Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jambalaya Grits!

We tried out a new recipe last night....or actually a combination of recipes...for Jambalaya Grits! It was pretty good, if you like grits:) Here it is!

1 1/2 lbs shrimp
1 lb sausage
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
14 oz chicken broth
salt and red pepper to taste
1/3 cup cream
1/4 cup green onions
cheesy grits

Prepare 1 cup dry grits according to package. Once they are done, add 1-1 1/2 cups cheese and 2 tbsp butter. Stir until melted, set aside.

Melt butter and add flour. Stir until light caramel color. Add sausage and cook until done. Add veggies and cook until tender. Stir in chicken broth and salt and pepper. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in shrimp, cream, and green onions. Serve over cheesy grits!

The sewing madness continues today! I have actually run out of white thread....guess I have to go back to Jo-Ann's. I wonder if I can convince my husband to go there with me 2 days in a row:)

FYI...Bob Evan's spicy sausage is the best thing ever. We buy a roll a's a staple in our meals.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Catch-Up Time:)

So I'm a little behind on blogging. This post is going to be ridiculously long....

First off, some Mardi Gras pics!Our fun banner in carpet room:)Beverage Station!

King Cakes delivered from Gambino's in New Orleans, LA. One had cream cheese filling and the other had pecan praline filling. Amazing! The boys had fun betting on where the baby was....Dan won!I found these masks at Oriental Trading. I had them all over the house...the perfect touch!The table...pre-jambalaya.Dirty Rice Balls! The recipe was in my previous post. They were the hit of the party! Besides the baby-guessing game:)

I have been super busy sewing today! I am starting to fall in love with my projects. I still can't disclose what I am making...but here are some sneak pics.
My beautiful sewing machine...The beginning of my thread collection...It's small now but I've got high hopes for it:) I love all the colors!Some of the fabric for my super secret projects...

Well, I think I've done enough for today. More to come soon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

It's been a while since I've been able to blog...and my dad has noticed. So here is a special post for his birthday. Yesterday was also a big wedding anniversary for my parents...28 years! In honor of the weekend festivities, I'm going to start this post with a recipe suggested by my mom. I wanted to make a finger food for our Mardi Gras party and she did some googling for me. These were a huge success! I used an Emeril recipe for guidance and made my own adjustments along the way.

Dirty Rice Balls

Vegetable oil. 2 tbsp + 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour. 1 lb hamburger meat. 1 lb spicy sausage. 1 onion, chopped. 1 bell pepper, chopped. 2 stalks celery, chopped. 1 tbsp minced garlic. 1/4 cup Tony's. pinch cayenne pepper. pinch file powder. 2 cups chicken broth. 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. 1/2 cup green onions, chopped. 4 cups cooked rice. 2 eggs. 1/4 cup milk. 3 cups dried fine bread crumbs. extra oil for frying. dipping sauce.

This recipe can be time consuming, but is actually pretty simple. You start by making the Dirty Rice. I made ours the night before the party so it could chill over night. In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat and whisk in 2 tbsp flour to make a roux. Cook, whisking constantly, until roux thickens and darkens. Don't let it burn! When it is dark, add the sausage and cook until browned. We cooked the hamburger in a different skillet and added it later. Once the sausage is done cooking, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery. Saute until tender. Add the garlic, 2 tsp Tony's, cayenne, and file and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hamburger, 2 cups chicken broth, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the parsley, green onions, and rice. Mix gently and thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and chill until cool.

Once the mixture is completely chilled, form the mixture into balls. Emeril suggest 2 tbsp per ball, but those end up pretty big. You can adjust your size depending on how big you want them. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Mix the flour and 4 tsp Tony's in a shallow bowl. Mix eggs and milk in a second shallow bowl. Mix bread crumbs and 2 tbsp Tony's in a third bowl. Carefully coat each ball, first in the flour mixture, then the egg wash, and then in the bread crumbs. Make sure the balls are coated evenly and shake to remove excess coating. Place them back on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Coat all balls before frying.

If you have a deep-dryer, then frying these up will be simple. We do not have a deep fryer, so we used a small pot and vegetable oil. You want enough oil in the pot to coat the balls. The next part is trial and error. If the oil gets to hot, the balls will have to be removed immediately to avoid burning and the mixture inside will not have a chance to heat up. The knob for our burner ended up around medium. For a dipping sauce, I made a ranch dip using sour cream and ranch dressing mix.

Emeril actually calls for chicken gizzards and livers and ground pork. I think any 2 lbs of meat you want to use would be fine. We also served chicken and shrimp jambalaya..which is why I chose pork and hamburger for the Dirty Rice.

