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Keisha Pittman McKinney: Mama Sue’s Kitchen Cabinet Gumbo

Whether you are the Pioneer Woman, a contestant on the Worst Cooks in America, or just trying to get culinary in a small south Arkansas town, nothing makes dinner easier than a “cabinet creation.” Growing up, I always dreaded “clean out the fridge” buffet night. I would offer to help my mom get the meal ready because that left me first in line to pick out the remains of my favorite meal of the week. Thus leaving the mushy stuff that I didn’t like for the slow pokes who weren’t listening when the dinner bell rang!

On the contrary, I LOVED nights when my mom just winged it. She was (and still is) the queen of creativity in the kitchen. She taught me how to make incredible meals on a tight budget. She can always remake leftovers in to a new creation.She can take parts of two different meals and if you don’t pay attention, you think she has cooked a fresh dish 3 nights in the same week! It’s a not-so- secret talent and it’s been fun as we have added son-in- laws to the mix at our holiday table to watch their amazement at her dinner creations.

What she does best is always seek to be present with her people. Doing this takes lots of preparation. Mama will cook the week or weekend before we come and have meals ready in the fridge or freezer that we just have to bake and eat. (That leaves us more time for shopping, craft projects, window shopping, bargain hunting, cashing in coupons, and more shopping – all the essential things for time with your mama!)

She is also really great at her own “semi-homemade” treats. She will have the meat or cooked parts ready and just stir it all together at meal time. That’s exactly what happened with today’s dish. On their own, any of these ingredients are just fine. But, together, they are magic! And if a Cajun likes anything, it’s the magic that happens in a slow, stewed gumbo.

KEISHA MCKINNEY: Mama Sue's Kitchen Cabinet Gumbo

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken breasts (fresh or thawed)
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 14.5-ounce Margaret Holmes Okra, Tomatoes, and Corn
  • 1 14.5-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 27-ounce cans Margaret Holmes Red Beans and Rice
  • “soppin” bread – frozen garlic bread recommended

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken breasts in crockpot with 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning and 1/2 cup water.
  2. Cook on low for 4 hours. Remove chicken to cutting board and dice in to cubes. Return chicken to crockpot and add canned veggies, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning.
  3. Cook for 2 more hours on LOW. A few minutes before serving, add shrimp (chopped to desired size or left whole) and canned red beans and rice.
  4. Stir together and serve hot with any sort of bread to sop up that goodness!

Notes

In case you are wondering, we are Texans, not Cajuns…therefore we let the people who know what to do, do it and we take full advantage of what comes our way!

http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/keisha-mckinney/

Keisha Pittman McKinney Big Pitt Stop #ARWB Keisha (Pittman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney.  A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what its like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere.  She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats and the social justice cases on her heart.

Follow Keisha:
Blog –bigpittstop: new journey, new normal, new you –  http://www.bigpittstop.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bigpittstop
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bigpittstop
Instagram – http://instagram.com/bigpittstop#
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/bigpittstop/
Periscope – @bigpittstop

 

Puppy Love

By Keisha McKinney

Yall, I’m in LOVE (insert deep sigh…..).

What a year 2016 was for me.  I know I gave you a full list on my blog of all the things that had me mesmerized in 2016, but I just didn’t disclose everything….I mean, how do you put it in to words?

I love Starbucks mobile ordering and pickup.

I love chips and salsa.

I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

I love getting fresh ingredients and new recipes delivered to my front door.

Oh, how I love my new baby niece (like heart multiplied as I became an aunt kind of love).

I know the last couple weeks have been all about the gushy, mushy kind of love.  And, I know what you are thinking, “Keisha, you are a newlywed. Gag, we get it already. ”

But friend, you are wrong.  I’m talking about that fresh every morning, new every day, “love you no matter what” kind of love…

Becoming a wife made me a #dogmom. 

I knew Mr. McKinney’s dog. I had been around her while we were dating and even took care of her some weeks when he moved away. But she was the first one who stole his heart so I wasn’t sure where I’d fit in. Let me just say, we are both smitten.

She was found in a ditch by a friend of Mr. McKinney’s roommate and spent the first 2.5 years of her life being the only “female” in a house with dudes. To say she lived/s on a pedestal would be an understatement. I mean when my main squeeze gets home every day, she practically climbs up his body and they have “a moment” together.  She loves him.  But, really, she just loves. 

Since I work from home these days, she and I have bonded.  She stays and snuggles with me in the mornings after Mr. McKinney leaves for work. We have a morning routine that involves coffee for me and Rachel Ray’s Dish delights for her (I already told you she’s on a pedestal…this part just involves chicken and vegetables).  At different points throughout the day I’m reminded when Gizmo the neighbor’s cat saunters down the street, Tucky the neighbor lab who grew up and won’t fit under the fence any more can’t come to visit, and anyone comes to make a delivery.  A plethora of animals from stuffed chickens or hedgehogs, crinkly flat blue elephants, or fuzzy “rad bones” make a visit to my lap for an afternoon toss in an expected order.  Sometime after 4, I start getting the “quit working mom” face.  She can only lay on her Serta dog mat by my desk for so long.

