Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mom's Shrimp Creole

This is a dish I grew up eating and always loved. I will admit that, when I was little, I'd pick out the shrimp and eat only the sauce. However, my taste buds have changed quite a bit (as my mom ALWAYS used to tell us they would!) The beauty of this dish is that it is SO full of flavor, yet it's pretty simple. It does involve making a roux, but I think it's the perfect place to start if you've never made a roux before, since it's a light roux, as opposed to a time-consuming, labor-of-love dark roux. My mom grew up in Alabama, so she has a great repertoire of southern recipes and this is one that we always looked forward to eating. It's great served over a big bowl of rice with fresh french bread and a salad.
3 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp vegetable oil (typically, you would use 1/4 cup, but I've found that you can cut back on the fat without a problem)
1/4 cup flour
1 cup diced onion
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt (or creole seasoning)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Tabasco
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until it reaches a light, golden brown color. It should smell nutty. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and celery. Cook until tender. Add all remaining ingredients, except shrimp and green onions. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will be pretty thick. Add shrimp and cook an additional 15 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and sauce has thickened back up (the liquid from the shrimp thins it a touch at first). Serve over rice. Serves 4 (generous size portions or 6 smaller portions)

Vegetarian Chili

At the beginning of the year, our church spends three weeks fasting. My husband and I usually do a Daniel fast, taken from the book of Daniel in the Bible. It consists of eating only fruits, veggies and whole grains. Thus, I'm often on the hunt for vegetarian/meatless recipes. The beauty of this dish is it is extremely kid-friendly. I topped our kids' bowls with a generous amount of sour cream, cheddar and organic blue corn chips and they went to town :). I think we'll be eating it year-round!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 poblano chilies, seeded and diced
2 heaping tsp chili powder
1 heaping tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups water
1 can chili ready tomatoes or diced tomatoes
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can hominy rinsed and drained
Cooked brown rice

crushed tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheddar
sliced green onions
Chalula sauce

Saute the onion and poblano peppers in olive oil for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the garlic, spices, salt and pepper and saute another 2-3 minutes. Place 1/2 cup of the great northern beans in a bowl and mash. Add the rest of the soup ingredients, including mashed beans, to the pot. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Ladle over a spoonful of brown rice and top with desired toppings.