Shrimp Scampi

I hate to brag, but I was once told (recently) that my shrimp scampi was better than the nice Italian restaurant’s that we were at. WHAT a compliment!!! Due to the fact that this meal is absolutely delicious (and the fact that I have 4 bags of frozen jumbo shrimp in my freezer), we have it a lot around here.

The scampi sauce has a slight sweetness that is barely noticeable and I think that is one reason it is so delicious. The sweetness helps to counteract the zing from all them tasty lemon. I have been pondering why this is so for months and have recently come to a conclusion about why my recipe has a certain sweetness to it. I think it because when I zest my lemon, I am quite careful to only get the zest, and none of the rind, which easily happens if you zest more than one time in a spot. This may make no sense at all, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Scampi is quick and easy, and most of the ingredients are a staple at our house. Serve it over a bed of angel hair pasta and alongside a salad and bread. You can always ditch the angel hair and it with couscous, rice or risotto, or you could serve the shrimp a la carte. Tonight, we had steamed broccoli to accompany our lemony shrimps and pasta.

Ingredients (serves 4)

*The shrimp can be fresh or frozen and whatever size you want – but I would suggest medium to jumbo since shrimp shrink when cooked.

  • About 20-25 shrimp, deveined and shells removed
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. Gourmet Garden Italian Herb Paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 splashes of white wine
  • Parmesan, for topping
  • Pasta (angel hair or thin spaghetti is best, but spaghetti will do as well)

Directions

Devein and remove the shells from the shrimp. Mince the garlic. Zest the lemons (I use a microplane). Juice the lemons.

In a large Ziploc bag marinate the shrimp with 2 tsp. lemon zest, a few shakes onion powder, 1 tsp. herb paste, 1 clove minced garlic, a few dashes of salt and pepper, a splash of white wine (I use pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc), and 2 tbsp. olive oil. Mix around in the bag to distribute the marinade. Let marinate at least 20 minutes.

In a sauté pan combine the rest of the herb paste, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and a splash of white wine. Simmer on medium low for about 20 minutes.

Put the pasta on and allow it to cook.

With about 5 minutes to go until the pasta is ready, pour the shrimp and marinade into a pan that has been heated over medium to medium-high heat (I use my cast iron pan). Cook the shrimp until just pink, about 4 minutes. Add the butter to the scampi sauce and stir it until it is smooth and the butter has melted.

Serve the shrimp and scampi sauce on top of the pasta. Enjoy!

Parmesan-Panko Crusted Tilapia

My roommate loves fish. Me, not so much. I’m more of a shellfish girl. Anywho, I gave in to her requests for fish and decided to pan fry the tilapia we had, thinking that it would mask the fishy flavor that I generally don’t love. It was muy bueno! I served it alongside lemon-dill orzo and lemon-dill butter for drizzling overtop of the fish, along with a lemon wedge and steamed broccoli. Quite a delicious meal that any fish-hater will fall madly in love with.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2 tilapia filets
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 tbsp. dried dill (optional)
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter

Directions

Prep your ingredients: finely grate the parmesan (you want it to mix into the flour and be somewhat of the same consistency).

Pour flour onto a large plate. In a large, flat bowl whisk 2 eggs together. Put panko onto a third plate and mix in the finely grated parm and the dill. Cut the lemon into slices.

Arrange the bowls in this order: first is the flour mixture, second is the egg, third is the panko mixture.

First, squeeze lemon on both sides of the fish filets and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Then dip both sides into the flour and shake off excess. Then dip both sides in the egg mixture. Then into the panko parm mix. Press the panko down onto both sides so that it has a nice, thick coating on each side of the fish. Set on a plate and repeat with the second filet.

In a large sauté pan add the vegetable oil, butter, and a round or 2 of the pan of olive oil. Turn heat up to medium high. When the oil is really hot (you will know it is hot when you spritz a little water into the oil and it sizzles) add the fish. Cook the fish on each side until it is crispy and browned. Remove the filets and drain quickly on a paper towel.

Serve the fish with a lemon wedge, lemon-dill butter, and lemon-dill orzo.

Shrimp and Grits

Don’t let the picture fool you – it may look like simple cheesy bacon grits you would have for breakfast, but this is a creamy, delicious meal for any time of day.

Apart, these ingredients are both delicious, but when combined they are pure bliss. I first had shrimp and grits one hungover morning about 4 years ago (I can’t believe it took me so long!). I went to Maya, one of my favorite restaurants here in town, for brunch and they had shrimp and grits with a black truffle sauce and I instantly fell in love. Unfortunately, since that day I have not seen that particular take on shrimp and grits on their menu. They now serve it with a smoked tomato sauce, which I do not enjoy nearly as much. I think this is because I like a creamy sauce to go with this dish. Since this day, I have been on a quest to find/make the perfect shrimp and grits and I think I am just about there.

As you might have already figured out, I am no expert on wine and food pairings. I just know what wines I like and figure that I should share them with other wine lovers. So, tonight, I am enjoying a delicious new wine I have found. And, in fact, I just posted a Malbec by the same brand. It is Espuela del Gaucho’s Torrontes. It is absolutely wonderful. And, again, on sale at the Kroger’s for only $8.99 instead of the original price of $18.99. What a steal!

Ingredients (serves about 4)

  • 20 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¾ cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 10 strips bacon, (I use low sodium)
  • 5 tbsp. butter (I use unsalted)
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp. white wine (I used pinot grigio but a sauvignon blanc would do fine as well probably)
  • ¾ cup quick grits
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • ¼ cup half and half
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (optional – for grits)
  • Salt and pepper (a fair amount because the grits needs lots of seasoning)
  • Olive oil
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

Start by marinating the shrimp in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper, garlic powder, 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tsp. chopped shallots, and a little Cajun seasoning.

Next, cook the bacon until it is nice and crunchy. Set bacon aside and drain most of the grease, but leave some in the pan to sauté the shallots and garlic in. Crumble the bacon.

Begin the sauce by sautéing the shallots and garlic in a little bacon grease over medium heat until slightly translucent. Add 3 tbsp. butter and use a whisk to get all of the bacon bits from the pan combined into the sauce. Add the flour and whisk again. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire, a sprinkle of paprika, the wine,  a ½ cup cream and red pepper flakes (if wanted…I add just a few). Whisk again. Lower heat to low and let the flavors meld, stirring occasionally.

Cook the grits. I just follow the directions on the back EXCEPT that I use half milk and half water to cook them in, instead of all water. SO, I used ¾ cup grits (which makes 4 servings) and 1 ½ cups milk and 1 ½ cups water. Bring the liquids to a boil, add 1 tsp. salt and then add the grits and immediately stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until nicely thickened. Make sure to stir fairly frequently. When the grits are cooked, take them off the heat and add the shredded cheddar cheese, 2 tbsp. butter and lots of ground black pepper. Stir until the cheese is evenly distributed and melted. Taste them. They might need a little more salt or pepper. Cover and let sit until dinner (you may need to add a dash of milk and put them on low heat to re-warm).

Using a cast iron skillet (if possible), warm the pan on medium high heat and pour the shrimp and marinade into the hot pan. Cook until just pink and remove from heat.

To serve: In a shallow bowl, put a nice serving of grits. Top with the shrimp and spoon sauce over top. Add the crumbled bacon and a small squeeze of lemon. Enjoy the amazingness.