Year 32…

My Birthday always makes me super reflective about where I was last year and where I am now. Today is no different…

Last year I was a mother of one (not yet pregnant with #2), a fiance preparing for a wedding and a business owner selling organic baby food.  I lived in Birmingham, Al which is the only place I have ever lived outside of college. Today I am a mom of 2, a newly wed wife and an accidental stay at home mom trying to figure out where her purpose will take her. I live in Northern Virginia right outside of D.C. which from what I hear is a pretty cool place (I rarely get out that far). My life is sooo different from a year ago that it is hardly recognizable. But I am learning is that life is always a journey and never a destination and I’m hanging on for the ride.

I used to never celebrate my birthday, I just didn’t see the point. At 25 I found myself divorced, unemployed and cynical. I learned then that life is what you make it and I was determined to make the best of it. For the past 7 years I have made it a point to celebrate my birthday in some way. Life is such a gift and should be celebrated everyday, not just birthdays.

My absolute favorite birthday to date is when my husband (then boyfriend) took me to New Orleans for my 30th Birthday. If you know me then you know that New Orleans is my absolute favorite city in the world. The culture, the people, the food… OMG the FOOD! Its culinary heaven! It’s the first place I ever had smothered shrimp and grits. Shrimp and grits is usually in a light butter sauce but this is GRAVY.

Thick, rich and flavorful.

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It’s the best way to have shrimp and grits if you ask me. It’s comfort food at its finest.

I couldn’t get to New Orleans this year so I thought I would make one of my favorite meals.

SMOTHERED SHRIMP & GRITS

Ingredients:

SHRIMP

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 3 links cooked Andouille sausage links, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can  diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 5 strips of bacon
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tail removed
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley plus more for garnish

GRITS

  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup quick grits
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

SHRIMP: First cook your strips of bacon in a large skillet until they are crispy. (You will use the fat that comes off of them to saute your veggies). Then add the butter and cook on medium high heat. When that is melted add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until beginning to soften.  Add the green bell pepper and celery.  Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until very soft.

Stir in garlic, flour, Cajun seasoning and cook briefly, continuously stirring. This is called a roux but down south its just gravy.

Add chicken broth in a steady stream while stirring so you don’t get any lumps. Then add the sausage, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced slightly and thickened.

Stir in shrimp and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until just firm. This is a good time to add your crumbled bacon and parsley as well.  Stir in heavy cream and heat through.  This is your dish so if you like it spicy then add more spice. If you like it with more salt then add more… you are the best cook for you!

GRITS:  Bring chicken broth to a boil.  Add salt to taste.  Slowly stir in quick grits and cook per package directions.  Stir in cheese, cream and black pepper.  Serve with shrimp.

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This will just have to do until I can get back to the Bayou.

 

 

 

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