The following recipe and photography is courtesy of Lauren Schulte. To see more of her bites and meals, visit her Instagram @TheBiteSizePantry.
The winter months are upon us and I think we’re all trying to turn up the heat. If you’re craving something warm and hearty, give my Cajun Butternut Squash Shrimp Cups. I can’t promise they’ll last all that long though. They’re the perfect single-serving appetizer that will make your holiday guests want more!
These Cajun Shrimp Cups are a fun and individualized way to entertain. Each cup is a perfect portion of flakey dough, Cajun squash puree and shrimp. The cups are made out of phyllo which is a light, flakey and buttery sheet of dough. Typically, when baking phyllo, you’ll want to layer a couple of sheets together so that you achieve the flakey layered look phyllo is known for. You can buy phyllo cups premade, but you’ll get so much more if you buy two rolls of 20 sheets. You can find both the premade cups and the phyllo sheets in the frozen dessert section at Heinen’s.
You can use fresh-cooked or frozen shrimp, which are plentiful and of great quality at your local Heinen’s. I stopped at their fresh seafood counter and asked Heinen’s seafood expert to load me up with 3/4 lb of the cooked shrimp, which is about 24 shrimp. Their experts are always so friendly and eager to assist you with anything you need.
Now that you’ve got two out of three of the main ingredients, swing by the spices to stock up on what you’ll need to make my homemade Cajun seasoning. The recipe is so simple and you can find all of the spices readily available at your local Heinen’s: salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder.
NOTE: If you’re looking to skip this spice because you may not have room in your spice cabinet for the eight spices you’ll need, you can always buy a premade Cajun mix which should be located near the seafood or in the spice aisle. However, if you do have room for all these separate spices, I promise you’ll use them again and again in most of your other dishes.
Cajun Shrimp Cups
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- 2 tsp. white pepper
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 butternut squash
- 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup Rao’s Alfredo Sauce
- 3/4 lb. cooked shrimp, equaling approx. 24 shrimp
- Phyllo dough, 10 sheets
For the Butternut Squash Puree
- Preset your oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil.
- Cut the stem off your butternut squash and slice it down the middle. Set one half aside and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits from the half you’ll be using. Spray the flesh of the squash with cooking spray and place the butternut squash flesh-side-down on your baking sheet.
- Bake the squash for approximately 30-40mins until the skin side (facing up) is easily pierced with a fork.
- Remove the squash from your oven and let it cool. Scoop out the flesh and place it in either a food processor, blender or saucepot.
- Add the stock and Alfredo sauce and blend until smooth. Then add the spices and mix until well incorporated.
Note: You’ll want to save some of the spice blend to toss the shrimp in later before assembling your cups.
For the Phyllo Dough Cups
- Lower your oven temp to 350°F and spray a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
- Layer 5 of the phyllo sheets, one on top of the other, and spray with cooking spray. You can also brush the top with butter if you wish to.
- Cut the dough into 12 squares.
- Gently press the phyllo squares into each of the muffin tin slots, pressing the sides together if they overlap.
- Pop these in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the sheets start to turn golden brown.
- Take them out and let them cool before filling each with the Cajun squash puree.
- Take a Ziplock bag and fill it with your shrimp and the leftover Cajun seasoning. Shake well so that the seasoning fully coats the shrimp.
- Fill each phyllo dough cup with one tablespoon of squash puree, then top with a shrimp. I recommend cutting the shrimp in half so that it gives you an equal balance of shrimp and squash in each cup.
- Present on a serving platter or tray and enjoy!