Red Beans and Rice

About 2 years ago, my husband’s Grandfather was quite ill, and getting older and asked us to come visit him and spend time with him. Since my husband has a job where he can work from home, we had the freedom to go down to Panama City Beach, FL and spend time with him and some of my husband’s other family for an extended period of time. It was so bittersweet; while we were there, my husband’s granddad passed away. The sweet part is that we were there, we got to express how much we truly loved him… AND my children really got to build memories with their great granddad. They will always remember that time there with him, and connect that place with him. I will always be grateful and glad for that time that we set aside to make him feel loved… and build those memories. All that to say, while we were there, there was a hurricane warning… we decided to evacuate. The safest place at the time was New Orleans! (This was the hurricane that just PUMMELED southern Florida.) So, we evacuated to New Orleans, just to be safe, and got to visit that amazing city! We stayed in the Garden District, and tasted the food, took in the history and the sights and really got to experience New Orleans for about 4 days. Our kids LOVED it! We rode the trolley from our hotel in the Garden District all over the city. We went to the Zoo, got beignets, had chicory coffee for the first time, heard live music… it was incredible! One thing we took home with us was our love for the cajun food. We visited Emeril’s restaurant one night while we were there (Which, by the way, if you ever go to New Orleans… TRY to get in there, it was OUT OF THIS WORLD!) and tried Red Beans and Rice! I know… not something new to a lot of people out there… but it was new to me! I had heard of gumbo and jambalaya before… but this was new. I had to figure out a way to make this at home! So… I did adapt it and made it my own! I just couldn’t take the HOURS AND HOURS that they take to make it, so I modified and made my own quick version. Their version is of course a bit more rich and refined… but mine is DEFINITELY delicious. My husband loves this dish so much, he requests it about 1x per week. I don’t make it THAT often, but I try to about once or twice a month. You can also adjust the spiciness to whatever you desire. This is a good one!

The finished product… not the prettiest, but definitely some of the most delicious!

While I write out this recipe… I will probably tell you MANY different optional things. For one… I used pinto beans this time I made it, so that will be in the ingredient list. Sometimes I use literal “red beans”. It’s so hard, because depending on which grocery store you go to, will really determine whether or not they have the beans I want. I’ve used canellini beans, black beans, etc. I am not a fan of kidney beans… too thick of skin… but if you like them and have an extra can already, use them! I prefer, for this dish, to use beans that are lighter in color and have thinner skin. They break down a bit easier and help thicken up the dish quicker that way.
Another thing that I change out is the type of pork I use. Sometimes I change it each time I make it. Sometimes I put bacon in when I am sauteeing the onions and garlic. Sometimes I precook it and sprinkle it on top after I am done. SOMETIMES I don’t add any bacon… like this time. No Bacon. Sometimes I use turkey kielbasa, sometimes I use Andouille sausage, sometimes I use both. The thing I like about it is that I can make it taste delicious no matter how I change it up. I like to try and use what I already have. So…. that’s kind of a quick note on this recipe. Let me know if you have any questions!

Ingredients

2 cans “red” beans (I’ve used pinto, pink beans, or SMALL red beans)
1 bell pepper chopped up (I used yellow in this recipe, cuz it’s what I had.)
2 TB olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
4 links andouille sausage (I used Aidell’s brand) cut into bite size pieces
** You can use 2 links andouille, and 1/2 of a turkey kielbasa… OR just kielbasa as well!
1/2 package of deli ham (Really about 1/2 lb of any thinly sliced and chopped ham will do)
** optional, 3 slices of bacon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne powder (You can use more if you like it spicier than that)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth (bone broth would be good too!)
1-2 cups of water
1-2 cups rice – (that’s the uncooked measurement… cook according to package directions and set aside)
chopped fresh parsley to garnish if you’d like

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions (and chopped up bacon if you choose to use it), bell peppers,and seasonings, for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham, and sausage and saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, and enough chicken broth to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally while it thickens. While you are stirring, use your spoon to mash some (about half) of the beans against the side and bottom of the pot. When it starts to thicken, as it gets to the point of thickness of the picture below (where when you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan, and it takes a moment to slide back together) add another 1/2 cup of broth. Keep adding until you’ve used the entire quart of chicken broth. Once you’ve used the entire quart, you can continue to cook and add water as it thickens as long as you’d like up to 2 hours. That will produce a thicker, darker and richer result. I usually only cook mine until I’ve used up my entire quart plus 1/2 cup of water. That takes about 45 minutes and serves 4-5 people, depending on how many times people go back for seconds!

