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:

❤️

Creamy Tomato and Shrimp Pasta

Last night we eat dinner late. So bad. I read a few different blogs about healthy eating, especially my FAVORITE : http://www.dietitiancassie.com/ . Do I follow all of her rules? No. Should I? Maybe yes… maybe no? Everyone’s body is different. But she is very smart and has a lot of good information on how to naturally keep our bodies healthy, and how to think about food and what we put into our bodies completely differently than what we’ve been taught… and stay healthy! Check out her page!!!

Anyways… back to eating late. I know I shouldn’t have dinner that late… but I was making a blanket for my daughter, Madilyn and I was almost done crocheting it and I looked up and it was almost 8:00 and I hadn’t started dinner! Woops! Luckily it only took me 20 minutes to make from start to finish… so… pretty darn good!

This one is simple, full of flavor, quick and very filling. Yes, it does have pasta. I, of course, am steering you to Dietitian Cassie’s website and she’s pretty much grain free… and here I am writing a blog post with pasta in it. But… still read her blog. And.. decide for yourself what to eat…. ? 🙂 But… for me? I eat carbs/grains 1 time per day MAX, if not less often. I try my best to fill up on veggies and protein during the day… which really works for me! I’m not starving and HANGRY come dinner. I also have go to healthy fat, high protein snacks that I grab while I’m cooking that really help. I love celery with 1 TB sunflower seed butter. Also, when I am having a sugar craving, I grab 1 or 2 of these Butter Mints: http://empoweredsustenance.com/stop-sugar-cravings/ . Lots of good ideas!! 🙂

Here’s the delicious… pasta filled, quick and easy dinner recipe with some amazing and tasty shrimp:

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for 3-4 servings

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb shrimp (I used Trader Joes Argentinian Red Shrimp) (cooked and deveined)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 TB parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (I used this on a garnish on my husband’s bowl since it’s too spicy for me… but he loved it)
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 can diced petite tomatoes (with the juice in the can as well)
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup white wine (I used a Riesling… just use your favorite)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • spaghetti noodles
  • fresh parmesan for garnish
  • fresh parsley for garnish

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Instructions
  1. On a baking sheet, place the shrimp (I do mine from frozen) on a foil lined sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, splash of white wine, a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper. Place in a 375 degree preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (depending on size of shrimp).
  2. While the shrimp is cooking, in a skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil, and saute the onions and garlic until soft.
  3. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, cayenne powder, can of diced tomatoes, white wine and salt & pepper.
  4. Cook until the liquid is reduced to half.
  5. While the tomato mixture is simmering, boil the spaghetti noodles according to the package directions.
  6. Once the tomato mixture is done simmering, add the shrimp back into the sauce, stir and remove from heat.
  7. Stir in the heavy cream and the 1/2 of the parmesan cheese.
  8. Toss the tomato and shrimp sauce with spaghetti noodles.
  9. Garnish with fresh parmesan, red pepper flakes and fresh parsley
  10. Serve Immediately
  11. ENJOY!

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And now, for the quote of the day:

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Creamy-Cheesy-Spicy Hearty One Pot Pasta

Do you want something creamy, and yet with a kick of heat at the same time? Something cheesy that still makes you sweat?! Who doesn’t!???? Right?
This dish is IT! And, it’s filling and yummy. Like, real yummy. (You’d never know I was an English major in college would you? I’m not going to discuss how long it’s been.)

This dish takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete, and only 1 pot dirtied! So, if you get home late, pop it in the pan with almost all of the ingredients, simmer… finish and serve! Love these types of dinners!

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Creamy-Cheesy-Spicy Hearty One Pot Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Turkey Kielbasa cut up
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (10 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1/2 cup half&half
  • 8 oz dry pasta (I used whole grain spaghetti, you can use whatever)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach chopped
  • garnish with parmesan cheese and a bit more spinach (chopped)

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Instructions

  1. Add Olive Oil to a 4-5 quart saute pan over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic powder and onion powder and cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, pasta, and seasonings. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is tender.
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cheese, and half&half. Sprinkle spinach in and let wilt.
  4. Garnish with parmesan cheese, and a bit of extra spinach.
  5. Makes about 4 servings. YUM!

