7.09.2014

Easy Jambalaya


Anyone else feel like they're still recovering from 4th of July weekend?

We had a wonderful holiday with lots of family time, but having a 2 1/2 year old and a 3 month old thrown off their schedule for 5 days, has been a little rough to recover from.  I made this dish for dinner last week and am just now getting a chance to sit at the computer and write it up-a full week later!

This jambalaya a quick and easy weeknight dinner, and it's all cooked in one pot, (fewer dishes to wash!).  This is a recipe that I've been meaning to share for probably a year and-a-half at least.  While I was cooking it one night, I wrote it out on the back of an old envelope months ago, and have been trying to follow the recipe the last few times we've made it.  If you've ever made our Crock-Pot Red Beans and Rice this has a lot of similar ingredients.

The proteins are easily substituted, we just use whatever we have in the house.  Feel free to sub in chicken thighs for the chicken breasts, add shrimp or other seafood, switch out the sausage, (*I use andouille sausage, but if you can't find it at your market, or don't like the spice, you can use regular smoked sausage), it still works!

There is no measurement on the Creole seasoning because it is so dependent on the ingredients you use and personal taste!  I've made this several times while trying to write up this recipe and have never been able to come up with a consistent measurement for the Creole seasoning.  When we used smoked sausage from the grocery store I used a lot of Creole seasoning, when we used andouille sausage from the grocery store we used a fair amount of Creole seasoning, but when we used some locally made fresh andouille we didn't use any Creole seasoning and it was still spicier than we normally make!  Delicious, but spicy!

This also freezes really well if you have leftovers! :)


Jambalaya
(4 servings)

Ingredients
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
1 pound andouille sausage* sliced
1-2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Creole seasoning (to taste)


Directions
In a dutch oven, or other large covered pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned. Remove sausage from pan to a plate covered with paper towels.  Drain all but 2 tablespoons of grease from pot.  Season chicken with a little Creole seasoning, (or just salt and pepper if you prefer less spicy food), and add to pot.  Saute chicken for 3-4 minutes, until no longer pink.  The chicken doesn't have to be cooked through at this point.  Remove chicken from pot to plate with sausage.

If the pot looks dry after removing chicken, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, if there is still oil in the pan, skip the extra olive oil.  Add chopped onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until onion starts to turn clear.  Add chopped bell pepper and celery and saute an additional 3-4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and saute 1 minute longer.


In the pot with all the vegetables add in rice and continue stirring until rice turns clear.  Add chicken broth, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, and dried thyme.  Stir to combine.  Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, (medium low), and cover.  Cook for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is almost all absorbed and rice is cooked through.  Season with Creole seasoning to taste and serve.



Enjoy!

Jennifer


Used in this recipe:


6.30.2014

Best Homemade Biscuits {Freezer Friendly}


Growing up we ate a LOT of homemade biscuits.  I have probably eaten biscuits for breakfast on Sunday morning for at least 3/4s of my life.

I love homemade biscuits.

My brothers and I have always been firmly convinced our family makes the best homemade biscuits, they even won a blue ribbon in a four states fair one year.  Needless to say, I have high expectations for homemade biscuits.  That's why I never make them. ha!

After I grew up and moved out of my parents house I didn't really eat breakfast, but the whole having kids thing threw that out of the water.  When you're up at the crack of dawn, it's kind of essential.  My first-born is rotten and refuses to eat anything easy: store-bought bread and jelly, canned biscuits, yogurt, oatmeal, granola, cereal, etc., so he gets a full homemade breakfast every. single. morning.  We're talking toasted homemade bread, homemade jam, eggs, and fruit.  Every day.  I told you, spoiled rotten.

At some point this spring, we got tired of eating toast day after day, (except Saturday, that's pancake day!).  Husband started the search for a good homemade biscuit recipe.  He found this Martha Stewart recipe, and after making it a few times he's switched it up a little and we're now convinced that this is THE best biscuit recipe ever!

These biscuits are flaky and have those amazing layers of a store-bought canned or frozen biscuit, but the flavor of a homemade biscuit.  They're amazing!  As an added bonus, they freeze really well.  So on the weekends husband will make a double batch, (which is really a triple - quadruple batch for our little family), and stick the majority of them in the freezer.  During the week I can stick 3 in the oven for breakfast for me and little man, and 16 minutes later they're done.  It's wonderful!

I realize these aren't the super healthy food we try to eat 90% of the time.  They're not full of junk and ingredients you can't pronounce like store-bought biscuits, but they are full of white flour and good ole butter, (do NOT try to substitute margarine!).  These aren't something we eat every day, but for us born and bred southerners, they're the ultimate comfort food.  Slather on a pat of butter or some homemade jam when the biscuits are straight out of the oven and there's not much out there that'll be 'em.

Just a little note before we get started, this dough is a lot wetter than some, and as such, it's pretty difficult to roll out.  Instead of using a rolling pin, we just pat the dough out and kind of half it and turn it over onto itself instead.  This in combination with using real butter is what leaves those glorious layers and produces a super airy and light biscuit.

