Category Archives: Weeknight Meals

Hungarian goulash and Going home

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

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

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

Hungarian Goulash (circa 1972)

Stuff you need~

8 strips of bacon, raw

2 pounds of stew meat cut into chunks

1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices

6 carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices

Plenty of salt and pepper

THAT’S IT!!!!

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

Enjoy the simplicity and basic goodness of this recipe!!

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

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

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

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

Stuff you need~

Package of chicken tenders

2 tablespoons Real butter

Himalayan pink salt and cracked black pepper

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons Chicken bouillon base

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

Cheesy Spaghetti Pie (this recipe has it all) 

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

Cheesy spaghetti pie 

Stuff you need~

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

5 cups spaghetti sauce, divided (I used Prego)

1 pound Italian sausage, browned and drained *

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon oregano 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder 

8 ounce block cream cheese

3/4 cup sour cream 

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

3 green onions, green parts only, sliced 

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 

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

What to do with the stuff ~

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

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

 

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


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

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


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


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

Korean beef bowls and impromptu perfection 

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

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

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

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

Me and my bebes during our impromptu zoo visit.

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

Korean Beef bowls 

Stuff you need~

1 pound lean ground beef 

Canola oil 

2 teaspoons minced garlic (or more)

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce 

1/4 cup packed brown sugar 

2 teaspoons sesame oil 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger *

2 Sliced green onions, green and white parts 

Slicd green onions and Sesame seeds for garnish (optional) 

Cooked white rice 

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

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


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

Creamy tomato basil tortellini and my can do attitude 

Oh it’s been a long few weeks. The kiddos all started school and we started out strong! We really did! Spirits were high. Hopes were higher. It’s gonna be awesome! Back to school. Back to a routine. We can so do this!! 


And then the first Friday my oldest started running fever because of a fever virus and it snowballed from there. Two of my other kiddos got sick and then again on Friday, my oldest was running fever…AGAIN! Back to the doctor’s office we went. This time it was a sinus infection. Sometimes being a mom means feeling like maybe I just cannot win. I know, I know, allowing myself to get defeated is not the answer. But oh it’s easy to slip into that frame of mind when there is a sick child at home every other day. Not sure what I thought would happen when I had 4 kiddos back to back, but days like that were not anywhere on my radar. Ah the innocence of new motherhood. Then there’s been adjustment to new schools and the back to school routine. I have 3 kiddos at new schools this year and it’s been so wonderful, but even good change is change none the less. It’s all a matter of adjusting. And we are. Throw in some home repair disasters, leaking air conditioner, an aching back and just LIFE…and that leads to a big ole case of TGIF! I was in that frame of mind when I decided to cook up today’s recipe. I had seen it is floating around Facebook (my friends know good food!) and I knew I had to make it. Creamy, basil, pasta, can make at home so going out is unnecessary. Which is good because I was over being around a bunch of people and also taking 6 people out to dinner is not cost effective. At all. It’s pretty dang pricey actually. So this was right up my ally. And oh it was creamy delicious perfection. Comfort food at its very carbolicious best! But on the upside it is chock full of spinach and tomatoes. So at least it packs a nutritional punch (ah silver lining!!). I am so glad I decided to make this. You will not be disappointed! Yum. Just yum! Now if I can just get back in the back to school, take the bull by the horns attitude….kind of like my younger two in this pic…

they have the world by the tail…wish I could bottle that confidence

Creamy tomato basil tortellini (recipe adapted from http://www.tiphero.com

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons butter 

1 small onion diced 

4 cloves (or more!!) garlic, minced 

3 tablespoons flour 

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream 

6 ounce package of baby spinach 

1 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, juice and all  

3 tablespoons basil 

3/4 finely shredded Parmesan 

20 ounce package tortellini (I used Italian sausage but use whatever kind you want) 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Red pepper flakes 

What to do with the stuff~k

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and then set aside. 

