Category Archives: Mexican

Crock pot fajitas and back to the future 

Did you know that today is back to the future day?! Yep, that day that was on the time machine in the movie….OCTOBER 21, 2015. When I saw this on the news and realized what was up, my very tired mind was effectively blown. We are in the future. The future, according to the movie, is now! 

the truth in this meme will boggle the mind!!

How bizarre. My kids have seen the first movie and all loved it. It was wild for them to get a taste of 80’s life and see what things were like at that time. Aka the olden days when their mom and dad were young. Sigh. But for this whole back to the future day to come and blow my mind…it’s cause for a celebration. It’s not every day we get to be in the future!! This little clip here will get you in the mood to relive the 80’s and head back to the future. (Sounds crazy!)

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/20/entertainment/back-to-the-future-ii-right-wrong-feat/

Now, being an 80’s girl myself…
 

Me all geared up for my 1st day of kindergarten (circa 1980). side ponytail, satin jacket, socks with sandals, thank you very much! photo credits to my mama
 
 I love to share some 80’s culture with my kiddos. When my sweet ADB chose this as her Halloween costume, I was beyond thrilled!

 

like, totally rad, man!!!
 
So we definitely bring some 80’s flair with us wherever we go. We watch The Goldberg’s every Wednesday night. 80’s on 8 in the car, yes! Until they get enough and ask to hear some T. Swift. And I cannot complain since her newest album, eh em, I mean CD, very much gives a nod to the 80’s. It is called 1989. Music to this mama of tweens and preteens ears!! Bliss!! 

So to say that today is something to celebrate even just a bit in this house is a bit of an understatement. But truth is, and ya’ll know it, I look for stuff to celebrate. Big Daddy loves fajitas and here lately whenever I ask what he wants for supper, he says fajitas at home. We have figured out how to make some really awesome homemade fajitas on the grill but on a night when I want to get homework and baths done so we can indulge in family movie night, that seems like too much work. Or maybe because I have had sick kids at home for a week and I am tired. Either way…crockpot fajitas seemed like a nice compromise. Let’s just say I picked a crock pot recipe as a throw back to the 80’s. I didn’t, but let’s pretend I am that clever. 

So I bought some wholly guacamole and sour cream to make these just right. My oldest, BHB, is home from school for one last day  after a bout with walking pneumonia and he insisted I serve rice and beans as the perfect sides to these fajitas. Happy to see him getting his appetite back, so I gladly obliged. 

 Speaking of getting his appetite back…

indulging in hot krispy kreme donuts, yeah, he is feeling more like himself. so glad!!
 
So crockpot fajitas, rice and beans it is!!! I found the recipe I used can be found here…Slow cooker fajita recipe . My fajitas are cooking now, so no final pic yet. I can smell them as I type and man they smell terrific. I cannot wait! So let’s get to it so you can enjoy some too! In the present or the future…or will it be in the past now? 

Slow cooker fajitas 

Stuff you need~

2 cans Rotel (original recipe called for 1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles…I read it wrong..so I improvised with 2 cans of Rotel) 

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 

1 onion, sliced 

1 red, orange and yellow bell pepper sliced julienne style 

4 cloves minced garlic (2 teaspoons of the jarred minced garlic)

2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 teaspoon paprika 

3/4 teaspoon coriander (I did not have any so I omitted) 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon black pepper 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or the bottled stuff…we are in the future…do your thing) 

1 tablespoon honey 

What to do with the stuff~

Pour one can of Rotel into the slow cooker. Next layer half of the sliced bell peppers and onion. Add the garlic to the mix too. 

  

Now add your chicken breasts on top of this. 

  
Combine all those precious spices into a small bowl,

  
 and then sprinkle half over one side of  the chicken breasts.

   

Now flip those chicken bosoms over and sprinkle the rest of the spice mixture over the other side. Toss the rest of the sliced onions and bell peppers on top of the bosoms. (My friend Kylie always called chicken breasts chicken bosoms and it makes me giggle. )  

 Cook on low for for 6-8 hour or high for 3-4 hours. Cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Now if you want to be able to slice the chicken breasts, err on the side of cooking them a shorter amount of time. This is according to original recipe poster. You can shred the chicken too. Just be aware that at a certain loon the chicken is too tender to slice and shredding is only option. I cannot imagine that’s a bad thing. Anywho, remove chicken breasts from slow cooker and slice or shred. Ladle out 1 cup of liquid and discard. In a bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey.  Return the chicken to the slow cooker and pour the luscious honey lime concoction over the veggie Chicken mixture. Give it a gentle stir and season to taste if you think it needs it. Serve in warmed tortillas topped with the fixins of your choosing. Fa-ji-tas!!! From the slow Cooker. Ah the future is indeed NOW! 

Now to get some Pepsi to drink with our meal. Ah I miss the 80’s!!! 

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Slow cooker chicken quesadillas and the gift of another Monday morning

Happy Monday!!  Ever feel like this about Mondays? 

