Tag Archives: side dishes

Loretta’s corn salad

So Big Daddy is a Farm Bureau insurance agent. They are an amazing company with a reputation for excellent personal customer service. The people who work for FB are mostly just good people. Good ole folks. From the secretaries, to the managers, to the agents and the adjusters. They are family people who are hardworking and sincerely just want to help. Naturally, the secretaries there need to be extra hard working and amazing because they deal with the public and are the right hands of the agents. When BD started working there many years ago, he had an amazing secretary who is so amazing and still such a big part of our lives, it would be wrong not to mention Renee. She is an amazing cook and I imagine I have several of her recipes to share. She moved and took another job with a different agency, but still Farm Bureau. Love us some Renee and no one can replace her. She delivers a big sack of Christmas goodies to BD every year and he cannot wait to tear into them. In fact the other morning as he was brewing his coffee, he asks me if I could make some cinnamon bread (coffee cake) and I was all like “um…who do I look like? Renee?” I am not sure even if I had her exact recipe (Renee? Can I have it?) I could make mine as good as her’s. She is a great cook, baker, friend, mom and grandmother and I am not sure I qualify. So when she left, we wondered if they would ever get another amazing secretary. There have been some good ones in between but one day, Loretta walks in and BD knew. She was going to be great. And she is. Now there are 2 great secretaries. Big shout out to my girl Tanya…the Desoto Parish FB cake baker!!

Boy is Loretta ever amazing. Our kids adore her. She babysits them and they push us out the door. She is hilarious, big hearted and has a big laugh that makes you smile when you hear it. She keeps a tree in her house that she decorates even in the summer. She is one of a kind. We love us some Loretta. So one year, they had an agency Thanksgiving feast (pretty sure Loretta made that happen) and she made chicken and dressing (omg so good…recipe to be shared later) and a corn salad that made me want to do a happy dance. So so so so good. She emailed me the recipe in time for Christmas that year and I made a batch. It is perfect. I made so much though that we had a ton leftover. So BD took the rest to Bayou LaGrue and it was gone that night after dinner.
So cut to last week and BD tells me he signed me up to make Loretta’s corn salad for their upcoming agency feast. I was a little annoyed to be honest. Like “who do I look like, Loretta?! That is her signature dish!! I cannot do it justice!” I mean, I am supposed to make her dish for her?! What!? But then I remembered I am a food blogger, dang it and my readers might love this recipe. So I will make it and blog the recipe and it will be ok. And it was. And now we have corn salad for their office feast and some for our family dinner. Score! This recipe is a winner. It is fresh and tangy but sweet. It’s just a great fresh side for any meal. It provides some lovely colors for your plate (my mama taught me that was important so I try to make sure our plate is colorful). I think you will love it and I am pretty sure it will be a mainstay for your Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter dinners and many meals in between. Loretta is not great at giving exact measurements in her recipes (none of the great cooks are) so I am having to improvise. You can half the recipe or you can add to it depending on how many folks you are feeding (I am channeling my inner Loretta here). You will love this recipe and if you know Loretta or ever meet her, you will love her too. Thank God for Loretta (and her corn salad recipe). Love you Lolo!

IMG_0773.JPG
Loretta and her hubby, Ken

Loretta’s corn salad

serves a bunch of folks…like 12

stuff you need

2 cans Mexican corn, drained
2 cans shoe peg corn, drained
4 carrots, peeled, halved and chopped 2 stalks celery, sliced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used green because that is what I had but the red adds color)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained (optional)
1 zucchini, halved and then chopped
1 small purple onion, diced
1 cup grape seed oil
1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper

what to do with the stuff

Ok, add all the veggies into a big bowl. Simple enough. Cover and put in fridge until the dressing is cooled.

IMG_0775.JPG
love all the colors!

Now, In a small saucepan, bring grape seed oil, vinegar and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, whisk fairly consistently
while the mixture boils for about 4-5 minutes. The sugar should be completely dissolved or almost anyway. Like this…

IMG_0777.JPG
keep whisking if the sugar is still stuck at the bottom.

IMG_0749.JPG
ah whisk it, whisk it real good! Chi chi chi chi chi chi chi

Allow the mixture to cool. Pour over corn salad and stir in between pours. Add as much of the mixture as you think is good. Those fresh veggies should be good and evenly covered with that sweet dressing. Yum. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and black pepper for some kick and there you have it!!!

