Category Archives: Chicken dishes

French Onion Chicken Noodle casserole and faith, love and good food

A few things here. It’s been a few months since I have posted a new recipe and for that I am apologetic. I find it hard to believe that anyone cares that much about my blathering and rambling and yet, I feel tremendous guilt when I have been away too long. I call it good ole Catholic guilt but it’s for sure a catch 22.  I admit I feel a certain level of responsibility to you all. Though I am well aware no one is basing their entire life or menu on me posting a recipe or not, I consider my readers to be my friends and I do feel responsible for my friends. So since we are friends I will apologize for being so absent lately but I will hope you allow me some grace because you know how deep we can sink into life without even knowing it. And I have been thigh deep in LIFE. Here’s a little glimpse into what we’ve been doing and that’s not the half of it…

4 kiddos means lots going on sometimes

This is just the stuff going on that you can see. That I can even verbalize. There have been other things that just come with life. I lost my aunt in April (my cousin Robin’s mom, my mom’s sister) and that was hard.

from left to right…my mom, momee, and aunt rebecca (circa 2003)

 When I sit down and consider all the things that have happened, it is a little hard to believe some of it actually is real. And I forgive myself for not sitting down to write about a recipe because I have been doing good to get supper on the table.

 But here I am, and I am going to give you a recipe that fits the bill for the ultimate comfort dish. No matter the season, no matter the day…this dish aims to please. My friend Amy from my hometown (there are lots of Aimee/Amys  from Alex…and I proudly call a bunch of them my friends.) One day she shared this recipe via Facebook and it looked so good I just had to try it. Now I could just share that recipe but I like to write about the recipes that I love on my blog and that in no way makes them my recipes. This recipe can be found here…http://www.plainchicken.com/2014/09/french-onion-chicken-noodle-casserole.html#CEeoggWZZxhI7sqZ.99

It’s a real winner my friends. I think the actual phrase is winner, winner chicken dinner! It is so good. Now I kind of tweaked it a little to make it suit our tastes but it is just the bomb. The stuff as my good friend Lisa is fond of saying. This is the stuff! You make some field peas with it and some warm buttered King’s Hawaiian rolls and you have yourself one heck of a supper. Big Daddy went bananas. He loved it and I did too. It’s one of those dishes you think about and have to make it. It’s that good. 

French Onion Chicken Noodle Casserole 

Stuff you need~

4 cups cooked chopped chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup

12 ounces container French Onion Dip

4 ounces sour cream 

1 cup cheddar cheese (I used the Kraft triple cheddar with a touch of cream cheese) 

12 ounces egg noodles

1 cup crushed French fried onions

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook your noodles until they are cooked al dente. So they are cooked but not mushy. No one wants that. 

Now stir the soup, the dip, the sour cream, your chicken (insert rotisserie chicken here), and cheese. 


Now combine this mixture with the cooked noodles. Add all of this to your 9’x 13 dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Top with French fried onions. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

creamy, filling, savory…this dish has it all!!

Most of all, I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did. I want you to know how much I appreciate you continuing to read my posts, for sharing my posts, for commenting and interacting, for waiting for me to come back around. Life is so full of lessons and I am on a journey to learn them. Difficult or not. And man some of them have been difficult here larely. I am grateful to be able to share my journey of faith, hope and good food with all of you. Much love and many good meals to you all.~AMB 

life is a journey and that is fine as long as some of it can be on a boat on the Sabine River

And because I just love our dogs…let me share what they have been up to…our pups, Roy and Idaho are a big part of our fam!! 


Advertisements

Cajun chicken pasta and a happy accident 

Ok I am so excited to share this recipe with you. It was truly a happy accident for me. I am typically a control freak in most areas and like my ducks In a row in many areas of my life. Cooking is no different. I am not sure if I am this way because it is a necessity for me to have 4 kids and run a house in a semi functional way. Ok mildly functional…I’m not gonna lie. Or maybe I have always been this way. That is probably the most likely scenario. I like things a certain way, I like to be prepared, I like to know what is going to happen in advance. I would say also if I am looking at Alfred Adler’s birth order theory, I am the oldest and I have many of the traits that Adler associates with oldest children. So there you go…this is what happens when a therapist turns into a food blogger. Love love love me some counseling theories. If you want to read up on this topic a little or are just curious, here is a good one to check out…

http://www.d120.org/assets/1/staff_assets/rhalbur/Alfred_Adler_-_Birth_Order.pdf.

