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Hungarian goulash and Going home

We are on winter break over here and while our money is crazy tight, I have people to feed over here! They somehow ask for food 3 times a day!! Go figure! So the other day I was looking at what all I had to make something for supper and I thought of one of the throwback recipes from my childhood. My mama would make this on the regular when I was growing up. My daddy is definitely a meat and potatoes sort of guy and he always liked this. I’m not sure but I’m betting Bernie still makes this for Stephen from time to time. I am sure I never appreciated her cooking when I was growing up like I do now. In fact, if I am being completely honest, I am betting I turned my nose up at this recipe when she cooked it. Hungarian goulash and Mulligan stew…two recipes I distinctly remember being not my favorites. Funny how times change. I actually made this recipe a few times when I was in college. Yes, I cooked this sort of stuff for Big Daddy in college. But for whatever reason, it has been a while since I made this goulash. And that’s a shame because it is so simple and really an economical meal (if you get the meat on sale…like a chuck roast on sale and cut it into chunks). The recipe calls for round steak or stew meat but this time Big Daddy asked me to use the elk stew meat our friend, Linc, had given him. I obliged, though I was hesitant. I’m not a fan of wild meat. And yes I grew up in a family where it was served often. My daddy is a big hunter and fisherman. We are Cajun and that means we eat all sorts of crazy stuff. Funniest story…when I was about 14 and my sisters were about 9, 7, and 5 daddy had come home from a weekend at his camp in Spring Bayou. He has brought home a mess of squirrels to cook. For the record, squirrel and rabbit are my least favorite game to eat. And I can make that statement with knowledge of how it tastes. At this point in my life, my parents had given up on trying to make me eat and just let me eat the rice and gravy and vegetables. But my sisters still enjoyed it and were not bothered. They enjoyed because it tasted good (my daddy can cook some game), but just the thought of it made my stomach turn. So they are sitting there eating the squirrel my daddy had cooked at the bar in our newly built house. Happy little clams. I was 14 or 15 and wanted to be heard, so I start up. “That’s squirrel y’all are eating. Daddy killed them this weekend and then cooked them.” My daddy, who I am sure wanted to smack me, promptly sent me to my room. I used to swear I’d never marry a man who hunted or ever make rice and gravy again when I moved out that house. I’m 0 for 2 y’all. Needless to say, the fact that I married an ole country boy who is of the “shoot it, stuff it or marry it” mentality (thanks Steel Magnolias!) is quite comical. And now I’m over here in north Louisiana making Hungarian goulash using elk stew meat. Yep. You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans!!! Life is funny that way! I’ll be the first to admit that elk stew meat was just delicious in this goulash. I just had to not think about it. When you’re on a budget, you are grateful for any extra meat you can work into a recipe that did not cost money! So thanks Linc! This goulash makes the kitchen smell so good when it’s cooking and it basically cooks itself. This recipe was actually in a box of handwritten recipes my Aunt Gay has given my mom when she and my dad got married. It’s tucked away in my recipe box and I think as great as Pinterest and google are, there’s something so poignant and wonderful about making a recipe that was handwritten in 1972 out of love for a newly married couple. It’s a dying art that we cannot let go of. It is ironic that the older I get, the more I cling to what I come from. What I know. The kids and I went to visit my mama and daddy in Alexandria the other day and I realized the closer I got to home, the more myself I felt. That is where I am from. That is who I am at my core. Southern Maid donuts will never cut it for me. I am a Shipley’s girl. Chocolate filled thank you very much. My kids agree they are the best.

There is something comforting about going back home…kids in tow

This recipe is so simple it will surprise you. I hope you will make it and enjoy it. You can use deer meat as well.

Hungarian Goulash (circa 1972)

Stuff you need~

8 strips of bacon, raw

2 pounds of stew meat cut into chunks

1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices

6 carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices

Plenty of salt and pepper

THAT’S IT!!!!

What to do with the stuff~

Layer the bacon slices at the bottom of a thick bottomed Dutch oven. You need one with a lid that fits nice and tight. I basically laid the bacon to cover the bottom one way and then laid slices across those slices the other way to fully cover the bottom. You will be amazed at how the bacon flavors this whole dish.

