Jambalaya My Way

Marrying someone from a different ethnic/geographical background than your own expands your horizons. Learning to cook Louisiana style foods has been a learning process for me. I haven’t heard of other people making Jambalaya this way, but I think it works best. Most recipes call for cooking the rice in the same pot with the meat and tomatoes, but I had a hard time with my rice sticking or becoming a gummy mess. So I decided to cook my rice in the rice cooker and then just stir it in to the cooked meat and veggies.

Jambalaya

2 cups uncooked rice (cook in rice cooker)
1 lb chicken (breast, thigh, combo)
12-16 oz anduille or smoked sausage
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 ribs celery, diced
1/2 Bell pepper, diced
1/2 bottle Gluten Free beer* (like Omission)
16 oz canned tomatoes
2 tsp Garlic
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Oregano
1/4 tsp Basil
1/4 tsp Sage
salt and pepper to taste (or cajun/creole seasoning)
2 tsp tamari* (gluten free soy sauce) optional

So, what I do is cook the rice in the rice cooker and while that is going I start the chicken in a deep skillet on the stove. I usually cook it frozen (because planning ahead is not my forte) and then chop it up and plop it back into the pan. Then I add the sausage and brown it up a bit. Next comes the veggies. When the onion is translucent I deglaze the pan with beer.  Let the beer cook down a bit. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir it all together and let it come to a simmer. Pile the rice on top and stir it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

It may not be the traditional way to make Jambalaya, but it works for me.

*If you aren’t GF just use regular beer and soy sauce.

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Easter Dinner Plus

I tend to over-cook on holidays. Growing up, our holidays were so focused on food that I feel like my children will be missing something if I don’t have a feast for them every holiday. So, Easter.

Brunch Menu:
Deviled eggs
bacon
sausage links
poppy-seed muffins
fruit and juice

Dinner Menu:
Roast Pork
mashed potatoes
carrots
potato salad
spinach salad
green beans
lemon meringue pie

This is what I planned for my family. Me, husband, two girls. Four people.  I was the only one to eat the roast on Sunday. Apparently, I should have assumed that my children would prefer left-over chili-mac to a roast dinner. The dreams of sitting down to a well laid table with flowers and candles and children in their frilly Easter dresses was dashed. The reality being children gobbling up chili-mac surrounded by pastel colored tin foil candy wrappers. And my husband sitting in his chair in the living room, eating only potato salad and sausages. That seems to be the way holidays go in our house. If I really cared I would force my family to change, but if they are happy, I’ll leave it alone.

I might have got a bit carried away, but, BUT I learned something! I put two small roasts in the crock pot and I have three different meals. After I had my roast dinner, I put the left over meat in Ziploc bag and stuck it in the fridge. The next day I took out the bag and kneaded the meat until it was shredded. I love to use a mixer to shred chicken when it is hot, but this was even easier. You just need more time. So, after I smooshed the meat around the bag I took out half and warmed it up with BBQ sauce (recipe below) and served pulled pork sandwiches. The other half I warmed up with salsa verde (Herdez brand) and made pork tacos. And tonight my family can decide if they want BBQ or tacos. I love left overs.

I did make a change to my menu; I made a chocolate chess pie instead of the lemon meringue. I wanted something a little easier, with fewer steps. Here are a couple of recipes so people like me might actually read this post.

 

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (scant)
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less for the kids
Several dashes liquid smoke

Whisk it all together and heat on the stove if you want.

Chocolate Chess Pie

½ cup margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cocoa
3 eggs
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
Unbaked 9” pie shell

Cream margarine and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn into pie shell and bake at 325º for about 45 minutes or until firm. Let cool before serving. If it is still warm at serving time add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This pie is also yummy the next day just out of the fridge. It is chocolate pie, it’s just good.

