Growing up in Louisiana, jambalaya and gumbo were common one-pot dishes served for large gatherings, holidays or in bulk for leftovers later in the week. In our family, it was not uncommon for family gatherings to include 50-60 hungry people. I have vivid memories of walking into my grandmother’s house in Arabi, LA to the aroma of delicious food that had been simmering on the stove hours before we arrived.
This post is brought to you by our partner Jambalaya Girl, but all opinions are my own.
My mom has continued the tradition of cooking a traditional New Orleans seafood gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp with mirlitons, oyster dressing, and crawfish etouffee. And even as our eating habits have transitioned to a diet richer in plant-based foods, I have a hard time passing up these dishes when I come back home!
While home cooked food is always preferred in our house, it takes the good part of a day to prepare these authentic recipes. There are many nights when I’m looking for a tasty dish that can be prepared in less than an hour. Two of the best packaged Cajun dinners that I have tried lately are Jambalaya Girl’s Gumbo and Jambalaya Rice Mix. They were both so easy and flavorful. And best of all, these products are made in Louisiana by a woman-owned business!
I had the opportunity to test these recipes on my family of four (including two toddlers). I was already a fan of Kristen Preau (Jambalaya Girl) from living in New Orleans for two years in the past. She would have her family-inspired recipes at sporting events and family festivals.
But I was a little concerned that my kids would turn their nose up at a boxed meal. Before I could even dish up their portions, both girls were at my feet by the stove asking for a bite. After trying the Jambalaya stuffed peppers, my four-year-old’s actual words were, “This is great!”
I followed the directions on the box for the jambalaya mix, then added black beans and put the whole mixture into green bell peppers to bake. It was delicious! There are many different varieties of jambalaya, so you can make it your own — with meat, seafood, or beans like I did.
I also tried the Gumbo Mix with Andouille sausage and chicken served over brown rice. The best part about this dish is that you can add anything you have in the kitchen: turkey, shrimp, sausage, or veggies. The possibilities are endless! You can also choose how spicy you like your dishes. The first question I usually get when I made homemade Louisiana dishes is, “Is it spicy?” Well, in this case it all depends on what kind of sausage you choose. The base itself does not have intense spice, just enough to make it flavorful. If you buy Andouille sausage, your dish will carry a lot more spice. The mildest Andouille sausage I have found in Chattanooga is called Aidell’s Cajun Andouille Sausage. If you buy Louisiana based company, chances are it will be hot!
The single most important part of a good gumbo in my opinion is the dark roux. My mother taught me from a young age how to make the roux darker than peanut butter using equal parts flour and butter. This dark roux-based recipe did not disappoint! It was full of flavor without the salty aftertaste that many packaged dinners have.
I have not tried the Yellow or Brown Seasoned Rice Blends that are offered online and in stores, but I plan to order them and keep them in my pantry for quick, affordable dishes that I know my whole family will love.
I found the Gumbo and Jambalaya at Publix in Chattanooga (on sale currently until January 6th!). The Gumbo was located in the soup aisle and Jambalaya in the rice aisle. You can find a store here or simply order online and have it delivered to your house with Amazon. Don’t forget to check out the recipes on Jambalaya Girl’s website where you can find instructions for using leftover turkey and how to make her recipes in the InstaPot or slow cooker.