Tag Archives: Cream cheese

Million dollar spaghetti and at the center of it all

So when I was growing up, spaghetti was an event. Spaghetti and meatballs that is. My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Took all day to cook and it was worth the wait. It almost always was a meal on a weekend and we would have leftovers during the week. That meal to this day is very special and still very much an event. I do enjoy cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs from time to time, but my family loves and I mean LOVES spaghetti. And as much as I love them, I do not have time to make a pot of spaghetti and meatballs as often as they would like it. So I often turn to spaghetti and meat sauce. My oldest prefers meatballs (mix of pork and ground chuck mom, STAT) but he will endure meat sauce if he has to.
Of course, as much as I adore tradition, I am always looking for good variations on our favorite meals. I like to shake it up sometimes, keep it fresh, and make some noise (ha! Like I have to do that…these cookoo loos over here make enough noise for 3 households) but you get what I am saying. I like to stay out of the dinner time rut. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterest for million dollar spaghetti a while back http://ashleykaitlin.blogspot.com/2011/01/million-dollar-spaghetti.html?m=1, I knew I had to try it.
Well this week has been, um, interesting to say the least. It started off that way and it continues to be so. For different reasons. Swimming pool calamities, sick kids, sick hubby and it’s only Thursday, so I figured let’s just blow it out and doing something crazy! Let’s make million dollar spaghetti!!! Or it went something like that. I have said it before and I will say it again, when things are stressful on the home front and I have an inkling of that feeling that I just want to bury my head under the covers and cry, I shift into crazy homemaker mode. I know that few things are in my control, but what I cook and how I feel in my home, is all me. So I cook something traditional and comforting or I try something new. I try a cleaning tip and do some laundry. I guess my home is my center and I find comfort there. I guess it’s the Narcille and Beulah Mae coming out in me and every other Cajun mama I come from.

20140626-084803-31683025.jpg
the two sick dudes laid up, everyone else around them (getting infected I can only imagine)…but that’s my chaos and my heart and soul

This million dollar spaghetti was a wonderful alternative to our regular spaghetti and meat sauce. Big Daddy said he could do with less creamy stuff, but the kids LOVED it. Even my BHB (picky man) ate it with gusto. It’s kind of like my lazy girl’s lasagna https://cajunmamacookinblog.com/2013/12/13/lazy-girls-lasagna/, only with angel hair pasta. It really was very easy and delicious. I recommend you give it a go the next time you are feeling stressed to the limit and not quite certain you do this whole being a grown thing another day. It may not change the world, it may not make things 100% better, but it will surely change your outlook. You can look around the table at your family enjoying a meal that you made and think, ” I cannot do it all, but I can make a meal my family enjoys” and “I can bring my family together.” And let’s not forget, that is kind of the point of this whole cooking for these people we live with anyway. Enjoy!!~AMB

Million dollar spaghetti
Stuff you need~

8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
2 lb. container Cottage cheese (that’s the taller one)
1/4 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 small jar spaghetti sauce (I am a Ragu girl)
1 pound ground chuck
1 stick of butter (I used about 3/4 of the stick)
2 cups shredded mild cheddar

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook your pasta according to package directions. Brown ground beef until no longer pink. Drain well.
Stir spaghetti sauce into the drained ground beef. Heat until warmed throughout.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the softened cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese. (I used my standing mixer to do this, as she suggested)
Put half of the butter (sliced into pats) at the bottom of a 9 x 13 dish. Layer half of the noodles on top of this. Now layer all of the creamy mixture on top of this.
Next, layer the rest of the noodles on top of the creamy mixture. Lay the rest of the butter pats on top of the noodles.
Now spread the spaghetti sauce and meat all over the top.
Cook at 350 for 30 minutes.
Finally, sprinkle the cheddar all over the top of the whole shebang.
Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is all bubbly and irresistible looking.

