Category Archives: Sides

Dianne’s brown rice and a love story

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you might know Big Daddy and I have known each one another since childhood. The story, as my mama tells it, goes like this…we were living in our house in Airview Terrace in Alex. and a couple with a little boy about my age moved in. My mama, being the hospitable gal she is, went over (with a casserole of some sort or to invite them over for dinner I’m sure) to introduce us. I was about a year old. She said she can vividly remember seeing Big Daddy with his hands and feet poked into the gate that closed off their driveway and me going over to him. He was about 9 months old. Yeah that’s right, Big Daddy likes the older gals I guess. 🤣 There’s about 4 months a year where I’m older than him. I’m a cougar I guess. So time goes on and Mrs. Dianne and my mama become great friends. They work at Central Hospital together and they hang out on the weekends when my daddy and Mr. Scott were hunting. They took us to Piccadilly in the Alex. Mall on Friday evenings. And Piccadilly still remains to this day, one of our favorites. Our kids all love it. It’s a family thing! Big daddy and I started Martin Park Elementary together. He had Mrs. Cooper and I had Mrs. Wells. I can remember laying down at nap time one day and the teachers had the doors to the connecting rooms open. I could see big daddy laying on his stomach on his nap mat. He would pop his bottom up and down and finally Mrs. Cooper goes over and smacks him on the bottom. Ah…the 80’s. When we were in 1st grade, Mr. Scott was transferred or took a job at the Broussard coop. Or in that area. That’s what he did. He was working at the Bayou Rapides coop at the time. So they were to move away. Oh I remember the day they moved. I was so sad. Big daddy was my best friend. We were best friends. We did everything together. In his baby book, his mama wrote “Clay prefers to play alone unless he can play with Aimée”.

At 6, it seemed like the end of the world for him to move away. My mama took me to the Circus World in the mall and let me pick out a toy for him. I remember getting him one of those balloons with the rubber band attached that you could pop back and forth. Looking back I bet that made a fun 1 1/2 hour trip to Broussard. lol! The day they moved away, my mama cooked lunch. I so remember there being peas at that lunch because Mrs. Dianne fussed at Mr. Scott about scraping his peas onto his fork with his finger. She fussed and said he should use his knife. He did not take kindly to that. 😂 if you know Mr. Scott you can imagine. They loaded into the moving truck and drove away. I thought that was the end. I remember it took me a long time to accept the new girl who moved into his house after. I’ve always been a little territorial I do believe. It’s the Taurus in me. I know that now. But it was not the end. Only God knew. So we would visit them in Broussard then Youngsville when they moved a little ways over. I remember us going visit and big daddy and I donning cowboy hats and us all going eat at the Piccadilly. Surprise! Life went on…Dianne had another baby and so did my mama. I remember Mrs. Dianne coming and rocking newborn baby Kyle (big daddy’s baby brother) in mama’s rocking chair. And life went on some more. The last time I had seen Big Daddy, they came by to visit on their way back from somewhere. I am guessing travel soccer, which is what BD was heavily into at the time. He even had his soccer numbers etched into the side of his head. My best friend Nicole (who is still one of my best friends) was over and we all went for a walk around the block. Nicole and I walked the block a lot back then. Ah…the 80’s. Nicole did not even know until recently that that guy was clay. She remembered the walk with the cute boy around the block but not that it was him. We were about 12. So time marches on and Big daddy and family move to Shreveport so Mr. Scott can manage the Keithville coop. Big daddy was in middle school. Sometime after this Mrs. Dianne was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our mama’s kept in touch as old friends always do. A few years later when we were graduating high school, I got a package in the mail. It was a picture of Clay and I when we were little. In front of a tree at his house, sticking our tongues out at the camera. And a beautiful bracelet. I giggled at the memory. Then a year later, I had just gotten engaged to the guy I dated at the end of high school and my mama and Mrs. Dianne has one of their catch up phone conversations. She asked to talk to me. I remember it like it was yesterday. She congratulated me on my engagement but said she could still get clay and I together if that is what she decided to do. I laughed. Like ok lady. See..her dream was always for me and clay to get married. I’d be her daughter she never had. Or they’d laughingly discuss that from time to time…like what if…so a few months go by and I’m about to move to Baton Rouge to go to LSU. Mrs. Dianne is not doing very well and Big Daddy calls my mama to say…if you want to see her now is the time. So we did. And when I saw Big Daddy, I had this overwhelming urge to protect him and take care of him. It was like no time had passed. Same old him, same old me. So….I’ll cut all the in between but I went back to Baton Rouge after the funeral to go back to my life, but I did give him my number at my apartment. I broke off my engagement (gasp, scandal but trust me it was for the best). That same night after I did that, my roommate told me clay had called while I was out. I called him back and that was that. We were together. I ended up at Northwestern the next semester. And the rest my friends is history. We were married March 3, 2001 at St. Francis Cabrini Church surrounded by 250 family and friends. We had a huge party of a reception at Olinger Hall where we danced the night away. We spent our wedding night in a room at the Paragon and then drove to NOLA the next day for a 4 day honeymoon. Today is our 18th wedding anniversary.