IMG_0776.JPG
Sweet corn salad full of fresh veggie goodness…you are so perfect

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, my awesome readers. I don’t claim to know much, but I do know how important you reading what I write means to me. I appreciate your support, your comments, your encouragement and you just being along for the ride with me. I am grateful for all of you. And so much more. Hope your turkey day is wonderful and full of joy and blessings. When I count my blessings, I count you twice. Much love from my family to yours. ~AMB

IMG_0786.JPG
a few of my top blessings at the tree farm yesterday. If local, check out http://www.weaverschristmastreefarm.com. It’s a great experience that you will want to make a family tradition.

IMG_0788.JPG
My handsome Farm Bureau agent helping get our tree at the tree farm. I am grateful for such a strong sweet husband. Love that man.

IMG_0794.JPG
so grateful for this fur baby. He has the big job of healing hurts and bringing joy…and he does fine. We love him so.

Advertisements

Rainbow Pasta Salad and lots of the good stuff know, I learned from my friends

So I have told ya’ll about my very good friend Betsy before, right?  I will give ya’ll a little more back story here because it is relevant to the recipe…well, mostly.  Ha ha!  Ya’ll know I love to tell a good story, right?  Anyway, I met Betsy back in 2005 when my oldest started MDO at First Baptist here in Shreveport.  Her oldest, Maggie, was in class with Ben.  I had 2 kiddos, aged almost 2 and 6 months old.  We had just moved from Keithville and I was still convinced I could absolutely be the perfect mom and all the other delusions we new mommies by into.  It’s true, girls.  Betsy is what you would call, shy, when you first meet her.  Friendly, but a little aloof and seems perfect beyond words.  It is a little intimidating.  We would make a little small talk, but she worked in the MDO and was always on her way to her own class.  Lo and behold, round about April, I was pregnant with #3 and she was pregnant with #2, now known as Aubrey and Annie.  We would meet in passing and exchange hellos.  Come fall, my Kayla was old enough and I put her in MDO with Ben and Betsy was her teacher.  We were both hugely pregnant and would talk about due dates and Kayla’s progress, which coincidentally, was not good.  You know how daycares and MDO’s always say “she will stop crying as soon as you leave and be fine.  We will call you if there is a problem.” Kayla was one of those rare babies that did not stop crying.  She in fact, sat in Betsy’s barely there lap and would sob inconsolably.  So, I would come and get her early everyday.  Keep in mind, I am due any day with baby #3 and my 18 month old was a mama’s girl.  I was experiencing mommy guilt, self doubt, mommy fear at it’s most primal…whatever you want to call it.  Aubrey came along in October and then Annie at the end of November.  I eventually took Ben and Kayla out of MDO because Aubrey kept getting so sick and finally got a stomach bug at 5 months old and I said enough.  I am not going to lie or sugarcoat it.  Having 3 kids, 3 and under and a husband who worked or hunted all the time was to say the least overwhelming.  I guess I had a little postpartum depression now that I look back on it.  Baby number 3 was a blessing and also a knockdown punch I was not expecting.  She cried all the time if she was not being held and I was just at my wits end.  So, fast forward to a year and half down the road, I was expecting baby #4 and Ben would be starting kindergarten in the fall.  I decided to try MDO again.  So I went back to the only place I really knew, First Baptist.  Little did I know how glad I would be that I made that decision.  I found out Betsy was also expecting a baby boy and was due in June. I was expecting a baby boy in July.  Well…as luck (or I say, God’s plan) would have it, that summer, right before I had Lucas, I saw Betsy in the Target parking lot.  I have goose bumps as I write this as I can see just how meant to be it was.  I admired her newborn baby boy, Jack Henry and made small talk.  Well, cut to the fall, and the girls started MDO.  Aubrey and Annie were in the same class and every day Betsy was not working at MDO, I would see her in Target.  We would laugh and joke about “ha ha see you in Target every time!  How funny!”  We exchanged phone numbers, but I was still adjusting to motherhood with 4 kiddos and did not see much of a future in our friendship.  I had not made friends very easily since moving to Shreveport and I did not have high expectations.  Well, somehow, we managed to carve out a nice little friendship and we banded together with some other moms and formed a nice posse that included about 6 moms and in excess of 25 kids.  Yeah, we were a motley crew at best.  Betsy and I spent lots of time together with the kids and without.  I ended up being her teaching partner for a year before they moved.  I loved those Tuesdays and Thursdays and I frankly loved spending time with my friend.  This pasta salad recipe is only one of the many things I treasure from our time together.  For someone who says she doesn’t cook, she sure does have some flipping awesome recipes.  Ya’ll know the rest of the story…they moved to South Louisiana so her hubby could join a practice and the rest of their story could unfold.  I miss her everyday and I know she misses me, but life has moved on for both of us and we have made our way.  She is still one of my good friends and our kiddos still love each other, even if we don’t see each other often.  And a few of those friendships still remain strong and that is a gift that keeps on giving.  (I am talking to you Lexie B)  You see, some things, like our friendship, are just meant to be.  God kept putting us in one another’s path until we realized…hey, I like this girl!!!  She likes Target as much as I do and she gets me.  She just gets me.  Thank God for friends who get us, right?  Those crazy years were made much more bearable because of Bets.  In many ways, she taught me how to be a mom.  She taught me how to pack lunches for my kids…no really, she is a mastermind at packing lunches kiddos love. She taught me how to make really delicious brownies.  She taught me you can never go to Chick fil A too often and how to do really good arts and crafts.  She taught me how to get over myself and roll with it with a little grace and not worry so much.  She taught me to laugh at myself.  And she taught me to trust in friendship again and that I was lovable just as I was.  Hot mess and all.  She is the yen to my yang.  This rainbow pasta salad is a perfect example.  For years I had wondered, how in the heck do the restaurants make such deliciousness?  Well, in walks Betsy to show me.  So delicious and yet so easy.  Too good to be true.  And yet…totally true.  Just like our friendship.  Love ya Bets. ~AMB