 

When I came up with the BBQ sauce recipe Sonny’s wasn’t selling their sauce except at their restaurants. When we lived in Florida we went to Sonny’s quite often and we always had sauce packets in the fridge. BBQ isn’t so popular in Idaho. We have a couple of places that we like to go, but (even though it’s a chain) I miss Sonny’s. Now I see that you can buy their sauce on Amazon, but I like the recipe I use. I really don’t feel compelled to spend $17 on BBQ sauce. If you have never been to a Sonny’s, the sauce is sweet, a little tangy and a little spicy, but mostly sweet. I like it that way. We once went to BBQ in Alabama and there was no sugar in their sauce; tomato base with mustard, vinegar and no sugar. No thank you. Yes, I am from the Northwest and no, I don’t know anything about barbecue, but I know what I like. (And that wasn’t it!)

The chocolate chess pie recipe is from my mom. You can leave out the cocoa and have a plain chess pie, which I love covered in fresh blackberry or raspberry syrup. THE taste of summer! Better make a note of that and make some chess pie and berry syrup in a few months. I love summer.

Re-boot camp

It is hard to eat healthy and exercise ALL the time. Sometimes I want chocolate cake more than I want to fit in my new little black dress. However, I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning my new LBD, so T-Tapp re-boot camp it is!

I read Extra Petite blog occasionally for fashion ideas.  I am fashionally challenged. I’m a mom, I live in Idaho, I don’t work outside of my home. I would like to be fashionable, but I don’t have much inspiration. Anyway, I finally decided to buy a good LBD and bought one from Ann Taylor. I usually buy my clothes from Old Navy or Land’s End, on sale, on clearance, I want a whole ton of clothes for $100, so buying a dress that was on sale for $100 was a big deal for me. (Yes, I am thrifty cheap) I knew I had been slacking off on my diet and exercise regime, but I didn’t want to buy a bigger dress, I bought the size I should be. I was able to zip it up and everything, but walking was a little difficult and the back was all lumpy above my (slightly inflated) bootie.  My husband thought I looked hot. I really shouldn’t ask him for fashion advice. I don’t need to loose 20 pounds or anything I just need a little adjustment. I think it was good that the dress didn’t fit. I can lie to myself about gaining a few pounds, I can find clothes that still fit me in my closet, but new clothes don’t lie. And plus expensive clothes are usually bigger than cheap clothes. Whatever, if I can’t fit myself into this dress in two weeks I’ll return it.

Spring break is in three weeks, my family and I are going to relax at a couple of our favorite hot springs. Idaho is full of hot springs. I think I’ll write something just about hot springs next time. Anyway, in three weeks I will be in a swim suit, in public, so I think that is a good incentive for my re-boot camp.

T-Tapp is my go-to exercise program. It isn’t glamorous, or sporty, or popular, but it works for me. My sister gets bored doing the same exercises over and over, but I like that I can memorize the moves. I also like that the workout is in a flowing sequence that I can do in 15-20 minutes. For my re-boot camp I am going back to the instructional videos. Slowing down and focusing on form will help my mind and body reset. I could just go back to my 20 minute daily work out, drink green smoothies and keep track of my calories on myfitnesspal.com, but I think I need a new beginning. I’m ready for Spring. Well, I’m ready to get ready for Spring!

Today’s Plan:

T-Tapp instructional video #2
Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
Vegetable Minestrone Soup
8 glasses of water
Early to bed

 

Strawberry Lemonade Green Smoothie


1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup water
2 tablespoons raisins
4 tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 cups baby spinach
2 cups frozen strawberries
juice of 1 lemon
2 small bananas

Blend ingredients through spinach, when the spinach is blended add rest of ingredients and blend until smooth. I divided this into three servings at about 200 calories per serving (according to myfitnesspal.com).

Out of the South

My husband doesn’t understand why finding grits is so difficult in Idaho. Growing up in Oregon I had heard of grits, probably because my dad is from Arkansas. Outside of the South grits are hard to come by. I confess that I don’t really care for grits. I don’t dislike them, but I won’t ask for them. My dearest husband likes to eat grits for breakfast every morning. I was making them on the stove, but he eats more than one serving and less than four (the number of servings in the directions on the box) so I was having to use math to make breakfast and that doesn’t always end well. Sometimes he was asking for more grits and sometimes we had leftover grits. Occasionally the grits were thin and I had to cook them longer with the lid off, or they were too thick and I scorched them. Plus there was a pan to wash. Dishes and I don’t get along. Then I saw that there were microwave directions on the box. I didn’t know if my husband would approve, so I was sneaky the first few times. Now I proudly serve my husband his grits in the bowl I made them in. Consistent results, fewer dishes, WIN! Of course the microwave directions on the box made a tiny amount of thin grits, not what my love wants or deserves. So I had to make some adjustments.
Now, I imagine there is a Southern boy in his cold dorm room crying because the cafeteria at his Yankee school doesn’t serve grits. Well, sweetheart this recipe is for you.