And, in case you’re wondering…no, she doesn’t know she is a dog. She sleeps under the covers at night and on Mr. McKinney’s pillow in the morning. If you get up and leave your spot on the couch, she will quickly take it over. Her furry snout and sweet whiskers always make their way between your knees while you dine on breakfast, lunch, or dinner (she is not really picky).  A knife with peanut butter on it will never stand a chance and if you pray over your dinner while seated at the coffee table, you better keep one eye open.

Puppies.  They just steal our hearts.

My Bailey Girl loves deep. She is sensitive. She anticipates routine and is curious by change. She knows the smell of a good dinner and can hear the sound of the refrigerator door opening even if she is in the furthest corner of the back yard. Daylight Savings Time messes her up…the dark, early evenings make her want to eat dinner an hour earlier and have her sitting in the front window waiting for her master. She forgives fast and loves you best by her presence and touch. She knows mama doesn’t like the licks in the face and has to be reminded when enough kisses have been shared. She knows her name and basically 157 words (they say dogs can memorize up to 150 words…but I promise she is advanced).

She cowers when you discover that while you left her alone, she “accidentally” got in to the treats. She curls up on the couch in “her spot” around 8 and yes, somehow all the pillows find their way to that end of the couch.  

She doesn’t ask for much and gives with everything she has. She is not very good at catch, but will fetch all day long. She is a little quirky when it comes to lights and can be completely thrown off by a flashlight. If it’s soft and squishy, she is going to lay on it and still doesn’t understand that the world does not revolve around her.  Because well, around here….its kinda does.

She is our baby girl. Papaw said it best, “Bailey, the best thing for you is that you never discover you’re just a dog!”

Now, that’s love and I just can’t imagine how I wouldn’t love her forever.

Keisha (Pittman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney.  A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what it’s like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere. She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, being the #HostesswiththeMcMostess, and the social justice causes on her heart.

Blog –bigpittstop: new journey, new normal, new you –  http://www.bigpittstop.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bigpittstop

Twitter – https://twitter.com/bigpittstop

Instagram – http://instagram.com/bigpittstop#

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/bigpittstop/

Periscope – @bigpittstop

Keisha McKinney: Stuffed Bell Peppers {National Rice Month}

rice harvest nat rice month

Sometimes you plan for dinner and sometimes you dig in the fridge and freezer and see what you can make up! (The later happens at my house more often than not or at least more often than I’d like to admit.)  So to keep up with my unfortunate habit, I usually keep my “pantry” stocked with staples that turn any meal in to magic.  And, because my husband loves the white things on his plate most, that usually involves a trip to my rice shelf.  With an iron skillet or crockpot, a protein and some rice, you can turn a dinner that was going to be an afterthought into a….I was going to say work of art, but who cares what it looks like when it tastes good?!?!

Sure, there are a bajillion version of stuffed bell peppers on the interwebs and in your dusty cookbooks on your shelf.  Your grandma probably has a version that she cooked when you were little and your college roommate just discovered this delectable delight to wow the hungry, post recess and workday mouths at her table.  Below is Mrs. McKinney’s version when she is desperate to clean out some items in the fridge and still make the hubby, who likes a hearty meal, happy.  

stuffed bell peppers keisha

Keisha McKinney; Stuffed Bell Peppers {National Rice Month}

Ingredients

  • 4 bell pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup frozen seasoning blend (onions and friends) minced garlic
  • 1 tomato, small diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked Riceland rice (leftover is fine!)
  • 1 jar pizza sauce or tomato/marinara sauce
  • 3 T spicy ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large stockpot, bring enough water to cover peppers to a boil. Place peppers in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Immediately remove from water and drain.
  2. Set on a plate or paper town to rest.
  3. Keep enough water to cook rice as directed on back of bag and pour out rest.
  4. Pour water in a smaller saucepan and bring water back to a boil. Salt water and pour in rice. Cook as described on package. (I use a quick cooking rice. If you are using a brown rice or different kind, you will need to include prep time for the rice to cook)
  5. Brown ground beef. Set aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess fat.
  6. In pan with meat drippings, brown onions/seasoning blend with a little minced garlic.
  7. Once onions are translucent, add tomatoes and stir together. If using canned tomatoes, cook until most of sauce has reduced.
  8. In a small bowl, stir together pizza sauce, ketchup and Worcestershire.
  9. Season to preference.
  10. Remove vegetable mixture from heat and stir in rice, browned meat, and half of pizza sauce mixture.
  11. Stir all together and fill inside of bell peppers with meat mixture. Use mixture evenly between 4 peppers.
  12. Top with remaining pizza sauce mixture.
  13. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes. Some prefer to top theirs with cheese while it bakes, you make the call!
  14. Serve immediately.
http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/keisha-mckinney-stuffed-bell-peppers-national-rice-month/

 BONUS

stuffed bell peppers keisha muffin tin

 

And, if you didn’t think a recipe was enough of a tip today, here’s something that might help your sanity and save some clean up.  Use a muffin tin to bake your stuffed pepper.  Stand them up in the little muffin holes and bake them just as you would in a glass dish.  I even threw in some chocolate pumpkin muffins around my peppers and dessert cooked at the same time! #multitasking

Enjoy your evening, round off your plate with something green, and unpack the day together around your favorite dinner table spot!

