Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya

Close-ups of jambalaya are maybe not quite as appetizing as its taste. Delicious, I swear!

Close-ups of jambalaya are maybe not quite as appetizing as its taste. Delicious, I swear!


From the same cookbook as the last post, Jambalaya: The Official Cookbook of the Junior League of New Orleans (1981). Spicy, delicious, and easier than you might have imagined, this is the real thing! There are ten jambalaya recipes in this cookbook. Here is the one we made tonight:

1 lb smoked sausage, thinly sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
2/3 c chopped green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1 c chopped celery
2 16-oz cans tomatoes
2 c chicken broth
1 c chopped green onion
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tsp oregano
1 tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 c long grain converted rice, washed
3 lbs raw shrimp, peeled

Preheat you oven to 350 degrees. In a 4 quart heavy pot, sauté sausage; remove with a slotted spoon. Add oil to the drippings and sauté green peppers, garlic, parsley, and celery for five minutes. Chop tomatoes and reserve liquid. Add tomatoes with liquid, broth, and green onions. Stir in spices. Add rice which has been washed and rinsed three times. Add sausage and cook for 30 minutes, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally. After most liquid has been absorbed by rice, add shrimp and cook until pink. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Serves 10.

Notes: I halved this recipe and it came out just fine. I do feel that this dish needs vegetables. I think a cup of okra would be perfect. Okra tends to thicken things a little bit, so I’m guessing a little extra chicken broth might be needed. Also, serve this with a dollop of sour cream. It cuts the spiciness and heavy texture nicely.


Shrimp Fettucine



From a fantastic vintage cookbook I grew up with, Jambalaya: The Official Cookbook of the Junior League of New Orleans (1981). When you can find it used, it is well worth the couple of dollars. It occasionally pops up on that Amazon page or eBay. The recipes are all classics, plus many Creole and Cajun dishes you’ve never heard of.  Even without pictures, they’ll make you drool just reading the dish names.

This was an easy 20 minute dinner and a fairly plain and simple one for the cookbook, but last night I happened to have everything on the list at home, even the shrimp. I omitted the mushrooms because I’m the only one in my house that loves them. If I had added them I think shiitakes would have been ideal, as their flavor and shape holds up well in cooking and they produce very little liquid. Lastly, I think a sprinkle of dry white wine or vermouth would make this more dynamic. I served it with a wedge of lemon and tossed some deep fried shallots on there – blammo. Perfection.

You’ll have to unbutton your jeans when you’re done eating.

5 green onions, chopped
2 c sliced mushrooms (I omitted this)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 stick of butter (American sticks are 8 tbsp – 1/2 c)
2 tbsp oil (I omitted this)
1 lb peeled, deveined, raw shrimp (I only had 1/2 lb)
2 tsp salt
8 oz fettucine (I used closer to 10 oz)
3/4 c grated Romano cheese
3/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 c heavy cream
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

In a large skillet, saute green onions, mushrooms, and garlic in 1/2 a stick of butter and oil. Add shrimp and saute until pink. Pour off excess liquid. Season with salt (I also added pepper). Cover and keep warm.

Cook noodles in salted, boiling water. Drain. In a saucepan, melt remaining 1/2 stick of butter. Add noodles, cheeses, and cream. Mix well and combine with shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and toss. Serve immediately.

*Note: They aren’t kidding about serving immediately. It pales in texture every moment that goes by.

Red Lentil Dal

I have a significant other who loves Indian food.  Loves!  I don’t love it.  Every time we have an opportunity to have a date night, his first suggestion is any Indian restaurant in town.  I almost always decline.  I do start to feel guilty about it, though, and when I ran across this Red Lentil Dal in The Happy Herbivore, I thought it would be a nice gesture.  Would you believe that I love it, too!?

Red Lentil Dal

from The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 T. ground ginger

1/2 c. dried red lentils

2 c. vegetable broth

1 chopped tomato, with juices

3 oz. tomato paste

1 T. ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

cayenne, to taste

Line a medium pot with 1/2 c. water and cook onions and garlic until transluscent.

Add turmeric, cumin ,paprika, and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking or burning.

Add lentils, broth, tomato, tomato paste, and coriander, stirring to combine.

Bring to a buil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until lentils are cooked and orange-ish.

Add garam masala, stirring to combine, and let rest 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper and cayenne.

*Nutritional Information:  Calories 134, Total Fat 0.7, Cholesterol 0, Total Carbs 25.5, Dietary Fiber 9,3, Protein 7.0g.

