Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole - Healthy(er) Version

The first time I ever had grits was on a trip to New Orleans. The hotel I stayed at had the most incredible breakfast buffet featuring classic American dishes like biscuits and red eye gravy, corned beef hash, and something that looked and tasted like cream of wheat that the hotel claimed was grits.

I'm not gonna lie. As a Canadian who had been hearing about, reading about, and yes, even dreaming about this magical edible from the south for years, the pale, somewhat flaccid, mound of goop in my bowl was a huge disappointment.

I left the Big Easy with a love of beignets, po boys, and the entirety of the French Quarter, but sadly, returned to Canada with a skewed impression of grits.

Flash forward a few years. I was taking an Italian cooking class and one of the dishes we prepared was Polenta. From the first bite of the cheesy, corny goodness we were slathering in tomato sauce, I was hooked - so imagine my surprise when the chef/instructor informed the group that polenta is very similar to grits.

I was back in business!

Since then I've cooked grits in many different ways and have adapted some of the old time recipes I've found to make them lighter and healthy(er) without losing the integrity of the dish or the flavour  - which is exactly what I've done with this week's recipe for Shrimp and Grits Casserole.




















This recipe is such an easy dish to throw together - I often prepare it the night before or in the morning before work. That way, when I get home I can pop it into the oven and get about the more important business of a glass of wine and a good book.

Get the printable recipe here:  Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Or cook along with me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and I'll show you step by step just how easy this is to make!




Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 % milk
  • 1 1/2 cups no sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry corn grits or polenta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese
  • 4 cups cooked shrimp
  • 2 tsp of Creole seasoning spice
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tbsp of finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1m 540 ml can stewed tomatoes or Rotel
  • 1/2 cup(s) light Cream Cheese
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the grits; reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the cheese, egg, and cayenne pepper. Spoon mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  4. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Saute the onions and peppers in a non-stick pan misted with cooking spray or olive oil over medium high heat until they just begin to grow soft and translucent. Add two tsp of creole spice and the chopped garlic and saute until the garlic is soft and fragrant ( about 45 seconds). Add the can of stewed tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn to low and leave to simmer five minutes. Add the cooked shrimp and the cream cheese and stir until well incorporated. Remove from heat.
  6. When grits have baked for 15 minutes, pour the shrimp mixture over the warm casserole, sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving. 

Nutritional analysis

Serving size: 388 grams

Amount Per Serving
Calories 265
Total Fat 6.8g
Saturated Fat 3.6g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 166mg
Sodium 707mg
Vitamin A 35%     •     Vitamin C 61%
Calcium 31%     •     Iron 39%
Nutrition Grade A-

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fully Loaded English Muffin Pizzas - Pepperoni and Mushroom and Ham and Pineapple

It's funny how food can evoke such powerful memories - both good and bad. Take liver for example, I can honestly say that some of the most traumatizing moments of my childhood involve that heinous, horrific smelling "food."

And don't tell me I've never had it cooked right. My mother and her mother before her were both amazing cooks and though they tried 95 different ways from Sunday to make it palatable for me, I just couldn't do it. Not then, not now, not ever.

At the same time, there are meals and dishes that give me such warm, fuzzy feelings when I think of them they can actually cheer me up when I'm feeling blue: the heart shaped valentines day cookies my mom would send me to school with every year in February, her sweet and sour spare ribs over rice, and English muffin pizzas.

The first time I ever had one of these was at an after school program I went to. Every day we would be given a different snack in between playing with Fischer Price toys or working on our colouring skills and on Wednesdays it was my favourite: English Muffin pizzas - these ones made with little pieces of cut up fried hot dog dotting the top.

Soon enough, other cooks were coming up with their own variations of this delicious snack figuring out they weren't just economical, delicious, and easy to make, they could also be made ahead and frozen!

And while English Muffin pizzas the way I had them as a kid were very good, with a few little updates from me, these little suckers are truly spectacular!

I've done two variations and both are equally delicious.

Get the printable recipe here: Fully Loaded English Muffin Pizzas

Or join me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and I'll show you how easy these are to put together!




Fully Loaded English Muffin Pizzas
Ingredients
  • 12 english muffins, split
  • pizza sauce
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 cup ham cut into small dice
  • 1 tin pineapple tid bits 
  • thin slices of pizza pepperoni (app 96)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
Directions

  1. Heat the pepperoni slices in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp around edges, about 2 minutes. Remove from the and blot out any additional fat in paper towel. Do the same with the ham, sauteing just until it begins to crisp.  
  2. Saute the onions, and peppers until they're soft and beginning to caramelize. Remove to a bowl.
  3. Saute the mushrooms until they begin to lose their water. Add the garlic, and Italian seasonings. Set aside in another bowl.
  4. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat to broil. 
  5. Lightly brush the muffins with extra virgin olive oil and place onto a foil lined baking sheet. Place under the broiler just until they begin to toast to lightly brown.
For the All Dressed Pepperoni
  1. Coat each English muffin half with sauce. Sprinkle cheese on each English muffin. Place 4 pepperoni slices on top of each pizza. Sprinkle on the mushrooms, peppers, and onions and top with a little more cheese.
For the Hawaiian
  1. Coat each English muffin half with sauce. Sprinkle cheese on each English muffin. Sprinkle the top of each pizza with the ham, green pepper, and onion. Add pineapple tid bits and top with a little more cheese.
  2. At this point, you can bake these off or freeze until later. If freezing, place the baking tray into the freezer until the pizzas are completely frozen. Individually wrap each pizza bun in plastic wrap and then store in large freezer bags.
  3. Freeze for up to 3 months or bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. To use frozen Pizza English Muffins: Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Nutritional AnalysisCalories: 287
Total Fat 17.1g
Saturated Fat 6.8g
Trans Fat 0.4g
Cholesterol 38mg
Sodium 714mg
Potassium 161mg
Total Carbohydrates 17.5g
Dietary Fiber 1.9g
7%
Sugars 2.6g
Protein 16.3g
Vitamin A 5%     •     Vitamin C 21%
Calcium 26%     •     Iron 12%

Nutrition Grade B

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.