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Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Shrimp, Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato Penne

Shrimp, Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomato Penne

Oh my goodness, you guys, it has been awhile since I’ve posted on here! I went back to work on October 12 after being off on a year-long maternity leave, and life has taken on a whole new level of busy! Here are some random things I’ve learned about being a working mom after a month of being back at work:

  • Working is a break from parenting – at work, I’m able to go to the bathroom whenever I want, enjoy my coffee uninterrupted, have a free lunch hour where I can go to the gym or go shopping, etc. I am so grateful to have had the luxury of a year-long mat leave, but I’m not going to lie, I love the independence of being back at work again.
  • That being said, there is no better feeling in the world than going home and seeing my baby’s big smile and outstretched arms, ready to embrace me!
  • I am exponentially more efficient at work after coming back from mat leave. With a baby and parental responsibilities waiting for me at home, I am not able to put in extra hours at work anymore. As a result – I am superhumanly efficient at work. Time spent away from my baby is a huge sacrifice so I make sure that every minute is utilized smartly. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve gotten done at work this month!
  • I am so tired. All the time.
  • I’ve never meal planned so hard in my life. With me working Mondays through Fridays, and my husband working shiftwork, all of our meals and grocery shopping trips are planned out at least a week in advance. Lunches are packed the night before, I know exactly what I’m having for breakfast the next morning, and our dinners are planned out for the week.

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my Insta-stories, you would have seen me experimenting with a new pasta recipe. This shrimp, asparagus and sun-dried tomato penne is definitely one of my new weekday favourites.  I’m always on the lookout for easy weekday recipes that my baby can also enjoy, and pastas are usually a huge hit with both the baby and husband. We were over at a friend’s house for dinner last weekend, and they had served a shrimp and asparagus pasta. I had never thought to combine shrimp and asparagus in a pasta before, so I was inspired to create my own recipe.

Shrimp, Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomato Penne Ingredients

This recipe was so delicious! The combination of tomato paste and heavy cream made a perfect rose sauce and the addition of freshly grated Parmesan added another hit of creamy texture. Make sure to buy a hunk of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself though. It’s worth the expense! Pre-grated, canned Parmesan contains fillers in it and it doesn’t melt and combine as well.

I loved having these leftovers for lunch the next day, so I will for sure be adding this to my regular weekday meals rotation!

Shrimp, Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomato Penne closeup

Shrimp, Asparagus and Sun-dried Tomato Penne

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped and drained
  • 1 tbsp of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 lb (one small bunch) of asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 15 pieces of uncooked Black Tiger shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined (feel free to use more shrimp!)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried crushed chili flakes
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used an Italian pinot grigio)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • one box (500 g) of penne
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and saute for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a bowl.

2

Add the sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, 1/4 cup basil, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes to the same skillet and saute until the shrimp are just pink, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the asparagus.

3

Add the chicken broth, wine, tomato paste and heavy cream to the same skillet. Boil until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes.

4

Turn the heat down low and add the shrimp/asparagus mixture into the sauce. Let it simmer on low.

5

Cook the penne according to package instructions. Drain and add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce.

6

Add remaining 1/4 cup of basil and the grated cheese.

7

Toss the pasta until the penne is well coated with the sauce.

8

Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Featured/ Vietnamese Recipes

Shrimp and Swiss Chard Fried Rice

Nothing satisfies my hunger more than a big bowl of fried rice. My mom makes the best fried rice, and in the first few weeks after having my baby, she would bring me food every second day or so and I would often request her fried rice because it’s satisfying and easy to reheat and eat. Unfortunately for you guys, I have yet to learn her recipe but I do have my own version that I make.

There are some universal basics to making a good fried rice. First of all, the cooked jasmine rice needs to be cold. Day old rice is best. I usually will make a big serving of rice the night before for a meal to ensure that I will have enough leftover rice to make fried rice the next night. Second, there is usually scrambled eggs in the rice. And then there is a protein and some vegetables. The protein and vegetables is where you can add your own twist to the recipe. The most basic, Westernized version of fried rice will have chicken as the protein and frozen peas/carrots as the vegetables (this is what you’ll get at most Chinese restaurants!).

Side note to my Regina readers: If you want a delicious, unique fried rice from a Chinese restaurant in Regina, go to Peking House and order the salted fish fried rice. It’s not on the menu, but they’ll know what you want if you say salted fish fried rice. Order a beer with it and enjoy. You’re welcome.

I’ve elevated my fried rice game a bit, and I often make this shrimp and swiss chard fried rice. As mentioned in an earlier post, always use black tiger shrimp! It’s more expensive but it’s the best quality shrimp to use in Vietnamese cuisine! There are a few reasons why I like to use swiss chard: 1) Alliteration 2) I feel like I don’t have enough greens in my diet so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate more greens into my recipes and 3) I use red swiss chard, and the stems add some colour and texture to the fried rice.

The recipe calls for seasoning sauce, and the brand that I use is Maggi. This brand must be 30+ years old because I remember my mom having this in the house when we were little. If you don’t have seasoning sauce, then just use soy sauce. It’s almost the same thing.

Maggi Seasoning Sauce, a staple in Vietnamese households

Pair this elevated fried rice with a cold light beer and enjoy!

Shrimp and Swiss Chard Fried Rice

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 12 black tiger shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined, and chopped into small pieces
  • 4 cups cooked jasmine rice (day old rice is best)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups, shredded Swiss Chard
  • 2 tbsp Maggi seasoning sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

Instructions

1

Season your cold rice with some salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

2

Heat the canola oil in a wok or frying pan over medium high heat.

3

Add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 1 or 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp to a small bowl and set aside, leaving the oil in the wok or frying pan.

4

Crack the eggs into the wok or frying pan, and scramble them using a spatula. When the eggs are scrambled, add the rice and stirfry for about 3-4 minutes.

5

Add the swiss chard and stirfry until they are wilted.

6

Add the shrimp and stirfry to mix all the ingredients together.

7

Add the seasoning sauce and fish sauce and mix well until all of the rice is coated. You may need to add a bit more seasoning sauce to taste and/or for all of the rice to be coated and have a golden colour.

8

Remove from heat and serve with a nice cold beer!