We ladled ours over a bed of cooked brown rice and it was truly delicious~

red lentil dal

Vegan stuffing and “sausage”

If you haven’t tried Field Roast sausages yet, you are missing out.  Our favorite so far is the Smoked Apple Sage which is just plain amazing.  Tonight I took it out of the casing, sliced it in to rounds and sauteed them with a little bit of olive oil until they were browned and getting a little crisp.  Mouthwatering delicious and between these and some of the traditional sausages I used to eat, there is no contest.  I’d pick this anyday!

I’m also love, love, loving my Happy Herbivore cookbook lately and Nixon’s Traditional Stuffing recipe was the perfect complement to the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausage.

Traditional Stuffing

6 c. cubed whole wheat bread ( I left mine out overnight)

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp dried parsley

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 1/2 tsp powdered sage

1 large onion, chopped

4 celery sticks, chopped

1 c. No Chicken Broth


Preheat oven to 350* and lightly spray a 9×13 baking pan.  Set aside.

Transfer bread cubes to a plastic bag.  Spray once or twice with cooking spray, add herbs and toss for a minute.  ( I actually did this in a large mixing bowl so as not to use a plastic bag, but whatever works).

Open bag and re-spray once or twice, then seal it and shake gently until cubes are evenly coated.  Set aside.  (Again, I did this in a bowl, so I put part of the bread crumbs in, sprayed, sprinkled the herbs, then added more bread, sprayed, sprinkled, etc.)

Cook celery and onion in 1/2 c. of water (I used the No Chicken Broth for this step), over medium heat until celery is soft, onion is transluscent and most of the water (broth) has evaporated; about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl and combine with bread cubes.

Stir to combine, then transfer to prepared pan.

Drizzle with 1/4 c. broth or less.  (I used 1/2 c. because 1/4 didn’t seem like quite enough).

Bake for 30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes and adding more No Chicken Broth as needed to prevent stuffing from drying out.


Now, you may think this sounds like an Autumnal sort of dish, but I can assure you….it’s delish any time of year.


Nutritional Info (Stuffing Only):  Recipe serves 8.  Calories 115, Cal from Fat 13, Total Fat 1.4g, Cholesterol 0, Total Carb 20, Dietary Fiber 3.3, Sugars 3.4, Protein 6.7

Gai Yang (Thai BBQed Chicken)

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This is a simple recipe from my go-to Thai cookbook, Thailand: The Beautiful Cookbook. Although traditional gai yang is barbecued (and there are gai yang variations in the book whose directions only give barbecuing instructions), this one is baked then broiled. Juicy, fragrant, delicious, simple. Nevan’s favorite!

Quick notes: I usually double the marinade while keeping the salt at 1 tsp, up the cilantro/ginger/garlic, and add some dried sliced red Asian chillies. Doubling the marinade also gives you extra sauce to put on the rice! Also, while the recipe calls for a whole chicken, I just buy the same weight in wings because everyone in the house seems to prefer it that way (plus, American chickens rarely come in such a low weight).

1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs, cut in half


1 tsp salt
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp white pepper
1 tbsp minced cilantro leaves and root (you may have to skip the root, as Americans rarely sell cilantro with it intact)
2 tbsp rice wine (or cognac or whiskey)
2 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
1 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce

Rub the entire chicken with the combined marinade ingredients. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes minimum. When I do wings, I put the wings and marinade in a casserole dish, coating the chicken well, and put them in the fridge until I’m ready for baking.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes (I turn the wings over halfway through cooking) and then broil or grill for 10 minutes or until done and nicely browned.

Cut into serving sized pieces and serve with chili sauce. I like to serve this with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables on the side.

For the vegetables, I threw together some leftover bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, onion, garlic, and basil with a little sesame oil and soy sauce… nothin’ fancy.

Pepper Lunch Nom Noms

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When living in Asia, I LOVE eating at Pepper Lunch, a Japanese chain restaurant whose most popular dish is a hot skillet plate with a mound of rice and corn in the middle and very thinly cut shabu-shabu beef sizzling around it, topped with lots of pepper and a runny egg if desired (click here for a picture). While we are lucky enough to have one here in the South Bay, it’s just barely far enough away that I don’t feel like driving there (plus it’s kinda divey here… no idea why, it’s not like that overseas). Thankfully, my area is chock full of Japanese markets where finding shabu-shabu is a snap, so I make my own version. It’s very quick and way more flavorful than my above description. As testament to that, know that when I make Pepper Lunch for dinner, there is no talking at the dinner table. Just the sound of Nevan going “MMMMMmmm” after every bite.

After some researching other homemade versions of the famous Pepper Lunch skillet plate, I tossed together my own recipe. Many Pepper Lunch lovers are sticklers for the sauces they make there, but personally I just prefer it with soy sauce. If you’re interested in reproducing their famous sauces, this page looks promising.

