This week has been a crazy haze of meetings, doctor appointments, and trip preparations. Paul is being sent for Austria to work on an engineering project and I plan to visit my parents in the meantime. I still have a hard time sleeping at night when Paul is not around. I have always been a restless sleeper - especially when I am first trying to fall asleep. I am constantly hearing creaks and groans that, at least to my psychotic self, sound very much like an intruder trying to break into our home and murder us in our sleep. At least a couple times each week, poor Paul has to drag himself out of bed and take a lap of the place just to prove to me that everything is safe and secure. When he is out of town, there will be nobody here to make those midnight security checks for me...so naturally I plan to flee to my parents' house, where my Dad and Mom can protect me. Pathetic, I know, but I am unashamed to admit that I will never stop needing my parents.
I am really excited for Paul's trip. I wish I were going with him, but the long plane ride does not appeal to me at all. He is pretty pumped about it too. He has spoken of nothing else over the past two weeks. He has been researching the area, asking everyone he knows for travel tips, and even downloaded the German version of Rosetta Stone to try to see how much of the language he can absorb in the four days before he heads over there. He is actually sitting next to me, repeating German words after the computer prompt. Only when he pronounces the words, it sounds closer to Klingon than German. Earlier in the week, he asked if I find all his fussing about Austria irritating.
I do now.
He better bring me back a souvenir.
And hopefully not a t-shirt that is two sizes too big like last time. I was depressed for days knowing he must have held up that shirt (which was large enough to engulf a baby elephant) and thought it would fit me perfectly.
Anyway, whenever we are going to be out of the house for a week or more, I usually try to devour anything perishable that we might have in the refrigerator. I challenge myself to only use ingredients that we have and resist the urge to run to Wegmans (where I love to shop!). For dinner tonight, I cheated a bit. I had every ingredient except the fresh dill.
This recipe is very quick, very easy, and very delicious. It is composed of fresh Greek flavors, delicious shrimp, and gooey cheese. We love it over warm polenta but you could serve it over rice, potatoes, orzo, or pasta. There is a lot of liquid to this dish, so fresh bread is definitely a must to soak up all the juices. If you would like the finished dish to be a little thicker, add more tomato paste.
Baked Shrimp and Feta
adapted from Ellie Krieger
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh dill
1 1/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved (totally optional - but I love olives so much)
2/3 cup crumbled feta (about 3 ounces)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat oil in an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent (about 3 minutes) and then add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 additional minute. Add the tomatoes, oregano, and paste and let simmer until juices begin to thicken. Remove from heat and stir in remaining seasonings and olives. Stir in the shrimp. Sprinkle with feta.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese is melted. Serve with crusty bread or Lemon-Parmesan Polenta.
Lemon Parmesan Polenta
recipe by Monica/Paul
1 cup instant polenta
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of pepper
Combine milk and chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove saucepan from heat and add the polenta in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. It is important that the polenta be added gradually in order to avoid lumps. Return to medium heat, cover, and let cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt, lemon juice, and zest. Season to taste with pepper.
On a separate note, today was Matthew Patrick's feast day. We celebrated by going to mass, visiting with our pastor Father Ted, playing at the park, and enjoying a delicious cookie from the bakery. I don't think he had any idea that today was particularly special, but that's only because EVERY day with Matthew is extra-special!