It is Christmas break and I was up at 4:44 a.m. this morning. What in the world?! You ask? I do not even pretend to know my friends. Maybe it’s the barometric pressure or maybe it was the coffee at 3 p.m. yesterday afternoon. I do not claim to know. I just know that I was up at 4:44 this morning. And you know the saying the early bird catches the worm? If there was a worm to be caught, I do suppose I caught it today. I could really be annoyed that I was up so early, and I could be annoyed by the fact that I have several sets of sheets to wash (don’t ask)…but instead I decided to drink another cup of coffee, make a quiche and get the sheets to washing. Because if getting older has taught me anything, it has taught me that being ticked off is not productive (well not always) and trying to go back to sleep once I am up is almost always the wrong thing to do. Not sure where the quiche idea came from, other than I like quiche. A lot. And I had a leftover pie crust in the fridge. No silly, not a homemade pie crust. A leftover pie crust from the box of Pillsbury crusts I had bought. I don’t do homemade pie crusts. But if you do, feel free to make you one! Also, Big Daddy had a great crop of broccoli this year!
So glad he got a green thumb. Because I got the black thumb of death. He gets it from his Pappaw who was growing cabbages the size of my head until he was 90 years old. So there was that. So I googled quiche recipes because I had no bacon, sausage or ham and quiche Lorraine or quiche with ham is what I usually make. And frankly I have eaten so much meat over the past few days, I figured I could do with a good meatless dish. We will call this a meatless Monday recipe. So low and behold, up pops this recipe from http://www.delish.com for broccoli cheddar quiche! Bingo! Oh and not to mention I had a block of Cracker Barrel Vermont sharp white cheddar that was begging to be shredded and put in a yummy quiche! That’s really why I did all of this. To help that amazing cheese fulfill its lifelong dream.(forgive me…I was up too early).
Now for this up too early broccoli cheddar quiche recipe! This tasty dish surely does take the sting out of being up so early!
Up too early broccoli cheddar quiche
Stuff you need~
1 pie crust
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I just happened to have some but you can use salted butter)
2 cups diced onion (1 medium onion)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup shredded cheddar
1 1/2-2 cups broccoli flowerettes
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
What to do with the stuff~
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Roll your pie crust out into a 9 inch pie plate or a quiche dish. Which I use, because I love quiche. But the 9 inch pie plate works just as well.
Bake the crust until golden brown. About 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven.
While waiting for crust to brown, melt the butter in a skillet. Sauté your diced onion until tender and opaque.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and heavy cream.
Stir the broccoli, cheese, salt, pepper, and sautéed onions into the cream and egg mixture.
Pour this into your golden brown pie crust.
Bake quiche in your preheated oven until the egg mixture is set. Mine took about 45 minutes or so. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so, make yourself a cup of coffee and shake those up too early blues away! You made a quiche!
Other things I do at 5 in the morning…use an app to turn some pics into paintings…
Well at least I was semi productive!!
I hope you have a blessed day no matter how early your day started!!
It’s been so hectic around here lately. I keep saying it will slow down but it actually seems to be picking up momentum. Like a slow train running. I have said this before in previous posts but I know a major part of being at peace is just accepting the frantic pace and finding time to have as much fun as possible with my family. Spending time together and savoring every moment. So recently some friends of ours moved into their newly built home and wanted to have a house warming party. Chris works with Big Daddy at Farm Bureau and they have become good friends.
Naturally our kids are friends and his wife and I are friends. Everyone who works in that little office in Desoto Parish and their families have become a little family. With Loretta (corn salad Loretta if you recall…read it here…Corn salad recipe) being the wacky aunt everyone adores. But that night of the housewarming get together, I was just not feeling it. I was past tired and careening rapidly towards exhausted and cranky. Over it. But we had committed and I knew we needed to be there…so we went. With my slow cooker full of this warm, bubbling buffalo chicken dip, chopped celery sticks and big bag of Ruffles. Wacky aunt Loretta had lined us all up about what to bring and played the role of party planner. I had said I would bring chips and dip at the time but at the last minute I decided I would bring one of my favorite dips that my sister, Claire, had introduced me to years ago. Yes, this buffalo chicken dip is one of my favorites and it was a big hit that night at Chris and Sarah’s. I ended up being so glad I bucked up and went. That I got over my exhaustion and was able to see past the long week and embrace a Friday night with good friends. See in my exhaustion, I had not counted on lots of laughter, or Kelly (who would be the fun indulgent aunt) bringing us all big ole daquiris (thanks Kelly!), or the hilarious conversation. I had not factored in feeling right at home and being able to just sit on a stool and laugh amongst friends. It’s easy sometimes in the haze of being annoyed and tired to forget the fun stuff.
So it ended up being a fabulous night. And the buffalo chicken dip was enjoyed by all. But not as much as the daquiris, Kell. We always have too much fun together. In fact, Sarah and I have decided it is going to happen more often. Oh and their new house is absolutely gorgeous! In the end, what makes a good time are the people around us. We have that down pat! Buffalo chicken dip
stuff you need~
2 8 ounce blocks of cream cheese (NOT the fat free kind), softened
3/4 cup buffalo sauce (Franks is my favorite kind…)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup chunky bleu cheese dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
2 cups cooked chicken breast (I use rotisserie chicken)
Your choice of chips or crackers for dipping
Washed and chopped celery sticks
What to do with the stuff~
In a smallish crockpot (think 3.5 quart), add your softened cream cheese.
Next pour your dressings over this.
Then add your essential ingredient…the hot wing sauce.
Just kind of give it a stir.
Sprinkle in half the cheese…so 3/4 cup or do what I do and add half the bag. Go big or go home I always say. That’s the kind I use…that little hint of cream cheese creates a sense of nirvana in this dip. Just an over the top, “yes this dip, just yes” feeling. You know? Now stir in your cut up cooked chicken.
Set it to low and cook for about 2 hours. Lift the lid and give it good stir halfway through. And sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
It will melt the cheese and it will be buffalo dip perfection. How I love this dip. It’s just fabulous.
So with the holidays coming or for when, you know, LSU plays Bama this weekend, keep this dip recipe on hand. You will want to make it. Don’t forget the daquiris!!
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…
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
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!
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!)
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!
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…
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!!!
It seems lately that life has taken on a frantic pace that since becoming a mom I SWORE I would never allow for my family. It’s amazing how innocent new motherhood can be, but that’s a story for another day. Back then, looking at my sweet baby boy’s face, I said I would never allow myself to lose focus on what really matters. Togetherness, family, downtime, blocking the rest of the world out. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s important to teach my kids to let the world in and to be a big part of their community, but I want to make sure they always remember what really counts at the end of the day. For instance, I agreed this year to be the ptsa president for my son’s middle school. I am really enjoying it now that the ball is rolling (shhh don’t tell anyone) but I have to be very careful to not let it take over what I hold dear to me. My family, togetherness, you know the drill. My kids are more involved than they ever have been and that’s to be expected now that they are all getting older. So mostly the weekdays belong to everyone else. Or it feels that way. It’s a crazy, frenetic pace that exhausts me by Thursday evening. It is hustle and bustle and go go go. And I don’t even have a job outside the home. So come Friday evening I am ready for DOWNTIME!!! The weekends belong to our family!!! It looks like this…
My kids running around PLAYING without time limits.
Big Daddy watering his garden while I drink wine on the back porch. No mention of homework, no uniform washing (well I still do that because Monday comes too fast and I am slightly neurotic about laundry but the point is I don’t have to wash uniforms if I don’t want to. There’s joy in that).
I get to sit down and do all of this I want…
Now that’s a relaxing Friday. I went to bed at 8:55 last night. It was that relaxing. Last week was absolutely crazy but the bad thing is that almost every since school started has been that way. I worry this is going to become our norm. After holding on to peace and family time for so long, I am not going to succumb to it. I am willing to let the weekdays be a little wild. But the weekends for the most part, belong to us. Cut to I have been up since 5, the guys are hunting (it’s youth hunt weekend) and the girls are sleeping in (God bless the weekend!). So I am in the process of taking back our weekend. That means making one of my favorite soup recipes and one of Big Daddy’s favorite childhood treats…Mrs. Sandra’s banana bars. I absolutely believe good ole comfort food is a vital part of keeping our weekends sacred. Well, I’m Cajun, I actually believe good food is a vital part of everything. Nonetheless, soup and a sweet (and lots of coffee) go a long way in making our weekends something special. A respit from all of the hustle and bustle of the week, an safe harbor in a sea of madness. No really.