  
Yeah me too!!  It’s been an interesting weekend and I am actually posting from our beloved pediatrician’s office. So I think that automatically makes it an extra fun Monday!!! My daughter fell during our water hose fun the other day and hurt her tailbone. The pitiful thing laid on the couch most of Saturday and all day yesterday and she is typically a blur of motion.   Just to be sure it’s not broken and for her (and my) peace of mind we are at pediatrician’s office to get an x-ray. 

my poor baby

Some days it’s hard to get real jazzed up about much and Mondays are sometimes that day for me. My cup of coffee with my oldest and Roozie in my lap are both things I treasure but still Mondays are a stretch. I wanted to maybe enter a little excitement into your lives (assuming a great recipe can do such a thing for you as it does for me). It’s my Monday morning gift so to speak. Which is really a gift itself. To get up this morning and have a whole new week full of possibility stretched out before me. All the opportunities, the blessings, the joy.

  
 Even another visit to the doctor’s office where we are among friends is a blessing. Thank God for insurance and a great staff full of awesome people to take care of my kiddos even if this is the 3rd visit here in a week. 

don’t ask me why my little one is with us

Now for my Monday morning gift to you…a really easy tasty recipe!! So last week I had a hankering for chicken quesadillas. But I was not in the mood to stand over the stove and do what one has to do to get the filling prepared. You know…because I was feeling particularly lazy. Yet I was feeling adventurous. Try new things but not have to work too hard for it. Only way to go my friends! My kids are getting to where they all enjoy Mexican food, even my picky oldest aka PO. He is aware that I call him that FYI and he owns the name. I found this recipe on http://www.getcrocked.com. 

Anyway, I was very impressed with the creamy texture of this quesadilla filling and also how tasty they were. I will completely admit that my quesadilla making technique needs some work but I am a work in progress and that’s ok. I used my smaller round slow cooker and next time I will use my bigger oblong one. Also I washed the chicken breasts but in my haste to get them going I did not pat them dry and I think that made the filling a little watery. So lesson learned and they were still pretty awesome. I think these will work well for anyone who loves quesadillas without all the fuss and will be perfect for baseball families as I know this is the time of year for that. As the days get warmer, it is also a great recipe to have on hand to avoid heating the house up with the oven or sweat over a stove. I got you covered my baseball mom friends, hot natured friends, friends in the doctor’s office with no idea what to do for supper, friends who dislike having to cook…I have got you covered. Ain’t it grand? It’s the little things friends…never forget to give thanks for the little things and another Monday morning. 

Slow cooker chicken quesadillas 

Stuff you need~

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

4 ounce can diced green chiles 

1 can Rotel undrained (I used the kind cilantro and it was awesome) 

8 ounce package cream cheese 

Shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, Monterey Jack) 

Tortillas 

Optional: pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole 

What to do with the stuff~

Add (washed and patted dried) chicken breasts to the slow cooker. Add all other ingredients to the slow cooker.

  
 Cook on low for about 6 hours or high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Add back to slow cooker and stir into other ingredients. 

Now, heat a little butter in a skillet or on a griddle. Place tortilla on griddle and on one side add some of the chicken mixture and on the other half add some shredded cheese. Allow cheese to melt a little and then use a spatula to fold filled tortilla in half, like so…

  
Allow cheese to melt completely and give and few presses with spatula for good measure. Repeat with each tortilla to make as many as you need. Cut in half and serve along side sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole for an authentic Mexican restaurant experience!! Margaritas are optional…or are they? Ole! 

Tengo hambre? (4 years of spanish baby!!)

