Category Archives: Party foods, feed a crowd, crowd favorites

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)

 
 

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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!!!

Copycat boudin king cake

So about a week ago a picture came across my Facebook newsfeed about a boudin king cake. I was all like “hold the phone! A king cake with boudin in it?! Mama needs that!!” So I read the little blurb about the king cakes and the man behind the idea. So let me make sure you all hear me…this boudin king cake is NOT my idea. This is a copycat recipe that I came up with from the description that was in the blurb. I did email the guy asking how to buy one at cake@boudinlink.com as the article suggested. He responded quickly saying he could not handle all the orders and was turning the recipe over to a local bakery to make them. He said he would get back to me. Here is a link to the original article so you can read all about it http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/entertainment/food/2015/01/23/bites-boudin-king-cake-steens-cracklin-now-available/22218135/. But once you tempt a Cajun with boudin king cake, you cannot say “I will get back with you” because well…the damage has been done. It’s out there. Boudin. Inside of dough. It’s all I could think about. I was obsessed. So luck would have it, we were already headed down to Baton Rouge last weekend and my favorite place in the world is on the way. Yeah. Borques. We went on down to Baton Rouge because Big Daddy and several other Farm Bureau agents were being honored for being part of the 200 auto club. That’s an amazing achievement and I was happy to drop them kiddos off with their BB and Poppy in Alex. And head south. A night out at a hotel?! Sign me up! And we got to stay in the Renaissance Hotel that has the wallpaper in the bathroom I have been dying to get my hands on! No really, I have emailed the company who makes it. A friend stayed there and posted a pic on Facebook and I have been pining after it ever since. So I was stupid excited to stay there. Big daddy was like “yeah ok you want to stay here because of the wallpaper in the bathroom…whatever makes you happy babe.” (I know in his head he was like “I married a crazy lady.”)

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it has Cajun colloquialisms written on it! I need that!

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me and my main squeeze all gussied up to celebrate!!

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so proud of Big Daddy!! He works for a great company that rewards their agents for their hard work.

Ok…so we had our night out and then it was time to head home to have lunch at my mom and dad’s. Bernie made smothered chicken and rice and gravy. My favorite! My mom is an amazing cook I must say. So we headed north but on the way home Big Daddy surprised me with a detour through Port Barre to go to Borque’s Supermarket. You can check them out online at http://www.bourquespecialties.com. I truly love this place and it always feels a little like going home. Funny thing is, while we were there getting our boudin, I tell the woman at the counter that I was making a copycat boudin king cake and she says she had just answered a phone call from someone asking to order one. She said the person calling thought they had them. Lol!! But they do have boudin dip in case anyone wants to know that. That place is my Disneyland.

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oh that’s a happy sight to me

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me with my loot. Some boudin for the king cake (and a few links for the road!), some cracklins and a Mr. Pibb. I was a happy girl!!

So we made it home with our posse in tow. I love getting away but I sure do love coming home, especially to these little faces…

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Ok…to get to this copycat recipe. The one I made was not hard and I am sure a very simplified version of the original. I do not claim that mine tastes like the original. I am just trying to figure out to get some since I could not order one. This recipe is not hard and requires few (though specialty) ingredients. I did not use steen’s syrup because I had some Lambert’s cane syrup from our summer trip to the beach. Also, I used frozen store bought dough because I don’t do yeast. If you have been reading along , you are aware that I summon a demon when I try to use Yeast.
This boudin king cake was off the chain and I can only imagine how the original recipe must taste. But…for a Cajun girl living in Shreveport, this recipe will definitely get me by. If I make another one, I will head to Bergeron’s Boudin and Cajun meats. We got one in Shreveport a few years ago and while my heart belongs to Borque’s, I am totally down with the saying “if you can’t be with the one you love, honey love the one your with…” Especially when it comes to boudin. They have cracklins too so that’s a good option for those too. If you are so inclined, try your hand at this culinary delicacy. It’s just in time for Mardi Gras season!!

Copycat Boudin King Cake

stuff you need~

One roll of frozen dough (it comes in a package of 3)
4-5 links of boudin
Cane syrup
A few cracklins run through the food processor

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the dough I used

what to do with the stuff~

Night before, take the dough out of the freezer. Lay it out to defrost.

