As part of my new role on the Potluck Blog for Shoprite, I was given the challenge of preparing a romantic dinner for two (or more) for under $25. (Yes, I know, this is a little too last minute for you to whip up for Valentine’s Day, but it is a delicious and inexpensive meal to enjoy any time of the year, so just play along.)
For some reason, shrimp is always my go-to romantic food idea. I have no idea why. Maybe because they’re pink, who knows. So, the meal started with the shrimp, but as we all know, shrimp is not the most budget friendly choice I could have made. However, Shoprite almost always has the $5 off coupons right next to the frozen shrimp and since I was only feeding two of us, the $20 2 lb. bag, worked out to be about $8 worth of our meal.
Ok, so the shrimp was a definite. Now what else? I wanted something red for obvious reasons, and cheap. Just my luck, Shoprite’s Imported Cherry Tomatoes were on sale for .99 cents a can. If you haven’t tried these, you must. I absolutely love them. Now, for the secret ingredient, not the cheapest ingredient, but well worth it: 4 ounces of pre-diced Citterio Pancetta ($4.49) available in the deli section. I sauteed up the pancetta until crisp and removed to a plate. In the rendered fat, I sauteed about 3 chopped garlic cloves in a couple tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter, threw in the can of cherry tomatoes, and we were well on our way. (Hey, Valentine’s Day is not a day for counting calories.) Just a few more additions like a 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and a 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano. A little salt and pepper and the sauce for the Shoprite brand linguine ($1.29) was done and I only used half of the box.
Ok, on to the shrimp. I defrosted the shrimp under cold running water, dried them and tossed them in a zip lock bag with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch and salt and pepper. In a saute pan, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil and fry the shrimp until golden brown.
On the side I served asparagus with grated asiago cheese on top. Now granted, I had the asiago cheese in the fridge. The portion I used for the asparagus was probably .75 cents worth. The Asparagus was $2.99 a pound at Shoprite. So, let’s say that for the major purchases our total was right around $18.00. Add in the butter, oil, spices and cheese and I’m going to say dinner was approximately $20 for two people.
Now, for dessert. With a little help from the box of Aunt Jemima Complete pancake mix in the cupboard, I whipped up a “mock crepe” with Vanilla Ice Cream, Shoprite’s Hazelnut Spread (so delish) and Cherry Preserves on Top. Once again, things I had in the pantry, so I’m thinking this dessert cost maybe one dollar. Not bad, $21 for a romantic dinner for two. Don’t hate me if you’re just checking your restaurant bill right now.
The Shoprite Challenge was a lot of fun and inspired a great meal. For the exact recipe and instructions, check the Potluck blog in the next week. I’ll be sure to post it to the Facebook page when it is live. If you haven’t “Liked” our page yet, just go to http://www.Facebook.com/JerseyBites and hit the “Like” button.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
Deborah Smith is the Founder and Executive Editor of JerseyBites.com. Launched in 2007 as a home for her growing collection of recipes, Jersey Bites soon grew into a hub for all things edible in the Garden State. Deborah is also the owner of Parents With Nannies, Inc. which operates a network of nanny employment websites established in 1999. In her spare time, (Ha) she works as a Social Media consultant and speaker. You can learn more about her services and marketing through social media on her blog www.DeborahLSmith.com