Category Archives: vegetarian

Broccoli cheddar quiche and up way too early 

It is Christmas break and I was up at 4:44 a.m. this morning.  What in the world?! You ask? I do not even pretend to know my friends. Maybe it’s the barometric pressure or maybe it was the coffee at 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon. I do not claim to know. I just know that I was up at 4:44 this morning. And you know the saying the early bird catches the worm? If there was a worm to be caught, I do suppose I caught it today. I could really be annoyed that I was up so early, and I could be annoyed by the fact that I have several sets of sheets to wash (don’t ask)…but instead I decided to drink another cup of coffee, make a quiche and get the sheets to washing. Because if getting older has taught me anything, it has taught me that being ticked off is not productive (well not always) and trying to go back to sleep once I am up is almost always the wrong thing to do. Not sure where the quiche idea came from, other than I like quiche. A lot. And I had a leftover pie crust in the fridge. No silly, not a homemade pie crust. A leftover pie crust from the box of Pillsbury crusts I had bought. I don’t do homemade pie crusts. But if you do, feel free to make you one! Also, Big Daddy had a great crop of broccoli this year!  

 
So glad he got a green thumb. Because I got the black thumb of death. He gets it from his Pappaw who was growing cabbages the size of my head until he was 90 years old. So there was that. So I googled quiche recipes because I had no bacon, sausage or ham and quiche Lorraine or quiche with ham is what I usually make. And frankly I have eaten so much meat over the past few days, I figured I could do with a good meatless dish. We will call this a meatless Monday recipe. So low and behold, up pops this recipe from http://www.delish.com for broccoli cheddar quiche! Bingo! Oh and not to mention I had a block of Cracker Barrel Vermont sharp white cheddar that was begging to be shredded and put in a yummy quiche! That’s really why I did all of this. To help that amazing cheese fulfill its lifelong dream.(forgive me…I was up too early). 

  
Now for this up too early broccoli cheddar quiche recipe! This tasty dish surely does take the sting out of being up so early!

Up too early broccoli cheddar quiche 

Stuff you need~

1 pie crust 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I just happened to have some but you can use salted butter) 

2 cups diced onion (1 medium onion) 

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 

6 eggs 

1 cup shredded cheddar 

1 1/2-2 cups broccoli flowerettes 

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Roll your pie crust out into a 9 inch pie plate or a quiche dish. Which I use, because I love quiche. But the 9 inch pie plate works just as well. 

Bake the crust until golden brown. About 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven. 

  
While waiting for crust to brown, melt the butter in a skillet. Sauté your diced onion until tender and opaque. 

  

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and heavy cream.

  
Stir the broccoli, cheese, salt, pepper, and sautéed onions into the cream and egg mixture. 

  
Pour this into your golden brown pie crust.

 
Bake quiche in your preheated oven  until the egg mixture is set. Mine took about 45 minutes or so. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, make yourself a cup of coffee and shake those up too early blues away! You made a quiche! 
 

Bon Appetit!
 
Other things I do at 5 in the morning…use an app to turn some pics into paintings…

   
 

Well at least I was semi productive!!

 I hope you have a blessed day no matter how early your day started!! 
 

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Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup And my soup obsession continues 

