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Mardi Gras Shrimp Jambalaya Salad

Ragin' Cagin' Jambalaya Shrimp

Ragin’ Cagin’ Jambalaya Shrimp

Mardi Gras. What’s that? Fat Tuesday? Not around here.

In one of my first posts I shared my low-calorie shrimp jambalaya with egg noodles recipe with you all, but I thought I would push myself to make it EVEN healthier. And what can be healthier than salad? I assure you this salad is still full of zesty flavor, filling and super quick to prepare (I made this in less than 30 minutes). A triple threat. In fact, I nearly lifted my shirt it was so good, but then I decided to just keep it on. I have enough of those stinkin’ beads already (yes, that was a bad Mardi Gras joke).

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really measure ingredients, but rely on my good ol’ fashioned taste buds. I encourage you to do the same with this recipe as you really can’t mess it up. No, really, you can’t. 

This jambalaya requires four simple to prepare parts, made in the following order – homemade Cajun salad dressing (I’ll admit this is quite close to tasting like a Greek dressing, but it uses a basic Cajun seasoning mix – so, it’s Cajun!), seasoned croutons, jambalaya flavored shrimp and salad fixin’s. I added a few croutons on the salad because I had some day old bread to use up, but if you want to lighten this up even more than just omit these or substitute with some pepitas for some added crunch and nuttiness. In the future I might switch out the croutons for some quinoa for some added protein.

Yum. Yum. Now let’s get started.

Homemade Cajun Salad Dressing
Make the dressing first and set aside. If time allows, make a day ahead to let flavors meld together.

Red wine vinegar – start with a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil and add more to taste depending on how vinegar-y you like your dressing
Extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried onion powder
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a shaker bottle or mason jar. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Set aside while you prep the rest of the salad ingredients. Keep leftovers in refrigerator.

Seasoned Croutons
Day old bread, cut into cubes – I used rosemary bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried onion powder
Salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking pan with foil. Place bread cubes in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add seasonings and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on foil lined pan and place in oven. Bake until golden brown with crunchy texture – approximately 5 minutes. Keep an eye on these babies so they don’t burn 🙂 Take out of oven and set aside to cool.

Jambalaya flavored shrimp

1 lb shrimp – deveined and shelled
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. cumin
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Cayenne Pepper (add more if you like it spicy!)
1 Tb. butter (or your favorite meltable fat)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1-2 Tb. finely diced celery
1/4 chopped tomatoes
1 jalapeño seeded and chopped
salt to taste

1. Place shrimp in a bowl and toss with dried herbs and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
2. Heat up a skillet to medium heat and melt butter. Add in garlic, celery, tomatoes and jalapeño and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes start to get mushy.
3. Add shrimp into cooked vegetables, turn down heat and mix to coat. Add salt to taste. Cook shrimp JUST until they turn pink and then remove from heat. Do not overcook.

Salad Fixin’s
Feel free to use up whatever veggies you have in the fridge as that is exactly what I did 🙂

Chopped lettuce or salad greens
Thinly sliced red and orange bell pepper
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Sliced cucumber
Sliced avocado
Sliced red onion
Sliced green onion

After you have prepared the Cajun salad dressing, jambalaya flavored shrimp and the croutons (unless omitting). Put the salad fixings in the bowl and layer on the shrimp and croutons and drizzle with yummy Cajun dressing. Stand back and admire. Take a picture or two. Post to Instagram and taunt your friends with the delicious healthy meal you just made. Oh, and then eat the damn thing!

East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas

East meets West: Indian Curried Chicken Vegetable Enchiladas
It's due time to mix up the enchilada with a little eastern flair

Delicious and easy chicken enchiladas made with a quick indian madras curry sauce

Is there really any reason to mess with the nearly perfect foods of Madras Indian curry or chicken enchiladas? In and of themselves they are quite delicious lil meals, however, I like to mix things up and it was high time these got a remix of their very own. Queue Bollywood/Mariachi mashup song.

I love cooking curries, both of the Thai and Indian variety. Frequent trips to the spice and ethnic grocery stores in our area make this an easy feat to accomplish. I think a lot of people believe curries are difficult to make, but I have found them quite the contrary, especially Thai curries which I have a habit of making far too often.

