I love the movie Soul Food and have watched it at least a cajillion times. Sure, it had some predictable spin of dramas but I always envied the Sunday family dinner at Big Mama’s house with all the delish soul food and of course–the family time.
Since moving back down to Southern California, I have really appreciated the frequency and quality time I get to spend with my family—and in particular, my nieces and nephew. Because of the distance, I only used to see them on sporadic weekend trips for holidays or special occasions. And it was because of this that I was always worried that I was missing out on seeing them grow up.
Now that I’m only about an hour’s drive away, I try to see them as often as possible—for “non-holiday” visits. And truth be told, I’m trying to squeeze in as much time as possible since my older nieces (now 13 and 11) will soon get to the age where it won’t be cool for them to hang out with their auntie. Eeek! Add that with the fact that we’re all busier than ever, it is so important that we establish some type of traditions to keep our family ties strong.
So, with a little inspiration from Soul Food, I cajoled my siblings into agreeing on having a monthly Sunday dinner—something that is established and routine so that no matter what invitations roll in or events arise, we would say– “Sorry, I’ve got to pass—it’s my family dinner.”
Several weeks ago we kicked off our first family dinner and it was a great start to a new tradition. We cooked together (getting the kids involved, too), lounged about, sped “plasma cars” up and down the street, searched frantically for the eclipse, and of course–delved into some delish eats. Grilled steaks topped with blue cheese & fried onions, “dirty rice”, corn, bacon wrapped shrimp and strawberry pastries. YUM! Unfortunately our sister P (who lives in SF) and our brother V and his family (who live in NYC) weren’t physically at dinner—they were sure there in spirit. Plus, I’m hoping they’ll plan their future visits so that it’ll land on a Sunday Family Dinner.
I’m pretty sure Mom would have loved the idea of us coming together to keep the family close—-and of course, that it’s an event that revolves around food. After all, we are her kids and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Appetizers: Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto
Entrees: Grilled Steaks topped with Bleu Cheese & Fried Onions, Dirty Rice, Corn
Dessert: Strawberry Pastries
Bacon wrapped Shrimp with Pesto
1 Pound Shrimp, cleaned with tails left on (about 24-30)
12 Slices Bacon
2½ Packed Cups Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts, unsalted
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Soak wooden skewers in water for 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and nuts. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.
Preheat your oven broiler.
Season the shrimp with black pepper. In batches, line a plate with paper towels and lay slices of bacon on top. Cover with additional paper towels and microwave for about 2 minutes so that the bacon is slightly cooked but still pliable. Cut each slice of bacon into half and wrap the half around each shrimp. Skewer the shrimp in a fashion so that the bacon stays secure. Approximately 3 bacon wrapped shrimp should fit on a skewer. *Alternatively, you can use soaked toothpicks and secure each shrimp individually.
Place the skewers on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet that has been lightly covered with cooking spray. Place the sheet directly under the broiler and cook the shrimp for 8-10 minutes (flipping halfway through) until the bacon has crisped and the shrimp have turned pink.
Slide the shrimp off the skewers and serve immediately with the Pesto.