Thursday, October 27, 2011

Here's the Thing...

Here's the thing...(you know, there is always a thing)...from some of my recent blog posts, you may have deducted that lately, I have been a home canning machine. My basement pantry shelves are lined with jars and jars of concoctions lovingly created from my garden produce, the rewards of the farm garden, and the gardens of several friends. I am not going to kid you. It is A LOT of work. We are approaching the time when I never want to see another Mason jar or jar ring or big speckled pot of boiling water.

I have chopped and mixed and stirred and sterilized and simmered and boiled and sealed countless jars and still am not quite done. We will eat well this winter, and several lucky people will receive some awesome homemade Christmas gifts. I have worked hard, but here's the thing...when I am in the middle of canning, I don't always cook well for the moment.

Hubs comes home and sees me laboring over a pot of simmering tomato sauce and boiling kettle of water, and guesses that I don't have anything ready for dinner. This guess is often right, and his offer to go pick up take-out is usually welcomed. I just can't seem to multitask well enough to plan for dinner and canning. I get a big #fail.

What isn't a big #fail is when I take one of the products of those canning sessions and use it to create a simple meal that fits around the boiling pots on my stove-top. Basic Salsa is a classic recipe with incredible flavor. I think it is the perfect blend of tomato and spicy peppers with just a hint of smokey depth from the cumin. We love it, and I make sure to can up enough so that we never have to scoop our chips into commercial salsa. But, here's the thing...that same Basic Salsa can be simmered with a few tablespoons of butter to make a sauce for shrimp that is a busy home canner's dream for dinner. 

While I often serve Spicy Salsa Shrimp as an appetizer with crusty bread, it makes a perfectly simple dinner when a tossed salad is added to the menu (if you have time and energy, make pasta or rice to toss with the shrimp, as well). We eat it right from the cast iron braising pot, topping slices of warm bread with the shrimp and double dipping (sorry, I know that is gross, but it is just Hubs and I, we have pretty much already shared all our germs) to soak the crusts with more savory, seasoned sauce. The thing is that if I do just a little planning ahead, dinner doesn't need to be a #fail when I am busy with canning. Spicy Salsa Shrimp is a #win On My Plate.

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup salsa (Basic Salsa is awesome for this.)
the juice of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional, but it really does make it better)
1 crusty loaf of bread (baguette, etc), sliced

In a large skillet (I use my braising pot.) melt butter over medium heat.
Add salsa, lemon juice, and shrimp.
Increase heat to medium-high and until shrimp are thoroughly cooked, approximately 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in fresh cilantro.
Serve with sliced bread. (4 main dish servings; 8 appetizer servings)

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