Recently I learned just how easy it is to make your own homemade enchilada sauce from Mr. Emeril Lagasse. You can find his recipe here. I couldn’t believe how flippin’ simple and quick it was! Seriously so simple and tastes way better than anything you will get in a can. After mastering my homemade enchilada sauce I got to thinking how great curried enchiladas would be. I have never had them before, but I like curry and I like enchiladas. Sounded like a match made in heaven. We have had a tin of Madras Indian Curry powder in our cupboard for some time and it seems we have still barely made a dent in it (it’s a large tin), although I assure you we use it in our cooking quite often.

The tin looks like this.

Madras Curry Powder

This is the Madras Curry Powder we use

This Madras Curry Powder has the following ingredients in it: coriander, turmeric, salt, fennel, chili, black pepper, fenugreek, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, ginger, cassia. This curry powder had a good mix of all the spices so I didn’t feel the need to add too much to it. You can play around with other curry blends if you want such as vindaloo or garam masala.

I have to say that this dish turned out amazing with just the right amount of curry flavor and spice. While it may take a little longer to assemble than most people are used to spending on a weeknight meal, I believe you could make a pan or two of this on a weekend and freeze one for when you need it. The thing that takes the longest to cook is the shredded chicken, which cooks in about half hour. You will notice that I didn’t actually roll my enchiladas in this recipe, that was due to my flub of not taking the frozen corn tortillas out of the freezer to thaw prior to starting to cook. Instead I layered the ingredients which made it quicker to assemble and tastes the same as the rolled ones in the end. For the veggies in this recipe I used carrots, peas and fresh chopped spinach, but I encourage you to play around with the veggies you have in your fridge as I am sure they will taste fantastic in this dish.

Now let’s get to messing with the enchiladas, shall we? Or is it messing with the curry?

Servings: 8

Tools: 2 medium saucepans, 1 saute pan, knife, cutting board, micro-plane, 9″ x 13″ pan, spatula, ladle

Ingredients

I’m going to break down the ingredients into sections below for each element you have to prepare prior to assemblage in the pan.

  • Shredded Chicken (see recipe below)
  • Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce (see recipe below)
  • Vegetable Blend (see recipe below)
  • 4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 18 corn tortillas (should probably have an entire pack of 24 in case you need as many)

Shredded Chicken

1 lb. chicken breast (this can be either the bone-in or the boneless skinless variety)
water to cover chicken by a few inches in pot
pinch of kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 cup prepared curry enchilada sauce (see recipe below)
Optional Garnishes: sliced green onion, cilantro, avocado or sliced radishes

Easy Indian Madras Curry Sauce 

3 Tb. vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 in. knob of grated fresh ginger (Use a micro-plane for this. I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer so I always have it on hand)
4 Tb. Madras Curry Powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Vegetable Blend
1 Tb. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 medium carrots, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 large handful of baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

Steps

1. Prep all ingredients above so they are ready to begin cooking. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Place chicken in a pot and fill with water to cover by a few inches. Put on stove top on High heat. Cook for about 30 minutes until chicken is cooked through and is easy to shred with 2 forks.

3. While chicken is cooking, start on the Madras Curry enchilada sauce. Heat vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan on Medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until tender (they turn a bit translucent). Turn down heat to LOW. (This is very important because you don’t want to burn your flour in the next step)

4. After you have turned heat on onion, garlic mixture to LOW and it has a minute or two to adjust temperature, add in the flour and stir. Cook for 1 minute. (Note: Be sure NOT to burn your flour in this step.) Add in the curry powder and stir. Cook for another 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste and stir until combined. Cook on low until sauce reduces and thickens; about 15 minutes.

5. While curry sauce and chicken are cooking, start on the vegetable blend. Add extra virgin olive oil to a saute pan and heat on Medium heat. Add carrots and cook for several minutes until tender. Add the frozen peas and grated ginger and cook another minute until peas are defrosted. Add chopped spinach and cook until it wilts and moisture is cooked off. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

6. Once chicken is cooked through and it easily shreds, pull it out of cooking water and onto a cutting board. Using two forks, shred all of the chicken. Retain about 1/2 cup of the cooking water in the sauce pan, drain rest off. Add the shredded chicken back into pan with remaining water. Add 1/2 cup of the curry sauce to chicken and combine. Cook on Low a few minutes for chicken to season in the sauce mixture.

