Category Archives: Traditional cajun faire

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

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Mrs. Lou’s meatball stew and flavorful peas~the perfect Fall meal

We’ve been in Fall mode around here. So ready for the change of the seasons.  There’s been football…

Pumpkins and pumpkin decorating…

I have 4 kids, not just these 2, but as you can see these 2 are my hams
Getting ready for Halloween…


And of course hearty perfect for Fall soups and stews! This recipe right here is something else. It is perfect. It is hearty. It is delicious! It is truly the quintessential Fall meal. It is all good things rolled into one. Mrs. Lou is my dear friend Betsy’s mother in law. She is the same woman who birthed Dr. Boudreaux of the famous (at least to my blog readers) Dr. Boudreaux’s gumbo  ! Also where the wonderful pastalaya recipe  comes from. So if you follow my blog at all, you know how tasty those recipes are and you should be excited to try this meatball stew. If you are not familiar with either of those recipes, well first of all, that’s sad. You should be. Fix that ASAP. And then try this meatball stew recipe. Betsy had given me this meatball stew recipe several years ago when she and Matt and the kids still lived in Shreveport. Aka the golden years. (I miss my friend living in town) and I made it once or twice. It was a hit with Big Daddy and I don’t think the kids hated it but it’s been while. Funny how a few years change things. I made this recipe again for the first time in several years a few weeks ago and it was a hit with everyone. Actually better than that. My oldest aka the garbage disposal cleared all the meatballs and most of the gravy out before the whole family could eat. I was outside finishing a phone conversation with a friend and came back in…big daddy had served 3 of the 4 kids and then apparently my oldest (he’s 13) went back for seconds. He thought it was all fair game and just indulged himself. I laugh now but that night I was none too happy. I worked it out and no one went to bed hungry. Just know that most people love this meatball stew and you might need to double the meatball recipe. Betsy made sure to text me that she doubled the gravy recipe (the gravy is the bomb) and I would suggest that as well. Served over hot cooked rice alongside some warm rolls and you have the perfect Fall meal! Now, because my teenager devoured what was left before I could get a picture of the finished product, sadly there is no picture of this fabulous meal. Let that be a testament to how delicious this meal really is. So let me go on and give y’all this recipe so you can make up a (double) batch and get a little Fall in your life. Now if only the weather  would comply (I’m looking at you Mother Nature!!) 

Mrs. Lou’s meatball stew 

Stuff you need~

1 pound ground beef 

1 pound ground pork 

1 egg 

Soy sauce 

Tony’s 

1/2 envelope of onion soup mix 

Italian bread crumbs 

(For gravy) 

1 beef boullion cube 
1/4 cup Flour

2 tablespoons canola Oil 

3 cloves garlic, minced 

Kitchen bouquet 

What to do with the stuff 

Add ground pork and ground beef to a large mixing bowl. The original recipe did not have exact amounts so Betsy clued me in that you just shake enough breadcrumbs, Tony’s and soy sauce to cover the meat. 


Also sprinkle the 1/2 package of onion soup mix over this mixture. Add your egg. Now get your hands in there and mix it up good. Or use spoons. But make sure the mixture is good and mixed up. Now I used a medium size scoop to make uniform balls. You can also eyeball it. Just make your meatballs the same size. Ok now the the recipe says to bake your meatballs at 325 for 30-40 minutes. You can do that. I actually cook my meatballs in the gravy. So if you are going to bake them, do that at this point or set aside and get your gravy going. 

*Add one inch of water to a large pot. Bring it to a boil and add a beef bouillon cube. Reduce heat to a simmer and make your roux. Mix 1/4 flour with 2 tablespoons of flour in a microwave safe bowl.


 Microwave for 2-3 minutes in 30 second increments, stirring  in between. Whisk 3 tablespoons of the roux into the simmering water. 


Stir in the minced garlic and a little kitchen bouquet…the recipe did not give a specific amount but I start with 1/2-1 tablespoon and go from there.

At this point, add your meatballs whether cooked or not. If they are cooked you will just simmer this for a shorter time. If uncooked, you’ll want to simmer them longer (until cooked) at a slower pace. 

The only picture I have of the elusive meatball stew…gone too soon thanks to my teenage son

*again Betsy recommends doubling the gravy recipe. So 2 inches of water, 2 boullion cubes and so on…you’ll be glad you did. The recipe I gave above is for a regular recipe. 

