Grits Dressing

I saw this recipe in this month’s issue of Bon Appetit and was immediately intrigued – no bread in dressing? However, grits are one of my favorite things – I simply love them. Yes, I know I was born (and live) a little farther north than the normal grit suspects. 🙂 If you want a traditional, stuff-in-the bird dressing than this probably isn’t for you. If you want something new or want a unique and delicious side dish (maybe instead of corn?) than I definitely recommend  it.

As for me, I’m sitting in the kitchen hoarding the dish and wishing I hadn’t made only half of the recipe. Do I really have to share? The thing about this rich and creamy side is that I would actually make it for brunch or for a holiday side. While my waistline may not approve of frequent feasting on this dish, it is a wonderful treat. Mmmm, I love the holidays.   


(adapted very slightly from Bon Appetit, November 2011)
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Unsalted butter (for dish)
1 c. coarse stone-ground grits (I used Bob’s Red Mill Yellow Corn Grits)
1 c. (about 10 ounces) chopped bacon
6 large eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 c. coarsely grated cheddar (about 8 ounces), divided
2 Tb. chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp. sweet paprika (I only had smoky and since there was bacon in it, I went with it)
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Butter a 2-qt. baking dish. Bring 4 cups water (or chicken stock would be really great) to a simmer in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to low; gently simmer, stirring often, until grits begin to thicken. Continue cooking, stirring often and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls it too thick, until tender and very thick* (about 5 cups), about 1 hour. (The amount of water and cooking time will vary depending on the type of grits used – mine took 1/2 hour or a little less.) Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5–7 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain.

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk eggs and cream in a medium bowl; whisk into grits in 3 additions. Stir in 1 3/4 cups cheese, chives, paprika, and bacon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer grits mixture to prepared dish and smooth top with a spoon. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over.

Transfer baking dish to oven and bake until puffed, golden, and just set in the middle, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

*When they say VERY THICK, they really mean it. Mine were not thick enough – I did not need to smooth the top with a spoon (it was thin enough to settle out on it’s own). 🙂 They still worked out great!

Market Fresh: Strawberries

I’m so excited that it’s strawberry season and grill season! I combined the two into a Balsamic Grilled Chicken Strawberry Salad. This was so delicious and so summery and the colors are stunning! This will definitely make a frequent appearance on our summer menu!

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1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. herbs de provence
1 tsp. salt
1 Tb. heavy cream
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

Combine first five ingredients. Place chicken in a bag or container and pour marinade overall. Marinate for at least 1 hour. Grill until chicken is fully cooked – juices will run clear.

1/2 lb. baby spinach
1/2 lb. strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1/4 c. feta cheese (blue or gorgonzola would also be great!)
1/4 c. pecans, chopped

Arrange on a platter or in a salad bowl. Top with grilled chicken. Drizzle dressing over all.

3 Tb. olive oil
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients and shake or whisk well to combine.

Market Fresh: Lettuce

Lettuce is definitely coming up in gardens and very seasonal right now. I often use mixed greens for salad and sandwiches but I really enjoy other lettuces, too. Today, I have a wedge salad and a romaine salad. Both of these recipes are easy and yet fancy enough for a nice dinner. As a side note: the tomatoes are still looking a little puny. 🙂

I’m not generally a fan of iceberg lettuce but this recipe showcases this crisp lettuce with a wonderful blue cheese dressing. This would be delicous with a little bacon!

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1/3 c. crumbled blue cheese
2 Tb. c. plain yogurt
3 Tb. buttermilk
1/4 c. mayonnaise
2 Tb. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. white sugar
1 small clove garlic, minced
ground black pepper

1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut into 4 wedges
1 tomato, diced
1/4 c.  red onion, small diced
crumbled blue cheese

Combine blue cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, garlic, and pepper in a bowl; whisk together; chill until serving.

Build the salad by placing 1 lettuce wedge on each of 4 plates. Drizzle equal amounts of dressing over each wedge. Scatter tomatoes, onion, and blue cheese over each salad. Serves 4.

This dressing is fresh and delicious and really enhances the romaine lettuce. The recipe is adapted from Rachael Ray.

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1/2 a lemon, juiced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Pinch sugar, honey, or agave nectar 
10 blades chives, chopped or snipped
1/3-1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil (depending on how much juice the lemon has) 
Salt and pepper
2 hearts romaine lettuce 
1 c.  grape tomatoes, halved or any other tomato, diced 

Whisk lemon juice, mustard, and sugar together in a bowl. Add chives and whisk in oil in a slow stream. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Quarter each heart of romaine lengthwise. Trim core at ends. Place 2 quarters on each salad plate. They’re served whole, covered with dressing. Halve a few grape tomatoes and place at plates’ edge for garnish. Drizzle salads liberally with vinaigrette and serve. Serves 4.

Market Fresh: Green Onions

Green onions are gorgeous white with green stalks. Both parts are edible and make wonderful toppings for baked potatoes, soups, tacos, and more. They are a tasty addition to salads and homemade salsa, too. Occasionally I’ll also add them to an omelet of egg casserole but I don’t often use them for much else.

So today I wanted to share a great recipe for using green onions – it’s a Green Onion Vinaigrette. This received wonderful reviews at Easter Dinner. I tossed it with the lettuce and then topped the salad with sauteed pears and pecans. The sweet and oniony flavors went well together and even my boys ate it. The bright green color is all-natural!

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8 scallions
2 small cloves garlic
scant 1/4 c. rice vinegar
1-2 tsp. agave nectar or honey
1/2 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Blanch the scallions in boiling, salted water for 30 seconds then shock in ice cold water.

Combine the scallions, garlic, and vinegar in the blender. Process until pureed. Add the agave nectar, salt and pepper. While blender is running, slowly add the olive oil. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.