One staple I always have in my freezer is a bag of frozen shrimp. I buy two-pound bags of raw shrimp in the shell. I like the 21-30 count shrimp: that is, each pound includes 21-30 shrimp. They're a nice size and very versatile for recipes. And my local supermarket often has them on sale; I usually pay less than $10 per bag.
Crook's Corner, a famous little restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (just a few miles from me) claims to have originated the dish called Shrimp and Grits. Theirs is delicious--the shrimp are sauteed with bacon, scallions, and mushrooms. But I have a feeling that people have been serving shrimp and grits together for hundreds of years.
Here's the way I prepare shrimp--simple enough for every day; tasty enough for special occasions. (Note: This recipe is derived from the recipe called "Beach Shrimp" that was once published in Southern Living magazine. My sister shared it with me, and I tailored it for our tastes.)
2 to 4 pounds frozen shrimp
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 16-ounce bottle Italian dressing
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small chunks
Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Peel shrimp.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place shrimp in pan.
Mix together Italian dressing, chopped garlic, pepper, and the lemon juice. Pour over shrimp and toss to coat. Dot with butter.
Bake about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
When I'm cooking for the four of us who are usually at home for dinner these days, I prepare 1 2 lb. bag of shrimp, but this recipe could easily accommodate a second 2 lb. bag. The recipe makes lots of yummy sauce.
Spoon shrimp atop your favorite grits, adding sauce as desired.
I like my grits nice and simple. If you don't already have a recipe for grits, here's how I prepare them. (If you do a search I'm sure you can find lots of good recipes for fancy grits. I've heard that Paula Deen's cheese grits casserole is good.)
Enjoy! And for more real-life dinner recipes, click on "Dinner for Real" link in my sidebar. I hope to feature a down-to-earth dinner recipe every Tuesday. If you have a recipe you'd like to have highlighted here, please email me at RichellaP (at) Gmail (dot) com. I'd love to feature you!
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 cup stone-ground grits (I use half yellow, half white. If you can't find stone-ground grits, look for stone-ground polenta. Same thing.)
Pour water and milk into saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add grits to liquid, stirring thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so, until liquid is absorbed and grits are the consistency you like. Salt and pepper to taste; add butter if you like. (Note: Eating grits without salt would be like eating popcorn without salt. Yuck. They need salt. Just so you know.)