One day last week, the temperature on St. Simons rose to eighty-four degrees. Beach walking has been great and B. J. and I are getting into it good. We have made several long strolls along the strand both by ourselves and with friends However, one of those strolls did develop into a leisurely shell-collecting ramble. We love to collect shells. We have a collection of seashells from beaches in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
The beautiful sunshiny days are getting us in a fever for something else—cooking out. B. J. and I love to cook. When the weather is suitable, we love to cook out. There are great places on St. Simons and Jekyll to cook out. Over the years, we have done a lot of cooking out in the Golden Isles.
We love to entertain guests. We have fun with our guests and go all out to make them feel happy and well fed when they come to our house or dine with us in the park. We do special things on special days such as Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Etc. Our fare ranges from hamburgers and hot dogs to chicken either fried or barbecued and dipped lovingly in JEB’s Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked Barbecue Sauce, select fried catfish, pork chops, pork spare ribs, baby back ribs, steak and shrimp.
We love our guests and make every effort to make them happy and want to return to our house. We are always looking for new dishes and new ways to bring new excitement to our cooking out or cooking in, whichever may be the case at the time.
A few days ago, B. J. and I learned of a new dish to serve to very special guests—shrimp casserole. I have eaten crabmeat casserole and oyster casserole but honestly, I had never eaten shrimp casserole. We would rustle up a recipe and try it and if it suited our taste, we would cook up a batch and serve it to our very special guests (all who dine with us are special. We hold nothing back).
B. J. and I, in our travels, have collected cookbooks from all over the world where we have traveled. Therefore, I went in search of a special recipe for shrimp casserole. This would be experimental. We would try other recipes in time.
We like chili too so we found one to our liking: Shrimp Chili Cornbread Casserole. I read all about it and it sounded good so I set to gathering the ingredients: 2 teaspoons canola oil; 1 large onion, chopped; 4 cloves garlic minced; 3 medium zucchini, diced (about 5 cups); 11/2 tablespoons chili powder; 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin; 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon; 1 teaspoon salt; 2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added; diced tomatoes; 11/2 pounds raw shrimp (45-50 per pound peeled and deveined; I/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro.
In addition, my special secret ingredient, 1/4 cup JEB’s Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked BBQ Sauce (one ingredient is top secret).
1 cup yellow cornmeal; 1 cup all-purpose flour; 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt; 3/4 cup nonfat milk; 1/4 cup canola oil; 1 large egg; 1 tablespoon honey.
Directions: To prepare filling, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minute. Add garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Stir in zucchini, cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and cinnamon and 1 teaspoon salt; cook for 20 seconds. Pour in tomatoes and their juice; pour in JEB’s Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked BBQ sauce; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Stir in shrimp and cilantro. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Preheat oven to 350° F. To prepare cornbread topping: whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk milk, 1/4 cup oil, egg and honey in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Drop by heaping tablespoons over the shrimp mixture.
Bake the casserole, uncovered, until the top is browned and the filling is bubbling 40-45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 12 people.
This special shrimp casserole may take a little more time and work than the ordinary chicken casserole but for special friends it’s worth it.