Ok…the next morning…preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a bit of flour on a rolling mat.

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Next roll it out into a semi square. I was not picky here, I just kind of made sure it was big enough to encompass all the boudin. I would say about 6 ” by 12″ or round about. Cut a slit in the boudin and scoop out all the boudin.

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Lay all that boudin in the middle of your rolled out dough. I laid the boudin almost the length of the dough. Next time I will likely use a link or two more.

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Now, bring the dough at the top toward the boudin. And then roll again.

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Roll towards you until you have a roll of dough. And then bend it into an almost closed circle. Like the shape of a King cake.

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Next lay your king cake on a baking dish. I used by Pampered Chef baking stone and it did not disappoint.

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Slip it into your preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes. While it is baking, place your cracklins in your food processor. I just tossed the whole cracklin (several of them) in the processor. It made a lot of noise but it did a good job at knocking the crumbly parts off and processing them into bits. I pulled the still solid parts out and then pulsed a few more times. You don’t need a bunch of the cracklin crumbs.

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Now, after the first 20 minutes of cooking, pull your King cake out and baste with the cane syrup. Really coat it well. Your King cake is depending on you!!

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Bake another 20-30 minutes or until the King cake is well browned and that cane syrup is sticky and baked to a nice golden brown. Pull from oven and sprinkle those tasty cracklin crumbs all over the cake. Hot damn we did it!!!

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Boudin dip and the truth of it all

So many many years ago, more than I care to count, I was in graduate school at Northwestern State University (fork ’em Demons!!). I had a graduate supervisor named Laurie Ann. Aka Lolly. I absolutely thought she was the cat’s meow. She was a special person who I longed to get to know better. She was beautiful, an amazing counselor, smart, and just had this way about her that set me at ease. No easy feat for my over anxious self I tell you. So one night she invites BD and I over for dinner. We met her husband Marc, she made the BEST quesadillas and we all just hit it off big time. The rest as they say is history. I usually leave it up to God to keep the people who need to be in my life and the people who are not meant to be there forever, well he takes care of that too. Well, thankfully, the good Lord and I agree that Marc and Lolly are lifers. They now have 4 kids, 2 who are right around two of my kids’ ages, but for all of them, they have just always been a part of one another’s lives. Lolly is still beautiful and smart and always sets me at ease. She and Marcus are probably our best couple friends and if we have a chance to hang out with someone, it will be them. Our kids rejoice when it is time for Marc and Lolly, Nigel and Finn to come over. It’s just an amazing partnership and it just works. We have spent every New Year’s Eve and or day together since I cannot remember when. Lolly is an amazing cook and brings all sorts of treats and goodies with her. It looks like she is moving in and I am always hopeful that she will. Marcus, or MR, as Lolly calls him, is from Eunice and is an amazing cook as well. The man can do things to a roast and rice and gravy that make it taste like the best thing you have ever put in your mouth. He is a wonderful husband, father and cook. He is also my Tootie girl’s Godfather as well. Can’t beat that! If you can’t tell, I love him just a little. I love them all so much. They are more than friends. They are our family. And I am so lucky that God has made sure they stayed in our lives. Some things are meant to be, and our friendship is definitely one of those things I am blessed to be a part of. Sealing that deal, solidifying what is already in cement, making me just a little extra grateful for my best friend and her precious coonass husband and family. Boudin dip. Boudin dip yes. Boudin. Dip. Say it with me. Let it roll around on your tongue. Bou-din dip. It is as an amazing concoction as it sounds. I just finished the rest of what was left at my house and I am a little sad now. But it was so good while it lasted.

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me and my lolly.