So now for a little back story on these recipes I am sharing. This chicken and rice soup is a Pioneer Woman recipe. It is to die for. I think the first time I made it one of my kids was sick and I was overcome with a sense of motherly domesticity and found this recipe via Google. I always love PW’s recipes and this was a big hit! I am excited to share it with those of you who might not have found it yet. She does apologize in her post for using chicken bouillon cubes and yellow food coloring, so read her post if you want to get the full effect. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/simple-hearty-chicken-rice-soup-itll-keep-ya-honest/ As for me, I offer no apologies for such transgressions. None. The soup is fantastic and if bouillon cubes and food coloring are the worst of my offenses, then God bless. But trust me, they are not. If the guilt from my bouillon and food coloring use gets too heavy, I will just go confess to Father Mark and say some Hail Marys. This soup is abso-flipping-lutely mouthwatering and full of flavor. It’s one of our favorites. It makes your kitchen smell like heaven.
PW’s chicken and rice soup
Stuff you need~
2 chicken breasts with bone in and skin on (the bone and fat are necessary to make the chicken stock…those two things make it extra fantastic!)
8 chicken boullion cubes
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 diced pimentos (from a jar)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1 cup cooked rice
6 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
Few drops of Yellow food coloring
What to do with the stuff~
First of all, go one and get your your rice cooking either on the stovetop or in the rice cooker.
Wash your chicken breasts and cover them with about 2 quarts of water, give or take a little. Drop in those boullion cubes.
Bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat and allow chicken to cook for about 20 minutes or so. When cooked through, remove chicken from water and set aside. Keep the lovely chicken stock that you made boiling those chicken breasts at a low slow simmer on the stove.
Now dice up your veggies. Now we will make a little roux. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Whisk in the 4 tablespoons of flour and stir until thickened. Pour this into your barely simmering chicken stock.
Now melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. (I just wash the skillet I just used and use it again) Add your diced veggies to the melted butter.
Cook until tender and then add the chopped up chicken. Mmmmmm
Give it all a good stir and then add to the simmering stock that is quickly turning into a bonefied soup.
Now, you are in the homestretch. Almost there. Get ready. You are going to add the cooked rice to the soup.
Yes yes yes. Now you have oh so savory chicken and rice soup. Perfect if you have a sick person to nurse back to health (this plus essential oils can work wonders to heal a sick body). This soup is a wonderful dish to cook if your spirits are waning and you are taking respite from the world. Either way, you are golden. Now for the final touch…yep, the yellow food coloring. This is really not necessary but to preserve the authenticity of PW’s recipe, I follow her instructions.
Let this all simmer a bit longer, maybe 20 minutes to let it all blend and mingle. And then you have this…
Now for the banana bars!!!
Now these banana bars are the bomb. Big Daddy lived in Broussard/Youngsville for a long while when his daddy ran the co-op there. Of course his mama, Mrs. Dianne, was a. social butterfly and lovely lady, so she made some good friends where ever they lived. In Broussard, Mrs. Sandra, Mrs. Linda, and Mrs. Peggy were her top gals. They all had kids (a bunch of boys mostly) and they hung out like a posse. Of course they are all fabulous cooks and swapped recipes. Mrs. Sandra made these banana bars that made Big Daddy swoon. I heard about them from the time we started dating until she finally gave me the recipe a few years later. Back then, I had no idea what a jelly roll pan was so I used a 9 x 13 inch pan. BD said they were a little thicker than he remembered but they were good anyway. So if you do not have a jelly roll pan, don’t fret!!! It’s the weekend and we don’t worry on the weekend! If you want to buy one, here is a link …Chicago Metallic Non-Stick True Jelly Roll Pan, 15 by 10-Inch https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003YKGRVO/ref=cm_sw_r_awd_SEqgwbY3FK75S. If you have Amazon prime, 2 days and you will be all set! I picked up one at Walmart and it worked great. The dimensions you are looking for in a true jelly roll pan are 10x 15 x 1.
I love that even though BD’s mom is no longer with us, I can still make one of his favorite childhood treats for him. That’s the power of good friend…they keep you alive in many ways. ❤️ That’s also the power in recipes and passing them on.
Stuff you need~
For the bars~
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract *
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
*I do use vanilla extract but a new favorite of mine is vanilla bean paste, which you use exactly like extract. It tastes so pure and full of that vanilla perfection. I order it from amazon. I heart Amazon if you cannot tell. Just my two cents on a product that I love.
for the Icing~
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons (or more) milk for thinning the icing
For the bars:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease your jelly roll pan.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your standing mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, sour cream and eggs. Blend in the bananas and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add this to the other mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into your prepared jelly roll pan.
