This isn't quite as good, or as satisfying, as old-fashioned jambalaya, but it works well when you score those tickets right before gameday and don't have much time to prepare. The whole thing, including prep work, can be done in less than 45 minutes. Serves 3 to 4. It's also easily doubled and can be cooked in a 3-quart Dutch oven.

* 1 box Zatarain's New Orleans Style Jambalaya Mix
plus, any combination of the following optional items:
* ½ pound of boneless, skinless chicken, cut into chunks
* ½ pound smoke-cured ham, cut into chunks (I prefer to make my ownham as store-bought hams aren't very smoky)
* ½ pound of shrimp
* ½ pound of bulk sausage, crumbled (optional; I prefer to make my own, but something like Jimmy Dean sausage will do)
* 4-6 slices of good, smoky bacon (see our bacon guide)
* 1 carrot, sliced
* 1 small onion, diced
* 1 green or red pepper, diced
* 1 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes
* 4 ounces fresh whole mushrooms (Do not slice! Whole mushrooms may look too big, but they will shrink dramatically, and fill with flavor)
Make the jambalaya according to the box directions. When it comes time to return mixture to a boil, add any of the optional items:
browned chicken, browned ham, browned sausage or vegetables (onion, pepper and mushrooms should be browned first in sausage or bacon drippings). Use no more than 1½ pounds of meat, in any combination.
Add shrimp raw, after reducing heat to simmer. If using tomatoes, do not add juice from can, simply put in whole tomatoes and cut them when in the jambalaya mixture. We usually add some paprika, cayenne, and Old Bay to spice it up

Serve with a main meat dish, or this can be its own meat dish. If frying a turkey and need an accompaniment, we suggest using the old-fashioned jambalaya recipe instead of this one.