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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Don't wait for Mardi Gras to try jambalaya

Thursday, April 12, 2001

Tested by Nancy Anderson

Melanie Popovich found today's Countdown recipe for Bayou Sausage Jambalaya in a Pillsbury cookbook at the grocery check-out counter.

She made it for a Mardi Gras party. Everyone loved it, and now it's a dinner regular, with a few modifications.

"I don't like foods that are too hot, so I use mild salsa," she said. "And I also add extra kielbasa."

We agree that spicy kielbasa is key to the lip-smackin' success of this jambalaya, so we tossed in an extra 6 or 7 slices.

Although the dish is complete in itself, a green salad is always welcome, along with hot corn bread.

Melanie and her husband, Charlie, live in Bethel Park and teach in the Keystone Oaks School District. She's a special education teacher and he's in the chemistry department.

Since both have the summer off, they enjoy taking long trips.

"Last summer we drove to Alaska," she said. "We took our time and spent one month coming and going and one month in Alaska itself."

An avid quilter, she makes the covers to give as gifts. On the afternoon we spoke, she had just returned from a whirlwind "quilt shop hop" to 12 stores in the Pittsburgh area.

That would do anyone in. Hope she had some leftover jambalaya in the fridge.

Bayou Sausage Jambalaya

1/4 pound (or more) kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into small pieces
2 cups mild Old El Paso salsa
1 1/2 cups uncooked instant white rice
1 cup hot water
Hot sauce, optional
A handful of shrimp, optional

Spray large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven with cooking spray. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add sausage -- she prefers skinless kielbasa -- and chicken. Add shrimp if using. Cook and stir 5 to 8 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

Add salsa, rice and water; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes or until the rice is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with hot sauce.

Makes 4 (1 1/2-cup) servings.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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