Now bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. And the kitchen smells like Christmas. No really…Christmas.
While that is baking, get your icing ready.
For the icing~
Melt butter in a large saucepan and let it brown just a bit. Just until it is a lovely light brown color. Not dark!! It takes a minute or 2. Stir in a cup of powdered sugar at a time. Add more as needed. I only use about 3 cups. Now stir in Vanilla. Add your milk to make the icing the consistency you want. You want thicker than a glaze but thinner than a frosting.
Now once your bars are out of the oven, pour the luscious icing over the “cake” and ice it.
Then you get…
And everyone shouts hooray!!!!! Banana bars…my man’s favorite and they are gaining popularity!
Now we all just wait for another weekend to roll around! God save the weekend!! Hope everyone has a great week.
I am a big believer that God brings people into your life for a reason. Not everyone is meant to stay forever but some are. And that’s when it gets good. As most of you know, I am a Shreveport transplant and when I arrived on the scene in North Lousiana, I knew no one but Big Daddy, his brother, and his daddy. That’s all. One of the first people I met was Leia. She was about 16 and I was about 19. We met in passing one day and that was it for a while. In fact, the first time I met her as a matter of fact, I was pretty sure she did not like me much. Remember, I was an outsider. Somehow though, as time went on, Leia took me under wing and made me her friend and the rest as they say is history. Well, not really…a couple of things have occurred between now and then. Couple of weddings (I was in her’s, she was in mine), some graduations, jobs, couple of babies, life…we have stuck together through it all. I lived with Leia, who I call Ned and she calls me Ned (don’t ask) one summer and we loved to cook in the tiny little kitchen of her first house. Big Daddy was working out town that summer, and at the time I missed him terribly, but looking back, I am so glad to have had that time with her. She was expecting her first baby at the time and that baby is now a college student. That tells you how far back we go. If there is anyone on this a Earth I don’t ever question, it is Leia. She is always in my corner and I am pretty sure she knows I have her back no matter what she is up against. She is a tough cookie and I am just glad to have her on my team. I would not want her as an enemy. She is part sweet southern belle mixed with fierce badass and it equals one amazing friend. Sister knows how to take care of business. Need someone to plan one heck of bachelorette party? She’s your girl. There’s no end to the power of Ned and those who are lucky enough to have her in their lives would do well to remember that. There is no end to the power of Ned.
Now this crawfish pie recipe…it’s pretty special. And delicious. I had never had crawfish pie before I tried this one, so of course, it was love at first bite. Even though it is a Cajun delicacy, the recipe could not be easier to prepare. As I made it the other night, I giggled to myself how much I have learned in the kitchen since those days. I was probably 20 at the time, and I had no idea about white pepper or if there was a difference between white and black pepper. Nor did I bother looking for white pepper at the store. I probably thought it was a typo. Now, of course lessons have been learned in and out and the kitchen and I have a jar of white pepper in my seasonings cabinet. Ned and I have learned some other lessons as well. Lessons like…life can be hard, but it’s a lot easier when you have a good friend always there. And that some people are always loyal, even if you don’t talk to them everyday. Some friendships begin and don’t ever end. Thank God. Love you Ned, thanks for the crawfish pie recipe and for all the love and loyalty.
Stuff you need~
1/2 stick of butter
1 pound crawfish tails
2 pie crusts
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 bell pepper, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 ounce tomato sauce
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
What to do with the stuff~
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet or sauté pan. Sauté onions, bell peppers, and celery in melted butter until they are tender. At some point before the veggies are tender, sprinkle in the salt, pepper, red pepper, white pepper and thyme. This way the seasonings can get in there and really make their mark and have plenty of time to infuse the filling with their delightful spiciness. Yes I wrote that…delightful spiciness.
Next stir in your cream of mushroom soup.
Add the tomato sauce and give it a good stir
Next, stir in the crawfish tails and white wine. All together…mmmm. Just. So. Delicious. Add the milk, beaten egg* and the breadcrumbs. Either make your own in a food processor with some white bread or use plain breadcrumbs. I only had garlic and herb breadcrumbs this time and I found it threw the flavor off. Still good but not as good as I remembered. So next time, plain breadcrumbs it is. Stir them in and let the mixture simmer over low heat.
