Creamy Shrimp & Grits

I had grits for the first time when I started going to South Carolina, about 4 years ago. I never really thought about making them myself, and I never really thought I’d actually like them. Boy, was I wrong! I love them. After my trip was canceled this year due to Covid, I decided to try and make some grits myself! These are simple to make, I just used quick grits for the time. Hey, it was my first time…cut me some slack!! Ha Ha! Honestly, even with using the quick grits, they were DELICIOUS and took half the time. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Give it a go!

Ingredients:
Quick Creamy Grits:
1 cup quick grits
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium or water
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 T butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1lb medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 large red pepper, diced
3/4 cup cooked corn, (I used cooked corn on cob, but can also use frozen thawed corn)
4 slices bacon, crispy cooked & chopped
3 green onion, sliced (both green and white parts)
2 t chili powder
2 t paprika
1 t cayenne pepper, optional
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Directions: In a medium sauce pan add in 4 cups of chicken broth, bring to a boil. Once boiling, slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the grits have thickened add in the butter, cheddar cheese and cream. Mix until cheese is completely melted and the grits are creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Season the shrimp with chili powder, paprika, cayenne and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Add in 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan and let heat 1 minute. Add the shrimp into the pan, cook about 3-4 minutes on each side until shrimp is pink and has a nice golden crust and shrimp is cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Next add in the last tablespoon of olive oil and let heat 1 minute. Next add in the red pepper and cook until peppers are slightly tender (or to your preference) about 3-4 minutes. Then add in the cooked corn, season with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and put the shrimp back into the pan. Let heat 2 minutes on low.

To assemble the shrimp and grits, add a large spoonful of grits to a bowl. Top with cooked shrimp, the peppers and corn mixture, chopped bacon and chopped green onion, serve!



Bacon & Mozarella Stuffed Meatballs

Homemade meatballs are so delicious and easy to make. You can mix it up and really make them your own! These meatballs are a pretty basic recipe with a twist. You can use any ground meat you like. Beef, pork, veal, turkey and chicken. I personally prefer beef meatballs and sometimes I add in ground pork as well. My recipe calls for little fresh mozzarella balls and bacon. When you cut into them you taste that salty bacon and the mozzarella is nice and gooey! They are delicious!

Bacon & Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Ingredients:
Meatballs:
2lbs ground beef (could use 1lb beef & 1lb of pork)
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1/2-3/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 T Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 small onion, grated or very finely chopped
1/4 cup water or milk
1 T olive oil
2 t Italian seasoning
2 t kosher salt
2 t pepper

Extras:
6-8 slices bacon, cooked, chopped in half inch pieces
8-10 oz fresh mozzarella pearl balls
2 T olive oil, for frying

Directions: Preheat oven 350°. In a large mixing bowl add in all the ingredients above for the meatballs. Next using your hands mix meat until fully incorporated with ingredients. Using a large scoop or melon baller form meat into balls. Flatten out the balls and add in 1-2 pearl mozzarella balls and 1-2 pieces of bacon and roll into a ball. The meatballs should be golf ball size. Add to a baking sheet covered with foil. Continue with all the meat.

Options for cooking is either pan fry on the stove or you can bake in the oven. Sometimes I like to sauté in a pan to get a nice brown exterior and then finish baking through in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. To bake in the oven only cook for 30-35 minutes depending on the size. The meatballs should get nice and golden brown. Serve either on their own or with pasta.

Notes: You may need more bacon and mozzarella depending on how big the meatballs are. If you can’t find the pearl balls you can use any other cheese or fresh mozzarella and cut into small pieces.



Fancy BLT with Arugula & Fresh Mozzarella (Minus the L)

If you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know how much I love BACON!  I literally love it!  I can eat it all by itself or I can make a sandwich with it.  BLTs are classic sandwiches. I feel like when someone hears you made a BLT for dinner, the immediate response is “Oh that sounds so good!”  It’s just the truth!!  I made this fancy verison of a BLT.  I kicked it up a few notches with the one! Feel free to add more or less of an ingredient. I love arugula so I add a lot and I love bacon so I add a few slices! More bacon the better!

You will want to give it a try. The flavors in the sandwich will be an explosion!

Fancy BLT with Arugula & Fresh Mozzarella (Minus the L)

Ingredients:
Yeilds 2 Sandwiches

4 slices sour dough bread
8 slices, bacon cooked, crispy
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh arugula
4-6 slices fresh mozzarella
1.5 T extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 t Italian Seasonings
1 t salt

Directions: Preheat oven 400.  In a small bowl mix together 1 T extra virgin olive oil and Italian seasoning.  Set aside.  Take the garlic cloves and cut off the top exposing the flesh of the garlic.  Rub the garlic on the sourdough bread, both sides.  Next brush the olive oil mixture on the bread to fully coat on both sides.  Place in the oven for 4-6 minutes until it gets crisp. Then add 2-3 slices of fresh mozzarella to 2 of the pieces of bread.  Heat another 2-3 minutes (optional, this is just to lightly melt the cheese)

In another bowl add the arugula, (more or less if you prefer)  drizzle with remaining half table spoon of olive oil and season with salt. Set aside.

