Hawaiian Jambalaya Recipe

I must forewarn you… this post will make you hungry.

Do you ever have busy evenings where you don’t see the end in sight?  Say…you get home from picking up the kids, after school activities and the grocery; realize you need to put everything away, do a load of laundry because your kids don’t have clean uniforms and still have to feed the family.  Then, you look at the clock and realize “O.M.G. It’s late, I need to get kids in the bath, make dinner, finish homework and get them to bed before it’s too late!!”

That’s exactly what goes through my head four out of five nights a week.  Seriously.  While I have a general plan for what to make for dinner; some nights I don’t anticipate last minute we-are-out-of-milk stops or staying at the park much later than I’d like.

For this very reason, I have a fully stocked freezer full of make-ahead-meals, vegetables, meat… all that.  However, sometimes I don’t even have time to defrost dinner and I want something that will please everyone instead of becoming a short order cook.

Last night, was one of those evenings.  I went to the grocery store, came home, put everything away and prepped meals for the week.  By the time I needed to make dinner I was exhausted.

Good thing that my friends at Zatarain’s shipped me some frozen New Orleans style meals to get me out of my pinch!  Since I play around with recipes -all the time- last night was no different.  I bought two pineapples for $3 and I knew I had to put them to use!

Hawaiian Jambalaya was the product of my creativity.  Man-o-man!  The dish was as sweet, spicy, and juicy as they come!  And because I promised to make you hungry by the end of the post… I will share my recipe… step by step.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, sliced and cut into pieces + 1 bag Zatarain’s Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya frozen dinner for two.

Step 1: peel & cut pineapple


Step 2: cut pineapple slices into bite size chunks


Step 3: Add both ingredients inside a pan


Step 4: saute over medium-high heat for 10 min. Stir occasionally. See the pineapple juices? Yummm


Step 5: After 10-12 min, serve and enjoy!

It's time to jazz up your dinner... don't you think?


Disclosure: As a Zatarain’s brand ambassador I have the opportunity to sample, review, and promote some delicious products.  While it is a compensated opportunity, all opinions stated are my own.  Proof: go buy the ingredients for this delicious meal and try it out yourself.  Go ahead, leave a comment below and let me know what you thought!

Old Fashion Root Beer Cookies

20120227-115529.jpgBeing that I was born and raised in Spain, I don’t have a taste for root beer. I think the first time I tasted root beer was in my late teens, several years after coming to the States.

In a recent brand immersion trip as a Zatarain’s 2012 Ambassador, I was given a bottle of their original product: Root Beer extract. I had never heard of root beer extract before nor did I know what to do with it! I don’t drink root beer… so flavoring anything with it was out of my expertise. Then, I had my own epiphany… what if I swapped out the vanilla extract from my favorite sugar cookie recipe and replaced it with the root beer extract?

This sugar cookie recipe is my grandmother’s “plain” cookie recipe. It was her starter for many cookies, I just replaced the vanilla with the RB extract. The “old fashion” is my fancy term for “lazy” since I don’t roll out the dough like traditional sugar cookies (although you can do that) and cut them into your desired shapes. I use a table spoon to scoop out the dough. The result is an edible version of a root beer float. There is no need to wait for the cookies to cool off to eat them. As soon as you get them out of the oven, top them with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream and enjoy! I know you’ll thank me later (printer friendly recipe).


Root Beer Cookie Ingredients

  3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter -2 sticks (softened at room temperature)
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg should be at room temperature)
3 Tablespoons half-and-half
2 teaspoons Zatarain’s root beer extract

You can smell the root beer in the dough #delish!

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)

2. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

3. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.

4. With a fork, stir in lightly beaten egg, root beer extract and half-and-half. Blend well with fork, then your hands to ensure thorough blending.


Ready to rest in the fridge for 15min

5. Chill dough for 15 minutes.

*If you are rolling the dough, chill dough for one hour and then roll and cut into desired shapes.

6.  Scoop out with 1TB spoon and lay on a baking sheet.

7. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.


Use a 1TB spoon to measure them out evenly


Yummmm -makes 2 1/2 dozen


You know you want to take a bite...