Image

friendship is indeed a gift

Image

A good friend gives your cozy coupe a push when you need it.  

Rainbow Pasta Salad 

Stuff you need~

1 package of rotini pasta, cooked al dente and then rinsed with cold water

5 cups of chopped vegetables (you can use anything but I use cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, purple onion)

1/2 – 1 cup of cheddar cheese and/or Mozzarella cheese cubes

1/2 cup Salad Supreme seasoning

8 ounces or 1 cup of Italian dressing

What to do with the stuff~

Put your cooked, drained and cooled pasta in a big bowl.  Toss in your chopped veggies and cubes of cheese.  Stir in the seasoning blend and the Italian dressing.  Add more if you think it needs it.   Toss well so that the seasoning and dressing coats every last noodle.  You will be so happy and full of joy when you take a bite of this yumminess.  It will make you smile and want to give some to your friend.  Do it.  She might just love you for life!!

Shout to my girl Bets for this and so many other wonderful things she introduced me to!!!

*For this batch I added in some penne pasta because I needed to stretch it a little further to feed a large group.  I added a little more salad dressing and seasoning accordingly.

Image

The secret ingredient 

 

this is a potluck go to recipe.  It makes a ton and pleases everyone

So full of color and flavor…you will love it and so will your friends

Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole and Carrot Souffle

Isn’t it amazing how the memories of a certain dish can take us back to a certain place and time?  I mean, I know in reality I am a grown woman who drives a minivan with 4 kids and a husband, 2 dogs and a cat, but as I sit here and think of broccoli cheese rice casserole, I can instantly recall being 8 years old (my daughter’s age eek!!) playing in my room after church, waiting for my mom to get lunch on the table.  Ham, broccoli cheese rice casserole and carrot souffle is one of those meals.  Sunday lunch or supper worthy.  A meal that evokes contentedness and makes your inner child smile and remember that simple joys are never that far away.  The best thing about this meal is that it is easy as pie to prepare but will have your family sitting happily around the table in no time flat.  Hold the fights.  Hold the ipads and ipods and hold the phone.  Nothing but yummy in the tummy and happy smiles around the table (for as long as there is food on the plate, after the food is gone I can’t promise anything).  Now, I encourage you to try these two dishes with a baked ham but of course, this is a free country and you can make them with whatever main dish you want.  I will be honest and say that I can eat just these two sides and they are the main dish.  The combination of the textures and savoriness of the broccoli cheese casserole with the sweetness and smoothness of the carrot souffle is like nothing else.

