Category Archives: quick and easy

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

Chicken cordon bleu bubble up

Ok now I have been hearing about bubble ups for a while now. When I see them on Pinterest I think they look good but I am always so distracted by other recipes that I don’t ever make any of the recipes. Well Big Daddy has been out of town this week and I have been looking for quick and easy recipes. I searched for bubble up casseroles and found this little gem. I am now a total and complete bubble up concert. I cannot wait to try all of them! I love anything cordon bleu. I like the name cordon bleu. It sounds fancy even though it usually just means with ham and Swiss cheese. But I often wonder…the Cordon Bleu cooking schools…do they cook lots of stuff with ham and Swiss cheese? Where does that name come from? I will have to google it. I found the recipe on Pinterest and it is from the Plain Chicken blog. Anyhow, I adored this recipe. My sweet sugar cookie aka Kayla Ann loved it too. The other kids just were not interested but they did not hate it. I sent the leftovers to the kids’ teachers and they all liked it and rated it “yummy”. So it’s a safe bet that unless you hate ham and Swiss cheese (bless your heart) then you will likely love it. Give it a whirl friends! Jump on this bubble up train. I am now obsessed with finding new bubble ups and creating my own. Have you tried bubble ups before? Let me know. Now let’s get this bubble up…bubbling, shall we?~AMB

Chicken cordon bleu bubble up (from plain chicken blog)

serves 6

Stuff you need~

1 can Pillsbury Grands jr. Biscuits, quartered
2 cups Swiss cheese, divided
1 (15 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce (I used Bertolli)
2 cups cooked chicken (to make it crazy easy just get a rotisserie chicken)
1 cup diced ham (I bought the packaged diced ham but this is a great way to use leftover holiday ham or Sunday ham)

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stuff you need

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the quartered biscuits. Just cut them into 4 pieces using kitchen shears. Like this…

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Ok now, just pour in your Alfredo sauce, ham and 1 cup of Swiss cheese.

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lovely pictures just for you. My lovely assistant, Madame Toot, helped me out

Now, just gently fold the biscuits and sauce/cheese/ham together. You want to coat the biscuits. Ok, now, add in your chicken.

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Now pour all of this deliciousness into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remainder of Swiss cheese over the finished product. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melty, the biscuits done and the casserole is all bubbly.

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bubbly…cheesy…delicious (not the best pic but you get the point right?)

Lisa’s elegant beef tips, bringing home a baby and and a fairy godmother

I have told y’all about my good friend Lisa. She is the mother of my babysitters, April and Alaina. Now, these girls rarely babysit for us anymore as they are both away at college. These days, when they babysit it is more like spending time with my kids because they miss them and cannot take not seeing them another minute. We have been together so long that it supersedes any definition. We are family. We spend holidays together. We love each other. And Lisa is at the helm of our ship. She is the most fabulous. She is an excellent cook and southern woman extraordinaire.
Back in the day, when I was a mom of 3 little kids and pregnant with baby Lucas as we called him…April and Alaina babysat for us a lot. I was a needy person if there ever was one. I was tired, pregnant, and just likely a hot mess. Big Daddy worked all the time and I needed help. So no wonder, those sweet girl and their mama were there. Sometimes daily. Thank God. So when I went into labor with Lucas a month early, they were right there during the following days, taking care of kiddos, cleaning the house, and waiting for us when we got home from the hospital. And the house smelled so wonderful because these beef tips were cooking away in the crockpot. I still have the piece of paper the girls had written the recipe on as Lisa called it out over the phone, I suppose. I pulled it out yesterday to make these beef tips and I just smiled. I will never forget when Lisa was leaving my house that day we got home from the hospital. She came to get some baby Lucas snuggles and pick up the girls (so long ago they could not drive yet…crazy business folks). She was walking to her car and I said “thank you so much for everything” and she said and I quote “well Mrs. Aimee (that is what the girls call me and she does too…even now…) everyone needs a fairy godmother and I may as well be yours.” I knew then that woman would be my friend for life. I was not wrong. Her recipes are divine and these beef tips are no exception. Try them. But I have to say, her friendship is the best. ~AMB

