Crock pot fajitas and back to the future 

Did you know that today is back to the future day?! Yep, that day that was on the time machine in the movie….OCTOBER 21, 2015. When I saw this on the news and realized what was up, my very tired mind was effectively blown. We are in the future. The future, according to the movie, is now! 

the truth in this meme will boggle the mind!!

How bizarre. My kids have seen the first movie and all loved it. It was wild for them to get a taste of 80’s life and see what things were like at that time. Aka the olden days when their mom and dad were young. Sigh. But for this whole back to the future day to come and blow my mind…it’s cause for a celebration. It’s not every day we get to be in the future!! This little clip here will get you in the mood to relive the 80’s and head back to the future. (Sounds crazy!)

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/20/entertainment/back-to-the-future-ii-right-wrong-feat/

Now, being an 80’s girl myself…
 

Me all geared up for my 1st day of kindergarten (circa 1980). side ponytail, satin jacket, socks with sandals, thank you very much! photo credits to my mama
 
 I love to share some 80’s culture with my kiddos. When my sweet ADB chose this as her Halloween costume, I was beyond thrilled!

 

like, totally rad, man!!!
 
So we definitely bring some 80’s flair with us wherever we go. We watch The Goldberg’s every Wednesday night. 80’s on 8 in the car, yes! Until they get enough and ask to hear some T. Swift. And I cannot complain since her newest album, eh em, I mean CD, very much gives a nod to the 80’s. It is called 1989. Music to this mama of tweens and preteens ears!! Bliss!! 

So to say that today is something to celebrate even just a bit in this house is a bit of an understatement. But truth is, and ya’ll know it, I look for stuff to celebrate. Big Daddy loves fajitas and here lately whenever I ask what he wants for supper, he says fajitas at home. We have figured out how to make some really awesome homemade fajitas on the grill but on a night when I want to get homework and baths done so we can indulge in family movie night, that seems like too much work. Or maybe because I have had sick kids at home for a week and I am tired. Either way…crockpot fajitas seemed like a nice compromise. Let’s just say I picked a crock pot recipe as a throw back to the 80’s. I didn’t, but let’s pretend I am that clever. 

So I bought some wholly guacamole and sour cream to make these just right. My oldest, BHB, is home from school for one last day  after a bout with walking pneumonia and he insisted I serve rice and beans as the perfect sides to these fajitas. Happy to see him getting his appetite back, so I gladly obliged. 

 Speaking of getting his appetite back…

indulging in hot krispy kreme donuts, yeah, he is feeling more like himself. so glad!!
 
So crockpot fajitas, rice and beans it is!!! I found the recipe I used can be found here…Slow cooker fajita recipe . My fajitas are cooking now, so no final pic yet. I can smell them as I type and man they smell terrific. I cannot wait! So let’s get to it so you can enjoy some too! In the present or the future…or will it be in the past now? 

Slow cooker fajitas 

Stuff you need~

2 cans Rotel (original recipe called for 1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles…I read it wrong..so I improvised with 2 cans of Rotel) 

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 

1 onion, sliced 

1 red, orange and yellow bell pepper sliced julienne style 

4 cloves minced garlic (2 teaspoons of the jarred minced garlic)

2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 teaspoon paprika 

3/4 teaspoon coriander (I did not have any so I omitted) 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon black pepper 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or the bottled stuff…we are in the future…do your thing) 

1 tablespoon honey 

What to do with the stuff~

Pour one can of Rotel into the slow cooker. Next layer half of the sliced bell peppers and onion. Add the garlic to the mix too. 

  

Now add your chicken breasts on top of this. 

  
Combine all those precious spices into a small bowl,

  
 and then sprinkle half over one side of  the chicken breasts.

   

Now flip those chicken bosoms over and sprinkle the rest of the spice mixture over the other side. Toss the rest of the sliced onions and bell peppers on top of the bosoms. (My friend Kylie always called chicken breasts chicken bosoms and it makes me giggle. )  

 Cook on low for for 6-8 hour or high for 3-4 hours. Cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Now if you want to be able to slice the chicken breasts, err on the side of cooking them a shorter amount of time. This is according to original recipe poster. You can shred the chicken too. Just be aware that at a certain loon the chicken is too tender to slice and shredding is only option. I cannot imagine that’s a bad thing. Anywho, remove chicken breasts from slow cooker and slice or shred. Ladle out 1 cup of liquid and discard. In a bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey.  Return the chicken to the slow cooker and pour the luscious honey lime concoction over the veggie Chicken mixture. Give it a gentle stir and season to taste if you think it needs it. Serve in warmed tortillas topped with the fixins of your choosing. Fa-ji-tas!!! From the slow Cooker. Ah the future is indeed NOW! 

Now to get some Pepsi to drink with our meal. Ah I miss the 80’s!!! 

