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Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

April 13, 2010

Some of you may be wondering what the heck I’m doing posting a clear-cut cold-weather meal almost halfway through April.  Well, if you had some of the nasty weather that the Northeast endured during the final weeks of March and into the beginning of April, you know how much a warm meal on a raw and rainy night was appreciated.  This jambalaya was the perfect meal for that night. And maybe what was best about it (aside from it’s deliciousness of course) was that it was an easy meal to put together on a weeknight.

Let’s just say that regardless of the level of familiarity you may have with jambalaya, you’re going to love this dish.  I had been looking for a great jambalaya recipe for close to 3 years and since I had never made it before and had only eaten it a couple of times as a kid, I wanted to make sure I chose the perfect one.  This was it, thanks to Annie and her love of Cook’s Illustrated.  Kyle and I both adored this meal and I’m already looking forward to next fall when the weather will be calling for it again!

Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

source: The New Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, as found on Annie’s Eats

Printer-Friendly Recipe

1 medium onion, trimmed and quartered
1 rib celery, cut into quarters
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. vegetable oil
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
8 oz. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch chunks (or crumbled, if in delicate casings)
1½ cups long-grain white rice
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (¼ cup of juice reserved)
1 cup bottled clam juice
1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 lb. shrimp (31-40 per lb.), peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until chopped fine, about six 1-second pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Be careful not to over-process.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken to the pot, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until golden brown on the opposite side, about 3 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.  Lower the heat to medium and add the andouille.  Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 3 minutes.  Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon, and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium-low and add the chopped vegetables to the pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the rice, salt, thyme and cayenne; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice is coated with the fat, about 1 minute.  Add the diced tomatoes, reserved tomato juice, clam juice, chicken broth, bay leaves and cooked sausage to the pot.  Stir to combine.  Remove the skin from the chicken pieces and place the chicken on the rice so that the side the skin was just removed from is now facing down.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir once, keeping the chicken in the same general position, and continue to simmer until the chicken is no longer pink inside, about 10 minutes more.  Transfer the chicken to a clean plate or cutting board and set aside.  Scatter the shrimp over the rice, cover, and continue to cook until the rice is fully tender and the shrimp are opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

While the shrimp are cooking, shred the chicken into thin strands.  Once the shrimp are finished cooking, discard the bay leaves, stir in the chicken and parsley, and serve immediately.

BB: Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich

March 31, 2010

While I’m always up for a hearty sandwich, I just wasn’t feeling the big hunk of bread this week so I took the liberty of adapting this sandwich into a nice hearty chicken Caesar club salad.  It was easy enough to do but I went a step further in lightening up the this meal by using equal parts light mayo and nonfat Greek yogurt.  The bacon, of course, stayed and added the perfect amount of bacon-y flavor to this light and crisp salad.  You’ll see my changes below but if you’re not up for a salad, I’m sure the club sandwich would be fantastic with nice fresh piece of crusty ciabatta.

Many thanks to Karen of Shortbread for choosing the perfect recipe to welcome in Spring!  If you haven’t been there in a while, be sure to check out the Barefoot Bloggers!

Chicken Caesar Club Salad (Sandwich)

source: adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces bacon
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoons course grain mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces and washed and spun dry
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
  • 2 to 3 ounces Parmesan, shaved
  1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a sauté pan to medium high.
  2. Pat the chicken breasts dry then sprinkle with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, cook the chicken for 12 minutes or until cooked through, flipping over using tongs after about 6-7 minutes.  Cool slightly and slice the chicken on a bias (against the grain) into about 1/2″ slices. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium frying pan, cook bacon until crisp. Set aside to drain on paper towels. When cooled, break up in to pieces.
  4. Place the garlic and parsley in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until minced. Add the anchovy paste, mustard, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and yogurt and process again to make a smooth dressing. Blend in a little olive oil if the mixture is too thick. (Refrigerate the Caesar dressing if not using it immediately.)
  5. In a large bowl, toss lettuce with dressing. Mix in bacon and sun-dried tomatoes. Divide the salad between two plates, top with sliced chicken and Parmesan cheese.

BB: Mini Meatloaves

March 30, 2010

Ever since I made Ina’s Turkey Meatloaf a while back, I’ve never had the inkling to try another meatloaf recipe.  Why mess with a good thing, right?  Well, when Tonya of What’s on My Plate? chose Mini Meatloaves for her Barefoot Bloggers recipe this month, my heart sank a little.  Just a little…it is still an Ina recipe after all.  But try another meatloaf recipe? And pass over my beloved turkey meatloaf? I suppose…but only for the love of all things Ina.

To my surprise though, the recipe for these Mini Meatloaves is essentially the same recipe as for Ina’s Turkey Meatloaf, except with ground beef in place of the ground turkey. YES!  So after having made the turkey meatloaf for so long, I had no issues with this recipe…and loved it just as much as I love the turkey version.  I do plan on sticking with the turkey due to the lower amount of fat (see the photo??) but I’m happy to have tried the recipe with ground beef in mini form…isn’t everything mini so much fun?!