Our reigning “Arkansas Rice Queen,” Keisha (PiKeishattman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney.  A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what its like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere.  She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats and the social justice cases on her heart.

 

Keisha Pittman McKinney: Local is the Flavor of Your Town {Foodie Friday}

My husband had a birthday at the end of last month.  And, as is customary on this occasion, he received several gifts and cards.  One card particularly intrigued me.  It held a wad of cash (wahoo!!!) and a note, “since you don’t really have anywhere to go out to eat in your town, buy a treat for yourself on us.”

In the moment I laughed, agreed and was also thankful for the sentiment.

But, as his birthday money kept burning a hole in my pocket (did you catch that!) I started thinking more about our new little town.

South Arkansas is full of towns like mine; places with few eateries, the usual suspects when it comes to fast food, and probably one or two sustainable optional varieties.  We look at the town, we assume its cookie cutter, and always default to our favorite spot. 

I’ve heard several people locally talk about their favorite  but usually it involves an eye roll, a deep sigh and a grunt.  So one day this past week, I did a little drive by during my lunch break.  While I was able to hit them all during my lunch break, I had to remind myself I am very efficient with time, and we do have lots of variety in this town of mine. 

TJs-foodie friday

I’ll begin at the red light by my house. There sits a busy gas station at the intersection by the high school.  And if you were to sit across the street beginning at 10:45am, you would see a full parking lot for 2 hours.  Business men, ladies, and construction workers; they come and go in the same pack in which they arrive.  Inside you find people who know your name, a lavish salad bar and a daily changing “hot plate”.  It meets the 1st requirement for local dive flair – if the parking lot is full, its gotta be good!

TacoTruck.Stillwells

 A shift from there to the town square will fill your culinary treasure box.  A Mexican street truck adorns one corner and shares the parking lot with Dish Network and the DeQueen Bee, our local paper. Flanking the opposite corner is Stillwell’s Restaurant. If you ever come to town and want to meet me for lunch, this is where we will be. Open for breakfast and lunch, the daily special is always on point. French Dip Friday, meatloaf sandwich on ciabatta, and that chicken spaghetti!!! If none of those entice you, their southwest panini with a cup of potato soup leaves a little room for the homemade peanut butter pie that will make you want to slap yo’ mama in the face!  The wifi always works, the iced coffee drinks flow til 2pm, and the people….they smile and ask your story.

Mexican Stops on Square

 The rest of the town square sits perpendicular to the Pilgrim’s plant and with it brings a slew of special local options.  A tortilla factory! 2 mexican supermarkets, 1 of which apparently begins slow roasting carnitas on Friday night and it is all gone by noon every Saturday.  Mary’s Gorditas is only open on the weekend (nuff said!). And, another famed taco truck that I can vouch for.  Even a gringo can order the hand patted sopas on a Saturday for lunch! If that’s not enough around the block is a local carniceria that has the best cut of steaks and in house seasoned taco meat. (you are wanting to come for a visit now, aren’t you!)

in town stops

 Oh, I’m not done.  We have a pandaria (Mexican bakery).  A Mexican ice cream shop.  A Baskin Robbins in the gas station (one of the busiest Tiger Mart’s in the state thank you Greyhound). An in town produce stand that runs year round with everything from the farm on the edge of town.  An Asian grocery store at a local flea market. Pruett’s, our local grocery store is the best place for bar b que; the smoke flavor just fills your nostrils as you walk in to get your groceries.  Simple Simon’s Pizza has an unusual menu (just give them an hour if you are planning to pick it up!). Then there’s the Country Girls Café that is a new Saturday morning tradition for @bigpittstop and her mister. Pancakes as big as your face and eggs that are light and fluffy.   

RanchHouse

 I’ll round out the tour with the Ranch House Café.  My parents discovered this place when they moved us in.  It has its own smoke house outside, the usual dinner plate with sides, the unusual handmade fried pies and homemade desserts.  I recently learned they make their own grilled veggies that you can substitute for any of the fried stuff.  And, if you don’t hear “how y’all tonight,” then you’re probably not sitting at the right place.  My dad prefers this place over my cooking and the hubs knows it’s where we will end up if I’ve had a long day.

And, I forgot a stop by NatiBCakes, Fat Chance’s Buffet, Sunrise Buffet, and the Tyson Family Store.

Variety we have.  Unique dining experiences pervade.  I mean I’ve been here 5 months and haven’t worn these places out yet.  Look around and don’t complain, the local stuff is what adds flavor to your town!

 keisha pittman mckinney

 

Keisha (Pittman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney.  A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what its like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere.  She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats and the social justice cases on her heart.

 

 

Follow Keisha:

Blog –bigpittstop: new journey, new normal, new you –  http://www.bigpittstop.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bigpittstop
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bigpittstop
Instagram – http://instagram.com/bigpittstop#
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/bigpittstop/
Periscope – @bigpittstop

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