Mardi Gras dinner – Pressure Cooker Jambalaya

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Our family LOVES celebrating Mardi Gras. I have no earthly clue why…we’re not from New Orleans, we aren’t paying homage to our Cajun or Creole blood or anything…but for years, we’ve celebrated Mardi Gras with decor, beads (no, not earned THAT way…), and good classic New Orleans food. Bananas Foster from the Brennan’s recipe, beignets à la Café du Monde, whatever the mood strikes us to try…it’s all about the food.

So this year’s Mardi Gras dinner combines two things I love – Jambalaya and pressure cooking! In the last year (or more) I have grown to LOVE my pressure cooker. I use it to hard boil my eggs (oh yes, there’ll be a post coming about that before Easter), to make rice, risotto, cheesecakes…the Mini Chef uses it to make one-dish dinners so I only have one pot to clean…it’s made our lives easier, even if it doesn’t make cooking more sexy…

And for clarity’s sake, YES. I have heard about everyone’s mother/grandmother/aunt’s friend’s cousin who had split pea soup/canned peaches/chili explode all over the ceiling. It doesn’t happen anymore, kids. They’ve put safety features in place now. They’re awesome.

Anyway, here’s the recipe. The heat in this builds with each bite, so if you don’t like a lot of heat, either go with just a teeny bit of the cayenne or skip it until you’ve tried the recipe at least once. Our family is generally okay with spice, but after a number of bites, even my mother was commenting on the spiciness. And anyone who knows my mom knows the woman was MADE of spice.

IMG_8633Pressure Cooker Jambalaya

1 Tbsp olive oil

8 ounces Andouille sausage, cooked and sliced

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, and cut into 1-inch pieces

8 ounces shrimp, peeled & deveined (uncooked)

2 ½ tsp Creole seasoning, divided (Cajun seasoning will work)

1 ½ tsp dried thyme leaves, divided

1 dash cayenne pepper

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 stalks celery, sliced

1 dash hot sauce

1 cup uncooked basmati rice

2 cups canned tomatoes, undrained

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced

Instructions:

l  Heat your pressure skillet or cooker. Put oil in pan and add chicken, sausage & shrimp, stirring well after each addition.

l  Sprinkle meats with 1 ½ tsp Creole seasoning, 1 tsp thyme & cayenne. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked & shrimp has turned pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

l  Place onion, garlic, peppers, and celery in the pressure cooker, along with 1 tsp Creole seasoning, ½ tsp thyme, and hot sauce. Cook 4 – 5 minutes, stirring frequently until vegetables are crisp-tender.

l  Add rice, tomatoes and broth to the cooker. Close and lock the lid in place and heat on high until pressure builds and the indicator rod rises.

l  Turn down the heat when the second white ring appears on the indicator rod and cook for 8 minutes.

l  Turn off the heat and release the pressure by pressing the button on the handle or by running cold water over the sink. Once all the pressure is released, open the lid. then stir in parsley and cooked protein. Replace lid, cover tightly and let stand for five minutes before serving.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars – the ultimate craving solution!

For the last 15 + years, due to an allergy in the family, I avoided making dishes that involved peanut butter (other than peanut butter sandwiches for my daughter…you can’t give it ALL up…) This year, we’ve been making up A LOT for lost time with these tasty desserts.

Yesterday, I started having a craving for a sweet and salty treat. Of course, that meant grabbing the jar of peanut butter. I prepared these bars, knowing that I could share them with  a handful of friends who are also peanut butter junkies and wouldn’t have to keep them in my home to tempt and taunt me…I used crunchy peanut butter and a slightly defective confectioners’ sugar (apparently the Mini Chef dropped a little water into the powdered sugar container and the sugar turned more into rock) – so in the picture there are little white spots which would otherwise not exist… These are REALLY sweet and REALLY rich, so make sure you have a glass of milk on hand!
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No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1/4 cup peanut butter

Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with aluminum foil.

Mix melted butter and 1 cup peanut butter together. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and confectioners’ sugar. Add peanut butter/butter mixture and stir until well-blended.

Press mixture into foil-lined pan. Place in fridge while you prepare the topping.

Place chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter into a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 second intervals at 50% power and stir between, until chocolate is smooth and melted.

Spread the chocolate over the top of the peanut butter mixture, then refrigerate for two hours or more. Let them sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes before cutting.

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