Beach Bites

My vacation starts the minute I back out of the driveway. I try to avoid grocery shopping as much as possible while away. When traveling by car, I pack my pantry essentials such as spices, coffee, milk, olive oil, trash bags, etc. The last thing I want to do when I get to the beach is to get back in the car and wander aimlessly through a foreign grocery store gathering my provisions while everyone else is sitting on the beach.

Jons Cajun Shrimp and Pepper Linguine

One of my go-to vacation recipes is Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Bites, the perfect snack or breakfast bite to make ahead and put out by the coffee pot. Another favorite is BLT Pasta Salad in a Jar, one of the easiest lunches ever. Since you just grab and go, it’s much less work than pulling out all the sandwich fixings—repeatedly! Cocktail-Size Crab Imperials are an impressive appetizer when baked in the shells on a bed of rock salt. You will not want to miss these. And no beach trip is complete without at least one frozen beverage. Pull out the blender in the afternoon and whip up a batch of Pineapple Rum Slushies. This three-ingredient tasty drink will not disappoint, especially with the added rum floater. I highly recommend it!

And you are in for an extra-special treat this issue. My husband, Jon, is sharing one of his Sunday night creations—a family favorite often requested by the girls and me. Jon’s Cajun Shrimp and Pepper Linguine is sure to be a big hit with your whole family on a stay-at-home night of the trip. It combines simple ingredients with fresh shrimp from the Gulf—can’t beat that. Many thanks, Jon, for being my guest chef this month. I owe you one!

With planning and a little prep before your next getaway, you’re sure to spend less time grocery shopping and more time relaxing with your toes in the sand—and drink and food in hand.

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Jon’s Cajun Shrimp and Pepper Linguine

Serves 8

1½ pounds medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning*
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (this is not a typo)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, finely diced
2 cups white wine
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 bunch chopped green onions, reserving the tops for garnish
12 ounces linguine
¼ cup half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm crusty bread

Place shrimp in a large ziplock bag; add Creole seasoning, seal, and toss to coat the shrimp evenly. Set aside.
Fill a large pot with 6 quarts water, and bring to a boil while preparing the sauce.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, allowing it to bloom (Jon’s words). Add butter; when melted, add sweet onion, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add white wine, and bring to a boil. Add shrimp, and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until pink. Remove shrimp from the pan with tongs or a slotted serving spoon, and place in a bowl. Set aside.
Add peppers and green onions (reserving tops for garnish) to the skillet, and return mixture to a boil; cook until peppers are tender, about 5 minutes.
Drop linguine into the boiling water, and cook according to directions. When pasta is almost ready, add the half-and-half and half of the shrimp to the skillet. Using tongs, add the cooked pasta directly to the skillet, then add the shrimp. Toss to combine. Cook for another minute or until heated throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with green onion tops, and serve immediately with warm, crusty bread.
*Note: Jon uses Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning.

Jon Likes:
Chablis for cooking and drinking


Cocktail-Size Crab Imperial

Makes 10 Servings

10 (5-inch) natural seashells for baking
1 (4-pound) box ice-cream salt (rock salt)
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon grated yellow onion
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
1 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Panko
¼ teaspoon paprika
Freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges for garnish
Assorted crackers and celery for serving

Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly grease the baking shells, and place on a baking sheet covered in rock salt.
In a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over low heat; add flour, whisking until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Gradually add milk and onion, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove sauce from the heat; stir in Worcestershire sauce, and next 6 ingredients.
In a separate saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add crabmeat, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the sauce.
Spoon mixture into baking shells, about ½ cup each. Sprinkle with cheese, Panko, and paprika.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Broil for a minute or so for desired brownness if necessary. (Watch carefully!)
Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately with assorted crackers and celery sticks.

Learn from Leslie:
The baking shells are readily available on Amazon for about $15 for a box of 10.


BLT Pasta Salad in a Jar

Makes 6

6 quart-size jars with lids
Olive oil
Creamy BLT Dressing (recipe below)
8 ounces seashell-shaped pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red onion, finely chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped

Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil in the bottom of all 6 jars. Top with 2 tablespoons of Creamy BLT Dressing. Layer the pasta next, dividing evenly among jars. Top with tomatoes, then red onion, bacon, and lettuce, in that order, lightly packing if needed.
Seal with lids, and refrigerate until ready to serve. When serving, pour into a shallow bowl or plate, tossing to completely coat all the salad ingredients.

Creamy BLT Dressing:
½ cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
Dash of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. This can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Learn from Leslie:
There is a method to the layering order. Be sure to follow directions closely. Adding the lettuce last will keep it crisp until ready to eat.


Protein-Packed Peanut Butter Bites

Makes 24 (1-inch) Balls

2 cups old-fashioned oats
1-1/3 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup ground flax seed
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3 tablespoons honey
Mini muffin liners

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Chill for 15 to 20 minutes, then form into 1-inch balls. Place in mini muffin liners, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These will keep for about a week.

Leslie Likes:
These make a great morning breakfast or snack any time to hold you over until the next meal.

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Leslie Byars Register

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