Copycat Taco Bell Mexican Pizza and it all matters…

I know, I know…another recipe for Mexican food!! I told ya’ll we likey our cuisine de Mexicana around here in Cajun mama’s kitchen. Since the Taco Bell in Alexandria opened more than I care to count years ago, the Mexican pizza has been a favorite of mine. Not something I indulge in often, but I love them. My oldest (aka the picky one) is getting into trying different kinds of foods and loves a copycat recipe. He is into restaurant chains and I knew recreating this recipe at home would peak his interest. I know I make it seem like we never eat out and bless our hearts, we have to eat at home, but the truth is, I prefer to save our out to eats for big restaurants. The little fast food splurges here and there add up fast with 4 kiddos to feed. Plus I really like to challenge myself to try new recipes so this was a win win. Oh ya’ll this recipe is so good. So dead on. So close to the actual Taco Bell Mexican pizza that you will swear you can hear the Taco Bell chihuahua whisper “yo quiero Taco Bell”. And I after you try this recipe, you will want Taco Bell Mexican pizza more often.
It has been a regular week around our household. I got a new hairdo…which is really no big feat except when you figure everyone has been sick and finding a time when my amazing hair stylist can fit me in that I am not needed elsewhere and I can still make it to carpool in time…well it’s like trying to reinvent the wheel. The kiddos had their awards ceremonies at school for the 9 weeks. I am so proud of them and am glad I get to be there for them, but I was literally at their school from drop off at 8 until 11. I really cannot remember what all else this week entailed, I just know many times I was short on patience, long on exhaustion and in need of space for creativity. Time to think my thoughts, get a few recipes together and maybe even bang out a few blog posts. Big Daddy has been busy at work and that has meant little help on the Homefront, but you know…that comes with the territory.
And that’s where I get to the meat of this post. The taco meat that is…he he he. This is my calling, part of my path. Raising kiddos to become productive members of society is a big job and sometimes I lose sight. I get swept up in $$$$. What I do does not really hold importance because there is no money in it. Then I see the light. I get stopped in a moment on the way to school, I catch a glimpse of my oldest’s son’s face filled with empathy and pride as he talks about a situation at school that he handled and processed the deeper meaning all on his own. My daughter as she expresses satisfaction with who she is. Picking up my sweet girl and her telling me about reaching her AR goal. Seeing the recognition dawn on my little one’s face as he gets that math problem. Man these kiddos…they are really learning and growing. I lose sight that though my little ole cooking blog is small potatoes compared to another, it matters to some people. When someone comments on my blog and expresses excitement about a recipe that I posted, I smile because maybe my words made a difference to someone. Or when Big daddy finds a recipe for a pie he would like me to make and I do make it for him. Sure, I know moms everywhere who work 9-5 jobs and manage to do all of those things. This is not about that. This is about me fulfilling my purpose that God has laid out for me. I am working on remembering that I am in no competition with anyone but myself because I am my own worst enemy. Aren’t we all? So for me, deciding to make something for supper I know one of my kids or all of my kids will love, maybe that’s my calling. Being me. It’s so important that we all stop and breathe and realize where we are is where are meant to be. It’s always changing, evolving, but in this moment is where we are supposed to be. It’s all divine. It’s all a part of a bigger picture that maybe we cannot see right now. Those copycat Mexican pizzas made on a Friday night might become that memory my kids cherish forever. What I do matters. What you do matters. We just have to do it. It all comes back eventually and the puzzle pieces will fit
together. Just my two cents…for what it’s
worth.
Back to Mexican pizzas…this recipe is awesome. I found it on http://www.food.com and tweaked it a bit…seriously a yum filled experience people. Add it to your culinary bucket list. Here is the recipe for your viewing pleasure…make up a batch and maybe even make a memory. In the end it’s the little moments that matter… What you do matters. Make the most of what YOU have!!!

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Stuck in carpool traffic on a rainy day selfie. I love these kiddos

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new hairdo and a lovely photobomb by two of my favorite people

Copycat Taco Bell Mexican pizza adapted from food.com

makes 4 pizzas

Stuff you need~

1 pound lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
2 tablespoons water
8 small flour tortillas
Cooking oil
1 16 ounce can of refried beans, warmed*
Taco sauce or picante sauce
I cup Shredded cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack or any blend you like
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup green onions
Small can sliced black olives (I absolutely love black olives so I added them…totally optional)

*I used the leftover homemade refried beans I made using the recipe from my last post. I happened to have some and it was a good way to use them up. Here is the link to that post…
https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2015/01/22/cheesy-spanish-rice-casserole-and-the-best-refried-beans-and/

what to do with the stuff~

Ok, first add your ground meat to a large skillet. Sprinkle in the seasoning mix and your 2 tablespoons of water. Using a spoon kind of mix that together and then brown the ground beef until completely cooked. Set aside.

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Now, add enough to cooking oil to your skillet to cover the bottom and then a little more. Your oil should be about an inch deep. You don’t need much. Heat the oil over medium hear and then cook each tortilla for about 30-45 seconds on each side. Take special care to keep tortillas as flat as possible while cooking and pop any bubbles that may form. I laid a few paper towels on a cookie sheet and laid each freshly cooked tortilla flat once it was done.

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Now, this is the easiest part. Turn your broiler on the lowest setting. Or you can use a toaster oven. On a large baking sheet, lay out 4 cooked tortillas . Spread some refried beans on each, then ground beef and add some taco sauce on top for good measure. Pretty sure Taco Bell uses this pretty liberally on their Mexican pizzas. Yum.

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Follow up by laying a cooked tortilla on top of each of these half assembled pieces of heaven. Top each pizza with a nice smattering of cheese and then add a sprinkling of your choice of tomatoes, olives and green onions. The great thing is that each person can make it their own. Take the cooking sheet filled with Mexican pizzas and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes or until the cheese is melted.

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yo quiero homemade Mexican pizzas!

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I found this at a local grocery store and figured it couldn’t hurt to try it. Very good. Just the right blend of spices (said Benny Boo, my 11 year old food critic)

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If Benny boo likes it, you can rest assured your picky eater likely will too. This meal is 11 year old approved.

Cheesy Spanish rice casserole and the best refried beans…and for the love of Mexican

So around our house we are Mexican food fanatics. No really. Every birthday dinner my Goosie girl has had has been celebrated at her favorite local Mexican restaurant since she was…oh about 3.

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the Goose’s 6th birthday. celebrating over Mexican food.

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new cowgirl boots, a doll, and Trejo’s…she turned 7 in style!!

