Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Inspiration: I’ll admit, one of my favorite things about recipes that call for wine is that we get to enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner. Now that spring is here, we’ve been craving meals that pair well with white wine and have been going through white wine like crazy. It just tastes so good right now!

What we Loved: This recipe had a great, spicy kick! B and I both thought that there was just enough spice for it to be an integral part of the dish without being overpowering. I really love spicy foods, but I always hate when a dish is too ridiculously spicy to actually taste what you’re eating. The spice level with this one was just perfect! Combined with the light flavors of the shrimp, vegetables, and fresh basil, this was really a great springtime meal with a nice edge. We enjoyed it with some broccolini and a few glasses of sauvignon blanc.

Helpful Hints: The original recipe calls for the basil to be mixed into the sauce, but I always feel like the flavor of basil changes a lot when it’s mixed into a hot dish. We like the fresh and crisp qualities of basil when it’s used as a topping or garnish, but if you’d like to mute the flavors a little bit, you could chop the basil much smaller and mix it into the sauce.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

I only made a few changes to the recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced

1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the salt and red pepper flakes. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan, add the shrimp, and saute until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the onion to the same pan, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the wine, the garlic, and the oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

3. Return the shrimp to the pan, tossing to coat.

4. Serve, topped with the fresh basil.

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Almond Coconut Shrimp

Inspiration: We recently bought a container of coconut oil for the first time and are starting to incorporate it into our diets. If you’ve never had it before, it’s fantastic and has a wonderful coconut flavor and scent that carries over to your food when you use it. It makes for a great tropical spin on fried eggs for breakfast! While we were eating our coconut fried eggs for breakfast one morning, B suggested using the oil to make coconut shrimp, and it was, of course, a great idea :)

What we Loved: B and I both loved these shrimp. Since we avoid carbs, I mixed together some almond meal and unsweetened coconut for the breading, and it turned out fantastic! The coconut flavor was nice and mild, though not so mild as to be undetectable, and there was the definite texture of coconut. The almond meal provided a mild, nutty flavor and acted as a great “breading” along with the coconut. I served these with some lima beans sauteed with almonds and topped with some shaved Parmesan, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure which part of the meal I enjoyed more! It was a great, summery supper for one of the first days in so long that we’ve seen the sun!

Helpful Hints: My only little problem with this recipe is that the shrimp turned out a little bit greasy. Not that we mind too much, as we get a large portion of our calories from healthy fats, but if you’d like these to be a little less greasy, I’d suggest placing them onto paper towels after cooking, like you would with bacon, so that the paper towels can absorb some of the extra oil.

Almond Coconut Shrimp
Source: Original recipe

20-25 large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails on
2 eggs
1/4 cup almond meal
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
Coconut oil

1. Pat the shrimp dry on paper towels, getting them as dry as you can.

2. Beat the eggs together in a shallow bowl. Mix the almond meal and coconut together in a second shallow bowl.

3. Dip the shrimp into the eggs, and then dip them into the coconut mixture. Completely coat the shrimp in the coconut mixture, and then place them aside onto a plate.

4. Heat a good amount of coconut oil in a saute pan over medium high heat, enough to completely coat the bottom of the pan to about 1/8 inch deep. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp to the pan. Saute for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then flip the shrimp and cook the other side for the same amount of time. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding your pan, and add more oil if necessary between batches.

5. Drain the cooked shrimp on a paper towel lined plate. Keep warm under foil until all of the shrimp are cooked.

Anaheim Shrimp Scampi

Inspiration: I’m so glad that I discovered spaghetti squash recently, because it’s one of those ingredients that is just so versatile. I was hunting around for something unique to make, when I found this recipe. Shrimp scampi with chunks of avocado and cheese? It was a strange combination that had me intrigued.

What we Loved: I adored this meal. Loved it. The shrimp were cooked in an amazingly rich scampi butter, then combined with creamy, cool avocado and nutty pieces of asiago cheese. It’s sounds like an odd combination, but everything went so well together! The cheese added such a sharp bite, which contrasted really well with the mild avocado and squash. But what really made this meal fantastic was the scampi sauce. The shrimp were saturated in the buttery flavor, and the extra sauce poured atop everything was really out of this world. I plan to make this meal again in the summer, with a nice bottle of chardonnay and some sunshine :)

Helpful Hints: I used chives in the scampi butter instead of parsley, but they browned up a bit and I don’t think that they added too much flavor, as far as herbs go. I would recommend adding some fresh cilantro on top of this after it’s plated, instead. Cilantro’s bright, fresh flavor would work really well and give this dish even more of a Southwestern spin.

Anaheim Shrimp Scampi
Source: George Stella, Food Network

I modified the recipe a touch. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

For the scampi butter
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup Vidalia onion, minced
1 handful chives, minced
Sprinkle of garlic powder
Sprinkle of Kosher salt
Sprinkle of black pepper
Dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced

For the rest of the meal
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tail removed
3 oz Asiago cheese, cut into small chunks
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1 spaghetti squash

1. Poke the spaghetti squash all over with a fork. Place the squash in a baking dish, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for one hour. Remove the squash from the oven, let cool, and then cut in half. Discard the seeds, and then scrape the spaghetti squash strands into a sauce pan or pot. Place the pan on the stove over very low heat to keep warm.

2. While the squash is cooking, make the scampi butter. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix to combine.

3. Place 2/3 of the scampi butter in a saute pan over high heat, and melt. Add the shrimp, and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and cooked through.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining scampi butter.

5. Plate the spaghetti squash. Top with shrimp, avocado, and cheese. Pour the remaining scampi butter in the pan atop everything, and serve.

Shrimp and Vegetable Skewers

Shrimp and Vegetable Skewers

*updated June 2011 with some new pictures.

