Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Coconut Curry Shrimp - My Favorite Weeknight Dinner Made Easy!

Coconut Curry Shrimp is one of my favorite meals. It's quick, simple and oh so good. It's a Pioneer Woman recipe and surprisingly easy to make.

I love the Pioneer Woman. I love her a lot. I once stood in line until about midnight (on a work night) with my friend Sarah to get the Pioneer Woman to sign her latest cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime.

I've made so many recipes out of her Dinnertime cookbook, but my favorite and trusty standby is Coconut Curry Shrimp.  I actually found it on the Food Network site first, but now I use the variation in the cookbook.

If you've ever made a recipe from The Pioneer Woman (we'll just start calling her PW for short), you know that she doesn't believe in quick meals.  Even her 16-minute meals aren't really 16 minutes.  At least not for me. I don't chop veggies that quickly.  I like my fingers on my hands. Anyway, I've found that many of her recipes can be shortened a few places here and there.  The Coconut Curry Shrimp recipe is a 16-minute recipe and I've got it down to about 5-10 minutes, depending on the shrimp I use.

Here's how.

This is the recipe in the book.  I love that she has photos for every step.  I'm not that awesome.

I gather all my ingredients.

I heat a pan over medium-high heat and melt about a tablespoon of butter.  For this recipe, I use my 10" pan, which is great for making sauces. I always cut the amount of fat PW uses by half.  I can always add more if I need to, but I generally only need half.  I don't live on a ranch, I work at a desk and don't need more calories working against me. Once the butter is melted, I add the shrimp to the pan.

Cooking after working out. Oh so pretty, I know.
I've started getting Aaron to help with some food prep while I'm in class.  Last night, he thawed, peeled and deveined the shrimp while I was in class.  This allowed me to be able to walk in the door, throw them in the pan and go. I cook the shrimp about two minutes per side.  Then remove them from the pan.

So here's my big time saver.  I don't use actual onion or garlic in this recipe.  I did the first time I made it and I really didn't like the chunks of onion and garlic. And chopping tthem added at least eight minutes (onions make me cry so, so much). By removing the actual onion and garlic, I've removed about three steps from this recipe. Fun fact - one tablespoon of onion powder is equivalent to one chopped onion and 1/8 teaspoon of garlic is equivalent to one clove of garlic. Don't ever forget that! Lazy cooks know this.

Normally, you sweat the onions and garlic in the pan with the curry powder, then add the coconut milk.  Since I use all spices, I measure my spices into a prep bowl and then add them directly to the coconut milk after I pour it in the pan.  The pan is generally still pretty warm at this point, so I make sure that the spices are measured before I put them in the milk so as to not burn the milk.

Now, I've made this recipe enough times that I don't measure how much honey, sriracha or lime juice I use anymore.  Once I add the spices to the coconut milk, I stir them together and then let simmer for a few minutes so the flavors blend.  Then I squeeze in some lime juice, honey and sriracha and taste test the sauce.  I adjust the seasoning as I go.  Sometimes, you want a sweeter sauce, sometimes more of a bite.  Before she put this recipe in the cookbook, it was on the Food Network website and didn't specifically call for sriracha.  I personally think it's an awesome addition. I don't add too much, just enough that it smacks you back a little after a few bites (about a teaspoon or so).

Once you get the sauce where you like it, add the shrimp back in.

I used shrimp that we got in a meat share from Papa Spud's.  They were HUGE so I cut them in half.
I like to coat the shrimp, turn the heat down to medium low, put the lid on top and leave it for a few minutes. This thickens the sauce, but isn't so hot that it overcooks the shrimp.

So, my other cheat.  Uncle Ben's 90 second rice.  I like basmati rice and I always buy two - one for dinner and one for leftovers for the next day.  One package feeds Aaron and I and it's a good way to portion control your rice.

After about ten or so minutes of cooking, you have dinner.

She also calls for cilantro, which Aaron isn't a fan of, so I didn't add.
This is one of the few Pioneer Woman recipes that is fairly easy to make Paleo.  You can substitute the rice with cauliflower rice.  Now, true Paleo would get rid of the Sriracha and substitute a Paleo version. I honestly don't think there's enough in there to matter. Sriracha does have sugar in it, but you've got honey in the recipe already, so you could probably get by with just adding red pepper flakes for the heat.  I also hate cauliflower rice (I'll keep trying, but so far, no luck). I researched why rice was so terrible for Paleo and actually found a few sites that said white rice is better than brown (who would've thought that?!) and that it was okay to eat if after a big workout. Its not recommended, but whatever. I don't eat enough of it to kill me. So I decided to keep eating my white rice, but only eat my after big gym days.

This has been a big favorite recipe of ours for a while. I've played with it a lot because it's so versatile - I've made it with chicken, with stir fry noodles instead of rice, etc.  I also love that I can make it Paleo if I want or I can cheat a little. What's your favorite go-to recipe that you've made so many times that you've now made it yours?

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