1450349_575054542575117_806966861_n

Hold the phone my friends…dinner is served

Broccoli cheese rice Casserole

Ingredients

2-10 ounce boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

2 cups cooked rice

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can Cheddar cheese soup

1- 8 oz. jar of Cheez Whiz

1 cup shredded cheddar

1 roll of Ritz crackers, crushed

salt, pepper and Tony’s to taste

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Thaw your broccoli in a colander.  If you are in a hurry, you can run it under some water to help it thaw a little better.  Make sure it is drained well.  Cook your rice in the rice cooker (or however you cook your rice…I don’t understand any other way…rice cooker is the first appliance I learned to use after the toaster lol!).  Stir the drained thawed broccoli and hot steamed rice together in a big bowl.  Pour soups and Cheez Whiz over the broccoli rice mixture.  Stir well to combine .  Add salt, pepper and Tony’s to taste   Stir in 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  Pour this into a prepared (greased) 9 x 13 dish. I let my kids help by letting them crush the cracker crumbs over the casserole once it is in the dish.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the cracker crumbs.

Bake in 400 degree over for about 20 minutes or until all hot and bubbly and delicious looking.

Carrot Souffle 

Now, there is a story behind this carrot souffle.  My mom made me a recipe book when I got married.  It included this recipe, which is one of her favorites at Piccadilly.  Yes, you heard me.  Piccadilly.  I love Piccadilly.  Big Daddy loves Piccadilly.  Our kids, every one of them, loves Piccadilly.  When we go to the mall, we go eat at the Piccadilly.  It is not just a restaurant to us, it is an event.  It is a tradition.  Big Daddy and I have been best friends since we were little.  We grew up across the street from one another.  Our moms were best friends and worked together.  When our dads would go hunting on Friday nights, our moms would take us to Piccadilly.  When they moved to Broussard, we would go visit them and guess where we would go eat at least once?  You guessed it.  Piccadilly.  So naturally, this recipe was a must make for me when I got that special cookbook.   I made this for one of the holidays when we first got married.  It was sooo good.  But, it involved quite a bit of prep work and once I had babies, I was not a fan.  So when baby 3, Madame Toot, came along, we were blessed with 2 13 year old angel that came to our door one day with offers to baby sit.  They were THE most precious girls I had ever met and they knew just what I needed at that time in my life.  They took over and allowed me to get away.  I needed to get away.  3 kiddos ages 3 and under…I had to get away.  But it was so hard.  These two angels made it seem less hard.  And since then, they have become a part of our family.  And of course, the woman who gave birth to these angels, has been and always will be my fairy godmother.  And she can cook to boot.  Boy can she.  She taught me to make gravy and she taught me how to make this awesome carrot souffle.  These 3 ladies (those 13 year old girls are now young women in college) are so special to us.  We have spent holidays with them and they are a part of our family.  Lisa made this for one of the holiday meals we shared and it has been a mainstay ever since.  Her recipe is so much easier.  It used canned carrots and comes together fast.  It is kid friendly and just all around amazing.  This recipe will become a favorite at your house too.  This carrot souffle always reminds me that sometimes the most perfect things come to you by surprise.  And that blessings come in many forms…I mean canned carrots?  Bleck!!  But not in this dish…this dish turns canned carrots into the tastiest of side dishes.  Sweet and wonderful without being too complicated.  Like the surprising family we found in those two little girls who showed up at my front door.  Turned into so much more sweetness than I ever expected.  Carrot souffle…same thing.  So try it, you will be so glad you did.

photo (44)

Our precious girls with the kiddos…so much sweetness I cannot handle it

photo (42)

My fairy godmother and I…how I love that woman

Carrot Souffle

Ingredients

1- 16 ounce can of carrots, drained

1/2 stick of butter, melted

1 cup of sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat drained carrot and melted butter in a mixing bowl until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Transfer to a souffle dish or a round Corningware dish (My fairy godmother made sure I got my own souffle dish several years ago but I used a 1 quart round Corningware until then).  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  Once it cools some, sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top before serving.  Get ready for your kids to ask for seconds of carrots.  It is that good!!

photo (41)

Sweet, perfect carrot souffle…

photo (43)

