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Have I mentioned I am a grandma of 2?  If I have, did I mention somehow my husband and I wind up hosting their birthday parties?  Last year we did it for several reasons:  our daughter was 8 months pregnant with grandson #2 when grandson #1 was turning 1.  Not only was she on ½ bed rest, but their house wouldn't hold the family and both she and her husband were out of work.

So we threw the party for Dylan.  I always prepare too much food.   I used my favorite catering service (if you've been reading my column a while you know the place-COSTCO) and spent most of the next week re-inventing the leftover ingredients.

This year it was no different-although we decided to be a bit different and brought in chicken from El Pollo Loco.
I'm not sure why, but people were way hungrier this year.  I had not a single bite of chicken or beans left!  However, the veggie tray was full.  We had a lot of tortillas, tortilla chips salsa and hummus galore.  

What to do, what to do?  Oh and there was that monstrous pot of jasmine rice!

I'll tell you what I did-I went back to the market the next day and bought one bag of frozen okra and a pound of cooked shrimp.  I had a stray hot Italian sausage in my meat tray.
I through together a huge pot of gumbo and served it over the rice.  Took care of dinner for 4 for 2 full nights.

This was a thrifty, nutritious and delicious way of serving leftovers-even my soup-hating son loved it.  

Let's face it-the salsa had the onions, tomatoes, spices that most of the original types of gumbo have.


I browned the sausage first, added the okra and used the melting ice to de-glaze the pot.  I added lots of the leftover carrots, broccoli, miniature bell peppers (sliced) and added about 1-1/2 C (I did the "whatever's left in the first jar" technique) of salsa and then added 8 C of chicken stock.  I didn't add the cooked shrimp until everyone was ready to eat.  I thickened it with a cornstarch slurry.    

After the first night-I put the remaining rice into the pot.

Wednesday-What to do with the tortillas!


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