My Family Table: Real Food Calls To Be Shared

Have you ever purchased a cookbook because the pictures inside looked mouthwatering? You are not the only one.  In fact, you are probably considered a coffee table cook.  You know, someone who browses through the pictures of the nicely bound book and then returns it to the coffee table.  You tell yourself that they are good conversation pieces.  What if you actually cooked some of the recipes?  Then you would have something to talk about!

It’s no secret I own many cookbooks.  I go through phases where I am a cooking maniac and cook new things out of cookbooks and other times I am in recipe testing mode.  This November, I received My Family Table by John Besh.  Every recipe has been incredible thus far.  I am not sure if it’s because the pictures are gorgeous, the stories take me inside his kitchen, or if the food reminds me of my grandmother’s cooking in Spain.  Either way, it’s a must buy book and if I had the time, I’d cook my way through the book and blog about it.

With Chef Besh in his Kitchen

This weekend, I cooked Coq Au Vin from his book My Family Table with my friend Christy.  She marinated the chicken overnight in the red wine and some vegetables.  By the time I arrived at her house, her cast iron skillet was hot and we were ready to get cooking!  This is where had I not been 39 weeks pregnant I would have poured myself a big glass of vino.

Reducing marinade

One of the many reasons I fell in love with the book is the relatable stories Chef Besh narrates with nearly every recipe.  He makes the case for the importance of home cooked meals not only from a nutrition standpoint; but from the joy and “togetherness” that sharing meals with our families bring.

Browning Chicken

There is so much more to food than eating.  Cooking with friends and family is an experience and a joyful time; specially if we are going to gather and share the meal together.  The book is not one recipe after another but a narrated story of how food is part of his family’s every day life.  From busy weeknight dinners his wife prepares before loading the boys in the car to take them to sports to Sunday family gatherings, brunch and breakfast recipes.

Sautéing the Vegetables

Even with its shiny cover and beautiful pictures the book makes the point that you don’t have to be a chef to make the recipes.  Besh tells us to forget about having all the right ingredients and just get cooking.  I highly suggest cooking the risotto, you won’t want it any other way.  And for a real treat… the Nutella stuffed french toast. Oh my!

Adding crushed tomatoes and the reduced marinade to the sauteed vegetables

I had more fun cooking this meal with my friend Christy than I’ve had in a long time.  I’m used to cooking for my family in the afternoons with two kids running around and pregnant; often juggling homework, packing lunches, and testing a recipe or two for MOMables.

Now the chicken goes back in

While this wasn’t a 30 minute weeknight meal, the simplicity and richness of flavors made this the perfect Sunday dinner.  The house began to fill with with rich aromas that brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen.  Yes, she used to cook meals like this often.

I have to admit that we were so excited to finally eat this dish that we forgot to take a picture of our plate!  The good news, is that the next day the flavors married within the food longer and the bowl I had for lunch was just as delicious as the night before.

Want to get a copy? You know you do…


Last Photo credit

Snack Idea: Peanut Butter – Applewiches

Unless you “shop the perimeter” of your grocery store, you have probably encountered packaged snacks at some point.  The packaged snack industry spends billions in marketing campaigns trying to convince consumers that their products are wholesome and healthy.  When in truth, most have ingredients we can barely pronounce let alone know what they mean.

As a mother of two young kids, it’s impossible to get around not having snacks.  I am constantly on the go with them on after school activities, play dates, and park outings.  Unfortunately, kids are just not programmed to “hold their hunger” until we get home; and I’m not sure I would want them to.  Have you seen a screaming 3 year old because they are hungry, tired, and crabby? I have.  It is not pretty.

Packaged snacks have grown in popularity primarily because they are convenient, abundant in variety, portable, and portion controlled.   Every couple of weeks, I prep a few snacks that will provide my kids with choices.  I am notorious for Googleling recipes, trying them out, searching through pinterest, looking through recipe books… until one catches my eye.  I found this picture with no instructions yesterday and I challenged myself to figure out a way to make a few of these ahead of time.  Because what good is it to have healthy, homemade snacks if you don’t have them ready when you need them?  This morning I made the apple and peanut butter sandwiches, froze them, and tested how long it took to defrost.  In two hours at room temperature they were crispy, the apples had not browned, and they were delicious! The difficult part was only eating one!