And the rest of them are just as bad. It’s the one thing our opinionated, loud mouth family of 6 can agree on. We love Mexican food. It’s a no brainer that I would want to recreate some of our fave Mexican dishes at home. With 6 people in our family and me being a stay at home mom, eating out is not a regular occurrence in our home. I mean…we do eat out, don’t get me wrong, just not weekly. I found these amazing recipes while scanning through Pinterest and I am so glad I listened when I said to myself “self, you should make these recipes!!”. I am smart and clever and have really good ideas…when I actually am able am able to finish a thought. And then retain it long enough to make use of it. And the moon is blue. See what I mean? Anyway, enough about my bad memory due to popping out all these kiddos. Let’s get back to Mexican food. Yum. This Spanish rice casserole from http://www.mommyskitchen.net came to together so dang fast it was almost criminal and the refried beans from http://moneysavingmom.com were seriously so easy and the best I have EVA tasted and mama knows her refried beans. I can tell ya’ll this….my two oldest kiddos had science fair projects due and we’re finishing their boards and while the meltdowns and hissy fits (mostly mine) ensued, I was able to get this meal on the table. Yeah…that makes it so tops in my book. If you adore Mexican food and long for that authentic Mexican flavor without having to go out (except to buy ingredients now)…give these two recipes a go.

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working on science fair project boards…this was earlier in the day when we all had our composure.

Homemade Refried Beans (adapted from Money Saving Mom)

stuff you need~

1 bag of dry pinto beans, that have been soaked in water overnight)
3 tablespoons of butter
1 onion, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced (2 1/2 teaspoons of the jarred stuff)
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

what to do with the stuff

Okay, assuming that you have soaked the beans overnight in your crockpot …drain the water you soaked them in and then add fresh water to cover the beans. Cook on low for about 6 hours or so. I used my smaller crockpot for this and this was fine.
Now, after the beans have cooked and are soft….in a heavy bottomed large saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the onions until translucent and then add garlic towards the end. Next, using a ladle, ladle your cooked beans (about 4 cups) Into the saucepan, along with some of the liquid.

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Sprinkle in all of the seasonings so crucial to giving these beans that authentic, straight from your favorite Mexican restaurant flavor. Allow them to simmer for about 20 minutes. Now…I used my immersion blender to get the texture I wanted. At this point you can do the same, just stick that immersion blender in your pot O’ beans or you can put them in the blender or you can use a good ole masher. I like some texture to my refried beans so I did not blend them much. Do your thing and make them the way you want.

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You can serve these beans with some warned tortillas on the side and a good green salad or you can go all out (aka full Mexican) and prepare this cheesy Spanish rice casserole…

Cheesy Mexican rice casserole (adapted from Mommy’s kitchen)

stuff you need

1 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups of long grain white rice
1 can chili ready diced tomatoes
1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano (I used regular dried oregano and it was just fine)
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (I used ground turkey…yum!)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
1 8 ounce package shredded Mexican cheese blend
Fresh cilantro for serving (crucial! It made this dish for me!)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add in rice and stir constantly as it turns a golden brown color. You want most of the grains of rice to be a toasty brown. This takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, salsa, chicken broth and all of those spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and allow to simmer for 15- 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. It will look just like this…

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Meanwhile, while the rice is simmering in those spices and liquid, brown your ground meat and onion and garlic in a large skillet until onions are translucent and meat is fully cooked.

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Stir the meat into the rice skillet. Cover with shredded cheese blend and bake until the cheese is all bubbly and yummy looking (you know what I mean right?). Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro. So good ya’ll…I mean seriously Mexican restaurant worthy.

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“have mercy!!” said in Uncle Jesse’s voice from Full House

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now she is 8 and likes to kick back while mama makes up some Mexican dishes. That’s how sister rolls!

Mexican lasagna and moving forward

The past week seems like it has gone by so fast and so slow at the same time. It’s a little crazy when that happens. We lost our beloved dachshund, Toby, very suddenly and tragically last Thursday night. It’s something that truly rocked our world and made time just stop for a moment. Last week was a whirlwind of activity and then boom!! It’s like the world just stopped. We are coping with his death through lots of prayer and leaning on the amazing support network of family and friends we have. As a matter of fact, though I would give nearly anything for my sweet boy to still be here with us, having a chance to feel the outpouring of love and support we have felt during the past few days has been a good thing that came out of it. Helping 4 kiddos cope with such a sudden loss has been challenging and frankly, exhausting. But we are making it day by day. Just today the girls and I took a road trip with Angie and Caroline to pick up a 10 week old Doxie that I found at http://www.kajunkennels.com after a friend suggested them to us. I was really on the fence about getting a new baby so quickly but thanks to so much encouragement and support from friends, we decided it would be the best thing to help our family to heal and move on in a joyful way. Happiness is a choice and I believe that. Choosing to pick up and move forward in the face of tragedy was a choice and I hope my kids take that lesson with them into their lives. We cannot replace our precious Toby but because during his all too brief time on this earth he did such an amazing job of bringing laughter and joy into our family that when he passed, it created a huge void that I knew we could not live with for long. So we chose not to. I want to believe Toby would want us to be happy and is smiling down on us knowing how much we loved him and knowing we have so much to love to give another Doxie. That brings me great comfort to tell my kids that and I hope it comforts them some. So RIP sweet Toby and I pray you are running and chasing the squirrels in heaven. You are dearly missed. ~AMB

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my sweet boy. God rest his soul.