7. Add a ladle or two of the curry sauce to the bottom of the 9″ x 13″ baking dish and spread around bottom of pan. Place 6 corn tortillas on bottom of baking dish and spoon more sauce over them, spreading to cover. Alternate each layer with the cheese, veggie blend, shredded chicken (be sure to strain the chicken out of the sauce it is cooking in, so it doesn’t get too watery), curry sauce and tortillas. Be sure to finish the final two layers with sauce and then cheese.

8. Place into oven and cook for about 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. When finished take out of oven and let sit to cool for a minute or two. Slice, garnish and serve.

9. Enjoy and let me know how you liked it!

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Meatless Mondays! Roasted Vegetable Rice Bowl with Toasted Walnuts, Basil and Blueberry Balsamic Sauce (Gluten Free & Dairy Free)

Roasted Veggie Rice Bowl with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce

Roasted veggies and sweet tangy blueberry balsamic sauce with toasted walnuts and chiffonade basil

I’m not sure what it is with me and cooking gluten and/or dairy free lately, because it isn’t something that is compulsory for my health, however, I do feel pretty good when I eat this way. The last couple gluten and/or dairy free recipes that I posted have occurred by chance, and not at all through planning. Last night was one of those nights that I didn’t think I would create anything worth a damn in the kitchen, but I surprised myself. Yet again! We are nearing the end of our rations at this point and really need to get to the grocery store, but I am playing that game of trying to stretch as many meals out of what we have in the fridge. It’s quite a fun game, and something I have become pretty good at I must say. I think living on a budget has made me a better cook; a more resourceful steward, and definitely provided a stage for improvising ingredients when I need to use something up or don’t have something I want to use.

We have lots of half used veggies in our fridge right now (and of course fresh basil) that need to be used up in the next few nights. My hubby and I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into our repertoire, so last night seemed like a good night to do that especially since it was Monday… ahem… Meatless Monday 😉

As I started cooking last night the only thing I knew was that I needed to use up some broccoli, a quarter head of cauliflower, a handful of some mini bell peppers, as well as some fresh basil. Recently I was informed through my Pinterest (and namely through the blog http://www.amateurgourmet.com on behalf of the Barefoot Contessa‘s book Back to Basics) that I have been cooking broccoli wrong my ENTIRE life! How could I be so ill informed?! I’ve always pretty much just steamed or sauteed broccoli and that was the extent of it… until now. Have you ever roasted your broccoli? Well, I gotta tell you… it is AMAZING! It caramelizes it and gives it a nutty flavor that beats all other water logged broccoli you’ve ever had to date! Armed with my new found broccoli cooking method, I hit the kitchen with my remaining veggies and got to roastin’.

After I started the rice and got the veggies into the oven to roast, I figured I would just pour some balsamic vinegar over the dish and call it good… but then inspiration came over me. (cue angels singing) I recalled that I had about a half cup of blueberries in a bowl in the fridge that I had been telling myself to make a smoothie with since I made pancakes over the weekend. Aha! Blueberry balsamic reduction sauce it is! Balsamic is a great vinegar to use with fruit and it reduces beautifully to create a wonderful fruity, slightly tangy sauce. Sidenote: In addition to using balsamic in this sauce, I often times put a tsp. or so into the fruit mixture when I do fruit crisps and it turns them from great to AWESOME – it’s something in the caramelization of the fruit.

The dish ended up with a lovely mixture of sweet, tangy, nutty, roasted flavors. The sauce along with the toasted walnuts for a nutty crunch and the fresh chiffonade of basil (I love to say that word, chiffonade, but let’s be real here.. it’s just shredded). You will hardly notice that you are missing meat! But… if relinquishing your rights to meat is a big deal for you, then by all means you better cook up some chicken or salmon with this meal…I would hate to see you famish. 🙂

Servings: I made enough for 2 and some leftovers for lunch

This is one of those meals that you can estimate measurements of the veggies.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice
1 3/4 cup water
pinch kosher salt
Small crown of broccoli, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/4 crown of cauliflower, cut into florets and stem pieces
1/2 bell pepper, cut in strips
3 garlic cloves, smash it open and mince it
small onion, roughly chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling (couple Tbs)
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Garnish
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
basil chiffonade
feta cheese (optional, but not dairy free)

Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tb. honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. water
pinch of kosher salt

Cooking Steps 

1. Prep all veggies as instructed above. Preheat oven to 425°

2. Put water and rice in pan. Place on stove on High heat. Once water starts boiling, cover and reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed all liquid.

3. Place broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, onion, garlic in a foil lined roasting pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in preheated oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until veggies have good roasted color.

4. While veggies and rice are cooking, start the Blueberry Balsamic Reduction Sauce. In a saucepan over medium heat add olive oil. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add blueberries and cook for 2 minutes, until skins are bursting. Add honey and balsamic vinegar and stir. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. In a glass cup, mix the cornstarch with the water and then add this into the pan. Reduce heat and cook uncovered so liquid reduces. Keep this on low while you prepare rest of meal.

5. Heat a pan on medium heat (I find a cast iron pan works well for this). Add roughly chopped walnuts to pan and toss for a few minutes until they are nice and toasted. (Make sure you keep an eye on this pan as they go from barely toasted to blackened in seconds… trust me, I know.) Take toasted nuts out of pan and set aside to cool

6. Chiffonade your basil (check out link for how to chiffonade). Once the veggies and rice are finished cooking plate on a dish and drizzle with the blueberry balsamic sauce. Garnish with chiffonade basil, toasted walnuts and (optional) feta cheese.

Enjoy! Let me know what you think of this dish!

 

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Pineapple Basil Fish Cakes and Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (Gluten Free and Dairy Free)

Yummy fish cakes. Cool tangy avocado cilantro lime slaw. Yay, no mayo!

As one who grew up not eating fish very often, I sure love it as an adult. Not only is it yummy and versatile, it also cooks in record speed and is one of the most healthful animal protein sources that I know of. I love playing with sweet fruit flavors in my recipes and complimenting them with fresh herbs and spices. My favorite herb has got to be basil. Lots and lots of fresh FRESH basil. If it isn’t large quantities of garlic and onions, I am probably using fresh basil more than any other ingredient. I just wish I could keep my plant alive so I didn’t have to keep buying it at the store. I know, I know…Woah is me.

Just as I was finishing up my last post (Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles), I was trying to think of what I wanted to make for dinner next. I was feeling void of inspiration for a short moment. A cloud of anxiousness covered me…. suddenly I feared that my blog would only EVER (E-V-E-R!!!) have four posts (at least it’s more than the first blog I started). Ok, ok I am slightly embellishing the feeling I had. One thing that I love about cooking and food is that I am pretty much ALWAYS thinking about it, so it doesn’t take me long to come up with my next recipe (thus why I keep a notepad on my phone to keep notes of dishes I want to make).  There is actually a running joke in my family that whenever we eat together, I have always said, “You know what we should have had?” It’s not that whatever we are ever eating isn’t worthy of praise and interest at that very moment, I am just always forward thinking and onto the next… meal.

And… back to the topic at hand. Fish.

Fish cakes are easy, yummy and a great way to mix up the normal fillet routine. You can use fresh or previously frozen fish in nearly any variety… salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia and lots more. Plus the ingredients you put into them can be changed up to suit your fancy, but you’ll definitely want to try my recipe to get you on your way to fish cake fanaticism. The slight sweetness of the pineapple coupled with the herby basil notes and then topped with the creamy lime cilantro dressing and crunch from the slaw make for a wonderful taste combination. The slaw also absolutely does not have mayo in it, because like you will soon come to know… I LOATHE MAYONNAISE! I find it vile and so gross, so I find ways around using it, or just don’t use it at all. You’re welcome, the calories weren’t welcome in this recipe anyways.

Oh, and did I mention this recipe is dairy free and gluten free! Yeah, well it is… so also healthier, so eat up!

If you buy fish when it is on sale or in the frozen fillets, you can save big money. We happen to buy almost all of our groceries at Grocery Outlet. Most people are amazed at that, because we certainly don’t survive off Ramen and Hamburger Helper in this house, that is for sure. We definitely are on a budget, and I am able to buy an assortment of fresh and frozen organic produce most of the time as well as wild caught fish for usually about half the price of normal grocery stores. I just love it there, and they have a fairly decent wine selection too.

Tools needed:

Food processor
Zester
Knife
Mandolin Slicer (optional – I don’t have one so I didn’t use it, but if you do it will make your life that much easier to thinly slice the cabbage into airy crisp goodness)

Servings: 4

Pineapple Basil Fish Cake

Ingredients:
8 oz. fresh or canned pineapple, drained as much as possible
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 bell pepper, cut up (any color will do)
FRESH basil – a large handful
pinch of red chili flakes
zest from 1 lime
1 lb. fish thawed, skin removed (salmon, cod, halibut, tilapia… your choice)
1 Tb. vegetable oil (I tried to use EVOO but found that it started smoking when cooking)

Avocado Cilantro Lime Slaw (NO MAYO! YAY!)

