Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gorgeous Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp & Grits Dinner

I had the very good fortune of receiving a shipment of fresh Louisiana shrimp on Friday from Anna Marie Seafood.  These large, beautiful shrimp were sustainably harvested and frozen all natural at sea.  How cool is that?!  I've never cooked with shrimp this fresh before at home.

One of my favorite all-time shrimp dishes has to be the Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp & Grits from Mr. B's Bistro, located in New Orleans' French Quarter.  They describe this entree as a sauté of applewood smoked bacon-wrapped jumbo Gulf shrimp served with creamy stone ground yellow grits and red-eye gravy.  I went online and found that Country Roads Magazine had the recipe posted on their website, score.  Seriously, my mouth was watering all weekend with anticipation of making this meal with super fresh ingredients.  I'm not sure if the photos do it justice, but my meal tonight didn't disappoint!  Although my belly is stuffed full with shrimp, bacon, red-eye gravy and cheese grits, my mouth instantly begins to water as I recall the succulent, complex tastes. 

Substitutions were made to prepare this meal.  The store didn't have mascarpone cheese so I opted to use Philadelphia savory garlic cooking creme instead.  They didn't have the stone-ground grits either, so I used Quaker's 5-minute grits and prepared them using the Mr. B's grits recipe.  I also used toothpicks instead of the wooden skewers.  It actually worked out really well and look forward to making this meal again.  

Oh, and in case my older sister is reading this post, I'll be committed to Weight Watchers again starting tomorrow!

Shrimp with Red-Eye Gravy and Grits

From Mr. B's Bistro
Serves 4

8 strips applewood-smoked bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
20 jumbo shrimp (12 per pound, about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, leaving tail intact, and deveined
4 large wooden skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 1/2 tsp firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 cups dark chicken stock
2 1/2 Tbsp pepper jelly
1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
3 cups Mr. B’s stone-ground grits (see recipe below)
2 Tbsp minced fresh chives

Season shrimp with salt and pepper.  Wrap 1 piece bacon around center of each shrimp (reserve leftover bacon) and line up on a work surface.  Skewer 5 wrapped shrimp onto each skewer, leaving a little space in between each shrimp. 

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until almost smoking.  Add 2 skewers and cook 2 minutes each side, or until bacon gets crisp.  Repeat cooking shrimp in same manner.  Transfer shrimp to a plate. 

To skillet add vinegar and brown sugar and cook about 1 minute, or until reduced by half.  Add stock and cook over high heat until reduced by half.  Add jelly and cook 1 minute, or until jelly is dissolved.  Remove skillet from heat and add butter, stirring, until just melted.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

In a small skillet cook leftover bacon until crisp.  Cool and crumble. 

To serve, mound grits (see recipe below) on plates.  Remove shrimp from skewers and arrange around grits.  Drizzle sauce over grits and garnish with reserved bacon and chives.

Mr. B's Stone-Ground Grits

From Mr. B's Bistro
Serves 6

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup stone-ground grits
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan bring cream and milk to a simmer over moderately low heat.  Whisk in grits and cook, stirring often, 25 minutes.  Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Go Bananas

Bananas are probably my all-time favorite fruit.  To me, perfect bananas look like the picture above.  Not too big, not too small, bright yellow with a hint of green, almost on the under-ripe side and very firm.  If every banana stayed like this, I'd eat two of them every single day...I've seen me do it.  The problem is that they ripen way too quickly and that seriously drives me bananas.  I'll get a perfect bunch at the store on a Sunday and by Wednesday they're too ripe and I want nothing to do with them.  I can't stand when they get mushy, start to get those nasty brown spots or begin to bruise.  Why isn't there was a way, short of hitting the store every other day, to have a perfectly ripe banana whenever I want one?  The one and only plus of having bananas that are too ripe is that they make for really great banana bread...another favorite of mine.  So I guess in the grand scheme of things, having over-ripe bananas isn't the worst thing in the world.

Yuck, Yuck!  Who can eat a banana that looks like this???? Not me!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wanted: True Friend

MWF (Married White Female) searching for a new friend who… 

lives in Bossier City, but will consider candidates who live in Shreveport. 
is planning to live here for the foreseeable future (a plus). 
has their shit together. 
is generally happy, cheerful, and positive.
loves to laugh, joke, and have fun. 
is open and honest. 
won’t get offended if I drop an F-bomb. 
stays current on pop culture. 
is dedicated to personal growth. 
is a non-smoker. 
can carry on a conversation that’s easy and light-hearted. 
is spiritual but not necessarily religious. 
likes to do any of the following activities: eat, shop, get nails done, Sunday brunch, drink coffee, wine, yoga, jog/walk, Zumba, movies. 

We don’t need to be BFF’s, but good friends would do! 

