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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‚Äôm always this girl

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Garlic roasted chicken legs and veggies and my cousin Robin

I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful cooks in my life. BD always says the women in my family could cook a boot and make it taste good. My Momee always made the most simple things taste delicious. I have given y’all her cornbread dressing recipe…probably one of my favorite foods ever…link to recipe is here https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/11/24/momees-cornbread-dressing/. She was the hardest working, strongest woman I have ever known, always had a bit of old Hollywood glamour about her even in the worst of times, and could cook like nobodies’ business. My daughter Aubrey has always reminded me of her. She loves baubles, hats and fancy dresses…just like Momee. Aubrey is fascinated with Princess Kate, and I know that has to be genetic. She has a flair just like Momee. That makes me so happy. Another wonderful thing that came from her is my relationship with my cousin Robin. She is about 2 years older than me and was one of those cousins who was more like a sister growing up. Definitely a good friend of mine. We ended up living together during college at Northwestern, a time I wouldn’t trade for all the money in the world. She has always been able to make me laugh harder than almost anyone. We were in each other’s weddings and she is very special to me. We share the same middle name (Marie) just like our moms do. She has always been there. Even now, I know she is just a call or text away.

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we always had so much fun together. Popee is playing his guitar, Momee is clapping and singing, we are dancing. We danced a lot. Circa 1979ish

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at my bridal shower, 2001.

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Robin and I with our daughters, Ava (her’s) and Kayla Ann (mine) at my sister Jenny’s bridal shower, 2005

So these days we mostly communicate via text and I am so glad for that. She probably isn’t because I text her whenever I hear Billy Squier’s The Stroke. Yes. Because we always danced to that song in Momee’s red room (I told y’all she was fancy…the rooms in her house each had a distinct color). She laughs at my elephant like memory and we laugh at the memories we share. She is the one friend I do not remember my life without. She has always been there. So yesterday I had an envie for Momee’s chicken and potatoes. I did not grow up in Marksville, though we were there a lot, but Robin did. So naturally she spent more time at Momee’s house than I did. So I thought she might remember how Momee made this dish. I texted her and sure enough, she had a few ideas. And every year at Thanksgiving, she will inevitably text or call or Facebook me a question about Momee’s cornbread dressing. It’s amazing how recipes can keep us connected that way. I am certainly glad for every tie I have to her. I am certainly blessed to have her presence in my life. She is still one of the funniest people I know and I can laugh just thinking about things we used to do. Even through texts she cracks me up. So between her tips and a random recipe I found, I managed to recreate Momee’s chicken and potatoes to some extent. It was delicious. And I think y’all will love it. I made a few changes, but managed to still get that awesome taste that brought me back to the good ole days in Broulliette, sitting at one of Momee’s picnic tables under the carport on a Saturday with Robin, eating this deliciously simple meal. I hope y’all enjoy this too.~AMB

Garlic roasted chicken and veggies

serves 6

Stuff you need~

1/2 stick of butter
10 chicken legs (you can use boneless thighs too)
6 red potatoes, cut into chunks
10 brussel sprouts, bottom cut off and then halved
2 carrots, peeled and then cut into pieces
10 or so cloves of garlic, (I used a big garlic pod and separated it out) peeled and then kind of smashed to release the flavor (under a knife turned sideways works well…it just flattens somewhat)
Olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt and black pepper
Garlic powder

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chunks o’ potatoes

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big garlic pod

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separated into cloves

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mmmm melted butter soaking up that garlicky goodness

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat the oven to 350. Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Momee always used a big silver pan to make hers’…that I remember. Throw peeled garlic cloves in the butter and kind of work those garlic cloves into the butter. Just give it a good toss. Now, place your chicken legs or pieces in the butter. Neither one of us could remember if Momee used legs or thighs but ended up thinking that she used both, either and probably whatever she had as she was resourceful and practical that way. God bless Beulah Mae. ūüôā
Ok now toss the veggies in there. Now sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder. That is one thing Robin remembered…Momee used lots of garlic powder and pepper. Using your hands or a spoon if you must, work the chicken and veggies into all that seasoning and buttery garlic goodness. Sprinkle again with seasoning and toss around again to ensure everything gets seasoned well. They become a happy family. There you go. Next I gave it all a nice drizzle of olive oil and popped it in the oven. The smell is amazing as it cooks. I cooked this for about 40 minutes on the middle rack and it was perfect! Crispy, seasoned perfection. Momee would be proud of us cousin!

