Flipping recipes: Cajun Seafood Alfredo

Let’s be honest, sometimes we get bored with cooking the same things week in and week out. At least I know I do. I’m always looking for ways to transform meals we already love into something new and better. And I think I accomplished it with this dish!!! Y’all this was soooo good!!! Those several people I have the pleasure and honor of being the mama of DEVOURED THIS!!! Everyone loved it (Bean said there was a lot of cheese, he isn’t the biggest cheese fan lol, but he still gave it his approval)! I shared the process of how I made this delicious creamy, cheesy filling lasagna in my Instagram stories and I added to my highlights for reference. It was easy to make because we skipped the step of making a ricotta or cottage cheese filling. Here’s the recipe and I hope you and your family makes it especially before the new year because this is NOT diet friendly!!!

Cajun Seafood Lasagna

Ingredients

For the filing:

  • 1 cup of red, green, yellow, or orange bell peppers chopped – use a mix of any combo or only one
  • 1/2 cup of red onion (can substitute white or yellow)
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms chopped (optional)
  • 1 to 2 cups of Shrimp, Crawfish tails, and/or crab (imitation or real). I just used shrimp and crawfish tails only.
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. I also used Crawfish/Crab boil seasoning but leave this out if you don’t want a spicy lasagna.

For the sauce:

  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • Liquid from filling (see one directions)
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1-2 cups of half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (I use the one that has basil, garlic and oregano already added from Aldi)
  • Garlic powder or garlic salt or you can also use a tablespoon of minced garlic, salt and pepper.

You’ll also need 1-2 (16oz) bags of shredded Mozzarella and Italian Blend cheese and lasagna noodles. I used oven ready noodles but partially cooked them beforehand because I wasn’t sure if there would be enough sauce to cook them in the oven. Next time I would just use regular lasagna noodles.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil noodles in water according to directions. Add oil and some crawfish/crab boil if using to the water to prevent sticking and add flavor.

For the filling:

  • Add the olive oil and 1/2 the butter to a sauté pan on medium high. Once butter has melted add onions, peppers and mushrooms. Add garlic (always add garlic to something already in the pan because otherwise it will burn and destroy the flavor of your food). Cook until softened. Add more butter and add shrimp crawfish and seasonings. Cook for 2-3 minute until shrimp are done. Add diced 2-3 tablespoons of diced tomatoes There will be liquid at the bottom of you pan. Remove veggies and seafood and strain liquid and set to the side. This will go into you sauce and give it great flavor so don’t skip this step.

For the Sauce:

  • In same pan you cooked the filling add butter on medium low heat. Once melted add 2 tablespoons of flower and cook. Makes sure you cook the flour, you don’t want raw flour taste in your sauce!!!
  • Once cooked add preserved liquid by whisking in slowly until combined. You should have a thick paste consistency. Slowly whisk in chicken broth if using then half and half or heavy whipping cream. Then add Parmesan cheese. Add seasoning and diced tomatoes. Make sure to taste food to see if additional seasoning or cheese is needed. Turn off heat. Sauce should thicken while standing.

To assemble the lasagna:

  • In a sprayer 9×13 pan add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce. Then add lasagna noodles to cover bottom.
  • Top noodles with sauce, then seafood/veggie filling, then mozzarella and Italian blend shreds cheeses. Repeat until you have at least two to three layers. Top with sauce and cheese. I added chopped green onions and fresh basil to the top prior to putting in the oven but that’s optional.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let lasagna set for an additional 15-20 minutes before serving.

We ate this with a side salad. The kids are already asking when am I making this again. This recipe was a little work but definitely worth it. Let me know if this is something you would try and if you do please make sure to tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama

Need easy but delicious meals for dinner?Check out my cookbook available for purchase now: Click here.

Love Ricki

Money Saving White Queso

Hi y’all! I wanted to share a quick and easy alternative to the Velveeta and Rotel combo we always use when we want nachos! If you haven’t noticed a block of Velveeta is almost $8!!! I actually stopped buying the brand awhile ago and usual get the store generic brand but even that can get pricey. Enter White Queso which comes together easy and fast using only a few ingredients. You can also add whatever else you want to it to suit your tastes but I have included the basic recipe below. If you try this tag me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama and let me know what you think!

White Queso

Ingredients:

  • One package of American white cheese (you can find this in the cheese section, but I wouldn’t suggest you get the individually wrapped slices)
  • One small can of green chiles
  • 1/2. Cup of Half and Half or Milk
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of diced tomatoes with green chilies (rotel) or diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning (or add more to taste) You can also use salt to taste.

