Tag Archives: chicken

Keto chicken nuggets and the best summer ever

So…long time no post and I know it my friends. What can I say? It’s been so busy. And as I have said numerous times before…it’s not going to slow down. And that’s ok. I’m accepting it. I have an almost 9th grader, almost 8th grader, almost 6 grader, and almost 4th grader. We ended the school year with a bang and the summer has just been so fantastic.

My 4 kiddos having fun in Perdido!

We’ve spent time with precious friends and family.

Me and my sisters during a rare dinner out together
All of the 12 cousins oldest to youngest

Big Daddy even got to fly to Colorado to see his brother, his wife and kiddos. He had a great time and could not believe the change in weather between Louisiana and Colorado! They sleep with the windows open and some homes don’t even have air conditioning! That’s so crazy!

Proud to say my sweet brother in law bring Cajun Mama Cooks recipes to Colorado! That’s the best!!

We have certainly logged some miles so far this summer but I am so grateful the summer is not over yet!

It was a wonderful 4th of July!

We have more ground to cover. We have a house for sale…we decided it was time to let our rent house go. It’s time to close that chapter in our lives. And we feel a great peace with it. So before I get to these delicious keto chicken nuggets and the recipe….I’m going to share the link to our house. This is a home we lived in from 2004-2012. We raised our kiddos and brought two home from the hospital to that house. So it’s pretty special and I just know this house is perfect for someone out there. So I’m sharing here.

See what I mean? Great little house and so many wonderful memories made there. I’d love to find the perfect owners for it who are ready to make new memories there. Here’s the listing if you’re interested.

But back to these chicken nuggets y’all. These. Chicken. Nuggets! My oldest kids kiddo says they are an abomination and are against nature but I’m here to say to you they are so good. They have a KFC or Chick Fil A crunch and are nugget perfection. I used the Marzetti’s ranch which is super low carb and so freaking good. My kids call it the “good ranch” 😂😂. These little tasty bits of heaven completely fill my craving for nuggets. If you’re following the keto way of eating, doing low carb, or just love nuggets…this is an excellent recipe!

I found this recipe circulating around Facebook. It’s from keto-daily.com. This recipe is genius! Only thing I’d maybe do differently is add more salt and take down the slice a notch. But it’s still fantastic as is. Making it even better, the original poster listed the carbs as 1 gram of carbs per 8 ounce serving!!! Nice!

Keto chicken nuggets

Stuff you need~

2 pounds of chicken tenderloins or breasts, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 egg

1 bag plain pork rinds

What to do with the stuff~

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Crush your pork rinds. You can put your pork rinds in a Ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them. I used my Pampered Chef manual food processor to do the trick. Easy peasy and made my pork rinds into perfect breading!

3. Cut your chicken into about 1 inch pieces.

4. Mix together the seasonings and roll your cut up chicken pieces in that seasoning.

5. Whisk the egg, Dijon mustard, and mayo together in large bowl.

6. Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the mayo mustard mixture. Coat the pieces well. Don’t make it hard. Just put the chicken in the bowl and use your clean hands to coat the pieces.

7. Add your crushed pork rinds to a sealable bag or big ole bowl and just coat those chicken pieces with the pork rind breading.

8. Take a big ole baking sheet, (I use my half sheet size baking sheet) cover with a piece of foil. Then add a cooling rack over the foil. Believe it or not, I didn’t have one of these before today. I’ve been needing one and the original poster said it was necessary ensure crispness of these nuggets. So glad I listened!!

9. Lay your pork rind coated nuggets on top of the cooling rack. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or so.

10. Remove from oven and let them cool as long as you can stand it and enjoy!! I just dipped mine in ranch (the “good ranch” 😂)

Advertisements

Cheesy asparagus stuffed chicken and this dish is just good

I promised this one a while back on my Cajun Mama Cooks Facebook page…I know. For shame. I wrote it up. I actually had a whole long verbose post written up in honor of the new year. It was very sentimental and touching…I just erased it. Yep. I did. An hour of work gone. I erased it. It was all too poignant and I was feeling it that day but now not so much. Today I’m feeling the saying “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present.” I’m so grateful to be able to tell you about this chicken dish, so many blessings to give God thanks for, so much joy to tell of that it would take one million blog posts. So I’ll just say this chicken dish is so tasty, you have to try it! When I make this for my family, I eat only this. To make it a meal for my family, I make a starchy side because they think it is necessary…non keto people…what can I say 🙄. But it is a perfectly delicious meal. And you can always just cook a plain chicken breasts for those kiddos who would balk at asparagus and cheese touching their chicken. How dare you!!! Lol! I found this recipe on Facebook before I was doing keto and I fell in love. I really, really love it since it is on my list of things I can have!! Big daddy, Pappy, and madame toot adore this!! It’s amazing y’all! It’s even good cold the next morning for breakfast…uh, um…my friend told me. 😏

