Why not Jambalaya?

Hello wonderful foodies!

mmm...good. My take on the favorite New Orleans dish!
mmm…good. My take on the favorite New Orleans dish!

Gah, I swear I feel like it’s becoming harder and harder to sneak away from my grueling homework to write a post. Countless hours of my life just withering away with each boring Digital Literacy learning video I try cramming into my nightly routine . No, worries! I have a plan worked out to where I can, at least, get one up every weekend. And if you’re lucky… I might post two!  😉

Anyway, about this wonderful concoction. I got the base to this recipe from an old Home and Gardens cookbook. When I feel like making something quick and filling, this is my go-to recipe. It comes in handy when I’ve been working in the commercial kitchen all day and have class directly after; which is exactly what influenced my decision to throw it together this past week. For some reason, my kids and husband feel they have to eat (I know, crazy.. right? haha). Apparently, I’m the one who they expect to make all these fancy, shmancy dinners. Not Daddy. Well, this particular evening- momma was not having it.

Our day started off rough. We were short handed in the commercial kitchens. With an undersized class of only six students and a full menu to put out for service in 2 hours time, it really put a hurting on us with two classmates out due to sickness. Let’s just say we were buuuuusy! (We rocked the chicken cordon blue and all the fixin’s, that day)

I didn’t make it to my humble abode until a little after 5 that evening and Mason would be home in another hour. I failed to pull some meat out to thaw, so andouille sausage would have to do. Why not jambalaya? Being fall, I like to stick to comfort (if you couldn’t tell from my other posts). It was actually a perfect accompaniment to some The Walking Dead re-runs (thWalking-Dead-season 6 posterank goodness for Netflix). Yes, I am EXACTLY what some would say a “Dead-Head”.. like a hard core, treat every day like a zombie apocalypse type Dead-Head. With a little over a month before the new season airs on AMC, I just HAD to start watching it from the beginning…again. What can I say? Daryl Dixon stole my ❤ (Sorry, Mase).

Ok, enough with the zombies… you have to give this New Orleans favorite a try! So much flavor love going on in your mouth, it makes you feel like you’re in the bayou!

Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. cooking oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1- 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (or 2 large fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 8 oz andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cute into 1/2 inch slices
  • 3/4 cup long grain rice
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 dried red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large skillet, brown sausage in hot oil .
  2. Add and saute onion, celery, peppers, and garlic until tender.
  3. Stir in rice and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add in chicken broth, tomatoes (and juice), and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil; reduce heat.
  6. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until rice is tender.
  7. Discard bay leaves.
  8. Grab a heaping helping of jambalaya, sink into your couch, and take this time to catch up on some Walking Dead while scarfing down!

NOTES:

  • Spice it up by throwing in some shredded chicken or shrimp.
  • If rice is dry and undercooked, add in 1/4th cup of extra broth at a time until rice is tender.
  • I have also used beef broth and the results were excellent.

 Did you like this recipe for my Sausage Jambalaya? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Pineapple Casserole

_MG_0631 copy  “Mmm…mmm… mmmmmm…” The sound of satisfaction after taking that first bite of a dessert so wonderful, you could make-out with your spoon! Ok, maybe not really “make-out” with your spoon, but you certainly find it hard to stop after just one bite. Making sure you leave no crumb left behind!

Which is exactly how it was for me a few hours ago when I threw together some pineapples, mandarin oranges, and crackers. Yes! I said all three of those in the same sentence, and yes, it is a dessert. More like a dessert casserole.

Every year I host a big turkey dinner at my house for close family and friends to gather and hang out after the stress of Thanksgiving house jumping is over. Being someone who loves to cook, I find it easier just to go to family gatherings, for both sides of our family, on the actual holiday. The following Saturday I set aside for showing off my cooking and hostess skills! Long story short, I always request that everyone bring a dish to beef up the variety on the table. My husband’s father’s girlfriend always brings an awesome pineapple dessert, similar to this. It’s a great combination of sweet and savory. I wasn’t real sure about how she made hers but I worked my magic and made something equally delicious!

This recipe infuses summer favorites with the comforts of fall, all in one dish!

Pineapple Casserole

  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (save 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice from the crushed pineapple above
  • 1 stick butter or margarine or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup, melted
  • 40 to 50 Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (Optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine the crushed pineapple, mandarin oranges, vanilla, sugar, flour, and pineapple juice.  Mix well.
  2. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray and spread pineapple mixture into the dish. (I used a 1.5 qt. glass loaf pan and had plenty of room)
  3. Melt the butter and mix with the crushed Ritz crackers.
  4. Sprinkle on top of the pineapple.
  5. Add pecans on top.
  6. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 30 to 35 minutes until brown on top.
  7. Grab a fork, dig in, and experience the wonderful things happening inside your mouth! 😉_MG_0568 copy

This would be perfect after some Smokey, Chunky Chili, don’tcha think?