Lisa’s elegant beef tips

serves 8

Stuff you need~

1 (3 pound) chuck roast, cut into chunks, fat removed
1 cup sherry cooking wine
1 cup chopped celery
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained (I used the larger sized jar)
2 packets of beefy mushroom soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 soup can of water
Cooked rice

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ready to go

What to do with the stuff~

Whisk together the soup, water, soup mix and cooking together. Stir in the celery and mushrooms. Finally, stir in the cubed up beef. Cook on low for 6 hours or until beef is cooked through. I will be honest and say I put mine on around 11 and they were cooked by 3:30 when I got home from picking the kids up. It depends on your crockpot and anywhere between 4 and 6 hours is normal. Just check them if you don’t know.

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cutting into that roast (it is more economical to do it this way but stew meat is convenient so do what works for you)

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whisking the soups and wine together

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add the celery

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it’s go time

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so good

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my two angels several years ago with baby Lucas(that was their baby and he still is)

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my fairy godmother and 3 year old Lucas

Crockpot chicken and gravy and welcoming Fall

I know we all love a good crockpot recipe. We also love a good crisp Fall day. First off I want to say “Happy Fall y’all!!!!” There is a slight chill in the air and it is so welcome over here. Now, I know the other side of all this is that for some of y’all this means a little fall and then here comes the power outages, freezing cold and snow, snow and more snow. But for today, we will enjoy this lovely Fall weather and a deliciously easy crockpot recipe. I am waiting in the Starbucks line for my triple shot pumpkin spice latte. It seems appropriate. This recipe was a big hit in our household. I found it on http://www.thecountrycook.net. I served it with a side of steamed broccoli and served the gravy over rice along with some Sister Schubert rolls. My little lamb chop aka Pappy aka Lucas (yes they have a million nicknames) loves those rolls. I really hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we did. Madame Toot happily exclaimed in her sweet little voice “yum! This tastes like Thanksgiving!!”
Get inspired my friends. Enjoy this new season rolling in because all too soon it will change. Break out your crockpot and make life easy on yourself. Let supper cook itself so you can sit outside and watch the leaves fall and the kids run. Or just sit there and enjoy this day for the beauty it is. Enjoy the moment because truly it is all we have promised. ~AMB

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a little glimpse of Fall in our hood

Crockpot Chicken and Gravy

Stuff you need~

1 pound chicken breasts
2 packages (0.87 ounce) dry gravy mix
1 (10.75 ounce) cream of chicken soup
2 cups water
1/2 cup sour cream (optional but definitely recommended)
Kosher salt, black pepper and garlic powder

What to do with the stuff~

Season chicken busoms with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
In your crockpot, whisk together the dry gravy mix, water and cream of chicken soup until fairly smooth. Now lay the chicken busoms in the crockpot. Cook on low about 4 hours (mine cooks fast so it takes less time so do what works for your crockpot). Remove chicken breasts with slotted spoon onto a plate. Shred and then set aside. Whisk in the sour cream. Return shredded chicken to it’s lovely gravy. Now spoon over mashed potatoes, cooked white rice, or cooked noodles. Easy at that. Delicious chicken and gravy and Fall has arrived! Ahhhh!!

Most of all…

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my friend Liz posted this on Facebook this morning and I figured I would share.

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!

Golden Oreo dirt cake

At some point in my childhood Momou discovered dirt cake. Such a novel idea at the time and she was the queen of the dirt cake. It’s funny because now dirt cake is far from a novel or creative idea. Since the invention of Pinterest, it’s hard these days to really come up with inventive ideas since it seems as if everything has been done. But back in 1990, when Momou discovered dirt cake, it was the bomb. I can recall either her or one of my aunts making it for a family gathering and serving the dirt cake in a clean flower pot with gummy worms sticking out of the top. Talk about impressive. I bet money that Momou would be a Pinterest queen if she was shown how to use it. And I bet if given the chance, she would whip up a mean dirt cake for her fellow nursing home residents. Sister can work it!! So this dirt cake is just a slight variation on the typical dirt cake. It uses golden Oreos instead of regular ones. With the recent introduction of caramel apple Oreos and pumpkin spice Oreos (which I still can’t find)…you could make this a Halloween dirt cake and really take it over the top. I am thinking food coloring, tiny tomb stones and little skeleton heads all over the top. The possibilities are endless!! This dirt cake is an excellent birthday cake alternative for my friends who have kiddos who don’t do regular cake/chocolate (I am still not sure that is at all normal…lol. But I have several friends whose kids do not eat cake or chocolate.) One of my kiddos is a real vanilla lover so I figured she would enjoy it. She did. It is such a smooth dessert with a good crunch from those cookies. It tastes better after it sits for a few hours in the fridge. So if you have never made dirt cake, here is your chance. It is a breeze to whip up and it makes a good bit! You can serve a bunch of party goers when this dessert. Whip up a batch today!!

