Category Archives: Weeknight Meals

Cajun chicken pasta and a happy accident 

Ok I am so excited to share this recipe with you. It was truly a happy accident for me. I am typically a control freak in most areas and like my ducks In a row in many areas of my life. Cooking is no different. I am not sure if I am this way because it is a necessity for me to have 4 kids and run a house in a semi functional way. Ok mildly functional…I’m not gonna lie. Or maybe I have always been this way. That is probably the most likely scenario. I like things a certain way, I like to be prepared, I like to know what is going to happen in advance. I would say also if I am looking at Alfred Adler’s birth order theory, I am the oldest and I have many of the traits that Adler associates with oldest children. So there you go…this is what happens when a therapist turns into a food blogger. Love love love me some counseling theories. If you want to read up on this topic a little or are just curious, here is a good one to check out…

http://www.d120.org/assets/1/staff_assets/rhalbur/Alfred_Adler_-_Birth_Order.pdf.

It says specifically oldest children are often perfectionists and can be exacting. Errr…me and me. That’s ok. I embrace it. It works well for me most of the time, but being exacting and a perfectionist is not often helpful to me when I need to be experimental in the kitchen. Improvisation is not my thing usually…mama likes a recipe to follow, dang it!!! That’s what makes the fact that this recipe happened at all a true delight. One night we had a busy schedule on the books (running meet, neighborhood association annual meeting, 4 kids worth of homework and big daddy had a life insurance appointment. Busy!) and I was trying to figure out what to feed my crew. Sweet baby Jesus what’s an overwhelmed mama to do?! So I was pondering as I tuned my bickering children in the backseat on the drive home from school. What’s for dinner? I had bought a package of Tyson’s frozen grilled sliced chicken breasts and had not used them yet. 

  
I started thinking what ingredients I had on hand. Something came to me….Cajun chicken pasta! Maybe I could find a recipe that called for what I had. That sounded so good. My sister had turned me on to Chili’s Cajun chicken pasta years ago but that was not in the budget or schedule. I googled it and found a recipe that called for ingredients I had. Well mostly. I was missing a few things and it was not exact. Usually that bothers me but that night I embraced it! I used what I had and did not give two hoots about exact. And the outcome was so very very delicious. Added bonus…those frozen grilled chicken slices worked well and this dish came together in a flash. Everyone loved it and I have made it twice since then. I am going to give you the recipe I used here, but  you can of course check out the original recipe here http://allrecipes.com/recipe/8778/cajun-chicken-pasta/. That first night I did not have grated Parmesan cheese, I only had what my kiddos call shaky cheese or that Kraft stuff in the green canister. It was even better then than the next time when I had the actual freshly grated  Parmesan cheese. Just saying….something to be said for improvising! I double the sauce recipe…when you taste it you will see why. It’s just so good. 3 cheers for happy accidents!! Enjoy! Remember I double the sauce recipe so that’s 2 cups whipping cream and double the seasoning…but that’s just me. I love a good sauce. Mmmm

Cajun chicken pasta 

Stuff you need~ 

1/2 package Tyson frozen grilled sliced chicken breasts 

Cooking oil or olive oil 

2 tablespoons Cajun pasta (I use Tony’s…what else?) 

2 tablespoons butter 

1/2 chunked up  red bell pepper

1/2 chunked up yellow bell pepper 

1 cup heavy whipping cream 

1/4 teaspoon  lemon pepper 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1/4 teaspoon dried basil (I use the stuff in the tube) 

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

1/4 cup Kraft grated Parmesan cheese (the stuff in the green canister…if you dare) 

1/2 box of linguine 

What to do with the stuff~

Bring pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Cook al dente and drain. Set aside. 

Warm the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen sliced chicken. Sprinkle liberally with the Cajun seasoning. It’s supposed to have some Cajun heat sha! 

  
Ok stir the chicken around until it is heated through…5 minutes or so. Toss the butter into the skillet. Let it melt and then toss in the veggies. 

  
Cook until slightly tender. Stir in the whipping cream and then add all the seasonings. Resist the urge to drink it with a spoon. It’s so good. 

