Category Archives: Cooking

Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and GritsShrimp and grits is one of my favorite things to eat and to cook. It’s cheesy, salty, spicy, seafood-y goodness. But when I say recipe, I mean it in only the very loosest sense. I rarely follow actual recipes when I cook so everything is an approximation of how I make it.

A few tips:

  • Roast the tomatoes and garlic ahead of time and this dish takes only about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Do not add salt. Many of the ingredients are naturally salty and added salt will overpower all of the other flavors.

INGREDIENTS
For the Sauce:
2 medium tomatoes
1 head of garlic
Olive oil
1/2 lb sausage, finely chopped (Andouille or similar)
1/4 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
3/4 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Diced scallion or parsley for garnish

For the Grits:
1/2 cup uncooked grits
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice tomatoes into thick chunks and place on a baking sheet. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Remove the skin on the head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4″ to 1/2″ of the entire head. Place cut side up on the baking sheet and generously drizzle with olive oil. Roast tomatoes and garlic for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, puree tomatoes in food processor until smooth. Pop garlic gloves out of skin (pinch the bottoms they will pop right out) and finely chop.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausage. Toss in the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender. Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine. Let everything simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off.  Stir in the pureed roasted tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low. Add chicken broth if sauce is too thick. It should be a bit thinner than tomato soup.

In a separate saucepan, bring heavy cream and water to a boil. Add grits and cook over low heat with lid on for 12-14 minutes. Stir in cheeses and garlic once the grits are done.

While grits are cooking, add shrimp to the sauce and turn heat up to medium. Depending on the size, shrimp will need to simmer in the sauce about 5 to 7 minutes to be cooked through.

Serve hot with scallion and/or chopped parsley and Tabasco to taste if you want to add some heat..

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Every time I share pictures of my chocolate chip cookies on Instagram/Facebook, I get lots of recipe requests. So here it is, along with answers to frequently asked questions.

{from an old Better Homes and Gardens cook book, the newest version differs slightly}

Ingredients

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla*
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 12 ounce package (2 cups) semisweet chocolate pieces**
1 1/2  cups chopped walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts (optional)***

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Stir in chocolate pieces and, if desired, nuts.

2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake in a 375 degrees F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 60 cookies.

*I add a few extra drops of vanilla because it’s tasty.

**Depending on the chocolate chips I’m using, I usually put less than the recipe calls for. Sounds crazy, I know. See the reason why below.

**I never put nuts in mine because I’m allergic and my husband doesn’t like nuts in cookies. I married the only native Texan that doesn’t want everything smothered in pecans. Lucky me. :)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long do you bake them? For exactly 10 minutes at 375 deg. I have a gas oven so you may need to experiment if you have an electric oven. I use a plain cookie sheet (no baking stone or air filled ones – those never work well for anything I bake) like this one.

Do you really use an electric mixer? Um, heck no. I don’t have the upper body strength for that. I use my trusty ol’ KitchenAid stand mixer. {Use the paddle attachment.} Mine is plain silver but I imagine that it’s aqua whenever I use it.

Do you defrost the frozen cookie balls before baking? Nope, but I do let them sit on the cookie sheet on the counter while the oven pre-heats.

What scoop do you use? I use this scoop. It makes cookies that are a little more than 2″ in diameter – perfect for when you want just a bite and also for little ones.

After you scoop them, do you put them in the freezer on a tray prior to putting them in the bags? I used to, but I found that its easier to put all of the dough in an air-tight container (I am partial to these Frigoverre ones. They are glass and we use them almost exclusively instead of plastic Tupperware. No staining, better for the environment.) I let the dough chill overnight and then scoop them right into the plastic bags the next day.

How much cookie dough does this recipe make? If you can avoid eating too much of the dough, you will get 6 1/2 dozen cookies out of a double batch. That sounds like a lot, but they go fast, especially when your husband gives them to neighbors who do favors for him like lending him tools, etc. Go ahead and make the double batch.

