Tag Archives: Cajun mama

Creamy tomato basil tortellini and my can do attitude 

Oh it’s been a long few weeks. The kiddos all started school and we started out strong! We really did! Spirits were high. Hopes were higher. It’s gonna be awesome! Back to school. Back to a routine. We can so do this!! 


And then the first Friday my oldest started running fever because of a fever virus and it snowballed from there. Two of my other kiddos got sick and then again on Friday, my oldest was running fever…AGAIN! Back to the doctor’s office we went. This time it was a sinus infection. Sometimes being a mom means feeling like maybe I just cannot win. I know, I know, allowing myself to get defeated is not the answer. But oh it’s easy to slip into that frame of mind when there is a sick child at home every other day. Not sure what I thought would happen when I had 4 kiddos back to back, but days like that were not anywhere on my radar. Ah the innocence of new motherhood. Then there’s been adjustment to new schools and the back to school routine. I have 3 kiddos at new schools this year and it’s been so wonderful, but even good change is change none the less. It’s all a matter of adjusting. And we are. Throw in some home repair disasters, leaking air conditioner, an aching back and just LIFE…and that leads to a big ole case of TGIF! I was in that frame of mind when I decided to cook up today’s recipe. I had seen it is floating around Facebook (my friends know good food!) and I knew I had to make it. Creamy, basil, pasta, can make at home so going out is unnecessary. Which is good because I was over being around a bunch of people and also taking 6 people out to dinner is not cost effective. At all. It’s pretty dang pricey actually. So this was right up my ally. And oh it was creamy delicious perfection. Comfort food at its very carbolicious best! But on the upside it is chock full of spinach and tomatoes. So at least it packs a nutritional punch (ah silver lining!!). I am so glad I decided to make this. You will not be disappointed! Yum. Just yum! Now if I can just get back in the back to school, take the bull by the horns attitude….kind of like my younger two in this pic…

they have the world by the tail…wish I could bottle that confidence

Creamy tomato basil tortellini (recipe adapted from http://www.tiphero.com

Stuff you need~

2 tablespoons butter 

1 small onion diced 

4 cloves (or more!!) garlic, minced 

3 tablespoons flour 

1 1/4 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream 

6 ounce package of baby spinach 

1 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, juice and all  

3 tablespoons basil 

3/4 finely shredded Parmesan 

20 ounce package tortellini (I used Italian sausage but use whatever kind you want) 

Salt and pepper to taste 

Red pepper flakes 

What to do with the stuff~k

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and then set aside. 

Melt butter in a large skillet. Sauté onion in butter until tender. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Now you will make a kind of sort of roux. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Pour in the milk and half and half. Whisk or stir over low heat until it begins to simmer. 

Toss in the baby spinach, tomatoes and basil. Season with salt and pepper. 


Stir until spinach is wilted and sauce is thickened. 


Stir in Parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove sauce from heat. Toss tortellini with sauce. Garnish with chili pepper flakes and Parmesan. 


Yum. Just yum. Enjoy! Here’s to another week coming…I can do this!!

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McDonald’s new chicken nuggets are the real deal…and just another day with my posse 

Some of you may remember that last year the kiddos and I got to test drive the all day breakfast at McDonald’s right before they launched it. It was a huge hit and I got to blog about it. It was a good experience for the kiddos and I. Well not too long ago, Katherine contacted me about the kids (and I) test driving the new chicken nuggets. Or test eating I suppose would be more like it. New chicken nuggets you say?! They’ve been around forever. Yes they have, but they have been revamped y’all. And the end result is pretty dang tasty. What they have done is removed all artificial ingredients in those little nuggets of happiness. They took out many of the  unnecessary things (like food additives) and what remains is simple, more wholesome ingredients. That’s right…chicken McNuggets more the way nature intended them. The result is…wow!! I could taste the difference right away! They are using a better oil to fry them in and even that small difference is noticeable to the most untrained pallet. The taste is cleaner and just pure chicken McNugget delight. My kiddos had a blast!



 And we all got to visit with Katherine with Garrison Advertising and Mrs. Jean at McDonald’s in the area we live in. My bunch had the red carpet rolled out for them and these ladies are just as precious as can be.

