I am not Catholic. I grew up in an area where Catholics were much more prone to celebrate Ash Wednesday than they were to celebrate Mardi Gras. In fact, except for the bar celebrations, Mardi Gras is basically a non-event here. However, I grew up with family in South Louisiana. Of course, the celebration in New Orleans gets a lot of coverage, but every little town makes a HUGE deal out of Mardi Gras. I never went to a celebration, but the Mardi Gras coverage every year makes me crave Cajun food something awful. Hence, Jumbalaya. I love Jumbalaya for one simple reason – flexibility! The French root of Jumbalaya actually means mish mash. So, if you’ve got some rice, stock, protein and spices on hand, you can make Jumbalaya. The recipe here only has chicken in it. Usually, I’d also add Andouille sausage and shrimp. You can adapt the rice to protein ratio any way you want – more rice feeds a crowd a flavorful meal on a budget, more meat makes a super hearty dish that will please even the most carnivorous eater in your house. This recipe is only slightly spicy (I’d say medium if I was designating it the way salsa’s are) Reduce the amount of Cajun seasoning for a milder dish or add a little cayenne pepper to amp up the spice.
Almost all Cajun food starts with the trinity – that’s onion, bell pepper and celery – sautéed in your pan as the base. I like to add some rough chopped garlic, because it suits my tastes (or wards off unwanted vampire attacks – either way). It doesn’t really matter how uniformly it is chopped since this is going to simmer away for quite a while.
I also put diced, fresh tomatoes in with the trinity and garlic. You can use tomato paste too. Add it just before you add the stock. When the veggies start to soften, add your meat and get a little brown on it. Then stir in the stock.
Bring this to a boil. Stir in the rice. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover. Simmer until rice is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed. This takes about and hour (hey, I said it was flexible, not fast). You can cut the cook time down by using minute rice, but you are going to compromise some flavor and texture to do it. Serve it up with a nice, fluffy biscuit.
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 pounds chicken, diced (or 1 pound chicken and 1 pound sausage)
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup brown rice
1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic and tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Add stock. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to low, so that liquid is just at a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour (or until rice is done). Stir quickly after 30 minutes have passed and again after 45 minutes have passed.
I have never bought any kind of chard in my life. So, when I got a bunch of beautiful rainbow chard in my Bountiful Basket, I had to do a little research. I’d seen it used on cooking shows before. And everything I read said that you could use it pretty much anywhere you would use kale. I knew that I wanted to use those beautifully colored stalks. I decided the best use would be to pair it with a protein and make it a main dish. I make a soup with Italian sausage and kale, so I figured that would be a good bet. I started chopping stuff up, tossed it in the skillet and what came out was delicious. I served it with butter and garlic whole wheat spaghetti. My 3 year old called it leaves and worms and gobbled it up. My 6 year old had seconds (and maybe thirds). In my book, that’s a major win. I diced a couple of small red potatoes in this recipe. Honestly, this would be just as good (and maybe even better) without them, but I had some I needed to use.
Start by browning a pound of Italian sausage in a hot skillet. I use mild Italian sausage because my kids prefer it. This dish would be great with either mild or hot. I don’t use any oil in the skillet. The sausage cooks out enough oil for the entire dish. Don’t be afraid to let it get nice and brown. Crumble it into the hot pan and walk away for a minute or two. If you stir it around too much, your sausage will be all grey and, honestly, missing a flavor that only a good browning can give. I tried to take a picture of this, but all of the shots I took were too close up and looked decidedly unappealing.
When the sausage is nice and brown, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and potatoes (if you’re using them) and sautee until onions are translucent and potatoes start to soften. Use a little white wine or chicken stock (or even water) to deglaze the pan. Once you’ve loosened all the little brown bits off the bottom of the pan, add the chard to the top of the pan, cover with a lid and reduce heat to low. Let this cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Season with a dash or two of nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste before serving.