Melt butter in a large skillet. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Now you will make a kind of sort of roux. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and half and half. Whisk or stir over low heat until it begins to simmer. 

Toss in the baby spinach, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper. 


Stir until spinach is wilted and sauce is thickened. 


Stir in Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove sauce from heat. Toss tortellini with sauce. Garnish with chili pepper flakes and Parmesan. 


Yum. Just yum. Enjoy! Here’s to another week coming…I can do this!!

Crawfish Fettucine…like seriously the best stuff ever 

OOk this is one of my most favorite, tried and true, best recipes. This is the one I trot out when I want to impress and  have my friends begging for more. It’s creamy, it is just spicy enough, it is fabulous. I will be honest and say I don’t remember who I got this recipe from. Maybe my friend Leia, aka Ned, the one who gave me the crawfish pie recipe but maybe it was my sister? I truly cannot remember and if you know me at all, you know how rare that is.  I have a memory like an elephant. I remember it was in college, maybe grad school, and I made it a whole bunch. Anytime my friends and I cooked supper together, this was usually one of the menu items. My friend Cara and I and her roommate Nicole would have this every other week one summer. At the time it seemed like the best recipe in the whole world and so elegant…in some ways it is still that way to me. My little girl, ADB, has loved this for a while and it is probably one of her favorites. So the tradition continues. This recipe deserves all the props it gets, I promise. It’s just that good. I don’t even know where this recipe is written down on paper! I just know it by heart. I guess all important things that have special memories attached to them are etched on your heart.  This recipe certainly qualifies. If you gave me this recipe and you read this post please give me a shout out. I love to give credit where credit is due and y’all know I love to share stories about friends who the recipe comes from.  None the less, just make this crawfish fettucine  and enjoy! This pairs beautifully with a green salad and some garlic bread. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as I have for the longest time now. Grab a good bottle of wine, make this recipe and toast to good friends, wonderful memories, and great food! Nothing better!  

Stuff you need~

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter 

1 small onion, diced 

1 medium bell pepper, diced 

2 stalks celery, diced 

Cajun seasoning (Tony’s…do I have to specify?) 

1 pound crawfish tails *

1 can cream of chicken soup 

1 can cream of mushroom soup 

16 ounces (about half of a big block) queso blanco velveeta with jalapeños (or mexican velveeta…whatever you can find)

half and half 

Cooked fettucine noodles 

What to do with the stuff~

Melt your butter in a big ole skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, and celery in the butter until tender. Sprinkle in a little Tony’s at this point. I read somewhere a while back that adding seasoning at the beginning of the sautéing process tends to deepen the flavor of the seasoning. Works for me! 

Add the minced garlic and sauté another minute or two. Next add your soups and crawfish tails. 

Add your cubed up velveeta and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Next, add a splash of half and half to make this luscious concoction that much creamier. Add a little more because it makes it that much better. Stir, stir, stir. Continue to cook over low heat until the sauce is the consistency you prefer. It will continue to thicken some after you remove it from the heat. Keep that in mind. 


Serve over some cooked fettucine noodles along side some garlic bread to sop up all that sauce the noodles forget. Best. Stuff. Ever!!!!! 

speaking of favorites from my grad school days…still love these ladies. blessed to call them friends.

French Onion Chicken Noodle casserole and faith, love and good food

A few things here. It’s been a few months since I have posted a new recipe and for that I am apologetic. I find it hard to believe that anyone cares that much about my blathering and rambling and yet, I feel tremendous guilt when I have been away too long. I call it good ole Catholic guilt but it’s for sure a catch 22.  I admit I feel a certain level of responsibility to you all. Though I am well aware no one is basing their entire life or menu on me posting a recipe or not, I consider my readers to be my friends and I do feel responsible for my friends. So since we are friends I will apologize for being so absent lately but I will hope you allow me some grace because you know how deep we can sink into life without even knowing it. And I have been thigh deep in LIFE. Here’s a little glimpse into what we’ve been doing and that’s not the half of it…

4 kiddos means lots going on sometimes

This is just the stuff going on that you can see. That I can even verbalize. There have been other things that just come with life. I lost my aunt in April (my cousin Robin’s mom, my mom’s sister) and that was hard.

from left to right…my mom, momee, and aunt rebecca (circa 2003)

 When I sit down and consider all the things that have happened, it is a little hard to believe some of it actually is real. And I forgive myself for not sitting down to write about a recipe because I have been doing good to get supper on the table.

 But here I am, and I am going to give you a recipe that fits the bill for the ultimate comfort dish. No matter the season, no matter the day…this dish aims to please. My friend Amy from my hometown (there are lots of Aimee/Amys  from Alex…and I proudly call a bunch of them my friends.) One day she shared this recipe via Facebook and it looked so good I just had to try it. Now I could just share that recipe but I like to write about the recipes that I love on my blog and that in no way makes them my recipes. This recipe can be found here…http://www.plainchicken.com/2014/09/french-onion-chicken-noodle-casserole.html#CEeoggWZZxhI7sqZ.99

It’s a real winner my friends. I think the actual phrase is winner, winner chicken dinner! It is so good. Now I kind of tweaked it a little to make it suit our tastes but it is just the bomb. The stuff as my good friend Lisa is fond of saying. This is the stuff! You make some field peas with it and some warm buttered King’s Hawaiian rolls and you have yourself one heck of a supper. Big Daddy went bananas. He loved it and I did too. It’s one of those dishes you think about and have to make it. It’s that good. 

French Onion Chicken Noodle Casserole 

Stuff you need~

4 cups cooked chopped chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup

12 ounces container French Onion Dip

4 ounces sour cream 

1 cup cheddar cheese (I used the Kraft triple cheddar with a touch of cream cheese) 

12 ounces egg noodles

1 cup crushed French fried onions

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cook your noodles until they are cooked al dente. So they are cooked but not mushy. No one wants that. 

Now stir the soup, the dip, the sour cream, your chicken (insert rotisserie chicken here), and cheese. 


Now combine this mixture with the cooked noodles. Add all of this to your 9’x 13 dish that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Top with French fried onions. Bake 25-30 minutes. 

creamy, filling, savory…this dish has it all!!

Most of all, I hope you all enjoy this as much as we did. I want you to know how much I appreciate you continuing to read my posts, for sharing my posts, for commenting and interacting, for waiting for me to come back around. Life is so full of lessons and I am on a journey to learn them. Difficult or not. And man some of them have been difficult here larely. I am grateful to be able to share my journey of faith, hope and good food with all of you. Much love and many good meals to you all.~AMB 

life is a journey and that is fine as long as some of it can be on a boat on the Sabine River

And because I just love our dogs…let me share what they have been up to…our pups, Roy and Idaho are a big part of our fam!! 


Slow cooker chicken chili and isn’t it ironic?

 So everywhere I look here lately on social media are recipe videos. They are neat to look at but if you are any kind of a cook, you know very well no recipe is that simple. Pretending it is by making a time lapsed video is not going to make it so. While I appreciate being up with the times and rolling with what is popular, I am mostly all about tried and true. At the end of the day, I want a recipe. Not a video. Real recipes, no matter how simple, require real effort. I suppose what I am saying is that those videos are somewhat of a pet peeve of mine. I am a cook. I do cook. I take it seriously and I also know that most recipes require some effort. It would be lovely for it to be that simplified and my vegetables are chopped with a hit of a fist like one video showed and my spaghetti boiled in 2 seconds. I really hope anyone out there knows that is not happening. BUT, many of those dishes they prepare on those lala land videos look amazing! I will not lie. Mouth watering. So I get the attraction. And this chicken chili did not disappoint!! No sir-y Bob! But it take me longer than 5 minutes to prepare. Ha ha!! My friend Misty is a Norwex distributor and she came to my house to show us the awesomeness that is Norwex. I had a few friends that came and I made a crockpot full of this chili. It was amazingly tasty. No doubt! 

If you have any interest in cleaning your home faster and with less product, you can check out Misty’s business page here…http://mistylee.norwex.biz. My favorite products are the envirocloth (you have to see it to believe it!), the window cloth, and the envirowand. Anyway, there is nothing I love more than a fun party, some good friends over and feeding them some delish food!! We had a good time even with just a few of us there. Then again, most times in Cajun Mama’s kitchen are good times, if I say so myself!! 

Ok so here’s the super easy crockpot chicken chili recipe. You will love it, your kids will love it, your friends will love it, even if it takes longer than 5 minutes to make. It comes from http://www.12tomatoes.com and they actually had a written recipe conveniently attached, so that’s the best of both worlds!! And I went to look on my phone for pictures of this delish dish and I did not find any! I feel positive I took some but somehow they are not there. So that means I either did not take any (rare) and I am losing my mind OR I took some and they got deleted from my phone. Either explanation is plausible. So I apologize for this rare occurrence but this recipe is worth posting even without pictures. I just know many of my readers are visual people and like some pretty pictures accompanying their recipes. It won’t happen again…until it does. Because I have 4 kids and they get ahold of my phone sometimes and who knows what happens. But luckily the link I gave you has some pictures and a video. Oh the irony…I dislike recipes that come as a video only and I have no pictures.  😂😂😂 I guess Alanis Morisette was right. Isn’t it ironic? 

Slow cooker chicken chili 

stuff you need~

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 

2 (14 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes 

1 (14 ounce) can corn, rinsed and drained 

1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained *

1 cup chicken broth 

1 red bel pepper, seeded and finely chopped 

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (I used 1/2 because I knew kids would be eating it and there was not much heat)

1/2 yellow onion, chopped 

3 cloves garlic, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoon of the jarred stuff)

3/4 tablespoon cumin 

1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4 ounces, cream cheese 

 Fresh cilantro for garnish 

Crushed Tortilla chips for garnish

Shredded cheese and sour cream, for garnish 

* I always ALWAYS get reduced sodium canned beans because the regular have a ton of sodium. Just FYI 

What to do with the stuff~

Place chicken breasts in slow cooker. Pour chicken broth over chicken breasts. Add the tomatoes, corn and black beans. Toss the chopped jalapeños, onion, garlic, and red bel pepper on top of this. Sprinkle the cumin, chili powder, oregano, kosher salt and black pepper over the top of this colorful concoction. A picture would be nice here wouldn’t it? Sigh. 

Ok cook this on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours. As I always say, it depends on your slow cooker. Once the chicken is cooked and tender, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and shred with 2 forks. Place back in slow cooker. Give it all a good stir and then add your cream cheese. Cook for another 20 minutes or so on low. At the end, stir to make sure the cream cheese is evenly distributed. 

Add a big heaping scoop to a bowl along with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, cilantro and sour cream. Oh so good!!! You can’t eat a picture anyway. But this…oh yeah my baby, dig in. 

Crockpot Chicken bacon ranch pasta and the joy of the little things 

Well…The holidays are over now and we have to find a way to go on. Sigh. I love the holidays. The anticipation of it all is what makes me the happiest. Must be the Catholic in me. I love the whole build up of Advent, the build up to the big event and even afterward as we wait for the epiphany. So after it is all said and done…I feel a little let down. Yes, I know that what was supposed to happen has happened. But it’s a little like “blah. Now what?” My sweet Madame toot (9 years old) said it perfectly on Christmas night. “Christmas is over. How can I go on?” I about died laughing because I could so understand how she felt. So now the kids are back in school and life is back to “normal” (lol! As if!) and it’s all about establishing routine. Getting back into our groove. But still…in the humdrum, cold and wet weather, a mama needs a little something to look forward to. A little treat here and there. But after the buffet of gifts and food and indulgence at Christmas…who has money for that? We are all looking to make resolutions, cut corners, get stuff in order, organize…and the list goes on. Well here comes me. And my gang of pals who always know which direction to point me in. I met a new friend recently…well she is married to an old friend and we finally “met.” She is hilarious and apparently knows good things when she sees them. She did marry Wade  after all.   