Flavorful peas 

Stuff you need~

1 can petite pois (Lesuer or Dubois are perfect…as my kids call them silver can peas), slightly drained 

1/2 can cream of celery soup 

Tablespoon or 2 of onion soup mix 

Stir together in a medium size pot and cook over medium heat. Serve alongside meatball stew and hot cooked rice. Enjoy!!


New Orleans red beans and rice

Ok now I have given y’all the crockpot red beans recipe that I grew up making. Here is the link in case you need it.  Please let me say right now, I am in no way discounting this recipe by posting a new one. No siree Bob! This is my tried and true way to cook red beans. But I am not so stuck in my ways that I cannot say I love this new recipe as well.  Some of the best red beans and rice I have ever had were in NOLA so this recipe is approve painterly named.  I am loyal to a fault, but I also accept new things when they are FABULOUS. This recipe is just that…fabulous.   Knock your socks off, slap your mama delicious.  I found this recipe on the Camellia website and if you are familiar with my blog at all, you know I only use Camellia beans. Here’s a link to their recipe. I got the envie to make a new red beans recipe while big daddy was out of town a few weeks ago and as much as I hated to make them without him, sometimes the show just has to go on. But I did save him some and he was blown away. I made them again the other day and again this recipe was met with rave reviews. They are that good. Now the bad thing is that I don’t have a crockpot version of these yet but they are really not all that high maintainence. The best news is that they are even better the next day, so you can totally make them on a Sunday and then eat them on a Monday…which is only right. Mondays and red beans go together like…well…red beans and rice. So do yourself a favor and make these as soon as possible. And then let me know what you think. Oh and you’re welcome in advance. 

New Orleans Red beans and rice 

Stuff you need~

1  package Camellia red kidney beans 

1 (32-ounce) container no-sodium chicken broth

Water (if needed) 

1 large onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup chopped parsley (I use the stuff in the tube and it is wonderful) 

4 celery stalks, chopped

1-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound of tasso, smoked ham, or salted pork, chopped and or

1 package Eckrich skinless sausage (I used this and some salt pork bacon I found at Walmart)

1/4 cup sugar 

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Hot sauce, to taste 

Tony’s seasoning,  to taste

Salt and pepper to taste (you will not need much especially if you use the salt pork!) 

What to do with the stuff~

Soak beans overnight. 

Add your soaked beans to a large stew pot and then pour the chicken broth over the beans. You should have a ratio of one part beans to two parts liquid. You add water to make up the difference. I just added more chicken broth. 

Bring the beans to a rolling boil over medium high heat and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Let the beans simmer on low for an hour or two, until beans are tender. I just let them simmer for 2 hours on very low heat and gave them a stir from time to time. Beans tend to stick at times.

Now while the beans are simmering on low heat…you are going to add your cut up salted pork meat of choice to a warmed skillet. 


now that’s some pretty fat…things Cajun women say

You are going to cook this meat on medium low hear until it is nice and browned and you have rendered all the lovely fat from it. Oh yes I said that. It’s a beautiful thing when you can say the words render the fat because that means something is about to taste extra wonderful. Once the meat (I used salted pork bacon and it was just so wonderful), and perfect. And yes I do know I am discussing salted pork bacon. You’ll see. Now set that browned meat aside. I sautéed my sliced sausage at this point so do that if you are using sausage. My kids have to have their sausage in their red beans. Then set it aside as well.  Now you will add your chopped onion, celery and bell peppers to this skillet of rendered fat. Now sauté them until tender. Add your parsley and garlic towards the end and get them in the mix. 

Now you will add the sautéed veggies and  the browned salted pork and sausage to your beans that have been simmering. Also toss in the bay leaves and sugar (if you trust me…you will add it. It is the icing on this cake). Add the dried thyme I used dried oregano because that is what I had. Ah improvisation is a beautiful thing!! Please add your salt sparingly. I added maybe a teaspoon and that was for a double batch. The salt pork and sausage adds so much salty flavor. 