20140626-093455-34495683.jpg
noodles on top of creamy mixture

20140626-093524-34524396.jpg
more butter pats on top of the noodles

20140626-093834-34714857.jpg
my handsome boy helping me cook and telling me all about his latest google research. He amazes me.

20140626-093923-34763987.jpg
layers and layers of yummm

Advertisements

Fresh strawberry cake with cream cheese icing and people can change

I am usually such a chocoholic when it comes desserts that I never saw it coming when I came across a recipe for this strawberry cake on Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate Facebook page at http://www.southernplate.com/2010/04/fresh-strawberry-cake-with-cream-cheese-icing.html and was compelled to make it right away. I felt a call, an urging to make it. Yes. That’s right. Making this heavenly strawberry cake is a calling. More like a product of divine intervention. It is dreamy. It is moist. It fulfills all of my dessert needs and yet…there is no chocolate. I am in love. Who says people can’t change? This recipe has a made from scratch taste and look yet it calls for a boxed cake mix. There are fresh strawberries in the cake and in the icing and man…it is something else. I will warn you…the smell of it making in the oven will cause your family to ask “what is that delicious smell?” And say “something smells so good” every 5 minutes. If you are looking for a new dessert to bring along to a party or just to bake for your family because you love them…or you know…they cannot talk while shoving this awesome cake in their mouths (not that I do that! He he) this is the one to try!!!!! Plus strawberries are in season now and they are not so expensive. Get on it!!! ~AMB

Fresh strawberry cake with cream cheese icing

Stuff you need~

for the cake:
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1-3 ounce package of strawberry gelatin
1 cup crushed strawberries and juice (1 regular container of fresh strawberries will do)*

for the icing

1-8 ounce block cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter (I used half a stick of the real stuff), softened
3 cups powdered sugar
Whatever is left of the crushed strawberries

*cut the green part off the berries and then slice them up. Add to a gallon size storage bag. Close the bag well once all strawberries are in. I did as Christy Jordan suggested and used a canned good to crush the berries. Just gently roll the can across the closed ziplock bag. It works like a charm.
20140523-153638-56198739.jpg
crushed strawberries . Easy peasy.

What to do with the stuff~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8 inch round cake pans or 1 9 x 13 pan with Baker’s Magic or coat with oil and then flour them.
In a mixing bowl, add cake mix, eggs, milk, oil and gelatin. Using standing mixer or hand mixer, mix until all ingredients are combined. About 2 minutes. Next add in crushed strawberries. Mix again until the berries are incorporated well into batter.
Pour into prepared baking pan (s) and cooking until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I did the 9 x 13 and it took about 35-40 minutes.
Allow cake to cool completely before icing.

While cake it baking, go on and get your icing ready. I just washed out my standing mixer bowl and used it again. In a medium size bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and butter and powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Resist the urge to eat with a spoon. If you desire, add in the rest of the crushed berries you did not use. I like the way it looks and the taste is out of this world. CJ suggests it is prettier without the berries, but I disagree. Each to his own, so do your thing. You can’t lose either way!!
Once cake is cooled, ice that baby and cry your happy tears that you made a cake that is so luscious and pretty. Yay you!!!!

20140523-154420-56660931.jpg
look at that pretty cake mix!

20140523-154516-56716843.jpg
the icing. Will be my undoing. S.O.S.

Creamy grape salad and unexpected joy

Wow!!  I came across this recipe for grape salad on Pinterest a few weeks ago.  I was really hungry at the time I think, or it might not have appealed to me at the time.  I am so glad I was open to something unexpected and new, because this salad is a flavorful explosion of textures and sweetness in your mouth.  A virtual party.  One you weren’t sure you really wanted to go to, but felt obligated to attend and then enjoyed staying far too long and having a blast.  Yes, just like that.  It is creamy, slightly nutty, sweet with a little tang from the green grapes and it is just so fabulous.

