Cajun Bayou Jambalaya

spicy jambalaya

What do you do when winter throws you a polar vortex? Make jambalaya.

Last weekend, as much of the Midwest was preparing for a second round of dangerously frigid wind chills, Hunky Hubby got the itch to cook. And I absolutely love it when my Love cooks —messiness and all. (Don’t tell him I said that.) Hubby is the master of many dishes but his jambalaya is over the moon. I’m talking deep, aromatic, robust flavor of cosmic proportion. If I had more adjectives to throw in I would. His jambalaya is that good. 

I’m all about giving credit where credit is due and Hubby’s treasured jambalaya recipe is based on am original recipe created by the supremely talented chef Scott McGlinchy. Flashback to 1996 (I’ve been having a lot of those lately), it was the year our firstborn Beauty was born (who will be turning 18 in a few days!) and the year Hunky Hubby enrolled in a Cajun cooking class at the local technical college. Everyone in that class hit the jackpot by having the owner and executive chef of Heaven City Restaurant at that time for a teacher. It was during that class that Hunky Hubby sharpened his culinary skills, learned about the holy trinity staple of Cajun cooking, and truly began to develop his sense of taste. To this day I’m amazed by my Hubby’s high definition taste buds.

And he’s amazed that I buy unpeeled shrimp.

preparing jambalya

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned cook (ha!), I’m told this is an easy jambalaya recipe… especially when using peeled and deveined shrimp… and already roasted chicken.  The original recipe from Chef Scott is heavy seafood. My Love put his own spin on this Cajun delight by using a combination of chicken, ham, andouille sausage and shrimp and is the recipe we’re sharing here.

Cajun Bayou Jambalaya
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 lb. diced andouille sausage
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1⅓ cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • ½ lb low sodium ham, diced (such as Eckrich)
  • 1 cup roasted chicken
  • 12 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  1. Sautee sausage, onion, celery and green pepperin 2 tablespoons of butter and 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil until soft.
  2. Add ⅓ cup chicken broth and heat until hot.
  3. Add garlic and spices through bay leaves.
  4. Add 1¼ cup chicken stock, tomatoes, ham, shrimp and rice. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until rice is done.
  5. Add cooked chicken and parsley and cook until chicken is warmed through.

Jambalaya is not a dish we have very often so when we do it’s special in so many ways. I hope it is for you, too.


Crock Pot Asian Beef and Noodles

Serving up slurpy noodles doesn’t get any easier than crock pot Asian beef and noodles. The distinctive flavors of simmering beef with peppers and onions, soy sauce, ginger and garlic are a welcoming aroma after a long day. It’s simple and soupy and incredibly satisfying.

crock pot asian beef and noodles

This has been a hectic week (in a good way) and I was grateful to have my crock pot at the ready. What busy mom doesn’t love her crock pot? Not only does crock pot cooking make meal preparation effortless, a crock pot works wonders. It’s capable of turning a normally tough, inexpensive cut of beef into something tender and flavorful in a single bound.

Even if you’re not an occasionally frenzied working mom, I’m giving you a virtual nudge to give this crock pot Asian beef and noodles a try. Let me know if you too savor every slurp. 🙂

Crock Pot Asian Beef and Noodles
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 pounds round steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 - 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large fresh tomato, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ cup hot water
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil and brown beef strips in batches.
  2. Sprinkle with black pepper and granulated garlic and toss to coat.Transfer to crock pot.
  3. Layer peppers and onions on beef and top with tomatoes.
  4. Mix soy sauce with water and ginger and pour on top. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire, if desired.
  5. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
  6. Add 1 package of soba noodles to crock pot and cook until noodles are tender.
  7. Ladle into bowls and serve with additional reduced sodium soy sauce.

This recipe is an adaptation of Taste of Home’s crockpot pepper steak.




Quick & Creamy Cheese Grits

spoon of creamy grits

I have made more than my share of grainy, clumpy, far from creamy cheese grits. The kind that bare no resemblance to the velvety texture of the cheese grits I devoured in Savannah last summer. Or the creamy grits I ate in Myrtle Beach. Or the divine grits of goodness loaded with Munster cheese that I relished every fat gram of in Charlotte.

While I’m sure each of those chefs labored over their cheese grits, this busy mama has been on a quest for a quick-cooking grits recipe that would deliver a creamy spoonful of goodness with every bite. And in a jiffy. A recipe that would come to my rescue on nights when each of my loves is heading in a different direction, after a family meal. Naturally, I turned to Cousin Google for help and bless you folks who took the time to write about your grits and enlighten folks like me. I hadn’t a clue that the secret to making creamy quick-cooking cheese grits is in the starting temperature of the liquid.  Who would have thought to add quick-cooking grits to cold water and/or milk to get that velvety texture?

After a lot of tweaking and twerking, I’m happy to pass on my own recipe to all of you who relish creamy cheesy grits with a speedy preparation. This recipe takes a healthier spin on cheese grits as I opt for a mixture of reduced fat milk and water instead of heavy cream. The reduced fat cream cheese provides richness with fewer calories and fat grams and the egg whites lend a velvety texture.

Quick & Creamy Cheese Grits
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 C quick-cooking grits
  • 2 C skim or 1 % milk
  • ¾ C cold water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (often labeled Neufchatel cheese)
  • ⅓ C grated Parmesan (or your favorite cheese variety)
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  1. In a medium size saucepan, add the milk, water and cup of quick-cooking grits.
  2. Set the temperature on high, get out your whisk and let the mixing begin.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil - stirring constantly - about 4 minutes or until the mixture visibly thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and add 2 T butter, 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, grated Parmesan (not from a can), and dried parsley. Mix well.
  5. Next add the lemon juice and lightly beaten egg whites.
  6. Return to the stove top, reduce heat to medium, and continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are well blended and the grits have a smooth, creamy cheesy consistency.
  7. These grits are best served straight from the stove top, but will reheat nicely if you're lucky enough to have leftovers.

bowl of quick-cooking cheesy rits

This recipe has been a steady hit in my house and delivers a spoonful of goodness in every bite. I’d love to hear from you if you give my recipe a try –  let me know what you think or how you tweaked it to make it your own.  (These quick & creamy cheese grits also make a perfect bed for Saucy Shrimp, and especially for my family’s new found favorite – Cajun Broiled Salmon topped with Creole Sauce.)

Wishing you many spoonfuls of goodness,