Chicken and cabbage stir fry and the family that gets sick together…drives each other crazy

So we have been sick in the cajun mama household. Looking around, I know it could be so much worse, but I will straight up say, 4 sick kids and a sick mama es no bueno. My youngest started running fever on Christmas Day and it just sort of spiraled from there. We fell like neatly placed dominoes. Christmas 2015…the Christmas of the fonk. But truthfully it was so much more than that. Even in the hazy eyes of the after illness, in my cough syrup induced haze, I know it’s not all that bad. And bad moments don’t make a bad life. Having some time together (albeit time where everyone is coughing and a little cranky) has not been so bad. There has been some cabin fever, lots of eye rolling, some “get out of my face!” And “mama he Is coughing on me!!” But we have also had lots of family time to take naps…

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Dress the dog up in scarves…

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Play games…and pose for selfies…

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Have group discussions…

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Choreograph dances…

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And get lots of puppy kisses…

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So all in all, we have been pretty lucky. We have all been together and we have laughed a lot. I can honestly say one thing that has not happened a lot is cooking. Whatever we had left us with little appetite. It’s been lots of cereal and sandwiches around here. But the other day, my best friend posted a link to a recipe for cabbage and chicken stir fry and I had to make it. Nearly everyone in our family loves cabbage and it is super cheap, so that makes it a great option! The recipe came from http://www.pomanmeals.com and I really like this blog. This cabbage and chicken stir fry was absolutely lip smacking de-licious! Now, I kind of added a few things and I will give you the recipe the way I made it, but I wanted to make sure ya’ll got the original website, because I must always give credit where credit is due. If you love cabbage and you love stir fry, try this recipe. I am telling you…you will be so happy you did. I ate it for breakfast this morning ya’ll. It’s that good!!

Cabbage and chicken stir fry

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons canola oil
3 chicken breasts, cut up into cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 head of cabbage, cut up into chunks
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, cut into large chunks
1 carrot, peeled and cut diagonally into large chunks
Chicken stock
Cornstarch OR Tony’s instant roux*

*If you don’t have this stuff…get some! My daddy swears by it at the camp and BD came home after a stay at the camp and said “must have this stuff! Your daddy loves it!!”

What to do with the stuff~

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the warmed up oil. Now sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Just let the chicken brown on one side. don’t disturb it for a few minutes. This gives it that nice stir fried effect. After one side is done, I flipped it with a spatula and Cooked the other side. I did not mess with it much.

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Ok, now you may need to work in batches as to not overfill the skillet. The chicken cooks quickly So it’s not a big deal. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.

Next add the butter to your skillet. Let it melt. Toss in the garlic, the carrots and onion. Let them cook a few minutes, and then add in the cabbage. Don’t stir much so the cabbage stays crisp and does not turn to mush. Using a spoon and spatula I kind of tossed the cabbage around, making sure it all gets in that butter. Just cook for about 5-10 minutes as cabbage becomes tender crisp. You can add a little salt and pepper here as well. Be judicious with your salt addition though (I am sensitive to salty flavors and don’t use a bunch so maybe you need or like more. Do your thing. You are your own boss!)
Next, I removed the veggies from the pot. I just placed them in a bowl and set aside. I added in my chicken stock. Now what I used was Knorr concentrated stock. I keep this stuff on hand all the time. I diluted with a cup of water. Let it come to a boil and then sprinkle in about 1 tablespoon of Tony’s instant roux. Cook over medium high heat and whisk well. Let the sauce cook down for a few minutes or until it is thickened up some. Add veggies and chicken to this yummy sauce. Serve over hot cooked brown or white rice. Plum larapin’ as my daddy would say.

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as delicious as I imagined it would be

Since this is New Year’s Eve, I want to take a moment, on my last post of 2014, to say I wish you and yours an abundance of blessings in the coming year. I look forward to sharing plenty of tales from the trenches and the kitchen. So much inspiration for tastier food and an abundant life, right where we are. No need to go to a restaurant to eat good every night. We can keep it simple, keep it real and eat good (and for less!!) at home. Not every night because that is no fun (and completely unrealistic) but more often than not. There are so many recipes for us to share…so enjoy your New Year’s Eve and I will see ya’ll back here sooner than later in cajun mama’s kitchen for some more inspiration. Thank you for reading along and letting me be a part of your life and for being a part of mine. More of that in 2015 please. Happy new year.