Us getting together under the circumstances that we did calls to mind the saying…you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans. I’m so glad that God and Mrs. Dianne knew better than me. That we were brought together under my mama calls “divine intervention”. Our relationship, our marriage and our family are all part of God’s great plans for us. His plans are always better. So happy anniversary to my big daddy. I would do all over again. And the best is yet to come!!

So let me get to this brown rice. Y’all…two recipes my mama got from Mrs. Dianne, who was a home ec major and an amazing cook, are her signature brown rice and her beer bread. Yum!!! The brown rice is a staple when we have barbecue at our home or at my mama’s house. We all love it. It’s an excellent side dish that is super easy. Matter of fact, an old friend of mine from Cabrini (where I went after 1st grade until 8th grade) asked me to post this one day. When I say it’s a recipe my mama is known to make….I mean it. And it’s all to Mrs. Dianne’s credit. I love how she lives on…through this story, our marriage, her 6 fantastic grandchildren (Kyle and his wife have 2 precious kids)…and my precious Mother in law…Deb (also an amazing cook) takes the best care of these grandkids. My children are blessed…a grandmother to watch over them in heaven and two (BB and Granny) to see them through on Earth. A great reminder that God and grandmothers are in the details. So I hope you’ll try this delicious side dish. It’s so full of flavor and pairs so well with grilled meats!

Dianne’s Brown Rice

Stuff you Need~

1 10 1/2 ounce can beef consommé

1 10 1/2 ounce can French onion soup

1 6.5 ounce can of sliced mushrooms (pieces and stems), drained; optional

1/2 stick of butter

1 cup of long grain white rice

1/2 soup can water

What to do with the stuff~

Plug in your rice cooker and press the warm button. Add your butter and let it melt. Stir in the soups, rice, water, and mushrooms if you use them. Put the lid on your rice pot. Let it cook. Stir occasionally as it will stick, then put lid back on. If the rice cooker says it is done and goes to warm or done, check it. If it is not ready then press cook again after giving it another stir. It may need a few more minutes. That’s really it y’all! Some barbecued chicken, baked beans, a green salad, garlic bread and this?! Please! It’s the best!! Yum!! Enjoy.

The Hartley ladies at Lyndy’s bridal shower back in the day (Kathy, Lyndy, Dianne and Mammaw)

Thanks for listening to me as I told our love story. I felt it was time. I’m such a blessed woman. God is good all the time, all the time God is good! I hope your day is so blessed!!

Thank you God for this husband and these children.

The professional pictures of us were taken by my precious friend Natalie Parnell, the brilliant mastermind behind Soul Rebels Photography. So grateful to have these pictures.

The Bowlin boys…Mr. Scott, Kyle, and Clay circa 1982 and 2018

Buffalo chicken dip and don’t forget the fun  

It’s been so hectic around here lately. I keep saying it will slow down but it actually seems to be picking up momentum. Like a slow train running. I have said this before in previous posts but I know a major part of being at peace is just accepting the frantic pace and finding time to have as much fun as possible with my family. Spending time together and savoring every moment. So recently some friends of ours moved into their newly built home and wanted to have a house warming party. Chris works with Big Daddy at Farm Bureau and they have become good friends. 

