Nick and I have had many moments when it all came together--having Turbo--we were a family. Having Bruiser, we became complete. Yeah, it's a bit sappy, but things truly do come together when you have kids.
On another note, I do love to experiment in the kitchen. For the longest time, I had to have exactly what the recipe called for if I was making something new. I have gotten much better at substitutions. I have also gotten more experimental in the kitchen.
There was a dish at Appelbees, years ago, the Nick loved. It was a Cajun shrimp and sausage pasta dish. It was Nick's go to when we went there. Then they changed the menu and this dish was gone. Well, we have been making more Cajun type dishes, I have a jambalaya dish that is oh, so good, so I thought I would give the Cajun pasta a shot.
My first forays into trying this were to look online to see if I could find a recipe that looked good. There wasn't much out there that didn't look insanely complicated. I wanted to make a good dish, but not spend hours in the kitchen to accomplish it.
My next thoughts were about the ingredients and flavors that I wanted in the dish. A creamy tomato sauce, shrimp, smoked sausage and penne pasta. The most complicated was the creamy tomato sauce. So I went looking for a simple creamy tomato sauce that I could add a Cajun twist to. I ended up cobbling together a sauce from a few different recipes, but it ends up tasting wonderful. Add in the sausage, shrimp and pasta and hey presto, Cajun Shrimp and Pasta at home and ready on a weeknight.
Cajun Shrimp and Pasta:
8 oz. Penne Pasta (cooked according to package directions)
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 oz. Smoked sausage sliced into bite sized pieces.
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (low salt if possible)
1/2 c Half and Half
1 tsp Cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning
1/2 c diced onion
2 cloves garlic diced
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Add olive oil to saute pan and saute onions until translucent, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Then add tomatoes and saute until bubbly. Add Cajun or Old Bay to sauce and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Next add half and half and allow to simmer until reduced (you want this to thicken slightly) Add in the sausage and return to a simmer. Then add shrimp and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Then after draining pasta, add the sauce to the pasta and mix well. You are now ready to serve.
This usually makes enough for our family of four with a serving or so left over. The flavors come together pretty well, you just need to be careful of the salt level. I got over enthusiastic with the salt the first time I made it and had to add potatoes to tone down the salt. Now I'm much more careful about adding salt. Taste the sauce before adding the sausage and see what you think, but be cautious, the sausage will add it's own salt to the sauce too.You can also pump up the spiciness by adding some cayenne pepper to the sauce. With kiddos eating it I keep it pretty mild.
I was very pleased when this recipe came together. I've made a few times since and it is generally a hit. Bruiser isn't a fan of the shrimp or the sausage, but he will eat the pasta.
What have you had that has come together recently?