It says specifically oldest children are often perfectionists and can be exacting. Errr…me and me. That’s ok. I embrace it. It works well for me most of the time, but being exacting and a perfectionist is not often helpful to me when I need to be experimental in the kitchen. Improvisation is not my thing usually…mama likes a recipe to follow, dang it!!! That’s what makes the fact that this recipe happened at all a true delight. One night we had a busy schedule on the books (running meet, neighborhood association annual meeting, 4 kids worth of homework and big daddy had a life insurance appointment. Busy!) and I was trying to figure out what to feed my crew. Sweet baby Jesus what’s an overwhelmed mama to do?! So I was pondering as I tuned my bickering children in the backseat on the drive home from school. What’s for dinner? I had bought a package of Tyson’s frozen grilled sliced chicken breasts and had not used them yet. 

  
I started thinking what ingredients I had on hand. Something came to me….Cajun chicken pasta! Maybe I could find a recipe that called for what I had. That sounded so good. My sister had turned me on to Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta years ago but that was not in the budget or schedule. I googled it and found a recipe that called for ingredients I had. Well mostly. I was missing a few things and it was not exact. Usually that bothers me but that night I embraced it! I used what I had and did not give two hoots about exact. And the outcome was so very very delicious. Added bonus…those frozen grilled chicken slices worked well and this dish came together in a flash. Everyone loved it and I have made it twice since then. I am going to give you the recipe I used here, but  you can of course check out the original recipe here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/8778/cajun-chicken-pasta/. That first night I did not have grated Parmesan cheese, I only had what my kiddos call shaky cheese or that Kraft stuff in the green canister. It was even better then than the next time when I had the actual freshly grated  Parmesan cheese. Just saying….something to be said for improvising! I double the sauce recipe…when you taste it you will see why. It’s just so good. 3 cheers for happy accidents!! Enjoy! Remember I double the sauce recipe so that’s 2 cups whipping cream and double the seasoning…but that’s just me. I love a good sauce. Mmmm

Cajun chicken pasta 

Stuff you need~ 

1/2 package Tyson frozen grilled sliced chicken breasts 

Cooking oil or olive oil 

2 tablespoons Cajun pasta (I use Tony’s…what else?) 

2 tablespoons butter 

1/2 chunked up  red bell pepper

1/2 chunked up yellow bell pepper 

1 cup heavy whipping cream 

1/4 teaspoon  lemon pepper 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon dried basil (I use the stuff in the tube) 

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

1/4 cup Kraft grated Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green canister…if you dare) 

1/2 box of linguine 

What to do with the stuff~

Bring pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook al dente and drain. Set aside. 

Warm the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen sliced chicken. Sprinkle liberally with the Cajun seasoning. It’s supposed to have some Cajun heat sha! 

  
Ok stir the chicken around until it is heated through…5 minutes or so. Toss the butter into the skillet. Let it melt and then toss in the veggies. 

  
Cook until slightly tender. Stir in the whipping cream and then add all the seasonings. Resist the urge to drink it with a spoon. It’s so good. 

  
Sprinkle in the cheese and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat to let those luscious flavors mingle. Oh yes. Luscious. Flavors. Mingle. You will see. 

  

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!!! 

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. 

Smothered chicken recipe and other things my mama gave me

My mama has given me many things in my life. My roots, my wings, sometimes a pain in my butt (you know it’s true Mama),  so much love and maybe best of all…smothered chicken. I have said before that my mama is an excellent cook. And that Big Daddy is fond of saying “Bernie could cook a boot and make it taste good!” He is not wrong. 

