recipes

Low-Carb Jambalaya

Jambalaya

Spinach, tomatoes, broth and veggies make a great winter soup

Even when temperatures have been closer to spring than winter recently, Jimmy and I have craved homey, substantive meals.  I think these meals fortify the soul as much as the stomach, which we have needed.  Jambalaya is a perfect example of this type of meal and as a bonus, it can scale easily to make a meal for several days.

I’m always trying to reduce the carbs in my diet, so this dish is more like a soup, but you could add rice easily for a more authentic jambalaya dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 package boneless chicken breasts, baked in the oven (350 degrees for 1 hour; this a great make-ahead tip. I usually cook the chicken the night before and use it the next day)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (we like hot)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 squash, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can Italian-diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Tobasco sauce
  • 1 tsp basil or thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Directions

  • Melt 2 Tbs butter in pan.  Add pepper and onions.  Saute over medium heat until soft (around 5 minutes). Set aside
  • Break sausage into chunks and cook over medium-high heat until done
  • In a stew pot combine peppers, onion, broth, tomatoes, 3-4 dashes tobasco, garlic powder, basil and thyme (if you have a pot large enough,  you could saute the veggies in it and then add the rest of the ingredients instead of dirtying another pan)
  • Bring soup to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes
  • Add chicken and sausage
  • Before serving, add baby spinach and stir until it begins to wilt

As with all my favorite recipes, this recipe is very versatile.  If you don’t want to add spinach, you don’t have to, but I find that it adds an extra layer of substance and flavor to the dish.  I’ve thought about adding a second can of diced tomatoes too and may do that the next time we make the recipe.  If you like spicier foods, feel free to add more tobasco.  You could also add any vegetable you like.  I’m a big fan of zucchini and squash, so those are the ones I chose.  It just occurred to me that this dish is very similar to one of my favorite summer side dishes: ratatouille.   It’s a great dish to allow you to have some veggies when all you want to do is ingest carbs!

Enjoy!

Do you have a go-to meal when you need something hearty?

Awesome Coconut Shrimp

 

Yummy shrimp

Note:  This recipe was originally adapted from Southern Living.

Every year I make coconut shrimp for the Christmas celebration with J’s family.  We always have heavy appetizers before we open gifts (it’s really to help us hold the gin gimlets I suspect), and the coconut shrimp have become my addition.  They are so anticipated that I have family members taking the plate from me at the door before they greet me.

This Christmas we moved our gathering from 1pm to 11 am, so that meant I was opening beer (for the shrimp!) and preparing them at 8am.  I also may have almost set my kitchen on fire due to an exploding spoon, but everything was fine.

J and I had coconut shrimp at our reception and it was after our wedding that I started making them, so it is fitting I share this recipe with you in our 10th anniversary year.  It’s a very easy recipe and a show-stopper.  Best of all, I very seldom have leftovers to take home!

Ingredients

  • 1 package tail-on, raw shrimp (you can use fresh shrimp but you must leave the tail on.  Under no circumstances should you use the pre-cooked shrimp because they will make the final result tough. If you use frozen shrimp, which I do, thaw them -duh!)
  • 1 cup beer (I like Yuengling but any beer other than Guinness will work)
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper
  • 1 package coconut (I get the biggest to ensure I have enough coconut)
  • Vegetable oil

Directions

  • Thaw shrimp if frozen.  I rinse them in cold water until they are pliable and then dry them in a paper towel
  • Put flour, salt, pepper and red pepper into one bowl
  • Add Bisquick and beer in another bowl and stir until combined
  • Put coconut in another bowl
  • Dredge shrimp in flour
  • Dredge shrimp in beer batter
  • Place shrimp in coconut and cover it, patting the coconut to adhere if necessary
  • Repeat process until all the shrimp are battered
  • Heat oil in a deep skillet or pot (I use a 4 qt pot)
  • Place 4-5 shrimp in oil at a time.  Flip them if necessary but they should become golden in about 2 minutes.
  • Remove shrimp to plate to drain.

 

Shrimp battered and ready for the oil

 

Sauce

I make a citrus-mustard sauce for the shrimp:

  • Orange marmalade
  • Chili sauce
  • Dijon mustard

Feel free to play with the proportions.  I find that about a 1/2 cup of marmalade and a 1/2 cup of mustard with about 1/4 cup of chili sauce works well, but it truly depends on how sweet, citrusy or hot you want the sauce.