Next lay your cubed stew meat over the bacon. Salt and pepper well. Next layer the thick slices of onion rings over the meat. Salt and pepper well. Next potatoes, then carrots. Salt and pepper between layers. Add enough water to basically cover the meat. Then cover with tight fitting lid. Cook on low until water cooks out and meat is done. Basically about 2 1/2 -3 hours. This dish basically cooks itself but make sure to keep an eye. You might add water if needed. I did not have to.

Serve with a green salad and some brown n serve rolls (the only kind we made in my house growing up mop tit!) and you’re good to go. Cornbread would be good in place of brown n serve rolls, that’s up to you! Some sweet tea and you are good, boo!

Enjoy the simplicity and basic goodness of this recipe!!

The goulash before I put lid on and started to cook it
Me and my original ride or dies…my sisters. About 1996. I’m always this girl

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My favorite chicken salad sandwiches recipe (keto friendly) and fun chaos!

Ya’ll!!!! I cannot even believe it has been so long since I’ve written a blog post. I’m sure it has been crazy where you are and I’m no different. I could begin to catch you up if I tried. My kids are growing and doing well this school year. I’ll be honest and say with a freshman, an 8th grader, 6th grader and a 4th grader…the fun never ends!!! Lmao! It’s like a big party 24/7. The kind of party that sometimes you think you just as well burn the house down after it’s over than to try to repair the damage but a party none the less. Think Sixteen Candles with the pizza on the record player, Long Duck Dong falling out of the tree and you get the picture. 😂😂

Pretty much. This. Every morning 😂

That exactly. Every day of my life with teenagers and preteens. I tell people it’s like a game of whack a mole. I get one calmed down and another one pops up. But you know what? I’m going to say it keeps me young and I would not have it any other way. When you have 4 kids in less than 5 years, challenges are to be expected. Heck, my mama had 4 in ten years and there were challenges a plenty!! 4 girls!! Can you imagine?!

3 of my best blessings (Lisa, Me, Jenny, Claire….aka the Mayeux girls)

Challenges for Bernie and Steven sure but man these girls are my best friends. So I’m hoping that one day my kids can get as much joy from their siblings relationships as I do from mine.

Photo credit Soul Rebels Photography (check her out!!)

And it’s not always been an easy road. But it’s worth it. Which brings me to why you are likely here and not to here me go on and on about my sisters and my kids. Or maybe you’re here for both!! Also on my list of not always an easy road but worth it…keto. I fell off the wagon over the holidays. Yeah. I did. And that’s ok!! I actually jumped off screaming “weeee!!!” Lol! But the good thing is I realized how much better I feel when I eat mostly keto. My stomach troubles go away, less inflammation, less anxiety, just better in general. I ate keto for over a year so the blessing there is I know how worth it is to get back into it. So I’m getting back into it.

At the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers on the scale. What size jeans I wear. I mean those things are motivators, especially in the beginning. But doing this as a lifestyle, I’ve gained an appreciation for how it makes me feel. And that motivates me the most. Last year I learned I’m a better version of me when I go to Mass regularly and when I eat keto. But I’ve told y’all before I keep it simple. I do like trying recipes. And I might make the occasional fat head dough or make a nice low carb bread…but mostly I stick to my meat and low carb veggies. The first few days getting back into it are hard, but after that it’s all good mostly. Biggest piece of advice, stay hydrated and keep it simple!!! So in that same vein, I am sharing one of my favorite simple keto recipes. My favorite chicken salad. You can make a huge batch for the week and eat it by itself or over a bed of fresh spinach.

All the Mayeux grandkids…12 in all…for now…😉
Mama and her girls

My younger two kids adore it and will eat it in a sandwich. I made a batch for my family’s big Christmas shindig and it went fast!! Granted it was served on bread but it’s so good with or without bread! Momou used to throw a huge buffet style shin dig every Christmas Eve. Almost everyone would come. My Momee and some of mama’s family would even come. Second cousins in town for Christmas would come. Her Christmas Eve buffets were legendary (at least in Bluetown 🤷🏻‍♀️) and chicken salad sandwiches cut into triangles always made an appearance. I loved them. So this year for our Christmas Eve, my sisters and mama and I kind of recreated that same buffet style situation. Meatballs, dips, and yes…chicken salad sandwiches.

Claire and JP showing off our smorgasbord

This exact chicken salad. But with bread. So this is a versatile recipe. I never knew Momou’s exact recipe but this tastes pretty close. And a little side note…if you are looking at keto meal prep for the week, make some egg salad, deviled eggs, ham and cheese roll ups…the list of simple lunches is endless! You can so do this. I can so do this!!

