Category Archives: Holiday

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I do have excuses, and they are valid. One is that I’ve started working full-time. I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between work life and family/home life. Another thing was daylight savings time. When I work and then go run my errands, come home and help the kiddo with homework then start cooking, we don’t eat until later and pictures really do NOT look good in artificial light. But I’m going to try to do better, I promise.

Today’s recipe was definitely a keeper. I realize it’s starting to get warmer out but some people like me enjoy a good soup anyway. I did take a few shortcuts, but we were really impressed with the depth of flavor. I’ve tinkered with a few different chicken tortilla soups and this is the first that I’ve really liked. And it reheated well too. 🙂

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. olive oil (another one)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel
32 oz. chicken stock
3 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
3 tbsp. cornmeal
1 bag tortilla strips (usually in the salad topping section)
desired garnishes: sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, salsa, cheese, cilantro

Preheat oven to 375. Mix the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil on the chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small bit of the mixed seasonings over the chicken, reserving the rest for later. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then shred using two forks. Set the shredded chicken aside.

In a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the vegetables, stirring to combine. Cook until tender, adding the rest of the seasoning mix. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Add the can of Rotel, chicken stock, water, tomato paste an beans. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook 45 minutes, uncovered.

In a small dish, mix the cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup and stir well, simmer another 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve with the tortilla strips and desired garnishes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup


Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake

I’ve been tinkering around with different versions of king cakes for a few years now and I’ve finally got it. It is a mix of several different recipes.

It is slightly labor intensive since it involves letting the dough rise a couple of times but trust me, it is well worth it. I’ve actually had several people order them from me but now that I work full-time I just don’t always have time.

So here it is, get your aprons on!

This makes two king cakes.

Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake


For the Cake
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour

For the Cream Cheese Filling
2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Praline Pecan Filling
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups of chopped pecans
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

For the Glaze
4 cups powdered sugar, get the sifted 10x one
small splash of almond extract
small splash of butter extract
5 tbsp water


Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until thoroughly mixed. Set aside, and cool mixture.

Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a glass bowl, let stand 5 minutes.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
Attach the dough hook and let it knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk (I put it in my slightly warmed oven).

While that is rising, beat together the cream cheese mixture ingredients until smooth and well blended. In another bowl, mix together the praline pecan ingredients.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over each rectangle then sprinkle half of the pecan mixture on each half. Spread it evenly over the cream cheese.

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat Bring ends of roll together to form a ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients until smooth but still a little thick. You may add more water but be careful not to make it too thin.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 16 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before spooning the glaze over and topping with purple, yellow and green sprinkles or colored sugar.


Easy Slow-Cooker Mexi-Chicken

A while back I wasn’t feeling well and my sweet friend Jen brought over some food so I wouldn’t have to cook. One of the things she brought was this crockpot chicken. She said you could either eat it like a taco, as her husband does, or do like she does and have it on nachos. I opted for the nachos and it was SO good!

I think I’ve made and posted something similar before, but this recipe blows that one (just chicken breasts and salsa) out of the water. It is incredibly easy to prepare, in fact I made it one morning when I was running really late and it didn’t set me back too badly time wise! You can even use frozen chicken breasts, without defrosting. Do yourself a favor and make it soon, you’ll love it too!

Easy Slow-Cooker Mexi-Chicken

Easy Slow-Cooker Mexi-Chicken

Easy Slow-Cooker Mexi-Chicken
Recipe by Jennifer D.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (frozen ok)
1 jar favorite salsa (I used one with corn & black beans in it)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (optional)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 block cream cheese


Spray crockpot bowl with nonstick spray. Place chicken breasts in the bottom (it is fine if they are frozen). In a bowl, mix together the salsa and taco seasoning. Pour the rinsed and drained black beans over the chicken, then pour the salsa mixture over that. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. When only 30 minutes remain, add the cream cheese. When done, shred the chicken with forks and stir to mix everything together well. Serve as tacos or nachos (or whatever other way you want!).

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs

It’s August, which in Louisiana means it’s really too hot to even go outside.  You don’t see people walking at the park, no kids riding their bikes.  The heat index is usually around 115.  You certainly don’t often see people outside grilling.  Who wants to stand over a flame in that kind of heat?

Crockpots are great for summer cooking, since they get the job done without heating up your whole house.  I couldn’t wait to try the crockpot ribs recipe I saw on Pinterest, but I was a little hesitant.  I just wasn’t sure how that would go.  I decided to finally give it a try and was so incredibly pleased.  Let me tell you, these ribs were TENDER.  Like hard to get out of the pot tender.  They just wanted to fall apart.  They are fantastic.  My husband says he thinks they’re better than his bbq ones.  I didn’t use the seasoning mixture it called for, simply because I had some on hand (Sweet Pecan Rub from Red Stick Spice) that used those ingredients, but I’ll post the recipe anyway with the seasonings.  Whatever you do, do not skip the broiler step.  It takes great ribs and just makes them better.  Mmm…

Note:  I normally use my bigger 6 qt slow cooker, but used my smaller 4 qt one for this because the ribs kept wanting to slide down since there was so much room.  If you don’t have a smaller one, you could make a ball out of foil to fill in some of the space.