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MR aka uncle Marc with 2 of our boys

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Marc and Lolly

I am going to take a guess and say there is someone out there reading this who does not know what boudin is…I will spare those who do know what it is (and those who don’t) the extended version. I wish I was able to say I had no clues of the ins and outs of the making of boudin…but I would be lying. I know too much. Have seen things my eyes cannot ever unsee. The short and sweet version is that boudin is a seasoned blend of ground pork meat and rice stuffed inside of casing. It is some delicious stuff and can vary in spiciness and flavor, depending on who makes it. It can be bought in supermarkets (around here at least) but the best stuff comes from cajun supermarkets down in south Louisiana. Well, wait. The best stuff is found at actual boucheries that you attend at people’s homes.
Growing up that was pretty common place for me. During the months of February and March, we attended several of them at my grandparents’ houses or the homes of other family members. I did not appreciate how privileged I was to grow up with that sort of experience but I really was. My kids have attended a few boucheries but they are not nearly as common place for them. At a boucherie the pig that has been raised for this specific reason is slaughtered and from the pig, cracklins, boudin, grillades and hog head cheese are made. I won’t get into any more of the specifics but a boucherie is the real deal and if you ever have the opportunity to attend one, you should. You will never eat better boudin, I promise you. But for the purpose of this recipe, we will say you will use store bought boudin. It can be ordered online and my favorite place to get boudin from is Borques in Port Barre, LA. This is their website if you want to check it out and maybe order some boudin or their amazing jalapeño cheese bread…http://www.bourquespecialties.com. Funny story, when I was pregnant with my youngest I could not get enough of this boudin. BD would go down to Baton Rouge for a Farm Bureau meeting and bring me home a few pounds. I would eat it all and he was left to fear this beast I was growing inside of me. Lol! Sure enough, my little LMB is a cajun force to be reckoned with. Anyway, this is some serious good boudin. But you will find every cajun has their favorite and they feel strongly about it. Marc has his favorite boudin spot (actually he has his top 3) with Don’s Speciality Meats at the top of his list. Now, store bought wise, Richards is not bad. I really like it best grilled. Try a few brands If you are so inclined, best research of your life. So that is kind of the low down on boudin. I am being rather long winded because well…I freaking LOVE boudin and because well, you need boudin for this dip. So let’s get down to business here and get this boudin dip recipe on the books…or blog. I know ya’ll are not wanting to listen to me go on and on about the wonder that is boudin.

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me and one of my favorite Cajuns. MR in the flesh (well…in the picture)

Boudin Dip

Stuff you need~

4-5 pounds of boudin
1 container whipped cream cheese (or 1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, whipped
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
4 tablespoons mayonnaise (ya’ll know I use Duke’s)
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Colby and Monterey Jack cheese
Lots of cayenne pepper (red pepper….same thing)

*recipe notes say that this recipe makes 3 8 x 8″ pans of this dip. So you can cut it in half easily. also the recipe says shredded pepper jack can be used in place of the Colby Monterey Jack cheese to amp up the heat. They did not put much cayenne in the dip they brought so that it would be more kid friendly. So just add according to you and your family’s personal preference.

What to do with the stuff~

Remove boudin from casing. Recipe notes say to use cold boudin as it mixes better. Add the boudin to a standing mixer. Add in other ingredients, reserving some of the shredded cheese for topping and mix until well combined. Like so…

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photo courtesy of Marc and Laurie Richard

If you are making the full recipe, divide the mixture among your prepared dishes. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 until cheese is melted and bubbly and you seriously cannot wait to have some. It’s done then. Serve with chips or crackers. We made some garlic bread on NYE and proceeded to pile that hot yummy dip on top of slices of that warmed garlic bread and I wanted to pass out from how good it is. So, warmed garlic bread obviously works well. Consider whatever you use simply a vessel to get that amazing dip into your mouth. Repeat. Cest si Bon ma cher. Now ya’ll ready for the Mardi Gras season. Ooooo weeee you gonna be the hit of the party ma petite. Enjoy my friends!

**special thanks to our besties Marc and Lolly for this dip recipe and the many years of precious friendship, past, present and future. Love ya’ll more than this dip. ❤️❤️❤️

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Madame Toot and her godfather and special godmother

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!!

