Story last updated at 1/10/2014 - 12:30 pm
To me there is no better way to ring in a new year than with good friends, great food and a ruthless game of Scrabble. Ok, maybe not ruthless, but I did win and it was pretty exciting because I was playing against two women who proofread my work for a couple of years. I’ll take my victories when and where I can.
I have done the party ‘til dawn New Years and kids’ sleepovers. I’ve been alone, with that someone special and with large groups. But I have to say the best New Years Eves are the ones when I get to cook, eat, laugh and drink incredibly wonderful Champagne. The ringing in of 2014 had all the elements I enjoy.
What made this particularly wonderful was that Elizabeth and Michael invited me over to learn yet another amazing Louisiana recipe, Jambalaya. I seriously never want to make these people angry with me, lest they stop teaching me such delicious recipes. A few things I learned about Jambalaya: One, be sure to use the correct canned tomatoes and that is Rotel. No substitutions please. Two, there are many Cajun seasonings out there, but Konriko is the seasoning to use. I will be requesting my local grocer to start carrying it, as I don’t think its right to rely on Elizabeth to be my Konriko resource for the next 20 years. And the final thing to remember when making jambalaya is that the rice goes in the stew, the stew does not go on the rice. It isn’t authentic jambalaya if they aren’t mixed together in the pot. This has been made clear to me and I shall not deviate.
This is a wonderful dish for a relaxed New Year’s Eve. It’s hearty and filling, spicy for a cold winter night and it was also served with an out-of-this-world kale side dish prepared by my friend Lorene. I am so thankful that I am surrounded by such amazing cooks and even better friends. After we all stuffed ourselves full of spicy goodness, we sat down to play Scrabble. As I mentioned above, Elizabeth and Lorene are wordsmiths. They are editors and proofread my work for quite a while. I felt that playing against them was going to be a Scrabble bloodbath. I would be making “dog” and “cat” and they’d use their word powers and come up with words like “loquacious.” Except that fortune smiled on me and the letters were in my favor. I tied with Elizabeth for the first game and soundly won the second one. It was a great time! I credit my “Words with Friends” addiction for giving me the edge. And the power of a two letter word on a tripe word tile.
Looking back on 2013, I can say it was one of the best years ever. I tried 12 new things, one each month; learned about 40 new recipes; made new friends; reconnected with old ones and saw some of my friends achieve great things. It was a year of accomplishments by all. Most of all it was a year of friendship and food, and I can’t imagine it being any better.
I do want to add that while we ladies were visiting and sharing some laughs, Michael was patiently cooking the Jambalaya. This recipe is called Jambalaya RD in his honor. He also joined us in Scrabble, which was brave and sporting of him. He’s the best!
I look forward to 2014 as a year of continued growth, opportunities to learn new things and hopefully make a few new friends. This week I present a recipe that is great on any day, and especially for a fun night with friends and family: Jambalaya RD.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
2-3 tbs vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, bite size pieces
1 link Hillshire Farms smoked sausage
1 large onions (at least 1 cup or more)
½ bell pepper, small dice, any color
1-2 stalks celery, small dice (about same amount as celery
1 can Original Rotel tomatoes, undrained
2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups chicken broth
Cajun seasoning as needed (Konriko, Tony’s…)
Brown chicken, half at a time, season with Konriko, and remove to bowl. Then, brown sausage, season with Konriko, and remove to bowl. Add vegetables, season with Konriko, and cook 1-2 minutes then add Rotel tomatoes.
Simmer on medium for about 15 minutes; add back chicken, sausage, and any juices that may have collected in bowls. Add 2 cups long grain washed rice and 3 cups of chicken broth, season with 2 teaspoons Konriko.
Bring to a boil, stir, cover and cook on low for 25 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed.