Southern Cheese Grits Casserole

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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but work has been zapping my creativity. Last week, I made a cheese grits casserole at work and people have been begging for an “at home recipe”, so here it is. This is great as a starch with any meal, but even better when paired with a Southern meal. If you don’t think you like grits, give this a try. This IS NOT your normal breakfast style grits.

  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup quick-cook grits
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 small can yellow kernel corn, drained
  • parsley for garnish

In a large stock pot, bring the chicken stock and half & half to a rolling bowl. Whisk in the grits and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-7 minutes until the grits begin to thicken and bubble (be careful not to let them bubble on your hand/arms as they are like LAVA). Once thickened, remove from stove and pour grits into a mixing bowl.

To the grits, add the heavy cream, melted butter, cheese, bacon crumbles, diced tomato and the corn. Stir well to combine.

Pour grits into a lightly greased casserole dish and bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

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Garden Vegetable Breakfast Casserole

 

About this time of year, anyone with a back yard garden is looking for creative ideas to use up the abundance of zucchini, fresh tomatoes and herbs. Here’s a wonderful Saturday morning recipe for breakfast casserole, loaded with color straight from the back yard and a perfect recipe for a brunch. This makes for 12 servings, so cut it down as needed for a smaller family.

  • 1 12oz package of bacon, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 cups frozen hashbrown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 fresh zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp Tabasco sauce

In a saute pan, cook the bacon and onion until the onion is tender and the bacon has browned.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the hashbrown potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes and toss well. Add the bacon and onions along with the pan drippings to the potato-vegetable mixture, then mix in the cheeses, Tabasco, beaten eggs and the fresh basil.

Spoon mixture into a 9″x13″ glass baking dish sprayed lightly with PAM. At this point I usually salt and pepper the top of the casserole as well.

Bake in a 350F oven for 35-40 minutes, until casserole has “set” and is just beginning to brown.

Serves 12 but can easily be cut down to 6 or 4 by equally dividing the ingredients.

Seafood Lasagna

 

I made this a few weeks ago for lunch and had rave reviews. Many of you emailed wanting the recipe. I’m sorry it took me this long to sit down and type it up, but a lot of my recipes are in my head and I have to sit down and put them to paper before I can share them. Once you make this recipe one time, you’ll see how easy it actually is and it can be whipped up on the fly in the future. It’s an excellent dish to impress friends at a dinner party and it reheats well so take the leftovers to work and make everyone jealous.

  •  1 box lasagna noodles
  • 1 package of pre-cooked, peeled shrimp, thawed, tails removed
  • 1 package or can of lump or claw crab meat, picked for shells *see my trick below*
  • 1 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or any larger piece bread crumbs (not bread crumb dust)
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seafood seasoning
  • 1 cup button or baby bell mushrooms, sliced & sauteed in a little butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 package Italian shredded cheese blend (parmesan, mozzarella, asiago, etc)

Sauce:

  • 5 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 4 cups milk (or use half & half for richer sauce)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

First make the sauce as follows:

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring often, until roux turns sandy brown, 4-5 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk/cream and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens (consistency of biscuit gravy). Remove from heat and stir in the salt, garlic powder and nutmeg. Set aside.

Prepare lasagna:

In a large, deep baking dish, pour enough sauce to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of lasagna pasta on top of the sauce (uncooked pasta). Top lasagna layer with shrimp, crab, bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning. Top seafood with 1 cup of cream sauce. Add second layer of pasta, then add the sauteed mushrooms and leaf spinach. Top with 3rd layer of lasagna pasta. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the dish. Seal tightly with plastic wrap, then cover plastic wrap with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until sauce is bubbly and pasta has cooked. Remove foil and plastic wrap. Sprinkle top with cheese and allow to melt. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

** Trick to pick crab meat for shells**

Crab meat is cooked as part of the canning or packaging process. Therefore it’s ok to “heat it up”. Spread crab meat in a thin layer on a baking sheet and put in a 300F oven for 5-10 minutes. Any shells in the crab meat will turn bright pink/orange and can be easily removed. If you’re in a hurry, just work the crab meat in your hands and pick out any shells. These days, unless you buy really cheap crab meat, most of the shells have already been removed.