I had you at Cajun Shrimp, didn’t I? Who doesn’t love a nice spicy helping of shrimp on top of smooth, creamy and cheesy grits, with a little jalapeno chaser? I looked at a lot of different Shrimp and Grits recipes before putting together something that suited our tastes. This is another super easy dish, suitable for a weeknight and can be made spicy or not, your choice based on the spices you choose to use.

INGREDIENTS:

For the grits:

3 cups water
1 cup stone ground grits, long cooking variety
a dash salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-2 tablespoons diced jalapeno (I use the jarred variety)

For the shrimp:

12 oz. package of frozen, peeled and deveined raw shrimp
4 slices bacon, diced
3 scallions, finely sliced
1/2 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Cajun Seasoning (add more according to your taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

For the grits:

Place the 3 cups water, dash salt and grits in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 -30 minutes, stirring often. When the grits are cooked and smooth, add the milk, butter, garlic powder and jalapeno. Stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the milk and butter to incorporate into the grits. Add the shredded cheese and stir until cheese has melted and the grits are smooth and creamy. Turn off heat and keep warm while preparing the shrimp.

For the shrimp:

Thaw the frozen shrimp in a colander under cool water until completely thawed. Drain.

Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is done, but not yet crisp. Add butter and allow to melt. Add the onions and the red bell pepper. Cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the thawed and drained shrimp the the skillet and sprinkle with the Cajun Seasoning. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is pink and just done. Don’t overcook.

To serve, place a few spoons of grits in a bowl and top with the shrimp mixture.

Adjust the seasonings according to your taste. Just remember that when preparing the shrimp that you’re serving it atop JALAPENO cheese grits. It’s easier to add more spice, but difficult to remove if you’ve added too much at the beginning. I suggest when taste testing you try some of the shrimp with the grits to get a true sense of how spicy it is.

Grammy

This is my go-to recipe when I want something spicy, easy, and guaranteed to open up my sinuses! Made with ingredients I usually have on hand, it’s easy to put together and makes a wonderful weeknight meal for people in a hurry, especially if you do a little prep on the weekends. It also freezes well!

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, finely diced (optional)
6 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn OR 1 14.5-ounce can corn, rinsed and drained
3 chicken bones, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or cheddar jack cheese
Sour cream and tortilla chips for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large heavy bottomed dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and the jalapenos, if using, and cook for another minutes. Don’t saute for too long or the garlic may become bitter.

Add the chicken broth, Rotel, beans, corn and taco seasoning to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add your chicken breasts, cooking for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through and tender. Once the chicken is cooked, removed from the pot and dice or shred into bite sized pieces and return it to the pot. Add the cilantro.

Just before serving, add the cheese and stir until melted throughout. Dip into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips or Fritos on the side.

NOTE: If planning to freeze, don’t add the cheese to the whole pot. Stir it into individual portions of soup instead or on the side as a garnish.

Want to make this even easier? Cook and dice chicken on the weekend and just add it to the soup and heat through. I usually cook chicken in large batches and portion out diced pieces to use in recipes later. You can even pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for this purpose.

Grammy

This is a new favorite recipe for several in my family who have gluten allergies. These sugar cookies are a gluten free version of the famous LOFT frosted sugar cookies. They’re pretty and festive, easy to make and even those without gluten issues think they’re great!

INGREDIENTS:

For cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (check your GF flour mixture to see if the xanthan gum is already in it – if so, skip this ingredient)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups gluten-free cup-for-cup flour

For frosting:

1 cup butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
food coloring of your choice
Sprinkles to make all the little people happy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the softened butter and sugar on medium speed with a hand or stand mixer. Add the eggs and beat until smooth and lemon colored.

Add the salt, baking powder, xanthan gum (if needed) and vanilla extract. Then add the gluten free flour blend and mix until combined.

You can roll the dough out between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and cut out with your favorite cookie cutters, or use my method: Drop cookies on parchment covered cookie sheet using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop. Dip the bottom of a small glass in sugar and press down gently on the tops, flattening a little.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will be soft, but the edges should look slightly dry and the bottoms of the cookies will be lightly brown. They won’t look done, but take them out at the prescribed time and let them cool on the cookie sheet for 5-10, then move to a cooking rack.

When cool, frost with buttercream frosting (don’t be stingy) and add sprinkles. LOTS of sprinkles!

It’s important to read the ingredients on your gluten free flour blends as the ingredients differ by brand.

Grammy


I have this recipe in my family cookbook. My Mom made it. My Auntie Brooks made it. And what I remember is that everyone’s cheddar cheese grits casserole tasted just a little different. Every cook had their own way of selecting ingredients and making the dish their own. I’ve done the same by using the basic recipe my family had and making a few changes along the way.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup long cooking grits
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring milk to a low boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat; add butter and gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, whisking frequently, or until the grits are done. Remove from heat.

Stir in the eggs and the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 11×7 baking dish.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until mixture is set. Serve immediately.

One of the changes I made is to use the long cooking grits, not the quick cooking variety. I order mine online and use the Carolina Gold variety. The consistency of the long cooking grits is smooth and velvety – well worth the extra time.

Grammy

Every family has their personal meatloaf recipe. It’s the one you equate with comfort food meals your Mom made when you were a kid. This is one that my Mom made and it’s always been in my personal family recipe notebook. However, I guess I hadn’t made it in a long time because when I recently started using this recipe again everyone reacted like it was something brand new and exciting. So, without further adieu, here is my Mom’s “New” Old BBQ Meatloaf.