  
Sprinkle in the cheese and let it simmer for a few minutes on low heat to let those luscious flavors mingle. Oh yes. Luscious. Flavors. Mingle. You will see. 

  

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!!! 

Recipe for happiness..all day breakfast at McDonald’s!!

Now ya’ll know I am all about cooking at home. Real food whenever possible and I tend to think that cooking at home is almost always better for you then fast food. I think that’s a pretty common notion. I think you all also know I am all about being practical, some might say real. I try super hard to keep it real. Because I am dealing with you like I deal with a friend. Keeping it 100 as they say. I am doing no one any favors by posing or fronting, or acting as if. I am busy woman with 4 kids, a husband who works a lot, is out of town sometimes, 2 dogs, a cat and a hamster. It gets a little bit crazy at times. Sometimes even getting supper going in the crockpot is a task. I just cannot even manage that, despite my wishes for it to be otherwise. What’s a busy mama or daddy to do, I ask you? Well…sometimes I do breakfast for supper!! Do you ever do that? We call it brupper around here. Pancakes usually and cheesy scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage if we are so lucky to have that on hand. My kids love, love, love brupper!! And truth is, there might be times that even that is too much. Long day, kid up with a nosebleed the night before, upset kiddo after school, too much homework and a piano lesson thrown in might equal…I cannot even. Cannot even manage pancakes. It happens ya’ll!! Not as often as it used to when my babies were little bitty, but it does happen. Throw in a soccer practice or piano practice (or both!!) or a PTA meeting and things can seem bleak in the supper department. 

 Well guess what?! I am not sure if you know this or not but let me be the first to tell you!!! McDonald’s is now offering ALL DAY BREAKFAST!!!! You heard me right. All. Day. Breakfast!!!! Starting October 5, 2015 it will be available everywhere. I’m not bragging, but it is already available at one of  our McDonald’s. 

 

ALL DAY BREAKFAST!!! this is the menu available for all day breakfast at one of our local restaurants
 
Now, the menu might change from location to location, some might offer from scratch biscuits while other locations might not…but they are all offering all day breakfast coming soon!  Also, and my kiddos found this so exciting…once all day breakfast rolls out, you will be able to order hashbrowns instead of fries in your favorite meal.  How exciting is that? It’s like worlds colliding!  Not only that, sometime in the future, the goal is for all locations to use cage free eggs and real butter in their breakfast menu items. That is such exciting news to me!! We may not have the time to always make a proper meal for our families, but at least we can feel good about taking them out for breakfast for supper. And that is a wonderful thing my friends. 

this boy is all about breakfast for supper, ya’ll!! look at that face!

The kiddos and I had a great time the other night at a local McDonald’s. We got a taste of breakfast for supper at McDonald’s and we were not disappointed! The pancakes were light and fluffy as always, the sausage was cooked just right, the orange juice was chilled and refreshing.   So regardless of how you feel about fast food, and I know I have some friends who are staunchly against it, you have to enjoy breakfast for supper! Especially breakfast for supper that does not require dirtying dishes, pots or pans. Or cleanining said dirty dishes. Oh the luxury of it all. And in my very humble opinion, breakfast is one of the things McDonald’s does best!

 So remember, October 5, all day breakfast will be available at a McDonald’s near you! 

  
 

those are happy faces of kiddos who get McDonald’s breakfast for supper

 
oh you know…just a selfie with my babies and Erin, China, and Mrs. Jean…not sure which part my kids liked more …breakfast for supper or these lovely ladies!
 

Mama’s 80’s style delight and that’s how I roll…

It’s been a while since I have written any posts and it feels good to be writing again!! If you are reading, let me say thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for reading along. Thank you for being right along with me. Kids have been out of school and I have been focusing my energy on them and just trying to let myself BE. That is a task for me sometimes. Just BEing. Not moving, not shaking, not making any waves…just being here. Or there. I hope you can understand what I mean. There are other things we have been doing and no grass has grown under our feet and I will fill ya’ll in as we go along. This summer has involved a bunch of Zumba, walking, Swimming, traveling and hanging out with friends. And summer is not over yet. Not until we have to go back to school. Lots of changes coming for our family this school year and I am frankly not ready for it. Biggest change of all is my oldest is going to be starting middle school. When I say I am not ready, I mean I am really not ready. He is. I am not. That brings to mind for me one thing I love about cooking.  No matter the time that passes, some things never change. The taste, the ingredients, the smell of a dish when it is cooking and most of all, the comfort of knowing that I am passing down something to my kiddos that my mama passed on to me. 