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The Great Goetz cheeseball and our wonderful beach friends

So last summer we went to the beach. It was a wonderful vacation and we made so many great memories. We also made some good friends. Yeah, you heard me. We went to Florida and made friends with a family from Kentucky. Naturally we spent most of our days on the beach. My youngest is a friendly fellow and he started playing with a kid who was around his age. Big Daddy and I started talking to his parents who were sitting nearby and it just snowballed from the there.

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our sweet boys

They were actually staying in the condos next door to us but we managed to meet up at the beach every day. L and N became fast friends and the rest of our families followed suit. Sometimes in life, I believe, some things are just meant to be. Us meeting the Goetz family is one of those predestined meetings that is just a blessing. The mama, Kari, is the sweetest woman with the prettiest smile and we instantly hit it off. Their other son, J, and their daddy, Marty also followed suit with the rest of the family. We just really hit it off. My sweet baby turned 6 while we were there and the Goetz family came to our condo for cake.

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I usually would not just take to people like that, but something about them just drew us to them. Seriously the sweetest family we have come across in a long time. So Kari and I became friends on Facebook and she started following my Cajun Mama Cooks Facebook page. It’s so nice that we are able to be a part of one another’s life and share day to day stuff when we can. Kari, being the sweet lady she is, was kind enough to send me a few of her favorite recipes and this cheeseball was one of them.

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me and my sweet friend

Last night while I was in Kroger picking up sliced mushrooms for the other cheeseball, I decided to go on and get the fixins for the Great Goetz cheeseball and boy am I glad. It is 10 kind of delicious and though I already had many reasons to be glad to be friends with Kari, that cheeseball just seals the deal. It is sweet and tangy and oh so easy to prepare. It really such a yummy treat!!! I cannot wait to bring it to the Christmas Eve soiree we are going to tonight (with another friend who God blessed me with).

So thank you, sweet friend, for blessing me with your friendship and for this recipe. Our meeting at the beach was no accident and I am so blessed to call you my friend.

To all of my readers out there, you reading this post is a blessing as well. Wherever you are, you continue to bless me by tuning in to read what I write. I look forward to getting to know each of you better in the coming year and sharing more recipes with you. I don’t believe in accidents and most situations are predestined for all of us, there is a reason for it all. I hope your Christmas is magical, filled with happy memories, beautiful friends, and delicious treats. Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

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one of our recent family pictures. Photo courtesy of Heather Wilkinson photography. http://www.heatherwilkinsonphotography.com

The Great Goetz cheeseball recipe

makes 2 cheeseballs

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Stuff you need~

4 cups finely shredded cheese
2 cups mayo (Recipe called for Hellman’s but I am a Duke’s girl)
1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 jar of Major Grey’s chutney *
1 pound bacon, fried until crispy and then broken up into smaller pieces

*the chutney is usually found on the top shelf in the condiments aisle. Now the major grey kind was in that section of Kroger’s. They also had another brand on the jelly aisle. Just a little FYI.

what to do with the stuff~

THE DAY BEFORE YOU WILL SERVE IT, mix together in a large mixing bowl, the shredded cheese, mayo, salt and green onion.

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Divide the mixture into two balls. What I did was just shape it into a ball as best I could (it held its shape fairly well)

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Now I just spread the chutney over the top and sides of the cheeseballs. Next, just sprinkle the crispy fried bacon all over the balls. Let it sit overnight. I am sure you could wait until right before you are serving the cheeseballs to do that last part. I went on and did it so I could get a photo. Serve with Ritz crackers.

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have cheeseball, will travel

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beach friends are some of the best friends

Top secret, super yummy cheeseball recipe aka your mama’s cheeseball

Don’t ya’ll love my fancy name for tonight’s recipe? It’s super creative. Ha ha! But really, I am a straightforward gal who calls it like it is…and this cheeseball IS super yummy. I have, more often than not, had an ornament exchange in some form or fashion since I got married. The guests have changed some what and some have stayed the same, but it has been around in some form. It’s always fun, it’s always a potluck, and we always have a great time. Back when the kiddos were really little, one of BD’s secretaries brought a cheeseball that everyone absolutely went crazy over. I had frankly, not had much experience with the cheeseball. Crazy, right? But it is true. Sigh. Anyway, that cheeseball was always the hit of the potluck and everyone wanted the recipe. She gave it to me once and I quickly scribbled it down between breast feedings and bath times in a little notebook I had back then. She was always reluctant to share the recipe (hence the top secret part), and I have been respectful of that. Then I searched for it on google because I could not find my paper scrap the recipe was written on and well…it is everywhere. So the cat is out of the bag and recipes are meant for sharing. So share I shall. It’s very delicious and will be a major hit at any party you bring it to. We are going to a friend’s house for Christmas Eve and I am bringing cheeseballs. That’s right. Multiple. I will give you this one tonight and then the other tomorrow.
This recipe came together really quickly and the ingredients are not complicate. Just make it the night before so the ball has a chance to form and the flavors can really mix and mingle (in a jingling beat…that’s the jingle bell rock…oops sorry. I love Christmas does that to me.)

