August 17, 2010, 2:16 am
Filed under: Breads, Food and Recipes, Main Dishes | Tags: , ,

That’s what this little blog has been. Completely ignored. In the midst of work, Weight Watchers, and summer heat altogether, this spot has not been at the forefront of my mind. Blame it on the 100 degree weather. It has clouded my judgment.

Let’s just say, Weight Watchers (although a great program) has made cooking much more difficult. It’s no longer about whims, but necessity. Which is nice too, just takes a little more planning. Food, however, has not been any less flavorful or enjoyable. Just planned. It’s a different course, but one I’m starting to grow fonder of. I’ve found meals that have become go-to’s. Not due to lower fat contents, but because they are easy, and downright good. That’s what 100 degree heat calls for. That, and ice cream, of course.

So, in honor of an easy meal to get school going and wind summer to a close, I’d like to share one of my new favorites: Gumbo. Don’t picture the kind that is simmered for hours. While that stuff is fabulous, this promises to be finished in 30 minutes and deliver every bit as much of a punch of flavor. If you don’t like as much heat, you can tame down the cayenne. But we like our meals with a kick around here.

Quick Gumbo
Slightly adapted from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

4 tsp olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups low sodium low fat chicken stock
1 cup sliced frozen okra
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp cajun seasoning
1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
several sloshes of tabasco sauce
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deviened
1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 (2 inch) piece kielbasa, cut into 8 slices

1. In a pot set over medium heat, add all bell pepper, onion, celery, and green onions to the pot along with the olive oil and saute until onion is translucent. Add all spices, continue to saute for another 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic. Saute another minute or so, until garlic is fragrant. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, and okra. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. Stir in the rice and simmer, covered, another 15 minutes. Add the shrimp, chicken, and sausage. Cover and simmer until the shrimp is pink, chicken is cooked through, and rice is done, about another 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf and serve. Serves around 4 servings (I often double the recipe to make leftovers!). Serve with cornbread (recipe follows).

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Slightly adapted from the Weight Watchers Ultimate Classics Cookbook

3 tbsp canola oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 tbsp minced pickled jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tsp minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Place oil in a 9 inch cast iron skillet, place the skillet in the oven to preheat with the oven.

3. While the pan heats, mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in buttermilk and crack in eggs. Stir to combine, stirring only until moist. Fold in garlic, jalapenos, and cheddar.

4. Pour and spread batter into preheated pan. Cook for 20-23 minutes until golden brown. Serves 12 wedges.


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