1 cup water
4 heaping tablespoons quick grits (not instant)
salt to taste

Mix together in microwave safe bowl, cook for 1 minute 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave another minute, stir again to make sure there aren’t any lumps. Cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute. At this point you can add 2 tablespoons of cheese if you want cheese grits or add some butter if you have some, let them sit for about a minute. They should be nice and thick. Stir one more time and enjoy!

Christmastime is here again…Let’s EAT

When I was growing up Christmas was about family, church and food. I have so many magical memories. I wish I could just do a little flash back with you! I grew up in Southern Oregon, so we never had snow for Christmas. I know no one knows what the weather is like in Southern Oregon because most people haven’t heard of Oregon apart from Portland, but it is wet and cold and foggy in the winter. We had black ice a lot, freezing fog, drizzly, misty, green and gray Christmases. But inside our tiny little house with dark brown multi-level loop carpet, there was a fire in the stove and candles on every horizontal surface. We always had a fluffy, fresh, fragrant tree, covered with ornaments made from Styrofoam and covered in glitter or tiny hand prints cut out of old Christmas cards. We had fat glass lights that had to be screwed into the sockets. And two special lights; one that was shaped like a snowman and one shaped like a house covered in snow. Topping the tree was an angel with blond feathered hair and dressed in a miniature Princess Diana wedding dress. She was glorious.

My mother started making treats before Thanksgiving and didn’t stop until New Years. She made fudge, Rocky Road, English toffee, divinity, peanut brittle, peppermint bark, Buckeyes, coconut candy balls and sometimes caramel. Plus there were cookies; Spritz, filbert crescents, butterscotch rolled cookies or sugar cookie cutouts. We always brought plates of goodies with us to visit relatives, even though they always had plates of goodies out on the coffee table for visitors.

Christmas Eve my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and various other slightly related family members would bundle ourselves into several cars and slide our way through the fog to church. The sanctuary was always full with family from out-of-town, kids home from college and people who only ever came to church on Christmas and Easter. I remember  being so impatient for the end of the service. Every year I held on to that candle with the paper ring around the bottom just waiting for the lights to go out. I never got to hold the candle once it was lit though. All the children would come forward and sing Silent Night with the pastor. If I close my eyes I can see all those points of light in the dark church. Then we would slide our way back to our tiny house filled with family. Mama would set out platters of goodies and platters from other family members would cover the dining room table. Hot coffee and hot cider would be served. I’m getting a tummy ache just thinking about it. How wonderful it was.

Well, I don’t make near as many treats as my mom did, but I still make a few. This year we are having fudge, (I just finished the second batch) macaroons (if we want some for Christmas I’ll have to make another batch of those too) and candy balls. Well, on to recipes!

Five Minute Fudge

2/3 cup coconut milk creamer, original barista style
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup sugar

Stir together in large sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add:

1 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir until marshmallows are melted. Pour into a 9×9 pan and chill. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

 

Coconut Macaroons

1 1/3 cup fine shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325*. Stir all ingredients together. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased and floured or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from baking sheet immediately.

*I have used coconut flour to make these GF, totally works.

No Thank You, I’m Having a Smoothie…

…Because my pants don’t fit. Because what I really want is pumpkin pie. Because I haven’t eaten anything green for five days. Because I haven’t really felt hungry since before Thanksgiving. Oh, the shame!
With the weather turning colder I thought I might want a break from smoothies, but…without a healthy green smoothie to start my day I kinda fall apart (nutrition wise). Here is a smoothie adapted from Green Thickies. Just like most recipes, I don’t have all the stuff that goes into her smoothie, so I do what I can. Usually I eat pears, if I can wrestle them from my husband or oldest kid, but I have been buying pears with a purpose lately. Yeah! I had a ripe pear that no one knew about and into the smoothie it went. If your pears are small you might want to add two.