 I will be honest here and say, in the past 10 years, my family of origin has undergone many changes.  I am pretty certain that is a statement that can be made for most families, as change is the only thing that is constant in this world.  You can count on things changing in this world.  But you know one thing that has not changed in all of the changing that has remained the same?  My mama’s smothered chicken.  She has had her ups and she has weathered her downs, we have been high and low, but her love for her kids and her excellent smothered chicken are two things that have remained the same.  If I ever had to equate food to love, I would say her smothered chicken, her rice and gravy and honey carrots (pea and asparagus casserole if we are lucky)  would be a plate of love. Big Daddy, the kids, the dogs and I recently piled into the mini van to go spend the night at my mama and daddy’s house in Alex. and she asked me what I wanted her to fix for supper.  Of course, I say smothered chicken.  She already knew before she asked.  When I had all of my babies, my mama would come and stay a few nights and smothered chicken was always on the menu.  I really did not even try to attempt to make it for the longest time because I was convinced it was too hard and that no matter what, it would not be as a good as her’s.  She always picks on me and says since I am such a good cook now, there is hardly anything she can make me that I cannot make myself.  I can happily say that my smothered chicken cannot hold a candle to her’s.  I am so glad to have her here on this Earth to make it for me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my smothered chicken is passable.  It is ok.  It might be pretty good.  But Bernie has the magic touch and I am just fine with that.  Maybe its because it is one way I still need her, one way she can be there for me like always, but she makes the smothered chicken of my dreams and when I am at her house or she is at mine, and she prepares my favorite meal, all is right with the world.  Its funny how something so simple can do that, isn’t it?  None the less, I had the envie for some smothered chicken yesterday afternoon and I decided to make it.  I feel inadequate every time I set out, but the more I prepare it, the easier it gets.  Its just a lot to live up to, you know?  My mama is tiny, but she has some fairly big feet and her shoes are hard to fill.  Especially when it comes to smothered chicken.

I was at a loss about how to tell ya’ll how to make a dish that I am only just now learning how to make really well.  I held off until now because while it’s not hard per se, it is a little bit of an involved process.  I have been gone so long though, not blogging, and so many have stuck with me while I took my little blogging hiatus, I figured I owed it to you to show you how to make one of my favorites or at least attempt to.  So bare with me as I fumble through this.  This is not baked chicken.  This is not fried chicken.  This is chicken that has been cut up and smothered in its own delicious juices.  And it’s fantastic. (If you are a Jim Gaffigan fan, you will get that reference.  If not, you should check out Jim Gaffigan so you will understand.  He is hilarious.)

I will stop story telling for now.  Though when it comes to mothers and daughters, the story never really ends.  I certainly need to work on my smothered chicken technique and I do not claim to be an expert, but if I waited until I was an expert at making smothered chicken, we might be waiting a long time for this post.  Plus, for now, I really enjoy that my mama’s smothered chicken is better than mine.  I am not ready to be top dog in that category.

 

me and the queen of smothered chicken aka my mama. I love her.

Ok ya’ll ready? Let’s do this!! 

My mama’s smothered chicken  
Stuff you need

One fryer chicken, cut up 

Cooking oil 

Salt and pepper 

Sugar 

Water 

What to do with the stuff

Wash and pat dry your chicken pieces.  Drizzle some cooking  oil all over the bottom of a large skillet. Bernie is pretty particular about the size pot she smothers her chicken in. And Stephen (my daddy) says you don’t want to use a pot too big when smothering your meat, that the meat fitting snugly in the pot makes for a darker  gravy. I don’t argue. I use a magnalite deep skillet that is perfect for smothering chicken. For those who don’t know, Magnalite pots and pans are the holy grail for Cajuns. The BEST!!! I inherited one from BD’s Pappaw and I love it. 

Now salt and pepper your chicken on both sides. Turn the heat on your pot/skillet with the oil in it. 

Once the oil is warmed up, add your chicken pieces. 

  
Allow the chicken pieces to brown one side. Mama says that adding a little sugar to your pan aids in the browning process, so I do what she says. Just a spoonful or so is good. And You don’t want your fire too hot or your chicken will stick. So medium to low heat is best. 

  
Once chicken is pretty and browned one side, like so….flip your chicken pieces using some tongs. 

 

That’s some pretty brown chicken, my baby.
 
Now allow your chicken pieces to brown on the other side.  I add a little more sugar to the pot at this point as well. Just a spoonful will do.  Remember to mind your heat so chicken does not stick. I also wiggle the pieces around here and there as I brown the chicken. It makes me feel like a chef. And also, it prevents the chicken from sticking. 

Once chicken is nice and browned on both sides (thank you sugar!!!), you want to add some water to your pot. This begins the smothering part of the process. 

I add enough water to half way cover the chicken pieces. It’s ok if you add too much since you are going to cook out most of the water. Lower your heat until the water is simmering. Cover your pot and allow the water to cook out. This is the first step in making that delectable gravy. Oh my yes. Rice and gravy. Staple on so many Cajun tables. *

Let the water almost cook completely out but not quite. Do NOT allow all of the water to cook out. No!!! You are going to add more water to the little bit that is left after the first round. So add more water and continue the process of making that gravy and simultaneously tenderizing that chicken. Hence the smothering. I hope I am explaining this correctly. You basically will see your water the chicken is cooking in turn to gravy. It’s magic!! It will begin to look like this…

  

See how it is getting thicker and darker and looking like gravy? Ok now do the same thing over again until you get the gravy a dark as you want and have enough gravy (is there such a thing?) and all pieces of chicken are cooked through and tender. I say fork tender, meaning you can stick a fork in the meat and it easily turns. 

 

fork tender and check out that gravy…this is after cornstarch had been added
 
Smothered chicken makes the most fabulous gravy. If you need to thicken the gravy at the end, just add some cornstarch and whisk it around really good. My gravy making skills are a work in progress, it’s not an exact process and just had to be learned. I am still learning. You will want to remove your smaller pieces of chicken like the legs and wings so they don’t fall apart while the other pieces finish getting tender. Just remove them and put them on a plate and set aside. Sha small pieces of chicken being removed from the party, but they can come back later!!! 

*Fun fact, when I was growing up, I would swear when I moved out I would never make rice again. That I would serve only mashed potatoes. My daddy would laugh to himself and basically say “don’t invite me then, my baby.” Ha ha! I am literally eating those words. My Momou gave me a rice pot as my first wedding gift. It’s a must have! 

We recently got a huge bag of rice from some good friends who have a rice farm. The rice is so fabulous and smells so good cooking, it is absolutely worth getting some if you can. Their website is http://www.bakerfarms.net and you can actually order a bag of rice if you want to. I have eaten a lot of rice my days, my thighs and rear end can attest to that, but this rice is unique. It’s aromatic and it cooks up perfectly every time!!!

That’s my little rice side note. But it’s important because what good is that gravy if there is no cooked rice?!! Exactly!!! 

  

thank you Mama for many things…for roots, wings, lots of love and smothered chicken
 
I want to say thank you to all of my loyal readers. For your encouragement and sticking with me when I was not sure if I needed or wanted to continue blogging. Thanks for inspiring me. I am glad to know the words I write mean something to so many of you. I am back now and we are only just beginning. Your loyalty means the world to me!!! Thanks for reading! -Aimee 

Tikka masala, basmati rice with peas and minted cucumber salad…I am in love with this Indian inspired meal!!

This meal right here. This is the one. I make many meals, I try new kinds of foods and I can honestly tell you all that this is one of my favorites thus far. No kidding. Dead serious. I had to make big daddy sign in blood that he really loved it and enjoyed it before I would share the leftovers with him. Ok I did not make him take a blood oath but I grilled him pretty hard. It’s not hard to make really but I did not double the recipe and I was so sad when it was gone. I usually send leftovers to his office the next day but not this time. Not because I don’t love his coworkers (I totally do ) but because I was not a quite certain they would APPRECIATE the wonder that was this meal. Because it is Indian food some people might be a little (or a lot…I am looking at you, Chris Flowers) leery of such a new experience. Let me say this. I am making this again this week and doubling the recipe. The leftovers were even better because the fantastic melee of flavors had a chance to commingle and make friends with one another. My mouth is watering just thinking of having this meal in front of me again. If you have always wanted to try Indian food but felt intimidated by the notion, don’t be. This is super simple, easy peasy. The ingredients are not even that far fetched. It just requires quite a few spices. Now, I had all of them but I cook a lot. I ordered the ghee off of amazon and it was here in a flash. I imagine world market might have it and you can make it yourself if you are so inclined. It’s essentially clarified butter and can be made at home. The ghee and some of the spices will be the main thing you might have to buy that is out of the norm, but please don’t let that stop you . Anyway, this is absolutely doable for anyone who wants to try Indian food. I have never eaten at an Indian restaurant but I know tikka masala is a very popular dish. The rice and salad are both pretty standard dishes that are pretty commonly served with Indian main dishes. I found the naan at target and it was absolutely fantastic. I saw it at Brookshires as well. It was a perfect accompaniment to this meal. Let me know what you think if you decide to try this. As I said, it is on my top 10 list of most delicious meals I have cooked. Cajun mama went to India and she liked it. Traveling while I stay in my own home…that’s right up my homebody ally. I would love to hear from any of my readers who live in India. Does this vary greatly from how you make it? I know I have a few readers located in India, so feel free to chime in. How close is this to an authentic meal in your country? What’s different?

IMG_2932
ghee = clarified butter in a jar

IMG_2941
I need more of this in my life. I ❤️ tikka masala

Ok first off I am going to tell you how I would prepare this meal to be most efficient. I made it on a weeknight and the heat was on…literally and figuratively. Lol. So first off, get your rice going. Here is what you need…

Basmati rice with peas (adapted from Pioneer Woman’s blog)

stuff you need~

2 cups basmati rice
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon turmeric
4 cups water
1/2 cup frozen green peas

what to do with the stuff~

Add all ingredients except the peas to your rice cooker. Give it a stir and then turn on rice cooker and let it cook. Do not mess with it. If you don’t have a rice cooker (why?!!), then just cook it in a pot but same thing…let it cook and don’t mess with it. After it’s done, stir in the peas. Mine were frozen and defrosted as they were warmed up by the cooked rice.

IMG_2939
check out how the turmeric turned the rice a nice yellow…this is before the peas

Ok now…the minted cucumber salad can be prepared ahead of time and it gives the flavors a chance to meld together. Just a suggestion. The coolness of the salad from the cilantro and mint is an excellent counterpart to the slight spiciness of the tikka masala. Excellent combo.

minted cucumber salad (adapted from http://www.blueapron.com

stuff you need~

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/2 purple onion, sliced up or cut into mini chunks
A bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
A bunch of mint, roughly chopped
The juice of one lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Olive oil for drizzling

what to do with the stuff~

Add sliced cucumber and the purple onion to a bowl. Toss in half of the cilantro and mint. Drizzle with olive oil and toss in the lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give it a stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, add a little more mint and cilantro. To be honest I used it all at once and I was not sorry. The freshness of the mint and cilantro with the cucumber and onion is a thrill ride. Enjoy.

IMG_2936
simply beautiful and so tasty

Now…for the star of our show! The most fragrant, full of lovely flavors, just spicy enough and fit for an Indian prince…tikka masala to the stars!! I mean…some stars might have tried this recipe, who am I to say they have not?! I have not ever tried another recipe for this but I can say it fulfilled every expectation I had. I will look no further! I had a friend who tried one and it was fancy and it left her hanging. So I think this one is a winner. I found it on http://www.allrecipes.com. Tikka means “little bits” and masala means “spices”. Sure enough! This dish smells so heavenly when it is cooking. My biggest piece of advice is to double the recipe. Just saying.

Curry Stand Tikka Masala

stuff you need~

2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon white sugar, or to taste

what to do with the stuff~

Warm ghee over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until they are translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook another minute or so. You know the drill…when the garlic is fragrant, you are golden. Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, the cumin, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne. Cook for about another 2 minutes or until fragrant. This will make you salivate and you will know why I love this recipe. Good things are happening ya’ll. Ok…now, whisk in the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.

IMG_2934

Simmer for about 10 minutes and then whisk in the whipping cream. Stir in the paprika and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring this luscious concoction back to a simmer and allow it to simmer another 10-15 minutes, or until thickened. While this is simmering, heat the cooking oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir chicken into the hot oil and sprinkle with curry powder. Working in batches if necessary, cook until browned but still has some pink on the inside. This won’t take long I allow it to cook on one side for a few minutes and then use a spatula to sort of flip the chicken. This gives it a stir fried effect that I like. Do the next batch and then done. Transfer the chicken to the simmering sauce (say that 3 times) and allow it to simmer in that highly fragrant sauce until chicken is no longer pink inside. Adjust flavor by sprinkling in more salt and sugar as necessary.

IMG_2937
mouth. Watering.

IMG_2941
I could eat this at least once a month. Maybe more.

