Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Delicious Jambalaya and Sweet and Sour Shrimp

I used to be the kind of person who went to the grocery store every night. I didn't like using the microwave to defrost and I never remembered to get anything out of the freezer before I left in the morning. These are weak excuses since even minimal planning would have alleviated the problem but that's the way it was.

I was also a person who wasn't a leftover fan. I tended to serve up fairly large meals that my husband and I scarfed down unmercifully and what little was left went with him for lunch the next day. Well, times change.

Now I create a week long menu plan at the beginning of the week. I shop only once a week. I try and cook things in smaller portions and with a follow up plan for any leftover ingredients. When I'm cooking something like roast chicken where leftovers are inevitable I know even as it's in the oven what I'm going to do with what is left after our dinner. Interestingly enough, I've found that this has increased my creativity in the kitchen rather than diminished it.

A great example was last weeks double whammy of delicious meals from different cultures. Tweaked by me, of course. I had purchased from Trader Joe's a bag of their large, uncooked shrimp. There were too many shrimp for 1 meal of just the two of us so I planned for two; Jambalaya and Sweet and Sour Shrimp.

This made great sense because I have a plethora of Chinese sauces and flavors leftover from a recent meal so I'm always looking for something to use them in. I also had two unused chicken chorizo sausage from a recent pizza that were crying out for something to add spice to. These two meals also share a number of ingredients. Besides the shrimp there is green pepper, garlic, and rice. I found this recipe for Jambalaya on Epicurious.com. It is a low calorie version with a lot of good fiber and warm heat.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green pepper cored, seeded and chopped (I only used 1/2 a pepper)
2 celery stalks, diced
3 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, (I used about T of dried parsley)
4 oz extra lean smoked ham, cut in 1/2 inch cubes, (I used 2 chicken chorizo)
5 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced, (I used 1 can of kidney beans)
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled and chopped,(I used about 8 large shrimp not chopped).

Add oil to a large nonstick saucepan. Over medium heat, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add parsley, ham/sausage, chicken/beans, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring often, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce, and 1 3/4 cups cold water. Gently simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Pour rice into the pan and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered 45 minutes or until rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid. Stir in shrimp and cook 5 minutes more. Remove bay leaf. Season to taste.

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