Cheater Gumbo

It’s the holiday season and in the south that means we make gumbo! Now I am not here to debate what is right or wrong when making gumbo. I know there are some gumbo snobs but I truly believe that how you make your gumbo is a personal preference. It’s however you & the people you love like it! My mother made gumbo routinely growing up but it was not considered authentic because it was not made of a roux even though we still loved it. Roux’s can be intimidating AF!!! Ask me how I know! A roux is when you mix an oil or butter with flour over heat until a certain color and consistency is achieved. A roux can be as light as peanut butter or as dark as chocolate! The tricky part is getting it to the color you desire and NOT burning it! This takes time and patience which I don’t always have. After burning my roux several times I almost gave up making a more authentic gumbo until I discovered you can purchase a already pre made roux or mix in your local grocery store!!! And even though now I can successfully make a roux it is not something I need to know how or want to take the time to do. There are many rouxs in the store to choose from. The ones I have tried it the Tony Cachere’s mix (this is the first one I tried and use often) and a pre made one in a jar made by Kary’s. I prefer the Tony’s because I like that I am actually cooking it but sometimes it’s not the easiest to find so I will use the Kary’s in a pinch. So now that we have discussed how I cheat when making gumbo, let’s make some!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds of chicken (I prefer a mix of boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs with drumsticks. This allows me to have the flavor that dark meat brings without too much fat, but you can use whatever you prefer. Even a whole chicken will work)
  • 2-3 cups of onions, green bell peppers and celery chopped (this is referred to as the holy trinity of Cajun/creole cooking. I use more onions and bell peppers than celery because that’s what my family prefers. You also can use a shortcut and purchase Mirepoix mix which can be found in your frozen vegetables section of the freezer)
  • 1-2 containers of Tony’s Roux mix (depending on how much gumbo you’re making)
  • 1-2 sticks of butter
  • 1-2 pks of frozen okra
  • 1-2 lbs of sausage sliced (the traditional sausage is Andouille, I used Zummos)
  • 10-12 cups of water (you can use a combo of chicken broth but watch for the salt!)
  • 3-4 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 3-4 pounds of crab (we used snow crab because that’s our preference but the traditional crab to use is blue crab. You can also just add crab meat)
  • Various seasoning- I used Tony’s seasoning salt, 2 chicken bouillon cubes, onion and garlic powder, old bay, & gumbo file’)
  • 1 tbsp of oil (your choice)

Directions:

I start my gumbo by heating my pot on medium high heat, adding the tablespoon of oil and the sausage. Again I’m trying to avoid having to skim fat off the top of my gumbo so that is why I use this method plus in my opinion it adds flavor. Once my sausage is cooked I remove to a paper towel and then drain all but about a teaspoon of fat. Turn stove to medium heat and then add your stick of butter and then your veggies. Cook veggies til softened. While veggies are cooking prepare Roux mix according to directions. I prepare mine in a separate bowl and then add to my veggies. This allows it to cook with my veggies for more flavor. You will need to make sure you cook your roux for about 5 minutes or so until no longer lumpy. I also taste mine to make sure there is no flour taste. It won’t taste like much but it should NOT taste like raw flour! Also make sure you DO NOT leave the pot while doing this! At this point you can add more roux depending on how thick you like your gumbo to end up. Once your roux and veggies have cooked enough add your water, chicken, sausage and seasonings (except gumbo file’) and bring to a boil on medium high heat. You will need to check back to stir occasionally so nothing is burnt at the bottom of your pot. Once boiling turn stove to medium heat and cook for about an hour or until chicken is tender. You can remove the chicken and bones and skin and shred and add back in. I usually shred it in the pot and remove any bones but most of the time the chicken will start falling apart on it’s own. Add your frozen okra and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. At this point you can taste for any more seasoning and add if needed. You now have prepared chicken and sausage gumbo! But we love to add seafood! I add my crab and cook for 10-15 more minutes and then my shrimp for another 10 minutes. Once the shrimp are pink you are through and you have made an easy and delicious gumbo!

I serve my gumbo over rice with semi-homemade garlic bread. I shared a quick video on how I make Cheater gumbo and the garlic bread on Instagram so make sure you are following me @severalpeoplesmama and make sure you tag me if you try this. I also want to thank everyone that has followed me, reposted or shared my content & recipes and tried them! It is my hope that I have made feeding you and/or your family easier! I also pray that everyone is healthy and safe leading into this new year and you are blessed with your heart’s desires! Please look out for so much MORE coming from me in 2021! Happy New Year!!!

Love Ricki

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken with Garlic Lemon Orzo

Recently I asked my Instagram peeps what recipes they need to make their lives easier in the kitchen as we return back to our regular routines. Summer is over (insert sad face here) and although it wasn’t the summer we could have hoped for hopefully we still got some fun in. Now it’s back to school and work for some. It’s different because usually this time of year is the start of a lot of extracurricular activities and fall fun but with this virus we don’t have those options. I pray though that everyone is healthy, well and happy in spite of. Food & cooking is always something that brings me joy so maybe I can spread some by sharing delicious & easy recipes. The consensus from my question was easy recipes that are not time consuming. Those include crockpot, instant pot (pressure cooker), sheet pan, one pot and casserole recipes. I plan to bring one or two to the blog every week with corresponding videos on instagram (follow me @severalpeoplesmama) and a few additional recipes I’ll be writing up for volume 2 of Cook Yo Meals which will be out in a few months!

