Monday, December 26, 2011

Holiday Recap...and Spicy Shrimp and Rice Bake Featuring Red Gold Tomatoes

Christmas is over for another year. Part of me is sad, because I adore the holiday season. But, another part of me is a bit glad that the hustle and bustle is nearly over...and we'll soon be back into our normal routine. I hope you had a FANTASTIC holiday spent with loved ones...eating lots of great food! We spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas day celebrating with Michael's family. There was lots of laughter and good food. As usual, everyone was very generous. I added several cookbooks to my collection, including Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics and Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. Michael surprised me with a gift card to Sur la Table to take one of their fab cooking classes in January. I was totally surprised, and can't WAIT to take the class and share the details and pictures in here!!!

Michael's aunt gave me two cookbooks featuring Cajun recipes from a well-known cook from Groves, Texas...near the Louisiana border. Her name is Maw Maw Judice, and her books contain recipes that she's been cooking since she was a young bride in the 40s! I thumbed through the cookbooks and was impressed with how simple and yummy her recipes are. After a hectic week of Christmas prep, simple and tasty was the order of the day. So? I decided to try Maw Maw's recipe for a spicy baked shrimp and rice casserole. It takes about 15 minutes to assemble, then the oven does all the work.

This simple casserole packs a spicy punch thanks to a bit of Cajun seasoning in the veggie mixture and a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Each bowl is comforting, spicy, and delicious!! You can't ask for more than that on a lazy post-holiday evening! I used Red Gold Tomatoes for this recipe. They're consistently fresh tasting and have a bright red color...eye appeal is just as important as taste, in my opinion!!

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Bake
adapted from Cajun Cookin' with Maw Maw Judice

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 400. Melt half a stick of butter in a non-stick pan on med-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, 2 sliced stalks celery, 3 sliced green onions, and 1/3 cup bell pepper. Top with 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning, and stir to combine. Cook until the veggies are tender...about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2:  Add the following ingredients to a large mixing bowl: 2 cups rice, 1 can Red Gold diced tomatoes with green chilies, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup chicken stock, 1 lb. medium shrimp (peeled and deveined), and the sauteed veggies. Stir well to combine and pour the rice mixture into a 13x9 pan.

Step 3:  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and secure it tightly on the top and sides of the pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, stir, recover, and cook for 30 more minutes. Then lower the heat to 300. Remove the foil, give the rice another good stir, and bake uncovered for 15 minutes. The rice should be cooked and very fluffy, with no liquid remaining.

Step 4:  To serve, scoop the rice into bowls. This is meant to be a meal-in-one-dish casserole, so I served it with a simple salad on the side. This dish is pretty spicy, but feel free to serve Tabasco on the side for those who like their food extra spicy!

Well...I have to say that Maw Maw Judice didn't steer me wrong. This rice is really's plenty spicy, and the cream of mushroom soup gives it a rich flavor. You can't really tell it's there, but it does provide a nice richness. The more I ate, the more I wanted to's pretty addictive! The fact that this dish is made in one pan and is so simple to whip up makes it a winner in my book.

The December festivities continue here at Casa Garcia tomorrow...Michael and I will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary! Hard to believe that it's been that long, but time flies when you're having fun. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather cook for, travel with, or just sit on the couch and watch TV with. He's my best friend and an all-around good guy. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures of us on our wedding day. be that skinny again!

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