Category Archives: Weeknight wonder

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

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

4 kiddos means lots going on sometimes

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

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

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

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

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

French Onion Chicken Noodle Casserole 

Stuff you need~

4 cups cooked chopped chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup

12 ounces container French Onion Dip

4 ounces sour cream 

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

12 ounces egg noodles

1 cup crushed French fried onions

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Advertisements

Slow cooker chicken chili and isn’t it ironic?

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

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

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

Slow cooker chicken chili 

stuff you need~

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 

2 (14 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes 

1 (14 ounce) can corn, rinsed and drained 

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

1 cup chicken broth 

1 red bel pepper, seeded and finely chopped 

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

1/2 yellow onion, chopped 

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

3/4 tablespoon cumin 

1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

4 ounces, cream cheese 

 Fresh cilantro for garnish 

Crushed Tortilla chips for garnish

Shredded cheese and sour cream, for garnish 

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crockpot Creamy bacon ranch pasta 

Stuff you need~

1 pound chicken breasts (about 2)

6 strips of bacon, fried until crispy and crumbled 

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing  

1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic 

1 cup sour cream 

1 can cream of chicken soup 

1/2 cup water 

Black pepper 

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

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

  Simply delicious!!! 

so much yum!!

  

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
 

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!! 

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!!

   

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



Leftover Hambone soup and my mama is smart

So today we shall review how to make the most of a ham. We have discussed the beauty of buying a ham and making it last all week using it 4 different ways. If you buy said ham on sale and then freeze it until ready to use, that makes the whole scenario even more lovely. You know you are your mother’s child when you get excited over getting a deal on a ham, and then get jazzed up over being able to stretch it. I am learning as I approach the 40 that in lots of ways, being my mother’s daughter is a dang good thing. Looking at us you might not see many similarities. She is a teeny tiny French woman and I take after my daddy’s German side of the family. We both have dark hair and the same green eyes. My dad and 3 sisters all have the “Mayeux” blue eyes, but me and my mama have green. That’s pretty special now that I consider it. I am a sensitive soul like my mama too. She is a much nicer person than I am though and she giggles when I get riled up and tell someone off, but to tell the truth, I think I get that from her. I can recall several instances in childhood when she went off (justifiably so) on a grocery store checkout clerk or someone she felt acted inappropriately. Still she is much nicer than me on a daily basis. My mom is way more fun than me and always has been. She has that French “let the good times roll” attitude about her. I take life way too seriously a lot of the time. We both have a perverse sense of humor that makes us crack up laughing at inappropriate things…me and all my sisters have that about us though. So don’t let something unexpected happen in Mass because we would all be laughing inappropriately. So we are different, have had our differences, but we are alike in the ways that matter. I am seeing that more everyday and it makes me smile. I am so glad she passed on her secret of how to stretch a ham to get several meals from it. That’s an art and skill that I will pass on to my kids and today I will pass it on to you. Bernie aka BB would approve…right mama? Now she did it differently than me and that’s ok. I always did love ham week in our household. She would bake that ham as only she can, then Monday make crockpot red beans, then we would ham and egg mcmuffins at some point. Bern is a creative gal I tell you that.

IMG_2446
she plays the guitar like poppee (her daddy) and can cook a boot and make it taste good (as per big daddy)…BB has skills.

IMG_2448
my beautiful and talented mama

Now ok but onto this leftover hambone soup recipe. Again with the soup recipes right?! I know. I have issues. It is what it is. This soup is out of this world fantastic. It is a warm you to the bone soup that is perfect on a blustery windy day. It can cure what ails you. Or at least it sure does seem that way. Big Daddy came in the house last week and was starving after being out seeing customers until past his supper time. He walked in to the smell of this warm you to your bones and some cornbread and he was in. He went wild over this soup. He tolerates my soup psychosis usually but he does not go wild for most of them. This one he did. He was sad when it was gone. It really could not be easier to prep this soup and get it on the table. So read on and learn how you an make it too. Make the most out of that ham ya’ll!!

Leftover Hambone soup adapted from http://www.damndelicious.net

serves 6

Stuff you need~

1 leftover hambone
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 cups chopped leftover ham

what to do with the stuff

In a large stock pot, cover the hambone halfway with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for at least an hour but I allowed mine to simmer longer. Remove from heat and discard hambone. You can also do this part the night before you plan to make this soup.

IMG_2320

Next, in a Dutch oven or large heavy bottom sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic and potatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes
And until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in ham stock (I started with about 2 cups and went from there), beans, corn, bay leaves, and thyme.

IMG_2319

Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. Bring this to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer over medium low heat until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chopped ham. Serve with cornbread and you got it going on mop tit (or ma petite for those of you who don’t know that story)!!!

IMG_2477
so delicious

IMG_2479
me, my beautiful mama and sister (and baby Jonah bear)