I recently participated in a Food Pantry Challenge with my friend, The Carolina Clipper. She encouraged everyone to dig into their freezers and pantries and use the food and ingredients they already have on hand. It served a two fold process...to save money on two week's worth of groceries and use up the surplus lurking on your shelves.
I know I am guilty of buying lots of this and that, getting it for free or next to free based on my sort-of-expert couponing skills...and then I forget about it and it clogs up my pantry and I continue to buy buy buy. Now - don't lump me in with the crazies who buy 87 jars of Vienna Sausages and a lifetime supply of Toothpaste - I'm not a freak! But I do have a comfortable amount of canned goods and rice, pasta, meat and condiments at my disposal so we won't starve if I can't get to the store one week.
Through this Pantry Challenge, necessity became the mother of invention (one of my favorite quotes from Little Women) and we became a bit more creative in fixing dishes towards the end of the two weeks. Recipes were shared and out of it I have two winners I'd like to share with all of you: Southern Style BBQ Shrimp and Jingle Bell Balls.
Shrimp freezes extremely well and I had a two pound bag just waiting to be made into Scampi...until my friend and fellow Pantry Challenge taker-on-er Aundrea (one of the best baby bib makers in the nation) shared this marvelous recipe. It's a recipe that's from a friend of a friend of a friend's friends friend. Those are the best, most likely found in a worn out church cookbook and a tried and true favorite of many.
I halved this recipe and gave it a whirl last night (didn't fix this one during the pantry challenge as I was shy a lemon). It was a refreshing deviation from my standby Shrimp Scampi recipe and hold me back on the sauce! I secretly wanted to put it in a glass and chug it when no one was looking, it's delish!
Southern Style BBQ Shrimp
1 c. butter
3/4 c. Worcestershire Sauce
1 T. salt
1 T. black pepper
1 t. dried rosemary
2-5 t. hot sauce (like Frank's or Tabasco)
1/8 t. Cayenne pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced (hello garlic press!)
2.5 pounds unpeeled large shrimp
2 lemons, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (I chopped this up into bits - your preference)
French baguette or any roll you can put your hands on to sop up the saucy wonderment while you are eating this.
Combine the first 9 ingredients, whisk them well and set aside. Rinse your shrimp and drain them. Now, technically the recipe calls for leaving the shells ON. I did this and it got down right messy for us to unpeel these after they were cooked and swimming in sauce. My humble opinion is to go ahead and save your guests or family the effort on the back end and shell these babies first. Once shelled, place them in a nice layer in a 9x13 pyrex dish. Pour the marinade over the shrimp, along with the onion and layer the lemon slices on top. I poked them down into the shrimpy business to ensure the juices cook into the dish when I popped it into the oven. (Remember, I halved this recipe, so I used a smaller dish and a pound of shrimp).
The great thing about shrimp is that it doesn't take long to cook them. Bake this uncovered at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until your shrimp are a lovely pink - that's how you know they're done.
I served this in a bowl, with a ramekin of the sauce to dip away, and a large mountain of fresh baked rolls to have some serious sauce sopping action. Paired with some green beans or rice, it's a meal to cheer about.
Things that make you go MMMMmmmmm!
Now for my fun little dessert that you most likely already have the ingredients together for: Jingle Bell Balls. I found this fun little treat's recipe hiding on the lid of my Peter Pan Peanut Butter Jar. Clearly I've had the jar since Christmas and they felt it would be a good holiday treat and clearly I'm just now noticing it and feel it's fine to fix year round. Think rice krispy treats with peanut butter in them, bits of chocolate sprinkled in there to make your day extra zingy and formed into round balls instead of mushed into a pan and sliced.
Oh the joy of a fun treat that has your 4 year old saying "Mom!!! Don't eat ALL of them - save one for me!" (Guilty as charged, I was throwing down on them and had to ration them accordingly.) Something about peanut butter and chocolate make me lose my presence of mind.
Jingle Bell Balls
3.5 c. Rice Krispies
3/4 c. mini M&Ms (regular worked fine, chocolate chips would rock too!)
3.5 c. marshmallows (I've often thought this word should be spelled marshMELLOW since that's how we all pronounce it)
3 T. butter
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/8 t. salt
Combine the cereal and M&Ms in a bowl and set aside. Place marshmallows, salt, butter and peanut butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until all ingredients are smooth, stirring throughout the process. Pour this sauciness over the cereal/M&M combo and toss lightly until it's a gooey mess.
Shape the gooey mess into 1-1.5" balls and place on wax paper until set. Store in a covered container so they don't become as hard as rocks the next day. These will disappear before your very eyes and are a hit with the kids (and me!).
Have a delicious day, wonderful weekend and don't forget to go to church on Sunday!