adventures with louie, and a recipe: slow cooker chicken and sausage jambalaya

I woke this morning to the tinkling of a jingle bell, the sound of a cat toy being batted around. It was still dark out, well before 6 am, and I had no interest in getting up yet. The tinkling was coming from our bedroom door, then from near my side of the bed, then from across the room. I rolled over and covered my head with the pillow, remembering the reason for the jingle bell.

It was Louie.

Louie is the cat we adopted last  summer as a kitten. He, his litter mates, and their mother were victims of the flooding that happened in northern Florida last June after Tropical Storm Debby. The kids and I saw Louie at a cat adoption event held at a local pet store, and after cuddling with him in the store, we knew he was destined to join our family.

Louie has been a great cat, but he has one serious behavioral flaw. Over the last many months, Louie has decided that the litter box isn’t for him. Oh, he uses it periodically, just enough to lull us into thinking he’s a responsible kitty, after all. We’ve taken all of the Good Cat Parent steps – bought additional litter boxes, taken the litter box lid off, or put the lid back on, taken him to the veterinarian for check-ups. We even bought expensive air sprays – with stress reducing pheromone – designed to gently modify Louie’s behavior.

We have been very patient kitty parents.

And then Louie did it again. On the rug in our bedroom.

Yesterday, the kids were out of school and I took off work to be with them. Our big adventure? Picking out a collar for Louie in preparation for turning Louie into an indoor-outdoor kitty. Maddie selected a very stylish, beige tartan plaid collar, complete with jingle bell to warn the bird population that LOUIE IS COMING. We engraved a tiny, round identification badge with his name – Louie Markham – and two of our phone numbers.

Shortly after lunch, I assembled dinner – a slow cooker chicken and sausage jambalaya. While I stirred the ingredients together, covered the slow cooker bowl, and started the cooker, the kids corralled Louie for me. It took a couple of tries, but I wrangled the collar around his furry neck.

And, surprisingly, he was okay with it.

He tried playing with himself for the first hour. I think he thought there was a cat toy attached to him. Or, maybe that he was the cat toy. He was quite entertaining. He seems to have acclimated to the sound of the bell now, though Louie’s humans have some work to do in this realm. I don’t relish the idea of any more early morning wake up jingles.

We’re having another adventure today: letting Louie explore the outdoors, starting with our fenced-in back yard. Wish us luck.

Oh, and the birds could use some too.

Yield: 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours

Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

It's hard to beat a one pot meal, especially when the slow cooker does all of the work. Other than the initial chopping of chicken, sausage, and veggies, there is little hands on work for this jambalaya. Feel free to increase the amount of cayenne pepper if you enjoy a bit more heat in your bowl.


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
13 ounces kielbasa (one package), cut into 1/2 inch coins
2 cups diced celery
2 large onions, finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2-1/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups uncooked white rice


In the bowl of a slow cooker, add chicken, kielbasa, celery, onion, bell pepper, undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, garlic, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir all ingredients to combine. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours.

At the completion of cooking, turn the slow cooker to high heat and stir in the uncooked rice. Cover and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes more, or until the rice is tender.

Inspired by and adapted from this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens.