(Motivational) Mostly Wordless Wednesday

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100_4781~Veronica Hilliard

Spicy Shrimp and Butter Grits ~ Southern Comfort Food

sg6Author: Cassie Stevens

I am a southern girl, and I eat like it too.  Cornbread, beans, grits, mashed taters, all kinds of gravies, butter, BBQ, etc.  Southern comfort foods, and this is one of them.  Shrimp and grits! YUM! better yet, spicy shrimp and grits! YUM! YUM!

Shrimp and grits started out as a seasonal fisherman’s dish of shrimp cooked in bacon grease served over creamy grits in the south where they were also known as “breakfast shrimp.” The popular cuisine of corn grain provides a new twist in a variety of ways that it can be made. This has caused chefs to try to create new variations of the basic shrimp and grits recipe.sg2

You may be wondering what grits are made of. Well grits, formerly “hominy,” is ground corn that has been mashed. This dish was invented by the Native Americans from the Carolina region. Grits were used as one of the ways for Native Americans and white people to communicate in the latter part of the 16th and beginning of the 17th century before people learned how to speak the same language. An important event happened in 1584, when Native Americans gave some of their grits to Sir Walter Raleigh, and the people who came to live in Jamestown, Virginia a few years later.sg3

The colonists were learning about maize (corn) from the Native Americans, who were well versed in that area. Multiple items quickly became basic food sources for the settlers, including corn and grits. These items had been a normal part of the Native American diet for a long time.sg1

Centuries later, in 1976, grits were  declared as the official state food of South Carolina and are well known for their significant contribution to the culture and economy of South Carolina, and the power of the people who live there. The region stretching from the Carolinas to Louisiana is now called America’s Grits Belt.sg4

For many people in this region, a day without grits is like a day without sunshine. They hate and have no respect for prepackaged instant grits or quick grits. For them, the only way to eat real grits is to cook them the old fashioned way slowly with stone ground grits. However, there are a number of ways to spice up the meal like adding shrimp.

For many decades, shrimp and grits were a mainstay of the diet of the people who lived in and around Charleston, South Carolina.

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I live in Tennessee, not far from the origin of shrimp and grits. I love it! Well, in this recipe I used, lemon juice, butter, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, parsley, garlic, and onion powder. Spicy!

I cooked my grits then added a little butter, salt, and cream to my taste. Viola! the best ever spicy southern shrimp and grits. Gotta love it! Good southern comfort food! Enjoy! ~ C

(Edit)

10 to 15 cooked shrimp (depending on size)

Juice from half a lemon

1 tbsp salted butter

1 dash cayenne pepper (or to your heat preference)

1 three finger pinch dried parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

In sauce pan combine all ingredients until heated through. Serve over cooked grits.

 

Springing

If you love Spring, raise your hand. I don’t think mine could go any higher! Living in Northern Montana means that we wait a long, long time for Spring. When it finally gets here, I want to shout for joy, “I love Spring!”

To celebrate Spring, warmer weather, greening, and blooming, we have been spending a lot of time outside, which means I don’t want to spend as much time indoors over the stove. That means that you guys are gonna have to bear with me! We’ve been grilling, camping, and eating quick meals as we rush in smelling of fresh air and dirt. I’ve been working lots on my garden. Hubs has been working the tiller, creating quite a commotion in our neighborhood. We live in what my friend calls, “The Little Fish Bowl on the Prairie.” Very visible. And in a very small town, it’s hard for people not to stare.  One day an older lady almost wrecked her car into the building across the street to look at my sexy hubs behind the tiller. I’m a lucky girl. 😉

We’ve put in a couple of places in the yard for pumpkins and  butternut squash. And we now have a fire pit for sitting around in the coming cool Spring/Summer nights. I’m so excited to gather friends around it and just… be.

Springing :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Our lilac bush is bursting with blossoms. Don’t you wish you could smell them? These are right next to my sliding glass door. I am really enjoying the smell of lilacs wafting through the house. Mmmmm…

Springing :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

Today I got a little wild and made these brownies.  Oh. My. Heck. You have to try these sometime. I’d invite you over, but, ahem… I’m keeping these for myself (if I can keep them away from Hubs and Kid!)

Springing :: Pen Pals and Cookin' GalsYou’re drooling.

Springing :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

That’s The Kid. She really enjoyed her brownie. Doesn’t it seem like kids grow faster in Spring/Summer?

Your turn…

What do you love about Spring/Summer?

~Veronica

Friday’s Flavor ~ Shrimp Scampi with Leeks

ss1Author: Cassie Stevens

What’s easier than a shrimp scampi? Lemon, garlic, butter, parsley, onions (or in this case leeks), salt, pepper, and shrimp.  Bring a little white wine to the party and jazz it up a bit. Mmmmm…. Just about every shrimp scampi photo I see on the Internet looks delicious, even from first timer cooks.  Scampi is quick, easy, and old school, but so good, and good for you.

ss2Served either with bread, or over pasta or rice, although sometimes just the shrimp alone. Most variants of the “shrimp scampi” come on pasta.

Fun Fact: Scampi is a kind of small lobster known as  Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, or true scampi.  The name is often used to loosely describe a style of preparation typical for this lobster.

And now for the leeks…….