Remove the bay leaves and serve over steamed rice.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Carrie Underwood lately… so I had to post this song!
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Spicy Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Over Corn Cheesy Grits

I’ve been missing blogging! This last week after traveling, my grocery budget was VERY small, and we ate A LOT of leftovers. Sometimes that happens! Gotta clear out what we’ve got in the freezer and pantry. I am so thankful that we have that luxury too. So thankful!

So after using up a lot of leftovers I got to start fresh with my food planning! I did have a couple of things to finish up though: Andouille sausage and a bit of shrimp. I thought… why not combine those?? What can I put those on to make a filling and delicious dinner… because those 2 things by themselves, or even together isn’t quite filling enough… THEN, I found a bag of corn grits in my freezer! Voila! Dinner!

So, this dish doesn’t take that long at all, 30 min start to finish and dinner is on the table!

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This serves 3-4 people (depending on size of servings)

Ingredients:

2 “links” andouille sausage (they usually come in a pack of 4. If it comes in a large single link, you could use just half… or use all of it and double the remainder of the recipe) sliced into “medallions” or small bite size pieces
1/2 pound of shrimp
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup corn grits
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or the mexican blend cheese
3-4 TB butter
1 TB olive oil
2 tsp cajun seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

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You want to start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees (do not use convection if your oven has that option). Then, pour your chicken broth into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add your corn grits and cook to the directions on the packaging.

Once the grits have started, take the shrimp (I bake them from frozen) and place them onto a foil lined baking sheet. Make sure that if your baking sheet doesn’t have raised sides, to make your tin foil have the sides up to make sure none of the juices spill over in your oven. Lay the shrimp out onto the foil in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle the cajun seasoning generously over the shrimp and make sure they are evenly covered. Dot the tops with a bit of the butter (about 1 of the TB) and place into the oven and bake for 12-13 min (depending on the size of your shrimp).

When the grits are close to finished (usually takes 25 to 30 minutes for a thick and creamy consistency) and you are about to take the shrimp out of the oven, drizzle about 1 Tb olive oil into a skillet and place the andouille sausage into the heated oil in the pan. Cook until hot all the way thru and a bit browned.

When the grits are done, remove them from the heat and add 1-2 TB butter, and 1/2 cup of cheese and stir until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve the grits immediately and top with some of the shrimp and sausage. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese over top each bowl and enjoy the spicy flavorful heat!!!

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As much as I usually don’t like anything spicy… this was SOOO GOOD! I didn’t think I liked grits either… but if this is what they are supposed to taste like, I’m sold! YUM!

Try this one for a spicy, warm, comforting dinner that’ll fill you right up!

And now, for the quote of the day:

❤️

Shrimp over Mashed Cauliflower – PFC, Paleo, Low-Carb!

There is always a bit of a fad for diets as the years go on. Low-carb does seem to stick around though. There is something to be said for cutting out bread and pasta and definitely seeing results. I love my carbs, definitely, but I do understand the benefits of decreasing the frequency of eating them! So, yesterday I decided to try something I have been nervous to do. Mashed Cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or grits. Scary huh??!!! But you know what? They were good! I wouldn’t say I couldn’t tell they weren’t cauliflower. I mean, you can tell. But they are creamy, and satisfying! Definitely helps that carb craving! Delicious! Then, when paired with some cajun jumbo shrimp, who could ask for more??!! Protein, a bit of all natural whole fats, AND some “carbs” in the veggies! Perfect! This one is a quick and easy recipe too!

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I’ll try my best to give ingredients and directions and what I used for each separate item.