My home variation obviously takes into account my preferences. Per person, you will need:

1/2 cup cooked white Japanese rice
A pat of butter
soy sauce
Several tbsp of chopped green onions
A good amount of chopped cilantro (not in original recipe)
Approximately 1/4 cup frozen corn or boiled and cut off the cob
1 clove of garlic, sliced or chopped (not in original recipe)
1 egg
However much shabu-shabu sliced kobe/wagyu/angus beef you’d like
Lots of salt and pepper
Some Thai roasted chili paste (or whatever favorite chili sauce you have)

Cook the rice. Make a little mound and put your pat of butter on top to melt. In a hot pan, heat up a little oil and throw your corn and garlic in until hot and cooked through. Place on top of the rice. Fry your egg and place on top of the corn. Season your beef with plenty of salt and pepper and quickly cook through, being careful not to overcook. Place that on or around your rice/corn (I usually throw it all on a cutting board and roughly chop it up just to make it easier to eat). Top with green onions and cilantro and lots more ground pepper, and splash a little soy sauce on there if desired. Put a spoonful of chili paste on the side and chow the hell down.

Macaroni & Cheese

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Caution: macaroni and cheese is not that appealing close up and under bright lighting.

If there is something every human should master, it’s a handmade macaroni and cheese. My general rules for a great mac are that it must:

– use a bechamel sauce base,
– have goat cheese for a little tanginess,
– have more than one kind of cheese,
– must have something of the onion family in it.

Now don’t get me wrong – I still buy Annie’s boxed mac ‘n cheese from time to time for Nevan – but if you’re going to make it from scratch, you may as well take your time and go for gold.

My method is a bit of combination of two of Martha Stewart’s mac ‘n cheese recipes from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook, but mostly it’s the “Macaroni and Four Cheeses” recipe. Here is my little version with proportions halved from her recipes. Serves 5-6 people.

4.5 tbsp butter, plus extra for greasing casserole dish
2.5 cups milk
1/4 plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups grated extra sharp or sharp cheddar
1/2 cup Gruyere, Parmesan, or Pecorino Romano cheese
10 scallions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced OR 1 leek, white part minced
5 oz goat cheese
1/2 -3/4 lb your favorite mac ‘n cheese pasta
1 cup panko (optionally, you can make your own buttered breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup blanched broccoli, run under cold water and chopped
1/4 cup diced turkey ham or bacon, chopped

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish and set aside.

If you are using leeks instead of scallions, cook lightly in a little butter until soft and set aside. If using scallions, they do not need to be cooked.

Warm your milk in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Gradually whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, or until mixture is thick and smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually add the warm milk, allowing a portion to absorb before adding more. Cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, whisking occasionally.Remove the white sauce from heat, add salt, pepper, cayenne, and nutmeg.

While you are making the white sauce, boil your pasta half way in salted water, then rinse under cold water.

Gently stir in half of the cheeses into the white sauce. Fold in your scallions/leeks and optional broccoli and meat. Stir in the boiled pasta, then turn out into your prepared casserole dish. Crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top, sprinkle remaining grated cheeses, and cover with panko.

Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Used the recipe exactly as found here.  I really like Claire Thomas.  I think her food has a simplicity that makes it doable, and yet everything is balanced and lovely.  D.Jones made fun of me when I told him we were having pasta with squash and potatoes.  I believe he said “Nice!  How about some starch with your starch?”  The truth is, we both ended up loving it.  The final splash of balsamic brings out all of the flavors and the basil…oh yum, the basil.  I love basil and this gave me an excuse to use an entire bunch of it.  Yum~

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
For 6
1 cup roasted butternut squash (1 inch chop)
1 cup roasted potatoes (yukon gold, 1 in ch chop)
1 cup roasted red onion (1 red onion, sliced into 1/2 inch thick circles)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 oz dry pasta
This is meant to be a left overs meal, but if you’re roasting your veg from scratch preheat your oven to 425 F.  Start with a cup and a half of each vegetables and rub with a heavy drizzle of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread out over a baking sheet (you may need two baking sheets to ensure that the the vegetables aren’t touching).  Roast for 25-45 minutes, depending on the vegetable (less time for red onion, more time for potatoes).  Halfway through roasting, flip the vegetables to make sure both sides are cooking evenly.  Once the vegetables are crisp at the edges, remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water per manufacturer’s instructions.  While the pasta cooks, heat up a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and then cherry tomatoes.  Let the tomatoes cook for about one minute, and then add the garlic.  Add the roasted vegetables, stirring to combine.  Add the basil and stir.   When the pasta is done, add it to the  sauté pan straight from the pot with a slotted spoon.  The residual water on the pasta will create a sauce.  Stir and finish with balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.


