Recipe: Shrimp with Lemon/Chardonel Sauce

Wow…. Even *I* was blown away by how yummy tonight’s dinner turned out.  Shrimp with Lemon_Chardonel SauceThis dinner was an incredibly simple and amazingly flavorful meal… worthy of a blog post and definitely worth writing down so that others can make something like this for dinner sometime soon!

I started with a thawed pound of jumbo shrimp that I had already peeled.  Our local grocery store advertises deals on bags of frozen shrimp every week, a “buy one and get one free” sort of deal that I try and take advantage of every chance I get.  Shrimp is a big favorite of 3/4 of my family (and the older one, who isn’t a fan, is now in grad school and not being fed here) so I really like to have shrimp on hand for quick go-to meals.

I popped 2T of butter and two turns of the pan of olive oil into a large skillet and let it heat until the butter was browned and smelled slightly nutty.  I dropped the shrimp into the pan and gave the pan time to sear each side of the shrimp until both sides were toasty.  Since I knew this was going to be a simple dinner, I grabbed a bag of green beans and put them into the microwave for 5 minutes to cook.

Once both sides of the shrimp were browned and nicely seared, I added the juice and zest of 1 lemon to the sauce and did two turns of the pan with James River Cellars’ Chardonel white wine.  Honestly, I could have used a Chardonnay or another white wine that I liked, but I had a bottle of Chardonel open in the fridge and it was just calling to me for this dinner.  For this recipe, feel free to use/try your own favorite white wine for the sauce.  Something that is light with some tropical fruit notes should fit the bill nicely.  Just always make sure to cook with a wine that you’d want to drink.

I allowed the shrimp to simmer in the lemon/wine sauce while I pulled the green beans out of the microwave and popped in a bag of Uncle Ben’s Brown Basmati Rice for the 90 seconds, as directed.  Once the sauce had thickened and the rice was done, I plated the meal and it was done… the meal was finished and dinner was complete.  This one was totally yummy and worthy of sharing with you all.

Note:  The next time I make this dinner, I’ll probably make pasta, instead of rice, to go along with the shrimp… that will allow me to use a bit of pasta water to stretch the sauce a bit.  That’s the only real change I’d make to this dinner… otherwise, it’s just fabulous!

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe.  It’s easy… it’s incredibly flavorful… and it made everyone smile.  That, in my book, makes this recipe a huge winner!

Recipe: Baked Spaghetti x two

535048_10151622969642953_1426933668_n(1)I have to confess that I rarely like to make two separate meals for my family.  I tend to stand by the idea that if I’ve taken the time to cook dinner, the least they can do is eat it, right?  I decided to take pity on my older son, D, who is not a fan of seafood and make two versions of this baked spaghetti.  While it wasn’t difficult to do, it was definitely made as a treat since D will be heading off to grad school soon and I won’t have the opportunity to cook for him for a bit.

I began dinner by cooking spaghetti – I used most of a package of thin spaghetti, cooked as the package directed, but could have just as easily used linguini or some other pasta shape.  Spaghetti just seemed “right” to me for this meal.

Then I started with the protein side of things.  I sauteed a package of chicken tenders in a large stock pot until they were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  After removing the chicken, I added a pound of medium-sized raw shrimp without the shells and sauteed them in the same stock pot until they, too, were nicely browned and thoroughly cooked.  After giving them each their own photo shoot, I popped them into separate casserole dishes and set about making the sauce.

This sauce was a fairly simple one to do.  I began by melting 2T butter in a saute’ pan and adding half an onion, finely diced.  I let the heat take over and turn the onions translucent before adding some flour, and James River Cellars Chardonnay to start the creative juices flowing on this sauce.  I added some skim milk, simply because I wanted the sauce to have a little more body than the leaner Chardonnay sauce, then added  1/2 c asiago cheese, and 1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese.  Once the cheeses had melted into the sauce, I thinned it out with a little pasta water and some freshly ground pepper.  Throughout the process, I would taste the sauce to make sure things were blending nicely – this is where you should add or alter your recipe when you can.  Throwing salt on a finished product makes for a flatter taste in the meal, in my opinion.

Once the sauce was complete, I topped the two casserole dishes each with half the cooked pasta, and half the cooked sauce, then stirred them both to combine all the ingredients.  My final step was to bake the casseroles for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  I sprinkled a touch of cheese on the top, but that’s totally up to you.  I just like the toasty cheese look when it comes out of the oven.

As you can see by the photos above, incorporated into this collage, dinner looked similar but tasted different, depending on the meat that was included.  M was happy with his Baked Shrimp Spaghetti and D was thrilled that his Baked Chicken Spaghetti had no seafood.  It was a win-win over all…especially since I got to have a ramekin of each recipe!  YUM!

Recipe: Shrimp Puttanesca

I have to caveat this post by saying that this sauce is not a true Puttanesca… it has none of the tomatoes, olives, and capers one would expect in a traditional puttanesca sauce, should you place an order for this in a restaurant.  My darling husband isn’t a fan of olives and capers, but I was hungry for something along the same lines of a puttanesca sauce with shrimp, so this is the recipe that came about.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

I started with a frozen package of Extra Jumbo Shrimp from my local grocery store.  I love to pick up packages of shrimp any time they’re on sale, so this is always a “go to” for me… especially since my husband and I both love shrimp.  I thawed and shelled the shrimp while they were still partially frozen, so they were easy to peel.  I also put a pot of pasta on to cook… cook as much as you’d like for your meal.  We like either bowties, rotini, or ziti as any of these hold the sauce nicely and are easy to eat with a fork.  If you like spaghetti or linguini, this would be a great recipe to use as well.ShrimpPuttanesca

Once the pasta is almost cooked, I warmed up some olive oil and then sauteed a large amount of finely chopped garlic and shallots until softened and lightly browned.  Into the pan, I then added two anchovy fillets (I used the ones packed in oil, because that’s what I had in the cupboard – I’ll use anchovies packed in water for the next rendition) and allowed them to melt into a sauce.  SIDE NOTE:  Anchovies are fun to cook with because they really do melt into the sauce when exposed to heat and bring a salty back note to any sauce.  I find them fun to use, as long as my family isn’t aware that I’m using them… they’re a little finicky about fish in their sauces.  Once the base of the sauce was cooked and the anchovies were incorporated, I added the shrimp.  As you can see in the photo, I sliced the shrimp length-wise so they would curl up and look pretty in the dish.  This also allowed the shrimp to cook pretty quickly and pick up the sauce even better than if they were whole.

With the shrimp were in the pan and starting to cook, I added some James River Cellars’ Chardonnay to fill out the sauce.  If I were trying to make a meal without wine (why would anyone DO that??), I’d simply substitute chicken stock for the wine.  I allowed the wine to cook into the shrimp and add a lovely taste to the seafood before topping the entire dish with some chopped parsley.  If the sauce is still a little thick, you can add more wine OR you can add a little pasta water.   The pasta water will end up thickening the sauce as well, so adding both is not a bad idea either.

For plating purposes, I drained the pasta and then tossed it into the shrimp and sauce.  This dinner was a huge hit and will definitely be seen often in my “easy/go-to” line up of recipes.  Try it yourself and see if you don’t add it to your own family’s favorites!

If you’re thinking about making a Valentine’s dinner, this is wonderful for a seafood lover.  Just add some crusty bread and a decadent dessert, and your loved one will be putty in your hands.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Recipe: Simple Chardonnay Dinner

I’ve been sharing this recipe with people for ages, but I thought I’d better get it down in type before I get too much grief.  Seems I have a few people who like to use this blog as a simple cookbook, so I want to keep everyone on the same “page” as it were.  I’ll try and get a photo of this dinner soon, but until then, you’ll need to use your imagination.