 

Mini Pizzas and Mini Men

Daniel is becoming such a big boy, and it just shocks me.  He’s not quite 2.5 (December 2), yet he is well over 3 feet.  Add in the extra height from his stool, and he can easily see over the countertops.  We brought his stool into the kitchen recently, and he loves it.  He loves to drag it over to where we are working and watch us and preferably help.  It’s really adorable, and he is so very interested and wants to be a part.  He especially loves to watch us prepare meals.  We are “scrounging” dinner-wise this week in order not to exhaust ourselves for Thanksgiving (we are hosting), and tonight my guys decided to make mini English Muffin pizzas.  Daniel made an awesome sous chef (which he can now say & is also adorable).

Watching daddy put olive oil on the English muffins

Watching daddy put the sauce on the muffins

I can do it! Daniel sprinkling cheese on the pizzas

Ingredients

  • 2 Whole wheat English muffin pizzas halved
  • 1 cup tomato/pizza sauce (we used frozen cubes from our sauce)
  • 1 Cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Oregano

Recipe

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Drizzle olive oil other each muffin half
  • Spoon sauce over each half and spread to the edge
  • Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese
  • Sprinkle with oregano
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes

These little pizzas are ridiculously simple, yet amazingly good.  I feel less guilty about Daniel eating them than pre-packaged pizzas since I know what went into the sauce we made.  And again, so simple!!!  J and I keep saying how we need to get more ingredients (Canadian bacon, olives, artichokes, etc.) and make more “adult” pizzas, but even in this simple form, they are soooooooo good.

I love that Daniel is taking an interest in cooking.  I have always loved to cook (when I was 5, my career goal was to be an artist and a chef – one problem with that is that I have extremely little artistic ability).  In the last few years, J has become very interested in cooking and is a wonderful sous chef.  I like how we are unafraid to tackle making our own sauce, roasting turkeys or making soufflés.  It just feels good to be able to do those things, and I’m glad Daniel is taking an interest.

Do I make mistakes in the kitchen? Oh yes.  Like the omelet I burnt last weekend.  The lamb that was slightly over-cooked a few months ago (still edible and good but a little more well done than it should have been).  Dry cakes.  Ice cream that was not as sweet as it should have been.  I am not a trained chef, but that’s ok.  I like experimenting and am excited that we may be able to do that as a family.

Tell me about your family kitchen.  Do your children take an interest in helping to cook?

Burgundy Chicken Pie

J and I like to cook but after working all day, we find it almost impossible to cook every night. Our solution to this issue is to try to make a multi-day meal each week that will feed us for at least 2 nights, preferably three. It can be a challenge to vary the meals since J is a bit picky and I try to avoid as many carbs as possible, but we have assembled several recipes that work.

Last night I made Burgundy Chicken Pie. Being a native North Carolinian, I love chicken pie. J, however, has an aversion to thick, creamy sauces. This recipe is a good compromise because it has a savory broth that is thickened with flour. And it contains wine! What’s not to love? It’s like Paris meets the South.

Warning: this recipe has several steps and isn’t the quickest meal to put together, but it’s worth it for a multi-day meal. The original recipe had fewer steps, but I never could make it work as written without either burning the puff pastry or drying out the chicken, so I modified it and it works well.

Ingredients

  • 4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts (you could use less, but we like lots of chicken. I also bake the chicken the night before)
  • Half of an onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 1/4 cup of white wine (I used chardonnay)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 3/4 cup of hot water
  • 1 package of puff pastry

Directions

  • Cook potatoes and carrots until tender (about 30 minutes) and drain. Set aside
  • Saute onions in 2 Tbls of oil over medium heat until softened
  • Add flour and thyme, stirring until flour is absorbed
  • Add wine and bouillon
  • Allow liquid to come to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes

Sauce simmering

  • Arrange chicken, potatoes and carrots into a deep-dish pan
  • Pour sauce over the chicken, potatoes and carrots

Chicken pie before puff pastry. I add salt, pepper and more thyme

  • Arrange puff pastry over the pan
  • Bake at 350 until puff pastry is golden – around 25 minutes

Voila!

The finished product. One day I'll take more time w/ the puff pastry.

So now you know what we ate last night and will be eating tonight and tomorrow night. What’s on your plate tonight?