Flavor-packed Louisiana Creole Food – Jambalaya

Because Mardi Gras is such a big celebration is New Orleans, it’s not uncommon to see Cajun and Creole food prepared around Fat Tuesday, even if you don’t live in Louisiana. We may be past Fat Tuesday, but I’ve been thinking about making Jambalaya for the last couple weeks and finally had a chance to do so.

Jambalaya is a meat and rice dish traditional in the Creole and Cajun cultures of Louisiana. While they have a lot of similarities – both are spiced and rely on the “Holy Trinity” of onion, celery, and bell pepper – there are differences between Creole and Cajun food. The Creoles were descendants of French and Spanish colonists who had mixed French, African American and Native American ancestry. Creole food is considered “city food” and contains ingredients such as tomatoes, butter, and herbs. The Cajuns were French Canadians expelled from Nova Scotia who eventually settled in the bayous and intermarried with everyone there. Cajun food is considered “country food” and uses no tomatoes, oil instead of butter, and lots of peppers.

Jambalaya is one of my dad’s favorite foods to make, and I also love making it! Because my jambalaya is a mash-up of a number of different recipes, I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice, but I have definitely overheard my husband bragging about how good my jambalaya is. This Creole-style “red” Jambalaya is the version I made most recently.* Every time I make this, I am flabbergasted at how flavorful it is – every mouthful is amazing. Maybe someday I’ll try a Cajun “brown” Jambalaya, but for now I love this version enough to keep making it again.

Continue reading “Flavor-packed Louisiana Creole Food – Jambalaya”

Friendship Soup (In A Jar)

Several years back, shortly before Joe and I were married, my co-workers threw me a wedding shower. They even surprised me by telling me we had a lunch meeting in one of the conference rooms and getting there before me to greet me! I was much more pleased with cake than I was with the prospect of a lunch meeting. One of my co-workers (the nutritionist, who else?) gave me a “meal in a mason jar” – some soup mix, bread mix, and brownie mix that she had put together in jars for me to make at a later time. I made it for my parents one weekend when they were visiting and loved the soup so much I asked Sarah for the recipe. Last year at Christmas, I made a similar set of meals for some of my friends. Just because you can make the soup mix ahead of time in a jar, doesn’t mean you have to, though! This soup would be delicious to make any night and serves a crowd. Continue reading “Friendship Soup (In A Jar)”

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

When I was in my middle school years, I was really into Scholastic’s Dear America diaries and the Royal Diaries series which give historical-fiction accounts from the point of view of teenagers.  The summer I turned thirteen, I read one on Jahanara (the daughter of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal) and subsequently became obsessed with Indian culture for a season. I picked up all the books on India that I could from the library and asked my parents to take me out for Indian food as my birthday treat, initiating a long-abiding love for Indian cuisine.

This recipe is adapted from thekitchn – they say that it can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months, but I’ve always had the entire pot disappear within a day. Every single time I make this my apartment smells amazing and Joe gets very excited because he can’t wait to scoop it up with naan and eat it. I made this for friends last night and they were equally enthusiastic. Continue reading “Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala”

Simple, Tasty, Cheap – Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

El Yucateco hiding in the corner

A long while ago, my sister declared to the rest of our family that she was going to become a vegetarian. This led to a couple years of the rest of us eating one meal, while Renée munched on tofu and broccoli alone. Luckily, following this Renée put some effort into tracking down some vegetarian cookbooks and hunting for recipes online.

Brilliant colors, ready to be stirred together, with a splash of hot sauce on top.

Despite my initial trepidation at what sounded like a boring meal – cooked only when you were trying to hold out for the next paycheck – I now will scarf this tasty meal down and go back for seconds faster than blinking. This recipe has become a family favorite, and it’s also one my fiancé insists on having at home at least once every other week. Continue reading “Simple, Tasty, Cheap – Louisiana Red Beans and Rice”