Tag Archive for Shrimp

Heavy hors d’ouevre party for 35

We had the opportunity to provide a heavy hors d’oeuvre catered party for 35 a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun to work with the hostess on the menu. The party was a wedding shower and the bride-to-be was gluten-free so we wanted to make sure she could enjoy everything we made. 


The somewhat Spanish themed menu consisted of the following:

Heavy charcuterie and cheese platter with lots of ‘extras’ including a custom-made 5 foot long reclaimed wood board as the focal point. It seemed to be the talk of the party! The platter did not just end at smoked meats, cheeses and crackers. It also had grapes, spiced candied pecans apricots, stuffed peppadews, Habanero and apricot jam, and candied bacon (which there may or may not have been a fight break out over…just sayin’).


Braised Short Ribs on Polenta Round with Cilantro and Pickled Onions

Roasted vegetables (curried cauliflower and okra, squash and zucchini with lemon and basil oil)


Garlic Shrimp – Gambas al Ajillo


Moorish Chicken Kebabs


Quinoa Salad with Orange-Lime Dressing and Avocados

(not pictured)


Dessert was from Alon’s – Chocolate Louise which is Gluten Free and decadent!




Vodka Pasta with Shrimp

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Believe it or not, I made vodka pasta with shrimp for my family a few weeks ago. Melissa made me touch fresh shrimp recently and literally pull off its legs with my fingers so when I was buying shrimp for this recipe, clearly I was going the “already prepared frozen” route. The uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp looked too small. I wanted larger shrimp and the only option was cooked, peeled, tail on. Yeah me…I didn’t have to do ANYTHING except defrost it! Yes…one member of the family was irritated that she had to deal with tails herself, but when I told her she was lucky I don’t ever make her clean a whole chicken, she was good. My point in saying this is that you can easily use raw or frozen shrimp, precooked or uncooked for this particular recipe as it was delicious…or so I was told!! 

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 min. 


9 oz. fresh refrigerated fettuccine

1 T. olive oil

12 shrimp (you can buy frozen that is already cooked and defrost it, or buy uncooked, peeled and deveined)

4 cloves of garlic, crushed, divided

1/3 c. vodka

1 1/2 c. mariana sauce

1/2 c. basil, chopped plus more for garnish, if desired

1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

Preparing Vodka Pasta with Shrimp:

Cook pasta according to directions and drain. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and half of the garlic (if it’s already cooked and defrosted, you are just heating it up. If it’s raw, cook until done, about 4-5 minutes). Remove shrimp from pan. Add the rest of the garlic and cook for about one minute. REMOVE PAN FROM STOVE and add the vodka (pouring alcohol into a pan that is a directly over a flame could be a recipe for disaster. I did it once….needed baking soda to put the fire out and ruined the dish). Anyway, cook the vodka for about one minute. Add the marinara, basil, cream, salt and pepper.

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Bring to a simmer. Return pasta and shrimp to pan and heat all the way the through. Serve hot!

Shrimp Vodka Pasta

Important Tips:

When cooking shrimp, remember that when the shrimp looks like a “C” it’s cooked. If it looks like an “O” it’s overcooked! 


If you don’t like seafood, throw in some chicken instead of shrimp!


Crispy Fried Shrimp

Fried Shrimp with Panko

I love fried shrimp! Probably one of my top 5 foods. I have a real problem knowing when I’ve had enough to the point where I just don’t stop until all the shrimp are gone. As a kid, I thought it was hilarious that I’d eat the tails too and laugh with my parents that I had not eaten any shrimp. Yea. I know. Lame. But that’s what kids do!

I cook fried shrimp so many different ways but this is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required:Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 4:

2 dozen large shrimp

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 cup water

Vegetable oil

Lemon to serve with

You’ll need sauces. I made cocktail sauce with ketchup, horseradish, lemon and Worcestershire. Sriracha mayo would be good too. Tartar sauce is clearly a staple too.

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Cast Iron Skillet. If you don’t have one of these, you need one!


Peel and devein the shrimp. We’ve talked about this before if you need to know how. Place the bread crumbs (both kinds) in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like. I usually add some cayenne and chili powder.

