Adding Spice to a Chilly Night...

It is yet another cold blusterous day in Chicago... so what better way to warm up the belly with some heat! Tonight I made my version of a cajun shrimp & pasta dish.
Cajun cuisine originates from the French-speaking Acadian or "Cajun" immigrants in the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It's considered a rustic cuisine that was developed out of necessity usually involving a main dish, rice and vegetables. There is a common misconception outside of south Louisiana that Cajun food is hot and spicy. An authentic Cajun dish will usually have a bit of a "kick" but will not be eye-wateringly hot.

Cajun cuisine is sometimes confused with Creole cuisine, and many outside of Louisiana don't make the distinction. Creole is more city – urban, cosmopolitan, and inspired by the Spanish, Italian, and African influences of New Orleans – while Cajun dishes have more of a French influence, filtered through common (to Louisiana) ingredients and techniques.

Here is my recipe for Cajun Shrimp & Pasta:
(as you can see, I'm getting better at food porn!)

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of sliced bell pepper strips
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
pinch of thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
penne pasta
shredded italian cheese blend for garnish

-- Prepare pasta according to directions on package.
-- In bowl, season raw shrimp with all the seasonings; set aside.
-- In a shallow pan, saute garlic and onion in some cooking oil.
-- Add shrimp and cooked it it starts to turn pink.
-- Add tomato sauce and paste. Stir.
-- Season with salt & pepper to tastes.
-- Add bell pepper strips. Cook through.
-- When pasta is cooked & drained, add to pan.
-- Toss to combine. Plate & garnish with cheese.