Grown-Up Growth Spurts {and Johnny Jam’s Famous Jambalaya}

Grown-Up Growth Spurts {and Johnny Jam’s Famous Jambalaya}

So. Here we are. I haven’t written a blog post in awhile…and I know for certain I have missed writing, cooking, and story telling. I’ve also heard from a few people that they’ve missed my posts, and they hoped I’d be back soon. Well, here I am. Still the same, but different.

The last few months have been….well….busy. Life is unpredictable, nonstop, and exciting…to say the least. Work took me to Pittsburgh, Christ took me to Cursillo, marriage brought me to celebrate my 3 year wedding anniversary, and parenting got me to watch Frozen 132423989 times. It has been quite the wild ride, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Do you remember when you were little, and your pediatrician had a measuring tape on the wall? Perhaps you had one in your home? Wasn’t it exciting to see how much you were growing? Taller and taller each month, your parents may have said “wow! You really hit a growth spurt!” …..after lots of reflecting, I’ve been thinking. In addition to those physical growth spurts as kids, maybe we go through growth spurts as adults. Even though emotional growth cannot be measured on a measuring tape at our pediatricians office, perhaps we have some internal growth that we feel. Perhaps this growth teaches us new ideals and guides us in this complicated world. And maybe, just maybe, this growth can guide us internally, and help us become who we were created to be.

As some of you know, I am a social worker who works for Amedisys Hospice as a Clinical Hospice Liaison. I have an MSW, or a Master’s Degree in Social Work, and I have experience dealing with end of life issues, particularly hospice and the benefit it provides to patients and families every day. Amedisys is a fantastic company and believes in training us regularly. Back in September, Amedisys sent me to Pittsburgh to work alongside my peers to discuss end of life issues and concerns. But, most importantly, we learned how to make an impact in our medical communities by educating those around us about the hospice benefit and the incredible blessings that come from empowering patients and families to know more about terminal illness and treating symptoms of these patients. I met new friends, learned a ton, and had a lot of fun. It was good for my soul and helped me come home with a fresh heart, ready to help others. Most importantly, my time with my colleagues in Pittsburgh tapped into my social work heart and reminded me to search for my “WHY”. My “WHY” is simply that I have a bleeding heart and want to help others. This gave me a re-start and helped me beyond belief in regards to my job and daily encounters with people as they encounter end of life issues.

Soon following my travels to Pittsburgh, I found myself in Opelousas, LA making my Cursillo. Cursillo is a weekend event that is similar to a retreat and is often referred to as “spiritual bootcamp”. What goes on during Cursillo weekend is top secret, as the weekend is perceived differently through the eyes of all attendees, so we do not want to tarnish the experience for anyone. All I can say is: it is intense. It is life changing. And I will never be the same. My relationship with Christ has strengthened beyond belief as has my faith in the Catholic Church. I’ve become a better wife, mother, friend, and human. What a blessing, and what a spiritual awakening.

In addition to these events, I’ve spent the last few months doing a little bit of soul searching on my own. It’s during this time that I have dubbed the term “Grown-up Growth Spurts” because…well.. there’s no other way I can explain it. Becoming an “adult” has been challenging to say the least. And I often think “Am I doing this right?”. I now laugh at my self-doubt. Because now I am in a place of clarity where I am aware….NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING!!

In the last few months I’ve learned some lessons I’d like to share.

  1. When things get rough, push harder. Don’t quit.
  2. The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them
  3. Family first.
  4. You will not always be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s ok
  5. Guard your heart

This is just a small snippet of what I’ve been going through and thinking of the last few months. I won’t bore you with the specific details. However, I share this with you to encourage YOU to spend some time reflecting on your own “Grown-Up Growth Spurts”. I truly believe that it is up to each of us to be the BEST that we can be. Spend the time doing the things that make you happy. Be with the people you love, and who love you back. Go to the places where you feel happy. Let these positive environments mold you into who you are supposed to be.

Another piece of where I’ve been the last few months is the month of September. September 10 made the 3 year anniversary of my dad’s death. I thought for sure that I would create a fabulous blog post displaying his best stories and most special recipes in order to celebrate his life during this month. But, no matter how hard I tried to be positive, September brought me a great deal of pain and the need to withdraw from most people and spend time alone. During that time, I put focus on work and family. I spent time alone and focused on prayer—particularly intimate conversations with my dad. It was just what I needed, and I am happy I listened to my needs and took care of myself.

I will wrap up this emotionally tumultuous post with this quote: “Be who God created you to be, and you will set the world on fire”. – St. Catherine of Siena

I share this quote with you to encourage you, despite you religious beliefs, to work towards becoming your best self. We were all created for a purpose…what is yours? Be who God created you to be….and you will set the world on fire. Won’t you try to set the world on fire with me?

Ok. Mushiness over. Now, I’d like to share my dad’s famous recipe for jambalaya. As many of you know, my dad was known as Johnny “Jambalaya”, due to his legendary jambalaya recipe. My dad’s jambalaya was not your average jambalaya. Some jambalaya can be mushy, have a brown color to it, and be quite flavorless, if I’m being honest. Not my dad’s jambalaya. My dad uses his creole style of cooking when making jambalaya and adds tomato and tomato sauce to it, making it rich, flavorful, spicy and just downright delicious. My dad never wrote down recipes. Like ever. But, he cooked this jambalaya on the Food Network with Bobby Flay and the recipe remains on the food network website to this day, so I follow that. Bobby Flay traveled down to South Louisiana and spent the day with my dad at Nottoway Plantation and learned how to cook jambalaya from the best. My dad was so excited to share his love with Bobby- they had an instant connection. My dad has cooked jambalaya for many celebrities, but, growing up, my dad cooked for friends and family in Plaquemine and I know for certain that those people were his favorite guests of all. He so enjoyed making this for everyone and also enjoyed the music, friendship, and love that ensued around the table as everyone ate. Jambalaya is good. Jambalaya is simple. And, in my language, jambalaya means love. Try it and let me know what you think. Every time I cook it, I swear my dad is in the kitchen with me.

NOTE: I followed his recipe but used more chicken stock- about 4 cups instead of 3. I also used 3 roma tomatoes instead of the 2 it calls for in the recipe. And, to shorten things up a bit, I used Guidry’s seasoning for the onion, bell pepper and celery. For Cajun seasoning, I used red pepper, black pepper, a little salt, and garlic powder. I also seasoned with dry parsley flakes. Season it how you like it.

Here we go!

Music pairing: The Revitalists- our new obsession! Going see them in concert in New Orleans New Year’s Eve. Try them out!

Wine pairing: Sterling Cabernet


1 pound smoked sausage

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

Creole seasoning

2 tomatoes, diced (I used 3 roma tomatoes)

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

2 cups de-boned turkey or chicken

3 cups rice

4 cups chicken or turkey stock


Cut the sausage and brown in it in a heavy pot over medium heat, stirring regularly. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and Creole seasoning, to taste; saute until vegetables are soft. Add tomatoes, sauce, and the turkey or chicken. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add rice and stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off and let stand for 15 minutes. Fluff before serving. Garnish with green onion.

in case you’re interested for the recipe that is on the food network, here it is!!

I am so happy to be back. Please send me any topic or recipe you’d like to see on the blog


cajun queen


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