In a second bowl, add the eggs and water and beat to make an egg wash. Add spices to this bowl too!

Dip the prepared shrimp in the bread crumbs then the egg wash and then back in the bread crumbs. Repeat for all shrimp. Place back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to help the breading adhere to the shrimp.

Place about 2 inches of vegetable/canola oil in your cast iron skillet and place over medium high- heat until the oil is hot. You’ll know it is ready to fry when you place a bit of bread crumbs in it and it bubbles quickly.

Add the shrimp, but don’t overcrowd, and cook until lightly brown on one side. Then flip and cook until lightly brown on the other side. Remove from oil and let drain on some paper towels. Repeat for remaining batches. Serve with some yummy sides and a great sauce. Yummm!

Fried Shrimp with Panko


Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the shrimp. Remember the ‘C’ shape means done. If it closes to an ‘O’ shape, it is overcooked.


So many ways to cook fried shrimp. This is just one of my favorites.

Meal Ideas:

Served here with macaroni and cheese and sugar snap peas

Don’t faint, but now that I have a cast iron skillet, I would actually make this. Of course, I’m not peeling and deveining anything. I bet I could use tongs to make sure I don’t touch them either!!! I’ll keep you posted! ~Denise

Grilled Main Courses

Grilled chicken

Grilled main courses used to be something that I had only on the weekends when my husband was home to cook them. I was tired of always cleaning the kitchen after using the stove or oven to prepare dinner so I decided to “man up” and learn how to grill. I will say that it was one of the best things that I ever did in my cooking adventures. Not only is there less mess in the kitchen (I think I’ve said that lots this week), but grilled meat is typically healthier since there is less oil or butter used! For those you who have never grilled…give it a try. Just once!! It could change the way you eat and cook forever!!!


Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

Mustard Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken Wrapped in Bacon and Rosemary

Beer Can Chicken

Ranch Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken in Garlic and White Wine Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Tzatziki Sauce 


Pork Tenderloin

Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Bone in BBQ Pork Chops


Pork Chops with Brown Sugar Glaze


Beef Tenderloin

Blackened Steak Salad

Flank Steak with Lime, Honey and Garlic

Gourmet Burger Bar

Tri Tip Steak

Filet Mignon Stuffed with Spinach and Manchego


Spicy Grilled Shrimp



Lamb Chops with Garlic and Rosemary

Turkey Breast with Garlic and Lemon








Shrimp Saganaki – Sauteed Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

For Greek Week and our amazing Greek inspired food and recipes, I thought we had to have a seafood dish. I knew Denise was not going to touch that so that meant I would have to represent all the Greek folks out there.

In fact, I was going to do a whole fish – head on – and take a nice closeup picture just to watch Denise jump! ~Melissa

But, I’m not Greek. Nor do I have heritage from the area (like Denise does in the ‘general’ vicinity). But, I do live in Atlanta, home of one of the most fantastic Greek restaurants – Kyma.

I was hoping to blow Denise’s dish out of the water by getting some professional help from an old acquaintance but instead, I took my inspiration from their menu with a dish called Prawn Saganaki.

Now, mind you, I’ve never eaten Prawn Saganaki. But, the menu described it as sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and Ouzo, a Greek anise flavored liqueur. I can do that! So off to the store!

This was by far the best shrimp preparation I’ve ever made apart from good old Southern fried shrimp (a heritage I definitely have in my blood). It had such amazing flavor and it really was easy to make, regardless how traditional it might be.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate  (only because it is seafood and people freak on the cooking their own seafood thing and because seafood is easily and often overcooked).
Time Required: Prep Time – 20min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 2 people:

12 large shrimp (I like a lot of shrimp, even big ones! A normal person eating U10 shrimp would probably eat 4, maybe 6. Me, I can eat a couple of dozen on my own!!)

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup parsley

1/4 cup ouzo

1/2 cup chicken or seafood stock

1 clove garlic, sliced thin

salt and pepper

red pepper to taste

4 oz quality feta

How to make sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta:

First, you’ll want to get all the items you need ready because it is not a dish that takes very long to cook.

