Jazz Fest and Creole Cooking

Whilst rummaging through the cabinet that holds the smaller, magazine weight cookbooks that refuse to sit properly on our cookbook shelf, I came across another file folder with a random assortment of recipes.  Discouraged and excited at the discovery of a pile hiding from the pile, I sat down with a strong cup of coffee and dug in.  I managed to find a handful that went right into the recycling bin– complex or less-than-exciting dishes that didn’t interest me anymore.  The others I pulled for the week are on the quick and easy side (I have meetings 4 days out of 5 this week and will be home to cook only 2 nights).

A friend of mine was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest this weekend, so the first recipe at the start of the busy week is a tribute to NOLA.  I remember a delightful gumbo I made with our smoked turkey leftovers the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It went over well with Husband and Client, so here’s hoping this dish will be another hit.  I can’t believe I found this recipe on Family Circle‘s website– it’s from October of 2009 (oldest recipe yet!).

http://www.familycircle.com/recipe/seafood/creole-shrimp-rice/

Creole Shrimp & Rice
Makes: 4 servings
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 14 mins

Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
3 teaspoons Creole seasoning (such as McCormick)
2 large green peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes
4 1/2 cups cooked white rice

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and season with 1 teaspoon of the Creole seasoning. Saute for 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add remaining tablespoon oil, the peppers, onion, celery and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scrape up any browned bits in bottom of skillet. Add tomatoes and remaining 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning. Break up tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Stir in shrimp and heat through. Serve with cooked rice.

Nutrition Information for Creole Shrimp & Rice
Servings Per Recipe: 4

PER SERVING: 504 cal., 12 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 126 mg chol., 919 mg sodium, 77 g carb. (5 g fiber), 22 g pro.

I thought we had several partially used bags of frozen shrimp from a recent Cooking Light shrimp and pasta with vodka sauce, so this recipe was a good opportunity to get them used up.  When I went digging through the freezer(s), I only found 4 ounces of shrimp.  Plan B: 4 ounces of shrimp and 8 ounces of an Angus kielbasa that husband scored for 99 cents (I was thinking that the sausage would work a la red beans and rice).  I used one green pepper and one orange pepper for a little more color, and diced tomatoes instead of stewed, just because that’s what I buy in bulk and always have on hand.  Brown rice is my go-to for anything that isn’t risotto or rice pudding, and I started up the rice cooker as I began my prep (it takes longer, but the health benefits are worth it).

The sodium content in this recipe is staggering.  We have 2 salt-free seasoning blends from a local spice shop that I thought would work for this dish: Cajun seasoning and a Florida seasoned pepper.  I went with the Cajun because the smoky paprika smell was much more vibrant than the Florida pepper, which smelled earthy and a little cheesy.

I often joke with people about recipes that are “quick and easy”.  Looking at all the chopped vegetables in this recipe, I knew that even with my culinary school knife skills, there was no way this prep would be done in 15 minutes.  15 minutes is accurate only if you have a bunch of minions behind the scenes preparing your mis en place.  But since I had to wait for the rice to cook anyway, I took it in stride.  I wasn’t pressed for time– it was actually a therapeutic slow down after a busy weekend.

When I looked at the volume of food this recipe made, I knew right away that this could (and should) serve at least 6 people.  I recalculated the calories (even with the addition of the beef sausage) and got it down to 337.  Taking into account that brown rice saves about 40 calories per cup, that shaved off another 20 or so.

So once the prep was done, this dish did come together quickly. I sauteed the shrimp and the sausage (sliced) according to the recipe (stirring and tossing, not turning over; my shrimp are tiny) because they were frozen.  In step 2, I didn’t put the garlic in with the vegetables until after 3 minutes because the garlic tends to burn after a short time in the skillet.

20160501_194314-1

Verdict:  A definite keeper!  Husband and I both really liked the flavors.  My favorite bites were the ones with tomatoes, while he loved the addition of the sausage.  We devoured this dinner quickly, despite having been out to a late brunch with my family and not being overly hungry.  The smaller portion size was plenty filling.  I think stewed tomatoes may have made more of a sauce, but it didn’t bother me that there wasn’t a lot of liquid.  The heat from the seasoning more than made up for the lack of salt (also added by the sausage).  I will surely make this again. I think it would go over well with a crowd, but not require you to be away from your guests for a long time to pull it together, as long as you did all your vegetable chopping and rice cooking ahead.

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