Last Wednesday was another snow day here in New Jersey, so I invited Kathe and her kids over to play. Since I almost always bake cookies when I’m stuck in the house — it is a natural, comfy thing to do — I checked for supplies. With only one egg left in the refrigerator, I asked Kathe to bring some with her.
After making and enjoying a nice salad for lunch, Kathe and I got the mixing bowls out and made a double batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. Kathe’s daughter, Emily, jumped right in and helped roll dough balls while the other kids were busy making snowmen in the backyard. As a reward for her work, Emily got the first cookie — hot-out-of-the oven.
Several hours into our play date, Kathe looked at her watch and nervously announced that she’d need to get going soon to make dinner. “Why didn’t you just bring the ingredients to make dinner at my house?” I asked, suggesting that it was the obvious thing to have done. She looked dumb-founded and in an “Ah ha” moment of sorts, she said “Duh!”
Since it was 3:00 pm and neither one of us knew what we’d be serving for dinner that night, we regrouped and scrambled to figure out something to make. I had a box of Zatarains Jambalaya rice seasoning, some frozen shrimp, garlic and onions on hand, so Jambalaya was the winner, as it would be the easiest dinner to throw together. Kathe ran to the store to get another box of seasoning, low-fat sausage, chicken and red peppers while I began prepping the veggies and defrosting the shrimp. We were so determined that we managed to throw together one of the quickest (and most delicious) meals we had ever made together.
She left just before 5:00 pm, with a platter of cookies in one hand, a container of Jambalaya in the other, and her kids trailing behind her. I knew that soon she’d be content in her house, everything in order, ready to serve her family dinner.
And as for my family, let’s just say they are now proud members of the “clean plate club.” Here’s the recipe:
Quick & Hearty Jambalaya
Serves 8 People
2 boxes Zatarains Jambalaya Mix
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 large onions, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large sweet red pepper, diced
1 pound large shrimp, defrosted and cut in half
4 pieces of spicy chicken sausage, sliced into chunks
1 pound chicken breasts, cubed
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
In a 5 quart stock pot, heat tablespoons olive oil. Saute the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes. Add the celery and peppers.
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and cook the shrimp on a medium high heat for 6 minutes, turning constantly. Set aside.
In another skillet or wok, heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and cook the chicken pieces, seasoning with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper until cooked through. Set aside.
Add water to the stock pot of onions, garlic and red peppers and follow the Jambalaya directions on the package. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chicken, sausage and shrimp. Simmer for another 10 minutes.