Ingredients:

1/4 – 1/2 cabbage, shredded airy thin (mandolin slicer can assist here, but I just used a sharp knife)
1 small ripe avocado
juice from 1 lime
large handful cilantro
1 clove garlic
pinch kosher salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Enough to thin out the dressing mixture

Steps

1. Start assembling the slaw first. Put the shredded cabbage in a medium bowl.

2. Plug in food processor. Scoop flesh of avocado into food processor, lime juice, cilantro, garlic and kosher salt and blend until smooth. Drizzle EVOO into processor until thinned enough that it can be mixed into slaw to dress cabbage. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

3. Scoop dressing out of processor and toss with shredded cabbage until covered. Place into fridge while assembling rest of meal.

4. Rinse out food processor to begin preparing fish cakes.

5. Put pineapple, garlic, kosher salt, bell pepper, basil, chili flake, lime zest in processor and blend until combined and finely pureed. Add fish and again pulse until incorporated with other ingredients.

6. Heat frying pan on medium high heat with 1 Tb. vegetable oil.

7. Scoop out 1/4 cup of fish mixture and place into heated frying pan. Press the fish mixture down to form a patty. Cook about 1 minute each side. Take out and place on a plate with paper towels to soak up excess oil.

8. Plate fish cakes and top with a heavy helping of slaw. Enjoy!

Note: We made mashed potatoes seasoned with my cajun spice mix as the other side for this. These weren’t GF/DF, so I omitted them from the post.

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Low Calorie Shrimp Jambalaya with Egg Noodles

Last night was Mardi Gras and we most definitely had a hankering for some jambalaya (us and well… every other American it seems). I have to say that in the past my experience with jambalaya has mostly consisted of a box mix which is full of lots of preservatives, salt, added calories and usually empty promises. We’ve had quite a bit of rice lately so I thought I would try out my own recipe this time and pour it over a helping of egg noodles as I have a few bags of this stashed around the kitchen and it was begging to be eaten.

This dish actually turned out much better than I anticipated. After I thumbed through my notes of what I used, I also figured it was pretty low calorie. The worst part of this dish is the egg noodles which you can definitely sub for something with less calories or just eat it without any added carbs. A cup of cooked egg noodles is about 220 calories, the jambalaya (shrimp, veggies, sauce) was probably under 100 calories, I figure (with my best google attempt). That means that a pretty large serving is still hovering under 350 calories. Not bad I’d say, not bad. The spice level was a perfectly balanced medium and not too spicy, although you can sure add more spice if you’d like. My hubs shies away from the spicy hot dishes, while I gobble them up, so I usually err on the side of less is more when more people that just myself are eating.

You will notice that I added cauliflower to this recipe. I certainly know that it isn’t an ingredient that usually makes an appearance in this dish, however I had it to use up and took my liberties to do so. This is a great dish to add any other random veggies you have lying around as the cajun spice mix will likely make it taste very good and you won’t notice you are eating veggies (if that is a difficult thing for you).

And on with the recipe! Enjoy!

Servings: 4

Ingredients

12 oz. package of egg noodles
Water
1 lb. wild uncooked Shrimp, de-veined and tails removed (Medium to extra-large in size)
1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 crown cauliflower broken into small florets
1 cup bell peppers sliced (red, yellow, and green)
1/2 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 small roma tomatoes, chopped
1 cup broth (I used chicken broth)
Cajun Spice Mix (See recipe below)

Cajun Spice Mix

1 1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt (this is critical, DO NOT whatever you do use table salt or sea salt. Only Kosher or it will turn out too salty)
2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tb. paprika
1 Tb. chili powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground thyme
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (this will result in medium spice, adjust according to preference)
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine these seasonings in a bowl and mix until combined. This recipe will create more than you will need for the whole recipe, but I suggest putting in an airtight container to use later in other cajun inspired dishes (chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies.. etc.)