 

Pear and Apple Smoothie

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup apple cider (cold pressed, not clear apple juice or the alcoholic kind, unless you roll that way)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 cups spinach or other baby greens
1 apple, cored
1 pear, cored
1 banana
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
splash of vanilla

Blend milk, cider, oats and dates. Then blend in protein powder and greens. Add fruit, spices and vanilla, blend until smooth.

I find I have to do T-Tapp right before I drink my smoothie so I don’t get too cold.

Green Oats

It is too cold for a smoothie this morning. I want something hot and hearty. My tastes have changed as I have aged, I don’t like white, processed grains any more. They taste stodgy. Do you know what I mean? Like glue or wallpaper paste. White bread or pasta, white rice, blech. So, if you still like Wonder bread toast with Skippy peanut butter, don’t try these oats because you probably won’t like them. (Try these ones instead, Butterscotch Oats) My husband would laugh if I tried to give him this for breakfast.

Green Oats

1/3 cup quick oats (old fashioned oats pulsed in the food processor)
2/3 cup almond milk or coconut
Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in the microwave.
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1-2 drops maple flavor (optional)
Optional toppings:
Handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon coconut
Dried fruit
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Doesn’t that look healthy? Yes, yes it does.

So, now that I put hemp in my oatmeal, I’m wondering what else I could hide in there. Spirulina? Powdered spinach? Hmmm…maybe.

Can I Give Up SWEETS? Um, no.

The thinnest I have been as an adult was during my vegan experiment. However, my hair was also falling out, so perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. Last night I was thinking that I should make another vegan effort. The thing is, I don’t think that meat is a problem for me. I don’t have the passion for saving animals. That sounds heartless, but I like to eat meat. I know where it comes from. I ate vegan just for health reasons. Pretty sure skinless chicken breasts aren’t making me fat. Yes, I gave up meat and all animal edibles, but I also gave up sweets and alcohol.

So here I am again, facing my problem, my addiction, my passion: sugar. As I am writing this I have two tabs waiting for me to click them. The Minimalist Baker is calling me! Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! AND Easy Raw Vegan Brownies! I want to make them so much and they are vegan! Doesn’t that count for something? Am I over-thinking this whole eating thing? No, I don’t think I am.

Not over-thinking, but thinking the wrong way. I have a problem with eating sweets until they are gone. I can’t make a pan of brownies and eat one. I am greedy. Ooh, that is an ugly word! It’s true though, I don’t want to share my sweets. I want the first cookie out of the oven and I want the last one too. So, what do I do?

Either, 1. give up all sweets (will work for a time, but not a permanent solution), 2. make healthier sweets (better, as long as I don’t eat the whole recipe, negating the healthy part) 3. make small batch recipes (again, I still have to pay attention. I got into trouble with “single serving” desserts. I ate a mug cake that was almost 700 calories. That is still less than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but as I will never eat that cheesecake…um…did I have a point?) 4. give sweets away (I can’t eat the sweets if they are not in my house). (My apologies to any grammarians reading this post.) New Plan! I will implement all of these ideas.

I need to have sweet-free days. A dessert break, that sounds too good. A break from desserts. I know people who don’t eat sweets after every meal, they do exist. Every one has different temptations. I can walk past a slot machine and feel nothing. I cannot walk past a pan of brownies and feel nothing. Even though I know that I can never eat cheesecake, I still like to visit the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. They look so good in that case. I like to read the descriptions of them in the menu. Focus! How did I get hung up on the Cheesecake Factory? Stop saying cheesecake! Deep breath, drink of water. OK, moving on.

I can make small batch, healthy dessert recipes and give them away. Good idea. Let’s start with pumpkin sugar cookies! To make them a little more healthy, I halved the fat and added more pumpkin. One of my favorite muffin recipes Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins, doesn’t have any added fat and uses pumpkin instead. I also used more whole wheat flour. Pretty sure I could use all WW pastry flour, but my kids might not eat them. Next objective: smaller batch, well 20 is a pretty small batch for cookies. Plus I am making these on Monday so that I can take most of them to Bible study Tuesday morning! I think that sounds pretty good.