Twofer Tuesday…funeral sandwiches and monkey bread

Hey ya’ll! I am back! Big daddy was out of town all last week on his annual hunt at Bayou LaGrue. I am so happy he gets a chance to get away and relax and do something he loves, but keeping up with 4 kiddos and their school and emotions is exhausting when I am flying solo. Not much time for much else. We had a good week. We went and did it up. American Rose Center, sleepovers, nutcracker, lunch with friends, we saw Santa 3 times, Natchitoches lights…Yep we kept busy. But that left little time for blogging. So sorry about that but here I am!!! And the 2 recipes may be old hat to some of ya’ll but they are something special to us! So I thought it would be worth blogging about them because 1) my goal is give ya’ll recipes we really love over here and 2) maybe some of you have never tried them and would like to.
The first is monkey bread. I can honestly say I have had monkey bread 3 times in my life. It is such a treat and such a great thing to serve on Christmas morning. I did not grow up in a family that made breakfast on most mornings, so maybe that’s why. (But I did get dirty rice and chicken fricassee so that’s a more than fair trade…:) ) So for the most part this recipe and how stupid easy and devilishly tasty it is is pretty new to me! My oldest child (Mr. BHB) is fairly resistant to try new things. He is overly cautious in most areas and this extends to new foods. He could not resist this and is now officially a self proclaimed monkey bread addict.

Next is the funeral sandwiches. My oh my. I have made them once before this last time and my sister made them once for our family Christmas party, and my best friend Lolly made them for our a annual New Year’s extravaganza, but I had never heard them referred to as “funeral sandwiches”. I have had several friends inbox me and ask if I had made them before so I thought I might need to revisit this recipe. What a fabulous treat. Sweet and tangy and hearty and perfect for a midday lunch when you have a houseful of holiday guests. Or a hubby and 4 hungry kiddos on a regular day. Lol. Both recipes are perfect for the coming weeks when you have guests. So I hope I am not preaching to the choir or being redundant by blogging these recipes but they are definitely new family favorites in my kitchen. Funeral sandwiches and monkey bread are something we must pass on to future generations.

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monkey bread addict all decked out. Note the nod to one of our favorite Christmas movies…Elf. Coolest. Shirt. Ever.

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American Rose Center…oh the joyful smiles

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the tree is 9 feet tall and she is 5 feet tall…she is getting so tall but she will always be my baby

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the Natchitoches lights…we brought Loretta with us and took in the view

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that really happened…carpool madness

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he finally came home

Funeral Sandwiches (from http://www.ramblesahm.com)

Stuff you need~

1 12 count package king’s Hawaiian buns
12 slices thinly sliced ham (I used honey ham)
12 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter, melted
2 tablespoons Brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder

What to do with the stuff~

Separate the top of the buns from the bottom. I used a bread knife and just split them down the middle. Lay the bottom layer in a greased 9 x 13 inch casserole dish. Now, place a piece of ham over each bun bottom. Place a piece of Swiss cheese on top. Now to shake it up or if you don’t like ham, you can use turkey. It’s equally delicious. Next, place the bun tops over the cheese. Moving on the sweet yummy sauce…whisk together the melted butter, mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder. Take a basting brush and spread some of this all over the sandwiches. Pour the rest over them. Yum. But they are not ready yet so hold that thought. Cover the pan with foil and stick them in the fridge for a few hours. Leave them overnight if you have the time. Making them in the a.m. of the day you plan to make them is ideal. Bake at 350 degrees with foil cover for about 10 minutes. Then uncover and bake another 10 minutes.
Let sit for a few minutes and then dig in! Holy moly that’s good stuff!!!

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some call them funeral sandwiches but I just call them delicious!!!

Monkey bread

Stuff you need~

2 can biscuits (just the plain grands juniors or even the cheapo biscuits that come in a 4 pack will do)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick or 1/2 cup melted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your bundt pan by spraying with some non stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together white sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle some on the bottom of the bundt pan.

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Cut your biscuits into fourths. I used my cooking shears (clean of course) to do this but you can use a pizza cutter or knife. Whatever floats ya boat, my baby. Ok next, roll your cut up biscuits all up in that cinnamon sugar. Awww yeah.

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coat those babies good now

Next in a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the melted butter and brown sugar.

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Drizzle this all over the sugar coated biscuits.

