Saturday, December 3, 2016

Recipe: New Orleans Cajun Style Jambalaya

While visiting New Orleans, Louisiana, last month, we tasted Cajun food for the first time and fell in love with it. The week after we arrived back home, I scoured the internet for Jambalaya recipes and decided to make up my own. Surprisingly, it turned out great, so I thought I would share it with you. Have you ever tried Cajun food?


New Orleans Cajun Style Jambalaya

¼ cup butter
1 medium-sized onion, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 sticks celery, chopped
2 fully cooked sausages (Cajun Style Andouille Sausage from Walmart), in bite-sized pieces
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-6 ounce can tomato paste
1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I use Weber N’Orleans Cajun Seasoning)
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups rice
Fish (I use crappie. Can also use shrimp or chicken)

Melt ¼ cup butter in heavy stockpot or Dutch oven on medium heat.
Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until pepper is tender (approximately 6-8 minutes).


Add sausage and garlic cloves. Cook another 3 minutes.


Stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring.
Stir in thyme, Cajun seasoning, ground pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
Stir in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Add rice, bring to a boil, and simmer until rice is cooked.


When rice is close to done, cook fish in oiled skilled (can seasoning with a bit of Cajun seasoning). Cut into bite-sized pieces, and add to rice mixture. Stir to combine.


Add more Cajun seasoning if desired. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!


New Orleans Cajun Style Jambalaya

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
1 medium-sized onion, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 sticks celery, chopped
2 fully cooked sausages (Cajun Style Andouille Sausage from Walmart), in bite-sized pieces
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1-6 ounce can tomato paste
1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (I use Weber N’Orleans Cajun Seasoning)
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups rice
Fish (I use crappie. Can also use shrimp or chicken)

Directions:
  1. Melt ¼ cup butter in heavy stockpot or Dutch oven on medium heat.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until pepper is tender (approximately 6-8 minutes).
  3. Add sausage and garlic cloves. Cook another 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in tomato paste and diced tomatoes. Cook for 2 additional minutes, stirring.
  5. Stir in thyme, Cajun seasoning, ground pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
  6. Stir in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Add rice, bring to a boil, and simmer until rice is cooked.
  7. When rice is close to done, cook fish in oiled skilled (can seasoning with a bit of Cajun seasoning). Cut into bite-sized pieces, and add to rice mixture. Stir to combine. Add more Cajun seasoning if desired.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Orleans Audubon Zoo

A couple days ago, I posted pictures of our first of two days in New Orleans, Louisiana. On the second day, we visited the Audubon Zoo. (We must have a thing for zoos because we had just toured the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere several weeks before.) The Audubon Zoo was very clean and well kept, and there were a lot of neat exhibits to see. It took us about three hours to go through the entire property.

In Nashville, the giraffes were too far away for us to get a good view, but in New Orleans, three of them were standing right in front of us as we walked past their enclosure. For some reason, they were all quite focused on licking whatever was in sight. We took a couple snapshots...



We walked past the elephant exhibit just as the zookeeper was performing her daily inspection. The elephants are trained to raise their feet on command so the zookeeper can examine them. The crowd "oohed" and "ahhed," and I'm pretty sure the animals were hamming it up on purpose. Is it just me, or does the one on the left looks like it's smiling?



The Audubon Zoo is home to a "giant anteater." I thought he was way too small to be considered giant, but then again I'm no anteater expert. The little guy was extremely friendly. Maybe he thought we were bringing him some ants...

Did you know that anteaters consumes an average of 30,000 ants daily? At that rate, I can't help but wonder why we still have ants in our world.


I can't remember what species of bear this is, but it is apparently the original "teddy bear" (as in the species that inspired the stuffed animal). The picture isn't great, but he sure looked cuddly!


Then there were the flamingos. Their enclosure stunk like shrimp, but they sure were pretty. 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Homemade Bread Failures

My latest project has been homemade bread. In September, we made a few dozen jars of apple butter (click here to view my tutorial), and store bought bread simply does not do the apple butter justice.

Last month, Mr. Handsome and I made a few batches of bread using different recipes, and they didn't turn out well at all. One of the loaves was so dense that it sounded like someone was knocking at the door when we whacked it on the side of the counter. Yikes.

This afternoon, I tried a new recipe. It turned out much better than the others, but it's still not as light and fluffy as I would like it to be. The loaf rose up to the rim of the pan, but then it flattened just before I put it in the oven to bake.