Top secret super yummy cheeseball

Stuff you need~

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 jar dried beef
2 bunches green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Accent (yes good ole MSG)
1 can mushrooms, stems and pieces

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I never thought I would be photographing a jar of dried beef…

What to do with the stuff~

Add your softened cream cheese to a mixing bowl or bowl of your standing mixer. Give your dried beef a good nice chop.

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Toss that into your mixing bowl. Drain the mushrooms and then give them a what the Pioneer Woman calls a rough chop.

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Add those babies to the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer on and give it a few quick spins. Just let the ingredients in there mix in. Now add in your chopped green onions. Sprinkle in the Accent. Yes this stuff is pure MSG. I don’t often say hey let’s just add some straight up msg to our recipe, but this cheeseball is so good, I will allow it.
Now, mix at low speed for a minute or two then kick it up to high. Mix well.

Now lay a nice size piece of Saran Wrap on your countertop. Take half of the cheeseball mixture and put it in the middle of the plastic wrap. Like this…

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Ok now roll the cheeseball mixture up in the plastic wrap. Try to shape it into a ball as well as you can .

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excuse my countertops…it’s a hot mess. Clutter is my enemy!!

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nice ball-ish shape

Do the same thing with the other half of the cheese mixture. Allow both cheeseballs to refrigerate overnight. Serve with wheat thins or wheat townhouse crackers. Yum!

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you never know who is going to show up in the kitchen at Christmas time…my sweet Rudolph

Thin mint crackers

The recipe I have for you today is a fast easy treat you can make in a flash for incoming guests or package in a festive treat bag for a last minute homemade gift for someone.

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see what I mean? I got these treat bags from target. Easy breezy beautiful cover girl.

Ok so this sweet and salty concoction is my friend Alayna’s brainchild, as far as I know. As a matter a fact, there are some parallels between Alayna and these crackers. Funny but true! Alayna has a dry wit that can slice through the wind, but she has the kindest most loyal heart of nearly anyone I know. I am definitely better for having her in my life. She is the same Alayna that gave me my favorite cornbread recipe.

One year, the kids and I went over to her house for a play date and Christmas treat making session. She taught me how to make these and I pretty much make them every year. Big Daddy loves these and calls them homemade thin mints. It’s crazy how much a salty cracker dipped in melted chocolate tastes so good. These also make really good treats to have on hand for any Christmas festivities you host in your home. Keep them in the fridge and set out when you need them. I am telling you, they make any occasion just that much more festive. Like yesterday, a few good friends came over for an impromptu ornament exchange. I set these out and they were very well received. Most of all, we just laughed a lot. That was the best part.

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I love these ladies. They keep me laughing. Our kids all go to school together and I am so blessed to know them.

Ok so now down to the business of making these sweet and salty treats. These chocolate chips are easy to find at this time of year, but any other time you will not likely find them. Alayna taught me to buy a few bags and freeze what I did not use. It’s the smart thing to do. That chick knows her stuff. ~AMB

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this is what the package looks like

Thin mint crackers

Stuff you need~

1 package of dark chocolate and mint morsels
2 sleeves Ritz crackers
Parchment paper (not to eat…but this is crucial to the process)

What to do with the stuff~

Pour the morsels into a microwave safe container. I heat mine in 30 second increments and stir in between to prevent scorching.

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Line an 11 x 18 ” baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. Using a pair of tongs, take a cracker and just kind of set it into the chocolate. Push down gently and then flip over. Same thing.

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As you finish with each cracker, completely coating both sides, set each one on the parchment paper lined baking sheet. The chocolate hardens fairly quickly so you can move them into a container or just lay another piece of parchment paper on top and make a second layer.

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Put them to cool in the fridge and then enjoy. Merry Christmas to one and all!! I hope you love them as much as we do. Drop me a line and tell me what you think!!

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done and done! Oh so yummy!!