Did you enjoy my Pineapple Casserole recipe? Let me know in the comments below what you thought. Have a favorite fruity dessert recipe you make all the time? Share it with me and I’ll give it a shot._MG_0635 copy

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Smokey, Chunky Chili

 _MG_0616 copy This is my all time favorite chili recipe and it’s always a go-to when I don’t know what to cook for dinner! Thrown together on a whim (I do this a lot), It’s a very simple (there’s that word again. I really like making meals as easy as can be) and a fairly cheap meal to make, but sometimes I like getting adventurous and tend to add roasted peppers and corn. It’s so versatile and easy and it’s definitely a MUST try!

Smokey Chunky Chili

  • 1 lb. ground hamburger or turkey burger
  • 3 cans dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 1 large onion
  • 3-4 tomatoes diced (I used 2 romas and 2 better boys from my garden)
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2-3 tbs chili powder (more may be added to taste)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tbs. sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp. Smoked paprika

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven over med-high heat, fry burger. Drain.
  2. Add every ingredient (juices included) to the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower to a simmer.
  4. Let simmer for 2 hours.
  5. Dress it up with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

NOTES

  • If you like a thicker chili, you may omit the beef broth.
  • Don’t want smokey? Just leave out the Smoked Paprika.
  • CROCKPOTing it up? Cook burger in separate pan, drain and add to crock pot along with remaining ingredients. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 4. (Perfect time to sneak away and do something relaxing for yourself 😉 )
  • I like to add a little sugar to many of my recipes that are tomato based. This is totally optional, but I find it helps to cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes. It’s just what has always worked for me.
  • This also freezes well, so make ahead and save for those colder nights!_MG_0617 copy

That’s all she wrote. Did you enjoy my Smokey, Chunky Chili recipe? Let me know in the comments below what you thought. Have a favorite Chili recipe you make all the time? Share it with me and I’ll give it a shot. I’m always looking for more ways to spice up my chili recipe.

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Soup Beans- The best you’ll ever have!

Apparently, for mefree-autumn-wallpaper-1920x1200, August has opened the doors to all things comfort. I mean, why not? I guess I am slowly breaking myself into all those hearty meals that make you just want to sink back into the couch, wrap yourself in a warm blanket and grab an enthralling book (if you were so lucky to have the quiet time). Fall is my favorite time of the year and since summer is coming to an end anyway, I am doing all I can to welcome it with open arms. 

That’s why, tonight, I broke down and made my husband’s favorite country dinner. Soup beans and Cornbread. I know! You’re probably thinking, “What the crap is that? That can’t be good.”. I have had those thoughts, too, when I moved from northern Ohio to eastern Kentucky. Being a northerner, I have never heard of such a meal. Beans? A soup? …No way! It’s actually a very popular dinner, here, where we live. To be honest, I was not a fan of it when I first had it. The look and the taste… Bluck! 

It wasn’t until my mom had gotten a recipe from one of her close friends and made it on her own, that I started to take a liking to it. After that, I gave it a second go. After becoming an adult, I wanted to try it on my own, replicating my moms recipe the best I could. I made a few tweaks, added a ton of fresh garlic (you will come to learn I am a lover of fresh garlic; it’s used in almost all my savory recipes), and a big chunk of ham. 

Everyone has their own way of making it but this recipe is by far the best I have tasted. I am convinced that this recipe is the reason my husband popped the question after learning I make Soup Beans as good as his mamaw. 

Soup Beans

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 C. dried Pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2 lbs. Ham, cut into chunks or a rough dice
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. This step is optional, but may be done ahead of time to shorten cook time. Soak beans in water overnight or at least an hour before cooking. When ready to use, drain. Allow yourself enough time to cook the soup before eating.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven; add 6 cups of water and the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. Over high heat bring to a boil. Cooking uncovered for 10 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Stir occasionally. 
  6. Reduce heat to med-low or low. Let simmer. 
  7. Cook until beans are soft all the way though and are easily smashed. This can take a couple hours, depending on if you soaked your beans.
  8. Add water as needed (beans will soak up water quickly).
  9. If you want a thin soup leave as is. If you want it to be thicker, take a couple spoonfuls of beans and smash with a smaller spoon. (The starch in the beans with help thicken)
  10. Grab a piece of Cornbread, fried ‘taters, and dig in!

This is recipe is super easy, simple and full of flavor! I hope that you give this southern delight a try. It’s worth it 😉 

If you like this recipe, give it a like. I would love to hear in the comments if you gave it a try and how it turned out for you!

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Sam’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

A few years ago, back in my dating days, I invited my husband (then boyfriend) over for supper. I wanted everything to be impeccable and I guess I also wanted to show off a little of what I can do in the kitchen. For a whole week leading up to our date night I rummaged through cookbook after cookbook, looking for the perfect dish. Nothing spoke to me. Sinking back into the couch disappointed, I remembered the one time, as a child, when my grandma and grandpa Fox came in for a visit from Louisville.

This particular night my mom proposed spaghetti for dinner. Normally, we would go the cheap, quick, boring route and settle for the jarred spaghetti sauce. That was a No-No for Grandma. Pulling me over to stove, she walked me through the steps to making a delicious sauce. Grandma and I always loved cooking together when we had the opportunities. She always made sure I was doing everything on my own with a little guidance. This way, it stuck!