It’s a great time every time we visit our local McDonald’s! If you have not had a chance to try the new chicken McNuggets, I highly suggest you stop in and give them a try yourself. You know I love to cook and believe in cooking at home, but knowing when we do decide to have some Micky d’s, that my kids favorite nuggets are tastier and I can know what they are eating is a better option than before, pulling into the drive thru sounds better than ever. 

Now I must talk about my oldest, BHB, aka Ben, aka our wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics, McDonald’s included. The boy loves to eat and is not ashamed to tell you about it. He is a bottomless pit, has a hollow leg, and shows no signs of stopping. He knew about the changes McDonald’s were making to their nuggets before Katherine even contacted me. So when she called, he was all about trying them out and giving his opinion. The kid does love to share his opinions. No clue where he gets that. (Ha ha)  He had a great time eating and chatting Katherine and Mrs. Jean up about the exciting things happening with McDonald’s and giving his two cents. 



It was a great time and the new nuggets (and the company) were amazing. Thanks so much to our local McDonald’s, Mrs. Jean and Katherine for a great experience. 

Crawfish Fettucine…like seriously the best stuff ever 

OOk this is one of my most favorite, tried and true, best recipes. This is the one I trot out when I want to impress and  have my friends begging for more. It’s creamy, it is just spicy enough, it is fabulous. I will be honest and say I don’t remember who I got this recipe from. Maybe my friend Leia, aka Ned, the one who gave me the crawfish pie recipe but maybe it was my sister? I truly cannot remember and if you know me at all, you know how rare that is.  I have a memory like an elephant. I remember it was in college, maybe grad school, and I made it a whole bunch. Anytime my friends and I cooked supper together, this was usually one of the menu items. My friend Cara and I and her roommate Nicole would have this every other week one summer. At the time it seemed like the best recipe in the whole world and so elegant…in some ways it is still that way to me. My little girl, ADB, has loved this for a while and it is probably one of her favorites. So the tradition continues. This recipe deserves all the props it gets, I promise. It’s just that good. I don’t even know where this recipe is written down on paper! I just know it by heart. I guess all important things that have special memories attached to them are etched on your heart.  This recipe certainly qualifies. If you gave me this recipe and you read this post please give me a shout out. I love to give credit where credit is due and y’all know I love to share stories about friends who the recipe comes from.  None the less, just make this crawfish fettucine  and enjoy! This pairs beautifully with a green salad and some garlic bread. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as I have for the longest time now. Grab a good bottle of wine, make this recipe and toast to good friends, wonderful memories, and great food! Nothing better!  

Stuff you need~

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter 

1 small onion, diced 

1 medium bell pepper, diced 

2 stalks celery, diced 

Cajun seasoning (Tony’s…do I have to specify?) 

1 pound crawfish tails *

1 can cream of chicken soup 

1 can cream of mushroom soup 

16 ounces (about half of a big block) queso blanco velveeta with jalapeños (or mexican velveeta…whatever you can find)

half and half 

Cooked fettucine noodles 

What to do with the stuff~

Melt your butter in a big ole skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, and celery in the butter until tender. Sprinkle in a little Tony’s at this point. I read somewhere a while back that adding seasoning at the beginning of the sautéing process tends to deepen the flavor of the seasoning. Works for me! 

Add the minced garlic and sauté another minute or two. Next add your soups and crawfish tails. 

Add your cubed up velveeta and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Next, add a splash of half and half to make this luscious concoction that much creamier. Add a little more because it makes it that much better. Stir, stir, stir. Continue to cook over low heat until the sauce is the consistency you prefer. It will continue to thicken some after you remove it from the heat. Keep that in mind. 


Serve over some cooked fettucine noodles along side some garlic bread to sop up all that sauce the noodles forget. Best. Stuff. Ever!!!!! 

speaking of favorites from my grad school days…still love these ladies. blessed to call them friends.