Directions:

Shred cheese or chop into little cubes. Spray pot and spoon you will be using to make the Queso, this will make for easier clean up. Add half and half or milk and warm. Add cheese a little at a time stirring in until melted. Add can of green chilies. Add diced tomatoes or rotel if using. I wouldn’t use too much as you want to keep this the milky white color. Add seasoning to taste.

And you’re done! Of course I’m extra so prior to adding the half and half I sauté a few chopped onions and a clove of minced garlic. I also add fresh chopped cilantro at the end. Feel free to add whatever flavors you want. The cheese used is not strong so it takes flavor really well!

Also a lot of you asked how I prepare my taco meat. It’s super easy and makes for a thicker consistency (similar to Taco Bell). I brown my ground beef then drain any grease. I think add a packet of taco seasoning (I use Aldi version) and half a pack of dry ranch dressing mix. I will add a tablespoon of so of water but I never add as much water as the package says. I will also add more taco seasoning/ranch seasoning to taste. It’s important you taste your food! You know #itsbetterwhenitsseasoned around here!!!

I hope you enjoy the recipe! And in the comments let me know what else quick and easy recipes you’d like me to make. I’ll also be adding the IGTV video as well (IG is making me trim it so I’m still editing ugh) My Cook Yo Meals FB group is coming soon and I look forward to all the fun we’re going to have over there!

Love Ricki

5 Slow Cooker recipes using only 5 ingredients or less – and none of them are soups!

I recently wrote a blog post on the my love for the crockpot. It is my sous chef of sorts and helps me get dinner done a few times a week. Sadly I know everyone doesn’t utilize this wonderful appliance as they should. So I began to think of ways to help you see the wonderful benefits the slow cooker has and of course recipes came for mind. Here are 5 easy but delicious slow cooker recipes that you can add to your meal plan. I made sure to use simple easy to find ingredients and give you meal ideas to use along with them. For the purposes of this post we are not counting seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc) as one of the ingredients because those are things you should have on hand already. Feel free to season according to you and your family’s taste. Also I would suggest oiling or spraying your slow cooker with oil prior to use or pop in a liner. Now let’s see what we can get cooking!

Chicken Taco Meat

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts or tenders (about 2 lbs)
  • Ranch dressing mix
  • Taco Seasoning mix
  • Salsa

Add chicken breasts to slow cooker and add both packets of seasoning. Pour salsa over (you can also add a 1/2 cup of water but that’s optional) and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Shred chicken.

You can add this to tortillas or hard shell tacos and serve with rice or beans. This can also be used over nachos or a filling for enchiladas or a chicken version of Mexican stuffed shells.

Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • Pork loin or roast
  • Can of dark soda (Dr. Pepper, root beer or cola)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • Chopped or sliced onions (optional)

Add onions to slow cooker if using. Season pork to liking and add over onions. Pour over BBQ sauce and add can of soda. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred meat.

You can serve this in hamburger buns or sliders with French fries or chips on the side. Also the leftovers make great carnitas, just fry them in a sprayed pan til crispy.

Mississippi Roast

Ingredients:

  • Beef roast (about 2-3 lbs)
  • Ranch dressing mix
  • Au Jus gravy mix
  • Stick of butter
  • Pepperonis (optional)

Add roast to slow cooker. Season with both packets of seasoning. I wouldn’t suggest adding additional salt because the seasoning used is already salty enough. Add pepperoni if using. Place stick of butter on top. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

This can be served with rice or mashed potatoes and whatever veggies you like. Also can use it to make Upside Down Mississippi Roast. Recipe here.

Angel Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts or tenders (about 2 lbs)
  • Cream of mushroom or chicken or both (whichever you prefer)
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • Italian dressing mix
  • Mushrooms, fresh or canned (optional)

Season chicken to taste and add to slow cooker. Add Italian dressing mix, cream cheese, soup and mushrooms if using. You can add water if you want more sauce but this is optional as the chicken will make liquid while cooking. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.

This is great over any pasta with a salad or steamed veggies on the side. Also makes a great filling for a chicken lasagna.

Meatballs – 2 ways

Ingredients:

  • Package of frozen meatballs (usually found in the freezer section)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup Grape jelly
  • 1/4 cup water (optional)

Or

  • Package of frozen meatballs
  • Italian dressing mix
  • Jar of marinara sauce

Add meatballs to slow cooker. Warm BBQ sauce in microwave and then mix in grape jelly. Add over meatballs and pour in water if using. Cook on low for 2-3 hours

Serve as an appetizer night – I like to do this on Sundays with nachos or wings. Or add veggies and Mac and cheese.

