Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Shrimp With Mushroom and Peas

These days I'm all about fast dinners, things out of the freezer, and the potential for leftovers. Last night's meal, by these standards, was a trifecta.
My in-laws have a friend, who has a friend, who has a shrimping boat. Once a year they go in on a huge catch. When the shrimp arrive, everyone goes over to the friend's house to de-head the shrimp. They then place the shrimp in freezer bag in filled with salt water. Using this method, the shrimp freeze beautifully. They are sweet and delicious.

Last night I paired these shrimp with some frozen peas and pre-sliced mushrooms. Sautéed with some garlic and onions and served over saffron couscous the meal took less then twenty minuets to prepare and provided ample leftovers for the salad that I am planning for tonight's meal.

Shrimp With Mushrooms and Peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 red onion, finely diced
2 dozen raw shrimp
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are slightly golden brown, about four minutes. Add red onion and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are opaque on both sides, about four minutes. Add peas and chicken stock. Allow the liquid to come to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the peas are hot, about two minutes. Remove from heat and add butter. Toss everything together until the butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over saffron couscous.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What a Difference a Baby Makes

Cooking is my hobby. As far as hobbies go, cooking is a great one. You have to eat, so you might as well enjoy it. I love every part of the process: from reading cooking articles, dreaming up menus, and shopping for the best ingredients to chopping, stirring, and simmering to serving and eating. (Cleaning up is the one part of the project that I don't love. I now have a dishwasher and am thankful for it every single day.)

I didn't realize how much time I actually invested in preparing our meals everyday until I had a baby. When I was working a full-time office job, I still cooked something from scratch almost every night. I shunned any convenience or prepackaged items, thinking that it was a cop out. I even would make whipped cream with a whisk instead of using an electric mixer.

Within the last two months, however, my tune has changed. Now, I look at a meal and try to figure out how I can prepare it between nursings, diaper changes, and playtime. I have presliced mushrooms in the fridge. I have a stocked up freezer and cook extras so that there are leftovers for the next night.

I'm hoping that eventually things will settle down a bit and I can return to luxuriating over dinner prep. Yet, I still know that some of the things I have come to accept over the past few months are worthwhile time savers. A stocked freezer is nice, leftovers should be enjoyed, and a few short cuts wont affect the flavor.