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I decided to use a cookie scoop and not get my hands all gooey.

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A flat bottomed bowl works the best for the cinnamon and sugar.

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I  always use parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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A picture of my hand. I always wanted to be a model.

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These would look so much better if I had any talent for photography or a camera. Both would probably be good.     On to the recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

Makes: 20 cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I like Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Instructions

  1. Add butter or coconut oil, pumpkin and sugars to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix to combine.
  4. Add flours. Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  6. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls (it will be sticky) or use a cookie scoop. Swirl dough in cinnamon sugar to coat and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 10-14 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.
  8. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These stay puffy and are a bit cakey. I’ve only eaten two three, you know for research.

 

 

 

 

Does this have FRUIT in it?

After the In-N-Out diet my sweet husband stated that he wanted to go on the green smoothie diet with me. Which means that I have to make him a smoothie when I make myself a smoothie. He won’t drink the same smoothies I drink because…they have fruit in them! I think he might be confusing smoothies with milkshakes. This morning he was a bit concerned because I didn’t add cocoa and peanut butter to his smoothie, so it was green! He looked at me and asked “Does this have fruit in it?” No my love, I make your smoothies out of ice cream and candy bars, but don’t worry you will still lose weight because you are a man. Before his smoothie this morning he ate a Payday bar and after his smoothie he had an apple strudel. And he will still lose weight. I’m feeling a little catty this morning. I will drink my Spirulina Smoothie, (I used lime juice instead of lemon and added a mango, super yummy!) have a large glass of water, take deep breaths and smile. Ah, that feels better. Good thing my bad moods don’t last long and as long as I share them on my blog no one else has to be in a bad mood either! Thank you one random person who reads this! You just helped save my marriage. So, here is the only green smoothie my husband will drink. It might work for kids too!

The Anti-Green Smoothie

1 cup dairy-free milk
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup raisins or dates
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups spinach
1 or 2 bananas
3 tablespoons cocoa, or to taste (or cover up the green)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ice

Blend in the order given. Make sure to blend the spinach before you add the next ingredients or it won’t fit in the blender.  Sometimes I add 2 tablespoons of coconut butter and leave out the cocoa or it would be good to sub the peanut butter with coconut butter and still add the cocoa.
Don’t tell my husband this has a milk beverage or a banana in it because then he won’t drink them anymore.

 

The In-N-Out Diet

Last week my family got home from a three-week road trip. We drove over to Portland and then all the way down to San Diego. We went camping on the Oregon Coast, to Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo and Coronado Beach. Then for some reason (we now regret) we took our small children to Las Vegas. We also stopped at In-N-Out Burger every day. I had no idea if I could eat In-N-Out and was pleased to find (after I ate the first burger) that the buns are dairy-free and if you say something they will make your burger anyway you want. I just told them I had a dairy allergy and my burger was cooked alone and came on its own tray with ketchup and mustard. I heard conflicting information about the dairy ingredients of the special sauce and since I don’t really care for mayo or mayonnaise based sauces I just went with ketchup and mustard. I should have said something about the fries because my husband’s ‘animal style’ seemed to ooze onto the other fries. Anyway, great to know In-N-Out is allergy friendly! The only bad thing is the number of times we ate there in two weeks. I didn’t count and I am too ashamed to even try.

I have found that if you eat fast food and don’t exercise you will gain weight. It’s a revelation! Who knew? We are settled in now, the laundry is done and the green smoothie/T-Tapp diet and exercise program starts today!

I did my T-Tapp this morning and drank a Sweet Grapefruit Thickie. I’m on my way! Here’s the recipe so I don’t forget that I liked this one:

Sweet Grapefruit Thickie

1 cup dairy-free milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups baby spinach
1 grapefruit, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate or 2 oranges peeled and chopped
1 small mango peeled and chopped
1 banana
1 cup ice

Blend in order given.

I usually don’t use ice in my smoothies, but there isn’t much to have frozen in this recipe so I added ice.