Skinny lasagna soup and enjoying the moment

So…we are on the Christmas wind down (or is it wind up for some of ya’ll?). I am sure glad of it because I cannot keep up the pace. 4 kids in school equals a whole lot of busy and this mama here is tired. I am ready to coast. You know what I mean, right? It seems as if the past few weeks have been all up hill and I am ready to reach the top and then just coast downhill. Sure this likely means going way too fast and losing control, but I am at peace with that. It is going to be insane with the kids all home for the next 2 weeks, so yeah out of control sounds accurate. But I am tired of having to control so much. Homework, getting them here and there on time, get this, do that, rush. You know it’s been haywire when it sounds relaxing to have 4 kids at home. Maybe some of you are looking at that same situation. Staring down at it like you are looking down the barrel of a gun. Ha ha!!! Go ahead you filthy animal…make my day. I am going to go ahead and know the inmates will be running the asylum. Making my peace with it and just give in. Let go. I am working on that lately. Letting things fall where they will and making peace with what will be. I am determined to enjoy some of the moments, even amidst the chaos .

All this Christmas prep is not always easy nor for the faint of heart. Knowing you have a hearty but healthy supper for yourself or your family at night makes it all just a little bit better. There is not much prep time required for this soup and you can get it all together at night and even start it then finish it after work the next day. It could go easily in the crockpot. Just put it all in the crockpot and add the noodles and let it cook on low. This is one heck of a tasty soup and you will not even miss the extra calories. This time of year is all about indulgence so this is one amazingly tasty dish that you can feel good about! It’s also a great recipe to have in the New Year when we decide it might be time to cut back a bit after all of our merry making.
I hope you enjoy this lasagna soup recipe and you find some time amidst all of this holiday hustle and bustle to kick back and enjoy the moments with family and friends during this Christmas season. ~AMB

Skinny lasagna soup (a Jamie Deen recipe)

Serves 6

Stuff you need~

1 pound Italian ground turkey
1 onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic or 4 cloves, minced
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
1 (32 ounce) box of reduced sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Reduced fat shredded mozzarella
4 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken up

What to do with the stuff~

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven. Brown ground turkey, onions, bell pepper, and garlic until turkey is no longer pink and veggies are tender.

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Pour in tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth into pot. Sprinkle in salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and then add broken up lasagna noodles.

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Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until noodles are tender. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle mozzarella over each serving. Garnish with extra red pepper flakes if desired.

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this stuff is crazy delicious

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T-Roy is an expert at kicking back and relaxing

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Big kitty, Greg, is pretty good at it…he likes the view from UNDER the tree

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taking a moment to enjoy the view

Homemade cranberry sauce

So…I know Thanksgiving was nearly 2 weeks ago and I am here posting about cranberry sauce…”what the what woman!?” But where I come from, we have turkey and dressing on Christmas Day and back when Momee was in charge, on New Year’s Day too!! So we had cranberry sauce from the can and we liked it. Now for this year for Thanksgiving, my mom and dad (aka BB and Poppy) joined us! It was such a treat to have them spend the day with us. And my best friend (we are talking elementary school) and her boys joined us as well. It was a lovely day that I will look back on fondly for years to come. It was pretty chaotic but the food was delicious and the company was wonderful. We ate so much yummy food and laughed a bunch. Of course there were pictures…taken by me.

Here are some of my faves…

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holding our glorious bird…cooked in a roasting bag like Momee did it (and my Mama too)

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me and my parents with my baby

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me and my best friend…Nicole I ❤️ Her

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Nicole and her 3 beautiful boys…my pseudo nephews

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a little post dinner nap…

I have been wanting to make the Pioneer Woman’s cranberry sauce recipe since I bought her holiday cookbook last year. Actually, I have always wanted to attempt homemade cranberry sauce, yet somehow each year I succumb to the can. I just have so much other stuff to do, I just cannot fathom making one more thing from scratch. But this year, I changed my mindset and I did it. And I am so glad. I will never ever go back to the can if I can avoid it. This stuff is stupid easy to make and can be made ahead of time to boot. It is FABULOUS!!! Even my daddy who is not always forthcoming with the compliments (he is the strong silent type…) said how good it was. High praise I know. It really is so tasty and compliments the turkey just perfectly. If your family loves cranberry sauce like mine does, this is definitely worth your time. So if you are looking forward to a Christmas turkey just like we are…this post is right on time. Enjoy!!!

Pioneer Woman’s Cranberry sauce

Stuff you need~

1 bag of cranberries
1 cup pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
Juice and zest of 2 oranges

What to do with the stuff~

Wash the cranberries in a colander under cool water. Dump them into a medium size saucepan. Add maple syrup, orange zest and juice. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

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Allow the mixture to continue to simmer until the juice thickens. You will know when the time is right. Trust yourself friends. Ommmmmm…

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Remove from heat and allow to cool. This can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2
days. Practical and delicious and one less processed food item on your menu. Score!!

