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Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Okay, so I have a particular friend (who will remain nameless) who has recently moved out on their own and quite frankly - doesn't know how to cook.  There's some simple things I've made that I promised I'd show how to make but considering the states that have sprung up between us - I figured it was far more convenient to just put it in a blog and share with other people how I make a tasty Cajun Shrimp Pasta!  To the right you'll see a big picture of a lot of the ingredients I use. I will show individual pictures of them or link to them so it's easier.  Also, a list of the stuff needed is at the bottom.

I like to use small, salad shrimp - personally.  There's just something about huge shrimp that's always freaked me out and I just can't eat them unless they're fried and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they aren't going to crawl off the plate and attack me.  Yes, it's irrational but whatever - that's me!  These shrimp are about quarter to half-dollar sized; I usually have to get these at Wal-Mart in the fish section of the deli.  They will need to be thawed out before cooking with them so you might want to think about tossing them into the refridgerator the morning you want to cook this.  Otherwise you'll end up soaking them in warm water or something like I usually do to get them thawed out.  In my experience it's best to thaw them first and let them sit in a strainer to sort of dry out before adding them to the sauce.  This way you don't thin the sauce with water.  :)

When you're ready to start cooking I would suggest starting on the sauce first.  The reason being it takes just a tad bit longer and you want some time to let the sauce sit and thicken before eating.  I like to use these powder mixes from McCormick instead of a jar just because the taste is different, less heavy and I just feel like I'm almost making something from scratch here! (Okay, not really but let me dream, okay?)  Directions are on the back of the packets but you basically add a cup of milk per packet to a pan - I would suggest a slightly larger pan than you think you'd need because milk boiling over is never a fun thing to clean up! 

Don't crank the heat up to high either.  Select a temperature that's a medium-high range; cooking food isn't about how fast you can get it all heated up - it's about creating something you want to eat.  The directions call for about 3 teaspoons of butter per packet - when cooking with two packets I, personally, do not add that much butter.  It's not healthy, blahblahblah, you get the picture.  I think I add 3 teaspoons regardless of how many packets I use - but that's me!  I like to add my spices at this stage, when the sauce is still all powdery and chunky and you look at it and think - I'm supposed to eat this?  Yup!  I like to add a lot of this Zatarain's Creole Seasoning, though there are a lot of other Cajun spicy combos out there, this is the one I bought when I first moved out on my own and it's huge and I'm still working on getting through it!

I also like to add a smattering of other spices; Watkin's Onion Powder and Garlic Powder are sort of staple items in my pantry, as well as a generic Itallian Seasoning.  These are optional and totally not necessary to the meal, but they're good things to have on hand to spice anything up.  I don't really like Onions but I do like the flavor a good bit of the seasoning adds and Garlic is Garlic and can make a lot of things have a bit more pep.  I add just a bit of each, some salt and ground pepper and once I'm satisfied everything's sort of mixed together well enough, I put the water on to boil for the pasta.

I like to use the bowtie pasta for this dish, but any is acceptable - they all taste about the same!  I'm going to trust that cooking the pasta isn't rocket science; combine water and pasta, wait for boil, add dash of salt, and let boil until pasta is moist and edible - and then boil a few minutes longer!  I say that because I usually cook when I'm hungry so I want it done now, not in a few minutes NOW!  So I don't usually trust my judgment of if pasta's done or not.

Now, keep an eye on the sauce!  I think half the time I accidentally let mine boil over and it's a pain in the arse to clean up later.  When the sauce reaches an almost bubbly, fluffy looking stage, I like to spoon in the shrimp which will do two things - reduce the temperature of the sauce and cook the shrimp slowly.  This is when you really want to start stirring the sauce occasionally so the bottom of the sauce doesn't burn and stick to your pot.  Burnt sauce is a pain to clean up as well!

With all your things on the stove, it's a waiting game now.  If you want to bake a roll or a croissant now's the time to pop it in!  You have just enough time to do something else, but stay close.  How much time am I talking about? I'm not quite sure; I've developed this cooking timer and I just sort of 'know' when some stuff's cooked long enough but whenever you question if it's done or not - taste test!  Pull out a piece of pasta and nibble on it, fish around for a piece of sauce covered shrimp and try it; if the pasta's moist and good, and the shrimp is warm - you're probably done! 

If you started the sauce before the pasta then the sauce should finish well before the pasta.  When the sauce is done, pull it off the burner and set on another one out of the way.  The sauce will thicken as it cools a bit.  This generally gives me time to watch the pasta boil just a minute longer before I strain it a few times.  An old trick a friend's mom taught me was when the pasta's been strained and is in the strainer, run water over it again!  It washes away something and supposedly makes it healthier - but it's pasta so um, good luck with that!

I like to have a roll or bread with this and cheesecake goes uber well with it too.  So I forgot to take a picture of the finished product but it's good.  Hope this helps!

  • Bag of Mini-Shrimp
  • 2 Packets of McCormick Alfredo Sauce Mix
  • Some form of Creole/Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 3-6 Teaspoons Butter
  • 1 Box Bowtie Pasta
  • Onion Powder (optional)
  • Garlic Powder (optional)
  • Itallian Seasoning (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Medium Sauce Pan
  • Pasta/Large Pot
  • Strainer
  • Mixing/Serving Spoons

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Grew up traveling to rodeos with my parents. I've gone across the world thanks to my gypsie feet. I feel sometimes like I've done everything & nothing. I've played roller derby, traveled parts of the world, have four degrees. I've done some things most people will never do in their lives & still I want to do more. I want to work with orphans & teenagers again. I'm a Christian. I have a lot of tattoos. I like art therefore I want to be art. I love people. I started writing years ago when I was a kid. I think at the time it was an outlet for me; I found escape in my word & the worlds I created. Eventually I just started to like creating stuff & that's when I started sharing it with other people. Now I think I write every day. I want to do NaNoWrMo this year. I'm also learning how to knit. I think I'm on my way to being an eccentric old woman who runs around the world doing silly cazy things and knitting while she does them. Be on your guard I have knitting needles!

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