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A Little Touch of Cajun Celebration

Jambalaya is easy to make, so whip up a batch of your own—no Mardi Gras crowds required.

Jambalaya is often a time-intensive meal to make, plus many home cooks are intimidated by the long list of ingredients used to make authentic jambalaya. Instead they turn to prepackaged jambalaya mix. With a batch of spice mix kept handy in the pantry, you can have a quick and easy weeknight meal that will make you think of Mardi Gras!

Jambalaya is often a way for cooks to use leftover odds and ends of whatever was available. The following recipe lists optional proteins. Use any or all of the optional meat or get creative and use whatever is on hand. One friend grew up with jambalaya as a post-Thanksgiving meal, because her mom threw all their leftover turkey into the pot!

I mix up the spices and keep them in a jar in the pantry for use whenever I want to add a Cajun flair to dinner. The seasoning is great sprinkled on burgers or chicken before cooking.

All of the ingredients are easily found at . I have tried different brands of andouille through the years, and find the convenience and taste of aidells to be a winner in my Quick Jambalaya. So, whip up a batch of Mary’s Mardi Gras Punch and you can celebrate any night of the year.

Jambalaya Seasoning (adapted from Emeril’s Cajun Jambalaya Recipe on Foodnetwork.com)

  • Makes about 2/3 cup seasoning mix
  • 2 ½ tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 crushed dried bay leaf

Mix all ingredients in a small glass jar and uses as needed.

Quick Jambalaya

  • Serves 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 green pepper chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Jambalaya Seasoning
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups long or medium grain rice, cooked (substituting instant rice will give the jambalaya a softer, mushier texture)
  • 1 12 ounce package aidells fully cooked Cajun Style Andouille, sliced into ½ inch thick discs
  • 1 pound cooked, diced chicken breast (optional)
  • 1 pound cooked, diced ham (optional)
  • 8 ounces raw, shelled shrimp (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic and green pepper (if using) and sauté until the onions and celery are soft. Sprinkle the Jambalaya Seasoning mix over the softened vegetables and stir until combined.

Lower the heat to medium and add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add the cooked rice, Andouille and all optional proteins, except for the shrimp. Stir well and reduce heat to low. Add the shrimp, if using, then cover the pot (with or without the shrimp) and cook approximately 7 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque white and done to your liking.

Use additional Jambalaya Seasoning or Tabasco sauce at the table if you wish.

Mary’s Mardi Gras Punch

  • Makes 2 cocktails
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 3 ounces Parrot Bay Passionfruit Rum
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce Rose’s Grenadine
  • Maraschino cherries (optional, for garnish)
  • Sliced pineapple (optional, for garnish)

Mix all ingredients. Pour into two glasses filled with ice. Garnish as desired.

Elizabeth Pawloski March 09, 2011 at 05:21 PM
I made Jambalaya from a box last night. I wish I would have seen this sooner--it sounds so much better!

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