Dill pickle soup 

So a while back, I got a bug up my butt that I had to try this dill pickle soup recipe I found on http://www.noblepig.com. I get like that ya’ll. I am not a super adventurous gal (unless you consider living life with 4 kids and this wild man of mine an adventure…then I totally am). But my thrill seeking comes out when I cook. Dill pickle soup? Sounds like it could be really good or really bad. Sure! Let’s try it! Why not? And so I did. I mean I think at one point the site crashed because so many people were checking out the recipe.  At least I could not access the recipe for quite a while. I had to know. How can a soup that tastes like dill pickles be good? Plus ya’ll know I love me a good soup. Any day, any time, any weather. Not to mention, ya’ll know where I come from we eat all sorts of stuff, so who am I to judge? People hear me now…this soup is legit. It’s pretty fantastic and worth your time. Unless you don’t like dill pickles. If you don’t, keep on going because this soup could be called cream of pickle soup. But in a good way. I promise. I have had friends ask when in the world I planned to post this recipe on my blog and I have been putting it off. Life has just been so hectic (read normal) and I guess I got lost in it. As I have said before, that is not likely going to get better anytime soon. I just have to adapt to the madness and blog when I can. So I do. But this recipe is worth sharing and kudos to the mastermind at the Noble Pig that came up with this recipe. It is inspired! 

Dill pickle soup (it makes a bunch)

Stuff you need~

5 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 3/4 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and diced 

2 cups carrots, cut into a smaller dice 

1 cup dill pickle (about 3 large whole dill pickles), chopped into a smaller dice 

1/2 unsalted butter

1 cup sour cream

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup water 

2 cups pickle juice 

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (depending on how salty your pickle juice is…they can vary apparently so taste and see before you add salt)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

What to do with the stuff~

In a stock pot, combine broth, potatoes, carrots and butter. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender. Add pickles and continue to boil. 

 

I have pictures for this post!!!
 
In a medium size bowl, stir together flour, sour cream and water, making a paste. 

  
Now vigorously whisk the sour cream paste into the boiling liquid, 2 tablespoons at a time. You will have to whisk somewhat vigorously to get the paste to be incorporated into the liquid. It may break up into some little flour balls and that is ok. They will go away during the cooking process. 

Whisk in pickle juice and the seasonings. 

  
Cook another 30 minutes over medium heat and then serve immediately. Garnish with some dill pickle slices if you really need more pickles at this point. Let me know what you think! Is this complete nonsense or totally inspired? I lean toward the latter! Yummy and definitely a break from the norm! 

Enjoy ya pickle soup, ma Cher! 

in our family, we are almost always ready to let the good times roll! parade or pickle soup, just whenever!

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!!

  

Broccoli cheddar quiche and up way too early 

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 

6 eggs 

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! 
 

Bon Appetit!
 
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!! 
 

Cajun chicken pasta and a happy accident 

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

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

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

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

Cajun chicken pasta 

Stuff you need~ 

1/2 package Tyson frozen grilled sliced chicken breasts 

Cooking oil or olive oil 

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

2 tablespoons butter 

1/2 chunked up  red bell pepper

1/2 chunked up yellow bell pepper 

1 cup heavy whipping cream 

1/4 teaspoon  lemon pepper 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

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

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper 

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

1/2 box of linguine 

What to do with the stuff~

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

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

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

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

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

  

Crock pot fajitas and back to the future 

Did you know that today is back to the future day?! Yep, that day that was on the time machine in the movie….OCTOBER 21, 2015. When I saw this on the news and realized what was up, my very tired mind was effectively blown. We are in the future. The future, according to the movie, is now! 

the truth in this meme will boggle the mind!!

How bizarre. My kids have seen the first movie and all loved it. It was wild for them to get a taste of 80’s life and see what things were like at that time. Aka the olden days when their mom and dad were young. Sigh. But for this whole back to the future day to come and blow my mind…it’s cause for a celebration. It’s not every day we get to be in the future!! This little clip here will get you in the mood to relive the 80’s and head back to the future. (Sounds crazy!)

http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/20/entertainment/back-to-the-future-ii-right-wrong-feat/

Now, being an 80’s girl myself…
 

Me all geared up for my 1st day of kindergarten (circa 1980). side ponytail, satin jacket, socks with sandals, thank you very much! photo credits to my mama
 
 I love to share some 80’s culture with my kiddos. When my sweet ADB chose this as her Halloween costume, I was beyond thrilled!

 

like, totally rad, man!!!
 
So we definitely bring some 80’s flair with us wherever we go. We watch The Goldberg’s every Wednesday night. 80’s on 8 in the car, yes! Until they get enough and ask to hear some T. Swift. And I cannot complain since her newest album, eh em, I mean CD, very much gives a nod to the 80’s. It is called 1989. Music to this mama of tweens and preteens ears!! Bliss!! 