1 pound Italian sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 small red potatoes, diced (optional)
1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine
1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over high heat. Crumble Italian sausage into skillet and brown, stirring occasionally. When sausage is brown, add garlic, onion, bell pepper and red potato. Saute over high heat until onion is translucent and potatoes are almost cooked through. Deglaze pan with stock or wine, stirring to release brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add chopped chard on top of meat mixture, cover with lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove lit, stir, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
I love roasted chicken. I especially love it with roasted potatoes. Since I don’t keep white potatoes in the house anymore (I only buy them on rare occasions and then only enough for that one meal), I had to find a comforting substitute. My daughter loves to help me cook. She always gets a little nervous when I bring out the cauliflower. “Mom, is that white broccoli? I don’t like white broccoli.” That’s when I look at her and say, in all honesty, neither do I. At least not cut up on a veggie tray. But, in the last year, I’ve developed a certain fondness for cauliflower in some recipes and this is one of them. Roasted cauliflower florets sort of remind me of roasted potato wedges. They’re substantial. They have a slightly firm mouth-feel. They take on the flavor of whatever they are cooked/seasoned with. I honestly love this recipe even more than I love it with potatoes.
Start by cutting up a head of cauliflower into bite size pieces. Mix together the oil, salt and pepper and grated garlic. Toss the cauliflower and oil mixture together until cauliflower is well coated.
Put the cauliflower in a 9×13 baking dish. Season a whole, cut-up chicken with season salt (or use whatever cut chicken pieces your family loves). Lay the chicken in a single layer on top of the cauliflower. This way the chicken drippings cook down over and around the cauliflower.
Bake this at 350* until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden brown. If you’re using bone in, skin on chicken it’s going to take a while. I cooked mine for about an hour.
1 head cauliflower
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic – grated
1 whole cut up chicken
Preheat oven to 350*.
Remove leaves and stem from cauliflower. Cut or break into bite-size florets.
Stir together oil, salt, pepper and grated garlic. Toss cauliflower in oil mixture. Place cauliflower evenly across the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces liberally with season salt and arrange in a single layer on top of the cauliflower.
Bake at 350* for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
The weather has been getting progressively cooler here. And that means soup season is upon us. Also, somehow, my schedule seems to be filling up, which means that I use my crock pot more often. This recipe is adapted from my grandma’s taco soup. It’s easy, feeds a crowd inexpensively, and just plain tastes good. If chicken isn’t your thing, feel free to use hamburger. No crock pot? You can easily make this recipe on the stove top, but in that case I’d definitely used canned beans instead of dry.
To start, add a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and a can of corn kernels into your crock.
Then add dry or canned pinto beans and chicken breasts (I used whole, frozen). Also stir in a package of low sodium taco seasoning (or a tablespoon of your favorite homemade taco seasoning) and enough water to cover everything well. Turn your crock pot on low and walk away for 6-8 hours. Just before serving, remove the chicken and shred or dice it. Put it back in the soup, give it a stir and serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Yes, it really is that simple and so delicious.
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
1 cup dried pinto beans (or one can pinto beans)
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
water to cover
tortilla chips for serving
shredded cheese for serving
Place first 5 ingredients in a crock pot. Stir. Add enough water to cover. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high 4-6 hours.
Before serving, remove chicken from crock pot and dice or shred. Return to crock. Stir.
Serve with crumbled tortilla chips and shredded cheese.
I’m sure by now you all realize I have a slight obsession with green chile. I live in New Mexico in the fall. The air is thick with the smell of chiles roasting over a propane flame. Sure, I can buy diced chile frozen all year long and it’s pretty good. In fact, I can freeze my own and it’s even better. But, there is nothing quite like using fresh roasted green chile before it ever even sees a freezer. Just saying. And, I promise, this is not the last green chile recipe you will see from me. Maybe not even the last one this week. And I’m not sorry. Not even a little bit.