Now, I remember being about 7 or 8 when my mama first made this dish. I remember it being during a time when she used to babysit some kids during the day, before she went to college to be a nurse. I don’t know the origin of this dish, if it was something she concocted or if she got the recipe from someone. I associate it with her creating a dish my sister dubbed “noodle magoodle” and this one came soon before or after.  As I said, she babysat some kiddos and I remember her getting commodity cheese and butter and going downtown to get it with her. She created noodle magoodle using that commodity cheese (and that is what it made it so good my friends!) and for whatever reason, that dish and this one are linked together in my mind. Either way, being a mom myself now, knowing she had two kiddos and was likely pregnant with baby girl number 3, I have to give her props for creativity in the kitchen and building a tasty dish around what she had and what was not too expensive, commodity cheese and ground beef. This recipe is part of that time. So circa 1980’s, from the kitchen of Bernadatte aka Bernie aka my mama, not sure if this dish ever had a proper name but I am gonna dub it Mama’s 80’s delight. It’s simple, easy, cheap and always ensures a happy plate. My whole crew lapped it up last night and I figured I would share the recipe with ya’ll. I know, I know, I haven’t posted a recipe since April, and maybe I should post something fancier and more impressive. But no. This summer there has not been much fancy cooking going on. It’s been laid back, easy breezy beautiful cover girl and getting people fed has been the main goal. That’s how my mama did it and it’s good enough for me.  I am assuming if you are reading my blog posts, you know this is how this Cajun mama rolls.  Roll with me, won’t you? 

My sisters and I back in the day …a few years past the commodity cheese days…

Mama’s 80’s delight 

Stuff you need~

2 cups white rice, cooked

1/2 cup diced onion 

2 pounds ground beef, cooked and drained 

1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce 

1 can pork and beans (I used a 16 ounce can of baked beans because that’s what I had…just as tasty) 

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder for seasoning (I used Jane’s Mixed Up salt in place of all of this) 
What to do with the stuff~
Brown the ground meat and onion, drain grease. Stir in tomato sauce and baked beans. Sprinkle in seasoning to taste and then stir in some rice until it’s to your liking. I used almost all of the rice, probably closer to 1 1/2 cups. 

 

this is the only picture I took (i am out of practice) and this is how it looks just before the rice is added…
 
My mama circa 2015 but she is timeless …like her recipes
 

Sundried tomato basil chicken pasta and the recipes that hold us together 

It has occurred to me in the past few weeks that I have numerous friendships that many wonderful recipes have come from.  I make friends with these lovely, beautiful inside and out people, and because we share a love of cooking, and yes food, we end up sharing our favorites. They are not the reason we are friends, but the recipes become these tentpoles of our friendships.  We know their family through these recipes, even if we have never met their family.  These recipes become part of our story. The food that feeds our kids during parties, the meals that we bond over, reveal secrets over (along with a glass of wine). It’s just what friends do!! 

For example, the other day, I wanted to make my favorite quiche recipe which comes from my friend Alayna. I adore quiche and this recipe is the real deal. It comes out perfectly every time and I always feel like a brilliant chef when I am serving it up for a brunch. She wrote the recipe down for me long ago and I have sense lost it (I know!!) and has texted it to me several times as well. I texted her AGAIN to get the recipe. She texts back with one of her witty responses, followed by the recipe and then “I swear we just use one another for recipes!” Though I knew she was kidding, it gave me pause for a minute. I am a sensitive person and don’t take most things as lightly as they are intended. We go back and forth with the witty banter that makes us good friends and it is decided that we don’t see one another often enough and this is likely due to us being busy cooking. So then a few days later, she texts me about what to do with leftover cornbread and I say cornbread salad! And the circle continues. 