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we are never far apart. Thank God for technology.

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Momee would be proud I do believe!

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this picture always makes me laugh. She is so silly.

Heavenly Balsamic pot roast

 

 

 

 

 

 

¬†So this here’s a story a little pot roast that could. ¬†It was a good little pot roast. ¬†It had dreams of being more. ¬†And it was. ¬†It had dreams of being all dressed up in a balsamic sauce and being cooked in a crock pot along with his friends carrots, onions, and celery. ¬†Ok, kidding aside, because I am pretty sure that joking around about balsamic anything is a capital crime. ¬†Because balsamic anything is awesome and should be revered and coddled and loved and praised. ¬†I have posted my mother in law’s excellent pot roast recipe before and that is my go to recipe. ¬†If you have never made it, check it out here~https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/06/17/tonight-is-a-roast-night/. ¬†Making that recipe is like putting on a comfortable pair of jeans, which ironically I find rather hard to do after eating a serving of pot roast and rice and gravy. ¬†ha ha! ¬†But the other day, I was scanning Pinterest and came across a recipe for their balsamic pot roast and thought, “oh my. ¬†that is a super idea. ¬†Big Daddy would love that.” ¬†You can see that post here~ http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/09/slow-cooker-balsamic-pot-roast-recipe.html. ¬† Well, continuing to scan Pinterest (see how I do that? ¬†I scan it. ¬†That makes me feel like I am not wasting time and I am not on Pinterest…just scanning, ya’ll…scanning. ¬†I can quit at anytime I want. ¬†Wait, I think that is what addicts say…oh my.) and I saw another recipe for regular pot roast by PW about her perfect pot roast. ¬†You can check that out here…http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/2008_the_year_of_the_pot_roast/. ¬†I could not decide which one to make. ¬†Pioneer Woman is always a safe bet because she knows her stuff. ¬†But I love those six sisters too. ¬†And, their pot roast had balsamic vinegar in theirs’, which kind of amps up the yummy a couple of notches. ¬†Plus, theirs was made in the slow cooker. ¬†I know you peeps love a good slow cooker recipe, so I took what I loved about both and combined them into one delightful, fantabulous, knock your socks off pot roast. ¬†You are welcome friends. ¬†I made a batch of mashed potatoes to go with that heavenly thick balsamic flavored gravy and also warmed up some of those Sister Schubert rolls aka they are worth it carbs. ¬†My baby boy can eat nearly the whole pan. ¬†I will add this…use one of those rolls to sop up that ridiculously good gravy and you will be in hog heaven. ¬†But I don’t have to tell ya’ll that, do I? ¬†No. ¬†Because if you are following my blog, you know all about the good stuff in life. ¬†Wink Wink! ¬†See what I did there? ¬†I gave you a compliment and me a compliment at the same. ¬†Because let’s face it. ¬† We both rock!! ¬†Now, on to this pot roast that I have been yammering on and on about. ¬†Is your mouth watering yet? ¬†Let’s get to it baby!!

