Creole style shrimp and grits

Shrimp and grits- something I had NEVER eaten before Rob and I moved to the Charleston area, and now it seems I can’t get enough. I like experimenting with different variations on this meal, and this one was pretty tasty. Plus it has bacon, so of course it’s already a winner. In love

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Creole style shrimp and grits (recipe adapted from ‘South Carolina shrimp and grits’ from Southern Living, off the eaten path)

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the shrimp and gravy:

4 slices cooked bacon

1 small yellow onion

1 red bell pepper

2 TBSP all purpose flour

1 TBSP creole style seasoning (add more if you like it with an extra kick)

2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce (low sodium)

1 1/4 cup beef broth (low sodium)

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, with tails removed

For the grits:

3/4 stone ground white corn grits (I use Palmetto farms)

3/4 cups milk (I actually use 2% and they come out great, but real Southerners always recommend whole milk)

3 TBSP unsalted butter

1 tsp kosher salt

Directions to make the grits:

1. Place the grits in a large bowl and cover with water by about an inch. Allow to soak for 5 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh strainer.

2. In a 3-4 qt. saucepan, combine 2 cups of water with the milk and 1 tsp kosher salt. Bring to a boil.

3. Gradually whisk in the grits and reduce the heat to low.

4. Simmer grits over low heat for about 20-25 minutes, until they are thick but tender. You want to whisk the grits about every 3-5 minutes during the cooking process. Finish grits with the 3 TBSP butter and whisk until combined.

Directions to make the shrimp and gravy (start this when the grits are about halfway done cooking):

1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Remove when done.

2. To the same skillet, over medium heat, add the chopped onion and red bell pepper. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir until flour is incorporated and the flavor is cooked out- about 1 minute.

4. Add the creole seasoning, Worcestershire sauce and shrimp, Cook, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes.

5. Add the beef broth and continue to stir constantly, about 4 more minutes, until the shrimp are pink and the sauce has thickened.

To serve:

Ladle the grits into a soup bowl (a shallow, wide bowl). Top with the shrimp/gravy mixture and finish with the crispy cooked bacon.

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Enjoy!

Recipe: Chicken Enchilada Soup

Happy Friday friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Rob and I traveled to PA and split our week between Pittsburgh (where he is from)  and the Philly suburbs (where I am from) to visit with family and friends. We had a wonderful time. It snowed in the Philly area and we quickly agreed that we had enough of the white stuff and looked forward to coming home to dry ground.

One bad thing about traveling during the holidays is that, try as I might, I always seem to eat horribly. We ate out a lot and even “healthy” choices in a restaurant can leave you feeling….blech. On the car ride up to PA, I perused my copy of the new Skinnytaste cookbook by Gina Homolka. I have actually never read her blog, but heard great things about it and the book. The book is beautiful, packed with lovely photographs of the recipes. Believe me, after a week of naughty eating, which included a 6 pack of cinnamon rolls from Ikea (oops!), I was so ready for a skinny taste of anything!

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Recipe: Chicken Enchilada soup (adapted slightly from Skinnytaste)

Serves: 4 large servings or 6 modest servings

The original recipe is made in a slow cooker, but I did not plan that far ahead, so this is adapted, with a few very small tweaks, to be made on the stove.

Ingredients:

3 cups chicken stock (preferably reduced sodium)

1 14.5 oz. can tomato sauce

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles

2 TBSP diced chile peppers (canned)

1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups frozen corn kernels

1 small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bone in chicken breast

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

a good bunch of fresh cilantro (at least 1/4 cup chopped, plus more to your liking)

Directions:

1. Preheat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a dutch oven. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 4-5 minutes over medium heat, until onions are translucent and a little bit brown on the edges.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot- the chicken breast will cook right in the soup, which I find really convenient if you don’t have cooked chicken on hand. You can cook it all together.

3. Put a lid on the pot, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour. After the hour, turn the stove off and remove the bone in chicken breast and check the temperature to be sure it is cooked through if you wish (160 F). Mine was done perfectly in exactly one hour.

4. Cut the chicken breast off the bone, dice or shred the meat and return to the soup. Finish off with additional fresh cilantro if you wish (I have this in my garden right now so I did- I have plenty to use and it adds such a nice, fresh taste to the soup).

5. Top the soup with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and tortilla strips*.

*I did not have any tortilla chips in the house, but I had corn tortillas in the fridge. Cut 3 tortilla strips with a knife, toss with a little olive oil and kosher salt, then lay flat on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 F for 5-6 minutes, then flip them over and bake an additional 5 minutes. Top with a bit more kosher salt when you take them out of the oven.

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This was delicious and easy. If you are still making your Christmas list, definitely add this cookbook to your wish list. I can’t wait to try more recipes from it.

Have a wonderful Friday!

Open kitchen cabinet

Good morning friends! I hope you all had a great weekend. It was unseasonably chilly here on Saturday, so I tackled a free project that I’ve been contemplating for some time. I’ve been thinking about removing a set of upper cabinet doors in the kitchen for a while to create an open shelving look. Previously, I removed a set of lower cabinet doors under the sink and made a sink skirt to replace them. I decided to try the upper door removal Saturday and I really love how it turned out. And Rob approves too! In love

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I am so glad to be able to see some of my decorative accessories on display now!

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I love these baskets from Ikea. I’ve had them for years and they make a great accessory. I slapped a tag on it because I slap tags on everything. Seriously. Be right back

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I like having my hand crank pasta machine out on display. The accessories are behind it, which you can see here, but you can’t see them when you are looking up at the cabinet.