Once the bread is done, remove from the oven and assemble the sandwich.  Add half the arugula mixture to both pieces of bread on top of the fresh mozzarella, next add 2 slices of the tomato and 3-4 slices of bacon.  Top with other slices of bread and cut in half and enjoy!  It’s a beautiful looking sandwich and it taste even better then in looks!

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Bacon & Swiss Cheese Dip

I love bacon. I love Swiss cheese! I got this inspiration for this dip because of the bacon and Swiss cheese quiche I make. This came out so cheesy and delicious. It definitely isn’t a healthy dish, but hey you gotta splurge sometimes right?

Bacon & Swiss Cheese Dip

Ingredients:
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 lb bacon, cooked and sliced
1 small onion, diced
8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
1-2 T heavy cream, optional
cooking spray
Crackers or Chips for serving

Directions: Preheat oven 375°. In medium mixing bowl add in 16 oz of cream cheese and smash with a fork. Add in cooked bacon (Note: cook bacon till crispy as it will soften sightly inside the dip). Mix well, add in onion and Swiss cheese. Mix well till fully incorporated. Next season with garlic and onion powder. This is where you could add the heavy cream if you’d like. This will help thin the dip out slightly.

Spray an oven safe baking dish with cooking spray. Add in dip and bake in the oven 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven let sit a few minutes. Serve with chips or crackers.

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Cauliflower Chowder

It’s been a cold and snowy last week or so in Chicago.  The weather is only about to get worse, unfortunately.   We are looking at more snow and super cold temperatures by the middle of the week.   I keep reading articles talking about coldest temperatures in 25 years.  I hope it doesn’t get that cold. However, what is better on a cold winter’s day but a nice bowl of a hearty soup.

Today I made cauliflower chowder.  It’s hearty but light at the same time.  I made this soup as a healthier alternative to traditional cream soups.  It’s very easy to even turn this into a Keto recipe. Check it out.  See cook’s notes below to make Keto.

Cauliflower Chowder

Ingredients:
3 T butter
1 T olive oil
3 T flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1  large red pepper, diced
1 cup gold potatoes, diced
3, 16 oz bags frozen cauliflower
3, 32 oz boxes unsalted or low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fat free half and half
8 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese (more for topping)
1 large bay leaf
2 t dried rosemary
2 t dried thyme
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
2 t chili powder
2 t salt (more to taste)
2 t pepper (more to taste)
1 t crushed red pepper

Toppings (optional)
Shredded cheese
Chopped Bacon
Green onion

Directions:

Heat a large soup pot on medium high heat.  Add in the olive oil and let heat a minute before adding in the garlic and onion.  Once garlic and onion are added cook about 3-4 minutes until the onion is translucent.   Next add in the red pepper and cook another 3 minutes until soft.

Add in the butter and let melt completely.  Slowly add the flour and mix well.  Cook the roux for about 4-6 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock, potatoes and frozen cauliflower and mix.  Add in thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.  Simmer on medium high heat about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.   Check potatoes and make sure they are soft.  Remove the bay leaf.   Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender to break up the cauliflower, but leaving some chunks.

Once blended put back on the stove and add in the 2 cups of fat free half and half and mix well.  Season the soup with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, crushed red pepper and chili powder.  Mix well. Let simmer 15 minutes once the cream is added.

Remove the soup from the heat and add in 8 oz of cheese and mix to thoroughly melt the cheese.  Make sure to put the spoon to the bottom of the pot to make sure the cheese isn’t all fallen to the bottom.

To serve, ladle soup into a bowl and top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, bacon and green onions.

Chef Notes:  For Keto recipe, replace 3 T of flour with ¼ t of xanthan gum.  Do not add in with the butter.  Make a slurry with the xanthan gum some liquid and add into the pot.  Replace fat free half and half for full fat heavy whipping cream. Omit potatoes entirely.

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Bacon & Goat Cheese Frittata with Mushroom & Onion

Spice up your boring eggs with this frittata recipe. This is a great recipe to have for breakfast, brunch or even dinner. It’s so versatile and you can add any proteins, veggies or cheeses. I used bacon, (because I love it so much), mushroom, onions and goat cheese. It came out delicious. This is definitely an elevated dish for any meal. It’s sure to please even picky eaters and can be put together so quickly.

Take a look at my recipe and just add ingredients you love. There is no rules here. 🙂

Bacon & Goat Cheese Frittata with Mushroom & Onion

Ingredients:
5 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup milk
3 oz goat cheese
3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped|
2 t olive oil
5 bacon slices, cooked and chopped
1 t dried thyme
1/2 t crushed red pepper, optional
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven 375°. Heat a medium, oven safe saute pan or cast iron skillet over high heat. Add in olive oil let heat a minute. Add in onion and let cook 2 minutes and then add in the mushrooms.

Lower heat to medium and let cook 4-6 minutes, mixing a few times. Season with salt and pepper. Add milk to the whisked eggs and season with salt, pepper, thyme and crushed red pepper. Mix well. Add in bacon, reserve a few pieces for the top.

Add the egg mixture to the pan and make sure it fully covers the mushroom mixture and the bottom of the pan. Let cook 3-5 minutes until edges are set. Crumble goat cheese evenly over the top of egg mixture and top remaining bacon. Remove from heat and put in the oven for 13-15 minutes until cooked and serve immediately.

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