P.S. – Although I’ve upgraded my camera since the turkey meatloaf photo, you wouldn’t really know, would you? I guess there’s just something about meatloaf that just doesn’t photograph well.  Oh well…at least the food’s good!

Mini Meatloaves

source: Ina Garten

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup canned chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck (81 percent lean)
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs (recommended: Progresso)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (recommended: Heinz)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don’t mash or the meatloaf will be dense. Divide the mixture into 6 (10 to 11-ounce) portions and shape each portion into a small loaf on a sheet pan. Spread about a tablespoon of ketchup on the top of each portion.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 155 to 160 degrees F and the meat loaves are cooked through. Serve hot.

North African Meatballs

March 26, 2010

A few weeks ago, my book club met to discuss a book called The Bolter which was set partly in Edwardian London and partly in Kenya in the early 1900s. And while we usually don’t theme our dinners after our books, our host this time decided to give it a go (even though the recipe she chose was more Moroccan, which geographically isn’t close to Kenya at all) .  And what a fabulous job she and her hubby did making this dish!  I figured this recipe would be a winner since the house smelled incredible when I walked in and my stomach growled the entire time we discussed the book before dinner.

And I was right.  These were some awesome meatballs, truly awesome.  The cinnamon lends a great deal of of earthy flavor to the meatballs and sauce which I loved but Kyle wasn’t entirely sold on.  Next time I’ll use a little less cinnamon and a little less crushed red pepper since I found the sauce to be a bit too spicy.  I basically stayed true to the sauce and meatball recipes but adapted the couscous a little and you’ll see my changes below. You should note that 3/4 lb of meat does not yield 32 meatballs as the original recipe states – you’ll get more like 12-14 (1 1/2″) meatballs which is still enough to feed four people with the couscous.  So if you’re looking for a new quick and delicious meal, give this one a shot. And for what it’s worth, the meal was way better than the book!

North African Meatballs

source: adapted from Melissa D’Arabian, FoodNetwork

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/2 cup pitted and chopped briny olives
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • Pinch (small) ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus a extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch (small) ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 pound turkey
  • 1/3 cup finely ground rolled oats or fine bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (such as canola), for cooking
  • Couscous with Dried Dates, recipe follows

To make the sauce:

In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and olives and cook for 1 more minute. Add the white wine, deglaze the pan, and let it reduce for a 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, and cinnamon, and simmer to blend flavors, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To make the Meatballs:

  1. In a medium bowl, add the egg and tomato paste and stir until smooth. Add the cilantro, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon and mix until well blended. Stir in the ground beef and oats, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and combine gently after each addition. Do not over mix. Rolling with your hands, make about 12-14 meatballs, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter.
  2. In a large saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil over medium heat, and brown the meatballs in batches until golden on all sides. Add more oil, as needed. Transfer the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and let simmer for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over the Couscous with Dried Dates.

Couscous with Dried Dates

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dried dates or raisins
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water, stock, and oil to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the the couscous, cinnamon, cumin, and garlic powder. Reduce heat, cover the pan tightly with a lid, and simmer for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add the dates, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

World Peace Cookies

March 22, 2010

Or the cookies that make life worth living. Seriously, when you spend an entire Saturday working with 6 teenage kids and a scatter-brained director filming videos for your job (fun but oh so exhausting) on your sixth workday of the week and then an entire Sunday cleaning up your flooded finished basement again [for the second time in three years], including tearing up the carpet, these cookies make life just a little better. Yes folks, that’s how I spent a recent weekend.

Turns out, I made a batch of Dorie’s World Peace Cookies for the kids that Saturday to snack on after lunch and I made sure there was an ample amount left at home…for uhh, photos of course. Sure, for photos…And it just so happens that these happen to be what both Kyle and I needed at some point (or a few) on Sunday after we sloshed our way through our family room moving furniture, tearing up carpet and sucking up water.  These cookies totally saved our sanity that day. An ample amount just happened to be sitting on the kitchen counter every time either one of us made our way out of water world for a drink – non-alcoholic at that point in the day.  Thank goodness for saving food for blog photos!

So the cookies were really really wonderful; a perfect balance of not overly sweet chocolate and sea salt and believe it or not, both Kyle and I as well as the kids I worked with that weekend devoured these cookies.  They were certainly worth the wait after hearing about them for so long and I won’t hesitate to make them again soon.  And after the kids asked me this past weekend if I had made those cookies for them again, which unfortunately for everyone I hadn’t, I’ll go ahead and say that they’ll be making another appearance in the very near future.

World Peace Cookies

source: Dorie Greenspan, Baking: From My Home to Yours; original recipe from Pierre Hermé

Makes about 36 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
  1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
  2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
  3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting ready to bake:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.
  3. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Serving: The cookies can be eaten when they are warm or at room temperature — I prefer them at room temperature, when the textural difference between the crumbly cookie and the chocolate bits is greatest — and are best suited to cold milk or hot coffee.

Do ahead: Packed airtight, cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days (Deb note: not a chance); they can be frozen for up to 2 months. They can also be frozen in log form for months, and can be sliced and baked directly from the freezer, adding a coupld minutes to the baking time.