Category Archives: Holiday Perfect

Twice baked cauliflower casserole

Now, one of my former favorite side dishes to make has always been my “special potatoes”. Love, love, love their cheesy, creamy deliciousness and I used to crave them but now that I am following the ketogenic diet, I choose not to eat potatoes. This way of eating is my choice and I am certainly better for it. So I had seen mashed cauliflower recipes and this and that but none of them really caught my eye. Far as I am concerned, I may as well just do without boiling cauliflower to make it like potatoes. I’ll eat my favorite creamed spinach or some asparagus with my meat and keep on rolling. I get why people do it and certainly does give you some options for sides, but it is not something I have to have. BUT Big Daddy had bought some cauliflower a few days ago and he took some ribs out to smoke this weekend and I needed to come up with a side. I made deviled eggs (a keto no brainer and I even made enough to have for lunch tomorrow!! I had saved this twice baked baked cauliflower casserole a few weeks ago annnddd I had cauliflower so today was our lucky to try it!! So glad I did! It is fantastic! It is creamy and cheesy and the texture is just right! The only thing I think I might try next time is to beat it until it is creamy with my mixer. I mashed it as the original recipe from Kayln’s Kitchen had called for this time just to see how it was and all in all the texture was fine. We had a friend come over to eat supper and he thought it was fantastic. Big Daddy was so excited about it (the man will literally eat a boot if it is smothered in gravy and not complain but he genuinely enjoyed this!!). It is definitely a good side option if you are following keto WOE or living the low carb life!

Twice Baked cauliflower casserole

Stuff you need~

One head cauliflower

1/2 cup sour cream

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

Green onions

6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled

1 cup shredded cheddar

What to do with the stuff~

Cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces. Remove the core/stem. Boil in salted water until fork tender.

Drain well and then mash with a potato masher. The original recipe said to leave some chunks in it.

Now, add all ingredients except the shredded cheddar to the mashed cauliflower. I added some Himalayan pink salt and cracked black pepper and some Tony’s to it.

Mix well and then transfer to a 9 x 13 baking dish. I used a slightly smaller dish and it was fine. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar all over the casserole and some more crumbled bacon if you did not eat the extra like I did (😏 🥓) then return to the oven until cheese is melted. Enjoy without the guilt! Yum!!

Here are a few pictures my friend Natalie, who is a mom boss who runs Soul Rebels Photography took for us earlier this month. These pictures make me happy on so many levels. Check out more of her work at http://www.soulrebelsphotography.com. She is so very talented and a wonderful person to work with! My family is changing everyday and my kids are growing up so fast, but for a moment she captured us in that moment in a cotton field just before the sun went down. It was a magical evening and the pictures turned out so well.

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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!!

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

Yes…you read that title correctly.  Chocolate bourbon pecan pie.  And it is every bit as delicious as you would imagine.  It is Thanksgiving and Christmas and all good things rolled into one.  It is traditional pecan pie but so much more.  I came across this recipe one lucky day…before pinterest. Shocking I know!!  I gave it a try that Christmas and we were blown away.  Friends who came to Christmas dinner wanted to take an entire pie home.  It is that good.  The best thing about this pie is that it is easy to prepare and yet it tastes so fabulous it seems as if you have spent hours preparing it.  This pie will have people beating down your door to be friends with you, get you into the best holiday parties, heck it is so good they might throw  a party in your honor!!  Ok…I may be embellishing a little but I assure you making this pie for your friends and family can’t hurt anything.  Oh it is so good.  So give it a try.  I promise you have totally got this!  So get to baking…Cajun Mama says so.  Sorry…I know that was bossy…but I like to pretend ya’ll listen to me…the people who live in my house with me certainly don’t.  I am pretty sure they hear a series of dolphin squeaks when I speak.  Ha ha!  But really…sigh.

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

(From Southern Living Nov. 1998)

Yields  one 9 inch pie

Ingredients 

1/2 package refrigerated pie crusts

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup light corn syrup

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons bourbon

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lay pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate, taking care to fold edges under and crimp

Whisk together eggs, light corn syrup, and the following 6 ingredients until mixture is smooth.  Stir in chopped pecans and chocolate chips.  Pour into pie crust.

Bake on the lowest oven rack for 1 hour or until set.  Mine took exactly an hour and then I let it cool for about 45 minutes and it was perfectly set.

ImageYeah…it is even better than it looks.  Promise.