Now continue to let those beans simmer to let all of those flavors combine. You can let them simmer for another 1-3 hours. Just make sure you stir them from time to time. Now Momou always told me to smash a few beans up against the side of your pot with your spoon to make them a little creamy. I do this a few times and the beans have the perfect consistency. Momou is wise yeah Cher!! Serve over rice alongside some cornbread and you will know my truth!!! So much yum in one pot of beans!! 

do you hear angels singing?

Crawfish pie and lessons in white pepper and loyalty 

I am a big believer that God brings people into your life for a reason. Not everyone is meant to stay forever but some are. And that’s when it gets good. As most of you know, I am a Shreveport transplant and when I arrived on the scene in North Lousiana, I knew no one but Big Daddy, his brother, and his daddy. That’s all. One of the first people I met was Leia. She was about 16 and I was about 19. We met in passing one day and that was it for a while.  In fact, the first time I met her as a matter of fact, I was pretty sure she did not like me much. Remember, I was an outsider. Somehow though, as time went on, Leia took me under wing and made me her friend and the rest as they say is history. Well, not really…a couple of things have occurred between now and then. Couple of weddings (I was in her’s, she was in mine), some graduations, jobs, couple of babies, life…we have stuck together through it all. I lived with Leia, who I call Ned and she calls me Ned (don’t ask) one summer and we loved to cook in the tiny little kitchen of her first house. Big Daddy was working out town that summer, and at the time I missed him terribly, but looking back, I am so glad to have had that time with her. She was expecting her first baby at the time and that baby is now a college student. That tells you how far back we go. If there is anyone on this a Earth I don’t ever question, it is Leia. She is always in my corner and I am pretty sure she knows I have her back no matter what she is up against. She is a tough cookie and I am just glad to have her on my team. I would not want her as an enemy. She is part sweet southern belle mixed with fierce badass and it equals one amazing friend. Sister knows how to take care of business. Need someone to plan one heck of bachelorette party? She’s your girl. There’s no end to the power of Ned and those who are lucky enough to have her in their lives would do well to remember that. There is no end to the power of Ned. 

 

Me and Ned, circa 2001, at my bachelorette party .
 
Now this crawfish pie recipe…it’s pretty special. And delicious. I had never had crawfish pie before I tried this one, so of course, it was love at first bite. Even though it is a Cajun delicacy, the recipe could not be easier to prepare. As I made it the other night, I giggled to myself how much I have learned in the kitchen since those days. I was probably 20 at the time, and I had no idea about white pepper or if there was a difference between white and black pepper. Nor did I bother looking for white pepper at the store. I probably thought it was a typo. Now, of course lessons have been learned in and out and the kitchen and I have a jar of white pepper in my seasonings cabinet. Ned and I have learned some other lessons as well. Lessons like…life  can be hard, but it’s a lot easier when you have a good friend always there. And that some people are always loyal, even if you don’t talk to them everyday. Some friendships begin and don’t ever end. Thank God. Love you Ned, thanks for the crawfish pie recipe and for all the love and loyalty. 

Crawfish Pie 

Stuff you need~

1/2 stick of butter 

1 pound crawfish tails 

2 pie crusts 

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine 

2 stalks celery, chopped fine 

1 can cream of mushroom soup 

8 ounce tomato sauce 

1 cup breadcrumbs 

1 egg, slightly beaten 

1 cup milk 

1/2 cup white wine 

1 teaspoon salt 

1 teaspoon black pepper 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1/2 teaspoon white pepper 

1/2 teaspoon thyme 

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a  large skillet or sauté pan. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and celery in melted butter until they are tender. At some point before the veggies are tender, sprinkle in the salt, pepper, red pepper, white pepper and thyme. This way the seasonings can get in there and really make their mark and have plenty of time to infuse the filling with their delightful spiciness. Yes I wrote that…delightful spiciness. 


 

Next stir in your cream of mushroom soup.   

Add the tomato sauce and give it a good stir   
Next, stir in the crawfish tails and white wine.  All together…mmmm. Just. So. Delicious. Add the milk, beaten egg* and the breadcrumbs. Either make your own in a food processor with some white bread or use plain breadcrumbs. I only had garlic and herb breadcrumbs this time and  I found it threw the flavor off. Still good but not as good as I remembered. So next time, plain breadcrumbs it is. Stir them in and let the mixture simmer over low heat.  

