A Bit Of Jambalaya

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Growing up in New Orleans, I’d only known tomato-based jambalaya, whether chicken and sausage or seafood (sausage and shrimp). It wasn’t until I went to my first jambalaya cook-off in Baton Rouge that I realized in the capital city jambalaya is brown. Jambalaya is so versatile, it can be made with a variety of pork, chicken, sausage and seafood. I’ve tried many over the years and while I’ve had some great flavors, I always go back to the roots when I’m making it at home. Now as a kid, my mom often made the Zatarain’s starter box her own, adding to it and making a dish that was always memorable. In tribute to all those great flavors, I made my take on it from scratch. This was an easy, one pot dish that I will be eating with different veggie sides this week. I hope you try your hand at a New Orleans classic and share your feedback. The recipe is listed below. Enjoy!

New Orleans Style Jambalaya (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:
1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 1/2 cups of rice
1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
1 14 oz can of diced tomato (no salt added)
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce (no salt added)
1 large diced onion
1 large diced bell pepper
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:
1. Rinse and slice and dice the bell pepper. Cut onion in half. Peel and dice each half.
2. Add diced vegetables to a large pot over medium heat and stir to prevent sticking.
3. Once the vegetables soften(about 2-3 minutes), add rice. Stir mixture to lightly toast rice then add the diced tomatoes, the stock, tomato sauce and half of the seasonings. Once it begins to boil, reduce to low heat.
4. Slice sausage and add to the pot. Stir well. Let cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally (10 minute intervals).
5. If peeling and deveining your own shrimp, start now.
6. After the cooking time, rinse and add shrimp and remaining seasonings. Stir well and top for another 10 minutes.
7. Plate with a vegetable of choice and enjoy.

A Bit Of Valentines

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of the singles and couples out there! Whether you are cooking a solo meal or something for a special someone, this surf and turf option is an easy way to show off some skills and create a dish full of flavor. Today’s demo at the Goodwood Main Library was a great treat to both the customers passing through and me with their incredibly awesome feedback on the dish. It’s always rewarding to include new flavors in a sure crowd pleaser like skewers.Below is the recipe and I hope it makes you and your special someone happy. Enjoy and share your feedback!

Surf and Turf Skewer Ingredients:
1 lb beef tenderloin
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup chocolate raspberry balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 of a juicing orange
1/8 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 medium bell pepper (or two small assorted colors)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
2 gallon ziploc bag
4-6 skewer sticks (8-12 inches)

Rice Pilaf ingredients:
1 cup rice
1 1/4 cups of water
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
1/8 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/2 cup raw spinach washes
1/2 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. coarse black pepper
2 tsp. onion powder

Directions:
1. Add rice to a pot and rinse once before adding water and squeezing in the juice from half of a grapefruit and juicing orange. Put over medium-high heat until it begins to boil, then top and reduce heat and set timer for 18-20 minutes.
2. Slice the tenderloin into thick strips then cube it into large pieces. Add beef and shrimp to one of the ziploc bags.
3. Cut bell pepper in half and remove the stem and seeds by gripping the center and breaking it off. Slice the bellpper into large chucks and add to the second ziploc bag. Add rinsed cherry tomatoes.
4. In a small bowl, add vinegar, the larger amount of olive oil and half of the seasonings and mix well. Add half of the mixture to one ziploc bag and half to the veggie bag and divide the remaining seasonings between the two bags. Squeeze in other half of orange into the protein bag.
5. Close the ziploc bags and massage the marinate into the produce until well mixed. Set aside for 15-20 minutes while rice cooks.
6. Wash about a cup of large spinach leaves and cut them into strips. Gently wipe off 5-6 mushroom caps and slice thinly. Add to a small skillet to with a splash of water, over medium heat and let cook for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms and spinach have wilted down. Remove from heat.
7. *To ensure even cooking, you can cook the contents of each ziploc bag before adding to the skewers for plating. In a large skillet, add olive oil over medium heat and once hot, add the bag of protein and cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping each piece to cook the other side. ( cook beef longer for well done preferences).
8. Add rice and seasonings to a medium bowl and mix in spinach while the meat cooks. Squeeze fresh grapefruit juice from remaining half, seed-side up and mix in well with a large spoon. Set aside for plating.
9. Remove the meat and add to a plate or bowl before washing out the skillet and adding the vegetables. Cook for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
9. Skewer an assortment of shrimp, vegetables and beef in any order preferred and serve over the rice.
10. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Leftovers