Any how…on with my favorite chicken salad recipe!!

Cajun Mama’s Favorite Simple chicken salad! (And it’s keto friendly!!)

Stuff you need~

Servings-a serving or two for my lunches and then enough for 2 sandwiches for the kids so double as needed

3 chicken breasts, boiled and deboned

Plenty of mayo *

White pepper

Himalayan pink salt

*check labels and use the lowest carb one….I.e. the least or no sugar. You can make your own…I don’t, but if you are so inclined then by all means. I am ketoish. Meaning I use regular mayo and that’s good enough for me

What to do with the stuff~

If you have a food processor, then I would definitely go this route! I have a Pampered Chef one that I use when I am not making a huge batch and it works perfectly! I’m a Pampered Chef consultant and I got one in my start up kit and it’s awesome! I love the consistency that running the chicken breasts through the processor gives my chicken salad….but feel free to just chop your chicken up. Do you!!

Now the mayo…listen everyone is different. Some like their chicken salad more moist and some like their chicken salad on the dry side. I know I add at least 1/2 cup to three chicken breasts. So start out with less and add more as needed. Remember that the mayo is a needed fat in this situation and much needed to keep you full!! You do not want a bunch of protein with no fat. Use the mayo made with olive oil if that helps you. Now sprinkle in white pepper. It’s an acquired taste and has grown on me over the years. Another wonderful chicken salad recipe I posted a few years ago from one of my most favorite restaurants in Shreveport Fairfield Grocery chicken salad, uses white pepper and I have incorporated it into different recipes since then. I suggest you try it if you have not before. Then sprinkle In Himalayan pink salt to taste and you are set! It will stay good in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days…but it never lasts that long in my house!!! I’ll add pictures when I make some after while. It’s so delicious!

My daddy always finds a recliner to nap on during any family function. And he really sleeps!
Big Daddy and my sissies…💗💘
Reasons my daddy naps 😂 but we have fun!!
Seems so serene…but we are a wild bunch
This is so us.

A HUGE shout out to my ultra talented and precious friend, Natalie Parnell, and Soul Rebels Photography For these fantastic family photos. She manages to capture our family at its core….fun chaos while somehow showing the beauty in all the chaos. She is so talented and just a dear precious soul to work with. She manage to get some great shots in less than an hour. If she can do that for us…she can do it for your family! Check her out here!! Also look her up on Facebook! She truly is amazing.

That’s Nat (Soul Rebels Photography) and my Madame Toot!!

Cheesy asparagus stuffed chicken and this dish is just good

I promised this one a while back on my Cajun Mama Cooks Facebook page…I know. For shame. I wrote it up. I actually had a whole long verbose post written up in honor of the new year. It was very sentimental and touching…I just erased it. Yep. I did. An hour of work gone. I erased it. It was all too poignant and I was feeling it that day but now not so much. Today I’m feeling the saying “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present.” I’m so grateful to be able to tell you about this chicken dish, so many blessings to give God thanks for, so much joy to tell of that it would take one million blog posts. So I’ll just say this chicken dish is so tasty, you have to try it! When I make this for my family, I eat only this. To make it a meal for my family, I make a starchy side because they think it is necessary…non keto people…what can I say 🙄. But it is a perfectly delicious meal. And you can always just cook a plain chicken breasts for those kiddos who would balk at asparagus and cheese touching their chicken. How dare you!!! Lol! I found this recipe on Facebook before I was doing keto and I fell in love. I really, really love it since it is on my list of things I can have!! Big daddy, Pappy, and madame toot adore this!! It’s amazing y’all! It’s even good cold the next morning for breakfast…uh, um…my friend told me. 😏

My precious blessings...and at the end of the day one of the few things that matter Cheesy stuffed asparagus chicken~

Stuff you need~

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts<<bis recipe, I use the thicker ones)

4 slices of provolone cheese

Bundle of asparagus, the bottom inch chopped off

Zest of 1 lemon

Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pink salt and cracked black pepper

What to do with the stuff~ Butterfly your chicken breasts. Do not let this deter you! It’s simple! Put your chicken breasts on your cutting board. Use a sharp knife and yes a little caution. Put one hand firmly over one chicken breasts. Using knife with other hand, slice chicken breast almost in half horizontally. Go from outside to inside. So basically you can open the chicken breast like a book now or opens like a butterflies wings hence the term butterflied.