Inspiration: Our Memorial Day weekend was filled with fabulous weather, and there’s no better time to start grilling than on Memorial Day. B and I took a nice bike ride in the afternoon, and it seemed like the whole city smelled like grilled food. It was fabulous.

What we Loved:  This was easily the best meal that we’ve had in months. B grilled everything just perfectly, and I couldn’t believe the flavor. Neither B nor I have ever had grilled shrimp before, and because shrimp cooks so quickly, I wasn’t expecting it to taste that much different than shrimp cooked inside. But the grilled, charred flavor of the shrimp was just amazing, and we couldn’t get over how great it was. It was like the shrimp soaked up the entire essence and flavor of the grill in the few short minutes that they were cooking. The vegetables were just as good, with my favorite being the slightly crisp and blackened onions. I coated all of the vegetables and shrimp with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, cilantro, and plenty of garlic before cooking, so everything also had a nice, garlicy flavor. We enjoyed these skewers with some Belgian Training Wheels beer from Original Gravity Brewing Company for a lovely summer evening dinner.

Helpful Hints: The shrimp will cook much more quickly than the vegetables, so be sure to skewer the shrimp on their own skewers, so you can start grilling the vegetables first.

Shrimp and Vegetable Kabobs
Source: Original Recipe to serve 2

14 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small zucchini, cut into thick chunks
8 baby portabella mushrooms
1/2 red pepper, cut into thick slices
1/2 vidalia onion, cut into thick wedges
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

1. Place 8-10 wooden skewers in a dish of water to soak for 30 minutes.

2. Place the vegetables in a bowl, and place the the shrimp in a second bowl. To each bowl, add a liberal drizzle of olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lime. Sprinkle with Kosher salt, black pepper, cilantro, and minced garlic. Mix to combine.

3. When you’re ready to grill, skewer the vegetables and the shrimp, making sure to keep them on different skewers because the shrimp will cook much more quickly than the vegetables.

4. Grill the vegetable skewers first, for approximately 7-10 minutes per side. Pour any extra marinade that has accumulated in the bowl over the skewers after you place them on the grill. When the vegetable skewers are just about finished, grill the shrimp skewers for approximately 1-2 minutes per side.

Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole

In an effort to make my blog a little different and a little more interesting to write, I’m experimenting with some changes to the format.

Inspiration: I haven’t done much experimenting yet, but judging from the few creole dishes that I’ve tried, creole cuisine is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  The stew-like dishes that are traditionally prepared each have a fantastic heat to them, and every dish that I’ve tried so far has had layers of spices and flavor. There’s something incredibly comforting about a spicy pot of shrimp creole or jambalaya simmering on the stove, and the flavors never disappoint. Over the last few months, I’ve found a new love in spicy and comforting creole food, and I always look forward to trying a new recipe.

What we Loved: The sauce in this dish is really rich in tomato flavor, with just an edge of smokiness from the addition of worcestershire sauce. The spice level that comes from the cayenne pepper and hot sauce is perfect, having quite a kick but not leaving you reaching for your water glass after every bite. I love that this dish is served over a bed of white rice, instead of mixing the rice into the pot, because you can mix the rice into your own dish as much or as little as you’d like while you’re eating.

Helpful Hints: The original recipe calls for seafood stock, but I had some extra chicken stock in the pantry and used that instead. This is a good idea if you want the final dish to have a less “fishy” flavor, although you’re sacrificing some authenticity. What I find most important about this dish is to add the shrimp to the pot just a minute or two before serving. As soon as the shrimp turn pink, it’s safe to turn off the heat and serve. Shrimp only take a few minutes to cook, and overcooked shrimp will have a very tough texture. It’s best to stop cooking even before you think they’re quite done. There’s nothing like fresh, tender shrimp!

Shrimp Creole
Source: Food Network

I changed the amounts of several ingredients and omitted a few ingredients. Here is the recipe as I made it.

Extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups chicken stock
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
Dash worcestershire sauce
Dash hot sauce
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 lb large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and tails removed

1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil, and saute the onions for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the cayenne, and let carmelize.

2. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes,Worcestershire, hot sauce, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, and crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon as much as you can. After cooking, the tomatoes will become more tender, and you can crush them further then.

3. Simmer for 35 minutes, or until the sauce is as thickened as you would like. You can crush the tomatoes more at this point.

4. Add the shrimp to the pot, and cook until just pink and opaque. Serve immediately.

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp

*Photo and Content Updated May 2012*

Usually, I can just tell while I’m cooking something if it’s going to be delicious or if it’s just going to be okay (or terrible). The whole time that I was making this, I was so excited because I knew that it was going to be incredible. And it was. Brandon and I could barely stop eating it. Neither one of us had ever had a similar dish before this, and we really enjoyed all of the different flavor components that were layered into the dish. The sausage and shrimp tasted so rich and succulent alongside all of the fresh vegetables and the creamy rice, and because everything was cooked together in the same pan, you could really taste all of the flavors in every single bite. I served this dish alongside diced avocado, and it really added a fresh and cool contrast to the rest of the flavors.

Rice with Sausage and Shrimp
Source: Adapted from Laylita’s Recipes

1/2 vidalia onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white rice, uncooked
2 cups chicken broth
1 lb Italian sausage
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
Handful of fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 avocado

1. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Crumble the sausage into the pan, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink and is starting to brown.

2. Add the onions and the peppers to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

3. Add the minced garlic to the pan, and stir to combine.

4. Add the diced tomatoes to the pan, and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

5. Add the rice to the pan, and stir to combine.

6. Add the chicken broth to the pan, and bring to a simmer. Cover, and cook for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Add the shrimp to the pan, cover the pan again, and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, approximately 6-8 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

9. Serve with fresh avocado.