Add meatballs to slow cooker. Add Italian dressing mix and marina sauce. Cook on low for 2-3 hours.

Serve over pasta with a salad and garlic bread for dinner. Or add to hoagie rolls and top with cheese and put under the broiler for a minute or two for meatballs subs. Also cut them up and add a pizza topping to tortilla pizzas.

I hope these recipes I shared make you reach for and use your slow cooker more. It works while you are busy with life and and produces yummy recipes that can be used in various meals with a little imagination. Tell me in the comments which one you plan on trying! Also make sure you’re following me on Instagram @severalpeoplesmama and tag me if you try any!

Love Ricki

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Meal Planning for People who don’t like to Meal Plan

I don’t understand why people have to be rebels and not get with the program. Meal planning is where it’s at!!! *Insert clapping hands* It saves time, money and it’s waayyyyy less stressful than standing in front of the refrigerator and squinting and frowning because you don’t know what the hell you’re going to make for dinner! Plus you’ll have less wrinkles. BUT I know it isn’t for everyone so that’s why I am writing this post. Some people just like to live on the edge and they can afford botox so meal planning is not a top priority. However, I want to show you how you can meal plan even if you don’t like it and I also included some meal ideas for when you are stumped on what to make. So here are my tips:

  1. Keep a stocked pantry/fridge/freezer. To be able to cook meals on the fly you have to have inventory. Make sure you have the basics you need to make simple recipes and your favorite recipes. This way you are always able to make the process of choosing what to have for dinner easy.
  2. Make your own recipe book. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can get a notebook from the dollar tree and write down every recipe you ever made or want to make. Or you can just keep a master list in your phone. Or dedicate a board on Pinterest. The key is to have a list that you can refer to when trying to come up with an idea of what to make for dinner. And even if you DO like to meal plan you should have a list of recipes to refer to when planning out your meals for the weeks anyway.
  3. Assign a theme to every night. Sunday – Soul food Sunday, Monday – meatless Monday, Tuesday – Taco Tuesday, Wednesday – Italian Night, and on and on. You assign it based on what your family usually likes. That way at least you have an idea to start with on what to make. For example for Taco Tuesdays you can make tacos, nachos, enchiladas, chimichangas etc.
  4. Have a Fend for Yourself (FFY) night or nights – I actually include this in my meal plan but it’s an easy idea that everyone should follow. This actually doesn’t involve eating out. It means you get the night off from cooking and everyone figures it out. I have older children and no husband so this is pretty easy for me but this can be done with smaller kids by buying their favorite lunchables and snacks & fruit and letting them eat it for dinner. I promise YOU WON’T GO TO JAIL FOR FEEDING YOUR KIDS SNACKS FOR DINNER! I mean just don’t do it everyday, Or do. I won’t tell anyone. Little kids are usually snack lovers anyway so in my opinion it’s a win/win for everyone. And as far as the husbands, since I no longer have one I probably am not the best person to follow advice from but I’m pretty sure they can figure it out too. I’m just saying! *shrugs shoulders*
  5. My final tip is utilize the internets. Google is your friend. So is Pinterest. And blogs like this one. If you have some ingredients on hand and you are not sure what to make, put it in a search and see what recipes you can come up with. I will warn you though this is truly living on the edge because you may not like what you try but then again you just might. That kind of living raises my blood pressure because I HATE wasting food and my money but if you got it like that…heeyyyyyy.

So those were my tips for meal planning for people that are so against the awesome idea of planning what to eat in advance so they are not stressed and hungry. No judgement from me lol. Below I have listed a few meal ideas for when you THINK there’s nothing to eat in the house. And of course they are all budget friendly. Let me know what you thought of this post and if you meal plan or if you’re a rebel and choose to live life dangerously hungry!

Simple Meal Ideas:

Soup & Sandwich – Can of soup and your favorite sandwich with deli meat or a bowl of Top Ramen with the deli meat or leftover chicken in it.

Quesadillas – Anything can go between two tortillas and some cheese. Beans, meat, veggies, the options are endless.

Baked potato bar – Baked potatoes are super filling and can be plain or topped with whatever you can think of.

Pasta night – You can use any shape pasta you want, any sauce and add any topping and you are even better than Chef Boyardee.

Pizza & Salad – Frozen pizzas (even those cheap ones for a dollar!) and a simple salad can satisfy hunger. Or you can make your own by buying the pre made crusts or using tortillas, bagels, garlic toast or even a slice of bread. Pretend you’re at Mod’s and pile on the toppings, it’s free (kinda).

Love Ricki