Naturally our kids are friends and his wife and I are friends. Everyone who works in that little office in Desoto Parish and their families have become a little family.  With Loretta (corn salad Loretta if you recall…read it here…Corn salad recipe) being the wacky aunt everyone adores. But that night of the housewarming get together, I was just not feeling it. I was past tired and careening rapidly towards exhausted and cranky. Over it. But we had committed and I knew we needed to be there…so we went. With my slow cooker full of this warm, bubbling  buffalo chicken dip, chopped celery sticks and big bag of Ruffles. Wacky aunt Loretta had lined us all up about what to bring and played the role of party planner. I had said I would bring chips and dip at the time but at the last minute I decided I  would bring one of my favorite dips that my sister, Claire, had introduced me to years ago. Yes, this buffalo chicken dip is one of my favorites and it was a big hit that night at Chris and Sarah’s. I ended up being so glad I bucked up and went. That I got over my exhaustion and was able to see past the long week and embrace a Friday night with good friends. See in my exhaustion, I had not counted on lots of laughter, or Kelly (who would be the fun indulgent aunt) bringing us all big ole daquiris (thanks Kelly!), or the hilarious conversation. I had not factored in feeling right at home and being able to just sit on a stool and laugh amongst friends. It’s easy sometimes in the haze of being annoyed and tired to forget the fun stuff. 


this picture says it all…
 So it ended up being a fabulous night. And the buffalo chicken dip was enjoyed by all. But not as much as the daquiris, Kell. We always have too much fun together. In fact, Sarah and I have decided it is going to happen more often. Oh and their new house is absolutely gorgeous! In the end, what makes a good time are the people around us. We have that down pat! 
Buffalo chicken dip 

stuff you need~

2 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese (NOT the fat free kind), softened 

3/4 cup buffalo sauce (Franks is my favorite kind…)

1/2 cup ranch dressing 

1/2 cup chunky bleu cheese dressing 

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar 

2 cups cooked chicken breast (I use rotisserie chicken) 
Your choice of chips or crackers for dipping 

Washed and chopped celery sticks 

my fave! I could drink the stuff.

What to do with the stuff~

In a smallish crockpot (think 3.5 quart), add your softened cream cheese. 

Next pour your dressings over this. 

Then add your essential ingredient…the hot wing sauce.

Just kind of give it a stir. 

Sprinkle in half the cheese…so 3/4 cup or do what I do and add half the bag. Go big or go home I always say. That’s the kind I use…that little hint of cream cheese creates a sense of nirvana in this dip. Just an over the top, “yes this dip, just yes” feeling. You know? Now stir in your cut up cooked chicken. 

Set it to low and cook for about 2 hours. Lift the lid and give it good stir halfway through. And sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. 

It will melt the cheese and it will be buffalo dip perfection. How I love this dip. It’s just fabulous. 

dear celery…you are a mere vehicle for this dip to get in my mouth
 So with the holidays coming or for when, you know, LSU plays Bama this weekend, keep this dip recipe on hand. You will want to make it. Don’t forget the daquiris!! 

the kids even know we are our own little family (kids in the front, BD the biggest kid in the back lol)


Broccoli salad aka broccoli crack and happy birthday to my mama 

Ok so this is one of my absolutely favorite recipes in the history of me cooking, which is a really long time. My mama had me cooking at the age of 12 (I mean not full time but she let me help and I am glad I was able to) and I have tried many a recipe and I am telling you…this one is top 10. I have never made it for anyone and they did not love it. It’s like crack. Broccoli crack. So healthy crack. Not nearly as damaging as regular crack. Much more colorful crack and packs a nutritious punch…it’s awesome! I am not sure how I got off on this track and I imagine you all are wondering if I am actually on crack…that answer is no. I am just tired and get into one subject and have a hard time shifting gears…but I am shifting now. Anywho, my parents aka Bernie and Stephen aka BB and Poppy came to town last weekend and Big Daddy cooked a prime rib roast in honor or my mama’s birthday. I made the Pioneer Woman’s whiskey gravy to go over it and then made this amazing broccoli salad  to serve along the side of it (and some tasty garlic mashed potatoes). It was pretty darn amazing if I have to say so myself. Once again, the broccoli salad was a hit and our plates were so pretty…it’s an irresistible combo. This broccoli salad is as comfortable on the side of burgers and hot dogs as it is beside prime rib roast. That speaks volumes of its versatility and supreme awesomeness. So make it.  It’s one of Paula Deen’s recipes, so you know it’s good. You will love it, your family will love it, they will love you more and it’s just an overall win. And who could not use a win?!  Exactly. 

BB and one of her babies

Happy birthday BB

makes my heart smile

Broccoli Salad 

Makes 6-8 servings 
Stuff you need~
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
6 slices of bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
1/2 finely chopped red onion 
1/2 cup golden raisins 
8 ounces sharp Cheddar, cut into small chunks 
1 cup mayonnaise 
2 tablespoons white vinegar 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes 
What to do with the stuff~

Add chopped and washed broccoli to a large serving bowl. Toss in raisins, crumbled bacon, cheese, and raisins. Add halved cherry tomatoes.   In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, sugar and vinegar. Pour this over the broccoli mixture and toss gently to coat well. 