There is just something about being surprised.  Trying something new, breaking out of your typical role and testing your limits.  For example, this morning was Muffins with Mom at my kids’ school.  I will be really honest and say, I really thought I could do without waking up an hour earlier and corralling the kiddos into getting dressed super early, especially when it is freezing cold outside.  2 of kiddos were on the fence, one flat out did not want to go, and one was insistent that we go.  My oldest.  I really tried to talk him out of it.  I offered McDonald’s for breakfast on the way to school. No dice.  He was definite.  “We’re going mama, it is your special day!!”.  He melted my heart.  10 years old and he still truly, genuinely likes me.  Well…most days.  I could not be happier.  But still, I was reluctant.  This morning, hoping he would sleep in, he woke up and said “mama don’t forget we have to get up early today!”  Deep down I knew that would not work and he would stay the course.  Indeed he did and we ended up going.  I had muffins with my babies.  I am so happy that we went and I rose to the challenge.  To break out of my routine and shake things up.  Same thing could be said for having 4 kids.  I never expected to have 4 kids, much less 4 kids back to back.  To relish the chaos that comes with raising 4 kiddos.  I never expected to start a blog or write a food column.  Yet, wow, here I am.  So many things in life take me by surprise.  I just  have to accept that the unexpected can be fun, delightful, sweet, nutty, enjoyable, and wonderful.  Joy can be in the unexpected places.  You just have to be willing to be open to it.  Just like this grape salad.  ~AMB

Image

Me and my sweeties…so much of life is unexpected joy.  

Creamy grape salad (adapted from http://www.allrecipes.com)

Stuff you need~

4 pounds green seedless grapes

1-8 ounce block of cream cheese

1-8 ounce container sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 ounces chopped pecans (plus more for sprinkling on top)

2 Tablespoons brown sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)

What to do with the stuff~

Wash and dry the grapes, In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, white sugar and vanilla.  Add grapes and mix until the grapes are well mixed with the other ingredients.  Mix in brown sugar and pecans gently.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  I sprinkled a little more brown sugar and chopped pecans on top before serving.  Holy moly…get ready for the explosion. mmmmmmmmmmm….

Image

Unexpected joy indeed.  Oh my the sweet creaminess of it all!!

Breakfast Danish Casserole

I love brunch. I am not sure if I have ever shared that little tidbit with ya’ll…but I do.  It is just such a convenient meal.  It is so versatile.  It can be as big and fancy of an ordeal as you want, but it can be laid back and relaxed if you choose.  You can have such a variety of foods when you plan a brunch too.  It is a culmination of all things good.  It’s an ANYTHING goes meal for the most part.  Who doesn’t love that?  The part I enjoy the most about it is that I can have a cup of coffee or two before I have to get cracking.  That makes for a much happier household and Cajun Mama likes happy.  Now, when you factor in that brunch makes it perfectly acceptable to drink at 10 in the morning, that just pushes brunch to the top of my list.  Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and coffee with Bailey’s in it.  I mean….what is not to love?  Over the next few days, I will be sharing my favorite brunch recipes.  I have some yummy, super easy ones and some that are a little bit more involved but totally worth it.  We can call it Blog About Brunch Week!!  Extra, extra bloggin about brunch, ya’ll!!!  Hope you will come back for some more scrumptious brunch recipes.

I am sure it would not tax anyone’s imagination to find out that I have an entire Pinterest board (or two..) dedicated to brunch foods.  So, when I ran across this Breakfast Danish casserole, it was an absolute shoe in for me to try ASAP.  I made it once a few months ago and it was a hit across the board.  Perfect with coffee and a definite kid friendly dish.  It is like dessert..at breakfast!  This is so easy to prepare, I can do it after only one cup of coffee.  That is pretty easy…let me tell you!  I had been pondering what to make for our Christmas morning breakfast.  I wanted to do  a brunch so that it would give us a chance to let the kids open their gifts and give us something more substantial than cinnamon rolls from the can.  Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE cinnamon rolls from the can…just wanted to do something more special for Christmas morning.  Big Daddy asked me to make biscuits and sausage gravy, so I knew we would have that and I LOVE grits and I have an excellent recipe for a cheesy garlic grits casserole (hint hint at my next post)…but I wanted something sweet to round it out.  Yes, I could have chosen fruit and we usually put that in there, but it is Christmas morning and I felt like breaking a few rules.  Being naughty after being nice for so long.  LOL!!  Plus, I didn’t have any fruit and there was no way in the world I was fighting the lines at Brookshires or Kroger to buy fruit.  So, breakfast danish casserole it is!!!  This was an EXCELLENT brunch menu.  With some fruit to add some color and nutrition to it, it would have been perfect!  It was pretty much a cinch to make and everyone was happy and full.