Golden Oreo dirt cake adapted from http://www.thecardswedrew.com

Stuff you need~

2 (8 ounce) small tubs cool whip
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese , softened
2 (5.9 ounce) packages of instant vanilla pudding
4 cups milk
2 packages of golden Oreos

What to do with the stuff~

In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of your standing mixer, add your softened cream cheese and cool whip. Mix until well combined. Now add the pudding mix and a little of the milk at the time, mixing after each addition (trust me it will slosh all over the place if you add it all at once). Mix until smooth and well blended.
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Ok now for the fun part! We are gonna crush some Oreos! It’s a mini arm workout and an aggression reliever at the same time. Not that I have any er aggression. No, not me. I have 4 kids between the ages of 6 and 11 but I am as a calm as can be. If you know me well you know I am lying, but if you believe me then let’s just continue that for now. 😜
Add a package of Oreos to a gallon size ziploc. Close tightly. Take a rolling pin or a hammer and get after crushing those Oreos. It’s good fun! Flip the bag over and crush some more. Do the same thing for the second package.
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Now, I made this in a trifle bowl. If you don’t have one, you can buy one as they are pretty cheap and you will get some good use out of it, or you can use a plain ole big bowl. Whatever you want. Do your thing.
Add half of the first bag of crushed Oreos (or 1/4 of the crushed Oreos) to the bottom of your serving bowl. Now, smooth 1/4 of the pudding mixture over the top of the Oreos. Now, sprinkle the other half of the first package of the crushed Oreos over this. Then another 1/4 of the pudding. Continue 2 more times. Oreos then pudding. You should end with crushed Oreos on the top. It should look like this…

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ain’t it perty?! Yum!!

Cheesy chicken crescent squares aka little pockets of yum

This recipe is so old school I do not even know where it comes from. I have to be honest. I have about 5 church cookbooks that have some version of this delicious concoction. Some are more involved and some are more straight forward and simple. Guess which one I am more partial to? Yep. The straight forward and simple one. These little pockets of yum are so tasty and simple to prepare it almost seems wrong. But it’s not. It’s so so right my friends. In honor of Labor Day, I decided to make a recipe that required almost no labor. So easy my 7 year old could make them. And she almost did them herself. And then she refused to eat them. Yep. That easy!! Sigh.
Now, I have to he honest and say, this is the first meal I have cooked all weekend. I have pretty much been out of commission the entire long weekend with some sort of stomach flu/demon that possessed my body. I thought I was unwittingly chosen to be in a low budget sci-fi film. Nope. Just a yucky bug that knocked me off my behind for a few days. Today is the first day since Saturday I even felt semi human. And still it was a struggle to do much. But I said to myself, what sounds good that I think I can stomach and is not too much work. Yep. These. We went out on the boat so I could at least say we did something over the weekend fun and also my oldest is turning 11 tomorrow and he is ready to PAR-TAY! So here is the recipe and I know y’all will enjoy the heck out of these little pockets to yum aka cheesy chicken crescent squares!

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so teeny and precious

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then boom, like a flash, he is 11. Not so teeny, but still precious and always my baby.

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Toby says he knows nothing about the stomach bug, he is just glad to be on the boat!

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Toby is all tuckered out from his boating adventure. He is also super spoiled.

