Monthly Archives: July 2009

Laine’s Favorite Shrimp and Grits

How the topic of shrimp and grits came up one night while watching So You Think You Can Dance (one of the best shows on TV, by the way), I really don’t remember, but it did.  And then it kept coming up.  My friend, Laine, and I decided that they are simply awesome and I told her that I would make her some soon.  The next night I was watching a little late night Food Network, and what was on?  Bobby Flay’s Shrimp and Grits Throwdown!  Of course, now I had grits on my mind, so the next day at work, a co-worker and I were waxing poetic on their virtues for quite awhile.  Inevitably, the next Wednesday, when Laine planned to come over for the latest installment of SYTYCD, I decided to whip some up for dinner.  Only problem was, despite my efforts to let her know, she didn’t realize what I was making and decided to skip dinner and just join us for the show.  Well, she was at least a little disappointed when she realized what she had missed out on.  So, of course, I promised that I would make the dish again on our next TV night.  Well, you know how I don’t measure and don’t really write down what I use unless I’m blogging?  That really worked out for me this time around.  This week’s version was clearly far superior to the previous week’s.  The earlier batch was a little too spicy and being that I forgot to start the dish out with the bacon and had to add it separately at the end, it really lacked the porky essence that makes shrimp and grits so special.  Luckily, I had already decided that I would blog about this dish the next time I made it, so now, I (and you) will always know how to make the version that quickly became Laine’s Favorite Shrimp and Grits.  BONUS:  From start to finish this meal takes less than 20 minutes to prepare!

Ingredients

Bacon

Onion

Garlic

Shrimp

Lemon Zest and Juice

Hot Sauce

Chicken Stock

Tomato Sauce

Fresh Parsley

Italian Seasoning

Quick Grits

Milk

Water

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Butter

Cheddar Cheese (I always use extra sharp)

Process

Since this is a pretty quick process, you want to gather up all of your main ingredients before you start.

001

Heat a large skillet over medium-low.  Chop the bacon into about one inch pieces and add to the pan.  While the bacon is cooking.  Chop the onions and mince the garlic.  When the bacon is golden, drain off some of the fat, return to the heat, and add the onions and garlic.

007If your shrimp are frozen, you can defrost them now.  I do this by placing the frozen shrimp in a large bowl and covering with cool water.  They defrost pretty quickly this way.  Then you can peel them and pat dry.

004

Start grits by following package instructions for the amount you are cooking.

008While the grits cook, toss your shrimp into the skillet with the bacon.

011Season with salt and pepper.

012When the grits are thickened and cooked according to the package, add a generous splash of milk.

010

Next, you can stir in some shredded cheddar cheese and butter to taste.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer, covered until your shrimp is finished.  Stir occasionally to prevent them from sticking.

021

Your grits should be smooth, rich, and creamy at their finish.

025

When the shrimp is almost cooked through, use a microplane to grate in some lemon zest.

013Now, the final step is to prepare the sauce.

015First, add a hefty glug of chicken stock and use a spoon to scrape up any brown bits and incorporate it into the sauce.

016Next, add in about an equal amount of tomato sauce.

017Then stream in hot sauce to taste.

019Stir it all up to combine and reduce the heat to low.  Allow to simmer for another minute or so.  While it simmers finely chop up a bit of fresh parsley.  Now add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

022Remove from heat and stir in the fresh parsley.

023

You’re Done!  Seriously, I know there is a lot of multi-tasking involved here, but it’s totally worth it and really only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish until you can ENJOY!

026

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My Hubby Has Joined The Blogosphere!

“So, you know how the pics on that food blog, One Bite At A Time, are so awesome?  Well, I hear the author’s husband takes all of her photos and that he just started his very own blog!”

Yes, it’s true my very talented husband has started his own blog.  He’s got a lot of great work to post, so show him some love over at A Vibrant Pic.  I like to think that the photos here on One Bite At A Time keep you all interested, so I’m sure that you would all love to check out some more sweet eye candy.

ENJOY!

COMING SOON:  SHRIMP AND GRITS AND MORE BACON!!!