Image

Scrumptious I tell ya’ll…mmmm

Breakfast Danish Casserole (adapted from Key Ingredient http://www.keyingredient.com/recipes)

Stuff you need:

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls (like Pillsbury)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (My mother in law turned me on to Butter Nut Vanilla Extract…excellent in this recipe)

1 egg

1 egg white

1 cup of powdered sugar

milk

dash of vanilla

What to Do with the Stuff:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9 x 13 dish by spraying it with a light coating of cooking spray.  Lay out one tube of crescent roll dough (don’t separate) in one long piece on the bottom of prepared dish.  Pinch together any separated pieces or use your pastry roller.  In your standing mixer, cream together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth.  Spread the mixture  evenly over the layer of crescent roll dough.  Lay second tube of crescent roll dough over the cream cheese mixture.  Brush the top with the egg white to ensure a nice golden brown top crust.  Pop this into the oven at bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown.

While the casserole is baking, make up your glaze.  It couldn’t be easier.  Dump powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl.  Add a little milk at a time, whisking after each pour of milk.  Add milk gradually until you have a mixture that is a little more runny than a paste.  You want it to pour but not be super runny.  Not as thick as peanut butter, but not as thin as syrup.  Does that make sense?  Probably more like molasses.  Whisk in a splash of vanilla.  When danish casserole is out of the oven, let it cool for about 15 minutes.  Pour the glaze over the semi cooled casserole.  Cut into squares and serve.  This will stand alone with a cup of coffee or a glass of ice cold milk.  You will love it.  I promise.

Image

As my Daddy says, “plum larapin”

Oreo Balls

Ok now some people call these Oreo Truffles.  I admit that does sound fancier.  But when my sister, Jenny, offered me one for the very first time, she called them Oreo Balls.  So it stuck.  My kids ask for them by name…Oreo balls.  And so it is.  These things are so tasty and a wonderful addition to any dessert buffet.  Perfect party treat.  They can be easily packaged into cute gifts.  Teacher appreciation gifts?  Put them in a clear treat bag, make a tag that says “It’s been a ball being in your class!!” , punch a whole in the corner and tie it to your treat bag with some colorful twine.  It’s in the bag…literally!!  They are superb treats for your neighbors, especially if you are into ding dong ditching.  You can use vanilla candy quick and put the food coloring of your choice in and voila…yummy, edible party favors that go with your color scheme.  I could go on but I know ya’ll want me to get on with it already and so I will.  You can use vanilla candy Quik, white chocolate chips, chocolate candy quick or semi sweet or milk chocolate chips.  I am working on a mint variation right now.  Mint oreos with those limited edition Nestle mint chocolate chips.  I will let ya’ll know.  You really truly can do almost anything with this recipe.  Make it your own!!  Now that the lovely people at Nabisco are offering so many different varieties of Oreos, the options are nearly endless.

Oreo Balls

Ingredients

1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 package Oreos, crushed

1 package candy quik or 1 package chocolate chips

Directions

Now, I use my food processor to crush my Oreos.  You want them to be ground until they are almost like sand and the food processor works perfectly.  I get that not everyone has a food processor or wants to get it out for this task, so you can also put them in a gallon size Ziploc bag and take a rolling pin to them.  This also works great for getting rid of some pent up aggression.  Unless you don’t have any…if that is the case, you can bring them to me and I will crush them for you.  I have plenty of pent up aggression…kind of makes me wonder why I missed the opportunity to smash cookies with a rolling pin?  Hmmm…need to consider this next time.  Anyway, once this is done put your cookies crumb sand into your standing mixer bowl or a regular mixing bowl along with the softened block of cream cheese.  Mix away until it is well combined.