This recipe sounds a lot more complicated than it is – which makes it fantastic for entertaining. Impress your friends with a fancy name and keep the simplicity of the recipe as your own satisfying little secret.
First, you’ve got to open that pork roast up flat. Take a sharp knife, hold the blade parallel with the edge touching the long side of the roast about 1″ below the top. Carefully cut almost all the way through. Flip this top layer open and cut a second layer this time starting on the inside. Your roast should open flat and have three sections like this.
Layer whole, peeled, seeded green chiles and bacon over two thirds of your butterflied pork roast (the middle section and the top section.
Fold the third of the pork that has no bacon or green chile over the center. Then roll those two layers over the rest of the exposed bacon. If you’ve got kitchen twine. go ahead and tie this in a couple of spots to secure. I didn’t so I had to be careful. I scored the fat on top of my roast with diagonal cuts just to make it look pretty and to release some of the fat. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Then, sear all 4 sides in a hot cast iron (or other oven safe) pan.
Transfer the pan and roast to a 350* oven and cook for 30-45 minutes or until your desired doneness. My kids (and my husband) still freak a bit if the pork is pink in the middle, so mine is well done. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10-15 minutes and then slice.
1 pork sirloin roast (approx. 2 pounds)
3-4 whole green chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded.
6-8 slices thick cut bacon
Preheat oven to 350*
Butterfly pork roast into three sections. Layer green chile on the center and top third and the third directly next to it, leaving the last third bare. Layer bacon over the green chile. Fold the bare third over the center third. Then fold those two thirds over the remaining third. Secure with kitchen twine. Flip the roast and score the fat with a sharp knife. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Place roast fat side down in hot cast iron, or other oven safe, skillet and sear for 3-4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 3 sides. Place roast fat side up and transfer the roast and skillet to the hot oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until desired doneness (minimum 145*). Allow pork to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.
The last few days have been unusually busy and exhausting. Even with no Friday night practice or Saturday game this weekend, I came to tonight feeling drained. Dinner had to be filling and simple. And, for my sanity, it had to be something no one would complain about. This recipe fits the bill. There are seldom any leftovers, but when there are, they make a great breakfast – just cook up an egg to your preference and voila! Or, you could toss in some green chile, scrambled egg and cheese and roll it all up in a tortilla (which is what my husband prefers). Anyway, for dinner, start by cubing up a large sweet potato (you could use two or three smaller ones, but I hate peeling the dang things). Then toss them into a hot skillet with some butter.
Turn the heat down to medium low or low (depending on how hot your burner is). Lid them and let them cook for a few minutes until they start to get brown. Stir them around and add 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan and lid it again. When the water cooks off and the potatoes are mostly tender, add the sausage (which you can cut up before you start cooking or while the potatoes are cooking).My usual grocery store has stopped carrying full sized links of the smoked sausage brand I like best. Thankfully they still carry it in bratwurst-size links and they work just fine for this recipe.
Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and chile powder. Cook until the sausage starts to brown and the potatoes are completely tender.
Before anyone asks, yes, those are canned green beans on the plate. Yes, I ate them AND served them to my family. No, I am not ashamed. They’re convenient, quick and reminiscent of my childhood. Of course, they taste distinctly better if you add a little bacon grease, grated garlic (on my microplane so it is superfine) and black pepper to the pan and let it get toasty before you add the green beans. Which just happens to be exactly what I did.
1 large or 2-3 small sweet potatoes
14-16 oz of your favorite smoked sausage
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chile powder
Peel sweet potato and dice into 1/4″ cubes. Split sausage down the middle and cut into half moon shapes.
Heat non-stick skillet and butter over medium heat until hot. Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until potatoes start to brown. Stir, add water and replace lid. Cook until all water is gone and potatoes are mostly tender (5-10 minutes). Remove lid. Add sausage, salt, pepper, onion powder and chile. Continue cooking over medium low heat until sausage is brown and potatoes are tender.