*if making for a large crowd, make sure to double this recipe. It goes quickly and people go crazy. It’s addictive. 

*you can make it the day you are serving it but it is really good when you make it the night before.

as marty in Madagascar says…crackalackin!!!

Cheesy Spanish rice casserole and the best refried beans…and for the love of Mexican

So around our house we are Mexican food fanatics. No really. Every birthday dinner my Goosie girl has had has been celebrated at her favorite local Mexican restaurant since she was…oh about 3.

the Goose’s 6th birthday. celebrating over Mexican food.

new cowgirl boots, a doll, and Trejo’s…she turned 7 in style!!

And the rest of them are just as bad. It’s the one thing our opinionated, loud mouth family of 6 can agree on. We love Mexican food. It’s a no brainer that I would want to recreate some of our fave Mexican dishes at home. With 6 people in our family and me being a stay at home mom, eating out is not a regular occurrence in our home. I mean…we do eat out, don’t get me wrong, just not weekly. I found these amazing recipes while scanning through Pinterest and I am so glad I listened when I said to myself “self, you should make these recipes!!”. I am smart and clever and have really good ideas…when I actually am able am able to finish a thought. And then retain it long enough to make use of it. And the moon is blue. See what I mean? Anyway, enough about my bad memory due to popping out all these kiddos. Let’s get back to Mexican food. Yum. This Spanish rice casserole from came to together so dang fast it was almost criminal and the refried beans from were seriously so easy and the best I have EVA tasted and mama knows her refried beans. I can tell ya’ll this….my two oldest kiddos had science fair projects due and we’re finishing their boards and while the meltdowns and hissy fits (mostly mine) ensued, I was able to get this meal on the table. Yeah…that makes it so tops in my book. If you adore Mexican food and long for that authentic Mexican flavor without having to go out (except to buy ingredients now)…give these two recipes a go.

working on science fair project boards…this was earlier in the day when we all had our composure.

Homemade Refried Beans (adapted from Money Saving Mom)

stuff you need~

1 bag of dry pinto beans, that have been soaked in water overnight)
3 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced (2 1/2 teaspoons of the jarred stuff)
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

what to do with the stuff

Okay, assuming that you have soaked the beans overnight in your crockpot …drain the water you soaked them in and then add fresh water to cover the beans. Cook on low for about 6 hours or so. I used my smaller crockpot for this and this was fine.
Now, after the beans have cooked and are soft….in a heavy bottomed large saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the onions until translucent and then add garlic towards the end. Next, using a ladle, ladle your cooked beans (about 4 cups) Into the saucepan, along with some of the liquid.


Sprinkle in all of the seasonings so crucial to giving these beans that authentic, straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant flavor. Allow them to simmer for about 20 minutes. Now…I used my immersion blender to get the texture I wanted. At this point you can do the same, just stick that immersion blender in your pot O’ beans or you can put them in the blender or you can use a good ole masher. I like some texture to my refried beans so I did not blend them much. Do your thing and make them the way you want.


You can serve these beans with some warned tortillas on the side and a good green salad or you can go all out (aka full Mexican) and prepare this cheesy Spanish rice casserole…

Cheesy Mexican rice casserole (adapted from Mommy’s kitchen)

stuff you need

1 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice
1 can chili ready diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano (I used regular dried oregano and it was just fine)
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (I used ground turkey…yum!)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 8 ounce package shredded Mexican cheese blend
Fresh cilantro for serving (crucial! It made this dish for me!)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add in rice and stir constantly as it turns a golden brown color. You want most of the grains of rice to be a toasty brown. This takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, salsa, chicken broth and all of those spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and allow to simmer for 15- 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. It will look just like this…


Meanwhile, while the rice is simmering in those spices and liquid, brown your ground meat and onion and garlic in a large skillet until onions are translucent and meat is fully cooked.


Stir the meat into the rice skillet. Cover with shredded cheese blend and bake until the cheese is all bubbly and yummy looking (you know what I mean right?). Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro. So good ya’ll…I mean seriously Mexican restaurant worthy.

“have mercy!!” said in Uncle Jesse’s voice from Full House

now she is 8 and likes to kick back while mama makes up some Mexican dishes. That’s how sister rolls!

