Lately I seem to be making and craving lots of Southern food and I’m not exactly sure what is prompting this. I guess because it’s yummy? Seems like as good of a reason as any. Grits are not something I ever had growing up, and I think I only tried them a few years ago. I honestly had no idea what grits even were, which I found out are ground dried corn. Oddly grits were available to me two separate times over the last month, and it made me want to try making them.
When I went to purchase grits I had to stop and think about whether to buy quick cook grits or regular grits. Then I remembered the line in the movie My Cousin Vinny, “No self respecting Southerner uses instant grits”, so regular grits it was. Good thing I have all this impressive knowledge readily available in my brain.
In addition to all of this Southern food I’ve been making, I also really want to start saying “y’all”. I’m not sure how that would mix with my Boston accent though, “y’all gonna pahk ya cah or what”. I think I may just need to stick to the food and not the slang.
So, how do you make grits? Well, I looked on-line at a bunch of different recipes and decided on my own way. Here’s what you need to make my version:
1 cup of grits (not quick cook!)
4 cups of milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. butter
Splash of cream
Bring 4 cups of milk to a boil while being careful not to burn the milk. Add a dash of salt to the milk. Whisk in the grits. Turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes uncover and whisk well. If the liquid isn’t absorbed cook for a few more minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. I used about an 1/8 tsp. of pepper to start, and then added a tiny bit more after I tasted them.
And that is all y’all need to do to make cheesy grits! Yum!
Every time I make meatloaf I think “Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double beatloaf. I hate meatloaf”. If you have never seen the movie The Christmas Story, then you may not be familiar with that line. As you can probably guess, the little boy Randy in the movie does not like meatloaf. But I do! Talk about a classic comfort food, yum!
Since my family doesn’t eat beef, I make it with ground turkey and ground pork. I used to make it with just turkey for years, but started adding pork and like this version better.
It’s funny when you have to write out your recipe because you actually have to measure the ingredients. I am so used to just adding some of this, and a little of that, that I never knew how much I was adding. Last night’s meatloaf came out perfect, so now I know exactly how much to use!
1 lb. ground turkey
1 lb. ground pork
1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
Combine all ingredients except meats in a large mixing bowl.
Add meats and combine thoroughly. Make sure you really take the time to incorporate the bread crumb mixture with the meat.
Add half of mixture to a greased loaf pan. Add a layer of cheese, then add remaining meat mixture. You don’t have to use cheese, but I enjoy it this way. You can use whatever cheese you prefer or happen to have in the house. I have used cheddar, slices of American cheese, and tonight I decided to use shredded mozzarella.
Top with ketchup, maybe about 1 tbsp? I went a little crazy with it this time and don’t usually use this much. I like the crust that it adds on the top when cooked.
Bake at 375 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
My favorite side dish with meatloaf is mashed potatoes, but since my son doesn’t like potatoes, I decided to be nice and make couscous last night. Next time I’m not going to be so nice 😉
This pulled pork recipe is hands down the best pulled pork I have ever had. I am not a ribs type of person, so any time I have ever gone to a BBQ restaurant I always either choose pulled pork or pulled chicken, and can say I have yet to find one that tastes better than this. This will be your new favorite once you try it, I can guarantee it. And since there is no cost for you reading this blog, I can offer a money back guarantee 😉
I know there are some regional differences in regards to pulled pork, and this version uses a dry rub and a vinegar based sauce. I wasn’t aware of the differences but after trying this recipe I determined that I prefer the vinegar sauce. The only negative of the vinegar version is when you take a deep sniff of the sauce cooking. That vinegar is strong, yikes!
When making this yesterday, I could not find a large enough piece of pork so I ended up using two which worked just as well. I thought maybe it would cook a little faster, but it didn’t. It took about 6 1/2 hours for the pork to be easily “pull-able”.
I also have a strange hang up with meat with bones in them, so I always buy boneless shoulders or butts. Some may argue that bone-in may give it a better flavor, but the one time I tried that I almost passed out so boneless it is for me going forward.
Below is the link to the recipe, and included in the link is a recipe for coleslaw, which I do not use. I will add my own recipe at the end in case you would like to try that as well.
Although the recipe recommends rubbing the pork at least an hour before cooking, I usually just rub the pork right before I put it in the oven and it still comes out great.
When the meat is done cooking I start making the sauce. The first part of the sauce can be made ahead of time and re-heated when it’s time to add the de-glazed pan drippings. As I mentioned, be careful taking a big sniff of this sauce, it has a strong vinegar smell. I used spicy brown mustard in my sauce, and I also use slightly less than it calls for.
Once you take the meat out of the pan to rest, it is time to de-glaze the drippings. If you have never done this it is very easy. My pan was large so I had two burners on under the pan. You add water to the pan and scrape the pan to release all the drippings. Cook it while bubbling until some of the liquid burns off. Then add to the sauce as directed in recipe. I tend not to use as much as stated.
The recipe states that you should let the meat rest for 10 minutes before you start pulling. You can use two forks to pull the meat, or your hands. I often just use my hands so that I can remove the fat as I go. If you can I suggest waiting until the meat has cooled somewhat so you don’t burn your fingers, which I have done numerous times. I am pretty sure I have been without finger prints after trying to pull this meat too soon.
After you have pulled all of the meat, just pour on the sauce. Use only as much as you need so that the meat is moist, but not sitting in a pool of sauce. Depending on how much pork you yield after the fat is removed, you should have extra sauce. You can refrigerate the leftover sauce and add to the leftover meat to re-moisten.
It is quite a time consuming meal to make, but if you are going to make pulled pork then this is the only recipe to use. Remember, it’s guaranteed or your money back! From me, not Tyler Florence or the Food Network.
Here is the recipe for my coleslaw.
Bag of coleslaw
1 cup mayonaise (or more)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. sugar
Whisk together all ingredients except coleslaw. Stir in coleslaw. Refrigerate until coleslaw has softened.
If you are anything like me, seeing that picture of melty cheesy goodness over pasta just made your mouth water. Mac and cheese is honestly the most wonderful creation that has ever been created. It is hands down my favorite food group. Yes, I consider it its own food group. It is the true definition of comfort food.
I am such a lover of mac and cheese than when my daughter was first introduced to it as a baby and she didn’t like it, I actually thought she may have been switched in the hospital. It was not genetically possible for me to have a mac and cheese hating child. Thankfully she came to her senses quickly, and I am happy to say that mac and cheese is now her favorite food as well. Phew!
Over the years I have played around with how I make it. I have tried different cheeses, different amounts of cheese, different amounts of milk, etc., until I settled on the recipe below.
I like to use a combination of extra sharp cheddar and gruyere cheeses. I use the entire 8 oz. block of cheddar, and a little more than half of the block of gruyere. It is best to use block cheese, not pre-shredded. I did not shred the cheese for this batch, I just cut the cheese up into small chunks and it melted just as well.
I start the sauce a few minutes before I put the pasta in to cook. The sauce usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Use a pound of pasta, and any pasta will do. For this classic mac and cheese recipe, I tend to use elbow pasta.
The first step in making the cheese sauce is to create a roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat (butter) to use as a thickener for a sauce. Some recipes I have seen only call for a small amount of flour, but I always use enough to make a very thick roux. I actually added a little more flour after I took the picture below. I have never measured how much flour I use, I just keeping adding small amounts until it gets to the proper consistency.
Melt 4 tbsp. of butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, and about 1/4 tsp. ground mustard. You can use actual mustard as well, which I have done many times. Whisk in flour constantly until you get a thick roux and cook while whisking for about a minute.
The important thing to remember is not to stop whisking. The sauce will burn on the bottom very quickly.
While whisking, add 3 cups of milk until it starts to thicken. It will take about 3-5 minutes. Don’t forget, keep whisking!
Once your sauce has started to thicken and bubble a little, add the cheese. Keep whisking and cooking until all of the cheese has melted. By now your pasta should be cooked.
Drain the pasta and pour into a greased casserole dish. Pour that heavenly cheese sauce over the pasta and mix well.
If you don’t have time to make a baked mac and cheese, you can just add the sauce to the pasta and serve as is. Sometimes I prefer to make an unbaked version, or as we call it “a big bowl of cheesy yummy”. When I am not going to bake it I usually use medium shells pasta, it’s just my personal preference.
For the crumb topping, melt about 2-3 tbsps. of butter in a bowl, add about a cup of panko bread crumbs, and about 1 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the top to cover all of the pasta. Bake at 350 degrees covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5-10 more minutes until bubbly and the crumbs start to brown.
