Today is the final Ember Days of Advent. Ember Days were meant as a way to give thanks to the Lord, our God, for all He has done for us. Blessings aren’t always easily recognized.
The laughter of a child is a blessing from above. A warm embrace is a blessing. The smile on a stranger’s face or an unexpected Thank You for a simple act of kindness. All these are blessings in disguise.
Ember Days and every day are opportunities for us to give thanks to the Lord, to sing His praises from the mountain tops and to let His love fill us with joy. When love is our guide, true happiness, even in our darkest hour, isn’t far behind.
Since Ember Days are tied to the seasons, let them serve as a reminder that we are stewards in the world of His creation. We should always and everywhere give thanks for His blessings, and not squander away what He has given us. We have an obligation to pass those blessings on to others. Share a meal. Let those in our lives know we value them. Give to those in need. The more we share with one another, the richer we become in His precious blessings.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
Before we get down to the business of cooking, I need to tell you that this recipe, when prepared as indicated, will create enough Pastalaya to feed a small country. You’ll need 14 bowls when served as a single meal, so invite a crowd! It is fitting to share such a bountiful dish on this, the last Ember Days of Advent.
Oh, and one more thing – Pastalaya is just what it sounds like. It is what happens when Jambalaya and Pasta meet. Like any self-respecting Cajun dish, the Holy Trinity of Onions, Celery and Bell Peppers are the key. Add to that Sausage, Chicken and Shrimp, it truly is a bountiful feast from above. Enjoy!
4 Andouille Cajun Sausage Links
2 medium Celery Ribs
1 large Yellow Onion
1 large Orange Bell Pepper
3 Garlic Cloves
3 tablespoons Fresh Thyme
2 tablespoons Fresh Oregano
3 tablespoons Fresh Basil
4 boneless Chicken Thighs
1 lb large Shrimp
2 tablespoons Butter
1 (28 oz) can Crushed Tomatoes
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 cups Chicken Stock
16 oz Penne Pasta
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Slice sausage into coin-cut pieces, set aside. Clean and chop celery, set aside. Peel and mince onion, set aside. Core, seed and finely chop bell pepper, set aside. Peel and mince garlic, set aside. chop fresh thyme, oregano and basil, set aside.
Cut boneless chicken thighs into bite-side pieces, set aside. Peel and devein shrimp, remove tail. Keep shrimp chilled until ready to cook.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Add celery, onion, bell pepper, and garlic; cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink inside and juices run clear,6 minutes more. Add tomatoes, paprika, Creole seasoning, and cayenne pepper. Bring pot to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Add chicken stock to the pot and return to a simmer. Add penne, simmer for 8 minutes, until almost cooked through. Add shrimp. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until pasta is tender but firm to the bite and shrimp are cooked through, about 20 minutes more, stirring as needed to prevent scorching.
Note: In a hurry? Cook pasta in a separate pot and add to the skillet. Heat through.
Stir in cream. Add thyme, oregano, and basil. Cook until just heated through, 4 minutes more. Ladle Pastalaya into bowls.
Serve with warm bread, a crisp salad and enjoy.