I am assuming some people do not know how to butterfly the chicken breasts. I know I was reluctant to do it at first. If you know, then skip reading this. Do this with all of your chicken breasts.

Now, you will season the inside of the chicken breasts with all of those spices and add some lemon zest. My Pampered Chef microplane zester always gets the job done perfectly!

Next, you will put 3 pieces of trimmed asparagus and a slice of cheese (I cut mine in half and use it that way. Whole slice per chicken breast but it fits better cut in half). Fold the breast over the cheese and asparagus. Season again with the same spices.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. I use an oven safe skillet so I can do it all in one pan, but you can always transfer to a casserole dish if you want. Preheat oven to 350. Brown the chicken in your melted butter/warmed olive oil over medium heat. You’d rather brown it over lower heat so the cheese does not melt too fast. Brown on both sides. Pop it in oven and continue cooking until chicken is done throughout and no longer pink. Spoon some of those juices over the chicken during the baking process if you want. Yes some of the cheese will melt out of the butterflied chicken. It’s ok. Now on the video I saw when I first discovered this dish, it did not. But I operate in the real world, not smoke and mirrors and I’m telling you some of the cheese will drip out. Life is messy and that is ok!! There is nothing wrong with you! It only matters if you let it!! I usually cook the rest of the asparagus in the bundle right alongside the chicken because I have some asparagus lovers in my house. You do as you wish!

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

I love chicken. I love gravy. I mean I was raised Avoyelles parish style (my parents are both from Marksville, Bluetown and Broulliette to be exact) and loving gravy is just part of my genetic makeup. I think. Maybe it’s not that scientific, but I love of gravy is deeply engrained in me. So now that I have adopted the ketogenic woe, the rice is not on the list of items I choose to eat, I have found a way to make sure I can still have me some gravy. Yay!! Happy cajun girl over here! This is the tastiest, lip smacking, plum larapin’ gravy I think I’ve ever had. My dad says plum larapin when he likes something he is eating so I figured I’d toss that in there. Ha!! Love my daddy. And I love this gravy. This chicken in the gravy is over the top! I serve it over creamed spinach but it would go great with steamed broccoli with a little butter or even a salad. But me, I prefer to eat it over a nice bed of creamed spinach, which I suppose sort of acts like rice for me. All the same…a vehicle for getting that gravy into my mouth!!! I sort of concocted this recipe one night when I had chicken tenders and I wanted something creamy that fit within my macros. Now, if you are strict keto, you might take umbrage with this as a keto recipe, but it’s lazy keto, which is perfect for me. Ok. So this is an easy recipe and comes together fast! Make sure to make enough to have it for lunch the next day…you’ll want it again. Trust me.

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

Stuff you need~

Package of chicken tenders

2 tablespoons Real butter

Himalayan pink salt and cracked black pepper

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons Chicken bouillon base

What to do with the stuff~

Melt butter in a sauté pan. I use my pampered chef grill pan and it works perfectly for this. Salt and pepper the chicken tenders on both sides. Add seasoned chicken tenders to the melted butter in the hot skillet. Cook on both sides until nicely browned and no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pan. Stir in the heavy cream. Let this come to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in bouillon base. You can add more to taste if desired. I add just enough to give my gravy that good chicken-y flavor. Once you have the gravy like you want it, add the chicken tenders back in. The “gravy” will thicken up the longer it simmers and the tenders will get more…tender. All in all, a perfect combination of tender tenders and chicken-y gravy. 🤣 I crack myself up! Make up some creamed spinach and you are good to go! Even the carb eaters in my house love this dish! Because it’s delish!

<<
t the best pictures but what can I say? I was ready to dig in!!

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.

Round here these days…a round up of two Cajun recipes and life in the fast lane!

Well life has been really busy on my home front. Back in May I took a long term substitute teaching position at my kids’ school and life has gotten busier than I can imagine. On top of that, between 2 middle schoolers and 2 elementary school kids, their student council business, horseback riding lessons, football practice, cheer practice and tumbling lessons, I feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off. We’ve celebrated 4 birthdays, went back to school, took on an LSU game, on and on! It has been WILD!!