Loretta’s corn salad

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

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

Loretta and her hubby, Ken

Loretta’s corn salad

serves a bunch of folks…like 12

stuff you need

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

what to do with the stuff

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

love all the colors!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Susan’s baked rice

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

Susan’s baked rice

stuff you need~

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

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

sautéing veggies in that butter…this is key

stir in the water and rice

ready to pop into the oven

finished product. Holy yum!!!

Thanksgiving recipe round up

I have always loved Thanksgiving. Of course, I love the food. Turkey and dressing is one of my favorite foods. I guess the time of year also has something to do with my love of this holiday. The people who sit around the table with me make it a pretty great day as well. Another reason still that it is my favorite is that it is the beginning of the holiday season. So many reasons to love Thanksgiving, it’s hard to pick just one. Along those lines, so many reasons to love Thanksgiving dinner and I am about to give you a few more. This a roundup of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes…some I have posted before and some are brand new. I think there is something to please everyone here. It’s a few days early, but as we move into our month of counting our blessings, I want you to know that having the opportunity to share my stories, some recipes, laughter and tears with y’all is one of the blessings I will count. Thank you for continued support, encouragement and cooking and learning right along with me, in the kitchen and in life. Much love and many blessings…~AMB

Scrumptious sides | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

Cream cheese corn recipe | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

Momee’s cornbread dressing | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

Pea and asparagus casserole and coming home | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

Corn Pudding

Corn pudding

Makes about 8-10 servings

stuff you need

1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 can cream style corn
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
3/4 cup sour cream
1 stick mostly melted butter

what to do with the stuff~

Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish well. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together all ingredients and pour into buttered dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until completely set in the middle.

if food is a religion, can I get an amen?

Mini green bean casseroles
Serves 16

Stuff you need~

2 cans jumbo home style biscuits (16 in all)
2 cans cut green beans, drained
1/2 cup milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/3 cups french fried onions (about a can)

What to do with the stuff~

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out each biscuit to 4 inch circles (I just kind of gently stretched mine out). Press a biscuit into each muffin cup.
Mix together drained green beans, milk, soup, 2/3 cup of the French fried onions, and 1 cup of the cheese in a large mixing bowl.
Spoon equally divided amounts of the green bean mixture into each biscuit cup.
Bake for 20 minutes or until biscuits are golden browned. Sprinkle remaining cheese and French fried onions over each cup. Return to oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Let cool on wire rack for 5 minutes or so.

fun, different and so delicious!

Sweet potato soufflé
(A Trisha Yearwood recipe)

Serves 8

stuff you need~

For soufflé

5 medium sweet potatoes
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened (at room temperature)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
Pinch of salt


1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened

what to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
On a foil covered baking sheet, bake the sweet potatoes for 1 hour or until they are soft. Allow them to cool. Peel and add the potato flesh to a large mixing bowl and mash until smooth. Add the remaining soufflé ingredients and using a electric mixer or standing mixed until combined well. Spoon the mixture into your prepared baking dish.

For the topping–in a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients until they are mixed well together. Spoon several large dollops of topping over the sweet potatoes (see photo). Bake for 30 minutes or until the the topping is slightly browned. Let stand 5 minutes before 5 minutes.

I ❤️ sweet potatoes

so true.

Momou’s eggplant dressing

Now this stuff right here is some of the best stuff you will ever put in your mouth. My mama makes some of the best dirty rice aka rice dressing you will ever eat but there is some ingredients in her dirty rice that might scare some of y’all off. It is true dirty rice. This eggplant dressing is kind of sort of like the rice dressing except the eggplant replaces all the “dirty” stuff. I will eventually work y’all up to the rice dressing but let’s start y’all off on this delicious eggplant dressing. Several years ago, Momou had asked me and my sisters which recipes we would like her to write down for us. I am so glad I asked for her to write this one down. It is truly a one of a kind, cajun mama cooks recipe. I made it last night and Big Daddy said he could make a meal out of this dressing. It really is so good. If you have some eggplant from your garden or if your friend gave you an eggplant or two, this is an excellent way to use it up. Now Momou used to cut the eggplant in half and somehow cut out of the meat and saved the hollowed out eggplant halves and then add the eggplant dressing to that. It made quite the presentation I tell you. Momou has it going on.
I hope you will give it a chance. It may sound different, but it is worth making. I am pretty sure you will agree.