Steps for making Jambalaya

1. Make the cajun spice mix according to recipe above. Set aside. Have all other ingredients prepped.

2. Fill a pot with water, sprinkle with kosher salt, and put on the stove on High heat. Bring to a boil. Drop the noodles into the water and set timer (according to package directions).

3. Put shrimp in a bowl and stir in enough cajun spice mix to cover the shrimp. Set aside.

4.  Put a saute pan on the stove, pour in 1 Tb. extra virgin olive oil and heat oil on Medium-High heat.

5. Add chopped garlic, onion, bell peppers and cauliflower to pan and cook for a few minutes until the veggies get nice and seared, leaving then with some brown edges.

6. Sprinkle a bit of the reserved cajun seasoning mix onto the veggies (a couple tsp. is sufficient) and stir to coat.

7. Add the seasoned shrimp to the pan. Cook the mixture until shrimp is half cooked.

8. Add the broth and chopped roma tomatoes to pan. Stir mixture together. Drop the heat down to medium and cook for a few minutes so that some of the liquid reduces.

9. Drain noodles when they are done (according to package directions).

10. Place a scoop of noodles on a plate and cover with jambalaya mixture. Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy!

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Mediterranean Pesto Chicken Sausage and Quinoa (Gluten Free)

I don’t eat exclusively gluten free, but I have dabbled for periods in the past and are often subject to these dishes when dining with family and friends with the sensitivity. Most gluten free recipes are pretty healthful in and of themselves, so I try to incorporate gluten free recipes into my repertoire every now and again. This was a good meal for getting some of my half eaten veggies and canned peppers and olives used up in the fridge, not to mention the half used pesto container from the night before’s homemade pizza (but I really would advocate for making some fresh pesto if you have the ingredients and a few extra minutes, as it’s more flavorful and comes together so quickly in a food processor).

I didn’t intend to make this dish gluten free, but it was a nice little afterthought when I started realizing that all of the foods I was pulling out of the fridge were of the sort. I was actually going to make this dish with noodles or pasta, which would have been delicious too, but I am glad that I chose quinoa as it is so yummy and it’s very healthy for you too, full of protein and fiber. I also love that this dish doesn’t ‘taste’ gluten free, so nothing about it makes you think you are missing out. This meal was delicious so I deemed it blog worthy (as did my husband – although he has to say that, right?). Not only is this yummy it’s also pretty healthy (with a few substitutions that I will note, you can cut more calories if you want), it cooks very quickly and even a novice cook can get this right on the first shot.

This is one of those recipes that you can eye-ball (except for cooking the quinoa) so put away your measuring cups and just start cooking 😉

I made this recipe for 4. There was enough for 2 of us for dinner and then enough for leftovers/lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa (will make about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 Tb. of extra virgin olive oil
1 package of fully cooked chicken sausage in casings, sliced into medallions (I used Al Fresco brand sun dried tomato chicken sausage, which is gluten free and has no nitrates)
handful of canned pepperoncinis, stem and seeds removed and sliced
1/2 cup greek pitted kalamata olives, halved
A few Tbs. of homemade or store bought pesto (I used about 1/3 of a 6 oz package)
crumbled feta cheese, enough for garnishing each dish
zest from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: dried red chili flakes (I like adding a little spice to my own plate, so I sprinkled a little of this on my own)

Instructions

1. Rinse the quinoa in water and discard rinsing water (A strainer might be helpful here). Add quinoa to saucepan and add in the water or broth. Turn on to high heat. Once it starts boiling put a lid on it and turn it down to a simmer. Keep covered and cook for 15 minutes. Remove quinoa from the heat and allow to sit with the lid on for 5 minutes.

2. While the quinoa is cooking, start preparing the rest of the dish. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan or an enamel coated cast iron pan at medium-high heat. Once pan is hot, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and cauliflower. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to get golden colored.

3. You might want to add another Tb. of olive oil if your veggies sucked up all the oil. Add your fully cooked chicken sausage medallions and cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes to give a good sear to the sausage.

4. Turn off heat and stir in the pepperoncinis, kalamata olives and pesto sauce.

5. Open lid of quinoa and fluff with a fork. Dish the quinoa onto plates first, top with the sausage and veggie mixture.

6. Top with a shake of crumbled feta and some fresh lemon zest

Cutting Calories? Consider omitting the pesto sauce and add some fresh chopped basil leaves at the end.

If you are using this recipe and sensitive or allergic to gluten, please verify each individual product label you use for this dish is free of gluten.

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