Winter Comfort-Soup is On

I love to cook.  Being a part of Debbie Arnold’s food blog is always a special treat and privilege.  If you know anything about Debbie Arnold, you know she is an amazing cook and is full of great tips (which she shares on Arkansas KTHV 11 During Dining with Debbie).  It is always a little humbling to prepare a dish to share on her blog, but the other aspect of Debbie Arnold is her genuineness and love of gathering in the kitchen.   She is a down to earth home cook who inspires you to jump right in and share the kitchen.

Transitioning back to work full-time outside of the home has made cooking at home a little more difficult.  However, I still believe that relationships are most often built around the table.  We were created to need sustenance.  We were created to need relationship.  The table draws us together, allowing for two of our basic needs to be met. That belief, my desire to nurture my family physically and emotionally keeps me working to find ways to meal plan better, to slow down and let the cooking time also be bonding time, and letting go of some of my “perfectionist” expectations of myself.  Meals have become a little simpler.  The crock pot finds it way to my counter at least once a week.  My girls play a bigger role, getting something started as I am on my way home or taking on one of the dishes as we put a complete meal together.  I have also found I turn to some of our favorites more often, cooking less variety during the week.   It just helps keep things simple, and keeps us at home.

Today, I am sharing one of the few soup recipes my family can agree upon and devour in less than an hour.  Cajun Shrimp Chowder.  The recipe, originally passed along to me by a friend from Louisiana, has been given a few Chaplin tweaks. It was the perfect bowl of warmth and comfort after church today.

I hope you enjoy the recipe.  Spend a little extra time around the dinner table this week with family and/or friends.  In a world filled with sadness, turmoil, and busyness we all need the comfort of good food, good company, good fellowship.

cajun-shrimp-chowder

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Simple Dinner: Shrimp Penne Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce

I LOVE to cook.  Maybe it’s being from the south, maybe it is family heritage.  Whatever it is, I love to cook.  Eating dinner at home is one of those BEST things for my family.  It is a priority.  And, contrary to popular belief, it is possible.   My kids are not hermits.  We engage in extra curricula activity.  We attend church.  My husband and I both manage small businesses, I home school, we have friends and yet, we manage to eat at home together 4-6 nights per week.  Top it off, we NEVER eat chicken nuggets at home.  I don’t mean that to be haughty.  Again, it is a choice we as parents make.  Are my kids exposed to enough of that outside of our home?  If so, then I am going to minimize it in our home.  Now, lest you think it is a made from scratch meal every night, please know there is an occasional pizza or Chinese take out, and on occasion a Stouffer’s frozen lasagna or Chicken and Rice.  As with all things, each of us can do and will do what we determine we desire to do in the time we are given.  With a little Sunday night planning, bi-weekly or monthly grocery shopping, and use of pre-set oven or Crockpot, there are actually a lot of simple, quick menus to prepare.  One of my staples and family favorites is Shrimp Penne.

Finished Shrimp Penne with Creamy Garlic Sauce
Finished Shrimp Penne with Creamy Garlic Sauce
Shrimp
Shrimp
Creamy Garlic Sauce simmering
Creamy Garlic Sauce simmering

Cook the Penne according to recipe.   Begin by sauteing 2 lb of pealed shrimp in olive oil and 2 tbsp of minced garlic.  Add 2 cups of heavy whipping cream to the cooked shrimp.  Stir in 1/8 cup of chicken broth, 1 tsp basil, 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp oregano.  Add salt and ground pepper to taste.  Stir and let simmer.  Last, but not least, stir in one cup of shredded Parmesan.  Let the Parmesan melt completely.  If the sauce has gotten too thick, add a little more chicken broth or some butter.  Dump the cooked and drained Penne into the sauce.  Fold (do not stir aggressively) the Penne into the sauce.  Let the mixture simmer on low (cover the pan) for no more than 3 minutes.  Serve directly from pan.  Sprinkle some additional grated Parmesan on top.

To keep things simple I serve this with french bread, slightly toasted and a side salad.  Takes no more than 30 minutes to throw this together.  Short on time, cook the pasta the day before.  Store it in a zip lock bag.  Same with shrimp.  Run hot water over the pasta in a colander.  Heat shrimp up in skillet with olive oil.  Continue with recipe directions above.

Having a few staples like this allows you to create a great meal in a short amount of time.  Sit at the table and enjoy your family.