My precious blessings...and at the end of the day one of the few things that matter Cheesy stuffed asparagus chicken~

Stuff you need~

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts<<bis recipe, I use the thicker ones)

4 slices of provolone cheese

Bundle of asparagus, the bottom inch chopped off

Zest of 1 lemon

Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pink salt and cracked black pepper

What to do with the stuff~ Butterfly your chicken breasts. Do not let this deter you! It’s simple! Put your chicken breasts on your cutting board. Use a sharp knife and yes a little caution. Put one hand firmly over one chicken breasts. Using knife with other hand, slice chicken breast almost in half horizontally. Go from outside to inside. So basically you can open the chicken breast like a book now or opens like a butterflies wings hence the term butterflied.

I am assuming some people do not know how to butterfly the chicken breasts. I know I was reluctant to do it at first. If you know, then skip reading this. Do this with all of your chicken breasts.

Now, you will season the inside of the chicken breasts with all of those spices and add some lemon zest. My Pampered Chef microplane zester always gets the job done perfectly!

Next, you will put 3 pieces of trimmed asparagus and a slice of cheese (I cut mine in half and use it that way. Whole slice per chicken breast but it fits better cut in half). Fold the breast over the cheese and asparagus. Season again with the same spices.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. I use an oven safe skillet so I can do it all in one pan, but you can always transfer to a casserole dish if you want. Preheat oven to 350. Brown the chicken in your melted butter/warmed olive oil over medium heat. You’d rather brown it over lower heat so the cheese does not melt too fast. Brown on both sides. Pop it in oven and continue cooking until chicken is done throughout and no longer pink. Spoon some of those juices over the chicken during the baking process if you want. Yes some of the cheese will melt out of the butterflied chicken. It’s ok. Now on the video I saw when I first discovered this dish, it did not. But I operate in the real world, not smoke and mirrors and I’m telling you some of the cheese will drip out. Life is messy and that is ok!! There is nothing wrong with you! It only matters if you let it!! I usually cook the rest of the asparagus in the bundle right alongside the chicken because I have some asparagus lovers in my house. You do as you wish!

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

I love chicken. I love gravy. I mean I was raised Avoyelles parish style (my parents are both from Marksville, Bluetown and Broulliette to be exact) and loving gravy is just part of my genetic makeup. I think. Maybe it’s not that scientific, but I love of gravy is deeply engrained in me. So now that I have adopted the ketogenic woe, the rice is not on the list of items I choose to eat, I have found a way to make sure I can still have me some gravy. Yay!! Happy cajun girl over here! This is the tastiest, lip smacking, plum larapin’ gravy I think I’ve ever had. My dad says plum larapin when he likes something he is eating so I figured I’d toss that in there. Ha!! Love my daddy. And I love this gravy. This chicken in the gravy is over the top! I serve it over creamed spinach but it would go great with steamed broccoli with a little butter or even a salad. But me, I prefer to eat it over a nice bed of creamed spinach, which I suppose sort of acts like rice for me. All the same…a vehicle for getting that gravy into my mouth!!! I sort of concocted this recipe one night when I had chicken tenders and I wanted something creamy that fit within my macros. Now, if you are strict keto, you might take umbrage with this as a keto recipe, but it’s lazy keto, which is perfect for me. Ok. So this is an easy recipe and comes together fast! Make sure to make enough to have it for lunch the next day…you’ll want it again. Trust me.

Chicken tenders in cajun mama keto gravy

Stuff you need~

Package of chicken tenders

2 tablespoons Real butter

Himalayan pink salt and cracked black pepper

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons Chicken bouillon base

What to do with the stuff~

Melt butter in a sauté pan. I use my pampered chef grill pan and it works perfectly for this. Salt and pepper the chicken tenders on both sides. Add seasoned chicken tenders to the melted butter in the hot skillet. Cook on both sides until nicely browned and no longer pink inside. Remove the chicken from the pan. Stir in the heavy cream. Let this come to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in bouillon base. You can add more to taste if desired. I add just enough to give my gravy that good chicken-y flavor. Once you have the gravy like you want it, add the chicken tenders back in. The “gravy” will thicken up the longer it simmers and the tenders will get more…tender. All in all, a perfect combination of tender tenders and chicken-y gravy. 🤣 I crack myself up! Make up some creamed spinach and you are good to go! Even the carb eaters in my house love this dish! Because it’s delish!