A week or so ago, I texted Betsy for a the recipe for her mama’s sundried tomato basil chicken pasta recipe. Again, with 8 kids and super busy schedules between us, not to mention the 3 1/2 hour travel between us, we don’t talk to or see one another nearly as often as we would like. But that doesn’t make us any less of a friend to one another. Good friends don’t need daily interaction to stay good friends. A good, quality friendship is always there, unchanging and unaffected. Sure it’s a good idea to do something to nourish those relationships and keep up best you can but a good friend is for life. Just last week, as I was about to board a flight to Honolulu (yes Honolulu…cajun mama travels albeit reluctantly) I get a text from Betsy encouraging me to have fun and not worry. Why? Because she knows me, has experienced first hand how hard it is for me to leave my kids, and break away.  And in many ways her text put me at ease. It reminded me what I am made of and also what a good friend I have in Betsy. My point here is, maybe our texts do revolve around forgotten recipes but it keeps us connected. Despite the miles, the kids, the exhalation and the busy schedules, we remain close somehow. And Alayna and Betsy are just examples. I experience this with different friends. Recipes have a way of doing that. They bond us, draw us together, and keep us connected. 
Now the recipe for Alayna’s quiche went in my column in the May issue of Red River Moms (and I will share it here soon) but today I am sharing the recipe for the Mrs. Sharon’s sundried tomato basil chicken pasta. And you will see just how insanely delicious one recipe can be after you make it. One bite and you will be SOLD!!! This is a filling pasta dish that is so flavorful and hearty, even the manliest man will appreciate it. But it is also perfectly at home on the menu for a ladies’ luncheon. 
Sundried tomato basil chicken pasta 
Stuff you need~

1 8 ounce jar sundried tomatoes, in oil (drained and reserve the oil) 
1 onion, sliced 
1 green bell pepper, sliced 
1 teaspoon garlic 
1 8 ounce package sliced mushrooms 
1 teaspoon basil (I used the stuff in the tube)
4 chicken breasts, sliced thin
1 cup whipping cream 
8 ounces bow tie pasta (about 1/2 box), cooked al dente 

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

*Betsy’s additions~Parmesan and red pepper flakes (I have told ya’ll before about her red pepper flakes addiction and she passed it on to me) 

What to do with the stuff~

Drain oil from tomatoes and reserve. Give the sundried tomatoes what PW calls a “hard chop”. Does not have to be perfect or uniform just chop them up some. 

  
Now, add some of the reserved oil to a large skillet and warm it over medium heat. Add slices of onion and bell pepper to the pot. Sauté them for a minute or two and then add garlic and mushrooms.

  
Sauté until the pepper are tender. Remove from pot and Set aside. Now, sprinkle your sliced chicken with a little kosher salt and black pepper and add to the skillet. I added a little more of the reserved oil before doing this. Cook the chicken for a few minutes on one side and then flip over and cook for a minute or two on the other side. Cook in two batches if needed to make sure the chicken gets a nice sizzle to it. If you add to much chicken at once, it takes too long for the pot to heat up and no browning goes on. And that nice lovely brown on the the chicken adds such a lovely depth to the flavor in this dish. (That is the foodiest statement I have ever made…excuse me).   Once your chicken is cooked, stir the veggies and your other batch of cooked chicken back into the pot. Now stir in the chopped sundried tomatoes and basil to this and give it a stir. Yes. That’s right. Smells good, doesn’t it? Yes. Mrs. Sharon is a wise wise woman with excellent taste. (Ask how I know? She raised a daughter who is the same way! I am not comparing one of my dearest friends to this pasta dish…but if I was, it would be a compliment!)

