Tag Archives: bacon

Hungarian goulash and Going home

We are on winter break over here and while our money is crazy tight, I have people to feed over here! They somehow ask for food 3 times a day!! Go figure! So the other day I was looking at what all I had to make something for supper and I thought of one of the throwback recipes from my childhood. My mama would make this on the regular when I was growing up. My daddy is definitely a meat and potatoes sort of guy and he always liked this. I’m not sure but I’m betting Bernie still makes this for Stephen from time to time. I am sure I never appreciated her cooking when I was growing up like I do now. In fact, if I am being completely honest, I am betting I turned my nose up at this recipe when she cooked it. Hungarian goulash and Mulligan stew…two recipes I distinctly remember being not my favorites. Funny how times change. I actually made this recipe a few times when I was in college. Yes, I cooked this sort of stuff for Big Daddy in college. But for whatever reason, it has been a while since I made this goulash. And that’s a shame because it is so simple and really an economical meal (if you get the meat on sale…like a chuck roast on sale and cut it into chunks). The recipe calls for round steak or stew meat but this time Big Daddy asked me to use the elk stew meat our friend, Linc, had given him. I obliged, though I was hesitant. I’m not a fan of wild meat. And yes I grew up in a family where it was served often. My daddy is a big hunter and fisherman. We are Cajun and that means we eat all sorts of crazy stuff. Funniest story…when I was about 14 and my sisters were about 9, 7, and 5 daddy had come home from a weekend at his camp in Spring Bayou. He has brought home a mess of squirrels to cook. For the record, squirrel and rabbit are my least favorite game to eat. And I can make that statement with knowledge of how it tastes. At this point in my life, my parents had given up on trying to make me eat and just let me eat the rice and gravy and vegetables. But my sisters still enjoyed it and were not bothered. They enjoyed because it tasted good (my daddy can cook some game), but just the thought of it made my stomach turn. So they are sitting there eating the squirrel my daddy had cooked at the bar in our newly built house. Happy little clams. I was 14 or 15 and wanted to be heard, so I start up. “That’s squirrel y’all are eating. Daddy killed them this weekend and then cooked them.” My daddy, who I am sure wanted to smack me, promptly sent me to my room. I used to swear I’d never marry a man who hunted or ever make rice and gravy again when I moved out that house. I’m 0 for 2 y’all. Needless to say, the fact that I married an ole country boy who is of the “shoot it, stuff it or marry it” mentality (thanks Steel Magnolias!) is quite comical. And now I’m over here in north Louisiana making Hungarian goulash using elk stew meat. Yep. You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans!!! Life is funny that way! I’ll be the first to admit that elk stew meat was just delicious in this goulash. I just had to not think about it. When you’re on a budget, you are grateful for any extra meat you can work into a recipe that did not cost money! So thanks Linc! This goulash makes the kitchen smell so good when it’s cooking and it basically cooks itself. This recipe was actually in a box of handwritten recipes my Aunt Gay has given my mom when she and my dad got married. It’s tucked away in my recipe box and I think as great as Pinterest and google are, there’s something so poignant and wonderful about making a recipe that was handwritten in 1972 out of love for a newly married couple. It’s a dying art that we cannot let go of. It is ironic that the older I get, the more I cling to what I come from. What I know. The kids and I went to visit my mama and daddy in Alexandria the other day and I realized the closer I got to home, the more myself I felt. That is where I am from. That is who I am at my core. Southern Maid donuts will never cut it for me. I am a Shipley’s girl. Chocolate filled thank you very much. My kids agree they are the best.

There is something comforting about going back home…kids in tow

This recipe is so simple it will surprise you. I hope you will make it and enjoy it. You can use deer meat as well.

Hungarian Goulash (circa 1972)

Stuff you need~

8 strips of bacon, raw

2 pounds of stew meat cut into chunks

1 onion, peeled and cut into thick slices

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices

6 carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices

Plenty of salt and pepper

THAT’S IT!!!!

What to do with the stuff~

Layer the bacon slices at the bottom of a thick bottomed Dutch oven. You need one with a lid that fits nice and tight. I basically laid the bacon to cover the bottom one way and then laid slices across those slices the other way to fully cover the bottom. You will be amazed at how the bacon flavors this whole dish.

Next lay your cubed stew meat over the bacon. Salt and pepper well. Next layer the thick slices of onion rings over the meat. Salt and pepper well. Next potatoes, then carrots. Salt and pepper between layers. Add enough water to basically cover the meat. Then cover with tight fitting lid. Cook on low until water cooks out and meat is done. Basically about 2 1/2 -3 hours. This dish basically cooks itself but make sure to keep an eye. You might add water if needed. I did not have to.