There are days when I just don’t want to have to think about how I’m going to throw dinner together when I get home.  I love to cook and be creative, but it’s nice to have a simple “go to” available if I’m not in the mood to experiment.  That’s where this recipe comes into play.

I always have frozen shrimp and frozen chicken (of some sort) on hand.  I also like to have those wonderful orange bags of Uncle Ben’s 90-second brown rice in my cupboard… and I will, as long as my local grocer keeps them in stock.  (Note to self: give grocery store manager the address of this blog so he knows how important that item is to keep in his available inventory.)  That being said, I can get a fairly simple dinner done as long as these main ingredients are available to me.

I start with either frozen shrimp or frozen chicken.  I thaw whatever I’m planning to use, and for simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend that I’m using shrimp for dinner.  Once I remove the shells from the thawed shrimp, I spray my saute pan with cooking spray and cook the shrimp to a hard sear on both sides, until they’re pink and just cooked.  I then remove the shrimp to a plate and cover lightly with foil to keep warm.  (Note:  if I’m using chicken, I use skinless, boneless chicken and cut it into thin enough pieces to cook about as quickly as the shrimp does in this recipe.)

Next, add 1T margarine and 1T flour to make a roux.  Allow the roux to bubble and cook the flour a bit – this mixture should turn slightly brown and toasty.  Add Chardonnay, along with a bit of chicken stock to make a sauce. I tend to add the wine first, then add some stock and taste the sauce before continuing. (NOTE: I like to use an oak-aged chardonnay but any tasty stainless Chardonnay is also stellar in this recipe.   Use something you enjoy drinking – if the wine is too salty or not flavorful enough, you won’t enjoy the sauce you create.  Add enough wine to make a sauce that is to your liking.)  Take time to allow the flour to thicken the sauce as it cooks and don’t be so impatient that you add too much liquid… adding flour at this point is when you’ll get little flour lumps as it’s difficult to incorporate  thoroughly.

Once you have the sauce completed, replace the shrimp in the sauce and add a little touch of parsley or a fresh herb of your choosing.  While your shrimp are soaking up the flavors of your sauce, pop a bag of 90-second rice into the microwave and use to plate your dinner.

You can add a crisp green salad, bread, and a vegetable to this dinner if you so desire, but I find that the simple dinners are best served simply.  Let the food shine and enjoy the accolades that accompany such a delicious dinner.  If someone feels compelled to thank you by doing the dishes, so much the better, right?

Enjoy!

Recipe: Shrimp Stir Fry

Dinner tonight was one of those “I’ve got 15 minutes to make dinner… let’s go!” meals and it was fabulous, if I do say so myself.  You should try this recipe and use The Force to make your own amazing 15 minute dinner.

I started with a pound of frozen shrimp (the bagged stuff from my local grocery store that is usually on sale), a bag of broccoli slaw, and a sauce mixture of hoisin sauce, James River Chardonnay, spoonful of flour, a thumb-size amount of lemongrass and a thumb-size amount of garlic.  When I walked in the door, I started peeling the shrimp that my husband had pulled out of the freezer and put in water.

 

Once the shrimp were peeled, I put some good olive oil in a large skillet and sauteed the shrimp until they were pink and a little toasty.  I then added half the bag of broccoli slaw and sauteed everything together.  Once the vegetables were slightly softened, I added the sauce and gave the entire meal a moment in the pan to allow the flour to cook a bit and thicken.  I had popped some brown rice into the microwave just as I added the vegetables, so dinner was ready in just about 15 minutes.

Dinner was served over brown rice and it was amazing…. so simple and quick, yet the flavors melded together nicely and made for a great meal.  Try playing with wine when making dinner.  It can be fun to come up with different ways to utilize wine in place of chicken stock.

There’s something so wonderful about creating a dinner that makes your loved ones happy…  wishing you a lovely evening and a grand meal!