Watermarked Photo (1)

This is how your mixture of cream cheese and cookie crumbs should look

Now, you are going to make them into uniform balls.  I just take a spoon and scoop some up and roll it into a ball.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place your balls on parchment paper a few inches apart.  Now, melt your candy quik according to package directions or put your chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between each round until they are melted.  Taking one ball at a time, roll in the melted candy quik or chocolate chips.  I will tell you, this can get messy.  Place each dipped ball back on parchment paper once you are done until each ball is covered.  If you want, you can put some sprinkles or mini chocolate chips on some or all of the balls.  It gives them a little added texture and makes them look especially festive.  My kids like them plain, so I usually do half and half.  Put them in the fridge over night or for several hours at least, to cool.  Get ready to make more because they will disappear quickly.  Big Daddy says these are “tasty” and he is not usually a dessert person.

Watermarked Photo

Oh luscious Oreo balls…how I love thee…

Watermarked Photo (4)

The plan was to have some left for the man in red…yeah…there is one left.  Onto plan B.

Crock-pot Beef Stroganoff

So for those who don’t know, I am a “stay at home” mom.  You would think that this would leave plenty of time to cook lovely homemade nutritious meals every night.  It doesn’t.  That is what they tell you in the recruitment brochures, but they lie.  Don’t buy it girls.  It’s all lies!  Lies I tell you.  If you are a stay at home mom with a new baby, cooking a meal every night is not that easy.  Unless you are an octopus.  I am not.  If you are a stay at home mom with a bunch of little darlings underfoot every day, like I was not that long ago (4 under 5 at one point) it really doesn’t get much easier.  Someone is always falling, fighting, crying, needing to nurse, and on and on.  I realized the other day that we ate out or got takeout a whole bunch more when my kids were younger.  My point in saying all this is leading up to something…promise.  I tend to ramble.  I am Cajun remember?  I like to talk.  ha ha!!!  Ok anyway, I was “home” more when all the kids were home and I still didn’t have time to fix a meal many days.  If I did, I was out of something or forgot to defrost the meat.  Mommy brain and exhaustion (dynamic duo) can do that to you.  So…you would think that now that my kids are all in school…4th grade, 3rd grade, 1st grade and kindergarten that I would be able to lovingly prepare healthy and delicious homemade meals each night.  Yeah…I would like to tell you that I do.  I would love to tell you that it all comes together flawlessly each day.  Um..no.  Sure, I do cook.  Obviously I do.  I do a lot better with planning my meals these days, unless my cooking ADD kicks in.  BUT, you can plan all day, but the best plans can go astray when dealing in the world of kiddos.  Carpool. Homework.  Yeah, if I don’t get supper started before the monkeys, I mean darlings, get home, it is going to be a long night.  Or somebody is eating oatmeal.  I’m serious.  So…in theory I started this crock pot week for “ya’ll” but it was mighty fine to have supper cooking while I went about my daily business of eating bon bons and watching soaps.  bahahahaha!!  I wish.  🙂  So I thought to myself as I was serving up those bowls of potato soup how nice it would be for my friends who work outside the home to have a good meal fixed when they get home.  Especially if you have kids and after school activities.  This just spurred me on.  Especially after that potato soup was a WINNER!!!  I have really high hopes for this beef stroganoff so we shall see.  It is cooking right now so no pics yet, but again I will update.  I really hope ya’ll are with me on this crock pot revolution…I need another crock pot though.  

Image

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff (from The Crockstar blog…I love that name!)