Stir the mixture frequently as it is simmers. Now,  take one of the pie crusts and lay it in the bottom of your pie plate. Prick it a few times with a fork and pop that baby in the oven for a few minutes. You just want to slightly brown the bottom pie crust. Now, feel free to be a real show off and make your own pie crusts. If that is your fortay, rock on with your bad self. As for me and my house, we will use store bought pie crusts. I own it. If someone wants to offer to come give Cajun mama a pie crusts baking lesson, let me know. As I have mentioned before, I am baking challenged. I can do it, but homemade pie crusts are not something I aspire to. 

Finally, pull that prebaked bottom pie crust from the oven. Now pour that savory filling into the pie plate until it is piled high. Yum!!! Cover the filling with your second pie crust and pinch to sort of seal it around the pie plate. Yes! Crawfish pie! You made that! Work it! Hold on now, you got to put it back in the oven to brown your top crust. Here is my crawfish pie before I popped it in the oven. 

see I even mess up a store bought pie crust …it still tasted so good
 

Bake it for about 40 minutes until your pie is golden brown and your kitchen smells like the most heavenly Cajun restaurant you can imagine. Let the pie sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve along side a nice green salad or potato salad. Or both if you are Cajun! Here is my potato salad post if you want to check it out Potato Salad with almost everything, paquing eggs and things Cajuns do | cajunmamacookin’s Blog

https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2014/03/18/potato-salad-with-almost-everything-paquing-eggs-and-things-cajuns-do/. 

You are all set!!! Hope you enjoy this truly unique and tasty dish!! 

*you may want to temper the egg. I don’t remember doing this back in the day when I made this dish all the time, but maybe I did not realize the difference. Here is a post that tells you about how to temper an egg…http://www.tablespoon.com/posts/how-to-temper-an-egg/e838d2ab-8509-4db0-bf67-8539a3aa1b06. 

Smothered chicken recipe and other things my mama gave me

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

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

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

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

 

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

Ok ya’ll ready? Let’s do this!! 

My mama’s smothered chicken  
Stuff you need

One fryer chicken, cut up 

Cooking oil 

Salt and pepper 

Sugar 

Water 

What to do with the stuff

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

  

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

 

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

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

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

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

  

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

Family pleasing Italian meatloaf

So last week I ran across this link someone shared on Facebook. There was a picture of this delicious meatloaf that I could not resist. It was Italian meatloaf. I have always been a meatloaf gal and of course as far as I am concerned, bring on the variation! Topped with bacon…yes! Stuffed with cheese (like my mama used to)…for sure!!  Sweet ketchup topping…why not? Barbecue sauce in it…hello?! Yes!! (Of course not all at once…I am not a total freak.) See what I am getting at here? Me likely my meatloaf. And I certainly do love me a leftover meatloaf sandwich. Oh yes!! When I am forced to go to Golden Corral by the tiny people I birthed (yes they request this sometimes and after 10 no’s, I will throw them a yes)…I eat the meatloaf. Most people do because they always are sold out. So loaf o’ meat…sign this gal up!   And I get it…you either are team meatloaf or you aren’t. I understand. I have met people who would not touch meatloaf with a 10 foot pole. Just the name conjures up bad 1970’s style memories. To you I say…I hate it for you! I really hope that previous bad run ins with meatloaf won’t stop you from giving this tasty dish a go. Now my family loves meatloaf. Even my P.O. (picky oldest) will gobble up meatloaf. He is hesitant though at times to try variations on his favorites. He is like his Poppy (my daddy) and he likes what he likes and consistency is key. BUT, Mr. P.O. does fancy a bowl of  spaghetti and  meatballs, so I took a chance and figured he would at least try Italian meatloaf. And try he did. He tried himself a whole plateful. We had some friends over hanging out and I was dawdling on getting supper going and P.O. graces us with his presence and asks at what point would this Italian meatloaf be ready (and the second time his tone was a wee bit snappy. My boy was hangry…a state of being so hungry that one becomes angry. Hangry.) 

