Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. — Mother Teresa
An ever ready pre-Lenten Mardi Gras dinner special, jambalaya is a Louisiana creole dish of Spanish and French influence. It originated in the Caribbean Islands.
Cook’s note: You will need to add more chicken broth on the second day to serve the dish, since the rice absorbs some of the broth. Advance prep makes assembly easier. Rotisserie chicken is a good option. Recipe serves eight but can be easily halved using a regular size box of jambalaya mix to serve four. Shrimp can be substituted for chicken. Pair the meal with your favorite salad.
1 box Zatarains’s New Orleans style jambalaya mix (family style)
3 large chicken breasts, about 3 cups diced meat
3 cups diced Andouille sausage
2 TB. olive oil
2 cans low sodium chicken broth (14.5 oz.)
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced chunky tomatoes (basil, oregano, garlic)
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups water
1 cup each diced sweet onions, combination red and green pepper, celery
2 garlic cloves minced
½ tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tsp. each dried parsley flakes and basil
1 bay leaf
Optional: substitute cooked shrimp for chicken and add in last 15 minutes of cooking time
Cook chicken breasts at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and sausage 20 minutes
Cool and dice both meats-set aside.
In a large skillet sauté onions, celery, green pepper and garlic and seasonings.
Add in water, broth, jambalaya rice mixture, canned tomatoes, bay leaf and diced meats
Simmer 45 minutes on low heat covered.
Remove bay leaf before serving.
Mini Baileys chocolate cheesecakes
No need to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to try this recipe. Pairing Oreos with Baileys is a match made in heaven.
Cook’s note: The recipe was adapted from lovelifeandsugar.com and makes 14 mini cheesecakes.
2 cups Mint Oreo cookie crumbs (use a food processor)
2 TB. butter, melted
12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
6 TB. cocoa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup +1 tablespoon Irish Cream Liqueur, e.g. Baileys
2 large eggs
Whipped cream topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 TB. powdered sugar
2 TB. Irish Cream Liqueur
Optional chocolate sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and add cupcake liners to muffin pan.
Combine the Oreo crumbs and melted butter. Divide the mixture between the cupcake liners and press crumbs down with back of spoon into bottom of paper liners.
Bake crusts for 5 minutes then remove from oven. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
Cheesecake filling and topping
In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa until combined (Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and Irish cream. Beat on low speed until well combined.
Add eggs one at a time, beating slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Divide the batter between the cupcake liners and fill most of the way.
Bake cheesecakes for about 18 minutes or just until filling is set.
When cooled refrigerate mini cheesecakes until serving.
Whip heavy whipping cream on high until it begins to thicken. Add in powdered sugar and Irish cream and continue to whip on high until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until serving and then add a dollop to top of each cheesecake.
Optional splurge: a drizzle of chocolate sauce over the top.
Twice a month The Seasonal Plate food column will highlight dishes inspired by the changing seasons. My passion for travel, poetry, writing, exploring new cuisines, trying recipes and cooking have been inspiration for the recipes I have published on my blog http://www.sockfairies.blogspot.com.
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Sue Ready is a writer, poet and former middle school teacher. She is the president of the Northwoods Arts Council in Hackensack.