This week I decided to invite my sister and her husband over for a home-cooked meal. Seeing as they graciously hosted me for a good week and a half as I searched D.C.’s craigslist apartment listings, I decided that it was time to offer them a meal cooked in the new spot they helped me find. Little did I know that early that morning my boss would come to me with a project, requesting I stay an hour and half later than anticipated. Immediately my luxuriously slow evening of cooking and sipping wine went out the window, as did plans to hit the gym, and I began to brainstorm a quick meal that would also make me feel less guilty about missing my evening work-out.
My goals when planning a meal are simple: delicious, well-rounded (grain, protein, veggie, etc.), and using as many ingredients in my fridge/freezer as possible. Already on hand: frozen shrimp, whole wheat couscous, asparagus, one sweet potato, half an onion, and half a bag of parsnips– plenty to form the base of my meal. As the day continued the full menu began to form in my mind with the help, of course, of a recipe I found online at The Atlantic for the main meal. I am pretty much always searching for new recipes. I keep them in a folder on my computer and also stash the ones from print in a folder in my desk at home. I almost never follow a recipe 100% (except for baking), but they often serve as good inspiration and provide a base for an idea.
When I finally was able to leave work I only had two hours until my sister and brother in law would be at my apartment. I went straight to the grocery store outside the metro to pick up the odds and ended necessary to complete the meal. Then, when I arrived home I immediately chopped up an onion, sweet potato and parsnips, threw them on a baking sheet and into the oven. I love roasting sweet potatoes, but they take forever! It’s always my step one to get them into the oven, cooking away. After the sweet potato mix was in, I organized my room (had to make it look respectable for guests) and began the rest of the cooking process.
In the end, I was able to finish everything on time. And, to top it off, everything tasted great! As it was my first time cooking for guests in my new apartment, the pressure was on, and according to my sister, I pulled it off. They raved specifically about the sweet potato/parsnip mixture, which I must admit myself was pretty darn delicious. I didn’t bother telling them how easy or healthy it was (no olive oil!). And there was just enough left overs to serve as my dinner the next night (always a perk when cooking a big meal).
Shrimp with lemon, capers, and tomatoes
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• Half a lemon (insides scooped out)
• 1 tablespoon lemon rind
• 1 tablespoon vinegar
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 1 pound large shrimp (21-25 count) peeled & deveined
• 2 cups canned diced tomatoes with juice
• 1 teaspoon capers
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Place large cast-iron skillet over high heat and add olive oil and lemon. Stir with a fork to break the lemon into smaller pieces.
Add garlic, and before it browns, add the shrimp and stir-fry until it’s cooked evenly (about three minutes).
Add diced tomato and stir, then add capers and fresh basil.
Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes. The shrimp should be cooked and the tomato juice should have reduced a bit.
Roasted sweet potatoes, parsnips and onions
- 1 sweet potato
- 5 small parsnips
- 1/2 yellow onion
- garlic salt to taste
- rosemary to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
Peel sweet potato and parsnips. Chop sweet potato, parsnips and onion into bite size pieces. Spray a cookie sheet with pam and sprinkle with garlic salt, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place the veggies on top and repeat pam and spices. Place in the oven at 400 degrees. Let cook for approximately 1 hour. Eat and enjoy!