I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the summer weather than grabbing a beer, a grill and this box of goods from Cajun Life. When their box came into the office, we didn’t need much of an excuse to go out and get started. Unfortunately, it rained hard for most of the day, so I changed my plans and moved everything inside. I decided to start things out with making "Gumbo in a Box"; I figured it would be a great way to handle a rainy day. I've had gumbo a few times in my life and know what to expect. Also, the recipe was easy to follow and once everything was cut and simmering all I had to do was wait for the timer.
All recipes and more can be found on the company's website.
Authentic Cajun Gumbo (the way Chris grew up eating)
- 8 heaping tablespoons Roux (not dry)
- 3 Celery Stalks Diced, can add more if desired
- 2-3 large slices onion then diced, can add more if desired
- 1/2 Green Bell Pepper Diced, can add more if desired
- 6 links Hot Pork Sausage, sliced
- 1/2 -1 cup Smoked Tasso, diced
- 4 Chicken Breasts, cubed (can use bone in if desired)
- 2 tablespoons or season to taste A Cajun Life® All Purpose Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
- 1-2 Teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
- Add Salt to taste if needed
- Optional: add fresh seafood of choice ie shrimp, crawfish, crabs, oysters, etc
Method 1: (the way Chris likes it)
Bring 8 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add all ingredients to water. Bring to back to boil and continue to hard boil on for at least 2 hours being careful not to let over flow. Trust us, you'll need to adjust heat to prevent water from tumbling over, each stove is different but once water starts to rise, reduce heat until you get a hard boil that doesn't cause water to rise. Add water as needed to desired consistency.
Bonus secret: The longer you boil, the better it gets.
Double Bonus: Its always best after being refrigerated and served on day 2 and beyond!
Bring 8 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add Roux and all seasonings to boil. Boil for approx 1 hour and then add vegetables and all meat. Bring to back to boil and continue to hard boil on for at least another hour being careful not to let over flow. Trust us, you'll need to adjust heat to prevent water from tumbling over, each stove is different but once water starts to rise, reduce heat until you get a hard boil that doesn't cause water to rise. Add water as needed to desired consistency.
While the timer was ticking away, I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to look up A Cajun Life and see what they were all about; I've seen their All Purpose Cajun seasoning at the supermarket but never looked further than that. But what I learned of the owners is they originated from Louisiana and set up shop in Oregon. From there they made their way up from a food truck to four restaurants, and then shifted their focus on the Seasoning side of things. All their products are Non-GMO, No MSG and certified Cajun. I guessed they missed home enough that they brought it with them, which is something I can relate to.
When the Gumbo was finished, I have to say that it was on point! It had that restaurant quality flavor and texture without all the work. I served some to my friends and no one guessed it was from a box since it didn’t have that pre-packaged flavor to it. The one thing I fell short on was not getting okra, which I didn’t have handy. And even though it was optional, it’s a flavor that completes the experience. All that was left to do was add the white rice that I made and "BAM!" Lunch was ready. It went so well that it gave me the courage to set up for making the next box - jambalaya! But first I need to finish this meal that I made for an army.
Just like the gumbo, the prep for the jambalaya went really well. And this time I had everything I needed beforehand. I added the required water, meats, Jambalaya box mix and done. Now all I had to do was wait 35 min and our meal would be ready.
Since I had some time, I decided to try out some "Seasonings & Rubs"; there's one for each meat group to choose from. Now, I wasn’t sure what flavor I would like. Thankfully, the company conveniently sent out three single packs: mesquite, blackening, and chicken rub. It’s a great way to run through a few seasonings without buying a whole bottle. And the single packs have enough for one meal. Depending on the size of the meat, you can season up to four pieces. This is one of those items that would be perfect for a date night, as you can’t over season. It’s very simple to use and require little experience to get these single packets ready. After you clean your meat, you just hit both sides with seasoning and have the option of grilling, broiling or pan searing.
Baked or Grilled Chicken
- 3-4 lbs chicken cut of choice
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or 4 Tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons or season to taste A Cajun Life® Chicken Rub (available below)
Preheat oven or grill to 350 degrees F. Coat chicken in olive oil or melted butter. Sprinkle A Cajun Life® Chicken Rub evenly across all sides of chicken. Bake or grill at 350 degrees F for 35 - 45 minutes or until juices run clear and internal temp measures 165 or higher, If baking, turn broiler on and broil for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!
I decided to start with the Mesquite and Blackening rubs on two separate steaks since I wanted to get a better feel of the flavors on the same medium. I turned the broiler on low and let them cook. I pulled the steaks out with the jambalaya timer at 15 minutes, set them aside for a few and cut them up to share with the group. The Blackening rub is a strong mix of garlic, onion and a little paprika with a little sweetness mixed in, which is almost an exact opposite of mesquite rub. I've had mesquite rub before from different brands as it’s almost a basic requirement in most BBQ outings. However, The Cajun Life Mesquite rub gives you more of that classic BBQ flavor of sweet and Cajun mix. We loved it so much that we went and seasoned some ribs, dropping them right on the grill. This was also the perfect time to try out the Chicken Rub as you can’t have a BBQ without some chicken. As my cohorts prepped the ribs and about a dozen legs, I went ahead and checked on the jambalaya, which was ready. And by this time the weather had cleared and more people showed; thank god they did because by the time we realized it we had made enough food for ten people and leftovers.
To end my piece I asked myself this: would I go out, purchase and use A Cajun Life products again? Absolutely! The winner for me was the box means, but especially the jambalaya, which out came out so good. To be honest boxed meals aren’t always my go-to item since they usually have that after taste that I could never figure out (probably the preservatives). But I didn't get that with A Cajun Life box mix. So, after an exhausting day of cooking, grilling and feeding an army of friends, I give A Cajun Life TOV 5 out of 5 stars for making everything so delicious and easy to make.