Dice the tomatoes into a large dice. I used Campari tomatoes and cut into eighths.

Chop the parsley.

Peel the garlic clove and slice really thin. You can dice or mince but I liked it sliced thin. In fact, we’ll add it late in the preparation to get more of the garlic flavor.

Get your spices in ready and set aside

Crumble your feta

Portion out your ouzo and stock and juice your lemons.

Clean your shrimp. I deveined them but left their shells on for flavor. That is the best choice but really up to you. Since I was just serving to my family in an informal setting, peeling shrimp was not a big deal. In a more formal setting or with friends/family who don’t want to get their fingers dirty, peel the shrimp for them. If you take the shells off or buy them with heads on, keep them for the next step. If you decide to keep the shells on, take the shells from a couple of shrimp and follow steps below.

Now we are ready to complete the sautéed shrimp with tomatoes and feta!

 When I cooked this, I had to cook some chicken before I cooked the shrimp for the kiddos. I decided to use the same pan and had some brown bits in the bottom…perfect for deglazing.

If you are not cooking for kids too (or for Denise as a non-seafood lover), take the shells, roll in a couple of tablespoons of flour and sauté them in some oil. Let them get brown but not burned. This will give some flavor to your pan prior to deglazing with the ouzo. When done, discard the shells and move on.

Now, I say deglaze and some of you will freak out. Don’t!! It’s not a big deal.

Remove your skillet from the heat, add the ouzo, return to the heat and be prepared for a flash of fire. You are not adding a lot of alcohol so it will dissipate quickly but it will flash.

Use a wooden spoon and scrape up the brown bits and let the alcohol cook off. When reduced by about half, add the lemon juice, tomatoes and stock.

Shrimp Saganaki - Sauteed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and ouzo

Let cook and reduce for about 5 minutes. Then add 1/2 the parsley and the garlic. Then add some salt, pepper, and red pepper. Taste and add more as desired. My husband likes some heat, so I added more red pepper.

When ready, add the shrimp and let sauté in the sauce for a few minutes. To cook a U10 shrimp over medium high heat will only take about 4-5 minutes a side. Remember, “C” means cooked. “O” means overcooked. When the shrimp cooks and naturally forms the letter C and is more pink, then it is done.  Shrimp are amazing when NOT overcooked.

Sauteed shrimp with tomatoes and feta and ouzo

Crumble the feta on top, add the remaining parsley and serve. DAMN!! it is good!. Enjoy big flavor with this dish.

Sauteed Shrimp with tomato, ouzo, feta and parsley

Shrimp Saganaki over Arborio rice

Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the shrimp!! Add flavor.


Ok, so truth be told, I was in a rush and could not get to a store on a Sunday in the South that sold Ouzo. What did I do? I deglazed the pan with tequila and added about 1/4t of anise seed. It was delicious!

Also, I think this would be FABULOUS with chicken. Just sauté the chicken first, then make the sauce and then return the chicken to the pan. I think it would be perfect.

Meal Ideas:

I topped some basic risotto with the sautéed shrimp and it was a perfect pallet!

Got Leftovers?:

Great cold the next day or you could chop it up and top a nice salad with it!

U10 shrimp? What does that mean? Are they playing a sport or something in the Under 10 league? And you’re right….not for me. I’m always turned off by deveining, peeling and chopping off heads. However, if  you are into that sort of thing, I bet this is delicious!” ~Denise

Clearly you don’t read my posts because in a previous post on shrimp I discussed the size classification used. I read your posts you know….~Melissa

I do read your posts…but this U10 thing really threw me.   Maybe I read it when I was eating hummus from Greece and didn’t remember. ~Denise

Or drinking a bottle of Kim Crawford??? ~Melissa

Nice ~ Denise


Caesar Salad with Sauteed Shrimp

My daughter loves Caesar salad with sautéed shrimp. Last week, we had a very hectic weeknight schedule and I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen cooking, so salad was for dinner! I had some leftover grilled chicken that I used for my son’s salad and treated my daughter to some shrimp! It makes for a very easy and relatively healthy dinner. Note: Melissa laughed at me when I told her about putting this on the blog. I know it’s easy and basic, but sometimes it’s these types of meals that people tend to overlook!!