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the sweet spirit we welcomed today. Roy Pierre…Roy is Momou’s maiden name and a reminder of the strong German people I come from. I pray we have many years together

So y’all will excuse me as I had to tell that story so that I could move forward. It was necessary and I hope that you understand. I had to acknowledge the pain so that I could be authentic and true to myself, which is for me, the most important part of being able to tell my stories. The good with the bad and the happy with the sad. I wish it was all happy all the time but I would be Lying to you and me if that is all I wrote about and I would be doing us all a great injustice as that is just not realistic. If you are looking for moonbeams and unicorns and rainbows, this is likely not the blog for you. Now…to get to the part you all came here for (let’s be honest ha ha!!)…Mexican lasagna. 1) yum 2) super easy. Back in high school, I had a good friend (still a friend now) named Deah. Her mom made this amazing dish that is a lot like this recipe. I had been seeing different tortilla lasagna and Mexican lasagna recipes on Facebook and Pinterest but they all seemed too fussy and complicated. No thank you very much. I wanted something straightforward, simple, and super tasty that I could tell y’all how to throw together quickly after a soccer game, or t ball game, staff meeting, or heck just in the midst of life in general chaos. That’s how it tends to be in our household. So with a puppy squealing, little girls fighting over said squealing puppy and waiting for BD and the boys to return from Arkansas muzzleloader hunting…I pieced this together. You totally can too! We all tore it up as BD says. It was so good and I think I managed to accomplish what I set out to do.

Mexican lasagna

Serves about 8

Stuff you need~

-1 pound lean ground beef
-1 small onion, diced
-1 package taco seasoning mix
-1 can red enchilada sauce (I love old El Paso brand)
-1 can traditional refried beans
-12 fajita size flour tortillas (I use the Mission Bell soft and fluffy kind…we like them the best)
-2 cups assorted shredded cheeses (you can use Mexican blend, or Colby Jack…I used a mixture of queso blanco which Velveeta sells pre-shredded now, cheddar, and Monterey Jack)
-Sliced black olives, sliced green onions and sour cream for serving (optional)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish by spraying with cooking oil. Brown ground beef in large skillet and throw in diced onion during the last 5 minutes or so of cooking. Drain if necessary. Stir in the taco seasoning packet and cook according to package directions. Set aside. Layer 6 of the tortillas in the baking dish, overlapping as necessary.
The tortillas will go up the side of the baking dish and that’s ok. Now spread 1/2 of the can of refried beans over the tortillas. Pour 1/2 of the can of red enchilada sauce over the beans as evenly as possible. Next sprinkle one half of seasoned ground beef over the sauce. Sprinkle a cup of the shredded cheese over this. Repeat all over again, starting with tortillas layered exact same way and ending with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is all bubbly. Let cool for 5 minutes or so. Cut into squares and serve. Garnish as desired with a dollop of sour cream, sliced black olives and green onions.

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muy delicioso

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my position as I typed this post…so sweet

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my girls and Caroline after getting RPB home yesterday afternoon. Love those smiling faces. #puppiesbringpeace

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Mona’s taco salad

serves about 8

stuff you need~

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

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

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

Cajun mama’s breakfast burritos

I have always loved breakfast burritos. Good ones anyhow. There is just something so pleasing about all that goodness rolled up into one yummy warm tortilla. It just so pleasing and yet simple. Straightforward. Not fussy. With all these kiddos running around, I enjoy not fussy things. It makes my life easier. And as I have told y’all before, Big Daddy loves him some breakfast. He demands it, as much as he demands anything, which is not much. His mama, Dianne, always made him breakfast every morning. She had a full time job, but according to him and his brother, she made pancakes or something yummy nearly every morning. Then after she passed, and my father in law remarried, Deb (mother in law extraordinaire) continued this tradition. She used to make breakfast (well still does) for the duck hunters when her daddy ran the duck camp that is now, Bayou LaGrue. She did this from a young age so breakfast is in her blood. So, for the Bowlin gang, breakfast is a must. And I love breakfast burritos and it is a natural progression that I would find a way to make them myself. It started way back in college and I have gotten much better since then. My two youngest, Toot and Pappy (aka Aubrey and Lucas), love them a good breakfast burrito so that makes them pretty popular. They usually take simple ingredients you probably have around the house to make them. I will give you some pointers on how to make them more involved and authentic tasting (according to moi) but you can really make them as basic as you please. So let’s get cooking some breakfast burritos mis amigos! Mis compadres! Vamanos!