So to say that today is something to celebrate even just a bit in this house is a bit of an understatement. But truth is, and ya’ll know it, I look for stuff to celebrate. Big Daddy loves fajitas and here lately whenever I ask what he wants for supper, he says fajitas at home. We have figured out how to make some really awesome homemade fajitas on the grill but on a night when I want to get homework and baths done so we can indulge in family movie night, that seems like too much work. Or maybe because I have had sick kids at home for a week and I am tired. Either way…crockpot fajitas seemed like a nice compromise. Let’s just say I picked a crock pot recipe as a throw back to the 80’s. I didn’t, but let’s pretend I am that clever. 

So I bought some wholly guacamole and sour cream to make these just right. My oldest, BHB, is home from school for one last day  after a bout with walking pneumonia and he insisted I serve rice and beans as the perfect sides to these fajitas. Happy to see him getting his appetite back, so I gladly obliged. 

 Speaking of getting his appetite back…

indulging in hot krispy kreme donuts, yeah, he is feeling more like himself. so glad!!
 
So crockpot fajitas, rice and beans it is!!! I found the recipe I used can be found here…Slow cooker fajita recipe . My fajitas are cooking now, so no final pic yet. I can smell them as I type and man they smell terrific. I cannot wait! So let’s get to it so you can enjoy some too! In the present or the future…or will it be in the past now? 

Slow cooker fajitas 

Stuff you need~

2 cans Rotel (original recipe called for 1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles…I read it wrong..so I improvised with 2 cans of Rotel) 

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts 

1 onion, sliced 

1 red, orange and yellow bell pepper sliced julienne style 

4 cloves minced garlic (2 teaspoons of the jarred minced garlic)

2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 teaspoon paprika 

3/4 teaspoon coriander (I did not have any so I omitted) 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

3/4 teaspoon black pepper 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or the bottled stuff…we are in the future…do your thing) 

1 tablespoon honey 

What to do with the stuff~

Pour one can of Rotel into the slow cooker. Next layer half of the sliced bell peppers and onion. Add the garlic to the mix too. 

  

Now add your chicken breasts on top of this. 

  
Combine all those precious spices into a small bowl,

  
 and then sprinkle half over one side of  the chicken breasts.

   

Now flip those chicken bosoms over and sprinkle the rest of the spice mixture over the other side. Toss the rest of the sliced onions and bell peppers on top of the bosoms. (My friend Kylie always called chicken breasts chicken bosoms and it makes me giggle. )  

 Cook on low for for 6-8 hour or high for 3-4 hours. Cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Now if you want to be able to slice the chicken breasts, err on the side of cooking them a shorter amount of time. This is according to original recipe poster. You can shred the chicken too. Just be aware that at a certain loon the chicken is too tender to slice and shredding is only option. I cannot imagine that’s a bad thing. Anywho, remove chicken breasts from slow cooker and slice or shred. Ladle out 1 cup of liquid and discard. In a bowl, whisk together lime juice and honey.  Return the chicken to the slow cooker and pour the luscious honey lime concoction over the veggie Chicken mixture. Give it a gentle stir and season to taste if you think it needs it. Serve in warmed tortillas topped with the fixins of your choosing. Fa-ji-tas!!! From the slow Cooker. Ah the future is indeed NOW! 

Now to get some Pepsi to drink with our meal. Ah I miss the 80’s!!! 

Chicken and rice soup, banana bars, and all that matters is family 

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. 

 

sooouuup
 
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…

so much love…

Now for the banana bars!!!
 

his reminder to me…since we had some bananas that were super ripe
 
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. 

Banana bars 

Stuff you need~

For the bars~

1/2 cup butter, softened 

1 1/2 cup sugar 

1 cup sour cream 

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) 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. 

 

see that consistency (and powdered sugar lumps ?)
 
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!

 

my baby snacking on banana bars in the deer stand during a youth hunt. thank God for banana bars and weekends!!!
 E

Mrs. Sandra giving BD a big mama bear hug at our wedding. so much love!
 
Now we all just wait for another weekend to roll around! God save the weekend!! Hope everyone has a great week.