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Chicken and rice soup, banana bars, and all that matters is family 

It seems lately that life has taken on a frantic pace that since becoming a mom I SWORE I would never allow for my family. It’s amazing how innocent new motherhood can be, but that’s a story for another day. Back then, looking at my sweet baby boy’s face, I said I would never allow myself to lose focus on what really matters. Togetherness, family, downtime, blocking the rest of the world out. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s important to teach my kids to let the world in and to be a big part of their community, but I want to make sure they always remember what really counts at the end of the day. For instance, I agreed this year to be the ptsa president for my son’s middle school. I am really enjoying it now that the ball is rolling (shhh don’t tell anyone) but I have to be very careful to not let it take over what I hold dear to me. My family, togetherness, you know the drill. My kids are more involved than they ever have been and that’s to be expected now that they are all getting older. So mostly the weekdays  belong to everyone else. Or it feels that way. It’s a crazy, frenetic pace that exhausts me by Thursday evening. It is hustle and bustle and go go go. And I don’t even have a job outside the home. So come Friday evening I am ready for DOWNTIME!!! The weekends belong to our family!!!  It looks like this…

  
My kids running around PLAYING without time limits. 

  Big Daddy watering his garden while I drink wine on the back porch. No mention of homework, no uniform washing (well I still do that because Monday comes too fast and I am slightly neurotic about laundry but the point is I don’t have to wash uniforms if I don’t want to. There’s joy in that).

I get to sit down and do all of this I want…

  
Now that’s a relaxing Friday. I went to bed at 8:55 last night. It was that relaxing. Last week was absolutely crazy but the bad thing is that almost every since school started has been that way. I worry this is going to become our norm. After holding on to peace and family time for so long, I am not going to succumb to it. I am willing to let the weekdays be a little wild. But the weekends for the most part, belong to us. Cut to I have been up since 5, the guys are hunting (it’s youth hunt weekend) and the girls are sleeping in (God bless the weekend!). So I am in the process of taking back our weekend. That means making one of my favorite soup recipes and one of Big Daddy’s favorite childhood treats…Mrs. Sandra’s banana bars. I absolutely believe good ole comfort food is a vital part of keeping our weekends sacred. Well, I’m Cajun, I actually believe good food is a vital part of everything. Nonetheless, soup and a sweet (and lots of coffee) go a long way in making our weekends something special. A respit from all of the hustle and bustle of the week, an safe harbor in a sea of madness. No really. 

So now for a little back story on these recipes I am sharing. This chicken and rice soup is a Pioneer Woman recipe. It is to die for. I think the first time I made it one of my kids was sick and I was overcome with a sense of motherly domesticity and found this recipe via Google. I always love PW’s recipes and this was a big hit! I am excited to share it with those of you who might not have found it yet. She does apologize in her post for using chicken bouillon cubes and yellow food coloring, so read her post if you want to get the full effect. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/simple-hearty-chicken-rice-soup-itll-keep-ya-honest/     As for me, I offer no apologies for such transgressions.  None. The soup is fantastic and if bouillon cubes and food coloring are the worst of my offenses, then God bless. But trust me, they are not. If the guilt from my bouillon and food coloring use gets too heavy, I will just go confess to Father Mark and say some Hail Marys. This soup is abso-flipping-lutely mouthwatering and full of flavor. It’s one of our favorites. It makes your kitchen smell like heaven. 

PW’s chicken and rice soup 

Stuff you need~

2 chicken breasts with bone in and skin on (the bone and fat are necessary to make the chicken stock…those two things make it extra fantastic!)

8 chicken boullion cubes 

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper 

1/4 diced pimentos (from a jar) 

1/4 cup chopped celery  

1 cup cooked rice 

6 tablespoons butter, divided 

4 tablespoons flour 

Few drops of Yellow food coloring 

What to do with the stuff~

First of all, go one and get  your your rice cooking either on the stovetop or in the rice cooker. 

Wash your chicken breasts and cover them with about 2 quarts of water, give or take a little. Drop in those boullion cubes. 

  

Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat and allow chicken to cook for about 20 minutes  or so. When cooked through, remove chicken from water and set aside. Keep the lovely  chicken stock that you made boiling those chicken breasts at a low slow simmer on the stove. 

Now dice up your veggies. Now we will make a little roux.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in the 4 tablespoons of flour and stir until thickened. Pour this into your barely simmering chicken stock. 

  
Now melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. (I just wash the skillet I just used and use it again) Add your diced veggies to the melted butter. 

  
Cook until tender and then add the chopped up chicken. Mmmmmm

  
Give it all a good stir and then add to the simmering stock that is quickly turning into a bonefied soup. 

 

sooouuup
 
Now, you are in the homestretch. Almost there. Get ready. You are going to add the cooked rice to the soup. 