Serve with a green salad and some brown n serve rolls (the only kind we made in my house growing up mop tit!) and you’re good to go. Cornbread would be good in place of brown n serve rolls, that’s up to you! Some sweet tea and you are good, boo!

Enjoy the simplicity and basic goodness of this recipe!!

The goulash before I put lid on and started to cook it
Me and my original ride or dies…my sisters. About 1996. I’m always this girl

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Pastalaya and friendships that last

Funny thing about how friendships transpire.  Especially friendships between mommies.  You meet so many times, over and over, again.  Usually in a rush.  Frazzled.  Looking for one kid while nursing another.  Then you factor in personalities, the time it takes to develop a friendship and it is a wonder mommies ever make friends.  We see the same people all the time, yet it seems hard to establish a good friendship.  But sometimes, you get lucky.  Even after several awkward run ins and very different personalities, you get lucky enough to get a glimpse of her.  You know who I am talking about.  The woman she is.  Actually, the girl.  That person she was before she had 1,2,3,4 kids and was exhausted.  And you really like her.  And your kids just love one another.  And because you are both displaced Central and South Louisiana girls living in Shreveport, you form a close bond and form some sort of pseudo family.   That is what happened between my very dear, probably one of my best, friends, Betsy.  I won’t go in to much more of our back story, as it is long, but what you need to know is how very much I love her and that even though they now live in South Louisiana and we don’t talk as much as we used to (every day, numerous times) she is always with me in some form or fashion.  I am so grateful for our friendship and that we still remain very much a part of one another’s lives.  One thing we bonded over  was recipes.  Betsy loves to eat.  She will tell you that.  I am pretty sure she has a hollow leg, but that chick likes good food.  Her husband is a man of several talents.  Surgeon during the week and on the weekends he becomes super dad and chef extraordinaire.  I am not sure if every surgeon knows their way around a kitchen like he does and comes with awesome recipes like he does…but this guy has it.  So of course, friend wise, I hit the double jackpot.  So one day when Betsy was preggers with her fourth baby and we worked together at a local Mother’s Day Out, she brought out two Glad containers full of something so delicous I could not even stand it.  Pastalaya.  Say what?  Yes, you heard me.  Take out the rice from jambalaya and add in pasta and you have this amazing dish.  Matt had made some and she wanted to share.  I told ya’ll she is a good friend.  I wanted this recipe.  I needed it.  I was forcefully driven to get it.  Make it.  Could I?  Did I dare?  Could I recreate the deliciousness that was Pastalaya?  Well, I was dang sure going to try.  So, I did.  And it was so good.  So now, even though we are miles apart, when I want to make this dish, I pull out the food stained sheet of paper with the recipe Matt wrote for me in his handwriting.  And I feel a little closer to them.  I miss her, them, still terribly.  It is not the same but it is still there.  Good friendships never die.  They are solidified in memories and smiles and good times and if you are lucky, some really delicious recipes.  So, today I share not only a recipe for Pastalaya with you.  I share the joy, good times, and memories that come along with it.  Even still, when our two families are able to get together (that would be 8 kids and 4 adults), we enjoy good food and more love and laughter than our hearts can hold.  It took us a while to make that connection, but thank heavens, it stuck.  I hope that you make it for some people you know really well or hope to get to know better…I can’t promise it will create an Aimee/Betsy bond, but it dang sure can’t hurt.  Special friends, like really special recipes, don’t come along that often, but when they do…you should hold on to them. ~AMB

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Two of our sweet girls on Halloween 2011

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Our boys, Halloween, same year

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Our collective bunch 2013…that’s a lot of kiddos…and a lot of love

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I love her…that is all.  She is better than pastalaya.  

Matt’s Pastalaya 

Stuff you Need:

1 pack bacon

1 pack andouille sausage

1 pack boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 cans chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)

2 cans cream of mushroom

1 onion, chopped

1-2 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet (this can be found near the condiments usually)

a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Tony’s seasoning, to taste

12 oz. of UNCOOKED thin spaghetti

What to do with the stuff:

Cut your bacon, sausage, and chicken thighs to bite size pieces.  Cook on medium high heat in a large pot.  Add a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce and a few shakes of Tony’s while the meat is cooking.  When the meats are almost cooked, stir in chopped onion.  Let this cook for a few minutes until onions are tender and meat is completely done.  Now, stir in chicken broth.  Let this sit for 5 minutes.  Stir in a teaspoon or two of Kitchen Bouquet (Matt always says a cap full of so) to darken.  Next, stir in the cream of mushroom and let this all sit for about 5 minutes.  Now, you are going to add the uncooked pasta and let this all cook on a low fire until the noodles are tender.  I give mine a few quick stirs during the cooking process to make sure nothing is sticking.  Serve with a lovely green salad and some garlic bread.  Let the inner Cajun in you rejoice!!!