INGREDIENTS:

For the meatloaf:
2 pounds lean ground beef
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 egg, beaten
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cracker crumbs ( I like to use a butter cracker like Ritz. If I’m making a GF version, I use plain GF bread crumbs.)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard

For the sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard

INSTRUCTIONS:

Mix all meatloaf ingredients together. Work gently to incorporate all of the ingredients, but don’t overwork. Make a loaf in a 9×13 baking dish, shaping by hand. Try not to pack the mixture too tightly or it will create a dense and tough meatloaf. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Top with the sauce mixture and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Let stand for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and slicing into serving pieces.

This can be made ahead and reheats well. It is also a freezer friendly dish.

Grammy

This bread is super easy and really tasty. It’s only got a handful of ingredients and is the perfect accompaniment to a pot of soup or stew. I found this one on Taste of Home.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups self-rising flour (if you don’t have self-rising flour, see below for instructions on making your own)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Stir in honey and beer, just until moistened.

Transfer to a greased 8×4 inch loaf pan. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

Self-rising flour: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon fine salt.

Grammy

This recipe is a cold weather staple in our house. It’s one that even those people who claim they can’t cook can manage to put together and for a working Mom, this is a nourishing meal that is a real time saver and budget stretcher.

When my Dad retired, he took an interest in cooking. My Mom showed him how to make this recipe and he mastered it. It always makes me think of them when we have it. It’s literally 5 cans, some onion and smoked sausage. You can’t get much easier than that.

INGREDIENTS:

1 smoked sausage (I use Eckrich either beef or turkey), cut into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cans navy beans
1 can Rotel tomatoes

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and smoked sausage, saute until the onions begin to soften and the sausage begins to brown slightly. Add the cans of beans and the Rotel tomatoes, mixing well. Continue to simmer on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.

If you can use a can opener, you can make this soup. If you want to make it even easier, use chopped frozen onions.

Grammy

This was a great recipe my Mom made when I was growing up. She worked and had to be an industrious and budget conscious meal planner for our large family. Luckily for us, she was a great cook. I’ve taken so many of my best planning techniques from her and, as the mother of six, those habits have served me well.

This is a dish she would make ahead of time and refrigerate. When we got home from school, Mom would leave instructions about how much liquid to add, what temperature to set the oven and when it needed to go in. This kind of meal planning and finishing were cornerstones of my education as a cook. Savory Sausage and Rice Casserole is still one of my go-to meals when I’m cooking for a crowd. (Note: I usually double this recipe for my family, but a single batch should serve about 4-6 people. Unless they eat like my family. Which means it probably will feed 4…or maybe 3.) 🙂

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound pork sausage
1 cup rice, uncooked
2 envelopes Lipton dry chicken noodle soup mix
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

INSTRUCTIONS:

Brown and drain the sausage. Mix together the sausage, rice, soup mix, onion and celery and place in a 2 quart casserole dish. Mix soy sauce with the water and add to the casserole. Mix gently. Cover tightly and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Great make-ahead dish that reheats well. I tend to add a little extra soy sauce because I like the extra flavor, but I always use low sodium because there’s already plenty of salt in this dish.

Grammy

I am trying to find interesting and tasty ways to eat healthy and use up my leftovers. As the mother of 6 and the Grammy of “almost” 13, I have a lifelong habit of cooking things in large batches. This has become problematic for me as I struggle to cook as well for 2 as I once did for 8.

A frittata is a great way to incorporate some of those meatless meals into my diet, while at the same time using up leftovers in a flavorful and interesting way. It’s always a challenge to make leftovers taste like you’ve just cooked them!

INGREDIENTS:

8 eggs
1/3 cup milk or cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (mozzarella or cheddar are great options), plus about another cup for topping
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups filling of your choice (choose pre-cooked veggies, meats such as ham or bacon, etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and 3/4 cheese. Season with salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choice. (Note: Be cautious about how much salt you add. You may need to adjust the salt used if you choose a variety of cheese, such as parmesan or feta, that are naturally salty cheeses.)

In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, add and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until it begins to look translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Add any raw mushrooms that need to be cooked according to how much time they will need to become tender (for instance, broccoli will need longer than spinach, for example.) The point is to ensure that most of the water has had a chance to cook out of the veggies and that they’re fork tender before adding the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the prepared filling ingredients. Add the remaining cheese to the top. Transfer skillet to the oven.

Bake until eggs are just set 12-15 minutes.



It’s important that you have your ingredients prepped so that you can move quickly while putting the frittata together. You can have ingredients pre-chopped or pre-cooked in your refrigerator and have a ready to finish meal for a busy weeknight.

Grammy

I wanted to do something exciting this weekend to mark the beginning of fall weather. I found some inspiration by combining pumpkin and chocolate – what’s not to love about that, right? And this combination was made even more special because I was able to use gluten free chocolate cookie crumbs, making this seriously decadent dessert something that was legal for folks in my family who have gluten allergies.

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:

8 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs ( used this brand of GF crumbs for mine)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter, melted

For the filling:

3, 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin
2 teaspoons pie spice
3 eggs, at room temperature

Combine the crust ingredients. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a springform pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together, mixing until smooth. Add the pumpkin, pie spice and eggs, blending until all ingredients have been incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour into springform pan over the cookie crust, smoothing the top so it is even.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove from the springform pan and place cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill completely.

Serve topped with whipped cream.

You can add another layer of flavor by topping this with cinnamon whipped cream: 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Whip until soft peaks form.

Grammy