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cranberry sauce perfection!!

Twofer Tuesday…funeral sandwiches and monkey bread

Hey ya’ll! I am back! Big daddy was out of town all last week on his annual hunt at Bayou LaGrue. I am so happy he gets a chance to get away and relax and do something he loves, but keeping up with 4 kiddos and their school and emotions is exhausting when I am flying solo. Not much time for much else. We had a good week. We went and did it up. American Rose Center, sleepovers, nutcracker, lunch with friends, we saw Santa 3 times, Natchitoches lights…Yep we kept busy. But that left little time for blogging. So sorry about that but here I am!!! And the 2 recipes may be old hat to some of ya’ll but they are something special to us! So I thought it would be worth blogging about them because 1) my goal is give ya’ll recipes we really love over here and 2) maybe some of you have never tried them and would like to.
The first is monkey bread. I can honestly say I have had monkey bread 3 times in my life. It is such a treat and such a great thing to serve on Christmas morning. I did not grow up in a family that made breakfast on most mornings, so maybe that’s why. (But I did get dirty rice and chicken fricassee so that’s a more than fair trade…:) ) So for the most part this recipe and how stupid easy and devilishly tasty it is is pretty new to me! My oldest child (Mr. BHB) is fairly resistant to try new things. He is overly cautious in most areas and this extends to new foods. He could not resist this and is now officially a self proclaimed monkey bread addict.

Next is the funeral sandwiches. My oh my. I have made them once before this last time and my sister made them once for our family Christmas party, and my best friend Lolly made them for our a annual New Year’s extravaganza, but I had never heard them referred to as “funeral sandwiches”. I have had several friends inbox me and ask if I had made them before so I thought I might need to revisit this recipe. What a fabulous treat. Sweet and tangy and hearty and perfect for a midday lunch when you have a houseful of holiday guests. Or a hubby and 4 hungry kiddos on a regular day. Lol. Both recipes are perfect for the coming weeks when you have guests. So I hope I am not preaching to the choir or being redundant by blogging these recipes but they are definitely new family favorites in my kitchen. Funeral sandwiches and monkey bread are something we must pass on to future generations.

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monkey bread addict all decked out. Note the nod to one of our favorite Christmas movies…Elf. Coolest. Shirt. Ever.

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American Rose Center…oh the joyful smiles

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the tree is 9 feet tall and she is 5 feet tall…she is getting so tall but she will always be my baby

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the Natchitoches lights…we brought Loretta with us and took in the view

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that really happened…carpool madness

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he finally came home

Funeral Sandwiches (from http://www.ramblesahm.com)

Stuff you need~

1 12 count package king’s Hawaiian buns
12 slices thinly sliced ham (I used honey ham)
12 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, melted
2 tablespoons Brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder

What to do with the stuff~

Separate the top of the buns from the bottom. I used a bread knife and just split them down the middle. Lay the bottom layer in a greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Now, place a piece of ham over each bun bottom. Place a piece of Swiss cheese on top. Now to shake it up or if you don’t like ham, you can use turkey. It’s equally delicious. Next, place the bun tops over the cheese. Moving on the sweet yummy sauce…whisk together the melted butter, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder. Take a basting brush and spread some of this all over the sandwiches. Pour the rest over them. Yum. But they are not ready yet so hold that thought. Cover the pan with foil and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. Leave them overnight if you have the time. Making them in the a.m. of the day you plan to make them is ideal. Bake at 350 degrees with foil cover for about 10 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.
Let sit for a few minutes and then dig in! Holy moly that’s good stuff!!!

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some call them funeral sandwiches but I just call them delicious!!!

Monkey bread

Stuff you need~

2 can biscuits (just the plain grands juniors or even the cheapo biscuits that come in a 4 pack will do)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick or 1/2 cup melted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your bundt pan by spraying with some non stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle some on the bottom of the bundt pan.

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Cut your biscuits into fourths. I used my cooking shears (clean of course) to do this but you can use a pizza cutter or knife. Whatever floats ya boat, my baby. Ok next, roll your cut up biscuits all up in that cinnamon sugar. Awww yeah.

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coat those babies good now

Next in a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter and brown sugar.

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Drizzle this all over the sugar coated biscuits.

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Bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated oven. Let cool as long as your family will allow it (for their own good!) and then dig
in. That’s something special there and a recipe that really cannot be shared enough.

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get behind me Satan!!