Entertaining has changed over the years because of the abundant food choices available to customers. You can easily mix and match fresh food with fresh frozen food and create a delightful meal in no time. Casual family-style entertaining has been a part of my family since I can remember and we all look forward to slowing down and enjoying a good meal together with family and friends.
Entertaining doesn’t need to be complicated and frozen foods like shrimp, vegetables and bread really help out in the kitchen and make entertaining much more achievable for all of us, even with busy schedules. Retail markets including; grocery warehouse stores like Smart & Final, as well as traditional grocery outlets have upped their game in offering a variety of frozen foods that can be made into magnificent meals.
The first step in fool-proof entertaining is stocking up your pantry, which includes not only dry goods like flour, sugar, salt, and dried herbs, but also liquids like vinegar and oil, as well as canned tomatoes, tomato paste and chicken broth. The freezer should be considered a frozen pantry too, and when stocked properly, offers the perfect opportunity to create a fun impromptu dinner in no time.
For many of us, our perception of frozen food has changed over the years because frozen foods are not just prepared meals. Healthy freshly frozen whole foods offer the same nutritional value as fresh, and most of time they tend to be more economical, especially if you buy in bulk. For instance, buying a 2-pound bag of shrimp or vegetables have more cost savings than a one-pound bag, and you always have the option to portion it out to accommodate more than one meal.
Frozen foods are just as easily prepared on the stove top or roasted in the oven as fresh foods and can be served with sauce, or added to vegetables, or a starch like pasta. Frozen vegetables have always been a smart grab-and-go product with all the slicing and dicing already done for you – they’re ready made for any recipe.
A festive Pasta Dinner is a fun and easy way to entertain more often because the meal is made to pass around the table, or for serving yourself, while enjoying each other’s company. Dried pasta prepared al dente and tossed with an aromatic tomato cream sauce with shrimp and sweet bell peppers might be reminiscent of your trip to southern Italy, but it’s the aromatic sauce that will draw a lot of attention. Steamy garlic breadsticks and a fresh green salad tossed with vinegar and oil adds to this delightful occasion and it is an easy touch to impress your guests.
*This is a sponsored post by Smart & Final. All content and opinions are my own.
1 ½ pounds penne pasta
2 tablespoons butter
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds First Street Pepper Strips, Smart & Final
3 ounces tomato paste
14 ounce can diced roasted tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ pounds Raw Peeled & Deveined Jumbo Shrimp, Smart & Final
First Street Garlic Breadsticks, Smart & Final
½ cup fresh parsley, optional
salt & pepper
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cooked pasta for 10-12 minutes, drain. Add butter and toss, cover pot with lid and set aside.
- In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes. Add frozen peppers, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, stir to combine. Cook peppers for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally allowing water to evaporate.
- Make a well in center of peppers and add tomato paste and diced tomatoes, stir to combine. Fold peppers into tomatoes until combined and cook for 2 minutes.
- Pour cream over vegetables and stir to combine. Cook sauce for 1 minute and place frozen shrimp on top, stir. Place lid on top of pan and steam shrimp for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to combine with sauce.
- Remove lid and continue to cook for 3 minutes, reducing liquid slightly. Pour sauce over hot pasta and toss to combine.
- Pour pasta into serving dish and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with breadsticks and salad. Enjoy!