Me and my two angels, all grown up…I love these two girls and I am so proud of them

PW’s meatloaf and BB’s honey carrots

I love meatloaf.  I love meatloaf sandwiches.  I am speaking out today on behalf of meatloaf lovers everywhere.  This post is for you. My mama always made cheese stuffed meatloaf and I always loved it but when I moved out, I could never quite make it as well so I found other recipes and tried them out.  They just didn’t hit the spot.  Then I had kids and meatloaf making kind of went by the way side for a few years.  Then they got a little older and my oldest and my pickiest eater loved meatballs, burgers, and hamburger steak so I had a hunch he might like meatloaf.  I found a Paula Deen recipe and he loved it.  Definite winner.  Sadly, when we moved last year, I lost the magazine that the recipe was in and I have tried to find it again but I can’t.  I have googled it, searched pinterest for it.  Nothing.  To be honest, he loved that recipe, but I could go either way on it so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to branch out and find some new meatloaf recipes.  Boy did I find a good one.  Oddly enough, I have Pioneer Woman’s cookbooks and I know I have seen this recipe but I never made it until Big Daddy told me he had a hankering for meatloaf the other day.  So I set out and sure enough…this recipe came up when I googled best meatloaf recipes.  Yep, apparently google knows good meatloaf.  Big Daddy almost made himself sick on this meatloaf.  I am not lying.  It went so well with some mac and cheese and BB’s honey carrots (as my kids call them and BB is what they call her).  Now, my oldest did not try it.  He decided to pass, which is not unusual for him with a new dish.  The majority of the fam liked it so I considered it a win.  I think he found the bacon on top off putting.  None the less, whether or not you or your family care for meatloaf, if you are just wanting to experiment and are wanting an awesome meatloaf in your repertoire, this is a great place to start.  Oh and the leftovers make a delicious sandwich for lunch the next day.  Can’t beat that.

I made a few additions to this recipe and I have a few suggestions for what I will do next time, but this recipe can be found on The Pioneer Woman’s website/blog and in her cookbook.

Pioneer Woman’s favorite meatloaf 

2 lbs. ground chuck

1 cup whole milk

6 slices of white sandwich bread

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. seasoned salt

3/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup flat leaf parsley (I omitted this as my kids tend to find any “green stuff” in their meat off putting)

*I add some Mexi-cajun seasoning to mine.  My friend Shelley makes it and it is so good.  I put about 1/2 tsp. in my meat

4 whole eggs, beaten

10 slices thin (not thick cut or center cut) bacon

1 1/2 cup ketchup

1/3 brown sugar

1 tsp. dry mustard

a few shakes of Tabasco or LA hot sauce or to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium size bowl, pour milk over the bread slices.  Allow the milk to soak in for a few minutes.  Prepare your 9 x 13 baking dish by covering the bottom and sides with aluminum foil. Trust me on this. If you have a rack that fits in your baking dish or pan, use it.  It will allow the fat to drip down.  Again…trust me.

In a separate bowl, add your ground chuck, Parm, seasonings and milk soaked bread.  Pour in the beaten eggs.  With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined.

Lay bacon slices over the top.  Tuck the ends of the slices under the meatloaf.

Make the sauce:  add ketchup, brown sugar, dry mustard,and hot sauce in a mixing bowl.  Whisk this together.  Pour 1/3 of this mixture over the top of the bacon.  Spread with a spoon.

Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes and then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top.  Bake for another 15 minutes.  Slice and serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

BB’s Honey carrots (an all star side if there ever was one.  Tasty and sweet, but still carrots and your kids are eating carrots so that makes them healthy…ish…healthier than say french fries…so score one for you!!  And they have honey for the main ingredient and how can that be bad?)

Stuff you need~

1 pound bag of carrots, peeled and sliced

1/2-1/3 cup of honey

2-3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon butter, optional (this just makes them a little richer but not necessary at all)

Add carrots to a medium sauce pan.  Cover with water plus a little more.  Add honey and sugar and butter if you are using it.  Bring to a boil uncovered.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and let them cook until fork tender and some of the water has evaporated out.  Perfect.  These goes great with baked chicken and rice and gravy as well.  Just saying.  Enjoy.

 

Image

Is your mouth watering?  Mine is and i just ate the rest last night.  You won’t be disappointed.