This is one of my favorite things on the menu at the OG. Yes I know it’s a soup recipe. Yes another one. Because there are so many soup recipes that just beg me to make them. Anytime I go to the OG this is a must. This and breadsticks and I am happy as a clam.  There are many recipes out there for this but chose this one seemed the most authentic.  I found this recipe on http://www.carriesexperimentalkitchen.com.     Now it does use boullion cubes and I am fine with that. I know some are appalled at such practices but let me say….if boullion cubes are gonna be the death of me…well so be it. 6 of one half dozen the other.  Also, I can make it during Lent as long as I don’t add the chicken. I did not add it this time and I probably will not ever because it is so perfect without it. The gnocchi is filling in its own right and I never missed the chicken.  The gnocchi is not hard to find in most stores. You can find it on the packaged pasta aisle. It is truly so easy to recreate this soup at home at a fraction of the cost. I know we are hedging upon warmer weather but that does not deter me to make my favorite soup recipes. I just may not make them as often. But when a soup is this filling and not labor intensive at all…I cannot find any reason not to make it during any weather. Of course, this comes from a soupahomic and that may just be my soup addiction talking.  Also, nothing pairs better with this chicken based soup like a nice refreshing glass of white wine…which makes it a win in my book!!!  Whatever your pleasure, if you love OG’s chicken gnocchi soup, feel free to indulge during the warmer months…I surely won’t tell anyone. Now…where are the breadsticks? 

Copycat OG chicken gnocchi soup 

Makes  16 1 cup servings (so can serve 16 but it’s so good I would say about 10) 

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons butter 

1/3 cup thinly sliced celery 

1/4 cup minced onion (it’s says shredded but that did not work so well for me…yikes!!)

1/4 cup grated carrot 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme 

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

8 cups water 

6 chicken boullion cubes (I use the knorr extra large and only use 4) 

2 cups heavy whipping cream 

2 cups cooked chicken (grilled, roasted, or rotisserie…again I don’t use it at all)

4 cups fresh, washed baby spinach 

16 ounce package gnocchi 

What to do with the stuff~

Melt butter in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat and sauté onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Sauté a few minutes or until celery is tender.  

   

 Now whisk in the flour until it is mixed in with sautéed veggies. Next, stir in water and the bouillon cubes. Add in the ground nutmeg and ground thyme and the chicken If you are using it. Bring this just to a boil and then reduce heat to allow mixture to simmer for 15 minutes. While simmering the soup, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan.  Then add this to the soup along with the spinach and the gnocchi. 

 

Let the soup simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Ladle into individual bowls and prepare to be amazed. 

  

mangia!!

   

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a glorious spring day 

Oh today has been a beautiful day in my world.  First of all, when I woke up, the sun was already out.  That in and of itself is a huge statement for any mom.  I got to sleep past 5:30 a.m. AND the sun was out.  Score one for this girl!!  So the kids and I loaded up and went out to breakfast and did a little shopping.  There were minimal shenanigans or hissy fits.  And the kids were  pretty well behaved too. 

  

 Hahaha!!  But really now…we came home and the kids unearthed last year’s stash of plastic Easter eggs and they had some Easter egg hunts.  We love us a good egg Hunt now and they can get down.  It really felt good for us to spend some time out doors in the bright sunshine beating down on our skin and breathing in the fresh air of Springtime. And then it got really hard core. We broke out the water hose. See Big Daddy is against opening the pool until April but the kids feel that if the sun is shining, the pool should be open. Then I could not find the sprinkler and Big Daddy was off in hot pursuit of that ever elusive Tom (turkey) so we all compromised…Mom could hold the hose while the kiddos pranced through the spray from the hose in their bathing suits. Fair enough. 

simple and pure…sunshine, their shadows and the spray from the hose.

this sums up everything I feel about it finally being Spring

 

Big brother mans the hose

 

So then my little water logged darlings  decided they were hungry and took a vote…burgers for dinner. Get on that mom! But I was not in a burger mood. And here comes the good part.  There has been a recipe for pasta with fresh tomato sauce from http://www.marthstewart.com that I have been wanting to try. I also happened to have some gorgoues tomatoes begging to be used.  I love it when a plan comes together that way. A fresh tomato purée with garlic and basil and olive oil just screams….spring is here and summer is not far at all!  So much to my delight, this pasta sauce was all that I hoped it would be and I slurped up (don’t tell anyone) every last noodle. It truly was so fresh and perfect and full of flavor. It’s not a fussy high maintenance pasta sauce that needs you to coddle her and tell her she’s pretty.  This pasta sauce is  her super cool laid back gal pal who is just a breeze to be around Next time I make this recipe, I hope it will be made with Big Daddy’s home grown tomatoes and fresh basil from my container garden.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we all enjoyed this perfect spring day.  More of those please Mother Nature…if you don’t mind!! 

