Birthday Dinner — Jambalaya and Cake

My husband sometimes says that he married me because of my “special lasagna” and my jambalaya.  Unfortunately for him, I pulled a bait-and-switch and never made them again after we got married.  Well, almost never.  So I thought it would be a nice surprise to make him jambalaya for his birthday.  Our daughter made the cake, a sweet ending for a sweet birthday meal.

Jambalaya (I liberally adapted this from two different recipes, so I’m calling it my own)

Ingredients:

  • 4 andouille or other spicy sausage (pre-cooked or uncooked)
  • 2 chicken thighs (optional – I skipped them; this was Good Enough Jambalaya)
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 T. cajun seasoning
  • 1 t. dry mustard
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt
  • hot sauce (Tabasco or a similar kind)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 carton (32 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 bag pre-cooked frozen medium shrimp

Instructions:

1) If you’re using precooked sausage, dice it and then brown it in some olive oil, in a large Dutch oven.  If you’re using uncooked sausage, brown the sausage links in some olive oil (in the Dutch oven) and remove when fully cooked.  Dice the sausage and save for later.  (If you’re using precooked sausage, you can leave it in the pan.)

2) If you’re using the chicken thighs, brown them in the Dutch oven and remove them when cooked.  Dice and save for later.

3) Chop the onion, celery, and red pepper while the sausage is cooking.  (Good Enough tip: if I’m chopping several vegetables, I chop the onion last so my knife and board are not all onion-y when I’m chopping the other veggies, leading to extra tears.)  Add the vegetables to the Dutch oven and saute a few minutes until they soften.

4) Add the spices, hot sauce (to taste) and salt, stir, and let cook for a few minutes.  A word about the Cajun seasoning: normally I wouldn’t ask you to buy a seasoning blend that you only use for one dish.  I’m sure you could look up what’s in Cajun seasoning and make your own blend.  But it’s easier to just buy it — it’s not hard to find.

5) Add the uncooked rice and stir for a few minutes.  If you set aside the sausage and chicken, add them back in now.  Add the broth and the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 25 minutes uncovered, stirring frequently.  Since it was my husband’s birthday and I was going to do the dishes myself (he’s usually the dishwasher), you better believe I stirred frequently so I wouldn’t have to deal with stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan.  (Note: near the end, I added a little extra water because my liquid got absorbed before the rice was fully cooked.)

6) In the last few minutes, add the shrimp (defrosted by rinsing under water and sitting in the colander while the jambalaya was cooking).

Here was the finished product:

And here was the birthday cake, made by our daughter:

— Made by Molly

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