So, I moved my friend and my conversation into the kitchen where I could fire up the old stove (well not really that old) and get that meatloaf going. Far be it from me to stand between a preteen boy and his food. I had that sucker made and in the oven in no time and it was a HIT!!! My daughter had a friend over and the child went nuts over this meatloaf. Everyone loved it and wanted more. P.O. even ate the leftovers for supper tonight. Yep. It was that good. I served it with either pasta topped with the leftover marinara sauce or Alfredo sauce. We have two different kinds of palates here and sometimes I indulge both. It is spring break after all. I also picked up loaf of French bread to slice up and serve warmed along side it with a nice green salad. It was perfect and will be made again soon. It really is delicious and worth taking a chance on. 

Let me tell you how to do it. You are gonna blow your family away!! 

Italian meatloaf (adapted from http://www.topcookingguide.ga

Stuff you need~

1 pound lean ground beef 

1/2 pound MILD Italian sausage 

Olive oil 

1 small onion, finely diced 

1/2 chopped bell pepper 

1 teaspoon minced garlic 

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg, slightly beaten 

1 teaspoon Worchestchire sauce 

1/2-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

1 teaspoon basil (I used the stuff in the tube) 

2 slices white bread, crumbled (I gave them a few pulses in the food processor instead) 

3/4 Italian breadcrumbs (I used garlic and herb because that’s what I had) 

1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, divided into 1/2 cup and 1 cup (for topping) 

1 cup Marinara sauce (I usually use Newman’s Own but this time Emeril’s caught my eye so I used that) 

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion and bell pepper in some olive oil until tender. Add garlic and sauté another minute or two. Add the your ground beef and Italian sausage to a large mixing bowl. Add in sautéed veggies and other ingredients, except the Marinara sauce.

  

 Reserve one cup of the cheese for topping but add in the rest. Now, roll up your sleeves or use a wooden spoon, but mix it up good until all the ingredients are combined. Don’t be skeered of that meat! Shape the meat into a loaf and add to a loaf pan or a pan of your choice. I use a 9 X 13 glass dish and it works beautifully. 

  

Spread the marinara all over the top of that meatloaf. 

  

 Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes. The original recipe called for 50 minutes but mine was done in 40. Adjust accordingly for your oven’s cook time. Add the reserved cheese to the top and bake another 5 minutes or so, until the cheese is bubbling and melted and irresistible. 

  

Allow to cool a few minutes, slice and serve. 

allow me to channel my inner Mr. Food and say “ooh its so good!”

 

Enjoy my friends!!! You don’t have to make a fancy meal that takes tons of time and money to prepare. What matters is serving up something (mostly) homemade and the smiling (usually) faces gathered around the table. Time to talk, come together and nourish our spirits and bodies. That is what we are going for. This recipe can do it for you. Let me know what you think!! 

The dirty truth about real, Cajun, deliciously dirty rice…and other truths my mama told me

Sit down my friends.  I am about to tell you the real truth about dirty rice.  I am going to say some things that might both thrill and shock you.  I am not talking about some prepackaged dirty rice, mop tit.  I am talking about the real stuff.  Hard core, down and dirty, dirty rice.  One of my favorite meals is roast pig, dirty rice, potato salad and a green salad dressed only with vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Its a simple meal for sure, but not simple to recreate.  Not every day do you come across a cuchon delait.  Won’t be long though until I start asking Big Daddy to make me a pig roasting area in the backyard…though not sure how our Homeowner’s Association would feel about that?  Maybe if I do it and then feed them a big divided Styrofoam plate full of roast pig and all the trimmings, they would overlook it?  Note to self.  Ha ha!!  But when I do want to at least get a taste of that meal, I can make this dirty rice.  It puts me there…I am at Momee’s house and everyone is there.