Today I am sharing my version a crockpot meal that I’ve been wanting to try for awhile along with an easy tasty side dish. Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken is soooo good and even tho it requires a little more work than the normal dump and go crockpot recipes we’re used to, it is worth the extra effort! Let’s cook!

Ingredients for Tuscan Chicken:

  • 3-5 cloves of fresh garlic minced or 2-3 tablespoons of Jared minced garlic (y’all know how I feel about the jar of minced garlic, however since this cooks in the crockpot for a few hours this would be an exception to use it, I still didn’t but you can)
  • 1-2 tbsp of butter
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 bag of fresh spinach
  • 8-10 skinless bone in chicken thighs (you can use boneless but the bones add great flavor which is needed in a crockpot recipe)
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups of half and half (can use a cup of heavy whipping cream with milk or chicken broth)
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (and more if you like it cheesier but I wasn’t going for an Alfredo sauce, just a taste of Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes chopped (I used the jar in oil)
  • Various seasonings, I used what was pictured
  • Fresh basil chopped (optional but makes a difference!
  • Juice from half a lemon (optional)

Directions:

Start by adding a tablespoon of butter and the olive oil to a non stick pan on medium high heat. Then season chicken thighs generously. Remember this will cook in a sauce and chicken broth in the slow cooker for a few hours so you still want to taste the seasoning. Add chicken thighs to pan and sear about 3-5 minutes each side. Side note: in most of the recipes I researched they did not sear the chicken. Not searing the chicken is not something I recommend but it’s not necessary. However searing the chicken adds a deep flavor that you would define miss if you didn’t. After chicken has seared, add to your sprayed slow cooker insert. After all chicken has seared it’s time to make the sauce. Turn heat to medium. Pour out all but a tablespoon of oil for the pan. Add another tablespoon of butter. Add garlic stirring quickly, we don’t want it to burn. Sauté for about 20 seconds and then add half and half. Stir until heated thru. Add seasonings to taste and then add sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Taste for any additional seasoning and let simmer for 23 minutes. Turn off heat and allow sauce to thicken as it cools. Once thicken led (should coat the back of a spoon easily) pour sauce over thighs in slow cooker. Add 2-3 cups of chicken broth to slow cooker and mix in. You want the sauce and chicken broth mixture to almost cover the thighs. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Towards last 20 minutes turn slow cooker to high and add fresh spinach til wilted and also half and half if you’d like the sauce thicker. Make sure you taste to see if you’d like anymore seasoning but you should be good. Once spinach is wilted you are ready to serve over the orzo.

Ingredients for Garlic Lemon Orzo:

  • 1-1/2 cups of orzo
  • 2 cups chicken broth/water (I used 2 cups broth and the rest water)
  • 1-2 cloves of fresh minced garlic (no jar! Lol)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Garlic salt and Italian seasoning, fresh basil can be added but it is optional
  • 1-2 tbsp of Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

Heat heavy bottom pan or pot on medium high. Add butter and olive oil. Add fresh garlic and sauté for about 20 seconds. Add orzo and sauté for about 2-3 minutes. If you fear burning garlic (like me) add your garlic after your orzo. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 3-5 minutes and then turn I low until orzo is cooked thru. Add seasonings, lemon juice and Parmesan if using and stir.

Add your chicken with sauce over this lemony orzo pasta and you have a complete meal with so much flavor from cooking for hours. Also with the addition of spinach you already have a veggie built in!

The Tuscan Chicken is keto/low carb friendly and you can just add a salad, serve over zucchini noodles or roasted veggies instead of the orzo to keep it that way.

We enjoyed this meal so much and it is being placed on our dinner rotation as we speak. Because this dish requires a little extra prep time this would be perfect for Sunday dinner and then make extra for an easy Monday of leftovers. If you know me you know I don’t like cooking on Mondays so this is a trick I use often since most folks are off and have a little more time.

Let me know if you tried this recipe and as always tag me on Instagram. In the comments let me know what other recipes or ideas you’d like to see on the blog. I always appreciate and take y’all’s input into consideration!

Love Ricki

Cheesy Chicken Burrito Skillet

Hey y’all! Yesterday I was challenging myself to come up with a meal using what I already had on hand. And I have plenty of chicken!!! In particular boneless skinless chicken breasts. I think I need to share a week’s worth of budget friendly chicken recipes lol. Anyways after checking my pantry and surfing the internet I came up with this recipe that can be made in one pan and in about 30 minutes! The kids enjoyed it and it’s something that can easily be added to a tortilla or on top of nachos.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you can use boneless skinless thighs) cut in about 1 inch chunks
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (can also use rotel for a little spice)
  • 2 cups of water (or chicken broth)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube (not needed if using chicken broth)
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 package of taco seasoning and 1/2 pack of ranch seasoning
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (I use Mexican blend)
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

Directions:

Add oil of choice to pan or skillet and heat on medium high. Add chicken breasts and seasoning and cook til brown about 5-7 minutes. The chicken does not have to be cooked all the way thru as we will be cooking later. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Set heat on medium and add rice. Sauté for about a minute and make sure not to burn. Add beans, diced tomatoes, water and bouillon cube or broth if using. Stir to combine and turn heat back to medium high until it begins boiling. Add chicken back in, set heat to low or simmer and cover. Let steam about 10-15 minutes until rice is cooked thru. Top with cheese and serve with your regular taco toppings.

As always tag me @severalpeoplesmama if you make this!

A lot more recipes to come because my teenagers had decided to change his diet and is no longer eating red meat or pork. I’m kinda proud BUT that means I need to get creative so follow along to see what I come up with by subscribing by email and making sure you’re following me on all my social media!

Love Ricki