Monday, October 24, 2011

A Little Southern Comfort

The cold weather is starting to arrive and all of the leaves are beginning to change. I love fall. It's my favorite time of year. We're also getting dangerously close to Halloween - my favorite holiday of the year as well as our anniversary.

One of my favorite things about fall is that it signifies the time when I start feeling like it's "soup weather" again. I love soup weather! We have a small arsenal of soups and chilis that I make through the fall and winter months. This weekend we inaugurated the season by making my personal favorite, jambalaya.

I can't tell you where I got this recipe. I'd like to say because it's a closely guarded secret, but the real reason is that my memory is crap. I have been making it for nearly ten years now. As with the majority of the recipes in our household, I have tweaked it slightly from its original version over the years in order to suit my family's tastes.

With Collin working shifts and teaching late classes this week, I made a double batch so that he would have plenty to grab off of for quick lunches or late dinners. The recipe I'm supplying is for a single batch, which usually serves about six people, but it will look like a LOT in the pictures.

Here's what you'll need :

2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 c. rice, uncooked
1 (1-lb.) pkg. Hillshire Farm smoked sausage
1/2 lb. precooked cocktail shrimp
2 c. chicken broth
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
1 medium onion, chopped (I substitute 3 tbsp. dried minced onion)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I substitute 2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 tbsp. Tabasco green pepper sauce
1/8 tsp. cajun seasoning
Sour cream

Of course since I was making this as a post this time the process was a bit of a comedy of errors. There were some pretty stupid mistakes, but I will tell still turned out delicious.

First prep your meat and vegetables. I cut the sausage into sections and then down the middle so I end up having little crescent shaped pieces that are small enough for Dar to chew. Defrost shrimp and drain off the water. Slice up pepper and onion. (Since I doubled the recipe and had a red pepper that needed to be used,  I went ahead and did one green and one red pepper. I also managed to forget to slice the pepper first, which is why it doesn't appear in a cutting board shot. Oops.)

Melt butter in a medium to large stew pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, peppers, garlic, sausage and shrimp. If you're allergic to shrimp (Owen) you can substitute one can of shredded chicken. I've done this before and it still turned out good. Cook the meat and veggies for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring often.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. I usually use sticky rice (I like the Nashiki brand), but I screwed up this time and grabbed the Minute Rice. It doesn't really matter though, any type of uncooked rice will work.  I also managed to grab the whole stewed tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes so I had to fish them out, chop them and throw them back in. I'm telling you, it was a pretty good mess.

Mix the contents well and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender (brown rice tends to take about 10 minutes longer). Make sure to stir the pot frequently so that the rice doesn't end up sticking to the bottom.

Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes longer before serving. Add a dollop of sour cream to each bowl. (Darian prefers his without, but he's a boob.)

And as's a sneak peek of what I completed last night for our Halloween display. I have to complete a batch of twelve arms so I'm not quite done, but this was all my poor little hands could handle yesterday. Bending wire hangers isn't always easy. Also, a big thanks to my dry cleaning company. Typically I grump about all the stupid hangers that I end up amassing in my closet, but for this project they totally paid off.

Step 2
Step 1

Step 3

Finished arms.

And that's it until tomorrow! Tomorrow I'll be adding more to the book bracket as well as introducing next year's book plan. I'm hoping to work on Darian's Jake bag tonight and have it done in time to do the tutorial post for his costume on Thursday. And...if I have enough time and manage to figure it out, I may have another costume surprise for Wednesday's post. Don't worry...even if I fail miserably I'll still let you know what I was attempting to do.

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