Street-Style Enchiladas Rojas

This is from Rick Bayless’ Mexico: One Plate at a Time. Dave wanted to make these for us but since he’s been sick and working as usual, time has not been on our side. I decided tonight was the night and with his permission, I made them instead.

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These are not your typical enchilada. The tortillas are not rolled with a filling; the sauce is dry, not wet. The tortillas are not soaking in a sauce while baking. One last surprise? No jack cheese. I was skeptical. Surely you cannot call these enchiladas! I made the sauce, tasted it, and made a face. I thought, “well, if it comes out terribly, I’ll just make sandwiches.” Good thing they were surprisingly delicious. Even Nevan, who I anticipated to not like the strong, dry flavor, muffled through a mouthful of food “MMMMM! I could eat these EVERY day!”. I think I still prefer your traditional saucy, rolled variety, but these were a nice departure from the common enchilada.

5 medium (2.5 oz) dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup grated Mexican queso anejo or other dry grating cheese such as Romano or Parmesan
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
2 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken, preferably grilled, roasted, or rotisserie
12 corn tortillas
Roughly 1/3 cup vegetable oil or pork lard
4 loosely packed cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar (preferably cider vinegar)

I will try to keep the directions short.

Heat a dry heavy skillet over medium. Tear the chiles into flat pieces and toast them skin side up, pressing down with a spatula, until aromatic and lightened in color. Place them in a bowl and cover with 3 cups of very hot tap water. Place a small plate on top to keep them submerged, and allow to soak for 20 minutes.

Transfer rehydrated chiles to a blender and add 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid and garlic. Blend until very smooth, and if desired you may strain to smooth further (I skipped that, it was unnecessary). Add roughly 1/2 tsp salt, to taste. Pour the sauce into a pie plate. Note: the ancho chiles at my market came in a 2 oz. package, so I only used that much minus some of the water. I managed to just squeeze through 14 tortillas on that much, so if you can’t quite get 2.5 oz., don’t worry.

Heat oven to 350F. Toss your lettuce in the vinegar. Set out your grated cheese, warmed chicken, lettuce, and onions and get out a baking sheet or small casserole dish. Heat up a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp of oil/lard. Once hot, dip both sides of the tortilla in the sauce and fry for about 20 seconds each side in the oil. Fold it in half and lay it on side side of the sheet/casserole dish. Cook the rest in the same manner, slightly overlapping the tortillas. Lay another layer of the folded, fried tortillas in the opposite direction on top of the first layer, and if you still have some extra, do another layer.

Place in the oven for 5 minutes to heat through. Remove from oven. Divide among four plates and top with chicken, cheese, lettuce, and onions. I also added sliced black olives, light sour cream, and a generous amount of The Pepper Plant, California Style (if you have never had it, you are missing out on this little known California secret: the world’s single greatest hot sauce. I’m serious: order it now. California Style is the best all around sauce… goes with everything). A healthy handful of cilantro would have been perfect, but I had none. Sad face.

These should be eaten right away. They don’t keep like traditional enchiladas because they’re dry. Enjoy!

Egg and Cheese Bake

My mom makes it for Christmas morning every year, Doug and I make it for Sunday brunch, a weeknight dinner, or any other time it occurs to us.  You can change it up every time and add or remove ingredients based on your own taste.  Here is one of my favorite combinations.

Egg & Cheese Bake

10 eggs

1/2 loaf of white or white wheat bread or the equivalent in baguette

2 c. shredded cheese (1/2 cheddar, 1/2 pepperjack is my fave)

2 c. 2% milk

1 1/2 tsp. Herbs de Provence

1 finely diced shallot

pinch of red pepper flakes




Butter a casserole dish.

Take bread slices and slice off crusts.  This doesn’t have to be perfect.   Then cut into cubes.  You can also employ kids for this step.  Cooper and Soph never mind sitting at the table and tearing up bread for me.  Toss the bread in to your buttered casserole dish.

In medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs thoroughly.  Add the milk, shallot and Herbs de Provence, red pepper flakes and S&P.  Whisk them together.  Add the cheese.  Pour this mixture on top of your bread, cover with foil and put it in the fridge for a few hours.  Overnight works perfectly, or make it in the morning to have for brinner.

Remove from fridge and let it sit on the counter for about 20 min.

Bake at 350* uncovered for about 45 min or until center is cooked through completely.

Let it sit again for about 5 or 10 min and then cut in to squares and serve.  Yum.  Plus, your house will smell fabulous!

Doug likes his served with a 1/2 of a sliced avocado on the side which is a lovely addition~