Also, when I decided I would continue blogging a couple weeks ago, I decided to not be obsessive about taking food blogger style photos.  Taking pictures of food is really difficult, and I just don't have the time, energy, or skills to make our food look picture perfect.  I snapped these pictures of my plate in less than a minute because I was hungry!  I haven't posted recipes in a while because I can't ever get the food to look as beautiful as some people can in their photos, but I just decided to get over it.  I started sharing recipes on here just to share with my family, and that's the approach I'll continue to take.  I know the food tastes good, I hope I can at least get a photo good enough to show that, but if not, oh well!



Best Homemade Biscuits
(Makes 12 small biscuits)

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons (3/4 of a stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup whole milk

Directions
1  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


2  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Using a Pastry Blender or a fork, combine the butter and flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal.  Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go.


3  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pat until flat, then fold dough over onto itself and press flat 5-6 times, (see photos).


Using a biscuit cutter or a glass, cut about 12 biscuits.


4  Place on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden.



*To make freezer biscuits, follow steps 1-3, place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer.  Allow to freeze for a few hours, then remove biscuits to a freezer safe Ziploc bag for storage.   To bake freezer biscuits preheat oven to 425, put baking sheet in the oven for 1 minute to preheat, remove from oven, add biscuits and put baking sheet back in the oven to cook for 15-17 minutes.

Enjoy!

biscuits with homemade cherry and apricot jam, scrambled eggs, and bacon - YUM! 
for the record, not my plate! ;)

Hope y'all had a great weekend!  Ours was full of lots of painting!  But more on that later...

Jennifer

Used in this recipe:




6.23.2014

Random Ramblings

It's been a long time since I've done a random ramblings post, but here are few things going through my head this Monday morning...

Amazon is having a big Summer Savings Baby Gear right now where you can get 20% off lots of baby gear with the code SUMMERGEAR.  Included in this sale is the Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat.  I've mentioned before how passionate we are about extended rear facing in car seats, because it is so much safer for littles.  Our goal is to have H rear facing until age 4, he's perfectly happy and has plenty of room at almost 2 & 1/2, so I think we can make it.  The rear facing weight limit for this seat is 40 pounds, and can be used forward facing until 65 pounds.  The regular price for this seat is $179.99, but the amazon price is $149.99, with the SUMMERGEAR code the price goes down to $119.99, a GREAT price for a seat you can use so long!

 

While on the subject of car seats, I've seen this link on my Facebook the past few days, and it does a great job busting some of the myths about extended rear facing.  In case you're wondering why we're so crazy about keeping our kiddos rear facing for so long.  ;)


Husband made some amazing grilled chicken last night, and we have enough leftovers to make this BBQ chicken pizza for dinner tonight.  I'm so excited!  Please tell me I'm not the only one that gets excited about what's planned for dinner before you've even had breakfast! ha!  We're going to try and cook the pizzas out on the grill so we don't have to heat the house up using the oven.  I've read a lot about grilled pizza and how delicious it is, but we've never tried it before.  Have any of you grilled pizzas at home before?  Any tips?

I made a quick burp cloth and appliqued onesie for a baby gift last week and it felt so good to sit down and sew!  I saw this tutorial for a baby bonnet from The Purl Bee via Pinterest this weekend, and I want to make it so bad!  Because I'm a fabric hoarder I already have all the fabric and supplies needed to make it, I just have to find the time.  Of course if I did have time to sew, I still need to finish the bed skirt in C's nursery...


I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to do all those ruffles, but gracious they are time consuming!  This picture was actually taken the week before sister was born, 12 weeks ago.  It still looks exactly the same.  It's really a side panel to the bedskirt, I just tucked it under the mattress in the front to see what it looked like.  I have all the ruffles done for the other side and front, I just need to sew everything together.  Since she still sleeps in our room in a Co-Sleeper, I figure I have a couple more months to finish up her nursery.  Poor second child!


Right now most of my free time seems to be consumed with canning.  Last week we put up 17 pounds of cherries into cherry jam, ancho chile cherry jam, and 5 pounds of blueberries into blueberry jam.  This weekend I went a little crazy at the farmers' market and got blackberries, blueberries, plums, and onions that all need to be canned in the next couple days.  The plums are already done and I'm going to try and get the berries done today.  I'm hoping to share some of our favorite canning recipes soon.  I started right up a big how-to post for canning last night, but I didn't get finished in time to post today.

We were out at the farm this weekend and it was SO humid.  The humidity is my absolute least favorite part of summer, but because of it, I was finally able to get a good picture of H's curls.  They usually only look like this after he gets out of the bath each night.  I'm so jealous of that beautiful head of hair!  My hair was stick straight when I was little and would not hold a curl for anything; now it's just frizzy!


Hope you all have a wonderful first Monday of the summer!

Jennifer