Guest Blog: Brittany From “Everyday Thoughts”

I am so excited to be the guest blogger today on Cooking on the Bright Side! Mary and I have been great friends for just over five years. We met in a senior-level college class at the University of Memphis and found commonality in our love for beer, boys, and big ten football (a great starting point for any friendship). I learned quickly how much Mary values and loves her family and that’s something I really admire about her. We shared our love for family and food one evening when my mom was in Memphis visiting. Mary invited my mom and I over for dinner with her and her dad. We enjoyed a beautiful meal. We drank wine and laughed, we drank more wine and cried and by the end of the night I left with this incredible sense that I had found a friend for life. That time around the dinner table was so important to our friendship and its a memory that I’ll carry with me forever.

Our lives are so busy but I think it’s important to make time for the people who matter most in your life and what better way to slow down than some time at the dinner table. The very first time my husband (then boyfriend) prepared a meal for guests we made this recipe. So every time we prepare it we eat at the table. This is one of those meals that just helps us slow down. I hope you enjoy:

Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta

1 box Bowtie Pasta (14 Oz)
1 pound Peeled And Deveined Shrimp
2 Tablespoons Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning, Divided
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
12 ounces, weight Andouille Sausage, Sliced
1 Yellow Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed, Then Sliced Into Strips
1 Red Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed Then Sliced Into Strips
1 Onion, Sliced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ cups Mozzarella Cheese

Preparation Instructions:
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.

Place shrimp in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of theSlap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. Stir so that the shrimp is well coated, set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat add peppers and onions. Saute the vegetables for 2-3 minutes. 

Add an additional 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and add shrimp to the vegetable mixture.

Cook the shrimp for about 3-4 minutes or until theshrimp turns pink and is fully cooked.

Similar to the shrimp, use the remaining 1 tablespoon of Slap YaMama Cajun Seasoning to coat the andouille sausage. Add the remaining oil to the skillet if necessary and cook theandouille sausage in with the shrimp and vegetable mixture for about 3 minutes or until sausage is fully cooked.

Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Remove from heat.

If you’d like to add a little heat stir in some crushed red pepper (to taste).

In a large pot combine the pasta and the entire shrimp and sausage mixture.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sit at a dinner table with someone you love and enjoy.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you take a second and check out my blog if you have a minute www.everydaythoughtsbybrittany.blogspot.com

Brittany (of Everyday Thoughts)

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Cajun Shrimp Casserole

On a beautiful weekend, I found myself upstairs doing more garage sale labeling – which was fine since I got a little time by the pool on Saturday while hanging out with my Mommy!

I got to a box of old cookbooks and started to label them, when I realized it was a ton of cookbooks I had won at a silent auction. I put them in my parents laundry room when I was living with them – and suddenly, I was moving into an apartment, working full-time, planning a wedding and getting married. They never made the move with me…

I had never looked through them – and man, there were some jewels in these cookbooks! It was definitely fun doing some “research” as I like to call it. Sometimes, I just like combing back through to see if something sticks out that hasn’t before or inspires me to create something on my own!

I have also found Pinterest is a great resource for this when I’m feeling a little on the lazy side because I can see pictures versus reading through ingredients and instructions.

Well, I found my second Pinterest recipe (I hate to remind you about the first one, because it is definitely not in the healthy category like this one!) that I just HAD to make and I really feel like I branched out a little, because, well, I don’t like casseroles.

Actually, that’s not true. I don’t like “main dish” casseroles. I LOVE casseroles that are side dishes – particularly when they involve potatoes. But for some reason, casseroles that serve as a main dish kind of eek me out.  I have one or two I know I can handle – I’m not sure if they are too bland or if it’s just mixing everything up together…

I know, I know. I’m weird and it’s totally a “me” thing. But I’m also the person who wishes plates with dividers were appropriate for occasions other than barbecues because I don’t like my foods touching. So I think that plays a major role in my completely irrational behavior toward casseroles.

Well, I just went crazy apparently and decided to make this beauty and man, am I glad I did!

Cajun Shrimp Casserole (3 servings – recipe halved from original)

1 pound shrimp, tails removed

1/2 Tbsp. margarine

1/3 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup sliced okra (fresh or frozen)

1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

1/2 can cream of celery soup

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice

3 Tbsp. reduced-fat Parmesan cheese

(Also worth noting, you can buy a 10oz. bag of frozen chopped peppers and onions – just to shave even more time off!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt margarine in large skillet and add onions and bell peppers and saute 5-7 minutes until tender. Add garlic and saute an additional minute.

Stir in okra, lemon juice, salt and Cajun seasoning. Saute 3-5 minutes.

Add shrimp and cook 5-6 minutes until shrimp turn pink and are cooked through.

Add soup, wine, soy sauce and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Pour mixture into lightly greased baking dish. Add rice and stir until incorporated. Top with grated Parmesan.

Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbling slightly. Let set about 5 minutes before serving.

I should just call this “Gumbo Casserole” because that’s pretty much what it tasted like to me!

The husband re-heated some for leftovers and said it may have been even better the second time around, so I might make sure I have 2 pounds of shrimp the next time I make this so we can have more to go around – because I have found a casserole I LOVE!