Monday, August 9, 2010


time to take a mini vacation down south with this dish! my quick jambalaya recipe is the perfect one pot, weeknight dinner consisting of fresh vegetables and lite meats mixed into a bed of tangy spiced rice. once you see how easy it is to create your own creole favorite, you won't be purchasing the pre-made box mix anymore! you can better control the intake of sodium and preservatives with this recipe, as well as control good taste! so try this one out, and put on the easy going attitude of New Orleans while you're at it too!

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2"-1" pieces
1 small yellow or white onion, cut into 1/2"-1" pieces
1/3 cup celery, chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cooked chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes (try my 'Catherine's Favorite Chicken' recipe)
1 lb smoked sausage (I use Hillshire Farm Lite brand), cut into 1/4" half-moon shapes
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp chili powder
1 ts. paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, depending on how hot you like it!)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil

-warm 1 tbs. olive oil in a large pan (with about 3" high sides) on medium heat
-add peppers and onions to pan, stir to coat oil
-cook for 5-7 minutes, until peppers and onions start to brown slightly
-reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and celery, cook for an additional 3 minutes
-set pepper and onion mix aside
(-if you need to cook the chicken do it now, and use the same pan. remove the pepper mixture, and add raw, seasoned 1" chunks of chicken into pan with about 2 tsp of olive oil. cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, until chicken is cooked through. set aside with the pepper mixture, and continue on)
-in the same pan, on medium heat, add 1 tsp. olive oil and sausage
-cook until sausage starts to get crispy, about 5-7 minutes
-reduce heat to low/simmer
-add to the pan the pepper and onion mix, chicken, tomatoes, rice, and broth
-add chili powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and stir
-cover the pan with a tight fitting lid
-cook on low for about 25 minutes until rice is cooked, and liquid is absorbed

serves approximately 4

this recipe came about when i decided to stop using the boxed jambalaya mixes, and created my own

-you can use water, beef broth, or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
-make it creole style by adding some shrimp and/or lump crab meat 7-10 minutes before it's done cooking
-make it cajun style by skipping the tomatoes; just make sure you add an extra 1/2 cup broth to the pot
-to increase your whole grain intake, try it with brown rice. combine the broth, brown rice, and tomatoes in a separate medium sized pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let cook for 50 minutes. cook the veggies and meat separate, and add everything together when the rice is done cooking
-you can use whatever color bell pepper you have on hand! red, yellow, or green!
-try it vegetarian with tofu products and add more veggies such as zucchini, squash, and chopped spinach
-try it with a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes!
-if you choose to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, you will also need to add some more broth (about 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on how juicy your tomatoes are)

-the combination of green bell peppers, onions, and celery is called the "trinity' in cajun cooking. these 3 foods are the base seasonings in many cajun dishes such as gumbo, stews, chilis, and jambalaya!
-the difference between gumbo and jambalaya? jambalaya is generally more of a casserole dish, with all ingredients cooked with the rice. gumbo is more of a hearty stew poured over rice, and usually takes much longer to cook. however, they both include the trinity and similar spices, vegetables, and meats.

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