Monday, November 8, 2010

Busy Mom's Arsenal: Jambalaya

I was making this "recipe" this summer, and wondered out loud to my Dad if this was a post-worthy dish.  After all, I said, it's pretty much a boxed rice mix that I just jazz up to suit my taste.  Is this really good enough to be posted? I asked.  He reminded me about the purpose of my blog in the first place:  A BUSY MOM COOKS.  He said that this sort of "recipe" is exactly what people are looking for-a way to jazz up quick items to make them seem homemade and delicious. 

As usual, Dad was right.  I want you to have a glimpse of what I cook on a busy night, when I'm in a pinch, and seriously can't fathom another salad for dinner.  What do I do? I reach for a boxed jambalaya mix and jazz it up.  I usually use the brand that's on sale.  Sometimes it's Zatarain's, sometimes it's Aldi's brand.  It just depends.  I usually stock up on 3 or 4 boxes at a time, so that the makings of an easy dinner is always in my cupboard. 

About the veggies: As with all of my recipes, the veggies that I have listed are ones that I had in my fridge at the time I made the dish and photographed it.  Please don't let my list of veggies stop you from using what you have in your fridge.  That's the whole point of easy cooking: use what you have on hand.  I've made this with onions and peppers only.  Sometimes I add zucchini or summer squash.  If I'm in a super pinch for time, I might just roughly chop an onion and then add a bag of frozen veggies.  Or canned.  It's so easy.  What you're looking for is a way to bulk up the recipe, stretch it so that it goes further, and simultaneously add to the nutritional value of the dish for you and your family's sakes. 

About the sausage: I used a chicken andouille sausage called Sausage by Amy.  I get it in a 3-pack at Costco.  I keep the packages in the freezer, pull a package out right before I need it, and pop the sausages (still in the wrappers) in a bowl of cold water, with more cold water running over it.  They defrost in about the time it takes for me to chop the veggies.  If for some reason the sausages are still solid inside, I'll pop them in the microwave quickly to finish the thaw. 

About the picture:  This recipe keeps well for a while and also freezes well.  Do what I did in the picture and store your leftovers in small, one-serving containers.  Keep them in the fridge for a few days and reheat for lunches.  Freeze what you don't eat in a few days. 
Busy Mom's Arsenal: Jambalaya
Serving size: 1 cup rice mixture and 4 pieces sausage
Points per serving: 4.5

  • 1 package chicken andouille sausage (each sausage cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, chopped; or 1 or 2 carrots, grated
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 or 6 handfuls of spinach leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 box jambalaya rice mix (I usually use Aldi's version of Zatarains, or something similar)
  • Optional topping: guacamole (If you don't mind shameless culinary globetrotting, like I do.)
  1. Heat a non-stick pan on HIGH heat.  Cook veggies (except spinach) and sausage for 5 minutes.
  2. Add amount of water called for on rice package and bring to a boil. 
  3. Add rice and seasoning packet, and follow directions to cook.
  4. When rice is almost done, add spinach and allow it to wilt. 
  5. Serve and enjoy. 
These portions were a little bit bigger.  More yum!

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