Saturday, June 27, 2009

Life's just a....

No recipe required!

Fun Plates for the Kiddos

I got these cute little divided plates at Target the other day. They have pictures of animals inside the different compartments, like a frog and an octopus, etc. The kids really think it is funny to eat up their lunch and then exclaim, "Look, a monkey!"

Hominy Grill's Shrimp & Grits

This recipe was from the May 2009 issue of Southern Living Magazine. It was very good and we paired it with a simple salad. I think next time I make it though I might add a few "me" touches. I would probably not use tabasco sauce next time because I don't really fancy it. For a little spice I would prefer some crushed red pepper or a sprinkle of cayenne. Also not a huge fan of the green onions in this recipe, maybe chives instead? The grits could be made with cheddar, gouda, peccorino Romano, Parmesan, Asiago...pretty much anything! I think I like gouda grits best.
So here's the recipe, straight out of the magazine:

Hominy Grill's Shrimp & Grits


* 2 pounds unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp (31/40 count)
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 5 bacon slices, chopped
* 1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
* 2 teaspoons hot sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits


1. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Toss shrimp with flour until lightly coated, shaking to remove excess.

2. Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until crisp. Remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet.

3. Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings 4 minutes or just until mushrooms begin to release their liquid. Add shrimp, and sauté 3 to 3 1/2 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute (do not brown garlic). Add lemon juice and next 3 ingredients; serve immediately over Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits. Sprinkle with bacon.

Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits


* 4 tablespoons butter
* 5 cups milk
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
* 1 garlic clove, pressed
* 1 1/2 cups uncooked stone-ground white grits
* 1 (10-oz.) block sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated


1. Bring 2 Tbsp. butter, next 4 ingredients, and 5 cups water to a boil in a medium-size Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 1/2 hours or until thickened. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 Tbsp. butter until melted. Serve immediately.

Quick-Cooking Creamy Cheddar Cheese Grits: Substitute 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits for stone-ground grits. Decrease water and milk to 4 1/2 cups each. Prepare recipe as directed, cooking grits 10 to 15 minutes or until thickened.

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Dates, and Prosciutto & Whole Roast Lemon Basil Chicken

This delicious salad was made with fresh organic red and green leaf lettuce from a friend's garden and topped with crumbled goat cheese, chopped dates, and prosciutto. Yummy. I can't actually remember what we dressed it with, I think it was a balsamic vinaigrette, yes, that sounds about right.

The chicken is nothing fancy, but the trick is to cook it breast-side down, so that the breast
absorbs all the juices. It's amazing because when you take it out of the over there will literally be no juices left in the pan and the meat is really juicy and tender. As a testament to how delicious this chicken is, when my 3-year-old saw me preparing the chicken he said "Mama, I need to eat that chicken" and I told him we still had to cook it in the oven and he said "No! I need to eat that chicken NOW!"

Whole Roast Lemon Chicken with Basil:

1 Whole Chicken-giblets and neck removed and reserved for future use (homemade broth anyone?) and excess fat cut away from the cavity.
1 Whole Lemon
1 Bunch Fresh Basil
1 Stick Butter
Sea Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Salt and Pepper chicken all over. Place breast-down in roasting pan. Pierce lemon all over with a fork. Stuff lemon in the cavity. Melt butter in a saucepan and pour over and inside chicken. Sprinkle all over with basil. Pop in the oven for a few hours. Remove when chicken is puffed up, brown, and delicious-smelling. :) Transfer to a platter and garnish (I used "salad confetti" in the photo made from radicchio and broccoli), but you could also throw a few more sprigs of fresh basil around.

Cooking time for chicken: I believe the standard for a whole chicken is 1 hour per pound at 350 plus 20 minutes. But I like to cook them at a higher temp, 425-450 for roasting. So I usually eyeball it, but I think it would be about 3 hours for a 5 lb bird. I just take it out when it looks right and stick a knife in it and check that the meat is white and juices are running clear.

We rounded this meal our with wild rice, green beans, and a glass of Pinot Noir.

Catching Up and Our Veggie/Herb Garden!

I am playing major blogging catch-up here!  I've been saving all these photos and recipes and tid-bits here and there and just haven't had any time to sit down and blog them.  It's been a bit hectic around here (as usual) juggling raising 2 kids, 4 dogs, planting the vegetable garden, digging flower beds, trying to feed everyone, and running 2 businesses!

First, here are some shots of our modest beginnings of a vegetable/herb garden.  Currently housed in pots on our porch, but we tilled out the big veggie garden area in the corner of the yard last weekend.  We just need to get some good soil and compost in there and put up a fence, arbor, and gate to keep out our 2-legged and 4-legged children.  :)  We've been adding week by week and we now have:
Rutgers Heirloom Tomatoes
Yellow Pear Heirloom Tomatoes
Roma Grape Tomatoes
Japanese Eggplant
Red and Yellow Sweet Peppers
Crookneck Squash
Sweet Basil
Cinnamon Basil
Italian Flatleaf Parsley
German Thyme
Lemon Tree
2 Peach Trees
3 Apple Trees (Golden Delicious and Granny Smith)

and soon hoping to add Zucchini, Sage, Cilantro, Chives, Oregano, Broccoli, lettuces and Green Beans to the mix!

None of the veggies have ripened yet, but the herbs have been used A LOT in my cooking lately.  The husband is completely sick of basil, so I am not allowed to put it on his food anymore!