And, my favorite things to cook and stir with, that also makes sure that I don’t scratch my awesome pans are:

Ioven 8.5 inch Silicone Spatula Set of 4

Totally Bamboo 5-Piece Utensil Set

wpid-1427934476316.jpgAnd now, for the quote of the day:

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Hot and Spicy Jambalaya

It was soooo nice out today! We spent a good portion of our day outside and it was glorious! The nice thing about it is that the bees and wasps haven’t rely made an apearance yet, the pollen is not yet out of control, and it’s not sweltering… so we’ve gotta QUICK get in our “outside enjoyment” in! 🙂
Personally I have a lot of requirements to enjoy being outside. I am kind of high maintenance in that area. The awesome thing was that while I was making this dinner, I put a large bucket of water on the back patio that is right by the kitchen window I had open, turned the hose on, and let the kids play till dinner was done! It was awesome not having them whine at my feet while I was cooking!
Now, let’s be honest… if you know me, you know neither me nor my kids ate this. It was waaayyyy too spicy for the kids, and definitely too spicy for me to have more than a taste. I love my husband though, and was so extremely excited to make this for him! It was worth it too, he LOVED it!
So here’s the recipe:

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Ingredients

1/2 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
2 cups chicken broth/vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound andouille sausage, sliced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
4-6 sweet mini peppers, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tablespoon Emeril’s Bayou Blast seasoning
2 (10 oz. Each) cans diced tomatoes with green chilis
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup long grained white jasmine rice
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
Juice of 1 lemon plus 2 tsp lemon zest
4 green onions, sliced
hot sauce to taste
Parsley to garnish if desired

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Directions

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the sausage and cook until browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the onion and peppers and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the garlic and Bayou Blast (or similar) seasoning and cook until fragrant, about a minute or so.
Add the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and zest and rice to the sausage and vegetables, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, place lid on pot and simmer until the rice is tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened to the desired thickness, about 20-40 minutes.
Add the shrimp and fold in. If your shrimp was thawed, remove pot from heat, place lid on and let sit for 10 minutes until shrimp are cooked through. If shrimp are still frozen, simmer in pot woth rest of jambalaya for 10 minutes on low heat until no longer translucent.
Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste and served topped with the green onions and hot sauce on the side.

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This is a spicy one! If you like it to hit ya and clear your sinuses out, this is one for you!
Enjoy!
And now… a quote that speaks to the fact that my husband prefers that I do  not go to Target without him… 🙂

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Note: This recipe benefits from more simmer time so if you have the time simmer it for 40 minutes.

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

Cheddar Bacon Corn Chowder… best mix of ingredients ever huh??

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Who doesn’t like bacon, cheese, corn and potatoes??? Like, really?! This one is a bit spicy too!! DELISH! I was sweating by the time I was finished enjoying this bowl of cheesy goodness…. meanwhile my husband was looking at me like I was crazy and telling me it was just a tiny bit of heat… just goes to show the difference in spiciness tolerance! Ha!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 4 slices (about 1/4 pound) bacon, diced
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups milk (I used coconut milk)
  • 4 large red potatoes, cleaned and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoning (Low Sodium)
  • 1/2 tsp Emeril’s Bayou Blast seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 TB shaved parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt (add more/less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • optional garnish: extra shredded cheddar cheese, thinly-sliced green onions, reserved bacon bits, sour cream
  • ***** Optional! Add 1/2 cup of dark beer for a bit of extra yummy flavor! ******

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Directions

Heat a large stock pot over high heat. Add the corn kernels and let them dry-roast for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until their edges begin to brown and caramelize. Transfer the corn to a plate to set aside.

In the same stock pot, fry the bacon pieces over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease in the pan, and discard the rest.

Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the flour until combined, then cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add in the vegetable broth, milk, potatoes, lawrys, Bayou Blast, and sage and cayenne, and stir to combine. Continue heating until the mixture reaches a simmer but not a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add in the corn, cheese and most of the bacon bits, reserving a few to save as a garnish if desired. Stir to combine.

Taste test the broth, then season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. (I recommended the amounts that I used, but your seasoning preferences may vary.)

Serve warm, with additional garnishes if desired.

Creamy Cheesy Goodness!!!

And now, for the quote of the day:

retro travel girl fashion vintage portrait outdoors