Ingredients

2 pounds cubed stew meat (I cut up a 2 lb. chuck roast into cubes)

2 cans Condensed Golden Mushroom soup

1 large onion, diced

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire 

1/2 cup water

8 oz. cream cheese 

salt and pepper, garlic powder, whatever seasoning you like….but I would wait until it has cooked a while to add)

egg noodles, cooked to your liking 

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the soups, water, Worcestershire.  Pour into the slow cooker.  Now add your meat.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours (it says 8 but mine never takes the full 8 hours)…turn the crockpot on high and cut cream cheese into cubes and stir it in.  Put lid back on and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cream cheese is combined.  

Serve over egg noodles. 

Crock-Pot Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

Well the crock pot frenzy continues over here in Cajun Mama’s kitchen.  Fall is in the air, the windows are open, breeze is flowing in, I have a sinus headache and the circle of life in the South continues.  I am hoping that you read my post from yesterday about it being crockpot week on cajun mama.  If not, just scroll on down and read that post.  Now, I don’t have a picture of this already prepared as it is currently in the process of cooking, so I apologize.  On the flip side, I am ahead of the game which is a good feeling!  Also, this is my first time to try this recipe but really…how bad can it be?  No, it is not the ultimate potato soup.  I found quite a few potato soup recipes that I would have rather tried but this one definitely caught my eye and the reviews were great.  The difference between this one and the others is that this one is made in the slow cooker and requires almost no prep work.  This week is about convenience and saving time.  This one qualifies.  I hope we all just love it and it becomes a keeper.  Only time will tell or approximately 6 hours on low.  Ha ha!!!  As a side note~today has been what I call a shady Tuesday.  You think Tuesday would be great because Monday has the rep for being “the bad day”.  Shady Tuesdays are like that.  Bad Tuesdays.  Tuesdays are given far too much credit as far as I am concerned.  One thing that has given me a little smile and sense of comfort as I clean bright yellow laffy taffy out of the carpet is that I have something yummy (I hope) in the slow cooker.  One less thing to worry about.  Now I will get the rolls rising and I will be smiling big time. (um…no not from scratch?  don’t ya’ll know me at ALL?  I mean that frozen dough.  Defrost and then rise.) Take that Tuesday!!!

Crock-Pot Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup ( slightly adapted from Sprinkle Joy blog)

1 bag  of Ore-Ida southern style diced potatoes (hasbrowns)

32 oz. (one box) of chicken broth (reduced sodium is what I use)

1 can of cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup of onion, chopped

1/4 tsp. group black peper

1 8 oz package of cream cheese (1/3 less fat kind or the regular because they melt better than fat free)

optional toppings:  crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar, sour cream, green onions

970537_543936975686874_1085956145_n

This is at the beginning of the cooking process!

Very Uncomplicated Directions:

Dump all of the ingredients except for the cream cheese into your slow cooker.  Crock Pot.  What have you.  Give it a good stir and then put the lid on.  Let it cook for 6-7 hours.  Add the cream cheese and stir.  Put lid back on and let it cook for another hour or until cream cheese is melted and then stir to combine.  Now, I have a crock pot with a timer function.  I set it for 6 hours and let it go.  This is wonderful feature because you don’t have to worry about getting home to shut it off on time.  A great idea for my friends with jobs outside of the home!!  Check the seasoning if you desire and add salt and pepper to your liking.  Ladle soup into bowls and then add optional toppings if you want them.  Enjoy!!!  And relish in the fact that you are so AWESOME that you are able to prepare supper while you are not even in the kitchen.  That is multi-tasking at its very finest.  I am woman (or man)!  Hear me ROAR!!!

Of course once my family and I try this soup, I will come back and add some additional comments depending on how we like it and what may need a little tweaking.  Thanks for reading.  Drop me some comments if you want.  I would love to hear from ya’ll!!!!

1380302_544135019000403_1623597391_n

 

Heaven in a bowl ya’ll!  mmmmmmmm (that is my final verdict. mmmmm)