What type of chocolate chips do you use? I love the 60% cacao Ghirardelli chocolate chips. They are dark and rich so I put fewer in than the recipe calls for. I also like the shape of them – they’re bigger and flatter than traditional chocolate chips. Plus, they come in huge bags at Sam’s so I can keep lots on hand.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine's Day

We keep it pretty low-key for Valentine’s Day around here. Flowers, champagne, usually humorous rather than romantic or sappy cards. And this year I made sugar cookies, one of my favorite things to bake.

My mother-in-law gave me the best tip for rolling them out: Pastry Cloth.  Add a a smattering of flour and nothing sticks.

Happy Valentine's Day

I sewed a lot for WIP Wednesday (yesterday)…a new WIP that you will get to see more of if you will be at QuiltCon next week:

Love Basic Grey #modafabrics #basicgrey #modabakeshop

The Last of Summer

It’s nearly October, but today was the first day that truly felt like summer is over.  The high was a mild 75 degrees – almost chilly after weeks of 100 plus temps from July through August. I made some guacamole to go with dinner and thought about how I probably won’t be buying avocados at the store every week for much longer.

last of summer

[vintage Poole Pottery serving dish, circa 1950]

I can’t wait until it’s cool enough to put on my Frye riding boots and a sweater. [I’ll wear pants, too.] It seems like a perfect time to sign up for some fall knitting classes. I will master circular needles this fall. I will, I will!

I’m in the middle of quilting an enormous linen quilt that has cost me half a dozen needles. Does everyone else break needles when doing free motion? I find that when I get tired, I start breaking needles. It doesn’t help that I’m quilting a rather nubby linen. This must be the reason that quilter’s linen was invented. Note to self…

This weekend, I will be in Oak Cliff [Bishop Arts District] hawking my fabric wares at the Urban Street Bazaar, which is hands down the best indie flea market/craft show in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  Stop by and say hello!

And next week…I start teaching classes at Make Shop & Studio. The first class on the schedule is for a mini class where you will learn quilting 101. It’s a great intro to modern quilting for beginners or seasoned sewers [details here].  More classes will be added in November [beginner and more advanced]. Yay!

P.S. I almost forgot to share this sneak peek! Something new for the bazaar…

sneak peek

I Love Summer

I don’t love the Texas heat but I do love summer food. The store is full of delicious berries, tomatoes, basil, mangoes, avocados…All of my favorite things. Summer is absolutely my favorite time of year to cook. Tonight I made grilled chicken with spinach and blueberry salad. I also made a rustic pesto to go with the chicken breast using some lovely basil from my friend’s garden (Thanks, Gina!).

summer dinner

Spinach + Blueberry Salad

3 cups raw spinach, washed

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

1/2 cup blueberries

4 or 5 slices of bacon

1/4 cup goat cheese

Cider vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy; set aside to cool. Reserve the grease. Wash and dry the spinach and blueberries. Put the spinach, blueberries, and red onion in a bowl. Toss with the cider vinaigrette. Serve with goat cheese and bacon crumbles.

Cider Vinaigrette

1/3 cup bacon grease**

2 to 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over salad and toss.

**You can substitute olive oil if the idea of using bacon grease gives you heart palpitations. Here in Texas, bacon grease is a great way to start any recipe. Sausage grease is also used, especially  for making white gravy to top your biscuits. Mmmm.

I had such a lovely weekend, in spite of the heat. The hubs and I spent Saturday in the pool, which is pretty much the only way to spend time outside this time of year. Today, I met up with two wonderful friends from the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild to do some hand sewing. I worked on the quilting for my Pinwheel Posies quilt (before photo here).

hand quilting

Look at that Perle Cotton No. 8! (I buy mine here.)  This quilt has a bit of a vintage feel and even though hand quilting is a lot of work, I think this lovely deserves it.

How was your weekend?