Irish Strawberry Smoothie

I haven’t done Smoothie Sunday in a couple of weeks.
I am home alone tonight.
It’s a holiday weekend.

Those three facts led to the birth of this:

Irish Strawberry Smoothie

measurements are approximate…just make to your taste!

1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt

1/3 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

1/4 cup low-fat or skim milk

1/2 cup frozen or fresh strawberries

ice (if using fresh strawberries)

Place everything in blender and blend away!!

Nothing wrong with throwing a party for yourself, right!?

Cheesy Shrimp n’ Grits

Seeing how today is Friday.  Seeing how it is Lent.  Seeing how this past Tuesday was Mardi Gras…

I only had one thing on my brain – Southern Seafood!!!

I broke out the shrimp and to add that Southern charm, I threw in some grits.  I love grits.  When I think of grits, I think about the week I spent in Hilton Head, SC a few years ago.  Every morning for breakfast, I went to a little restaurant down the street and ordered a seafood omelet with grits.  Anything that reminds you of the beach can’t be bad, right?

This dish is so quick and easy and is perfect to whip up on a busy weeknight…for example, a Friday in Lent.  Or a Tuesday.  Or even a Thursday.  Really, you can just eat it whenever.  Multiple times a week.  Maybe even multiple times a day!!!

I made my grits from cornmeal since I didn’t have any instant grits on hand…so this meal can be even faster if you use instant grits!  It just keep getting better, doesn’t it!?

But, please wait….it gets even better….

….we add cheese to our grits!  Mmmmm.  Cheese.  I think it is the one thing on Earth that will make everything better all the time.

Now onto those little shrimp.

I used frozen shrimp that were already cooked.  I tossed them with salt, pepper, and creole seasoning and warmed them in the skillet with butter and garlic and the juice of half a lemon.  I’m pretty sure that mixture was sent from heaven.  Especially the butter.

This dish is bursting with flavor and the cheesy grits with the spicy shrimp are the perfect pair.

Cheesy Shrimp n’ Grits

Cheesy Grits:

2 cups whole milk (I only had skim, so I used 1 1/2 cups milk with 1/2 cup plain yogurt to thicken)

2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coarse-ground cornmeal

4 tablespoons butter

4 oz. cheddar cheese (I used half cheddar, half fresh parmesan)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat, add the milk, water, and salt and bring to a boil.  When a boil is reached, add in the cornmeal gradually, whisking as you add it.  Once all of the cornmeal is added, reduce the temperature and cover.  Let simmer for 20-25 minutes, whisking every 3-4 minutes to prevent the cornmeal from sticking and forming lumps.  Be sure to whisk the whole way around the bottom edges of the pot.

When cornmeal is ready, remov from heat and add butter, cheese, and black pepper.  Stir together until butter and cheese is melted.

Creole Shrimp:

1 pound shrimp (I used frozen cooked shrimp, thawed)

2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon cajun seasoning, such as Creole or Old Bay

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

juice of half a lemon

In large bowl, toss shrimp with seasoning, salt and pepper.  Set aside.  In large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add in the garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the shrimp.  If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, just toss the shrimp with the butter, garlic, and lemon juice until heated through.  If you are using uncooked shrimp, toss the shrimp with the butter, garlic, and lemon juice and saute until shrimp are pink, about 3-4 minutes each side.

Spoon grits into bowl or onto plate and top with shrimp.  Garnish with fresh lemon.

Now, I want you to hit up your local Fish Fry and support the local churches and firehalls, but please, please, please promise me you will also make this.  Like right now.  For breakfast.  Or lunch.  Or a mid-afternoon snack.

Homemade Spiced Hot Cocoa

So, word on the street is that it’s going to be in the forties around here this weekend.

The forties!?  Well, hello, Fall!  I see you have made your arrival!

I can’t say that I’m too upset about the drastic drop in temperature because I’m excited about the chance to cuddle up with a warm hoodie, some comfy leggings, snuggly Uggs, and a cup of hot chocolate.  I’m also pretty excited because I wore a sweater to work today.  You know when you reach that point toward the end of a season when you are totally over every piece of clothing you own?  I’m there.  I’m tired of my shorts and my tank tops are awful.  That is, they are awful until next year, when I am totally fed up with all of my sweaters!

Right now?  I’m in sweater mode.

And striped leggings with Uggs mode.

And hot cocoa mode.

Homemade Spiced Hot Cocoa

Ingredients:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

6 teaspoons NuStevia powder (1/2 cup white sugar if you don’t want to use Stevia)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

1/3 cup boiling water

3-1/2 cups skim or low-fat milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine cocoa, Stevia, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Blend in the boiling water and bring this mixture to an easy boil while stirring constantly.  Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes, making sure that it doesn’t scorch.

Stir in the milk and heat until very hot, but NOT boiling.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Whisk until slightly foamy.

Pour into 4 mugs and serve.

Yield:  4 servings

Oh, and those striped leggings and Uggs?
I have worn them to take Jet outside.
Just one more reason why my neighbors have to think I am certifiably insane.

Which do you prefer…cold weather or warm weather?  I like both and am glad that I experience all four seasons!