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Bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated oven. Let cool as long as your family will allow it (for their own good!) and then dig
in. That’s something special there and a recipe that really cannot be shared enough.

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get behind me Satan!!

Christmas cookie baking for lazy chicks

So it seems everywhere I go, the stores, around town, on Facebook…signs of Christmas coming are everywhere. Just last week, Big Daddy and I took the kiddos to the lighting of the Louisiana Boardwalk Christmas tree. It marks the beginning of the holiday season for us and the weather made it that much more festive. It’s been a wee bit chilly around here…will all over the country. Mother Nature is showing her powers off in a major way lately. Go for it sister. But all of this cold and Christmas everywhere (not to mention always being a month ahead cooking wise due to writing the food column for Red River Moms) puts a gal in a Christmas cookie baking mood a little
earlier than normal.
I have told ya’ll before that I am a cook, but not so much a baker. So when my editor for RRM asked me for Christmas cookie recipes for the December column, my first instinct was to panic! Then I recalled these recipes that I had pulled off in the past with rave reviews and I calmed down. Of course these are no Martha Stewart recipes but that is one of their main selling points. I have no time for fancy cookie baking ya’ll. If I actually get to attend a cookie exchange (BD is out of town a good bit this time of year) I certainly don’t have time to bake complicated cookie recipes. These are fun, easy, and come out delicious!! I hope you will be inspired to branch out and try these if you have not already. They will be a hit with your family, at the next cookie exchange and especially with the big man dressed in red on Christmas Eve. If I can bake these, you definitely can!! ~AMB

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all bundled up

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even T-Roy is getting in the spirit (ha ha!)

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never gets old

Andes mint cookies

Makes about 15-20 cookies

stuff you need~
1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 package Andes mints (1 per cookie)

What to do with the stuff~
Add cake mix, egg, and oil to a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined. Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Place on a silicone lined or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 8-9 minutes. Do not over bake. Take a large cooking spoon and gently smash the cooked balls down. It will just flatten them. Place an unwrapped Andes mint on each cookie. Kind of swirl it around with the back of a table spoon as it melts to sort of ice each cookie. Allow to cool completely before transferring.

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don’t they look delectable?

Rollo stuffed snickerdoodles

Makes about 24 cookies

Stuff you need~

1 package snickerdoodle precut dough (break and bake) or 1 recipe of your favorite snickerdoodle dough (show off!!)
1 package rollos (need one for each piece of dough)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break dough into individual squares. On a floured surface, flatten a square of dough until it is about 2 inches wide. Place an unwrapped rollo in the center. Fold the snickerdoodle dough around the rollo. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Do this with each square. Work quickly because once you flatten the dough it gets hard to work with quickly. Place in preheated oven and bake about 8-10 minutes.
TIP–allow the cookies to cool completely before you transfer them. Once cool, carefully transfer from the baking sheet to a plate. I turn them over where the bottom is facing up because the caramel is melted and ooey gooey and can make a hole in the bottom of the cookie.

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that’s some cookie perfection right there

Peanut butter blossoms

Stuff you need~

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups baking mix
Sugar
Package of milk chocolate Hershey kisses

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter and mix until well combined. Stir in vanilla extract. Add in baking mix and blend well. Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, roll dough into 1 inch balls. Add some sugar to a plate and roll each ball of dough in the sugar. Place on silicone mat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using your thumb (or your kiddos can do this part), make an indention in the dough. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Once you remove the cookies from the oven, place an unwrapped Hershey kiss in the indention.

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old school but so easy and delicious