Cheesy chicken crescent squares aka little pockets of yum

Stuff you need~

2 cups chicken breast, cooked and chopped (I used the breast from a rotisserie chicken I picked up and it was just about enough)
1 cup shredded cheddar (use any blend you want or have on hand)
1 can cream of chicken
1 (soup can) of milk
1 can of crescent squares (I used the big and buttery kind and there are 8)

what to do with the stuff~

Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish (you could use a smaller one) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut up your cooked chicken. Roll out crescent rolls and separate them out. Now, take some chicken and place it in the largest part of the crescent triangle. Then top with some cheese. If I had to give you a guesstimate I would say about 1 tablespoon of each. Maybe a little less. Now, roll that bad boy up and place seam side down in your prepared dish. Do this for each crescent roll/square/triangle of dough what have you. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the can of soup and can of milk. Pour this over the pockets of yum.
Pop the dish into the oven for about 25 minutes. Add a sprinkling of cheese to the top and pop back in oven for a few more minutes or until the cheese is all melty and irresistible looking. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes. Enjoy them and pass this recipe along y’all. It’s too good to keep to yourself! Or just prepare them for a friend and they will ask you for the recipe.


add chicken and cheese

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roll em up (this is my sweet Toot doing the rolling

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whisking the soup and milk together…Toot did this as well

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looking all lonely with no sauce

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me pouring the sauce/photo credit goes to Madame Toot

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pockets of yum

Million dollar spaghetti and at the center of it all

So when I was growing up, spaghetti was an event. Spaghetti and meatballs that is. My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Took all day to cook and it was worth the wait. It almost always was a meal on a weekend and we would have leftovers during the week. That meal to this day is very special and still very much an event. I do enjoy cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs from time to time, but my family loves and I mean LOVES spaghetti. And as much as I love them, I do not have time to make a pot of spaghetti and meatballs as often as they would like it. So I often turn to spaghetti and meat sauce. My oldest prefers meatballs (mix of pork and ground chuck mom, STAT) but he will endure meat sauce if he has to.
Of course, as much as I adore tradition, I am always looking for good variations on our favorite meals. I like to shake it up sometimes, keep it fresh, and make some noise (ha! Like I have to do that…these cookoo loos over here make enough noise for 3 households) but you get what I am saying. I like to stay out of the dinner time rut. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest for million dollar spaghetti a while back http://ashleykaitlin.blogspot.com/2011/01/million-dollar-spaghetti.html?m=1, I knew I had to try it.
Well this week has been, um, interesting to say the least. It started off that way and it continues to be so. For different reasons. Swimming pool calamities, sick kids, sick hubby and it’s only Thursday, so I figured let’s just blow it out and doing something crazy! Let’s make million dollar spaghetti!!! Or it went something like that. I have said it before and I will say it again, when things are stressful on the home front and I have an inkling of that feeling that I just want to bury my head under the covers and cry, I shift into crazy homemaker mode. I know that few things are in my control, but what I cook and how I feel in my home, is all me. So I cook something traditional and comforting or I try something new. I try a cleaning tip and do some laundry. I guess my home is my center and I find comfort there. I guess it’s the Narcille and Beulah Mae coming out in me and every other Cajun mama I come from.

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the two sick dudes laid up, everyone else around them (getting infected I can only imagine)…but that’s my chaos and my heart and soul

This million dollar spaghetti was a wonderful alternative to our regular spaghetti and meat sauce. Big Daddy said he could do with less creamy stuff, but the kids LOVED it. Even my BHB (picky man) ate it with gusto. It’s kind of like my lazy girl’s lasagna https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/12/13/lazy-girls-lasagna/, only with angel hair pasta. It really was very easy and delicious. I recommend you give it a go the next time you are feeling stressed to the limit and not quite certain you do this whole being a grown thing another day. It may not change the world, it may not make things 100% better, but it will surely change your outlook. You can look around the table at your family enjoying a meal that you made and think, ” I cannot do it all, but I can make a meal my family enjoys” and “I can bring my family together.” And let’s not forget, that is kind of the point of this whole cooking for these people we live with anyway. Enjoy!!~AMB