I am loving these little 1st graders I have had the blessing of teaching for the past few weeks though and I definitely feel like they have taught me so much. So we are taking a little road trip and my baby was studying some Louisiana history and one of the questions was “foods Louisiana is known for…?” Of course one of those was jambalaya! And that prompted him to ask when I’d make Mrs. Donna’s again. And then ask when I would make Mammaw Dianne’s crawfish étouffée again. It’s kind of like “if you give a mouse a cookie…” cajun style. If you give a Cajun kid jambalaya, he will probably ask for crawfish etouffé! So of course, this Cajun mama said “next week baby. I promise. I’ll make both!!” I’ve been doing the ketogenic diet for the past 3 months and I’ve lost over 40 pounds (and I feel amazing!!) so my jambalaya and étouffée has been non existent but I’m due a cheat meal soon and that sounds just right! So I thought to myself, I know my readers love both of those recipes and that would be so good to have the links to them both in one handy post. And for my new readers who might have missed those…that would be really fun! And useful! So it’s not a new recipe but it is a place where that fantastic jambalaya recipe and that amazing étouffée recipe can exist together in Cajun harmony. Just add some garlic bread and a green salad and oh mop tit (ma petite to my new readers. My Momee said ma petite all the time but it sounded like mop tit to my sisters and I and that’s what we thought it was until she corrected us one day! Lol!!) However you say it, whoever you make those recipes for…it will be divine!!!

Here is the link for the crawfish étouffée…

Dianne’s Quick and Easy Crawfish Étouffée | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2014/03/16/diannes-quick-and-easy-crawfish-etouffee/

Here the link for THE jambalaya

Donna’s simply divine jambalaya and have circus, will travel  | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2017/06/04/donnas-simply-divine-jambalaya-and-have-circus-will-travel/

God bless America and this wedge salad dip!

Happy Independence Day to all my Cajun mama peeps!! 🇱🇷💥 is Hope this posts finds all of you enjoying this day with family, friends and friends who are like family. We are waiting on some of those friends who are like family to get here to begin our 4th of July celebration but we might have started a little early! So I know several of y’all are wanting this recipe and I figured I’d try to bang out a post real quick while we waited on them! This wedge salad dip caught my eye a few weeks ago and I’ve been waiting for a chance to make it. It’s super duper easy to put together and that is the best thing of all. Besides the taste. Because the taste is just fantastic. Like fireworks in your mouth! How fitting!! So here we go! Thanks to Lemon Tree Dwelling for this recipe! Link to original recipe here

Wedge salad dip 

Stuff you need~

1 ranch seasoning packet 

1 8 ounce block cream cheese 

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon

Romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, and chopped green onion (green parts only) 

Crumbled blue cheese (about 1/4 cup but you can use as much as your little heart desires!! It’s a free country! 😉)  

Ready?

What to do with the stuff~

Mix together the ranch seasoning with cream cheese and sour cream. 


Now you spread that in a pie plate. I used a shallow quiche dish. Sprinkle your chopped romaine, diced tomatoes, green onions all over the dip mixture.

Now sprinkle crumbled crispy bacon all over this. Now take your crumbled blue cheese and sprinkle it on top. That is it!!! God bless America and this completely delicious dip! 

It is as good as it looks!
My babies and Roy all decked out in their red, white and blue! 🇱🇷🇱🇷

Donna’s simply divine jambalaya and have circus, will travel 

So Big Daddy worked at Farm Bureau for 14 years and over that time we made some really good friends. We’d take trips with the company and we would get to see those friends about once or twice a year. Well, Lloyd retired from Farm Bureau a few years ago and Big Daddy has moved on, so that leaves little opportunity for those bi-yearly visits. He and LLoyd text and talk pretty often and Donna and I keep in touch via Facebook, but sometimes little face to face is the best thing. But with 4 kids, 2 dogs, their grandkids and traveling, work…it was a daunting task to make it happen. But somehow we managed. It’s a miracle!! It’s so easy to say there is no time. It’s so easy after a long week to give in to just staying home and just talk about visiting friends. That’s one thing about Big Daddy…he is not all talk. He is a doer. When he sets his head to something, it’s happening. So we scheduled it, packed up on Friday and headed South. All 4 kids and the 2 dogs in tow in the mini van. Virtually our own little traveling circus! 

This little Cajun pup loves a good road trip!

