Shrimp ‘n Grits

IMG_3324.JPG A little spicy. A little creamy. A little salty. A little feisty. Shrimp ‘n grits have a lot of personality. This version is inspired from a dish from a place called Austin’s in Metarie, LA, just outside New Orleans. When I ordered shrimp and grits, I discovered it sat on a bed of creamed spinach. Delectable!

So, tonight, a weeknight, the first day of the new school year with a ton of “to dos”, I thought about how good that dinner was and grabbed a bag of frozen shrimp out of the freezer and thawed them quickly under running water. With 3.5 cups of salted water coming to a boil on the stove, I patted the shrimp dry and seasoned with Cajun seasoning from the spice cabinet.

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Next, I chopped up a clove garlic.

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Time to fry the bacon!

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Slowly add 3/4 cup of grits to the pot of boiling water, reduce heat to low and summer for 15 mins.

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After it’s fully cooked, add at least 1 cup of shredded cheddar. At least 1 cup. You can add 3, I love cheese!!

After the bacon is crisp, remove it to a plate with paper towels to drain. Remove all the grease but two tbsps and add 1 pat of butter. Add garlic and cook on med low until fragrant, about 1 min. Turn it up to med. Then add the shrimp and cook until pink, about 4-5 mins. Add the bacon back in.

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Add about 1/2 cup of chicken broth, 2 tbsps of lemon juice and spinach. I used a package of frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), but would much preferred to use a few cups of fresh baby spinach. Finally, add about 1/4 cup cream cheese, just to bring the spinach together. It just adds that perfect texture to the mixture.

To serve it, spoon the grits into a bowl. Then add the shrimp mixture on top. Finally, add a dash of hot sauce over the entire dish. Serve immediately.

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I licked the bowl with my fingers, Hubby got seconds and no, I didn’t even try it on my kids. They have my childhood taste buds and eat only 5 things. No reason Mommy and Daddy can’t have good food!

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Fresh Cherries with Creamy Limeade Dip

IMG_3304.JPG We are so deep into summer that I just killed a mosquito that landed on the side of my phone, while sitting inside on my couch. Don’t get me wrong, I love summer.

Yesterday, I took my family canoeing and my 3 year old asked 3 minutes into the trip, “When are we going to get there?” Oh boy. After 30 minutes of paddling, we decided to turn around and discovered we had to return against a strong outgoing tide. By the time we go back to the dock, Hubby was covered in sweat and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to move within 24 hours. I was almost right.

So, when it came time for an impromptu neighborhood cookout, I wanted our food to scream summer. Fresh salsa, guacomole, grilled tequila lime marinated flank steak, and roasted red potatoes were all on the menu. AND I had the best bag of fresh cherries in the fridge.

However, I did not want to make cherry pie, cobbler, crisp, or anything else in the dessert realm. There are not many other options, but after thinking about it, I realized they were best served as the main event. So, I placed them on a bed of ice and whipped up this SIMPLE dip to serve with them. What could be better than cherry limeade for a summer quencher? Oh, probably the Limeade cooler to go with it..

Limeade Fruit Dip

Ingredients

1 8 oz block of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsps frozen limeade
1 lime rind

Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese until smooth. While mixer continues blending, add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time. Then add in the frozen limeade. Continue mixing until smooth. Place in serving container and grate lime rind over it.

And because I think you should get to enjoy the drink….

Limeade Cooler

Ingredients
Remaining can of frozen limeade
3/4 can of vodka (using the frozen limeade can obviously)
1/2 bottle club soda
Ice to fill the blender
Limes to garnish

Blend until slushy. Serve. :)

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Chef Watson Selects The Suburban Cook’s Potato Salad!

My cooking journey started almost 10 years ago when Food Network started winning over prime time and I started trying all new flavors.  Then I started reading magazines like Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Food and Wine and many others.  Eventually I was obsessed with food and got the opportunity to spend time in my own kitchen creating and testing my own recipes on my family and friends.  Little did I know that my journey would take me to national acclaim!  20140703-233026-84626038.jpg

Today, I am extremely proud to announce that Bon Appétit selected my recipe for Smashed Potato Salad as their favorite in the Chef Watson challenge.  Last week I received an email from staff writer, Rochelle Bilow, who congratulated me and set up some time to interview me on how I went about making the potato salad.  You see, I had to use all twelve required ingredients that Chef Watson, the IBM supercomputer, had declared would make a good potato salad.  The  ingredients included two types of oil, ginger, buttermilk, mayonnaise, and watercress.  It was not easy, but I am never one to back down from a challenge and this time I was rewarded with great honors!  My recipe will be included in the Bon Appetit database under my name.  

Please read the full article.

Here’s Our Favorite Chef Watson Potato Salad Recipe

Thank all of you who have supported my blog and been test subjects for my food!

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Pulled Pork Ravioli with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

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I. Love. Pulled. Pork. It never disappoints. It is one of the great things about living in the South…..there is always a place that serves pulled pork sopping with bbq sauce in a bun. And when there isn’t pulled pork, there is roast pork. It has Latin flavors that zing across your tongue like a surprising electric shock. That’s how this dish came together- a desire for succulent pork and a little Latin zing. Did I mention the homemade pasta? Oh yes. Pasta.

I know. You are thinking, this stuff isn’t commonly thrown together. Is it really good? Of course it is!

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It’s Smashed Potato Salad, Watson

20140703-233026-84626038.jpgBon Appetit has been working with Watson for a 4th of July menu. Not Sherlock’s Watson, but the IBM supercomputer who pretty much turned Jeopardy into Candyland. The computer can’t cook, but is using over 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes and models of tastes that pair well together. Watson provides the ingredients and the chef has to come up with the recipe.

Well, this week on Facebook, Bon Appetit threw out a challenge to their readers:

Below is Chef Watson’s suggested ingredients for a potato salad—take them into the kitchen and do with them what you will! Create your own original recipe using every ingredient (the proportions are up to you, but no additional ingredients except water) and submit your finished recipe to askba@bonappetit.com

Challenge Accepted

Ok, so here are the ingredients:
potato, watercress, scallion, ginger, black peppercorns, vegetable oil, canola oil, oregano, thyme, buttermilk, dark brown sugar, mayonnaise

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