I am so blessed to have those memories and I am so lucky my mama taught me how to make this dirty rice.  She has never been afraid to tell me the truth about many things in life and what is really in the dirty rice. I remember saying to my mama, after she told me the truth, “say what?  You put what in there?” and she replied “well yeah baby, that’s what makes it tastes so good.”  Simple enough truth there Bern.  Simple enough.  Let me say, at that point I had been eating dirty rice for a long time and I frankly did not care what was in it.  When I had my first baby, my mama came and stayed for us for a few weeks.  She cooked and cleaned and took care of us.  She (tried) to wait on me hand and foot.  She tried to tell me some truth (every time I had a baby) by telling  me to rest.  Don’t over do it.  I was pretty stubborn and did not always listen.  As I sit here 11 years and 4 kids later…I kind of wish I had listened to her.  Looking back on that time, I cherish those memories.  I will never forget the amazing meals she made for us.  Big Daddy was in hog heaven.  He loves my mama’s cooking and frankly I am not sure if that not one of the reasons he married me.  If so, oh well.  She always knew the way to endear him to me was to feed him well.  More truths from my mama’s book.  She helped me rope in my man.  Thanks Mama!!  Anyway, one night she made us stuffed bell peppers with this dirty rice and holy cow…they were scrumptious.  I am quite certain this was about the time I learned the dirty truth about my family’s dirty rice.  And I was not deterred one bit.  I suppose she thought, well she gave birth, she can handle the truth about what is in dirty rice too. We lapped it up with gusto!!  Now, let me go on and spill the beans.  True, Cajun dirty rice is made with ground meat, chicken livers and beef liver.  Oh and Savoie’s real cajun dressing mix.  Not sure what all is in that and I really don’t care.  Now, I have shared that secret and I feel so much better. It is not that awful but some of you may have a hard time with such information.  Please know, if you have never eaten real dirty rice, you owe it to yourself, your children, your loved ones…to make it and try it.  Most of these ingredients will be nearby one another in the grocery store.  In Kroger, its all in a freezer case off to the side of the meat section. 

  I will be honest and say cutting up the livers is not my favorite thing to do but when they  are somewhat frozen still, its a lot easier and less bothersome.  Just a thought.  Also, this recipe makes a good bit.  My mom tells me to freeze the rest of the stuff that is not used.  After Benny Boo was born, she made Big Daddy a mess of  liver and onions  with the leftover beef liver and encourages me to do the same…because she is wise and knows the truth.  A well fed Big Daddy is a happy Big Daddy.  Because I love the man, I do this, and it is absolutely a labor of love, because I truly cannot stand liver and onions.   He is always really appreciative, so I guess that is good enough.  But if you want to just double the recipe, then use all of the liver and the dressing mix.

The dirty 3
The dirty 3
Real Cajun Dirty Rice

Stuff you need~

1 pound ground meat

1 medium onion, chopped fine

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped fine

1/2 container chicken livers, roughly chopped

1 piece of beef liver, roughly chopped

1/2 container Savoie’s real dressing mix

water

2-3 cups of  cooked white rice

bell peppers, blanched and cooled if you intend to make stuffed bell peppers

What to do with the stuff~

Start out by browning ground meat in a large, heavy bottom skillet.  After a few minutes, toss in the chopped onions, celery, and bell pepper to the ground meat.  Cook this over medium heat.

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Now, add in your chopped up livers.  Stir in the dressing mix.

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Just keep cooking over medium heat until its all nice and brown.  Add in some water, maybe 1/2 cup at a time.  You are going to do what my mom calls “smother” this mixture.  That means add in water and allow it to continue to cook until water cooks down.  Then add more.  I cover my skillet after each water addition.  Make sure you check it to make sure you know when it needs more water.  Next, you will start to add your cooked rice.

Ah the white rice...the perfect backdrop to every good Cajun meal.
Ah the white rice…the perfect backdrop to every good Cajun meal.
I just eyeball it.  I make 3 cups of rice and used about 2 cups of it.  But you might want to add more or less to get the consistency you want.

So deliciously dirty…
My mama and baby Ben...she spent her days doing this and cooking us awesome meals.  Thanks Mama!
My mama and baby Ben…she knew the truth…he would not stay little very  long.
You are never too old or big for BB (or mama) to hold you.
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Most of what I know…it all goes by in the blink of an eye, dirty rice is awesome, and my mama is often right. Thanks for the truths Mama.

Chicken fricassee and sweet tomato gravy and a Saturday with great friends

Growing up, we would go to Momou and Grandpa’s for Sunday lunch at least once a month.  And so many times she would fix chicken fricasse, sweet tomato gravy, rice and gravy, potato salad, her macaroni and cheese, petite pois and the ever present brown and serve rolls. When I got older, I was responsible for buttering the rolls before they went in the oven. I always knew when I was called to butter those rolls, lunch was getting close. I can still see the huge bowl of potato salad all gussied up with its sprinkling of Tony’s, sitting there on the white Formica bar right next to the glass pitcher of the BEST sweet tea I have ever had, even to this day. There were so many people packed into that house on those days usually, so many that we had to set up the card table to make room and yet looking back, it never seemed that full. It just seemed homey. 