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Leeks are a new ingredient for me. Until now, I have never had or used a leek.  I had heard that they are a lot like an onion in flavor.  I would agree with that, I think they are very good and mild in onion flavor with a hint of mild garlic. My husband was new to leeks as well, and he too would agree that they are very good. He said it was  ****ing awesome! Ha! ha ha!

For those of you that don’t know:  The edible portions of the leek are the white base of the leaves (above the roots and stem base), the light green parts, and to a lesser extent the dark green parts of the leaves. One of the most popular uses is for adding flavor to stock. The dark green portion is usually discarded because it has a tough texture, but it can be sautéed or added to stock.

I would recommend trying leeks if you haven’t.  I think they are just great.  I shouldn’t have waited so long to try them. I will be seeking more recipes that use leeks in the future.

Back to the scampi…..Mmmmmm! Oh Yeah!

ss2This is an easy dish you must try out whether you are a beginner, or if your a veteran cook.  I hope you enjoy and make lots of memories while cooking and just have fun in the kitchen. Bon Appetite!

Thrifty Thursday ~ Toasted Coconut Pudding Pie

tcppAuthor: Cassie Stevens

I always enjoy dessert, especially when it’s good and cheap. Those are two things you don’t get enough of these days.  I make this dessert when I’m pressed for time or just need a quick and easy dessert fix. One graham cracker pie crust, ( I found a sale buy one get one free for $1.79).  I also found a sale on Jello instant pudding at Food City buy ten get 5.00 off making the pudding .50 a box.  I used homemade whipped cream, a quart costs around three dollars, I used 2 cups.

There are 4 cups in a quart, making the whipped cream cost around $1.50.  So including the little bit of sugar I used to sweeten the whipped cream and the little bit of coconut I used to top it with.  I would say this dessert only cost around $3.50 for the whole pie. How’s that for cheap, easy, and so delicious.

tcpp2Looks good right? Oh yeah! It’s a little heaven in your mouth!

Mix it up, you could use an Oreo pie crust and Oreo pudding or chocolate pudding and chocolate whipped cream.  Also, you could add things into your pudding say you wanted chocolate chips inside your chocolate pudding or crushed up vanilla wafers, or sliced bananas in your vanilla pudding. You could be so creative with this quick and easy dessert.

What’s your go to dessert?

Wordless Wednesday

Baby Portobellos to be Grilled :: Pen Pal and Gookin' Gals Grilling Chicken Sausage and Eggplant :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Grilled Zucchini Slices :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals Wordless Wednesday; Grilled Dinner :: Pen Pals and Cookin' Gals

~Veronica Hilliard

Homemade Calzones

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Author: Cassie Stevens

A calzone is folded over like a pocket pizza. A calzone has sauce inside, like a pizza. Not to be confused with the Stromboli, which does not contain any sauce and is usually made with Italian dough and stuffed with meats and cheeses only. Were as, the calzone is made with pizza dough hence, a pocket pizza, and stuffed with everything you would put on a pizza.  I love either, meat and cheese wrapped in any kind of dough, sauce or not, and you can count me in.

Start by getting your stuff together. I used the same recipe I use for my pizza dough.  Only, I added another 1 Tbsp of yeast for a thicker crust. Let the yeast sit a few minutes in warm water until it gets foamy.

SAM_1233Olive oil, Italian seasoning, yeast, sugar, bread flour, warm water, salt, and love.  Mix and knead on a flour surface until dough is smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl in a warm oven to let rise for about an hour.

SAM_1242I always turn on my oven to as low as it gets (170) then shut it off once it hits temp.  I place it on a hot pad on a sheet pan so my bowl doesn’t melt in the oven. Once it has a chance to rise, pull it out and divide in half for two large calzones or into four equal parts for four smaller ones.  Egg wash the tops then sprinkle with sesame seeds. I baked them as high as my oven would go 500 degrees F for about ten minutes or so. Keep an eye on them they will brown fast.

SAM_1244My husband and I split one and we saved the other for lunch the next day. There was more than we could eat in one of them. They were very big, and very good.  I didn’t get a chance to take pictures while I was stuffing them. They are filled with chicken, pepperoni, marinara sauce, ham, Colby jack cheese, and mozzarella cheese.

SAM_1257Oh yeah! Looks real good huh! Oooey Gooey Goodness!  Ah, I think your drooling. Ha! Ha! Ha!

SAM_1258Fill them with whatever you like and enjoy! Easy personal pocket pizzas! Sandwich-sized calzones are often sold at Italian lunch counters or by street vendors because they are easy to eat while standing or walking.

SAM_1265As a rule, calzones are usually stuffed with cheeses such as ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, Provolone or a type of regional cheese. The dough is folded into a half-moon shape then sealed with an egg wash mixture, or formed into a spherical shape and baked or fried. After cooking, calzones are typically served smothered in marinara sauce or topped with a combination of garlic, olive oil, and parsley.

SAM_1263In the United States, calzones are characteristically made from pizza dough and stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Traditional calzone dough consists of flour, yeast, olive oil, water, and salt. Calzones are similar to Stromboli, but traditionally the two are distinctly different dishes.

SAM_1261However you enjoy your calzones, they are sure to please. So enjoy them with your family for dinner. They don’t take too long to make!

SAM_1248and they are so delicious…..How do you eat a calzone?