  
Yes this. She was so dead on. Posting a picture on Facebook with a thumbs up sign. Yes Connie. So much yes. I know, I know…this is instant cappuccino. To that I say, maybe…but this is a treat! It’s not expensive and it’s a small what my mom would call…happy. Let’s face it ya’ll…finding little things to break the monotony, help us survive the crazy, brighten up the middle…well those are things to hold on to. A Starbucks coffee a day habit is not in my budget lately. But this…this I can do. On the same note, while at Walmart picking up a report cover for my daughter’s science fair project and my Hills Brothers cappuccino in a tub… I found some super cute Henley’s in a bunch of fun bright colors. Guess what?! These super sassy, won’t break the bank, 3/4 length and feel great on tops,  look as cute with yoga pants as they do with jeans or dress pant. Can you say score?! It is truly the little things. 

So to get on with the story that is leading to a recipe…I promise. On my mind as I entered Wally World today was what am I gonna make for supper? You know that question. Yesterday I saw this on Facebook and since then I have had bacon on the brain. It made me giggle and want bacon. BACON!!!! 

  
 This is what I googled…creamy bacon chicken in the crockpot. And this recipe popped up…http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/slow-cooker-bacon-ranch-chicken-and-pasta/997c0a46-b7d8-481e-8919-5f563b1dde66.  I wanted to try it a while back and well…who knows why but I never did make it. But today it is happening. As I wait in carpool to pick up my oldest from middle school before heading to the other school to fetch the other 3…it is cooking away in my little crockpot. Or big red as she has been dubbed. She has a timer and is set for greatness. Chicken bacon ranch pasta. Happening tonight. Making something indulgent for supper that I did not have to slave over is definitely on my list of little things that make a big HAPPY difference in my life. 

So to sum it up…things that make me happy…instant cappuccino, colorful versatile shirts, and a good easy creamy pasta recipe. Throw in my soft cozy flannel dachshund sheets on my head and a nice cold snap and this chick is HAPPY! This pasta dish made me oh so happy!!! It is absolutely fantastic. The flavor is simply divine. It is super indulgent, yes. But after all the delicious rich foods we indulged in during Christmas, we cannot send our bodies into shock. A little indulgence here and there is necessary. In my humble pasta loving opinion. You know how some recipes don’t live up to the hype? And like the after holidays let down, you just feel a little empty inside? Yeah this is not like that. I had to force myself to stop eating it. I am hoping the leftovers will be even better since the flavors have had time to blend. We shall see. But for tonight…I am a happy happy girl!  The kiddos truly enjoyed it! Victory! 

Crockpot Creamy bacon ranch pasta 

Stuff you need~

1 pound chicken breasts (about 2)

6 strips of bacon, fried until crispy and crumbled 

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing  

1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic 

1 cup sour cream 

1 can cream of chicken soup 

1/2 cup water 

Black pepper 

8 ounces cooked angel hair (about 1/2 box)  

What to do with the stuff~

well if you have not yet, fry your bacon. Bacon good. 

  
Then you want to spray your 4 quart crockpot with cooking spray. Then lay your chicken breasts in the crockpot. Tell them to sit tight. Then combine all ingredients except pasta in a bowl. Mix well. 

  
Then you want to pour this mixture on top of the chicken breasts. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or so. I let mine just turn off and then it was on low until I was ready to add pasta. Also, shred the chicken breasts before adding the pasta. Once pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the delicious sauce in the crockpot and gently stir to combine. Then just serve it warm. My crockpot has a warm button, so I just it on until we were ready to eat, even once I added pasta. 

  Simply delicious!!! 

so much yum!!

  

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)