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I love the challenge of transforming “leftovers” into a new dish. I am truly a believer of efficiency both with meal prep and weekly spending. This week, I purchased a whole chicken and used it four ways-I baked half and stewed the other half on Sunday night. I then used part of the baked chicken to make chicken salad and chicken turnovers on Monday and today. I even have enough left for a nice chicken sandwich that I can top with some fresh spinach and arugula. If making two key dishes is hard, roasting the whole chicken is certainly an option as the recipe below, which serves four, can easily be doubled. You can also cut off the chicken to make sandwiches, make chicken salad or serve it with steamed vegetables and an easy rice pilaf or mashed potatoes. I challenge you to make great use out of one key ingredient. Check out the recipe below and as always, share your thoughts!

P.S. Though this dish below takes about 30 minutes to make, you can shave off 12-15 minutes by making the chicken filling the night before (steps 1-6).

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 8oz container of crescent rolls
4oz Philadelphia cream cheese reduced fat
1/3 cup minced green onion
1/8 cup minced celery
1/8 cup sour cream (optional)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne

Directions:
1. Take out cream cheese to soften 10 minutes before you plan to start cooking. Preheat oven per instructions on crescent rolls container.
2. Pull cooked chicken from the bone until you have about 2 cups. Roughly chop the chicken into smaller pieces or chop it in a food processor.
3. Rinse green onion and celery. Cut off ends and chop into small pieces or put in the food processor to mince.
4. Cut off half of the block of cream cheese and cut it into cubes. Add chicken, celery, green onion and cream cheese to a bowl and work in the cream cheese with a fork until everything is well blended.
5. Add seasonings and mix in well.
6. Line a baking sheet with foil and open the pack of crescent rolls. You should have 4 squares (total 8 triangles). Using the slightly cut edges, break into four squares and add about 1/8 cup of the mixture to the center of each square.
7. Bring each end to the center making a circular pocket. Make sure to punch any openings close to hold in the filling.
8. Bake 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.
9. Remove and turn off oven. Serve with a side salad or vegetable of choice.
10. Enjoy!

A Bit Of Lamb Curry

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I am a fan of curry and have had many varieties dining out. I love that curry is quite versatile and can be made with many different proteins including seafood.
Since I so thoroughly enjoyed the meat from ourfamilyfarm66, I decided to make a hearty lamb curry. I used a mix of fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market and my always on-hand frozen green beans. This one-pot wonder took all of 20 minutes to make and it is a dish that is easy to stretch with additional vegetables should it be needed for a larger group. This dish serves 6-8. Try my take on a different flavor of curry and be sure to share your thoughts. Below are the ingredients and directions for the dish. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup of quartered red potatoes (2-3 small)
1 large carrot
1/3 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup green beans
1/2 cup shredded basil
1 cup beef broth (unsalted or reduced sodium)
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup reduced fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tbsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. coarse black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Rice and water for desired servings

Directions:
1. Prepare rice as described on package. Remove defrosted or fresh lamb from fridge to remove chill.
2. Wash potatoes and quarter them by cutting in half, then each half into fours. Keep skin for extra nutrients.
3. Peel and chop carrot into large pieces. Peel and dice onion and add it all to a medium-sized pot or pan over medium heat. Let it sizzle and crisp up before adding half the stock and all of the water.
4. Let cook for 5 minutes with the top. While it cooks, rinse and fold basil leaves in half before slicing into strips. Rinse a handful of cherry tomatoes and slice them in half.
5. Add lamb and reduce heat. Stir and break up meat gently. Add basil leaves and all of the seasoning. Lamb cooks quickly, so watch it carefully. (About 4-6 minutes)
6. Add remaining stock, green beans and coconut milk. Stir to mix everything well and reduce to low heat.
7. Let simmer for 5-7 minutes then turn off heat.
8. Serve with rice and enjoy.