Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shrimp and Grits with Burst Tomatoes

I need to talk about what went down in my kitchen last night. This can't wait.

I've had this opened bag of corn meal chilling out in my cabinet after a corn bread failure for weeks and weeks. I didn't know what to do with it so I just let it sit there.

In a meal brainstorming session I started thinking about Shrimp and Grits. I've never made them before, and I don't think I've ever actually eaten this dish. But, since these are two things I really enjoy, I knew I would like them together.

This is a disclaimer about me not being a shrimp and grits professional. The following recipe is a fun twist on a classic, comforting dish.

Shrimp and Grits with Burst Tomatoes is the most delicious meal I've had in a while--that's a huge statement but I'm sticking to it. I was pretty impressed that it came out of my own kitchen!

Creamy, cheesy grits are loaded into a big serving bowl then topped with spicy crumbled sausage, tender juicy shrimp and boatloads of fresh herbs.

And lets not forget the burst tomatoes. I absolutely love the addition of these tomatoes that have been cooked down with onions in a bit of olive oil. Their flavor just sings.

I'm just going to be honest. I ate 2 GIANT bowls of this while parked on the couch watching hours of Say Yes to the Dress. It felt right. And I think you should do the same. Eating these shrimp and grits is like wrapping yourself in a warm fuzzy blanket. Comfort food bliss.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Hash

Life is really hectic these days.

The month of August has been an absolute whirlwind with traveling, visits home, crazy work days, and studying. I'm really sorry about my lack of posts. I haven't given up on this little blog thang, promise!

In light of how busy I've been, I made a bit of time this evening to whip up a week's worth of delicious breakfast. I had concocted this Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Hash a few weeks ago by absolute chance.

It was one of those situations where you look in your pantry and refrigerator and try desperately to find some kind of potential meal because no way in hell are you putting yourself together and getting to the grocery store.

I find those situations usually end poorly.

This time, however, I was left with sweet and savory breakfast bliss!

Sweet potatoes are one of my all-time favorite foods. The slightest hint of licorice flavor and salty qualities of pork sausage made it the perfect pair. Reach salty/sweet euphoria with nearly caramelized onions, a touch of cinnamon and chili powder...all of this seasoned perfectly with salt and pepper? You can thank me later.

A big serving of this hash can serve as breakfast on its own, but it can also be a wonderful accoutrement to a frittata and fresh croissants for Sunday brunch. I'm just spit balling here, but I think a mimosa would wash this down just wonderfully.

Added bonus: this recipe is 100% Paleo friendly! (without the croissant of course)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Have you ever had a craving for some kind of food, but you really didn't even know exactly what it was?

Is that just something that happens to me? Like...I read recipes on blogs that have ingredients I've never heard of before or watch someone cook something on Food Network in a way I've never seen before and I just HAVE TO HAVE IT.

Anyway, that happened to me with Enchiladas recently. I've seen enchiladas before, and I've had tastes off of other people's plates. I've never tried making them before, but recently I have been CRAVING them.


Sorry for yelling.

Anyway, let's get down to business. I was craving enchiladas, despite never really eating them before, and decided that now was as good a time as any to make them.

These Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas were everything I had hoped for and more. Tender, juicy shredded chicken, sauteed with crunchy diced onions and chopped cilantro, smothered in a spicy and smokey sauce is wrapped inside soft whole wheat tortillas, smothered with even MORE sauce and finished off with ooey, gooey, melted cheese. I mean, who can say no to that?!

Finish off your enchiladas with a dollop of low fat sour cream and a sprinkling of fresh chives. This meal is a real crowd pleaser when paired with yellow rice and skillet zucchini and summer squash. Add whatever ingredients tickle your fancy--black beans, veggies, steak, cojita cheese, oh my!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Home-style Beef Stew

Are you guys watching Shark Week?

Don't act like you're not. We all watch it, because it's awesome. I'm obsessed with Shark Week and sharks. Sharks are amazing and powerful and still so mysterious.

If I were a little better at this blogging game, I would have made a Shark Week inspired meal this week. Or better yet, a shark inspired cocktail. My shark inspired cocktail would be called "Shark Bait BREW-haha" and it would have Landshark beer in it. HAHA GET IT?! Shark?! BREW?!

I shouldn't quit my day job.

What I did make this week was this yummy Home-style Beef Stew. The mornings and evenings are getting a lovely crispness to them here in New England, and I was craving a nice home-cooked, heart-warming meal.

I have had a bit of a crazy week, so I actually made this stew on SUNDAY and kept it stored in an airtight container in the fridge and cooked it up for dinner on TUESDAY. I have to say, the longer it stayed tucked away in the fridge, the more the flavors melded together and the more delicious this stew became.

The stew is a breeze to pull together. Start by chopping and dicing 1 medium yellow onion, 2 large carrots, 1 medium turnip, and 2 stalks of celery.

In a large stock pot, heat up some olive oil and butter over medium heat, then brown a bunch of stew meat on all sides until browned. Beautiful! Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pot, juices and all, saute the onions and a big clove of minced garlic. Stir constantly so the garlic doesn't burn!

After some time has passed, you will want to add a dollop of tomato paste and a whole container of beef stock or broth (low sodium variety is best, so we control the salt, not the broth man). Return the beef to the pot as well.

Season the stew with a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, and pep-dawg. Boil it. Lower the heat. Cover the pot and walk away. I'm talking a whole hour and a half (stirring occasionally).

Scurry back to the kitchen an hour and a half later and plop the turnips, carrots, and celery into the pot. Actually, don't plop them in. The stew will be hot and a "plop" usually comes with a "splatter" and that might result in burns. I don't want you to get hurt. So, rather, gently add them in.


30 minutes later, and it's time to finish it off with some parsley. At this point the stew should be nice and thick and completely irresistible!

Serve over mashed potatoes, because this meal is built on the principle of comfort food (and nothing is more comforting than mashed potatoes).

Monday, August 5, 2013

Asian Steak Tip Salad


I realize that was way too enthusiastic for Monday morning. I'm sorry for that. I hope it helped brighten your day at least.

I hope it brightens your day like this Asian Steak Tip Salad brightened my day. It's crunchy and salty and just everything a salad should be!

This salad is a total flavor punch, which is so incredible considering it is low carb. And if you're looking to put a fancy dinner on the table in no time at all, then this meal is for you!

I start by marinating my steak tips in a mixture of sesame oil, white vinegar, dijon mustard, canola oil, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce and some salt and pepper. I had some time on my hands and allowed the steak to marinate for a number of hours -- but just about 30 minutes in the fridge should be good!

When it's almost dinner time, heat up a little bit of oil in a searing hot pan. Brown the steak on all sides until desired degree of doneness. Set aside to cool.

Next, we need to gather up our veggies. I really wanted a lot of crunch in this salad because I feel like really crunchy vegetables pair well with the strong sesame, soy, ginger, lime-ness of the dressing (details coming soon).

Romaine lettuce, shredded.

Red and green cabbage, sliced thin. (P.S. need a time saver? Grab some coleslaw mix from the grocery store!)

Cucumber, peeled into ribbons. Why? Because it's pretty and fun to eat!

Sorry for yelling.

Celery, sliced thin.

Layer all your veggies together on a nice, big serving platter and arrange your browned steak tips on top. Garnish with toasted sliced almonds and chopped green onion.

When it comes to the vinaigrette, I must insist that you put down the store bought bottle and gather up the following ingredients (most likely in your pantry):

Minced ginger. Soy sauce. Fresh lime juice. White vinegar. Olive oil.  Salt and pepper. Garlic powder.

Shake it up. Dress up your salad. And totally enjoy!