Writing this "want ad" (which no, I'm not ACTUALLY taking out an ad for a friend) was inspired by a book I recently finished reading, MWF Seeking BFF. It was a very thought-provoking, true story about making new friends and friendship. There were many parallels that I could draw to myself since I also moved to a new place a few years ago and would like to make more local friends. Reading the book and thinking about my own life, has really invigorated me to put more effort into meeting/making new friends. It was also the impetus for the opportunity to join a book club that was reading the book this past month. I had a blast at the book club meeting this past week, met some really cool girls and even got to Skype with the author, Rachel Bertsche! How cool is that? I love the trailer she made for her book; it really explains the premise well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pizza Margherita from "John the Simple Minded Chef"

Talk about a very easy, fast, and simple recipe for a deliciously light and tasty Margherita pizza.  My dad's friend, John the Simple Minded Chef (well...simple minded when it comes to recipes), gave him this recipe and was passed along to me.  I made this today for lunch and after eating...without speaking one word during the husband exclaimed, "Solid!"  What was great is that it took less than 30 minutes to prepare, cook, eat, and clean up!
  1. Start oven preheating to 400F.
  2. Coat the top of an extra large store bought flour tortilla with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Yes, a store bought flour tortilla - I used zesty garlic herb wraps by Mission.
  3. Place sliced mozzarella cheese, separated by about 1/2 inch. Arrange very thin slices of Roma tomato (about 1/8" thick). Tip: They look better sliced lengthwise.
  4. Sprinkle "just a pinch" of salt, no more. It makes the taste richer and lessens the acid taste of the tomato. Sprinkle basil on to pizza (either fresh or dried).
  5. Put the pizza in the oven on a cookie sheet and reduce the temperature to 350F. This may not be necessary but it makes you feel like you're doing something important!
  6. Bake until the cheese bubbles and the edges start to brown, about 12-15 min.
  7. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Meet Butch and Lola Mae Brown

It's my distinct pleasure and honor to present Butch (a.k.a. Butchy-Pooh) and Miss Lola Mae Brown to the blogosphere, my almost 6-month-old English Bulldog puppies. Yes, they are brother and sister and couldn't be better friends. The picture above was taken this afternoon after a short walk --- very short distances wipe these guys out like nothing else. I've never had my own dog and having two puppies has been quite the treat. Even when they're bad, which is a daily occurrence, I can't stay mad once they give me their adorable puppy-dog eyes. I'm a sucker, what can I say. My only complaint is that they get big waaaaay too fast. Here's a picture of them the first night in their new home. Aren't they just the cutest things ever?!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'm in the Game!

Over the past couple of months, Mad Money with Jim Cramer has been added to our nightly TV rotation --- God bless the DVR. Clearly, I thought this was initially a mistaken recording, but soon learned that it was strategically planned by Ray.

If you've never tuned in, Jim has quite the shtick. I'm shocked to say this, but he actually makes learning about stocks and the market very fun and interesting. During the show's intro he welcomes you to "Cramerica" and encourages viewers to "Get in the Game!" My favorite part of the show is the Lightning Round where he answers many questions from viewers in quick order. I love when he walks us through if a viewer's portfolio is diversified and helps break everything down.

Well folks, this weekend I took the steps necessary to officially GET IN THE GAME. I was questioning what my strategy should be once my first stock doubles and so I tweeted at Jim Cramer (@JimCramer) and asked him. He responded within 15 minutes!!! Funny enough, this was the highlight of my weekend. His advice, "Bulls make money, bears make money, Pigs get slaughtered!" Sage advice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

31 and Still Learning Lessons in Life

In celebration of my 31st birthday yesterday, Ray wanted to take me out for dinner. We got all gussied up and headed out to one of my favorite spots in town so I could get some seafood. Unfortunately, we learned upon arrival that they are closed on Monday & Tuesday. Ugh, it's so tough when my stomach is set on something in particular to switch gears. We decided to try out another steakhouse that we had never eaten at before.

Prior to entering the restaurant, I checked out the menu and said that the only thing that really jumped off the page were the Alaskan King Crab Legs, served by the pound with drawn butter and lemons at market price. Ray also said that he could find something on the menu. When we sat down at the table, I looked more closely at the menu, and again nothing else sounded quite as good - except maybe the Surf & Turf which was a 7oz filet & 1lb of the crab legs for $60, but knew I wouldn't be able to eat that much (not to mention spend that much on a meal).

I placed my order for the Alaskan King Crab Legs, Ray ordered a wedge salad and soup, we both had water to drink and didn't feel like an appetizer. I could not believe my eyes when they brought out my platter of crab legs; there had to be three pounds on there! And of course it was accompanied by a vat of melted butter that I could have happily drowned myself in. They were very tasty and had plenty to share with my man.

Before the bill arrived, we played the 'what do you think market price is currently' game. We figured somewhere around $45, especially since the Surf & Turf was $60. Well, we were completely off the pace. Can you believe that my meal alone (no sides, JUST the crab) was $80.00?!?!?! WTF?????????????????? You know, I've had A LOT of crab legs in my life and have never spent close to $80! I mean they were good, but not $80 good.

Another lesson in life learned, I will now always ask "what is the current market price" on the food that I order and will also be sure to ask "how many pounds of crab are included in an order?"

A year older and now a tiny bit wiser.