Heavenly Balsamic Pot Roast 

Stuff you need~

4-5 pound beef chuck roast

2 or 3 small onions (peeled and then cut in half from root to tip)

5 or 6 carrots, not peeled (PW says to maintain their rustic quality and I agree…damn good. Give it a try), just cut them into about 2 inch pieces, discarding the ends

3 stalks of celery, cut into 2 inch pieces

olive oil and a pat of butter

kosher salt and black pepper

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I used 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and  1/4 cup balsamic glaze my mother in law gave me but I also saw it at World Market aka my mothership the other day just FYI)

1 cup tomato juice

1 can beef broth (reduced sodium)

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic or 3 cloves if you are going the “I chop my own garlic here me roar!!” route

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons warm water

What to do with the stuff~

Turn the heat under a big ole skillet to medium. ¬†Now, melt the pat of butter (about a Tablespoon if you need that measurement…you little control freak…that’s why we get along because I am one too so I get it!) and about 2 Tablespoons olive oil nice and warm. ¬†Now, add in only your onion . ¬†You want to get the onion lightly browned on one side and then with a pair of tongs, flip it to the other side and do the same thing…a minute or so on each side will do. ¬†Remove them from the skillet. ¬†Add in your carrots and give them a good toss in the olive oil/butter combo. ¬†About a minute or so is perfection. ¬†Good girl. ¬†Or boy. ¬†Now, put the little browned unpeeled, so rustic and lovely carrots in the plate with the onions and tell them to hang tight. ¬†Wait, what? ¬†You don’t talk to your food. ¬†Is that weird? ¬†Then I don’t either. ¬†Now, back to this lovely pot roast. ¬†Yes, yes, I am getting to that. ¬†Now, take that hunk of meat and rub it down with olive oil. ¬†Give it a good rub down on both sides. Now, season the mess out of that thing with good old kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. Now, I took some dried rosemary and sprinkled some of that on each side. ¬†Ok, now if your skillet needs more olive oil, add some because we are going to brown our roast. ¬†With a pair of tongs, place it in the still medium hot oil. ¬†Brown it on every side, about a minute or so each side. ¬†Flip, brown, flip, brown, got it? ¬†Ok. ¬†Remove that roast from the skillet and set it on a plate. ¬†Whisk in the beef broth and make sure to remove any little brown bits from the bottom of the skillet, pan, what have you. ¬†This is your gremille and it makes your gravy richer and just better. ¬†Let this kind of simmer a few minutes and then whisk in the tomato juice, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. ¬†Continue to let this luscious mixture simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can hang out and get comfortable with one another. ¬†They can make friends. ¬†When you are going to hang out in a crock pot for 6 or 7 hours, you want to get to know your tomato juice. ¬†Just saying. ¬†

Ok, now you are going to spray a 6 quart crock pot lightly with some cooking spray. ¬†Put your lovely browned roast in there. ¬†Toss the carrots, onions, and celery in there. ¬†Now, using caution so you don’t burn yourself, slowly pour the balsamic magic liquid on top of the meat and veggies. ¬†Now, cook on low for 7-8 hours. ¬†Your slow cooker may take longer, so add time accordingly. When you can stick a fork in the roast and twist and it falls apart, you are ready. ¬†

Now for the luscious gravy…yes you will want to do this. ¬†Skim as much of the fat off the top of the liquid as you can. ¬†Now, pour about 2 cups of the balsamic magic liquid into a medium sized sauce pan. ¬†Bring it to a low boil over medium low heat. ¬†In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until well combined. ¬†Whisk this into the balsamic liquid. ¬†Let it simmer for a few minutes until it thickens a bit. ¬†You will have some fabulous gravy ya’ll. ¬†Roll soppin worthy gravy. ¬†Spoon this liberally over the meat and the mashed potatoes. ¬†So. ¬†Dang. ¬†Good. ¬†Enjoy. ¬†Take a bow. ¬†Enjoy your moment in the spotlight because YOU are AWESOME!!!~AMB

 

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Oh sweet little onions, I have big plans for you.

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Carrots, unpeeled…carrots gone wild.

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Sit there and look pretty my darlings

 

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Giving my roast a lovely little seasoning rubdown. 

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Remember…brown, flip, brown, flip

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Balsamic magic liquid 

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Ready to be more…ready to become a balsamic pot roast. ¬†MMMMMM

 

 

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Ready to be covered in that lovely gravy.  Mouth watering.