Mrs. Mona’s taco salad and really good slumber parties

So I went to a Catholic school in Alex. (For those who don’t know that Alex is slang for Alexandria aka Elic aka A town.) called St. Francis Cabrini. If I must say, it is likely one of the best elementary schools that ever existed. When I was there it went to 8th grade but now I am pretty sure it is only 6th. Anyway, every class was small. So that made each grade relatively small. So mostly everyone knew everyone, every parent knew the kids and parents. It was just awesome. I cherish every moment at that school. And now, thanks to Facebook, I get to be in touch with my friends from Cabrini still. And thanks to the tight bonds we formed there, we are pretty close for people who rarely see one another, if ever. So naturally we had slumber parties as all little girls do. Mrs. Mona is my friend Staci’s mom. She was always the nicest, most even keeled mama and always kept her cool. She is also an excellent cook. For one of Staci’s slumber parties…5th grade I think? Mrs. Mona made this taco salad. I fell in love. I can still remember thinking what a delicious treat that taco salad was. She introduced me to taco salad, monkey bread, and 7 layer dip. I have told y’all my daddy is a rice and gravy man, my mama aims to please and that’s what she made. Now a days, she makes a much wider variety of stuff and ole Steven (my daddy) is just glad to have something to eat. I imagine he would tear up this taco salad! Mrs. Mona was certainly influential to me as a cook, if I look back at it. She is a great lady and I am so blessed to know her and her precious daughter Staci. We went to school together from 2nd grade until high school. One of those friends. Always and forever somewhere in my existence and I am so grateful. Now, when I was in college , BBM (my mama) gave me an heirloom recipe cookbook that allows you to add recipes and special stories to it. I thought of all the recipes that were my favorites, Momee’s cornbread dressing, Shrimp mold, Nana’s Neiman Marcus bars…and mrs. Mona’s taco salad. So I called her up and she gave it to me. Right then and there. Little did either one of us know that one say I would have a blog and add this recipe to it. I guess it many ways, this blog is a super fabulous version of my heirloom cookbook. This is the actual page from the cookbook..
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pretty cool…

So now, I will give you the recipe and you can have it. Straight from Mrs. Mona Roy’s kitchen…to mine…and to yours. Now, I just need to get mrs. Mona to agree to host another slumber party. Staci, you think she is up for it? Can we bring the kids? Thank you Mrs. Mona for the awesome hospitality, the delicious food, and the recipes. Oh and giving birth to a lifelong friend of mine. ~AMB

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a picture from one slumber party at Staci’s in high school. So much fun. Also so much hair. Love you girls!

Mrs. Mona’s taco salad

serves about 8

stuff you need~

1 pound ground beef (I used lean)
1 (8 ounce) jar taco sauce (I used Taco Bell brand and bought 2 jars so I would have extra)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head of lettuce, shredded
3 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound shredded cheddar (about 1-2 cups)
1 can kidney beans, drained (optional, this is my addition)
2 cups crushed corn chips

What to do with the stuff~

Chop up your lettuce. I just put it on a cutting board and just sliced and chopped. There’s no exact science to it. I would say freestyle works. You want bite sized pieces…not huge chunks.

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Rinse the chopped lettuce well in the colander.
Now slice and dice your tomatoes.
Ok now, in a large skillet, brown ground meat. Drain. Stir in taco sauce. Now, give it a taste and then add some salt and pepper. I also added some MexiCajun seasoning (a friend of mine from Alex. Actually created it and it is amazing!

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love some MexiCajun seasoning!
Here is a link to purchase if you are interested. It is really delish! http://mexicajun.myshopify.com/) as well as a little cumin. Just add and then taste. You might want more kick! Ok, next I drained my beans well in a colander. Then added to the beef mixture. Like so…

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Ok, now at this point, your lettuce should be rinsed and drained. So pile that lettuce in a big ole serving bowl. Throw your beef and bean mixture on top of that. You are amazing. You are doing great! Ok, now add the tomatoes on top. Sprinkle all that shredded cheddar on top of it all. Yes. Like that. Now crushed corn chips have arrived at the party. It is their time. I just crush and sprinkle. Crush and sprinkle. Add more or add less. Mrs. Mona won’t mind. She is cool that way.
Then it will look like this…

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Now, I poured some more taco sauce all over the whole thang to just kick it up a notch. It’s all good. Toss it well and then serve. Next time I will add some black olives to mine. Madame Toot insisted on a dollop of sour cream. She was not wrong. It was yum!!!
*Mrs. Mona said serve immediately. She was right. It serves a crowd so make it for a crowd. Leftovers do not do well with this dish. If you have a big slumber party of gals or guys, pretty sure you won’t have to worry about that. Enjoy!! Hugs and kisses to Mrs. Mona and Staci from Shreveport!