<<
t the best pictures but what can I say? I was ready to dig in!!

Feta, lemon chicken

I’m going to share one of my most favorite, tastiest, healthiest chicken recipes. I found it several years ago in People magazine as part of a get healthy America initiative and was hooked after the first try. It has some serious flavor. I adore feta cheese and green onions already, but when sprinkled on top of the lemony chicken, it is just magical. You can serve this alongside a spinach salad or sliced on top of a bed of greens, or you can serve baked sweet potatoes with it, depending on the different macros you are wanting to hit. This chicken recipe is low carb, filling and taste wonderful as leftovers. Make extra. Now, recently I’ve started using the thin sliced chicken breasts whenever possible. They are a little higher but worth it to me since they cook up better. If I can only find the huge chicken breasts, then I slice the breads in half and pondé (pound) them a little to make them thinner. I hope you will try this and let me know how much you love it.

Lemon Feta Chicken

Stuff you need~

1/4 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice

2 T. Olive oil

1 tsp. Dried oregano

1/4 tsp. Himalayan pink salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I use the thin sliced ones)

8 T. crumbled feta cheese (I use full fat, but do your thing)

4 t. sliced green onions (I use more than this because I adore green onions)

What to do with the stuff~

First off, let’s make the marinade. I use my Pampered Chef juicer to get my fresh lemon juice. It’s easy peasy.

Then I combine the marinade ingredients to my Pampered Chef classic batter bowl. It’s the perfect size!!

Add the chicken to the marinade and let it marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard the marinade. Sear the chicken breasts over medium high heat in a skillet. About 3-5 minutes on each side should do it. I use my PC grill pan for this job. It’s perfect.

Now if you are not using an oven safe skillet, then transfer the chicken breasts to 9 x 13 oven safe dish. But my grill pan goes from stove top to oven easily so I just kept my chicken breasts in that. Top the seared chicken breasts with the crumbled feta and sliced green onions and pop in oven for a few minutes. Let the feta melt a little. Serve and enjoy!

You can also serve roasted broccoli or asparagus alongside this dish. Since I am following the Ketogenic WOE, both of these veggies are my go to sides these days. The Pampered Chef large bar pan is fantabulous for roasting veggies! The veggies come out tender yet crispy, a hard combo to achieve!

Now you have a perfect low carb dish that is full of flavor. Hope you love this recipe as much as we do in the Cajun mama house!!

Cajun Mama Goes Keto…Jalapeno popper chicken!

Hey my friends!! I am coming straight at you today with a bomb chicken recipe that will make your taste buds tingle! You might have read in my previous post that I have been following the ketogenic diet and I am feeling amazing! Better than I have in a long while! The ketogenic diet basically is a high fat, moderaten protein, low carb way of eating and I love it! I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist and I don’t claim to be an expert on health, but this way of eating has done wonders for me and I am currently into finding new recipes that fit in with my lifestyle. I’m not selling anything, but I am promoting the idea that foods can improve our mindset and enhance our lifestyle. So take that with a grain of salt and just know that many of the recipes I blog about these days will likely have a low carb twist to them. I am still Cajun Mama, just a little lighter (well 40 pounds plus some lighter if anyone is keeping track lol!!) This chicken recipe will make you forget that it is low carb. It is so very tasty. It’s got a hint of spice and is just so cheesy that it will become a new favorite comfort food. Trust me!! I found it on Facebook and here is the original link. It’s from Aunt Bee’s Kitchen. She says it is her most popular post and I totally get why!! Hope y’all make it and enjoy! Let me know if you do! This chicken is proof that change can be good!

Jalapeño Popper chicken

Stuff you need~

6 chicken breasts (I used 3 big breasts and cut them in half then pounded them a little flatter. Worked perfectly!)

Salt and pepper

5 slices of bacon, chopped up

1/4 cup diced onions

8 ounce package cream cheese

1/4 cup sliced jalapenos (the kind in the jar, like what you use for nachos)

1 cup shredded cheddar

1/2 cup mayonnaise (full fat if you are doing keto)

1/2 cup Kraft grated Parmesan (the kind you grew up shaking into your spaghetti or at least I did! My kids call it shaky cheese. Lol!)

4 tablespoons butter, the real stuff please

2 ounces pork rinds, crushed

1/4 Kraft grated Parmesan

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken busoms in a baking dish and sprinkle with Himilayan pink salt (my favorite go to nowadays) and cracked black pepper. Bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

Fry the bacon pieces in a big ole skillet until crispy. Drain on a paper towel and set aside. Sauté your onions in the bacon grease until tender. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, onions, bacon, cheddar, jalapeños, and mayo.