So very glad we went through the trouble. Donna and Lloyd were so welcoming and gave the kids the run of the place.  They had some other friends from Raceland visiting, Anne and Alphonse, and they talked French and cut up and my kids had a ball. They picked blueberries from their many blueberry bushes, they fed the chickens and my baby got to pick up the freshly laid eggs.  We went shopping at the local Dirtcheap store. And as when visiting any Cajun friends, you can almost bet you will eat something delicious. And boy did we. She made a jambalaya so good and put it together so fast, I just knew I had to have the recipe. 


So Donna shared with me that this is her version of her brother in law, Don’s, award winning jambalaya recipe. He makes it for cook offs, different benefits and such…the point is this jambalaya feeds a crowd and people love it!! I have had numerous friends and readers ask me for my jambalaya recipe and until now I did not really have one. Jambalaya is not something I grew up eating very often. So I really hope you all will enjoy Donna’s truly fantastic (and easy) jambalaya as much as we enjoyed our visit with them.

Donna’s Divine Jambalaya 

Serves about 10 

Stuff you need~

2 bell peppers, diced 

4-6 smalll onions, diced

2 cups celery, chopped (optional) 

4 pounds of meat (pork, chicken, sausage)*

1 can Rotel 

4 cups rice (Zatarain’s parboiled rice only!!)**

Kitchen bouquet 

8 cups chicken broth (that’s about 4 cans or two 32 ounce boxes)

*Donna used 2 packs of pork chops, 2 packages chicken tenderloins, and 2 packs of sausage) 

**Donna says regular rice turns too mushy in this recipe. And said this is the only time she uses parboiled rice lol. 

What to do with the stuff~

Heat a little canola oil in your stock pot.*** Brown the diced onion. 

While this is happening cut up your meats. She sprinkled her chicken and pork liberally with Morton’s all seasoning. No not tony’s. Yes we Cajuns do love Tony’s but we don’t add it ad nauseum to every single dish.

 Add all your pork and chicken to this and brown the meat well. Let that all cook down. At the end, throw in the sausage and brown that too. 

Pour the undrained can of Rotel into the pot. Stir in the rice and stir it around so it can soak up all that juice from the meats and veggies. Pour in the chicken broth. Pour in a capful of Kitchen Bouquet (in the condiment aisle on the top shelf almost always in every grocery store, yellow top, black bottle). Stir in some salt and pepper. She did not give specific amounts. So I always say add a little and you can always add more to taste later. 


Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes on low. Stir about halfway through. Enjoy!! 

***Donna used a 7 1/2 quart non stick stock pot and it worked perfectly. I’ll be getting one from amazon asap. 

Me and the lady of the hour, this is THE Donna
Big Daddy and his padnuh, LLoyd
My #4bowlinbabes and LLoyd and Donna

Cheesy Spaghetti Pie (this recipe has it all) 

So from time to time Momou would make spaghetti pie. And I always loved it when she did. Her spaghetti and meatballs were always legendary and the spaghetti pie kind of seemed like a step down. But then I took a bite of that spagbetti pie and it was all better. Not a step down at all. Just a step to the side. Now that I have a family of my own, I realize the beauty in spaghetti pie. It’s spaghetti and meatball’s creamy cheesy, low maintenance older sister. It satisfies those spaghetti cravings and goes a step further. Now spaghetti and meatballs have their place. We are not in any way saying that spaghetti pie replaces spaghetti and meatballs…no, no baby. We are just saying spaghetti pie is a nice low key, cheesy  alternative. Did I mention spaghetti pie is cheesy? Because it is…so…cheesy. Now as stated in the original blog post from http://www.centercutcook.com, what makes this spaghetti pie recipe unique is that the noodles are mixed with the sauce ahead of time and the noodles are perfect, not all dry like in other recipes I have tried. Also a nice twist is the Monterrey jack and cheddar cheese instead of same ole, same ole mozzarella. And it has sliced green onions in it. There is a special place in my heart for sliced green onions. So this spaghetti pie has it all!! Just like this Cajun mama does! 

Cheesy spaghetti pie 

Stuff you need~

1 pound of angel hair pasta (that’s one box), cooked and drained 

5 cups spaghetti sauce, divided (I used Prego)

1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained *

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon oregano 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder 

8 ounce block cream cheese

3/4 cup sour cream 

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

3 green onions, green parts only, sliced 

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 

*I buy one package of Italian sausage links and then I slice open the casing and just dump the meat into my skillet. I do that for each one. And voila! 