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs

Slow-Cooker Easy BBQ Ribs
Recipe from Mmm… is for Mommy

1.5 tbsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste
2.5 lbs pork back ribs – leave the membrane on the back to help hold them together
1 cup of your favorite bbq sauce, I used Stubbs
Nonstick spray

Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl, then rub all over both sides of the ribs.  Spray the crock pot bowl with nonstick spray, then place the ribs on their sides against the wall of the crockpot, thick side down and meaty side against the wall.  Drizzle your cup of bbq sauce over them, then cover and cook for 7 hours on LOW.

When 7 hours are up, cover a cookie sheet (rimmed pan) with foil, then place a rack inside of it (I used a cooling rack).  VERY carefully remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place on the rack, meat side down.  They are going to try to fall all apart!  Place a strainer in a small saucepan and carefully pour the liquid that is remaining in the crockpot through the strainer.  Remove the strainer with the debris and bring the liquid to a boil.  Allow to cook, at a boil, for 15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third.   Turn the broiler on to low and baste the ribs with the thickened liquid.  Make sure your oven rack is about 10 inches under the broiler element.  Cook under the broiler for three minutes before removing and carefully flipping over, meaty side up.  Baste again and cook for 9 minutes under the broiler, basting a couple of more times during that 9 minutes.

Remove and enjoy!  You can serve the remaining sauce on the side.

All you need to make great ribs!

Quick and Easy Salsa

I love chips and dip, it’s one of my favorite snacks.  Every time I would go to my friend Kelly’s house, she would have this super yummy salsa.  Finally I asked her to send me the recipe and it was a link to a blog.  I made it.  And the next day I made it again.

This recipe really IS quick and easy.  The ingredients are inexpensive, something you can keep in your pantry to pull out for a last-minute appetizer.  It takes literally minutes to make.  And it’s quite tasty.  It says it’s a copycat recipe for the Chili’s salsa, and it may be.  I don’t eat there often enough these days to compare, but I do love this one!  Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

Quick and Easy Salsa

Quick and Easy Salsa
Recipe from:  Six Sisters Stuff

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 small can (4 oz.) diced jalapenos
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt (or 1/2, depending on taste)
1 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar


Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree until the consistency is to your liking.  Alternately, you could put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is to your liking.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Strawberry Cake with Fresh Buttercream Icing

Nothing says “Hello, Spring!” like strawberries.  A bakery here in my town makes fresh strawberry cakes, using strawberries in the batter and the icing, it is to die for.  I decided to try to do something like that, only using buttercream icing.  Sort of strawberries and cream, if you will.

This cake was so easy to make, I didn’t end up using fresh strawberries, I used frozen as the recipe called for.  But it made a truly delicious, moist cake and I already knew I’d love the buttercream icing, I’ve made it many times before.  I hope you enjoy this as much as our friends did!

Strawberry Cake with Fresh Buttercream Icing

Strawberry Cake with Fresh Buttercream Icing
Cake recipe from Paula Deen, see post on icing here.

1 box white cake mix
1 (3-oz) pkg strawberry flavored instant gelatin
1 lb. package frozen strawberries, thawed and puree’d
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 9-inch cake pans.

Mix the gelatin powder and the cake mix together.  Using a mixer, add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.  Pour equal amounts into each pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Set aside on cooling racks.  When fully cooled, ice with desired icing.  Here is my buttercream icing:

Buttercream Icing Recipe seen on Confections of a Foodie Bride, originally from Williams-Sonoma Yields

2 sticks butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
5 tbsp milk (I used 2 percent)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1 tsp meringue powder

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and with the paddle attachment (scraper if you have it), beat on low until the ingredients are just mixed.  Turn the speed up and whip the icing until it’s light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  If you don’t have the paddle scraper, then you will need to stop once to scrape the sides and bottom.

Strawberry Cake with Fresh Buttercream Icing



BLT Bites

Last month my brother-in-law and his fiancée got married.  I’m sure Michelle got lots of advice on wedding related things, but I told her my most important piece of advice is to make sure she gets a plate of food set aside for her to bring home!  I didn’t get to eat anything at my wedding reception, though I hear the food was fabulous!

Well this time I wasn’t the bride, just a bridesmaid.  So I got to eat!  There were many yummy things but there was one thing that stood out.  It was so unassuming, these little tomatoes on a platter.  I didn’t get one because I wasn’t sure what they were stuffed with and my plate was already full!  My mom got a few though and she told me to try one.  Heavenly! They taste exactly like little bite-sized BLTs, full of creamy bacon flavor.  I went back for more for myself and they were all gone 😦  A few days later I went off in search of a recipe to make them and found it on Taste of Home’s website.   It was a huge hit at a jewelry party I had, I can’t wait to make them (and eat them!) again!

BLT Bites

BLT Bites
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated


  • Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and very carefully scoop out the insides.  Give a little thought beforehand to how you’re going to scoop them out – I used the round part on a jalapeno corer.  You don’t want to tear the outside of the tomato and you don’t want to scoop all the way through.
  • Place all the tomatoes on a plate and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and mixed.  If the filling is too “firm” then add a little more mayonnaise and mix well.
  • Scoop into a ziploc bag fitted with an icing piping attachment (or just make a small hole in the tip of the bag) and gently squeeze the filling into the tomatoes.
  • Cover the tray and place in the refrigerator a few hours to firm up.
  • Serve cold.

Scooped-out tomatoes