  

Yes yes yes. Now you have oh so savory chicken and rice soup. Perfect if you have a sick person to nurse back to health (this plus essential oils can work wonders to heal a sick body). This soup is a wonderful dish to cook if your spirits are waning and you are taking respite from the world. Either way, you are golden. Now for the final touch…yep, the yellow food coloring. This is really not necessary but to preserve the authenticity of PW’s recipe, I follow her instructions. 

  
Let this all simmer a bit longer, maybe 20 minutes to let it all blend and mingle. And then you have this…

so much love…

Now for the banana bars!!!
 

his reminder to me…since we had some bananas that were super ripe
 
Now these banana bars are the bomb. Big Daddy lived in Broussard/Youngsville for a long while when his daddy ran the co-op there. Of course his mama, Mrs. Dianne, was a. social butterfly and lovely lady, so she  made some good friends where ever they lived. In Broussard, Mrs. Sandra, Mrs. Linda, and Mrs. Peggy were her top gals. They all had kids (a bunch of boys mostly) and they hung out like a posse. Of course they are all fabulous cooks and swapped recipes. Mrs. Sandra made these banana bars that made Big Daddy swoon. I heard about them from the time we started dating until she finally gave me the recipe a few years later. Back then, I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was so I used a 9 x 13 inch pan. BD said they were a little thicker than he remembered but they were good anyway. So if you do not have a jelly roll pan, don’t fret!!! It’s the weekend and we don’t worry on the weekend! If you want to buy one, here is a link …Chicago Metallic Non-Stick True Jelly Roll Pan, 15 by 10-Inch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003YKGRVO/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_SEqgwbY3FK75S. If you have Amazon prime,  2 days and you will be all set! I picked up one at Walmart and it worked great. The dimensions you are looking for in a true jelly roll pan are 10x 15 x 1. 

I love that even though BD’s mom is no longer with us, I can still make one of his favorite childhood treats for him. That’s the power of good friend…they keep you alive in many ways. ❤️ That’s  also the power in recipes and passing them on. 

Banana bars 

Stuff you need~

For the bars~

1/2 cup butter, softened 

1 1/2 cup sugar 

1 cup sour cream 

1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas) 

2 cups of flour 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract *

1 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoon salt 

*I do use vanilla extract but a new favorite of mine is vanilla bean paste, which you use exactly like extract. It tastes so pure and full of that vanilla perfection. I order it from amazon. I heart Amazon if you cannot tell. Just my two cents on a product that I love. 

for the Icing~

1/2 cup butter (1 stick) 

3-4 cups powdered sugar 

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 

3 tablespoons (or more) for thinning the icing 

For the bars: 
Preheat oven to 350. Grease your jelly roll pan. 

 In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, sour cream and eggs. Blend in the bananas and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add this to the other mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into your prepared jelly roll pan. 

  
Now bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. And the kitchen smells like Christmas. No really…Christmas. 

While that is baking, get your icing ready. 

For the icing~

Melt butter in a large saucepan and let it brown just a bit. Just until it is a lovely light brown color. Not dark!! It takes a minute or 2. Stir in a cup of powdered sugar at a time. Add more as needed. I only  use about 3 cups. Now stir in Vanilla. Add your milk to make the icing the consistency you want. You want thicker than a glaze but thinner than a frosting. 

 

see that consistency (and powdered sugar lumps ?)
 
Now once your bars are out of the oven, pour the luscious icing over the “cake” and ice it.

  
Then you get…

  
And everyone shouts hooray!!!!! Banana bars…my man’s favorite and they are gaining popularity!

 

my baby snacking on banana bars in the deer stand during a youth hunt. thank God for banana bars and weekends!!!
 E

Mrs. Sandra giving BD a big mama bear hug at our wedding. so much love!
 
Now we all just wait for another weekend to roll around! God save the weekend!! Hope everyone has a great week. 

Crawfish pie and lessons in white pepper and loyalty 

I am a big believer that God brings people into your life for a reason. Not everyone is meant to stay forever but some are. And that’s when it gets good. As most of you know, I am a Shreveport transplant and when I arrived on the scene in North Lousiana, I knew no one but Big Daddy, his brother, and his daddy. That’s all. One of the first people I met was Leia. She was about 16 and I was about 19. We met in passing one day and that was it for a while.  In fact, the first time I met her as a matter of fact, I was pretty sure she did not like me much. Remember, I was an outsider. Somehow though, as time went on, Leia took me under wing and made me her friend and the rest as they say is history. Well, not really…a couple of things have occurred between now and then. Couple of weddings (I was in her’s, she was in mine), some graduations, jobs, couple of babies, life…we have stuck together through it all. I lived with Leia, who I call Ned and she calls me Ned (don’t ask) one summer and we loved to cook in the tiny little kitchen of her first house. Big Daddy was working out town that summer, and at the time I missed him terribly, but looking back, I am so glad to have had that time with her. She was expecting her first baby at the time and that baby is now a college student. That tells you how far back we go. If there is anyone on this a Earth I don’t ever question, it is Leia. She is always in my corner and I am pretty sure she knows I have her back no matter what she is up against. She is a tough cookie and I am just glad to have her on my team. I would not want her as an enemy. She is part sweet southern belle mixed with fierce badass and it equals one amazing friend. Sister knows how to take care of business. Need someone to plan one heck of bachelorette party? She’s your girl. There’s no end to the power of Ned and those who are lucky enough to have her in their lives would do well to remember that. There is no end to the power of Ned. 

