like to think of cajun mama readers as a group, a team…so many of ya’ll are just like me, and I consider you friends, and I want to help you too. We can all benefit from less stress in the kitchen, right? (All together now!!) RIGHT!!! So here is the plan. I am posting the shopping list broken down by recipe. I don’t assume everyone will be into trying all 5 recipes so you can pick and choose. The idea though is to bring out our slow cookers, crockpots whatever and make life a little easier on ourselves. I scoured Pinterest for some really tasty and different slow cooker recipes that would offer a little variety for everyone. I am making one recipe each day. You can do it along with me or you can mix it up. I will post a recipe and then after it’s done, I will take pics and our opinion on it. I want to share first the list of stuff you need for the week, in case you want to buy the stuff and then start cooking!

Beef ribs in the crockpot

3 pounds beef ribs
Sherry cooking wine
Worcestershire sauce
Barbecue sauce

Chicken potpie stew
16 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables
1 pound chicken breasts
2 can cream of chicken
One chicken bullion cube
Can of Grands biscuits
Red potatoes

Beef and broccoli

1 pound chuck roast (I could not find one that small…I bought a 2 pound one and will either double the meat or cut in half and freeze the rest)
Cornstarch
Sesame oil
Head of Broccoli
Beef consommé
Garlic
Brown sugar
Soy sauce
Rice

steak and gravy

Family pack of cubed steak
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken and mushroom
1 packet onion soup mix (I am using beefy mushroom)

slow cooker lasagna soup

1 pound ground chuck
1 box hamburger helper lasagna
Mozzarella cheese
1 cup frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

heaven in a crockpot

1 package Betty Crocker brownie mix
1 pouch Betty Crocker chocolate chip cookie mix
4 eggs
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

There you have it! So get to the store and get your stuff and be ready for a little me/you/free time. It’s crazy crockpot week ya’ll and the livin is easy (easier I should say…easy is over…sigh.)

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