Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recipe & Gadget of the Week: Jambalaya + Collapsible Colanders

Recipe of the Week: Gretchen's Hack-Job Jambalaya
I call this my "hack-job" jambalaya because I'm guessing it would disgust any true New Orleand-er. I took an actual jambalaya recipe off the web and pretty much butchered it to fit within my hubby's extremely picky tastebuds, and make it to use up whatever strange things I have in my freezer. However, this still turns out tasting good to everyone in the house!

The reason I'm sharing this recipe is it's my favorite way to use up a bunch of random meat from the freezer, or your husband's latest "lets-see-how-gigantic-of-a-cut-of-meat-we-can-grill-at-once-and-how-many-left-overs-we-can-generate" experiment. You can seriously mix together creatures from the land, sea, and air in one dish and it works. (I realize that I am making friends with no vegetarians right now.) I made this last week with my strangest selection yet: diced up breakfast sausage, left-over Christmas turkey, and a package of pepperoni from the freezer. It was delicious. No kidding. I've even used up frozen hot dogs in this.  ANYTHING goes...


1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, minced
1 1/2 C rice
2-3 lbs meat...pork, sliced smoked sausage, ham, pork, veal, chicken...
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp parsley (or 1 sprig fresh)
1/2 tsp ground thyme (or 1 sprig fresh)
2 bay leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (or real red and green peppers; my hubby doesn't like these either so I use red pepper flakes for flavor)
small can tomato paste (or 1 diced tomato; my hubby doesn't like tomato chunks so I use paste)
salt and pepper to taste

Fry onion lightly in butter. Add meat. Add remaining ingredients, except for rice and seafood (if any). Cook and stir about 5 minutes; careful not to scorch. Add 1 quart hot water. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the rice and cook about 1/2 hour longer, gradually adding up to 2 more quarts water as needed/desired, until the rice is tender and it's at your desired consistency. At this point you can add cooked shrimp or other seafood too if you have any!  You can also toss in those half-full bags of frozen veggies you have in your freezer, or other left-over cooked veggies from previous meals.

Above is my photo of last week's sausage, turkey and pepperoni variation. Every time I make it it's a little different! Sometimes I'll toss in some frozen veggies too...just experiment and have fun using up your weird left-over meats and making more room in your freezer again!

Kitchen Gadget of the Week: Collapsible Silicone Colanders
I recently purchased this 6-quart collapsible strainer from Progressive through Amazon:
Progressive International 6 Quart Collapsible Over-the Sink Colander, Blue and White
PRO's: The thing I like about this particular one is that, besides being collapsible and taking up less storage space, as opposed to my old Tupperware one, it has a nice stable base.  So, it's not rocking around in the sink, spilling my pasta down the drain as I try to pour it in just right.  It's also square, so it utilizes more of the room in the sink and is more forgiving when aiming a pot of whatever you may pour into it.  Last but not least, the pull-out handles stretch to the edges of the sink so it can balance up above the drain.

CON's: It's definitely not as compact as it could be.  The hard plastic pieces are still quite bulky.  Also, the holes for the water to strain through are really only on the bottom surface and slightly up the edges.  It would do a much better job straining if the holes were all the way up the sides.

For these reasons, now I'm kindof wishing I had paid a little more for one of the OXO strainers instead:
Oxo Good Grips Silicone Collapsible Colander, Red Oxo Good Grips Silicone Collapsible Colander with Two Handles, GrayOxo Good Grips Silicone Cooking Colander, Red
While they aren't square, the silicone is thinner, easier to collapse, and has holes up the sides.  The wire frame also gives it a MUCH thinner profile compared to the thick plastic frame of the Progressive one.  So, if mine wears out, I'll definitely replace it with an OXO one...but overall I love the idea of a collapsible strainer in general as it sure does save me some cabinet space!


  1. I want to try some of that stuff. I'll eat anything.


  2. I agree. It sounds really good. I would have to add real peppers though...they're my favorite!

  3. (actually from Rollie using ptbrandt’s computer & google account) This just made me laugh! I never knew what Jambalaya was. Your version sounds like a good way to use up stuff.. It's like what they call a “garbage pizza.” without the pizza crust. LOL. Land, Sea, air... funny! I like your reviews on the colanders too... pros and cons. I am still using my old tupperware one with melted areas on it. This could help me choose a new one some day. Your site is great!



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