 

the stars of my show
 


Pasta with fresh tomato sauce 

Stuff you need~

2 1/2 pounds fresh (unrefrigerated) tomatoes 

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (I used the Basil in a tube that you find in the produce section….about 3 tablespoons of it) 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for drizzling) 

1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta 

1 tablespoon of reserved pasta water 

Fresh grated Parmesan (trust me)

What to do with stuff~

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop tomatoes until they are very fine or toss all ingredients into your food processor.  

 

   Next give the ingredients a few light pulses….

  

Then I spooned some of that reserved pasta water into the fresh tomato sauce…just a dash. Now grate some Parmesan…

 

And then prepare yourself for your pasta dreams to come true. 

as spectacular as a warm Spring day

Enjoy this pasta sauce and enjoy Spring…it’s a must!!!! 

Thai noodle salad

I am not sure if I have shared with my blog readers the depth of my obsession with Thai food. I love it. Like obsessed with it. If I could marry Thai food I would. But then I would eat it and be sad and alone again. So I will stick with Big Daddy. My love of Thai started with the Thai chicken pizza at Schlotzsky’s. Oh so delicious. When I was pregnant with Ben, I craved those. And then many years later, one of my dear friends, Betsy (yes we have discussed her before) introduced me to a local place called Dahn’s noodle house. It is one of those hole in the wall places that might be easy to overlook. I had seen it and wondered about, but one day Betsy’s husband went to eat there and brought her back some. And later that week we had this conversation when she told me about it…”yes that kind of shady looking place past the liquor store. Yes the one we always wonder about. Yes it is awesome. Matt said it was packed for lunch on Saturday.” So she and I hit up Dahn’s noodle house the next and it was as they say…on. Oh so on. Pad Thai. Peanut chicken. Spicy lemongrass chicken. Yes, yes, and yesss. “I need a t-25 sir, and make it snappy!!!” Mommy likes. Mommy loves. It was love at first bite. We went again and again. We brought friends. “Yes come with us. Yes that kind of shady looking place past the liquor store. Yes the food is awesome.” It is like a little secret in Shreveport that is not so secret anymore. It is usually packed and I went in there the other day to pick up some pad Thai because I had to have some and the waiters were wearing fancy vests. They used to just wear jeans or what have you. That is a true indication that the secret is out. It is a great restaurant in Shreveport. When Betsy and I used to go on a weekly, I mean monthly, basis there was a hammock off to the side where their baby would nap. It was the cutest thing and just so quaint. Certainly a conversation starter. Lol.

So back to the business hand, Thai noodle salad. The original recipe is called Thai chicken pasta salad but y’all. I just could not put the chicken in it. I wanted straight noodles. Just cool, creamy noodle perfection with a hint of crunch coming from the veggies. And some siracha sauce to give it a kick. Mmmm. Oh yeah, Cajun mama likey her Thai noodles, however odd that may sound. I should be an ambassador. I promote all cultures on my blog. I love foods from all ethnicities and if I can cook it, I will. The ambassador thing was a joke ok. Just in case anyone thinks I am going all Gwyneth Paltrow over here, making stupid statements that have no basis in reality. Anyway, apparently I pinned this recipe a while back and I was scrolling the other day and thought “oh my yes. I need to make that stuff.”
The link to that is here…http://www.bhg.com/blogs/delish-dish/2014/03/26/thai-chicken-pasta-salad-recipe/. And so make it I did. And it was good. Cold, creamy, peanutty, with just enough crunch. Yes. I did not add the chicken. Check out the original post if you want to do that. I am telling you how I did it. It was Dahn’s noodle garden perfect. If you are Thai loving fool like me, it would be a safe bet to say you will enjoy this recipe. ~AMB

Thai noodle salad

Stuff you need~

2-3 ounces packages Ramen noodles
3/4 peanut butter
3/4 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (the fresher the better)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper OR red pepper flakes (this is another obsession Betsy started for me)
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 small seedless cucumber, peeled and finely diced*
6 green onions, finely sliced

*if you cannot find seedless, just seed it. Slice horizontally once you have peeled it. Take a spoon and scape all the seeds out. It’s pretty easy.

What to do with the stuff~

Bring 4 cups or so of water to a boil in a medium size pot. Break the dry ramen noodles up and toss them into the boiling water. Discard the seasoning packets or save for another use. After you add the broken up noodles, remove the pot from the heat. Just let the noodles sit there.
Now, in a large bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, sugar and the seasonings. Now add the carrot , green onion and cucumber to the peanut butter sauce. Stir to coat.
Drain your noodles, rinse well with cold water. Add the drained noodles to the sauce and stir gently. Spoon into some bowls. Sprinkle with some extra crushed red pepper flakes if you want. Take liberty with the Siracha sauce. I love that stuff. Almost as much as I love this noodle salad.

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even the bottle just makes me glad to be alive

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oh for the love of Thai!

Keep calm and make macaroni salad

So I like to fancy myself a Southern girl at heart. Everything looks better with a monogram on it, I love my hydrangeas, and Gone with the Wind is a wonderful movie. None of that may truly make me Southern (though I am by birth and I am proud of it!) but there is such a thing as being Southern at heart. Which I imagine if you follow my blog or Facebook page, you are Southern at heart simply because the majority of recipes I serve up on here are good ole fashioned Southern delights and you probably like to eat some good food!!)
Well, the lovely recipe I have for y’all today is a true Southern dish. Macaroni salad! Oh yes. But friends, not your grandmama’s macaroni salad. No siree Bob. This is macaroni salad for today’s sophisticated Southern palates. It is sweet, creamy and has a little kick. I have always wanted to like macaroni salad. Something about it just draws me in. It is just so…Southern….sitting there in the grocery store deli case alongside the fried chicken (we love the fried chicken at our local Brookshires…it’s fab). It is simply perfect at a potluck and is just always a great summertime side dish. I have to admit I have bought some macaroni salad from our local grocery store. Now, it was not horrible but it just always left me wanting…more. That I can recall, macaroni salad is not a dish my family made often, if ever at all, so I really have no way to gauge what really good macaroni salad is. But I knew that there had to be a great recipe for it somewhere. I have tried several recipes for it, but again, they just left me wanting more. Well friends, I do believe I have found…more. I googled best macaroni salad and first result was a macaroni salad recipe from none other than the lovely Pioneer Woman…y’all know it’s good. Here is a link to that post http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/06/the-best-macaroni-salad-ever/. Of course, it was crucial to me that I share it with my peeps, my homies, my friends on my blog. So that is what I am doing today. I hope you will give it a go. Keep calm and make good macaroni salad. Ha ha!!! I need a Tshirt that says that! ~AMB

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that’s all I’m saying lol!

Be all end all Macaroni Salad (my name for it…)

serves a bunch of folks

4 cups of macaroni noodles, cooked al dente
1/2 cup diced sweet and spicy pickles *
4 roasted red bell peppers (the jarred kind)
Black olives, chopped fine**
3 green onions, sliced (green parts)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (Duke’s…always, at least in my kitchen)
1 tablespoon Red wine vinegar
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 Milk
Plenty of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
Pickle juice (secret ingredient!)
aside.
*(you can buy some or make my recipe for them https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/10/23/cajun-mamas-candied-pickles/) I bought some from target because I was trying to make this last night but I will be making a fresh batch of those babies soon!)
** (to save time, I bought a small can of the chopped black olives and it worked great! Excellent time saver!)

