True Grit(s)

If you have ever had the pleasure of traveling south of the Mason-Dixon Line in The U.S, you would most definitely be familiar and I hope as obsessed with this dish as I am. Shrimp and grits. Or shrimp n’ grits (insert southern drawl here). Recently I was fortunate enough to spend some time in South Carolina with a short hop over the state line into Georgia where I was welcomed with southern hospitality, slow talkin’ and hot cookin’. While I was technically there for work, I spent every free moment eating fresh seafood, shopping at piggly wiggly, and eating my body weight in grits. Cheese grits, hominy grits, breakfast grits.. you name it. But nothing came close to the first meal I had off the plane, and one that I still dream about today, shrimp and grits.

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Now, I’m rarely one to follow a recipe to the point of putting my laptop in the danger zone beside a pan full of frying bacon, but the subject matter of the recipe, and star of the show, was something I was not only unfamiliar with eating, but more importantly, cooking. I wanted my first attempt at grits to be textbook. I came across this recipe from The Steamy Kitchen and since it had all my favorite food groups accounted for (shrimp, bacon, leeks, and wine) I knew it was the one. I will mention that I found the grits to be lacking a bit of the “creaminess” I remembered from my memorable meal, so I added a table spoon of butter and about half a cup of cheese to the mix. Perfectamundo.

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You can find grits in most grocery store but I will advise, no, insist, you do not buy the instant variety… unless you want your little bacon fried crustacean swimming in something that might resemble day old porridge. No. Thanks.

Enjoy, ya’ll.

Let’s Do Brunch

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Why go out when you can stay in?

I had family in town this weekend and while most of it was spent touring the city and doing kid friendly activities, my contribution to the weekend was hosting Sunday Brunch, kids included (in a not very kid friendly apartment). While I normally have my better half and sous chef (and child wrangler) for these occasions, this weekend I was solo. I needed something easy, kid friendly, and preferably something I could make or at least prepare the night before to save face in the morning. Enter my sister with her delicious, fool proof (baking is not usually my strong suit) night-before-making, baked french toast recipe.

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Cranberry French Toast Breakfast Casserole

2 tbsp softened butter
8 lge eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 lb loaf egg bread or white bread, day old, torn into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until thoroughly combined.  Gently stir in the bread pieces and cranberries.  Let the mixture stand for 15 min.  Give it a little stir, then spoon into the prepared baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, preheat oven to 350F .  Remove wrap and bake for 35-40 min. or until the casserole is puffed, lightly browned and when  poked with a finger in the middle, is firm to the touch.  Serve with maple syrup.  Serves 8.

Serve with fruit, bacon, and scrambled eggs for the wee-ones and you’ll be considered the hostess with the mostess.

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I did end up having an extra set of paws in the kitchen afterall.