My girl Trisha’s chicken, broccoli and rice casserole and my real family

This casserole is a huge hit around our house. I have always been a fan of the Campbell’s cheesy chicken and rice casserole but to be honest the rice is not always cooked throughout and nothing like biting into a raw piece of rice to mess up your dining experience. Talk about throw someone off. So as I have found more and more new recipes to cook, I have pretty much taken that recipe out of rotation. But still. My heart yearned for that creamy concoction of rice and cheese, chicken and broccoli. And I wanted to try again…but how? Where will find the perfect chicken and rice recipe? Luckily I have an arsenal of fantastic cookbooks to peruse when such conundrums come up. And let’s not forget about Pinterest. Aka my crack. Aka my kryptonite. Enter in my gal pal (in my own mind) Trisha!! I love Trisha Yearwood’s show on Food Network and I love her music in general. She is just a good ole gal from Oklahoma who loves to cook. I bought her first cookbook before she had a show and I loved it. She has had another come out since that I purchased and has another one hitting shelves at the end of March. You best believe I will be getting it too. I may or may not have already preordered it on Amazon. I really love her recipes and how doable they are. I do love a recipe that challenges me, but most days I want a recipe that is pretty straight forward and get some real food on the table to feed my super real family. Because I am a real tired mama who gets real worn out about supper time after the real bickering between kids and the real homework and all the real laundry. Let’s not get me started on all of the real stuff that goes on here there and in between. Trisha is like most of us, she keeps it real. Get it? Good. So this recipe absolutely fit the bill. The rice was perfect because it was precooked. It was the perfect amount of creamy and flavorful. I used rotisserie chicken and frozen broccoli to cut down on how long it took to prep this meal. It’s an all in one meal that your family will likely enjoy. We fought over the leftovers and I am not even kidding. The kids all had at least one helping and my oldest, aka Mr. Picky, really enjoyed it. And I crave this stuff. So glad it’s been a few weeks since I made it so I can make it again very soon. This will be on our monthly rotation without a doubt.

IMG_2804
a really great cookbook

My girl Trisha’s chicken, broccoli and rice casserole

serves 10

stuff you need~

2 cups cooked rice
3 cups cooked chopped broccoli (I used frozen broccoli that I cooked in the microwave)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
10 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 cooked chicken breasts (again, I used rotisserie chicken breast meat)

what to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 inch dish by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread the cooked rice all over the bottom of the baking dish…

IMG_2793

Now make a layer with the broccoli on top of the rice layer…

IMG_2794

In a mixing bowl, mix together the mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, soup, half of the cheese, salt and pepper and chicken.

IMG_2795

Spoon this mixture over the top of the broccoli layer…

IMG_2796

Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese all over this and bake for about 40 minutes. Allow to cool about 5 minutes before serving. Dinner is served for real. And your really hungry family will be really grateful, because this casserole is just so good. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

IMG_2806
oh so comforting and perfect

My really real family. The struggle is real. The joy is real. Cue the pictures…

IMG_2802
my really silly tween being tweenish

IMG_2699
my really real no makeup (as usual) selfie chillin on the porch of the camp. Really happy me

IMG_2801
my really wild child with a new missing front tooth

IMG_2800
my really sassy 8 year old

IMG_2803
our really cuddly pup Roy aka Roozie aka Boozie aka Von Doozie

IMG_2646
my really handsome fellas going out for a hunt at Bayou LaGrue

IMG_2657
my really proud 6 year old with his first squirrel

IMG_2683
my really beautiful girls

IMG_2799
one of my really most favorite pics

Honey chicken and honey embrace where you are

The other day I was walking through Target BD says if anyone ever wants to find me they can go wait in the Target parking lot and eventually they will find me…I think he is exaggerating a little but whatever. Anyway, I am walking through and see a sweet little baby girl sitting in the buggy and smiling at me as her mama shops. I smile at her and she hides her face. So sweet. Her mama smiles at me and says “oh she likes you!” I smile and say “well I have 4 of my own. My youngest is 6 now and my oldest is 11. We are doing things like science fair projects and stuff”. I am careful not to say to her “enjoy it because it goes by so quickly.” I know she has heard it 1000 times and it always made a little sad and irritated when someone said that to me. Still does. Sure does go by fast but no point in dwelling on that. She says, a bit wistfully or regretfully (I could not tell) “oh we will be there one day.”But I tell her “oh enjoy this part but there is a lot to look forward to as they get older. We actually all go to a movie now! We have fun.” She looks relieved and says “oh wow. That sounds nice.”
And I realized how much I used to dread my kids getting older. As if somehow it was wrong, but truth is it is so right. Just right. I enjoyed their babyhood but it was a CR-aaaaaazzzzzzy time in my life.