Now, I will admit that I was not a chicken fricasse fan until I got older. This had a whole lot to do with the fact that when I went to take a peek at was for lunch, there were chicken feet. In the pot. Chicken feet in the pot, ya’ll. I just could not even handle it. You see they had chickens at the time and Momou would just toss the whole bird in the pot. I guess even back then, homey did not play. By homey I mean me.  But by the time I was in high school, she had stopped all that homegrown chicken business and was buying chickens from the store. Sans feet and much more my speed, thank you very much. I am really glad I came around because this meal so something to behold. It is likely on my list of favorites. 



best meal ever



A few weeks ago, our best friends since grad school, Marc and Lolly and  two of their kiddos  came for a visit. My sweet girl turned 10 and they came to celebrate her and also just to visit. It was a good time with excellent company and some pretty excellent food, if I must say so myself. As I have told ya’ll before, Marc is from Eunice and is a dang good cook. Lolly is amazing in the kitchen as well. Anytime we go over there, it is a smorgasbord of food, so when they come here, I like to do it up right. And I think I managed to cook a meal that everyone enjoyed. Momou’s classic fricasse meal pleases another mass of hungry peeps. I cannot wait to see her again and tell her all about it. She took the time a few years ago to write down some requested recipes and I am so glad. It is the easiest recipe to follow and is not hard to make at all. Just like most recipes from the good ole days, this one does not require any exotic ingredients. It’s a feast for your senses and I am telling you, it never disappoints. We followed it up with a red velvet cake for Cookie’s birthday and we were all stuffed to the gills. What a day!!! If every Saturday could be that good, what a wonderful world this would be. It’s a meal to share with beloved friends and family and it is satisfying simplicity at its very finest. 



celebrations are best with our best friends !!!

Using the self timer to take selfies…we are hip and with it! Ha! 



two of our beautiful girls



Now I am including the recipe for sweet tomato gravy because one goes with the other and it is wrong to serve chicken fricasse without sweet tomato gravy. Says me. But of course, it’s not a law or anything so do what you will. If this is your first time to have fricasse then I would absolutely make the sweet tomato gravy as well. You can have the full experience. Go big of go home is what I say. 

Chicken fricasse (French stew) 

Serves about 8 

Stuff you need~

1 fryer, cut up 

About 3/4 jar of Savoie’s roux (1 pint jar)

1 medium onion, chopped 

1/2 bell pepper, chopped 

Ground red pepper,  to taste 

Salt to taste (Momou says NO black pepper in her recipe) 

1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped (or cut with kitchen shears as Mrs. Fern, Marc’s mama, does) 

Chopped parsley (optional) 



da roux!


What to do with the stuff~

Bring about 2 quart of water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Once boiling, add in roux and stir well until it is completely dissolved.  



let’s get the party started



Add the chopped onion and bell pepper and then lower your fire. Allow this to simmer to low heat for about 1 hour. Add in your chicken once it starts to thicken.



bubbling pot o’ heaven


 Cook until the chicken is good and tender…falling off the bone is more like it). Add in your seasoning to taste.



 Serve over rice, my baby. It’s good. 

Sweet Tomato Gravy

Stuff you need~

1 1/2 cups of water

2 tablespoons Savoie’s roux 

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce 

Sugar to taste (as Momou says…it takes a good bit)

In a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, bring water to a boil.  After it comes to a boil, stir in roux. 



the roux ba-bay!

Whisk or stir until it dissolves. Whisk in the tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. 



tomato sauce …what makes sweet tomato gravy what it is!
 

Lower the heat and stir in sugar to taste. Simmer over low heat until mixture thickens a bit. Sweet tomato gravy…fricasse’s best friend. 



Madame Toot and Momou, the fricasse queen



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

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

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a really great cookbook

My girl Trisha’s chicken, broccoli and rice casserole

serves 10

stuff you need~

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

what to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

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Spoon this mixture over the top of the broccoli layer…

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

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oh so comforting and perfect

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

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my really silly tween being tweenish

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

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my really wild child with a new missing front tooth

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my really sassy 8 year old

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

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

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my really proud 6 year old with his first squirrel

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my really beautiful girls

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one of my really most favorite pics

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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