When chicken is cooked, spread the cream cheese mixture all over the top of the cooked chicken. Return to oven for 15 minutes or so, just until the cheese is all bubbly and melty perfection.

While the chicken and cream cheese mixture are baking together in harmony, crush your pork skins, melt the butter and stir together. Throw in the grated Parm. When the cream cheese is all melty and bubbly, sprinkle the pork skin/butter/Parm mixture all over the top of the cream cheese. Hold your horses. You can devour it soon!!

Broil on high for about 3-4 minutes or until the pork skin butter Parm layer is browned just right. You will know. And it will be so right.

And there you have a keto lover’s dream!! It will break that mealtime monotony! If you love the fact that Cajun mama is shaking stuff up a bit and posting Keto/Low Carb recipes…Drop me a line In the comments please! Please be nice and if you are not a fan, it is ok to keep that to yourself. Thanks for all of your support during this exciting time!!

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

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

4 kiddos means lots going on sometimes

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

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

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

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

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

French Onion Chicken Noodle Casserole 

Stuff you need~

4 cups cooked chopped chicken

2 cans cream of chicken soup

12 ounces container French Onion Dip

4 ounces sour cream 

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

12 ounces egg noodles

1 cup crushed French fried onions

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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!!! 

Smothered chicken recipe and other things my mama gave me

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.

 

me and the queen of smothered chicken aka my mama. I love her.

Ok ya’ll ready? Let’s do this!! 

My mama’s smothered chicken  
Stuff you need

One fryer chicken, cut up 

Cooking oil 

Salt and pepper 

Sugar 

Water 

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. 

 

That’s some pretty brown chicken, my baby.
 
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. 

 

fork tender and check out that gravy…this is after cornstarch had been added
 
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!!! 

  

thank you Mama for many things…for roots, wings, lots of love and smothered chicken
 
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 

Sundried tomato basil chicken pasta and the recipes that hold us together 

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.  