Million dollar spaghetti
Stuff you need~

8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
2 lb. container Cottage cheese (that’s the taller one)
1/4 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 small jar spaghetti sauce (I am a Ragu girl)
1 pound ground chuck
1 stick of butter (I used about 3/4 of the stick)
2 cups shredded mild cheddar

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Brown ground beef until no longer pink. Drain well.
Stir spaghetti sauce into the drained ground beef. Heat until warmed throughout.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese. (I used my standing mixer to do this, as she suggested)
Put half of the butter (sliced into pats) at the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Layer half of the noodles on top of this. Now layer all of the creamy mixture on top of this.
Next, layer the rest of the noodles on top of the creamy mixture. Lay the rest of the butter pats on top of the noodles.
Now spread the spaghetti sauce and meat all over the top.
Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Finally, sprinkle the cheddar all over the top of the whole shebang.
Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is all bubbly and irresistible looking.

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noodles on top of creamy mixture

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more butter pats on top of the noodles

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my handsome boy helping me cook and telling me all about his latest google research. He amazes me.

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layers and layers of yummm

Weeknight wonder #1! Southern Living creamy chicken and noodles

First of all, dispel any notion of any previous recipes for chicken and noodles. Even if you love chicken and noodles, this is a different recipe. It’s like sassy, saucy chicken and noodles. They are like traditional chicken and noodle’s sassy older sister with a mysterious air. Yes. The familiarity of chicken noodles yet with an added something. My mother in law, Deb, makes what my father in law calls dead man noodles. They call them this because she makes them when someone passes away and brings them to the grieving family. They are very delicious and a recipe she has made often. They are comforting and make a ton. I enjoy them. So when I came across this recipe several years ago in Southern Living magazine, I would have passed it by except, this recipe was in a section about meals with rotisserie chicken. I stopped short (that’s a nod to Seinfeld, yes. I love rerun comedies. So said like Frank Cosfanza…”I stopped short!” Lol!) and did a double take. What? No boiling a chicken all day? Well sign me up! At that time I distinctly remember having 3 little bitty kiddos under foot all day long and getting any meal on the table was a struggle most evenings. So when I found this and BD really loved it and the kiddos kind of ate it, I thought score!
This week, I decided to post recipes I consider weeknight wonders. Meals you can either prep ahead of time or throw together quickly using shortcuts. Who does not love that? I like to cook, but I love a good shortcut! AND the list of ingredients is so small, I can recall it easily. After 4 kids and lots of sleep deprivation, that is saying so much. This meal definitely comes together quickly and you can change it up a bit to suit your families tastes.~AMB

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not so long ago, there were 3 instead of 4. Home all day and I cherish every crazy moment. They were 3, 2, and about 7 months…2007

Southern Living Creamy chicken and noodles

Stuff you need~

8 ounces of wide egg noodles
3 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces (insert ROTISSERIE chicken here…just pick it up at the store and debone it! Done and done!)
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning packet mix (yes the Good Seasons stuff…or store brand)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Fresh parsley (the dried stuff will do in a pinch. Promise)

What to do with the stuff~

Boil your noodles and drain them. Put the noodles back in the pot. Add the butter and toss noodles to coat. It gets hard now so pay attention.
I am totally kidding it’s so easy that it should be wrong. Ok sorry for my little foray into pranking y’all.
Anyway, noodles are coated in butter. It’s all good. Throw in that cut up chicken. Stir. So now, you toss in your 1 tablespoon of Italian dressing mix. NOT THE WHOLE PACKAGE OF IT!!! Next, throw in the grated Parm. And then the parsley. You are gently tossing to coat this whole time. Now, pour in that good ole heavy whipping cream. Stir it in. Oh yeah. It looks good right? Yes so now, over a medium to low heat, heat this up until it thickens a bit. It is so fabulous. Feels like you really did it up, and yet that wasn’t bad at all. Your family gets fed and you are all awesome mom. Or dad. Check you being all awesome!

*If you want to get real fancy like, you can toss in a cup of frozen peas and pieces of ham instead of the cut up chicken.

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these ain’t your grandmother’s chicken and noodles!

Thai noodle salad

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

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

Thai noodle salad

Stuff you need~

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

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

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even the bottle just makes me glad to be alive

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oh for the love of Thai!