What to do with the stuff ~

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the cooked and drained pasta with 2 cups of the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.

 

In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté  diced yellow onion until tender. Add Italian sausage and brown over medium heat until done. Drain. Sprinkle in the oregano, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder. Stir in the remaining 3 cups of spaghetti sauce and simmer for about 10 minutes. 


Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray. Layer the pasta tossed with sauce in the bottom of the dish. 

Now, add the block of softened cream cheese, the sour cream, the sliced green onions and Italian seasoning to a mixing bowl. Mix all together. 


Layer this on top of the noodles. What I did was put several dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the noodles and then I smoothed it out with a plastic spatula  where it made a layer. Now layer the meat sauce on top of the cream cheese layer. Next sprinkle the cheeses all over that meat sauce. And then I added some more green onions for good measure. 


Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until that cheese is melted to an irrisitbly ooey gooey level. Spaghetti pie perfection. I used my favorite Pampered Chef flat metal spatula to dish it up. 

Korean beef bowls and impromptu perfection 

Summer is in full swing in this house! Not sure where your peeps are in the school year but here in Cajun mama land we are done. Peace out, 2016-2017 school year!! And my kids are glad for it. They are taking full advantage of the whole summertime thang. 

Yes, they are in the pool with clothes on. Because summer…lol

They are also like ravenous monkeys several times a day and I am not gonna lie…I am already struggling to keep up. My kids would love, love, love to eat fast food or at restaurants 3 meals a day. I, of course, do not allow that. We cannot even hang with that lifestyle. Big Daddy started a new job a few months ago and it’s been tight over here. Big Daddy will likely fuss when he reads this asking why would I even mention that but you know…being real is my thing. I am always real with y’all and that is a major thing that has happened in our lives. So eating out a whole bunch with a family of 6 is not in the plan. I assume most of you realize this is why I cook so much (and I love it) but if not please consider this my newsflash…I cook to save money a good bit of the time. Not to mention, we are trying to teach our kids about that eating out every day is not the norm and that there is nothing wrong with cooking. And when you can cook your own food, you can be self sufficient. 

In that same vein, I adore cooking things that my kids enjoy and they resent that it is not our favorite Chinese takeout a little less. Cooking at home is a necessity for many of us, but it does not have to be boring! So in comes this meal. Korean beef bowls.  Oh sweet spicy morsels of beef this is good stuff. And every last one of my kids absolutely devoured it. Also, it is not expensive to make. So perfect. As perfect as the other day was. Woke up to a loud boom at 5:45. Yep, transformer blowing. No power in sight. So I told the kids to load up we were headed to Tyler, TX to go to the Caldwell zoo. We had the best time. The weather was unseasonably perfect. Not the sauna that it usually is. The high was in the 70’s! In May!!! And I ran into 2 friends while at the zoo. These Korean beef bowls were perfect like that.  Unexpected, came out of nowhere, born from lacking, and crazy low expectations. You will love it!!! 

Me and my bebes during our impromptu zoo visit.

I found this recipe on http://www.damndelicious.net. I am so happy I stumbled across it. It is recipe gold, my friends.

Korean Beef bowls 

Stuff you need~

1 pound lean ground beef 

Canola oil 

2 teaspoons minced garlic (or more)

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce 

1/4 cup packed brown sugar 

2 teaspoons sesame oil 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger *

2 Sliced green onions, green and white parts 

Slicd green onions and Sesame seeds for garnish (optional) 

Cooked white rice 

*I used the McCormick spice stuff and it was fine. Next time I’ll try the squeeze tube produce section ginger just to see if it enhances the flavor. 

What to do with the stuff~

Drizzle some canola oil In skillet. Warm over medium heat then add garlic. Sauté on medium low until fragrant, about a minute or 2.  Add ground meat to skillet. Brown until no longer pink and then some. Drain if necessary. 

While browning meat, combine the sesame oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and ginger in a bowl. Whisk together.  When ground beef is browned and drained, add the soy sauce concoction and some sliced green onions. Cook on medium low for a minute or 2. The smell will be amazing and your mouth will water!! 


Serve this over hot rice. Prepare to be so glad you stayed at home and cooked for your family. It is HEAVEN!