Eggplant Dressing

Stuff you need~

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
3 cups of cooked rice (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper

What to do with the stuff~

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the ground meat until no longer pink. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, garlic and eggplant. Cook down until the veggies are all tender. Now, stir in the cooked rice, adding a spoonful at a time and stirring after each addition. I just add rice until there is a good rice to meat and veggie ratio. Also, when the liquid is all soaked up with the rice. Add good ole salt and pepper to taste. Serve it up and ENJOY!

peeling the eggplant

Adding in the veggies…they will cook down

before adding the rice, the veggies all cooked down. That is some good stuff right there

ah yeah…so good. Thank you Momou!

Alayna’s best ever cornbread

I could give you a very brief synopsis here about this chick named Alayna who gave me a cornbread recipe that is to die for. That would be the abbreviated version. Y’all know that abbreviated it not really my thang so here goes. Alayna is one of the wittiest, most clever, funniest and most loyal friends a girl could have. Now, back when our girls started preschool together when they were 4, I was not so sure. Saw her in the target parking lot one day (where I see and meet most people) and she looked at me like I had 2 heads when all of my circus people start climbing out the suburban. She made some (witty I am sure) remark about “all my kiddos” and it was after school and I am sure my humor was low at the time. But Alayna is a tell it like it is type of gal. She will not steer you wrong and will tell you just how it is. Kind of…wait a second…hold up…like me. We are so much alike, which is kind of good and kind of not good, depending on the day. Now she says “cue the circus music!” when we arrive anywhere. She helps me to take it all in stride. I sure do love her. Tried and true, wonderful in every way…a lot like this cornbread recipe. She says she and her hubby, John, found this recipe somewhere and then perfected it over time. Oh I am gonna tell you…as Alayna is fond of saying…that’s what she said. They have tweaked it to the ultimate cornbread perfection. My country boy, I mean man, LOVES this cornbread with everything. Chicken and dumplings, Lima beans, red beans, chili, any kind of soup. And with fall around the corner and all those yummy gumbos and stews to be made you will be set with Alayna’s cornbread recipe in your arsenal. That’s right you are cornbread slinging, soup making Cajun mama (or daddy!). So when you are ready to try THE best cornbread recipe, the last you will need as far as I am concerned…make this one. Love you Layner! Thanks for the good cornbread recipe and even better friendship!!~AMB

I love her a bunch

our kiddos dig one another too

Alayna’s Best Ever Cornbread

Makes 1 large skillet of cornbread

Stuff you need~

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 vegetable oil (I use canola)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 glass dish or a cast iron skillet with unsalted butter (if you have it, or spray it with cooking spray or use salted butter…Alayna would not want me fussing up recipe).

In a large mixing bowl, pour in flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and baking powder and kind of combine with a fork. Just mix it all together. Next, whisk in the egg, stir. Whisk in milk and oil. Whisk whisk until just combined. Pour into greased skillet or dish. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done in the center and golden brown on top. Yummy!!! Oh and don’t forget the butter. Oh my!!!
*let me add that some of this leftover cornbread with some ice cold milk poured over it in a bowl makes some excellent cush cush. Just saying!

Savory mushroom brown rice

As long as I can remember, this recipe has been around. It truly connects my family to Big Daddy’s family in a unique way. Wait what? I know, sounds crazy right? And yet so true. In a past blog post, I know I told y’all that BD and I have known one another since childhood. Actually babyhood. I was 1 and he was 9 months when they moved in across the street from us in a little neighborhood called Airview Terrace in Alex. (that is Alexandria for those who are not hip to the lingo ha ha). Our moms, Bernie and Dianne, became fast friends. As a mom myself now, I imagine they were so happy to hit it off and their kiddos played well together. Well as well as BD could play with anyone as he was sort of a precious little hellion back then. I can say that because I am raising his prodigy these days. 🙂 So they became fast friends. Clay’s mom was a few years older than my mom. And she had a degree in home economics from what is known as ULM. So sister could cook and enjoyed it. Of course, she was not from Marksville like my mom but from North Louisiana, so they had different styles. I would have to say in general they had different styles period. Dianne was tall and statuesque and had sass to spare. Bernie is a petite and a little more soft spoken. But they were the yin to the other’s yang and they remained friends until the day Dianne passed away. And now of course, there are 4 kiddos running around as a result (to some extent) of this friendship those two ladies formed back in 1976. Thank Heavens for that.
Read the rest of the post on my new site…
Savory Mushroom Brown Rice | Cajun Mama Cooks