Cajun Mama’s breakfast burritos

makes about 6 burritos maybe more depending on how much filling you use

Stuff you need~

A pack of burrito size tortillas (I use the kind that say soft and fluffy on the package. Pretty sure they are Mission Bell brand. And feel free to use the smaller size. I do if that is what I have)

8 eggs, scrambled

1 pound breakfast sausage

4 ounce cream cheese

1/2 cup onion diced

1 small bell pepper, diced (if you have it or are so inclined…it’s not mandatory)

1/2 package frozen Ore Ida potatoes o’brien (or you can use left over baked potatoes as well. Scoop out the filling and add to burritos)

Shredded cheese (I use what I have on hand but Monterey Jack and cheddar or cheddar jack work wonderfully…get crazy and see what you like)

taco seasoning or if you are feeling frisky get some Goya sofrito (found at Mexican Supermercados or I have heard some Walmarts carry it)

What to do with the stuff

Ok…what I do is brown the sausage in a large skillet. After that is almost down, I add in the onions and bell pepper (if I use it) and sauté that for a few minutes until they are almost tender. I also add the potatoes o’brien at this point to give them a little head start in getting defrosted and warmed up. Add a little olive oil or cooking oil to your pan if you feel it needs it. Of course you can add In the chunked up baked potatoes as well here. Season them up with some salt, pepper and a little Tony’s if you want to love on the wild side. In a separate skillet, I scramble my eggs with some milk. Ok next add the eggs to the sausage mixture. Now, cut the cream cheese up into chunks and over medium-low heat let that mix it up with the rest of the gang in the pot. It’s all good. No really. It’s so good. Yummm! But you are not done my friends. Oh no.
Now, at this point sprinkle in a little taco seasoning (not a whole packet…more like a tablespoon) or if you went full throttle and bought the Goya seasoning, add in a half packet or so. More if you like it. None of this is necessary, you can absolutely serve the burritos without it, but we really liked the flavor it added. So do what works for you. Ok now, stir in a cup of shredded cheese. Stir in around. The cream cheese should be fairly creamy now and spreading it’s creamy delight to all the rest of the concoction.
Warm your tortillas up, and add a nice size scoop of the burrito mixture to the middle. Roll up burrito style.
No words right? Yes they are muy bueno.

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all that goodness getting ready to get rolled up

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so delicious

Homemade taco/burrito seasoning, the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and low expectations

Today has been one of those days where I woke up tired and cranky. I talked to one of best friends and my cousin. Via text, but still, we connected, so you think that it would have been a great day. Especially considering that I try really hard to keep my expectations low. Or at least reasonable. Sometimes, it is so easy for me to get caught up in how things should be. The picture in my head of how things SHOULD go takes over every practical thought I have. Do you ever do that? Yeah well I do despite my best efforts to not do it! I have had this discussion before with y’all but I think it warrants revisiting. Because I think so many of us get caught up in what we think SHOULD be. Dr. Vicki Bowman, my beloved graduate school professor who was a wise gal beyond her years would call this “shoulding all over yourself.” And friends, it is easy to do. It can ruin the best of moments. That one word…should. Should is a lot like “fair” or the phrase “it’s not fair”. As a therapist I would be all over that phrase if a client said it. I would have to ask “what is fair?” Because let’s just face it. Life is not always fair. Somedays it seems it is not fair at all. As my friend Teresa says, the fair comes in October and they show pigs there. Oh so true. And yet, today, I got caught up in that evil word…should. Anyway, none of my plans for the day worked out. And ya know, I really don’t question that stuff. If it is part of God’s plan, I can roll with it. But sometimes it is the little stuff getting messed up that gets us. And that is where we find me today. My column for Red River Moms was due today. I got my stuff sent in to my editor and I wanted a new picture for my column. Most of the ones I have used have been fun spontaneous selfies of the kids and I. Like this one
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Cute enough but geez I have been doing this for a year, maybe it is time to get a real picture taken. No not professional, but a step up from selfie maybe? Yeah. So I get it in my head that we are going to get this done. BD was home for a little while and he was up for the task. I knew better than to get any high browed ideas about what kind of pictures I wanted. Just keep it simple, Aimee. Just get the kids in there and snap a few. No big deal. Oh yeah right. Once again, I shoulded all over myself. Dr. Vicki, God rest her soul, is somewhere shaking her head at me. I just know it. So I won’t go into any details, but needless to say, I set myself up for disappointment. I got all cocky and thought, we will do some staged pictures. We will have some fun with it. It will be so perfect. Wait. What? I have 4 kids and nothing is ever going to be perfect again. With so many people to factor in, perfection is even harder to attain then when I was childless. Curse me and my stupid high expectations. Cut to later, there was flour everywhere (don’t ask…I was making cookies and thought oh how fun…we will all bake cookies and he can capture that…yeah…), there were tears (mostly mine) and we had no useable pictures. Why? Because of the picture in my head of how things SHOULD have been. So we just said mission abort and everyone washed the flour off of themselves (again…don’t ask) and we were chilling. I was not dressed cute anymore. Makeup was gone. The kids were laying in our bed with me. I gave BD my phone and said “I have an idea. Go with it.” And low and behold…after all that, my original non complicated plan to get a picture worked just fine. Life lessons 1, Cajun mama 0. I will show y’all the pictures below. And I ended up getting those cookies baked and none of it is on camera. Just some delicious chocolate chip cookies. And expanding on the whole keeping it simple, not getting caught up in expectations, I made some nice simple burritos tonight. I had the ground meat defrosted but no seasoning. No problem. I found a recipe and made my own…original post is here…http://www.food.com/recipe/taco-seasoning-budget-friendly-seasoning-for-tacos-burritos-166030. Take that life lessons. I made cookies and my own taco/burrito seasoning and it just was. No expectations of what should be. It is what it is. It was what it was. We all survived. We got the pictures and had supper and dessert and maybe I took the long way home, but I did make it. I guess that is what counts. Now if only I can remember this lesson of letting go of what SHOULD be and letting it be what it will be, I will be a much happier mama all the time and world peace will be achieved. Well…I will settle for peace in our home. So, today, I have a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies in the world (in my opinion) …link herehttp://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/10813/best-chocolate-chip-cookies and homemade taco/burrito seasoning. No matter what you start thinking life should be, having these two recipes in your arsenal will make what is so much easier to accept. Peace, love, and low expectations…AMB