What to do with the stuff

Boil your macaroni noodles. Drain them in a colander and then run cold water over them. You want them cool when you add the rest of this stuff.
Chop the roasted bell peppers, green onion, olives (if you didn’t buy the already chopped ones, show off! :)), and pickles. Set aside.
To a medium size bowl, add your mayo. Whisk in the red wine vinegar, sugar and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Add a little black pepper for good measure. Now add a little milk and whisk. Ok now, add a healthy splash of pickle juice to this mixture. Mmmmm. Whisk it good. When a problem comes along, you must whisk it. Oh sorry I got lost in my 80’s music.
Now, add your cold macaroni noodles to a large bowl. Now stir in 3/4 of that sweet and tangy mayo mixture. Give it a nice stir to coat those darling noodles with that sauce. Mmmmm. You can add the rest later if you desire.
Now stir in the chopped olives, red peppers, green onions, and pickles. Give it a good stir. Now splash in a little more pickle juice if you are so inclined (and I was) and stir gently until well combined. Make adjustments according to your taste. Now, naturally this is better if you let it sit in fridge covered overnight but feel free to have some almost immediately. It’s all good. Literally…all so good!! We served this with some magnificent grilled chicken breasts (that recipe will be coming up soon) and grilled corn on the cob. Oh and baked beans. Because my kids and BD are southern too and they likes them some baked beans. It was yum-my!!!!! Enjoy!!!

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ready for that macaroni salad

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I found these Wickles at Target. Quite tasty!