 

Me and Ned, circa 2001, at my bachelorette party .
 
Now this crawfish pie recipe…it’s pretty special. And delicious. I had never had crawfish pie before I tried this one, so of course, it was love at first bite. Even though it is a Cajun delicacy, the recipe could not be easier to prepare. As I made it the other night, I giggled to myself how much I have learned in the kitchen since those days. I was probably 20 at the time, and I had no idea about white pepper or if there was a difference between white and black pepper. Nor did I bother looking for white pepper at the store. I probably thought it was a typo. Now, of course lessons have been learned in and out and the kitchen and I have a jar of white pepper in my seasonings cabinet. Ned and I have learned some other lessons as well. Lessons like…life  can be hard, but it’s a lot easier when you have a good friend always there. And that some people are always loyal, even if you don’t talk to them everyday. Some friendships begin and don’t ever end. Thank God. Love you Ned, thanks for the crawfish pie recipe and for all the love and loyalty. 

Crawfish Pie 

Stuff you need~

1/2 stick of butter 

1 pound crawfish tails 

2 pie crusts 

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine 

2 stalks celery, chopped fine 

1 can cream of mushroom soup 

8 ounce tomato sauce 

1 cup breadcrumbs 

1 egg, slightly beaten 

1 cup milk 

1/2 cup white wine 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1/2 teaspoon white pepper 

1/2 teaspoon thyme 

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a  large skillet or sauté pan. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and celery in melted butter until they are tender. At some point before the veggies are tender, sprinkle in the salt, pepper, red pepper, white pepper and thyme. This way the seasonings can get in there and really make their mark and have plenty of time to infuse the filling with their delightful spiciness. Yes I wrote that…delightful spiciness. 


 

Next stir in your cream of mushroom soup.   

Add the tomato sauce and give it a good stir   
Next, stir in the crawfish tails and white wine.  All together…mmmm. Just. So. Delicious. Add the milk, beaten egg* and the breadcrumbs. Either make your own in a food processor with some white bread or use plain breadcrumbs. I only had garlic and herb breadcrumbs this time and  I found it threw the flavor off. Still good but not as good as I remembered. So next time, plain breadcrumbs it is. Stir them in and let the mixture simmer over low heat.  

Stir the mixture frequently as it is simmers. Now,  take one of the pie crusts and lay it in the bottom of your pie plate. Prick it a few times with a fork and pop that baby in the oven for a few minutes. You just want to slightly brown the bottom pie crust. Now, feel free to be a real show off and make your own pie crusts. If that is your fortay, rock on with your bad self. As for me and my house, we will use store bought pie crusts. I own it. If someone wants to offer to come give Cajun mama a pie crusts baking lesson, let me know. As I have mentioned before, I am baking challenged. I can do it, but homemade pie crusts are not something I aspire to. 

Finally, pull that prebaked bottom pie crust from the oven. Now pour that savory filling into the pie plate until it is piled high. Yum!!! Cover the filling with your second pie crust and pinch to sort of seal it around the pie plate. Yes! Crawfish pie! You made that! Work it! Hold on now, you got to put it back in the oven to brown your top crust. Here is my crawfish pie before I popped it in the oven. 

see I even mess up a store bought pie crust …it still tasted so good
 

Bake it for about 40 minutes until your pie is golden brown and your kitchen smells like the most heavenly Cajun restaurant you can imagine. Let the pie sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve along side a nice green salad or potato salad. Or both if you are Cajun! Here is my potato salad post if you want to check it out Potato Salad with almost everything, paquing eggs and things Cajuns do | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2014/03/18/potato-salad-with-almost-everything-paquing-eggs-and-things-cajuns-do/. 

You are all set!!! Hope you enjoy this truly unique and tasty dish!! 

*you may want to temper the egg. I don’t remember doing this back in the day when I made this dish all the time, but maybe I did not realize the difference. Here is a post that tells you about how to temper an egg…http://www.tablespoon.com/posts/how-to-temper-an-egg/e838d2ab-8509-4db0-bf67-8539a3aa1b06.