Fast forward back to our date night. Using the same recipe my Grandma instilled in me, tweaking it here and there to my satisfaction, I stood in front of the stove getting ready to prepare the first of many meals for my future husband. Since then, it’s become a (highly requested) family favorite. As picky as he and my girls are, I am proud to say I found a happy medium in this dish.

Ladled on a bed of angel hair spaghetti noodles (our favorite) and paired with my cheesy, VERY garlicky bread rounds (and possibly a side of salad); this meal is hearty, warming, and satisfying!

Sam’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce


INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb. hamburger
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 lb. button mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 2 large cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 tbs. oregano
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, fry hamburger meat. Drain and set aside.
  2. in same pot, over medium heat, saute bell peppers and onions about 4 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and mushrooms (if using). Cook for another minute.
  5. Return ground meat back to pot, mix and cook for another minute.
  6. Add tomato sauce to vegetable mixture and bring to a simmer.
  7. Once pot has come to a simmer,  reduce heat to low and add in the oregano, basil, and rosemary.
  8. Add in sugar a little at a time (this will depend on how sweet you like your sauce).
  9. Add your salt and pepper to your taste.
  10. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to mingle. Stir occasionally.
  11. Serve over a bed of your choice of spaghetti noodles.
  12. Dig in and Enjoy 🙂

NOTES

  • I like my sauce a little on the sweet side. When adding your sugar be sure to taste the sauce in between additions. You want to knock out the acidic and heavy tomato taste from the tomatoes. I found that the full 1/4 cup was perfect to my tastebuds, however, it’s always safer to do a little at a time.
  • This sauce is great over almost any pasta noodle. I have used elbow macaroni, ziti, lasagna, etc. When making spaghetti, we love angel hair better than the regular spaghetti noodles. It really holds the sauce well.
  • Any ground meat may be substituted for the hamburger. Occasionally, I will switch it up with some italian sausage or (if I get an itch to be healthier) I will chose turkey burger.
  • If you do not have fresh tomatoes on hand, you may substitute a can of diced tomatoes. Add the juice too.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Be on the lookout for the recipe to my Cheesy, Garlicky Bread Rounds.  Leave a comment and tell me what you think or if you tried it. I would love to hear how this turned out for you 🙂

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Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Let’s set the scene….

… You walk in the house after working outside in 90 plus degrees (let’s not forget the real-feel after the humidity is factored in). The refreshing blast of the mock arctic air hits your face as you enter. You kick your shoes off at the door, grab your latest edition of Food Network Magazine, and plop enthusiastically in your favorite spot on the sofa. Running your fingers through the pages, you finally find the page with the bent corner (unfortunately, you haven’t got very far into the mag to search). As soon as your eyes focus on the first word, you’re interrupted by 2 screaming girls complaining they are hungry not even 20 minutes after they just ate. Realizing what time it is you scurry to the kitchen, running every food item you have through your mind, trying to think of what pairs with what. It’s the middle of the week, no time to run to the store, and you are down to just a few select things until your next grocery venture. Time to get creative.

Sound familiar? Yea, it’s probably happened all too often for my family. I always find that the closer to payday/ grocery date  the more I have to stretch and become pretty inventive with my culinary skills. Yes, my husband and I are so lame that, since having kids, our only alone time is a trip to the grocery store.

Today, for me, ran like the little scene I painted for you. I found some chicken, a few vegetables, and broth. I didn’t really want to go all “hot comfort food” in the heat of summer, but as I said… I was working with limited ingredients. Going with what I had, I created the next best thing to chicken pot pie (my favorite leftover put-together after thanksgiving).

Here is my version of Chicken Pot Pie Soup. This dish is really filling and sure to make you welcome Autumn with open arms.

CHICKEN POT PIE SOUP


Chicken Pot Pie Soup

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INGREDIENTS:

  •  2-4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (cut into halves or thirds to help reduce cooking time)
  • 1-32oz box chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3-4 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 can green beans, drained halfway
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained halfway
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2- 10.5oz cans cream of chicken
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, add all ingredients accept the cream of chicken, salt and pepper. If the chicken broth does not cover the chicken and other ingredients, water may be added. (I had no problem with the broth covering so I didn’t need to add any)
  2. Over high heat, bring to a boil.
  3. Once the pot comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally.
  4. With your spoon or a pair of tongs, grab the chicken and place on a cutting board. You can either shred or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. (If chicken isn’t cooked all the way through, that’s ok. It will finish cooking when added back to the pot.)
  5. After chicken has been shredded or cut, add back to pot.
  6. Once the carrots become soft enough to cut with your utensil (and chicken is cooked completely through), discard the bay leaves and add the cream of chicken and the salt and pepper.
  7.  Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes. (This allows the flavors to mingle)
  8. Serve and enjoy!

This make around 4-6 servings

*** Adding egg noodles would also be really good. They can be added around step 7.

*** I did not have celery like I normally use, so I substituted around a teaspoon of celery seed.

I hope you enjoyed my first recipe blog. If you tried this recipe out, please share in the comments and let me know how it worked for you! Happy eating 😉