Shrimp and Grits ~ my midwestern take on this southern style dish

Just a quick post today for some wonderful shrimp and grits I made for dinner.  A lady I used to work with showed me how to make some tasty shrimp and grits so I thought I would give it a try on my own.  I really enjoyed my version and I think Charles did too ~ will definately be making this again soon.

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 2 diced jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 12 o.z. shrimp
  • 2 cloves garlic ~ minced
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomato
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken stock to a boil in small sauce pan.  Stir in grits and reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for about 12 minutes or until mostly thickened.  Stir in cheddar cheese and salt.

Meanwhile cook bacon until desired crispness.  Set bacon aside to drain on paper towels and reserve bacon grease in skillet returning to heat; add jalapeno and onion to hot bacon grease and sauté for about 2 minutes .

Add shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked though.  Stir in garlic; remove from heat and stir in crushed tomato.  Add thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I see recipes all of the time for exotic grilled cheese sandwiches and they always sound and look so good but when it comes down to it I can’t resist the comfort of a Kraft singles on toasted white bread.  It’s nothing fancy; but it brings out those warm and fuzzy feelings.

It can be made in a skillet or on a griddle.  I have one of those awesome griddle / waffle / pancake makers from the 70’s …. it’s yellow and all mine!  Mom always had a silver metal one but I found this on a yard sale a few years ago and I couldn’t resist.  Once I opened it I was even more thrilled; I don’t know that it had ever been actually used!

I use it often for pancakes and I love it for grilled cheese.  I’ve tried waffles once, but I usually go with pancakes ~ guess I need to work on a waffle recipe.

Anyway, back to the grilled cheese.  I always lightly butter my bread. I don’t like to make it greasy on the outside with too much butter so I just use a little.  I remember mom telling us as kids to use the tub of margarine because butter would burn; I know now that this is not true unless you overheat the surface to begin with so butter for me; always butter.

Two slices of Kraft singles every time.

Of course the bread will go on the griddle butter side down with cheese between the slices and butter on top of the top piece.

Time will vary.  I use my griddle on a relatively hot setting; I try to not turn the dial so it’s the same temperature for pancakes too…. if using a skillet I would go for medium – medium high heat.  2 minutes usually does the first side then about 3 minutes for the other side.  Just keep an eye on it.  You can cook faster but the cheese won’t melt so a total of 5 – 6 minutes seems to get everything hot throughout.

Once both sides are toasted I like to flip back over to the first side for about 30 seconds.  This makes sure the top is warm too and allows a few seconds for the bottom to cool and release any steam and stay crunchy.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Simple Pasta with Goat Cheese and Tomato ~ great for using up leftovers

Just a really quick post today.  I try to always cook a bit of extra pasta so that I have an easy side dish I can throw together at a moments notice.  Even just buttered pasta tossed with fresh garlic or garlic powder and a sprinkle of salt and pepper is delicious. I however still have tomatoes in my garden and I try to keep goat cheese in my fridge so this combination just seemed natural.  Perhaps not my prettiest side dish, but oh so tasty ~ fresh basil would be amazing in this too.

Simple Pasta with Goat Cheese and Tomato

  • about 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 o.z. goat cheese

In skillet combine cooked and drained pasta, butter,tomatoes, salt, and garlic; heat through.  Stir in goat cheese just before serving.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Asparagus – fresh from the garden

I love spring.  The asparagus has sprung and the flowers are blooming.  We planted asparagus a few years ago and it is taking off like crazy.

We have three different varieties.  I like them all.  The purple is pretty; can’t say it tastes different but it is a lovely color raw and still pretty when cooked.

I just did a quick saute today.  About 5 minutes over medium heat with a tablespoon butter and a clove of minced garlic.  We like a bit of crunch so cook longer if you prefer more tender asparagus.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

One Skillet Chicken Dinner ~ 15 minute meal

While rummaging through the refrigerator I came across fresh green beans and mushrooms that needed used.  I decided to make a simple dish with chicken.  One skillet seemed even better; here is my creation.

One Skillet Chicken Dinner

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless chicken
  • 1 tps granulated garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 o.z. mushrooms
  • 8 o.z. fresh green beans

Cut chicken into strips, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic; saute in large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and continue cooking another 5 minutes. Add fresh green beans and cook another 5 minutes or until green beans are desired tenderness.

Cook longer if you like your green beans more tender.  Five minutes left them still a bit crunchy and green but we enjoy them that way.  There are so many different ways to dress up this dish; onions, fresh garlic, use left over cooked chicken, add extra mushrooms.  Just use your imagination and make it your way!

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Butternut Squash Soup

I’ve seen quite a few recipes for butternut squash soup. Most lean more towards the sweeter side; I opted to make a spicy version.  This did come out with quite a bit of heat.  I am sure my chicken stock already had a bit of a kick but the 1/4 tsp of cayenne packed the rest of the punch.  I would suggest leaving out the cayenne for the faint of heart or adding a dash at a time if you like a bit of zip. I will however post the recipe as I made it and let you decide how much heat you would like.

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cup butternut squash
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne ~ adjust to your taste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley

Prep squash; peel and dice into small cubes.  (I posted yesterday an easy prep technique) Heat chicken stock over medium high to a simmer.  Add diced squash, salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne.  Simmer about 10 – 15 minutes or until squash is very tender.

Add cream and parsley and heat through. I used my handheld blender to partially puree; I left some lumps of squash to add texture.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Glazed Carrots ~ Quick Easy Delicious

These had to be some of the best carrots I’ve eaten in a while.  The glaze was so simple it made itself while the carrots cooked.  We came across this technique in a recent Saveur magazine issue.

Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb carrots ~peeled and sliced to desired thickness
  • water
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs sugar

Peel and slice carrots.  In medium saucepan place carrots and just cover with water.  Add butter and sugar; cover with parchment paper tucked in pan to rest on top of carrots.  Simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes.  Water will evaporate and butter and sugar will have glazed the carrots when finished.

This worked very well.  At first it appeared as if the water wasn’t going to evaporate but after a little more patience the results were perfect.  We cut our carrots about 1/2 inch thick so adjust your cook time for larger or smaller carrots.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Saucy BBQ Pork Chops with Noodles

This is my variation of one of my favorite childhood recipes.  Mom made this and taught us to make this when we were kids.  With 5 kids and a farm to tend to something that needs little attention was always a plus for her.  I think the original recipe is in one of those Better Home and Gardens hard cover collection books.  We always made extra sauce and served it over noodles (the original used a small can of tomato soup for 6 servings ~ we used the big cans or a 2-3 small cans).

Any cut of pork chop works.  I prefer the bone-in center cut for better flavor, but you do run the risk of it all falling apart so if you have small children boneless may work better for you so you don’t have to watch out for lost bone fragments.

Saucy BBQ Pork Chops

  • 4-6 Pork Chops
  • 1 26 o.z. can tomato soup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs yellow prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Over medium-high heat brown pork chops on both sides (use non-stick or add some oil to pan if desired).  Mix together remaining ingredients; pour over pork chops making sure thoroughly coated.  Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 1-2 hours until tender.  I tend more towards the 2 hour time as I like them falling apart.  Flip chops and stir sauce occasionally. Serve with noodles smothered in the BBQ sauce.

As I mentioned I think the original was in a Better Homes and Gardens Book.  It called for a small can of soup and used dry italian dressing mix instead of the herbs and seasoning mentioned.  To be honest I usually don’t measure anything when I make this so sometimes I add more vinegar or mustard and sometimes I make it spicier.  Sometimes I add onion; the original had dried minced onion flakes in it.  Adjust to your tastes.

Enjoy ~ Kimberly

Pizza ~ my favorite homemade BBQ Pizza Sauce recipe!

Pizza for lunch today ~ we actually made 2 different kinds but I have to share the bbq pizza sauce.  The crust was homemade – used our simple baguette recipe; it came out nice and crispy ~ just the way we wanted.  I like to top my BBQ Pizza with chicken and pineapple; today I added bacon too.   Like I always tell my dog, ” The only thing better than bacon is …. more bacon!”

BBQ Pizza Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Diced Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Butter
  • 1/8 c White Vinegar
  • 1/8 c Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Whole Corriander – crushed
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Celery Seed
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 c Ketchup
  • 2 Tbs Pineapple Juice ~ I got this from the can of Pineapple Chunks I opened for the toppings

Saute onion, garlic and jalapeno over medium heat until desired doneness ~ we got ours a little toasty before adding rest of ingredients.  Add remaining ingredients and heat through.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes to combine flavors.  Adjust the heat to your liking ~ this was spicy – seed the jalapenos and omit the crushed red if you prefer a milder version.  This made enough sauce for 1 pizza ~ leaving a little left over to coat cooked chicken pieces.

We’ve found through trial and error that our pizzas come out the best if you prebake the crust part way before topping.  We baked our crust at 425 degrees for 10 minutes before building.  Adjust the time and temperature according to the type of crust you are making.  After adding sauce, cooked chicken, pineapple, crispy bacon, mozzarella and parmesan cheese we baked an additional 12 minutes to finish crust and heat toppings through.

I’ll post the crust recipe and our traditional sauce recipe soon.  Hope you enjoy the BBQ Pizza Sauce recipe  ~ Kimberly

Roasted Winter Vegetable Stock ~ Homemade broth to compliment any recipe!

Homemade broth and stock is wonderful to have around.  It’s so much better when you make it yourself.  You can control what goes into each batch and season to your own personal tastes.  Today we are making a big batch of vegetable stock  ~ it smells heavenly.  Charles did all the work for me today ~ it’s still cooking so I won’t have a time for how long to simmer but I can assure you that several hours are needed for the richest flavors and you may want to adjust the seasoning as you go.   We always put some salt in our stocks but that is the way we like it ~ I feel like the salt helps bring out all of the flavors but if you need a reduced sodium option leave the salt out or adjust to your diet needs.

Roasted Winter Vegetable Stock

  • 1 lb Celery
  • 1 lb Carrots
  • 1 lb Cabbage
  • 2 lbs Onion
  • 1/2 lb Parsnip
  • 1/2 lb Turnip
  • 1/2 lb Green Beans
  • 10 Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs Salt
  • 1 Tbs Corriander
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 4 Bay Leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and prepare vegetables.  Cut vegetables into large chunks.  Peel garlic cloves.  Toss garlic and vegetables with 1/4 c olive oil.  Spread onto 2 large cookie sheets and roast for 1 hour stirring every 20 minutes.  Remove from oven; transfer to large stock pot; add water and seasonings.  Set heat to medium, bring to simmer, and reduce heat simmering for a few hours until desired color and flavor are reached.  We will likely reduce by half or more.  Strain through fine seive or cheese cloth.  Chill and freeze in pint freezer jars or bags.  Enjoy in place of water in your favorite recipe ~ I always cook my rice in stock!

Hope you enjoy the recipe!   ~ Kimberly