mmmmmm….good things are happening

Stir in cooked pasta and season with some good ole sal

King ranch chicken casserole and going full circle with Mama Kate

I have told y’all the back story about how I came to be a displaced coonass in the middle of Shreveport. When I first came around Shreveport for the first time at 19 and started dating BD, I was about to start my semester at LSU. I had attended LSU-A for my first year at my parents’ encouragement and the plan was for me to move to Baton Rouge to start my life. I was engaged to my high school sweetheart and he moved there too. I had it all set. It was laid out. How it was going to be. Then we got the call that BD’s mom, was very ill and we needed to come and see her. (Remember we used to live across the street from one another for a while as children and our moms were friends too). I was 19 and was LSU bound and I decided I needed to go and say my goodbyes to a lovely woman who had influenced me and had been another mom to me growing up. And I wanted to see BD. Well…he was known as Clay back then…my childhood friend…clay. He harassed me. Ripped my dolls head off, and so on. Lol. On to Shreveport we went. She passed away a few days later and my family naturally went to the funeral. I will not go into all of the emotions that came about during this time or all that transpired…just know that I was in a relationship and it was not a great one. No offense to the guy I was with, but we just weren’t meant to be, though we tried. I certainly had a plan of how things would work out and falling in love with my best friend from childhood really was not part of my plan. And yet….I guess it was part of God’s plan. That is pretty plain to see now. So, cut to a few months later and I had broken my engagement (I am truly not a flaky person and take commitment seriously but the heart wants what it wants and I wanted Clay. It was just right) and left LSU behind and moved to Natchitoches to attend Northwestern. Now maybe I did not give LSU a chance, but looking back in retrospect it wasn’t the place for me. And I fell in love with clay and NSU all at once. When I first came around Keithville, where BD’s daddy ran the Farmer’s Supply Co-op and everyone knew everyone and I knew no one. I was an outsider. Cajun catholic chick from Alex. That was me. And though people were friendly enough to me, there were some people who embraced me right away. They were happy to know me and pulled me right in. Mama Kate was one of those people. Mama Kate was a Southern gentile lady if there ever was one. She wanted to know you and wanted you to be comfortable. She reminded me of my Momou and I was down with that. So I was going to Northwestern and had my new redneck man (ha ha!!!) and I was living with my cousin, Robin and y’all life was good. I felt at home. And for a homebody like me, that is true happiness. I will never forget one evening in January I guess, there was a knock on the door. It was John, a friend of big daddy’s and mama Kate’s grandson. He had something for me. Sure enough, 2 cookbooks that mama Kate wanted me to have and she had marked a few that clay might like and had written her thoughts in the margins. Y’all. I was blown away by this lady’s kindness. Her thoughtfulness. Remember, BD’s mom was no longer with us so that guidance that would be there was no longer and Deb (his stepmom and my wonderful mother in law and grandmother extraordinaire was not in the picture yet). This lovely lady wanted to make sure when he was around, that I fed him well. And I am sure at some point she and I had talked recipes and she knew I liked to cook. Remember now, I was 19. It pleases me so to think back and realize she knew I had it in me to get in there and cook or that I wanted to. Because let me say, Mama Kate was kind, thoughtful and she could cook circles around most.
As fate would have it, she moved next door to bd and I before we became new parents. And after I had Ben, my oldest, John’s wife, Kylie, had a baby a few months later. Kylie is a lot like mama Kate and we had lots in common. We became friends. It made those lonely days in the country more bearable as BD worked a lot trying to build his Farm Bureau business. Ben and I would walk next door and visit mama Kate. He would play on the floor and she would tell me stories and we would just chat. Kylie and I would go over together. And sometimes, she would invite BD and I over to have Sunday dinner with them. I am big on framily (friends who are family) and I guess Mama Kate and Kylie were the ones who taught me the importance of framily. Oh my. It was such a treat when you got to eat anything Mama Kate cooked. I would not trade those memories for anything. Though we moved “to town” and life got in the way, I would talk to mama Kate from time to time. I probably did not give her the time she deserved and I cannot make excuses for that. Other than to say I was having babies and just stayed busy. We stayed in touch though and would talk from time to time. She passed away about 2 years ago and nothing will ever be the same for any of us. I am grateful for the memories I have with her. And that at a time or several times in my life as a new girl in town, a new mom, a lonely mom, she was there. I hope one day I will be able return that favor to someone else who is in need. I still have that cookbook where I found several go to recipes that we still love. King ranch chicken casserole is one of those. First time I made it in college, we fell in love. No matter where you have your roots or where you are, it is a dish worth making. It is a comfort food that you will never forget. And when I told Big Daddy I was making it tonight, he replied via text “yes!!!” Lol! That is the appropriate response to knowing this meal is on the menu. It is easy enough that you can pull it together and it is memorable enough that you will be asked to make it over and over. It is a dish you will crave. It is a meal that unites us, country peeps and Cajuns, young and old, newcomers to town and town regulars…kind of like mama Kate did for me and I am sure many others over the year. It is a dish that brings you full circle and makes you glad you took the time to make it. And got to know the person who introduced you to such a simple, fantastic recipe. Hope y’all love it too.~AMB

20140603-104522-38722172.jpg
one of the treasured cookbooks she gave me all those years ago

20140603-104626-38786781.jpg
Mama Kate and a newborn Benny Boo

20140603-104800-38880484.jpg
A very pregnant and swollen me and Mama Kate at a shower some friends gave me holding a blanket she had made for the baby who would be named Ben.

King Ranch chicken casserole

Serves 6

Stuff you need~

12 flour tortillas, soft taco size
3 pounds chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or a rotisserie chicken works too
1 small onion, diced fine (optional)
2 cans Rotel (I use mild)
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
1 can cream of chicken
1 can cream of mushroom
2 cans chicken broth or 1 of those cartons (it’s the same amount)

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large casserole dish (3 quart) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the tomatoes, soups, and the broth together. Set aside. Tear 6 of the tortillas up into bite sized pieces. Layer them at the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer half of the shredded chicken and the diced onion on top of the tortillas. Now, sprinkle half of the shredded cheese over the top of this. Next, pour 1/2 of the soup tomato mixture all over the top of this. Repeat the whole process, starting with tortillas and ending with pouring the rest of the soup tomato mixture over the top. Pop that baby into the oven and cook for about 60 minutes. It will be a little soupy when you pull it out, that’s good. You don’t want it dried out. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and that will allow the rest of the liquid to absorb into the tortillas (creating a dumpling like texture…making this casserole the delicious dish it is!). Serve it up with a nice green salad and you are golden!

20140603-104940-38980200.jpg
Big daddy and I back when we were Clay and Aimee and just best friends. Circa 1979ish

20140603-105033-39033633.jpg
layer of tortillas

20140603-105053-39053395.jpg
soup mixture all whisked up and ready

20140603-105117-39077737.jpg
and a layer of shredded cheese

20140603-105148-39108476.jpg
pouring the soup over the bottom layer

20140603-105215-39135740.jpg
piping hot from the oven