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see simple can be beautiful

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me and my joy, my circus, my reason for living and losing my mind

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my favorite picture from today

Homemade taco/burrito seasoning</strong

makes enough for several batches

2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2-2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons minced onion flakes or 1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder (feel free to omit this)
Kosher salt (I added about 1 teaspoon but add more or less to your taste)

Mix all these spices together in a bowl. 7 teaspoons equals once of those store bought taco seasoning packets. So 7 teaspoons to one pound ground beef. Stir it into browned and drained ground meat and then add 3/4 cup water per pound of ground beef. Simmer over low heat until the liquid has evaporated. It is really perfect y’all!
Store the rest in an air tight storage container. This is how I did mine…

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airtight glad ware thank you so much!

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Mixing all of those spices together made me feel like a scientist

Perfect chocolate chip cookies (says me)

makes about 3 dozen cookies

Stuff you need
1 cup of butter, softened (that’s 2 sticks of the real stuff y’all)
1 cup of sugar (the white stuff)
1 cup of packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons HOT water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups of flour
2 cups chocolate chips

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix hot water and baking soda together and set aside.
In a standing mixer, add softened butter, sugar and brown sugar. Cream together until well combined and smooth. Stir in vanilla. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add baking soda water mixture and salt. Beat until combined. Now, add flour one cup at a time. Next, add chocolate chips. Beat until combined.
Line a large baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat (they are awesome and totally worth the purchase. Amazon has great prices on them.)
Using a medium cookie scoop, place a scoops of cookie dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes or until slightly golden on top. I bake mine in batches of 12 because that is how many my baking sheet fits. Let cool if your family will allow it and then set them out with some glasses of ice cold milk. Sure to make the stinkiest of days better!

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consistently delicious cookies every time! Enjoy!

Mexican casserole and making it work

I love the man I am married to. Known as Clay, Big Daddy, my man, and other not so nice names somedays. Yikes. Yeah we are very different creatures who coexist quite peacefully most days. Emphasis on most days. We have been up. We have been down. We have been in between and at who really cares. Yeah. We are married sho nuff. I always think of my mom singing a line from a song “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” That should be the marriage theme song. Because it’s true. Now, I am not going to go on and on about marriage. We have only been doing this whole marriage thing for 13 years. I by no means claim to know what we are doing. But I do know a little about finding a happy medium. And trying to make it work. Trying people. Just trying. Doing little things that make his day that are not that big of a deal to me. Maybe they are a minor inconvenience but they make him happy. Like deer ground meat. Stay with me now. Yes, I am talking about ground meat. Made from deer. I must be honest and say…I am not a fan. I grew up with a daddy who hunted. We ate lots of game. Rather they did. I mostly refused. Maybe some chicken fried deer meat (but after a bad experience when I was pregnant with my Benny Boo, I swore off that stuff) but I didn’t do squirrel, rabbits, and lots of fish. Whether you consider me a Cajun or not, in our Avoyellian culture, it is customary to cook and eat many things that others might consider um…less than palatable. Lol. For instance, turtles. My daddy always went turtling during September. And he would come home and clean the turtle on Sunday when he got home. Our dog, Baby (yes I named her after the character on Dirty Dancing…I was 13…what can I say?) would drag the turtle shells all over the yard. It was so funny. Anyway, when daddy came home from turtling, I knew what that meant. He or my mom were gonna cook a mess of turtle. Yeah. Good times. I can still see those yellow eggs in the gravy and my parents looooved them. They were considered a delicacy. All I could say was “gag me with a major spoon.” No really. Gross. So after all the city boys I dated, I wound up marrying me a man who hunted. Though he has gone turtlin with daddy, turtles are not my problem. It’s deer ground meat people. So yesterday morning he says to me “baby I have got all this deer ground meat in the freezer that needs to be cooked. Can you work that into the menu?” Sigh. I dread those words. I admit that it is likely a mind over matter thing when it comes to eating game, but I just don’t care for it. In my mind, it does not taste the same and frankly I am not that big of a ground meat fan to begin with. So, I told him…take some of it out of the freezer and I will brown it and refreeze it. So, he did and tonight I was trying to think about what to make for supper. And I remembered I needed to brown that ground meat. Now, BD is a real trooper about trying my newfangled recipes and he gladly eats whatever I cook.
So I figured I owed him a meal with deer ground meat. It makes him happy and they all get fed. Score! And I do believe came up with a great recipe using deer ground meat (or regular ground meat) and they all LOVED IT!!! I hope y’all knew I would get around to a recipe at some point. Mexican casserole. Cheesy, filling and easy to pull together. I decided the general direction supper would take at 5:15 and it was ready by 6. All ingredients were in my pantry or fridge. Seriously a convenience recipe. My point in all of this rambling is…somehow day by day we make it work. Somedays are beautiful, somedays are ugly, and most days are just in between. Medium. Nothing fancy. Doing little kindnesses to keep each other happy. He makes my cup of coffee just like I like it or let’s me go over on the grocery budget (more often than not) without fussing because he knows it makes me happy to try these new recipes. I do things like cook (and eat) deer ground meat even though I could do without it. I am just fine with that. It’s called marriage. It’s not a perfect rose garden. It’s like a big patch of wildflowers. It’s all good…including this casserole!~AMB