Ok! Now, pour in that luscious cream. Oh yeah…it’s good to be you.  

mmmmmm….good things are happening

Stir in cooked pasta and season with some good ole sal

Family pleasing Italian meatloaf

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

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

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

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

Stuff you need~

1 pound lean ground beef 

1/2 pound MILD Italian sausage 

Olive oil 

1 small onion, finely diced 

1/2 chopped bell pepper 

1 teaspoon minced garlic 

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg, slightly beaten 

1 teaspoon Worchestchire sauce 

1/2-1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

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

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

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

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

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

  

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

  

Spread the marinara all over the top of that meatloaf. 

  

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

  

Allow to cool a few minutes, slice and serve. 

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

 

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

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!!)

Olive Garden chicken gnocchi soup And my soup obsession continues 

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

Copycat OG chicken gnocchi soup 

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

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons butter 

1/3 cup thinly sliced celery 

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

1/4 cup grated carrot 

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/4 teaspoon ground thyme 

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

8 cups water 

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

2 cups heavy whipping cream 

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

4 cups fresh, washed baby spinach 

16 ounce package gnocchi 

What to do with the stuff~

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

   

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

 

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

  

mangia!!

   

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a glorious spring day 

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

  

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

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

this sums up everything I feel about it finally being Spring

 

Big brother mans the hose

 

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

 

the stars of my show
 


Pasta with fresh tomato sauce 

Stuff you need~

2 1/2 pounds fresh (unrefrigerated) tomatoes 

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

1 tablespoon minced garlic 

Kosher salt and black pepper 

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

1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta 

1 tablespoon of reserved pasta water 

Fresh grated Parmesan (trust me)

What to do with stuff~

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

 

   Next give the ingredients a few light pulses….

  

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

 

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

as spectacular as a warm Spring day

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

Super easy crockpot Skillet steak and gravy and the upside to being iced in 

I am really bad about cooking according to my whims. If there is such a thing as cooking add, I have it.  A recipe looks so good one day I decide it must be made then life gets in the way and the next day I am over it. Into the freezer goes the meat I had bought and hopefully the ingredients I bought are nonperishable. As bad as that seems, there is an upside to it. When you have been iced in and going to the store is not a good idea but you know the tiny people who live with you (and one big one) will be asking for dinner by days’ end…you get concerned. Unless of course you have the frozen remnants of a cooking add fit and you realize you still have that skillet steak in the freezer you never made. And because you never have an empty pantry (thank you God) you are pretty sure you have the other basic ingredients in there. It pays off sometimes to be me.  A little flighty, easily distracted and like to be prepared. So last night when I realized the kids would be home another day, I thought oh my I best get my game face on. We already had pancakes and cheesy eggs this week and I am not certain it’s cool to do that twice in a row. So big daddy brings up this skillet steak that had been there a while and I conceded that it was time to cook it. So we took it out to thaw and this morning it was on. That’s the up side to not being able to run to the store. It needs to happen sometimes. And it’s nice to be reminded of how much I already have.  We, I have enough.  I found the recipe I had saved on Pinterest and I set to work. It could not be easier and I have sampled it already…it tastes so good. And better still, the house smells so fantastic when you walk in from that icy cold air and step inside. Yum. So if you can get to the store today and get the stuff you don’t have…there is still time. It cooks so fast. Another bonus is that this is not an expensive recipe to make. I bought skillet steak because it was on sale but you can buy cubed steak. Whatever works. Throw in a veggie and a starch and voila…a hearty supper that is easy on the wallet and will warm your family from their head to their toes. 

Here are a few pictures of our wintry mix days at home…



yook mama an icicle


little ice in the hair



its an ice day!!

sister has some ice goggles


BD’s creation…buck dynasty

channeling her inner Elsa

Crockpot skillet steak and gravy

Stuff you need~

1 family pack of cubed steak or skillet steak 

1 can cream of mushroom 

1 can golden mushroom 

1 pack beefy onion soup mix 

1/2 cup water 

What to do with the stuff~

Cut your meat in to serving size portions. Mine was already like that but just in case. Place meat on the bottom of your slow cooker. Layer if necessary. In a medium size whisk together the soups and soup mix and water. Pour this over the meat. Cook on low for about 6 hours depending on your crockpot. Done. 



looks pretty good, doesn’t it?


even Roy enjoyed the ice