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Easy Breezy Stuffed Pork Chops

Okay, so the flavors in this dish are distinctly fall, but as much as I love to buy produce seasonally, I buy apples all year round.  What can I say, I love apples.  So, when I pulled these chops out of the freezer and realized I had bacon, apples, and onion, I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and let me tell you, this is truly a knockout combo no matter what time of year.   To be honest, there’s not really much more of a story to this one, it was just a regular mid-week dinner that was absolutely tasty and well-suited to illustrate a method that makes a simply prepared dish look super-impressive.  Seriously give it a try, dinner will be on the table before you know it.

Ingredients

Bacon

Apples (I used granny smith, but any firm cooking apple will do)

Onion

Fresh Rosemary (or another woodsy herb of your choosing)

Thick Cut Boneless Pork Chops

Butter

Kosher Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Poultry Seasoning

Process

Heat a large skillet over medium fire.  While the pan heats cut bacon into small pieces.  Toss into the hot pan to cook.

001While the bacon cooks, finely chop onion, apple, and rosemary.

002Once the bacon is browned, drain off a little of the excess fat.

004Then toss in the onions.

005Once the onions begin to go translucent, add the apples, rosemary, and a little butter.

006Now, stir it all up and allow to cook down for a few minutes.  Then season with a little salt and pepper.

007Turn the heat to low and allow to cook a few more minutes while you prep the chops.  You can also preheat your oven to 400 degrees at this point.  Place your chops on a cutting board and grab a sharp knife.

009Now to create a pocket in the chops to stuff the filling in, press your hand flat down on the top of the chop and insert the tip of your knife into the side of the chop.  Slice into the chop to create the pocket leaving about a 1/2 inch on each side.  Do not let your knife go all the way through the chop.

011Here’s what the pocket should look like:

012Repeat the process on each of your chops then liberally season the with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.

013Now, grab the chops one by one and spoon filling into the slit until it is just about flush with the edge of the chop.   If you think you need to, you can use a toothpick to close up the opening, but this time around my filling was pretty secure.

015In the same pan that you used for the filling, heat about a teaspoon of butter over medium-high.

016Add your porkchops to the pan.  We just want to give them a golden brown crust.

017When the first side reaches desired color, flip ’em over and allow the second side to brown.

018Once both sides are nicely browned, transfer the chops to a baking dish and pop in the oven.

019They are probably only gonna need about 15 minutes in the oven, depending on the thickness of your chops.  They should look like this when they are done:

021I served them up with creamy whipped potatoes.  I happened to be low on fresh veggies this day, but any steamed green veggie would also be fabulous alongside.

024Enjoy!

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Red, White, and Green Lasagna Rolls…For 50!

Over at Jacob’s Well, my church community here in New Jersey, we all lend our individual skills to the greater whole.  A part of our identity is “Life in Community.”  Not only does this mean opening our arms to people in need of community, it also means sharing the responsibilities of that community.  Of course, we can just show up, enjoy the service, and leave, but the knowledge that extending our efforts a little bit further enriches our identities as Christians and members of Jacob’s Well, seems to drive everyone to contribute in whatever way the can.  It is a beautiful and transformative thing to see people sacrifice their time and assets (no matter how slim) to better our community.  Each Sunday, in our home service, we share a lunch prepared and organized by families (or groups of friends) that volunteer to feed a whole houseful of people.  For me, this is obviously an opporunity to utilize my particular skill set.  Nevermind how much fun it was, albeit a challenge, to develop and execute a new recipe for more people than I’ve ever cooked for.  It had to be something relatively simple to prepare and transport, inexpensive, but still impressive, and not too similar to past weeks’ meals.  It came to me in a dream, LASAGNA ROLLS….with two sauces!  Only problem was, I had never made lasagna rolls before.  Was I really going to attempt something I had never done before and serve it to 50 people?  Sure was!  Needless to say, when it came time to pop them in the oven and serve ’em up, I was incredibly nervous…stomach-churning, sweaty palms nervous.  Honestly, I could barely even taste the food when I finally sat down to eat, and I forgot to take pictures of the final product!  But, the next day when I ate one of the three leftover rolls, I realized that I shouldn’t have worried at all!  They came out pretty much exactly how I was hoping.  If you decide try these out, remember that the recipe can easily be adjusted up or down and that any leftovers can be frozen and reheated in the oven.  Here goes:

Ingredients

Ground Beef

Onion

Garlic

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Italian Seasoning

Frozen Chopped Spinach

Lasagna Noodles

Butter

Flour

Milk

Crushed Italian Tomatoes with Basil

Fresh Basil

Sugar

Grated Parmesan Cheese (Yes, I used the cheap stuff here…c’mon it’s 50 people!)

Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Process

Begin by browning beef, over medium-high heat, in a pot large enough to fit all of the meat at once.

037While the meat  begins browning, chop some onion and add it to the pot.

039Stir it all up and allow to cook for a few minutes, then mince up some garlic and add it in.

040Stir to combine.  Once the meat is browned, lower the heat to medium.  While the meat continues to cook, you should defrost the spinach.

041I do this by placing the spinach in a microwave safe bowl and heating on short (minute-long) intervals in the microwave and stirring it between each blast to ensure that it defrosts evenly.  Once it is completely defrosted place on top of several layers of paper towels (you can use a kitchen towel, but I don’t have a washer, so paper towels work just fine), wrap the towels up around the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.  You may have to repeat this process several times.  I had a very large bag of spinach, so I had to do this in batches.

043Now, you can toss the spinach in with the meat.  Liberally season the meat mixture with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.

045

Stir to combine.  The meat should be cooked through by this point, so you can taste it to check the seasoning.

046At this point, you can bring your pasta water to a boil.  For the amount of meat I made for the filling, I went through 3-4 boxes of lasagna noodles.  Once the water comes to a boil, add a generous amount of kosher salt and add your pasta to the boiling water.  Cook a little shy of al dente.

044

Remember to stir the pasta until it returns to a boil, to prevent sticking.  Note:  If making for a crowd, you may need to prepare your pasta in batches.  You never want to overcrowd your pasta pot.  If making in batches, drain cooked batches as they come out and place in a bowl covered with cool water.

048Now, here is when you’ll have to put your multi-tasking skills to the test.  As your pasta cooks, you want to prepare the cream sauce that you will combine with the meat to complete the filling.  Begin by heating a large pot over medium-low heat.  Add butter and flour and combine to make a roux.

053Allow the flour to cook, but keep a good eye on it.  You don’t want the roux to pick up any color since we are making a bechamel, which requires a white or blonde roux.  Season with salt and pepper.

055Add milk to the roux to reach desired consistency.  You want the sauce to be pourable, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  If you think you’ve reached this stage, add a little more milk as it will thicken as it simmers and when you add the parmesan cheese.

058Allow to simmer and thicken for a few minutes, then add several handfuls of parmesan cheese.

064Stir to combine.  Taste sauce to check seasoning.  If you’re pleased, you can combine the meat mixture with the cheese sauce in a large bowl.

069

Make sure all of the meat is coated with the sauce.

071

Add just a little more parm, and set aside along with lasagna noodles.

072In a small pot, combine tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, some salt and bring to a simmer.

061Grab some fresh basil and finely slice into ribbons.

054

Remove tomato sauce from heat, and stir in the basil.

066Spread a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish (I used a long disposable foil tray).

073One by one, lay each lasagna noodle on a flat surface and spread a small spoonful of filling down the center, vertically.

076

Begin rolling from the end closest tou you, tucking in the filling as you go along.

078Place rolls in the foil pan in a single layer.

075

Repeat filling process until your pan is full (I had to use a second, smaller pan to make 50 rolls).

079Cover with a generous, but not excessive, amount of sauce (you want enough sauce so that when you bake it off, the pasta will finish cooking in it).

080As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to snap a few pics, but at this point you should top with a healthy helping of shredded mozzarella cheese.  You can bake the tray right away, or refrigerate or freeze it until ready to use.  Bake at 400 degrees until heated through and cheese is melted and starting to brown.  Hope you ENJOY…it’s really not as hard as it looks :).

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Time Flies…

It probably seems as if I’ve abandoned my mission to share my culinary adventures with the World Wide Web, but alas, that’s not the case.  Honestly, I’ve just gotten swept away with life.  Basically, my world has been insanely busy.  I’m still cooking, of course.  Not quite as much as I was a few months ago, but I am, and I have a few dishes stockpiled to share with you all, and plan to continue working on more.  I hope my readers will continue to be patient with me, as a I working on updating the site with meals I’ve prepared over the past month, and I’ll do my best keep my updates frequent.  Thanks for tuning in!

Still living life...One Bite At A Time

Still living life...One Bite At A Time

COMING SOON:  COOKING FOR A CROWD!

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