Stir the mixture frequently as it is simmers. Now, take one of the pie crusts and lay it in the bottom of your pie plate. Prick it a few times with a fork and pop that baby in the oven for a few minutes. You just want to slightly brown the bottom pie crust. Now, feel free to be a real show off and make your own pie crusts. If that is your fortay, rock on with your bad self. As for me and my house, we will use store bought pie crusts. I own it. If someone wants to offer to come give Cajun mama a pie crusts baking lesson, let me know. As I have mentioned before, I am baking challenged. I can do it, but homemade pie crusts are not something I aspire to.
Finally, pull that prebaked bottom pie crust from the oven. Now pour that savory filling into the pie plate until it is piled high. Yum!!! Cover the filling with your second pie crust and pinch to sort of seal it around the pie plate. Yes! Crawfish pie! You made that! Work it! Hold on now, you got to put it back in the oven to brown your top crust. Here is my crawfish pie before I popped it in the oven.
Bake it for about 40 minutes until your pie is golden brown and your kitchen smells like the most heavenly Cajun restaurant you can imagine. Let the pie sit for about 30 minutes before serving. Serve along side a nice green salad or potato salad. Or both if you are Cajun! Here is my potato salad post if you want to check it out Potato Salad with almost everything, paquing eggs and things Cajuns do | cajunmamacookin’s Blog
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.
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.
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!
My mama has given me many things in my life. My roots, my wings, sometimes a pain in my butt (you know it’s true Mama), so much love and maybe best of all…smothered chicken. I have said before that my mama is an excellent cook. And that Big Daddy is fond of saying “Bernie could cook a boot and make it taste good!” He is not wrong.
I will be honest here and say, in the past 10 years, my family of origin has undergone many changes. I am pretty certain that is a statement that can be made for most families, as change is the only thing that is constant in this world. You can count on things changing in this world. But you know one thing that has not changed in all of the changing that has remained the same? My mama’s smothered chicken. She has had her ups and she has weathered her downs, we have been high and low, but her love for her kids and her excellent smothered chicken are two things that have remained the same. If I ever had to equate food to love, I would say her smothered chicken, her rice and gravy and honey carrots (pea and asparagus casserole if we are lucky) would be a plate of love. Big Daddy, the kids, the dogs and I recently piled into the mini van to go spend the night at my mama and daddy’s house in Alex. and she asked me what I wanted her to fix for supper. Of course, I say smothered chicken. She already knew before she asked. When I had all of my babies, my mama would come and stay a few nights and smothered chicken was always on the menu. I really did not even try to attempt to make it for the longest time because I was convinced it was too hard and that no matter what, it would not be as a good as her’s. She always picks on me and says since I am such a good cook now, there is hardly anything she can make me that I cannot make myself. I can happily say that my smothered chicken cannot hold a candle to her’s. I am so glad to have her here on this Earth to make it for me. Now, don’t get me wrong, my smothered chicken is passable. It is ok. It might be pretty good. But Bernie has the magic touch and I am just fine with that. Maybe its because it is one way I still need her, one way she can be there for me like always, but she makes the smothered chicken of my dreams and when I am at her house or she is at mine, and she prepares my favorite meal, all is right with the world. Its funny how something so simple can do that, isn’t it? None the less, I had the envie for some smothered chicken yesterday afternoon and I decided to make it. I feel inadequate every time I set out, but the more I prepare it, the easier it gets. Its just a lot to live up to, you know? My mama is tiny, but she has some fairly big feet and her shoes are hard to fill. Especially when it comes to smothered chicken.
I was at a loss about how to tell ya’ll how to make a dish that I am only just now learning how to make really well. I held off until now because while it’s not hard per se, it is a little bit of an involved process. I have been gone so long though, not blogging, and so many have stuck with me while I took my little blogging hiatus, I figured I owed it to you to show you how to make one of my favorites or at least attempt to. So bare with me as I fumble through this. This is not baked chicken. This is not fried chicken. This is chicken that has been cut up and smothered in its own delicious juices. And it’s fantastic. (If you are a Jim Gaffigan fan, you will get that reference. If not, you should check out Jim Gaffigan so you will understand. He is hilarious.)