Rainbow Pasta Salad and lots of the good stuff know, I learned from my friends

So I have told ya’ll about my very good friend Betsy before, right?  I will give ya’ll a little more back story here because it is relevant to the recipe…well, mostly.  Ha ha!  Ya’ll know I love to tell a good story, right?  Anyway, I met Betsy back in 2005 when my oldest started MDO at First Baptist here in Shreveport.  Her oldest, Maggie, was in class with Ben.  I had 2 kiddos, aged almost 2 and 6 months old.  We had just moved from Keithville and I was still convinced I could absolutely be the perfect mom and all the other delusions we new mommies by into.  It’s true, girls.  Betsy is what you would call, shy, when you first meet her.  Friendly, but a little aloof and seems perfect beyond words.  It is a little intimidating.  We would make a little small talk, but she worked in the MDO and was always on her way to her own class.  Lo and behold, round about April, I was pregnant with #3 and she was pregnant with #2, now known as Aubrey and Annie.  We would meet in passing and exchange hellos.  Come fall, my Kayla was old enough and I put her in MDO with Ben and Betsy was her teacher.  We were both hugely pregnant and would talk about due dates and Kayla’s progress, which coincidentally, was not good.  You know how daycares and MDO’s always say “she will stop crying as soon as you leave and be fine.  We will call you if there is a problem.” Kayla was one of those rare babies that did not stop crying.  She in fact, sat in Betsy’s barely there lap and would sob inconsolably.  So, I would come and get her early everyday.  Keep in mind, I am due any day with baby #3 and my 18 month old was a mama’s girl.  I was experiencing mommy guilt, self doubt, mommy fear at it’s most primal…whatever you want to call it.  Aubrey came along in October and then Annie at the end of November.  I eventually took Ben and Kayla out of MDO because Aubrey kept getting so sick and finally got a stomach bug at 5 months old and I said enough.  I am not going to lie or sugarcoat it.  Having 3 kids, 3 and under and a husband who worked or hunted all the time was to say the least overwhelming.  I guess I had a little postpartum depression now that I look back on it.  Baby number 3 was a blessing and also a knockdown punch I was not expecting.  She cried all the time if she was not being held and I was just at my wits end.  So, fast forward to a year and half down the road, I was expecting baby #4 and Ben would be starting kindergarten in the fall.  I decided to try MDO again.  So I went back to the only place I really knew, First Baptist.  Little did I know how glad I would be that I made that decision.  I found out Betsy was also expecting a baby boy and was due in June. I was expecting a baby boy in July.  Well…as luck (or I say, God’s plan) would have it, that summer, right before I had Lucas, I saw Betsy in the Target parking lot.  I have goose bumps as I write this as I can see just how meant to be it was.  I admired her newborn baby boy, Jack Henry and made small talk.  Well, cut to the fall, and the girls started MDO.  Aubrey and Annie were in the same class and every day Betsy was not working at MDO, I would see her in Target.  We would laugh and joke about “ha ha see you in Target every time!  How funny!”  We exchanged phone numbers, but I was still adjusting to motherhood with 4 kiddos and did not see much of a future in our friendship.  I had not made friends very easily since moving to Shreveport and I did not have high expectations.  Well, somehow, we managed to carve out a nice little friendship and we banded together with some other moms and formed a nice posse that included about 6 moms and in excess of 25 kids.  Yeah, we were a motley crew at best.  Betsy and I spent lots of time together with the kids and without.  I ended up being her teaching partner for a year before they moved.  I loved those Tuesdays and Thursdays and I frankly loved spending time with my friend.  This pasta salad recipe is only one of the many things I treasure from our time together.  For someone who says she doesn’t cook, she sure does have some flipping awesome recipes.  Ya’ll know the rest of the story…they moved to South Louisiana so her hubby could join a practice and the rest of their story could unfold.  I miss her everyday and I know she misses me, but life has moved on for both of us and we have made our way.  She is still one of my good friends and our kiddos still love each other, even if we don’t see each other often.  And a few of those friendships still remain strong and that is a gift that keeps on giving.  (I am talking to you Lexie B)  You see, some things, like our friendship, are just meant to be.  God kept putting us in one another’s path until we realized…hey, I like this girl!!!  She likes Target as much as I do and she gets me.  She just gets me.  Thank God for friends who get us, right?  Those crazy years were made much more bearable because of Bets.  In many ways, she taught me how to be a mom.  She taught me how to pack lunches for my kids…no really, she is a mastermind at packing lunches kiddos love. She taught me how to make really delicious brownies.  She taught me you can never go to Chick fil A too often and how to do really good arts and crafts.  She taught me how to get over myself and roll with it with a little grace and not worry so much.  She taught me to laugh at myself.  And she taught me to trust in friendship again and that I was lovable just as I was.  Hot mess and all.  She is the yen to my yang.  This rainbow pasta salad is a perfect example.  For years I had wondered, how in the heck do the restaurants make such deliciousness?  Well, in walks Betsy to show me.  So delicious and yet so easy.  Too good to be true.  And yet…totally true.  Just like our friendship.  Love ya Bets. ~AMB

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friendship is indeed a gift

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A good friend gives your cozy coupe a push when you need it.  

Rainbow Pasta Salad 

Stuff you need~

1 package of rotini pasta, cooked al dente and then rinsed with cold water

5 cups of chopped vegetables (you can use anything but I use cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, purple onion)

1/2 – 1 cup of cheddar cheese and/or Mozzarella cheese cubes

1/2 cup Salad Supreme seasoning

8 ounces or 1 cup of Italian dressing

What to do with the stuff~

Put your cooked, drained and cooled pasta in a big bowl.  Toss in your chopped veggies and cubes of cheese.  Stir in the seasoning blend and the Italian dressing.  Add more if you think it needs it.   Toss well so that the seasoning and dressing coats every last noodle.  You will be so happy and full of joy when you take a bite of this yumminess.  It will make you smile and want to give some to your friend.  Do it.  She might just love you for life!!

Shout to my girl Bets for this and so many other wonderful things she introduced me to!!!

*For this batch I added in some penne pasta because I needed to stretch it a little further to feed a large group.  I added a little more salad dressing and seasoning accordingly.

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The secret ingredient 

 

this is a potluck go to recipe.  It makes a ton and pleases everyone

So full of color and flavor…you will love it and so will your friends