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Prep Time – 5 min.; Cook Time – 10 min.


Romaine lettuce

shredded parmesan cheese

Caesar dressing (we use Girard’s Light Cesar)(Melissa likes the Bolthouse Farms made with yogurt)

Croutons (if desired)

6-8 shrimp per person (peeled and deveined)

2-3 T. olive oil

3-4 cloves crushed garlic

salt and pepper to taste

How to make Caesar salad with Sauteed Shrimp:

Heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Add the shrimp and sauté approximately 5 minutes per side. Add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, add the desired amount of lettuce into a bowl and toss with your favorite dressing (tossing ahead of time is key!). Put on your plate. Sprinkle with cheese and top with croutons. Add the shrimp and dig in!

Cesar Salad with Sauteed Shrimp

For the record, I chuckled because of Denise bragging about a salad being a 15 minute meal, not because of the concept!! Love ya Denise!! – Melissa


Dinner for 37 with no plan – Savannah themed meal

Ok, so McNack’s is always ‘preaching’ about how to prepare in advance for a big party and that without adequate preparation, who knows what will happen.

Well, I’ve been just a wee bit busy and realized that I committed to dinner for what was going to be 37 people at my house in less than 48 hours and I had no real plan. I definitely voluntarily invited my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop and their families to dinner and I wanted to do this. But, well, then life happened.

I also committed to making the theme of the meal “Savannah” as this is the year we take the girls to see the home of Juliet Gordon Lowe in Savannah (she’s the founder of the Girl Scouts). Hmm!? Now what?

First things first – I needed a menu. It was both kids and adults so I needed to be very kid friendly. So here is what I decided:

Savannah Themed Meal

Kids Menu:

Fried Chicken (plan was order from Chick-fil-a, see below for reality)

Macaroni and Cheese

Fruit (strawberries and grapes)


and whatever they want off the ‘adult’ menu

Adult Menu:

Homemade Pimento Cheese

Grilled Spicy Shrimp

Fried Green Tomatoes

Deviled Eggs

Cilantro Slaw

Sautéed Greens with Sausage

Desserts (I reached out to the parents who offered to help… when you need it, use it! Nothing wrong with that!) We had peach cobbler, a dessert bar one of the mom’s used to make when she lived in Savannah, brownies and cookies. Thanks ladies!!

An assortment of kid friendly and adult friendly beverages. Thanks again for those who helped in this arena too!!

The Last Minute Plan:

The good thing is nothing I was making was that difficult, it was just a lot. I went to the stores (all of them) the day before and reached out for help on the desserts. I went to order the nuggets from Chick-fil-a when it dawned on me the party was on Sunday! OMG! Now what? I love that Chick-fil-a is not open on Sunday but I was in a bind. While I was freaking out on my way to my car at my local grocer (Publix), the boy helping me out suggested I check with their deli. Duh!! Thanks! That worked out great.

I went ahead and made the pimento cheese and slaw, cut the fruit, sautéed the sausage, made the remoulade sauce, finished the deviled eggs and grated the cheese. I then got my tables and paper goods ready to go.

The day of I finished getting the house ready, got the serving, drinking and eating areas all setup and finalized the rest of the food. That included: marinating, grilling, and peeling the shrimp; making the mac n’ cheese; sautéing the greens; preparing the fried green tomatoes; and picking up the chicken tenders from the store (thanks Mark xoxo). Easy Peasy!!

Most everything was ready when guests arrived other than frying the tomatoes, getting the buffet area finalized, getting drinks for folks and other last minute things.

As typical for me, I made a whole lot more than I should have. Note to self: think about your guests. 60lb girls don’t eat as much as 200lb men. Oops. Leftovers!

All joking aside, it was fun. The girls had a nice ceremony and played well together. The parents had a nice time getting to know each other better. Looking forward to a great year!

dinner party without a plan