I will stop story telling for now. Though when it comes to mothers and daughters, the story never really ends. I certainly need to work on my smothered chicken technique and I do not claim to be an expert, but if I waited until I was an expert at making smothered chicken, we might be waiting a long time for this post. Plus, for now, I really enjoy that my mama’s smothered chicken is better than mine. I am not ready to be top dog in that category.
Ok ya’ll ready? Let’s do this!!
My mama’s smothered chicken Stuff you need
One fryer chicken, cut up
Salt and pepper
What to do with the stuff
Wash and pat dry your chicken pieces. Drizzle some cooking oil all over the bottom of a large skillet. Bernie is pretty particular about the size pot she smothers her chicken in. And Stephen (my daddy) says you don’t want to use a pot too big when smothering your meat, that the meat fitting snugly in the pot makes for a darker gravy. I don’t argue. I use a magnalite deep skillet that is perfect for smothering chicken. For those who don’t know, Magnalite pots and pans are the holy grail for Cajuns. The BEST!!! I inherited one from BD’s Pappaw and I love it.
Now salt and pepper your chicken on both sides. Turn the heat on your pot/skillet with the oil in it.
Once the oil is warmed up, add your chicken pieces.
Allow the chicken pieces to brown one side. Mama says that adding a little sugar to your pan aids in the browning process, so I do what she says. Just a spoonful or so is good. And You don’t want your fire too hot or your chicken will stick. So medium to low heat is best.
Once chicken is pretty and browned one side, like so….flip your chicken pieces using some tongs.
Now allow your chicken pieces to brown on the other side. I add a little more sugar to the pot at this point as well. Just a spoonful will do. Remember to mind your heat so chicken does not stick. I also wiggle the pieces around here and there as I brown the chicken. It makes me feel like a chef. And also, it prevents the chicken from sticking.
Once chicken is nice and browned on both sides (thank you sugar!!!), you want to add some water to your pot. This begins the smothering part of the process.
I add enough water to half way cover the chicken pieces. It’s ok if you add too much since you are going to cook out most of the water. Lower your heat until the water is simmering. Cover your pot and allow the water to cook out. This is the first step in making that delectable gravy. Oh my yes. Rice and gravy. Staple on so many Cajun tables. *
Let the water almost cook completely out but not quite. Do NOT allow all of the water to cook out. No!!! You are going to add more water to the little bit that is left after the first round. So add more water and continue the process of making that gravy and simultaneously tenderizing that chicken. Hence the smothering. I hope I am explaining this correctly. You basically will see your water the chicken is cooking in turn to gravy. It’s magic!! It will begin to look like this…
See how it is getting thicker and darker and looking like gravy? Ok now do the same thing over again until you get the gravy a dark as you want and have enough gravy (is there such a thing?) and all pieces of chicken are cooked through and tender. I say fork tender, meaning you can stick a fork in the meat and it easily turns.
Smothered chicken makes the most fabulous gravy. If you need to thicken the gravy at the end, just add some cornstarch and whisk it around really good. My gravy making skills are a work in progress, it’s not an exact process and just had to be learned. I am still learning. You will want to remove your smaller pieces of chicken like the legs and wings so they don’t fall apart while the other pieces finish getting tender. Just remove them and put them on a plate and set aside. Sha small pieces of chicken being removed from the party, but they can come back later!!!
*Fun fact, when I was growing up, I would swear when I moved out I would never make rice again. That I would serve only mashed potatoes. My daddy would laugh to himself and basically say “don’t invite me then, my baby.” Ha ha! I am literally eating those words. My Momou gave me a rice pot as my first wedding gift. It’s a must have!
We recently got a huge bag of rice from some good friends who have a rice farm. The rice is so fabulous and smells so good cooking, it is absolutely worth getting some if you can. Their website is http://www.bakerfarms.net and you can actually order a bag of rice if you want to. I have eaten a lot of rice my days, my thighs and rear end can attest to that, but this rice is unique. It’s aromatic and it cooks up perfectly every time!!!
That’s my little rice side note. But it’s important because what good is that gravy if there is no cooked rice?!! Exactly!!!
I want to say thank you to all of my loyal readers. For your encouragement and sticking with me when I was not sure if I needed or wanted to continue blogging. Thanks for inspiring me. I am glad to know the words I write mean something to so many of you. I am back now and we are only just beginning. Your loyalty means the world to me!!! Thanks for reading! -Aimee
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?
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.
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.
Stir in cooked pasta and season with some good ole sal