Despite Ancestry.com stating that I am 8% Italian, I really don’t get as excited over red sauce as some other people. While my mother’s red sauce recipe that I use makes a really good “gravy” that is better than I have had elsewhere, I can usually take it or leave it. Even though I make sauce fairly often, and only ever make my own, I am usually more into the meatballs, lasagne or chicken cutlet parmesan that accompanies the sauce. I tend to be more of a cream or cheese sauce kind of girl.
Even if you eliminated the 1/4 cup of heavy cream called for in this recipe, I’m sure it would still be amazing. For me, however, I add more than the required amount, probably about 1/2 cup. I have never measured how much I add, and I tend to be heavy handed with cream so gauge it on your own personal taste. You will probably notice Ina Garten’s picture looks a little more red than mine. I also have only ever made this with ground turkey, and to me you really don’t notice the difference.
As with making my own red sauce, if a recipe calls for red wine then it automatically means you have to pour a glass for yourself. Last night while making the Bolognese my husband only saw the measuring cup of wine and asked “have you started drinking out of measuring cups now?” Of course not! Unless there weren’t any glasses, silly! Thankfully I have plenty of wine glasses and haven’t had to resort to Pyrex yet.
While I never cut the amount of red wine I pour in my glass, I do cut the amount the recipe calls for. The first time I made this Bolognese I followed the recipe word for word, but my family didn’t like the overpowering wine taste. Instead of the 1 1/4 cups the recipe calls for, I use 3/4 cup total. While I would love to be able to say I have fresh herbs in my kitchen at all times, I don’t. For those of you that are like me, I usually just reach into my spice cabinet when a recipe calls for basil. I just use about 1 tbsp. of dried basil, maybe not even, instead of the fresh basil noted.
It is an absolutely delicious recipe! While the Weeknight Bolognese isn’t a very difficult recipe, there are a number of steps. Make sure you are only heavy handed pouring the cream and not the wine or you might find this recipe hard to follow 😉
Comfort food season is upon us! Have you ever noticed how it also coincides with sweater season which helps hide our love for comfort food? Coincidence? One of the best feelings is when it’s cold outside, but you are warm inside and the house is full of wonderful smells. You could also accomplish that with a candle, but I am referring to food smells.
The following chili recipe is one of the easiest recipes to make and it’s not only good, but depending on the size of your family, might give you leftovers that are even easier to heat up. I don’t remember where I found the base of this recipe, but I have tweaked it over the years and this version is my favorite. I use ground turkey instead of ground beef, but you can use either. The same holds true with the cornbread recipe, I’m not sure where it originally came from, but I’ve tweaked it over the years as well.
I either serve the chili with cornbread, or with tortilla chips. Either way I always add some shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. Last night I had a little extra time, and energy, and decided to make the cornbread. You can’t help feel good about yourself when your husband takes a bite and says “Holy crap that’s good cornbread!”
Once you make this cornbread recipe, you won’t ever look for another one. It is so good! Probably because of all the butter. You know what they say, butter makes it better, or what I like to say “buttah makes it bettah”! It is so moist and doesn’t choke you if you happen to breathe in while eating it like some of those other dry cornbreads do.
This recipe calls for a 9″ x 13″ baking dish, I used a square dish last night for a fatter piece of cornbread, and had to increase the cooking time quite a bit. When you do this, the edges will get more brown so if you aren’t a fan of that, use the rectangular dish.
2/3 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 2/3 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cup cornmeal
4 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9″ x 13″baking dish. In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar. Combine eggs and milk and put aside. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Alternately add dry mixture and egg mixture to creamed mixture. Bake for 22-27 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 (14 oz) cans of tomato sauce
1 (8 oz) jar of salsa
2 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 (15 oz) can of red kidney beans
In a large saucepan over medium heat cook the ground turkey (or beef) until meat is browned. Drain grease. Add the pepper, garlic powder, tomato sauce, salsa, chili powder, and kidney beans. Mix well, reduce heat to low and simmer for at least an hour stirring frequently.
The recipe originally called for two cans of kidney beans, but I have cut it down to one. My children will eat the entire bowl of chili and avoid every kidney bean, so I decided to make it easier for them and to stop wasting beans.