*I am making this dish this weekend, so I will take a nice photo to post for ya’ll!!!

Cajun Mama Special Potatoes

Pregnancy can do some crazy things to a woman.  4 pregnancies in 5 years can really do some stuff.  Those 5 years were full of many things.  Joy, tears, worry, excitement, anticipation, love, laughter, tears, snuggles, cravings, chaos and oh yeah…potatoes.  Not just any potatoes my friends…my SPECIAL potatoes.  These special potatoes were an evolution of sorts.  This recipe came about long before Cajun Mama Cooks and back when I didn’t cook as much as I do now.

I have always loved twice baked potatoes and in college I used to buy the…gasp…frozen kind.  I know.  Yikes!!  But I liked them.  And then we got married and I started cooking more.  Money was tight and I figured I would give it a try making them on my own.  So I would bake potatoes and scoop them out and make the filling and then put it back in.  They were pretty good but then I got pregnant and then pregnant again.  And again.  My morning sickness was constant and severe and potatoes seemed to make me feel better.  I wanted to swim in a big ole bowl of stuffed potatoes.  Big Daddy really got into grilling and we loved those potatoes with whatever he grilled, but all that scooping and filling was not my bag.  Plus with a bunch of little precious darlings/minions running around, who had time for that?  Not me.  So one day, I was going to make mashed potatoes so I peeled and cut up a bunch of potatoes and boiled them.  But being an impulsive, hungry, pregnant (again) woman…I decided to make what is now affectionately known as my special potatoes.  Oh ya’ll…they are so good.  The beauty of these potatoes is that they are the perfect side dish.  They are laid back enough for barbecue but pretty enough to go on the side of prime rib roast.  They go so well with either.  Or maybe I say this because I have found a way to cook them all year round, regardless of the season.  Oh well…they are really good and 3/4 of my kiddos love them, making them miraculous potatoes in my book.  And I have picked up a few short cuts and tweaked this recipe a bit to where they are almost perfect.

My old neighbor and dear friend , Stacie,  LOVES these potatoes and when I made them I would  bring her some leftovers to take for her lunch at work the next day whenever I could.  She is still my loyal and wonderful friend  after all these years, even though she has seen me through 2 pregnancies and been there with all 4 kids crying at the same time…so maybe these are magical potatoes.  She still comes around even though we have moved.  They really are that good.  So give them a try and at the very least your kids or husband/wife or both might just go into a carb coma after they eat a bowl of these.  You will get some quiet time.  Magical potatoes indeed.  No really, make them.  You will be so happy you did.

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I want to grab a big ole serving spoon and gobble them up!!!

Cajun Mama’s Special Potatoes

Makes about 8-10 servings, depending on size of serving.

Ingredients

1 package of Ore-Ida steam and mash potatoes (found by frozen french fries) cooked according to package directions

OR

6 medium sized potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until tender then drained. (I use the steam and mash whenever possible.  If you have not bought these before you should try them…takes all prep work out of mashed potatoes but they are real potatoes…not boxed)

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 stick butter

2 green onions, chopped (green parts only)

5 slices of bacon, fried and then crumbled ( I have used real bacon crumbles before when pressed for time…just keeping it real folks. 🙂

kosher salt and black pepper

Tony’s seasoning

2  cups cheddar cheese, evenly divided

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

Cook your potatoes, whichever kind you decide to use.  While they are still hot, dump them into the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.  Add sour cream.  You can add more or less depending on your taste.  Add salt and pepper and tony’s, about 1/2 tsp. of each.  You can more later to taste if you wish.  Mix on low speed until well combined.  Add more salt and pepper, tony’s  or sour cream if you want at this point. Add green onions, crumbled bacon  and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and mix until this is all combined.

Taste for seasoning and add to it if you wish.  Add in some Tony’s at this point too.  Again, according to your tastes.

Transfer the potatoes to your greased dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and all bubbly.  Serve on the side of whatever meat dish will ultimately pale in comparison to these special delicious wonderful fantastic potatoes.  I really love these potatoes if I have not made that clear.

Hope ya’ll love them as much as I do.