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he drives me around in the side by side at the camp and I take selfies of us or just take pics and talk. He’s happy and I’m happy. It works for us.

Making it work Mexican Casserole

serves 8

Stuff you need~

10 soft taco size flour tortillas divided
1 can Ranch style beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning
1 pound ground meat
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
*Optional–a small onion, diced
A can of corn, drained

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
Brown the ground meat. If you are using the diced onion, put it in as well while browning ground meat. Drain.
Stir in ranch style beans, tomatoes (juice and all), and taco seasoning. Let this mixture simmer for about 10 minutes. *Add can of corn at this point too if you are using it. Tear the tortillas into smaller pieces. It does not have to be perfect. I just gather up a few and tear them in half, then in half again, and so on. Not super tiny pieces, but more bite sized. Layer half of the tortilla pieces on bottom of prepared baking dish. Now spoon half of your ground meat mixture over the tortillas. Now repeat once. Spread the can of cheddar cheese soup over the last layer of ground meat mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over this. Bake until the cheese is all bubbly and delicious looking. Yeah…about 20 minutes. Mmmmm that’s the stuff.

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easy breezy beautiful….cover girl. Dinner is served. And it is good.

White Chicken Enchiladas

So a while back, there was this recipe floating around Facebook.  Everyone was sharing it and commenting on it.  I prefer not to comment, I just prefer to cook it.  And I did.  This is THE white chicken enchilada recipe to beat all white chicken enchilada recipes.  They are so fabulous.  They are so easy.  That makes them Cajun mama style.  If it is easy to yield delicious results, sign this girl up!!!  I am pretty sure you feel the same way so I wanted to share.  I have made them for several friends, and they all loved them just the same.  My mother in law also loved them.  And so did my father in law.  That my dear friends, says it all.  I am not saying that they are hard to please, but they are hard to impress.  And they were impressed.  Especially my one heck of a cook mother in law.  She runs a lodge in Arkansas and she said she wanted to cook them for her hunters.  That is all the compliment I need!!!  These are really delicious and if you are craving Mexican but don’t feel like spending the money (for us it means taking 6 people to dinner…4 of them being kids!) or just don’t feel like going out…this is a definite alternative.  So give them a try and let me know what you think!

White Chicken Enchiladas (adapted from Witchin’ in the Kitchen food blog)

What you will need aka Ingredients:

10 soft taco size flour tortillas (I love the mission bell soft and fluffy ones)

2 cups cooked shredded chicken (you can use rotisserie chicken or bake or boil 2  seasoned chicken breasts until done throughout and then shred them)

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided

3 T. real butter

3 T. flour

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup sour cream

1 4 oz. can diced green chilies

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Mix your shredded chicken and 1 cup of the cheese.  Spread about 1/4 cup of the chicken/cheese mixture on each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam side down in prepared baking dish.

In a medium size saucepan, melt butter.  Whisk in flour and cook for a minute.  It will be quite think like peanut butter.  That is what you want.  Now whisk in broth slowly and stir with whisk until smooth.  Continue to whisk over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  Stir in sour cream and green chilies.  You don’t want to bring mixture to a boil because it could scorch and stick and the sour cream could curdle.  Nobody wants that.

Pour thickened mixture over your pan of enchiladas.  Top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Bake for 20-25 minutes  at 350 degrees and then switch broiler on hi and cook them for about 3 minutes or until cheese is good and bubbly and there is a little brown on the cheese.  YUM!!!!!!!

I serve this dish with cilantro lime rice you can find in the Mexican food aisle at Target.  It is Archer Farms I believe.  Also, if you love a side of beans, I use Frijoles Mexicana from Bush’s beans.  It is a new line they have and they are in the bean aisle of many supermarkets.  (kroger and Wal-mart carry them here).  Hope you enjoy!  Ole!

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