The Mardi Gras party was quite the success. I'll post pictures later this week. And the King Cakes I had delivered from New Orleans....lasted less than 48 hours:)

I am about to start my first sewing project...but I have to keep it a secret. It happens to be a gift and I don't want to spoil it. I'll post pictures when I can. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cheap Eats

Today, I accomplished something amazing. Six meals for under $30. I took advantage of a snow day and super close grocery store...and a desperate need for groceries. I was pretty proud of myself. My menu actually consists of 3 meals, but all can serve double duty.

Meal 1: Chicken twice-baked potatoes
Meal 2: White Bean Chicken Chili
Meal 3: Cheesy Potato Soup and Sandwiches

Grocery List:
1 whole chicken
1 4-pack of baking potatoes
2 White Bean Chili mixes (made by McCormick)
2 cans navy beans
1 Cheesy Potato Soup Mix
1 lb turkey

Now this list may seem small, but I had lots of ingredients on hand already. Tonight, chicken twice-baked potatoes!

Start by cooking and de-boning the chicken and chopping the meat. Cook potatoes via microwave until tender. Cut potatoes down the center and spoon out the pulp, leaving an empty shell. Lots of things can be added to the mixture. I always put a little butter. The rest just depends on what is in the fridge. You can add meat, milk, sour cream, whipping cream, half and half, ranch dressing, cheese, bacon, green onions, seasonings, etc. Stuff the mixture back into the potato skins and bake at 350 for 1-15 minutes or until bubbly and warm. Yum:)

Later this week, I'll share my Superbowl recipes...Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Pasta and Fleur-de-lis sugar cookies! By the way....GEAUX SAINTS! What a fantastic game! It would be a great week to be in Louisiana...and not just because of the ridiculous snow we are having in Ohio.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Day...with a Southern twist

It's been a while since I've blogged, so I'm doing two posts today to make up for it. And I couldn't resist sharing this recipe. It's one of our most favorite. The first time I had this dish, I was in South Carolina visiting a friend. It's not a dish I would normally try, but I couldn't resist fresh shrimp. You could actually watch the shrimping boats while sitting in the restaurant. When I went on this trip, Ryan and I had just started dating. As soon as I got home, I told him about this amazing dish and his response was "When are you going to make it for me." I knew he was made for me if he was interested in shrimp and grits:) We've actually made this dish so many times, that we've created our own twist on the recipe. This one is from our kitchen:)

Shrimp and Grits

1 lb shrimp, peeled
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
6 slices bacon
1 cup grits
2 cups water
14.5 oz chicken broth
3/4 cup whipping cream or half and half
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
2 tbsp butter
ground white pepper

We usually use frozen raw shrimp. Once thawed, shell the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice. Let sit.

Bring water, chicken broth, whipping cream and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add 1 cup grits and stir until mixed. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once grits have thickened and liquid is reduced, add butter, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. If we don't have cheddar cheese on hand, we will use whatever we have.

While grits are cooking, fry bacon. Ryan usually chops the bacon before cooking. Easier than crumbing afterwards:) Remove bacon from grease and drain. Reserve a small amount of the bacon grease. Add onions, green onions, garlic, mushrooms, dash of white pepper, and saute until tender. Add shrimp and cook until done.

Serve shrimp mixture over grits. Top with bacon. Southern perfection:)

I can't believe I'm doing this, but there are several variations. If you happen to be one of those people who doesn't like shrimp, there are several meat substitutions. Ground sausage, sliced sausage, sliced steak, or chicken would all work. But shrimp is the best:) As for the substitutions there. I used to be very opposed to grits, but cheese grits are heaven on earth. If you don't believe me, try them.


Snow Day

The perfect meal during cold weather...chili. We had some for dinner last night and it was both simple to make and delicious. Here is the recipe, compliments of mom:)

2 lbs ground beef, browned and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 bag seasoning blend, or chopped onions, bell peppers, and celery
1 can kidney beans
2-3 tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Done! A delicious dinner that keeps you warm...

So I finally attempted my bobbin project with my new sewing machine...and I did it! Not only did I thread the bobbin, I threaded the needle as well! I did some stitching on a wide piece of ribbon and it was fairly successful. My next tasks are to figure out when to use lower and upper thread, and how to tie off the thread securely once the stitch is finished. I will likely have to call mom for this one. Lindsey, any progress with your sewing?

To finish up, some pictures of our snow day. Ryan let me attempt to shovel some....much harder than it looks. And not fun at case any southerners were wondering. Geaux Saints!!!