Saturday, September 26, 2015


My husband made a comment the other day that my cooking is distinct.  Meaning I tend to cook the same way all the time.  When I asked him to clarify he said, "You always do some sort of meat with a rub, a complex side and a simple side."  Well.  I don't know why, but that rubbed me the wrong way.  I don't want my cooking to be "distinct"!  Honestly, I don't feel it is but his perception is his reality - so off I went to find a recipe that was out of my normal cooking methods.

I stumbled across this jambalaya recipe and thought it looked delicious and fit the not my typical distinct way of cooking.  :)

This was too spicy for the kids so if you have a family you'll need to make something different for them.  We had left over pasta e fagioli so that is what our kids ate.  You can control the amount of heat that goes into this dish.  The recipe below is how I made it to my liking.

There is a lot of chopping in this recipe.  It took me about an hour and a half from start to finish.  A little long for a weeknight meal.  Would be great to make on Sunday and have to eat during the week.  It makes a ton!

3 tbsp olive oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 white onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño finely chopped, with seeds (you can put in 2 jalapeños if you want more heat or leave the seeds out if you want less) 
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced into rounds, precooked
3 cups chicken stock
1 14 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 1/2 uncooked white rice
1 tbsp cajun or creole seasoning (I used cajun as that is what I had on hand.  If you want a more heavily seasoned jambalaya, add another Tablespoon)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup thinly sliced okra
salt and pepper
thinly sliced green onions
hot sauce


Heat 2 tablespoons. olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, bell peppers, jalapeno and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and mostly cooked. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, chicken and sausage, and stir to combine. Continue sautéing for an additional 5 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and mostly cooked.
Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, rice, Cajun spice, bay leaf, thyme, and cayenne, and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked, stirring occasionally. (Don't forget to stir, or the rice may burn on the bottom of the pan.)
Once the rice is tender, add in the shrimp and okra and stir to combine. Let the mixture continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked and no longer pink. Remove bay leaf and season the jambalaya with salt and pepper and hot sauce and additional Cajun/Creole seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and serve with sliced green onion.
I did not need to add additional seasoning for my tastes.  My husband did add hot sauce to his bowl.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pumpkin Chili

Once we get close to Fall, it seems all the food in the stores start showing up as pumpkin this and pumpkin that.  I am going to jump on that bandwagon too, but I want REAL pumpkin in the food I'm eating.  Not just flavored to taste like pumpkin.  Pumpkin is really healthy for you.  It's loaded with fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A in our bodies.  If you are using a canned pumpkin, just make sure to not grab the canned pumpkin pie filling as that has a ton of added sugar.

My friend Maureen told me about this recipe from Wellness Mama last year and I've just now gotten around to getting it up on the blog.  It is such a yummy recipe.  I doubled the recipe this time otherwise my family of 4 eats it all in one night with nothing leftover.  My oldest daughter has requested this in her lunch at school for the past two days.  She loves it and it keeps her fuller longer, plus I know it's packed full of veggies and nutrients her body needs!

Ingredients: (doubled version)
2 pounds ground beef (we use grass fed)
4 onions (I felt like this was too many onions.  Husband and daughter thought it was fine but if you're not a big onion fan keep it to 2)
2 cans diced tomatoes (16oz each)
2 cans tomato sauce (15 oz each)
2 cans pureed pumpkin (15 oz each)
2 cups beef broth (read labels for gluten if you want this to be gluten free)
2 tbsp chili powder
4 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 avocado (garnish)
cheese and sour cream (garnish and use vegan to keep dairy free)
sliced green onions (garnish, and I forgot these)

Brown the beef in a large pot.  While beef is browning dice your onions.  Add onions to the pot and cook until soft.  Add the pumpkin, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, stock and spices.  Stir to combine.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.  I usually keep on low for 30 minutes to really give the flavors some time to meld together.  Served topped with shredded cheese, sour cream and diced avocados.