2015/01/img_2051.jpg
such a sweet time but it was wild and crazy

2015/01/img_2052.jpg
can you say sleep deprived?

Now it may be because I had them back to back. Literally. It was a sweet time in my life and I enjoyed it as much as my exhausted mind would allow me to…but this time is pretty precious too. I am enjoying this stage more than I imagined I would, but to be honest I have never thought much about having older kids. I have had to take it one day at a time. Living in the trenches can do that to you.

2015/01/img_2054.jpg

2015/01/img_2053.jpg
that’s some good times ya’ll. we are like a posse. A crew. Maybe a force to be reckoned with…lol.

This brings me to a new thing I am digging about my kids growing up some. I am sure ya’ll have heard it said “and the teacher becomes the student…” and I can definitely apply that to parenting, especially in this new place we are in. They teach me just by doing. I am usually the one who decides what will he made for supper because well…if I don’t make a decision early in the day and get my stuff together, we would end up eating cereal or take out pizza every single night. To be honest though, sometimes deciding what to fix for supper gets a bit redundant and well…exhausting. Especially when I try to keep it interesting but also make sure most of the family will like it. My head spins sometimes. The kids or BD will make a suggestion from time to time, but for the most part, the buck…or menu…stops here. But the other day, my 9 year old, who has recently discovered a passion for honey chicken at a local Chinese buffet (shout to Sumo…holla!!), googled honey chicken and found a recipe for me. She wanted me to try to recreate it at home. Now, I am all about experimentation in the kitchen, but on my schedule. See…I want help but I want it when I want it. Ah…the plight of motherhood…or is it womanhood?? I am workinSo I took the recipe and said I would get around to it. The next day, I thought to myself, why not? Why not try to make honey chicken at home?? My child is brilliant!! (She really is) And while I am at it, why not try my hand at my favorite, won ton soup. I had been meaning to get around to it but I never had. Why not indeed? So I got the ingredients and last Friday night I set out to recreate some of our Chinese food favorites at home. I guess if I tell the truth, it turned out well. Me taking off down that path with my daughter was fun and it definitely yielded some yummy results in the kitchen. This just goes to demonstrate that though the days of me being head honcho in the kitchen all the time might be over, we are coming to a fun new place where my kiddos are having a say, finding what they like and finding their voice. They are, whether meaning to or not, encouraging me to try new things. Just another thing to relish about these precious humans I birthed getting a little older. There is more to it, we all know that, but it shows me that this part of the journey can be fun. Not that them growing up some means that they will wash their own laundry yet, or take care of themselves when they are sick…and that’s ok. I am not ready for all that. We are moving into new territory, but we will ease into it. As Shelby says in Steel Magnolias, “There are still good times to be had Miss Claree!!” but I will embrace where I am headed rather than wish it away, but mostly I will enjoy my honey chicken loving kids and do the only thing a mama can do…make some more of this mind blowing, über delish honey chicken.
Honey chicken lovers delight. This recipe from http://www.damndelicious.net is easy to follow, pretty straight forward and yields some tasty honey chicken. So here’s to braving new territory, accepting life as is, and some really good honey chicken. Enjoy!!!

Honey Chicken

Stuff you need~

1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup Vegetable oil
1 cup Buttermilk
1 cup flour

for the sauce~

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste

what to do with the stuff~

Heat your oil in a skillet. Add your buttermilk to a bowl. Put your flour in another bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.

Now…your oil should be getting ready to fry. One piece at a time, dredge the chicken in flour then put in buttermilk and then back in flour again. Press to coat well with flour. Working in batches, add the battered chicken to the hot oil and cook until crispy. About 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a large baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain the chicken.
Ok…in a small saucepan, add Apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and red pepper flakes. Over medium heat, bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce heat. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook until mixture has thickened up some. 2-3 minutes should do it. Drizzle this luscious stuff all over those little fried chicken pieces. This turns them into heaven. Heavenly honey chicken. Amen.

2015/01/img_2055.jpg