Fettuccine Alfredo, Shrimp Scampi, and guinea pigs

Guinea pig food -- Shrimp scampi and fettuccine Alfredo
Guinea pig food — Shrimp scampi and fettuccine Alfredo

So yesterday was Nation Fettuccine Alfredo Day. No, seriously. It was. (I want to know who makes this stuff up, because I want that job.)

I love Alfredo sauce, but had never attempted to make it myself. It seemed like a a good idea — I could eat a good dinner AND get material for a blog post. Double win.

I was planning to hang out with friends at their house last night, so I offered to cook dinner for us. (Heh — fresh guinea pigs!) She thought it was perfectly fine to be kicked out of her own kitchen and let someone else cook dinner, so we were set.

Fettuccine Alfredo all by itself seemed kind of boring and bland, so I thought scrimp scampi would make a good pairing. (Did I mention I had never made shrimp scampi before either? Positively daring, that’s me!) I got to work finding recipes online and making a trip to the grocery store.

Let me first say that although there are not a lot of ingredients in either of these dishes, this is NOTa cheap meal if you want to make it right.  Fresh, uncooked shrimp — not particularly cheap. I used a pound and fed three people. We could have stretched it to feed four pretty easily, but not really more than that.  Fresh grated parmesan cheese. Heavy cream. Lots of butter. Yes, you can use cheaper ingredients to cut the cost a bit, but you will sacrifice in flavor.

I found a simple fettuccine Alfredo recipe on Pasta Recipes by Italians. (Believe it or not, I did not just pick the first recipe I saw. I actually did a little research! Go, me!) Then I found a copycat recipe for Red Lobster Shrimp Scampi. All set.

Since I never made either one of these dishes before, I followed the recipes like they were written. When I try this again, I will probably tweak them a little.

The first time you make a meal, it can be difficult to figure out how to time everything right. You know, so that all the dishes are ready at the same time? I absolutely hate it when one or two dishes are cold because something else wasn’t quite ready.  That was almost a problem with this meal. I am going to save you the trouble of figuring it out on your own. Because I’m good like that. You’re welcome.

Start by putting a big pot of salted water on to boil for the fettuccine. It will take forever to boil. Go smoke. Dance around your living room to your favorite two or three songs and check back. Wait until the tiny bubbles in the bottom of the pot are bigger bubbles, but not yet bubbling all the way to the top. (You’ll know what that means when you see it. Promise.) When that happens, start the shrimp scampi in an iron skillet. It doesn’t take very long.

Keep an eye on the pot of water while you are putting the shrimp scampi. When the water in the pot starts actually boiling, add the fettuccine noodles and turn the heat down to medium high. Stir them occasionally while they cook , to keep them from sticking together.

Be careful not to overcook the shrimp when you add it back to the scampi sauce. Let them cook for no more than 3-4 minutes, then turn off the heat. Leave the skillet on the burner. Right before serving, you will turn the heat back on to medium for just a minute or so to rewarm it.

When you turn the heat off under the scampi, start the Alfredo sauce. You really have to watch it carefully and stir/whisk almost constantly, to keep it from sticking to the pan, so don’t try to start it until the scampi is done.  The noodles will be done before the Alfredo sauce, almost guaranteed. If they are, just turn the heat off under them and let them sit in the hot water until you are ready to combine them with the Alfredo sauce.

When the Alfredo sauce is beginning to thicken, pour the noodles into a colander to drain them, then put them in a large bowl. (If you need to toast bread, this is the time to put it in the oven. You should have preheated the oven and buttered the bread way back at the beginning. Sorry. Forgot about that!) I added the sauce over the noodles, then added the grated parmesan and tossed it together until the cheese melted. (Next time, I may try adding the parmesan directly to the sauce before pouring it over the noodles. Meh. It worked last night.)

Woo-hoo! You’re done. Except for plating. And eating. Oh, and don’t forget to take the bread out of the oven.

By the way, the guinea pigs are satisfied, happy, and willing to be guinea pigs again.

P.S. If you want other sides, like steamed veggies or something, be sure to check the instructions on the package before starting any of this. I did not do this and realized at the very end that my frozen veggies were supposed to take 10-12 minutes to cook, even in the microwave. We opted to skip the veggies so nothing would get cold.

P.P.S.  The shrimp scampi recipe feeds 3-4 as a main dish. The fettuccine, however, made enough for at least 5-6. Maybe 6-8, if you have a couple of sides. The leftover fettuccine can be refrigerated and reheated, but it isn’t quite as creamy when it is reheated. Still tastes good (I had it for lunch today), but the  texture is different.

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