When I was living in my own apartment, I was terrible at feeding myself. I’d have classes throughout the day and then go to work and when I’d get home, I’d realize that I’d hardly eaten that day and was too tired to do anything about it. It was so much easier to order a pizza (before this lactose intolerant bullshit) than to make a nice dinner for myself. I spent so much money on being too lazy to feed myself. So I started coming up with meals that I could make easily and quickly – my Single Gal Meals.
My favorite meal that I created was my own version of Red Beans and Rice. Traditionally, Red Beans and Rice is a soupy dish made with pork bones, vegetables and red beans that cooks together slowly in a giant pot, and served over rice. My Red Beans and Rice is a spicy mix of rice with red peppers, onions, coined turkey sausage and a hell of a lot of Cajun spices!
I start this dish by dicing a red pepper and onion, and sauteing them in a large frying pan with olive oil, salt and pepper over a medium heat. After the veggies get a bit of color, I turn down the heat and add chicken broth. Not a lot, enough to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan as they cook down. When the veggies are ready, I toss the coined turkey sausage in to brown as the broth cooks off.
I like using the Eickemeyer Turkey Sausage because it’s easy to work with, just slice it and brown it. I also like how this sausage has a sweet note at the end of a bite, it works well with the dark Cajun spices. After the sausage has browned a bit, I toss in one cup of cooked rice and turn the heat down low or completely off – depends on if you have an electric stove or a gas stove. Electric stoves stay hot forever, so if your stove is like mine – circa 1980-something – and you don’t turn the heat off, stuff starts to burn easily.
I’ve used minute rice, brown rice, long grain rice, it really doesn’t matter which kind of rice you use for this. I only use 1 cup because rice expands like nobody’s business! When I first started making this. I used to use two cups of rice without thinking about how much it would expand. The ratio of rice to veggies, beans and sausage was totally off. I had to dig through the rice with my fork to find a piece of sausage.
After the rice is added, I add a can of drained red beans and start spicing it up. I use a big mix of spices – Cayenne pepper, chipotle chile powder, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano, crushed garlic and salt and pepper. You’ll have to use much more of the spices than you expect. It takes a lot of spices to get through all of the rice. If you don’t want as much of the spice but still want the full flavor, nix the Cayenne pepper because that’s the one that doesn’t add much flavor, just more fire.
I go to town on those spices! I’ve learned to just always add more spice than I think I’ll need. It used to be that I’d end up carrying the spices with me to the table to keep adding to my bowl as I ate to get it right. This dish got me through so many tired evenings and saved me a solid amount of money! The turkey sausage and beans gave me energy to start writing my papers at 10pm, and the rice kept me full for a long time. I always ended up with a large container of this to eat for the next few days. When I make this, I prefer for it to be spicy, but it can be as spicy or smoky as you want. It’s all about how you mix it up.
After a busy day of doing whatever you had to do and you know that you shouldn’t order another pizza for dinner, make this instead. I hope that this meal gets you through some long nights, and that it gives you an extra boost to finish (or start) that paper or project as it did for me so many times!
Recipe for my Red Beans and Rice:
1 package (2 links) Eickemeyer Turkey Sausage, coined
1 Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 can Red Beans, drained
1 cup cooked rice
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
4 tablespoons Chili Powder
3 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
3 tablespoons Cumin
1 tablespoon Oregano
3 teaspoons Chipotle Seasoning
*The measurements above are just estimates. Honestly, I probably use much more than measurements but I assume that people don’t want food as spicy as I do.
Dice red pepper and onion. Brown in large frying pan with olive oil over a medium heat. When browned, add a enough chicken broth to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Then add the turkey sausage, it will brown as the broth cooks off. Add rice and beans to the pan and turn the heat down low. Add garlic and start adding spices like a madman until you’re happy with it.