Makes 4 Servings


  • 2 Apples
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Chocolate Chips -optional
  • Granola -optional


  1. Core apples. Slice horizontal.
  2. Spread peanut butter on each side of apple slice, add a few chocolate chips and granola (optional).
  3. Close slices to create an apple sandwich.

Each apple yields 2-3 sandwiches (depending on size).  You can prepare the sandwiches, freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer into a large zip bag.  Take out of freezer in the morning, pack in lunch bag, and your child will have a snack for lunch or after school.  Easy, delicious, real ingredients.


–photo source

SAVE Over $1K a Year: The Waste-Free Kitchen

You’ve all heard the motto: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” But what do you do when the busyness of life gets in the way? Are you still watching what you throw away, items you are eating and drinking out of convinience, and not paying attention at all the ‘disposable’ stuff you are using?  Admit it. You could do better… and so could I.  The kitchen is the #1 place where waste happens in the average household.  Why? because so many things happen in one place!

Here are 5 things you could do TODAY that could help your family save up to $1,000 a year!

  1. Ditch the paper towel habit. Get rid of the paper towels on the counter and place them under the sink.  Replace them with different color hand towels and throw those in the wash.  One pack of microfiber towels will last you over 2 yrs and they are fantastic for all your cleaning jobs! (I bought a pack of 24 at Sams for $10).  Get cloth napkins your family can re-use and ditch the paper napkins.
  2. Reduce the waste from coffee, soda, tea & all your drinks! Here, everyone gets a designated cup for the day.  It gets refilled endless times with water and tea.  I can’t stand when the top rack of the dishwasher is full of cups and the bottom is empty! You get one cup, your choice, your responsibility.  Having a clean coffee to-go cup in your car is also a good idea in case you hit up Starbucks in the afternoon.  Did you know you get a discount for bringing your own cup?  And, brewing your coffee at home with a gold filter can save you up to $35 a year! Toss the paper filters and get a $10 filter. Mine is over 6yrs old. Finally, ditch water bottles!  Get a sink water filter or replace the on in your fridge.  You can save hundreds of dollars each year! 
  3. Replace plastic baggies, plastic wrap, and single use containers…etc. Wastefreelunches.org estimates that eliminating disposable packaging and single-serving items can save families $250 a year. Sierra Club also estimates that families spend $85 a year on disposable plastic baggies; all of which end up in the landfill.  Most of them are also not recyclable either.  In the “old” days, people stored their food in glass containers (now plastic), washed them, and reused them.  Make your own salad dressings, condiments or buy in bulk when you can’t avoid it (think ketchup).   However, only buy in bulk items that have a long expiration date or that your family will use. 
  4. STOP WASTING FOOD!! Take 10-15min a week to plan what your family will eat; and  I don’t mean making the list in the car at the grocery’s parking lot.  Being away from your pantry and your refrigerator will cost you an extra $20 a week!  When all possible, re-use left overs into making a new dish.  I never toss the pasta with the sauce, I serve it separately.  Why? Because plan left over pasta is much easier to re-use into something else than one that has sauce on it.  Plus, there are a ton of uses for meat sauce (pizza, lasagna…etc).  Why limit yourself to one dish?  If you know you are not going to be able to eat the left overs within 2-3 days, freeze them.  The likelihood of you tossing it in the garbage is high! 
  5. Green your clean routine. Did you know that a wet microfiber towel will clean your windows? Use a mildly humid one to dust too!  Why spray all those cleaning chemicals when all you need is the rough side of a microfiber towel?  For really sticky windows (think kid handprints) I use a bit of dish soap on the towel. It works every time!  These microfiber towels become your best friend.  They are the perfect spill picker-upper, bathroom cleaner, kitchen, duster, windows…. shall I say more?  I have a bucket in my laundry room just for these, and they get a hot wash once a week. A final tip is to trade your laundry detergent for an eco option.  I use Country Save detergent.  A $57 order on Amazon lasts our family over a year and a half! The clothes come out clean, they don’t have ‘smells’ and have zero harsh chemicals that will irritate my kid’s skin.  I saved over $45 per year just by making the switch!

I know it’s overwhelming at times; but going green doesn’t mean spending more, buying more organic or green products.  Often times, it means going back to basics and paying attention to what you are currently using and how you could reduce it a bit more.  The $1,000+ we save per year?  Christmas money!