Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Creamy Pesto Shrimp and Spinach Whole Wheat Pasta

Tonight was Shrimp Pasta on the menu. I had some frozen shrimp to use. I wanted to use the shrimp and then looked up a few recipes online to see how other people would make shrimp pasta. I saw a lot of Alfredo and Linguini and a few pesto, even some with tomato stuff. So I had a lot of options to choose from if I was going to copy a recipe already online. However, I saw a recipe for creamy pesto, and I had a "lightbulb" moment. Don't you just love those... :) I sure do. So I read how they made it and then I realized I was missing a few items to make this and I had to go to Walmart to get a few uniform shirts for my son. So I picked up half and half and some parmesan cheese. That's all I needed for a delicious meal.

Long story short. I made up my own recipe. I have to say this is by far my favorite shrimp pasta I've made. What do you think?

2-3 cups half and half
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 stick butter
4 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
3 cups fresh spinach
1/5 orange bell pepper, minced
2 fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
1 pkg Knoll pesto mix
60-70 medium shrimp (deveined, peeled, tails off, raw)
1-1lb package dried pasta of choice

In a large pot bring water to boil, add salt and pasta, stirring, then cook til al dente. Drain leaving about1 cup of pasta water in the pot and place back on the burner. While pasta is cooking mix the following:

In a small sauce pan over medium heat add the butter and garlic. When the butter is completely melted and bubbly, add the flour (making a rue). Then gradually add in the half and half. stirring constantly. once thickened add the parmesan cheese and the pesto mix. Stir well. This should be fairly thick, if too thick, add more half and half or 2%milk to thin out a little. (don't thin too much). Once this is thickened and mixed together. Turn off heat.

Cut up the bell pepper, garlic and basil in a small chopper. Then add to the finished pasta along with the cut, fresh spinach. Then stir. Once evenly distributed add the shrimp. Cook until shrimp turns pink. Once the shrimp is pink, add the creamy pesto sauce to the pasta/shrimp/spinach mixture. Stirring over medium heat until slightly thickened. Then turn off heat and let set for 5 min. The sauce with continue to thicken. Then serve.

Believe it or not, this meal only took me 30 minutes to prepare and make. This is so good and full of vitamins. You can substitute milk for the half and half. But the sauce was delicious. I got all of my kids to eat their whole plates, My oldest had two plates full. That's huge! I was full with one plate since it's such a filling dish. This will have enough for almost 7 people with a hearty appetite. I hope you really enjoy this dish, as much as we did :)

Once the pasta is finished and the sauce is finished.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins with a toasted almond crumb topping

This evening we had FHE (Family Home Evening). We usually have a song, prayer, little lesson, another song, another prayer and a treat. So tonight I was doing my usual last minute "oh no... we need a treat" thing and going through my pantry. I know I'm the only one stressing over treats for the snack. But I know that is how I can get my kids to semi obey and behave for the lesson is if I bribe them with yumminess. Some times its just a cookie, or we go out to ice cream some place cheap. Or even have ice cream at home. Tonight however, I remembered I had bought on sale at Walmart some Pumpkin quick bread mixes. I didn't think they would quite go for pumpkin bread, so I was trying to think of something to do with the mix. When low and behold.... I found a recipe on the side of the box. I quickly read through the ingredients and decided I had everything I needed to make the side recipe, well all except the pecans (my husband is allergic to them). So I found some almond slivers and decided that if I ground them up smaller and toasted them... they would be DELICIOUS! I was so RIGHT!. They are so good. A nice nutty, toasty flavor is just what the doctor ordered. That way they are something (if my husband wanted some) would be able to eat.

Ingredients for cream cheese filling:
1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened (i microwaved mine for 30 seconds to soften)
1 egg
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon peel, grated

Ingredients for Muffins:
1 - 14 oz pkg Pillsbury Pumpkin Quick Bread mix
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg

Ingredients for Crumb topping:
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds (it originally calls for pecans -non toasted)
3 Tbsp melted butter
3/4 cup pumpkin quick bread mix

Heat oven to 350F. Spray 12 muffin cups with no-stick spray.

Beat cream cheese with electric mixer in a medium bowl until soft. Add egg, sugar and lemon peel. Beat until smooth.

Empty pumpkin bread mix into a large bowl. Remove 3/4 cup mix and set aside for the topping mixture. Add milk, oil, and egg to remaining mix in large bowl. Stir 50 strokes or until blended no lumps.

Fill each muffin cup with about 1/4 cup batter. (a medium scoop works perfectly). Make indentation in batter with small measuring spoon sprayed with no-stick spray, Or just spoon on top. Put one heaping Tbsp cream cheese mixture in the center of each muffin.

Add melted butter to reserved dry mix. Stir with fork until crumbly. Add nuts (pecans or toasted almond). Crumble about 1 Tbsp over each muffin.

Bake for 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove muffins from pan. Place on baking rack to finish cooling.

The verdict... I ate 2... Braeden ate 2 and wanted more. So delish and tasty. If you like cheese cake and pumpkin quick bread. They are heavenly together.