Do you have any recipes or tips to share? We prefer bread that is at least half whole wheat, so that makes the job quite a bit more difficult.

I'm also curious where you put your dough to rise. Previously, I was putting it in the oven on the "Warm" setting, but I think that was too hot. (Our "Warm" setting could probably roast marshmallows.) This time, I left the oven door open, and that seemed to work better, although that's not ideal.

Any advice would be much appreciated! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

New Orleans, Day 1

How many of y'all have spent time in New Orleans, Louisiana? We visited a few weeks ago for the first time, and we really enjoyed the uniqueness of the crescent city.

We spent the first day doing a self-guided walking tour, rather than pay for a tour guide. (I also brought snacks from home to save on restaurant bills. LOL.) Our hotel, which we got a really good deal on, was located several blocks west of the French Quarter.

One of my favorite stops was the St. Louis Cathedral. What a gorgeous building, both inside and outside.


We also toured the Old Ursuline Convent, built in 1752. The sanctuary was beautiful, and we were able to walk past a staircase from the original building, which was completed in the 1720s. The steps were lopsided from nearly three hundred years of wear and tear. 

We spent a few hours just walking the streets of the French Quarter and admiring all the diverse architecture.


Built between 1722 and 1732, this structure was formerly a blacksmith shop. It is now used as a restaurant, so we were able to peek inside.


We have a few dozen pictures of buildings, but I'll spare you the boredom and just post a few. 



That evening, we took a quick stroll down Bourbon Street, just to see what it was like. Even though it was a Thursday night, there were tons of people out, and there were some pretty strange things going on. It was quite the experience.


We ended up eating at the Gumbo Shop, a restaurant located in a quieter part of the French Quarter. Formerly a private residence, it was also built in the 1700s.


 I ordered a tasty chicken dish and a nonalcoholic honeydew daiquiri. Both were delicious!


We also stopped at Cafe Du Monde for a $3 plate of beignet donuts. We got powdered sugar all over ourselves, but they were fabulous.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Table Set for 25

Did y'all have a nice Thanksgiving? We celebrated with a big lunchtime feast with both our immediate families, as well as Mr. Handsome's grandparents and cousins.

Our table set for 25 looks very similar to last year's table, but I promise it's a new picture. If you look close enough, you'll see my two-year-old niece's head in the left corner.

We had most of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, including turkey (smoked overnight in my in-laws' smoker), sweet potatoes, stuffing (not cooked in the turkey, so I suppose it's just dressing), kale salad (okay, so that's not super traditional), homemade rolls, mashed potatoes, and pie.

We realized halfway into the meal that we forgot to make green beans. Oops. Do you think we forgot any other Thanksgiving staples?

Before we ate, my father-in-law read a Bible passage on thankfulness. After lunch, we spent the afternoon chatting and playing Bananagrams and various card games (euchre, up and down the river, and presidents).


  My mom made a festive vegetable plate. Isn't it adorable?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I want to wish all my American readers a very Happy Thanksgiving! May we take time to thank God for the many blessings we have been given.

Growing up, Thanksgiving was a very low key holiday for my parents and brother and me, as we didn't live near any extended family. We always shared a meal with close friends. One particular year, our neighbors' house was destroyed by a pipe that burst, so we had them over for dinner.

The following year, the same friends had us over while our house was undergoing a big DIY renovation project. (It took almost two years because we did all the work ourselves and paid for supplies as we had the money.)

Now that I'm married to a guy who has tons of relatives, our Thanksgivings have suddenly become much busier.

For those of you who live in the United States, what are your favorite Thanksgiving memories, and what are you doing to celebrate this week? If you live in Canada, what did you do this year on Canadian Thanksgiving?

To all my loyal international readers, I would love for you to share about the holidays that are unique to your country.

Looking forward to hearing from y'all. The photo on the left is of last year's Thanksgiving table. I'm planning to post new photos tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

International Travels

 

Good afternoon, blog readers! I apologize for my slowness in moderating and responding to comments over the past ten days. We were blessed to have some vacation time, and our access to internet was limited.

Our trip started in New Orleans, and then we embarked on a five-day Carnival cruise to Mexico, paid for by my husband's boss in place of Christmas bonuses for the employees. On our way home, we made a three-day pit stop for an early Thanksgiving meal with extended family.

Would y'all like to see some more pictures of our journey?