Friday, August 2, 2013

Real-life Mommy Chef: Breaded Shrimp and Pasta

Extremely long preface: 
Nobody told me that being a mom would mean I'd spend most of my time in the kitchen.  I think I would enjoy cooking if I understood the process better and didn't have to rely on recipes all the time.  I often experiment, but only in tweaking recipes simply because I don't have all of the actual ingredients.  It's fun to invent my own substitutions.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  I have learned not to tell my husband that I experimented with his meal until after he has tried it...I guess it hasn't worked more than it has.

The other day I had a vision.  I was laying in bed trying desperately to catch a quick nap while my 4 kids were locked in their rooms supposedly taking naps as well.  My head was slightly aching, perhaps due to tiredness and perhaps due to hunger, but I couldn't risk taking time to eat or I might lose my chance at a little rest.  So I was just laying there, possibly thinking about what the heck I was going to cook for dinner yet again, when all of the sudden, breaded shrimp danced through my thoughts.  Yum.  Yes, that would make a great meal.  I knew I had a little bit of shrimp in my freezer and it's something even my kids love.  Why has it never occurred to me to bread it?  I bread chicken all the time, why not the shrimp?  But it wouldn't be enough.  It would need noodles.  My kids love noodles.  But what in the world can I put on the noodles??  I can't have dairy currently (seriously upsets my newborn), and I have a mouth full of canker sores so a marinara sauce won't due.  What about a garlic lemon butter sauce?  And then it came to me how I might go about creating my own garlic lemon butter sauce.  Veggies?  Why a green salad with bright red tomatoes would be the perfect touch!  I was in love and knew that I just had to try it!  If it failed, there's always take-out.

I found myself almost giddy with excitement to cook dinner (that never happens!).  My 6 year old daughter was my little chef helper and proved herself most worthy.  In case you would like to replicate my meal, below are step-by-step instructions exactly as they occurred (or as I remember them occurring anyway).

Breaded Lemon-pepper Shrimp with Quasi-Garlic-Lemon/Lime-Butter Sauce/Gravy and Angel Hair (Plus Peas)
Didn't think to take a picture until
I had eaten most of the shrimp.

1. Put water in pot and turned up heat for it to boil.

2. Meanwhile, I defrosted the shrimp under cool running water.

3. I threw together some flour and lemon-pepper seasoning in a bag and cracked an egg in a small bowl.

4. I tossed some butter (margarine, actually...less dairy) in a frying pan and began de-tailing the shrimp while the butter began melting (it's the already-cooked kind of shrimp).

5. My little chef helper proved most helpful as the melting butter began sizzling and I was still pulling tails off the shrimp!  She pulled off the tails, patted them dry, and plopped them in the egg bowl while I took them from the egg, shook them up in the flour bag, and placed them in the sizzling butter.

6. At some point the water boiled and I threw in about half a package of Angel Hair pasta with some oil and turned down the heat, admittedly proud of myself for remembering to turn down the heat and avoiding another boil-over.

7. I had to add more butter to the pan because the shrimp was sucking it all up too fast! After flipping the shrimp so both sides were browned, I removed them to a plate and stuck it in the microwave on the setting "hold warm."

8. I threw in more butter to the pan to start the sauce, but it began browning too quickly and was sizzling like crazy and I was afraid it was going to burn and ruin everything!  I panicked and threw in some water.  The plan was to mix in the flour from the bag first...oops.

9. I decided I would just mix the flour in with the lemon juice....until I realized we were out of lemon juice.  Luckily we had some limes.  Lemon...lime...both sour.  I squeezed a single lime in a cup and poured in all the flour from the breading bag.  Way too much flour.  Squeezed another lime.  Still too much flour.  So I added more water and poured it into the butter/water mixture in the pan while stirring not-so-gently with a whisk.

10. I tossed in a buillon cube or two as well.

11. I threw in some seasonings: Basil and meant to do Oregano, but couldn't find it so I just did Italian Seasoning (I have since found my Oregano).

12.  The sauce started to get really thick and seemed more like gravy.  Definitely too much flour.  I just added more water.

13.  Oh, don't forget to drain the noodles.  I did.  Yes, they were a little soggy.  Insert this step a little earlier when you make it.

14.  Kids were going crazy, husband was home, I was now exhausted from cooking and didn't have energy to prepare a simple salad, but we needed a vegetable.  Then another vision came to me.  Peas.  Peas mixed with the noodles and sauce.  Perfect and even easier than preparing a salad.

15. And then I saw the garlic sitting there unused.  Oh yeah.  I sprinkled in some garlic powder.

So there you have it.  My masterpiece.  The sauce on its own had more than a hint of lime flavor, but actually was very good mixed with the noodles.  My husband even gave the meal two thumbs up!  (Yes, I waited until he had eaten it to tell him the whole thing was completely from my own brain and not one bit of it from a recipe).

We'll call this meal a success.


Anonymous said...

Sherrie, you are blessed with quite a gift for writing! I smiled all the way through! I will definitely have to try this out on Dad! Your enthusiasm is contagious! Can we borrow the little helper? I could use those sweet little hands with some of our meals! Sure love you! Keep the recipes coming!!!! Love, Mom

Coach Ann said...

I love it! That is how I usually make our meals too. I'm glad it turned out well. said...

What? After 34 years I find out I have been the guinea pig every night for a new experiment called dinner? I am glad I read your blog and the comments to find this out. Actually, I'm glad it turned out so well and that you could share the experience with us. Love, Dad

Jennie said...

HAHA! That sounds all to familiar. Except my helping hands are torturing the baby and inevitably something burns and I have to add in a few salvage steps, or in the case of the other night I just scrapped the current meal and made something else. I'm excited to try this though, as soon as I have all the ingredients. I have flour and lemon juice. And oregano ... I think ;) BTW this is the kind of blog I want to start: cooking with kids. That way moms can get a true estimate of how long a 30 minute meal is really going to take!!! Good job!

sherrie bebe said...

Hey jen, time never occurred to me! Next time I'm definitely putting start and finish times! What a great idea! BTW,I think I was OK blogging this experience because it wasn't a complete disaster. Usually there is a boil-over or something burning. I'd love to hear one of your cooking with kids experiences. We can do a blog battle taking turns writing cooking stories! Anyone else can join in. Just leave a link to your blog story and we'll have a blog chase! Oh, and for the record, husband may have only given one thumbs up, not two. :)

coolhandluke said...

Definitely two thumbs up.