Shrimp:
  1. 10 frozen jumbo shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  2. 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  4. splash white wine (optional)
  5. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  6. dash cayenne powder
  7. 1 tsp Emerils Bayou Blast
  8. Salt and Pepper to taste

Shrimp Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a small glass Bowls or ramekin and set aside. Set frozen shrimp onto a foil lined cookie sheet that has lips on each side like : Cookie Pan

Drizzle Olive Oil over the shrimp and splash with white wine (if desired) and sprinkle the dry ingredients over top of the shrimp and toss a bit to get completely coated. Place into oven and bake for 12-16 minutes until white/pink and cooked through, no longer any transparent parts of the shrimp. Place onto a generous helping of the mashed cauliflower and top with some shredded cheese of your choice!

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Mashed Cauliflower:

1/2 large head cauliflower
2 TB butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 carton chicken broth (or water if you prefer – vegetarian)
1/4 cup whole fat Greek Yogurt (PLAIN!!!!)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

Set a stockpot of chicken broth (or water) to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6-10 minutes, or until well done. Drain well. Immediately after, transfer to a large Glass Bowl or plastic bowl.

In a bowl with an hand mixer or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the butter, greek yogurt, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper until almost smooth. Then stir with Spatula.

Set aside and keep warm.

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Quickly, for the spinach… if you so desire… it’s just wilted spinach. You toss a LARGE handful of spinach into a skillet with a TB of butter, salt and pepper and a bit of hot sauce… sautee until the softness that you desire…or wiltyness?? 🙂 I just created a word… right? Or not. Whatever.

Oh, and if you wonder what dishes I use… they  are hard to find! My husband and I got them for a wedding gift… but here’s a link just in case you are interested! http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Sango-Splash-16-piece-Dinnerware-Set/4012688/product.html

And now, for the quote of the day:

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Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

So… it SNOWED! Woohoo!! Since I homeschooled, it didn’t really matter either way… we still did school today, but my kids got to go out and play in the snow! And yes, it was only a 1/2 inch MAYBE… but look at my daughter’s face…

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Priceless!!!

So what’s good for dinner on a cold day? Spicy food!!!! (And pretty much most other warm food… but spicy is on the menu for today!) And you know… I made my own “mild” version of spicy that my husband giggled at a little bit when I called it spicy. But you know, we can’t all be champions of the Taco Bell fire sauce like him, you know. 😉

So here we go:

Spicy Cajun Shrimp Pasta

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1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used Trader Joes Red Argentinian Shrimp, it’s WILD CAUGHT!)
1 TB EVOO
1 TB unsalted butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup sweet yellow onions diced
1/4 cup sweet mini peppers chopped (I used 1 of each color)
2 TB fresh lemon juice, and the zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup white wine – I used Riesling – use what you like to drink
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 TB. Cajun seasoning, divided – I used Emeril’s Bayou Blast
1/2 tsp cayenne powder – or more to your spicy preference
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
8 ounces angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup reserved pasta water set aside

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Have pasta precooked and set aside. Angel hair pasta does not take very long to cook. Cook according to the packaging.

Preheat oven to 350. Toss shrimp in 1 TB olive oil, splash white wine, 1 tsp minced garlic and salt and pepper and 1/2 of the cajun seasoning. Put shrimp on cookie sheet lined with tinfoil, put pieces of approximately 1 TB of butter over the shrimp, and place into preheated oven. Bake for 10-12 min (depending on size of shrimp) until cooked thru and pink. If timed right, you will take the shrimp from the oven, and dump into skillet with onions and peppers right as they are cooked through.

Heat 1 TB olive oil  and 1 TB butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Saute the garlic, onions, and bell peppers, for 3 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest and Worcestershire sauce, and half of the Cajun seasoning. Add the wine and remaining Cajun seasoning and reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes. Add a bit of cayenne powder at this point to spice it up a bit if you’d like to. If too thick, add the 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water at this time. Then, remove shrimp from the oven and place into skillet with all juices and sauce from the pan. Place the pasta into the skillet, and stir to coat well. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve!

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Enjoy being warmed up by this yummy dish!

And now, for the quote of the day:

inspirational-quotes-happy-marriage