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Thanks for stopping in! Have a great start to your week. Red heart

Recipe: Chocolate chunk cookie cake with salted caramel drizzle

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I don’t know about you, but I always loved the cookie cakes you could get at places like the Great American Cookie Company in the mall. I actually had a friend who worked at such a place, and they’d give away product at the end of her shift (otherwise, it got tossed in the trash). Yum. Free cookies.

A while ago, I made a cookie cake for a friend’s birthday dinner and it seemed to be a hit. I did the same for another friend a few weekends ago. What is it about a giant cookie ‘cake’ that seems fun and special? I don’t know, but they are always a hit and they are not hard to make. Here is my version.

**Disclaimer- I cook and bake because I like to eat. When I bake, it’s all about putting it together and getting it into my belly. So if you are looking for a fancy decorated cookie cake like the ones from the mall cookie companies,  this is not for you.  Who me? Let’s file this under ‘rustic’, shall we?

Okay, here we go.

Cookie dough: this is a variation on a cookie cake recipe I posted a while ago. For this cookie cake, I used all the dough from this dough recipe. This makes a very big cookie cake.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg at room temperature

1 tsp vaniila extract (****or 1 TBSP of caramel sauce right into the dough mixture if you’re out of vanilla like I was today. The caramel sauce has vanilla in it).

2 cups dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips the best)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the butter, sugars, vanilla (or caramel sauce) and egg for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. While this is working (if you’re using a stand mixer- if you’re using a hand mixer, you will need extra hands and I can’t help you there! Ha!), combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in batches (4 or 5 small batches). Add a little of the dry mixture to the wet, turn your mixer on low just enough to incorporate the dry ingredients, then turn the mixer off and add more.

4. Fold in your chocolate chips until they are mixed throughout the dough.

5. Now, place a piece of parchment paper on your countertop and dump the dough out into the center of the paper, like this:

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6. Top the dough with a second piece of parchment paper, like this:

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7. Press down on the dough to flatten it out, then finish smoothing it out into a circle with a rolling pin. The size you want to make it will depend on the size of your pan. I used a 16 inch pizza pan. If you want it to be more uniform in shape, you can clean the edges up with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.

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8. Remove the top layer of parchment and quickly slide the parchment with cookie dough onto a round pizza pan.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-16 minutes, or until the whole cookie is golden brown, like this:

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10. Drizzle it with caramel sauce and top with flaked sea salt.

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Now do your best to leave it alone until after dinner. Be right back

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“Fixer Upper” inspired wall greeting

Do you guys watch ‘FIxer Upper’ on HGTV? I just LOVE that show and love Joanna Gaines’ style. I have always had some sort of typography sprinkled into our home décor, even in our house in Pittsburgh. But I have always used letters that are the same font and size. But I have loved the way Joanna uses salvaged letters of all sizes and fonts on her show. I don’t have any salvaged letters…but I do have Hobby Lobby….and a 50% off sale on letters. Rolling on the floor laughing

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Um, I love it. I kept the existing ‘M’ and purchased the other 3 letters on sale this weekend. Rob is so patient…he helped me lay out all possible combinations in the store before we decided on this. Red heart

Before:

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After:

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Have a great Monday, friends!

Lemon white chocolate chip cookies

Hello friends! I created this recipe years ago and actually published it on the old version of this blog (which you can still find in the archives)…but I have tweaked it just a touch and, in turn, I hope I have improved upon it. I love these cookies anytime of year, but they are especially nice in the summer, as the lemon flavor makes them seem lighter. If you don’t love lemon, you can certainly substitute your favorite citrus. I have made this recipe with orange and lime and they have been good. The lemon just happens to be my favorite. I hope you like them too!

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Lemon white chocolate chip cookies:
Yield: about 18 large cookies

Cookie batter:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of one lemon
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 cup of white chocolate chips

Glaze
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup powdered sugar (plus up to 3 extra tablespoons of powdered. sugar if your lemon yields a lot of juice)***
whisk all ingredients together and set aside

***Start here, then taste the glaze- this is just a glaze, so you can tweak the measurements. For a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar. I tend to like mine on the thicker side.

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat butter, egg and sugars, along with extract and zest on medium high speed until fluffy and pale yellow in color (4-5 minutes).
Gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chips

Use a large cookie scoop and scoop cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan

Bake cookies at 375 F for 10-12 minutes. Mine usually take right around 11 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool and then top with the glaze (drizzle with a spoon and use the back of the spoon to spread). Allow cookies and glaze to sit for about a half hour so glaze will harden.

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Hope this makes your hump day more bearable! Enjoy!

5 things to love about World Market…if only I had more rooms to decorate

Happy Monday, friends! Is that an oxymoron? Probably….whoops. If you have a World Market near you and haven’t been in lately, check it out. If you don’t have one near you, get online and check out these great finds. There is eye candy everywhere in that store!

How cute is this metal storage bin?

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I love this cool industrial shelf. It reminds me of this shelf from Restoration Hardware, which is also awesome but a lot more money. If you like the look, World Market’s smaller version just may fit the bill. I can picture all my cookbooks and cookware on these shelves.

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I want this adorable shelf! Can you please buy and and invite me to your house so I can admire it? Thanks a bunch. Winking smile Better yet, it’s similar looking, but less $$ than its Pottery Barn counterpart.

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All I can say to this adorable shelf is yes please!

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Lastly, these vintage looking crates remind me of an old milk crate. I actually have an awesome vintage Borden milk crate, and these look very similar, minus the inscription.

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Enjoy the rest of your day!