Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dole: Tangy Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

I love summer.  Love. It.  It's all warm outside, and there's tons of awesome things to eat.  You can go to the farmer's market and pick up a metric ton of fruit that's luscious and ripe and bursting at the seams.  It's fantastic.  So of course I had to take advantage of this amazing time of year by making a big 'ol bowl of fruit salad.  And then trying to figure out exactly how much I could eat before making myself sick. (Answer: a lot).

Note: I added a mango to the mix, and it was awesome.  I also used a drained 10.7-ounce can of mandarin orange wedges instead of peeling a navel orange.  Because I'm lazy like that.

Tangy Poppy Seed Fruit Salad
From Dole

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 kiwi fruit, peeled, halved, and sliced
1 cup red or green grapes
1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries
¼ teaspoon grated lime peel
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Drain pineapple chunks; reserve ¼ cup juice. Combine pineapple, orange, kiwi, grapes, and strawberries in a large bowl. Stir reserved juice, lime peel, lime juice, honey, and poppy seeds in a cup. Pour over salad; toss.

Makes 4 servings

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Spicy Southern Kitchen: Asparagus Casserole

I have this thing for comfort food from back in the day.  "The day" being circa 1950's.  Yes, I'm aware I was not actually alive back then, but they had such fun things to eat!  And most of that stuff kept getting recycled for the next 20 years or so anyway because there was no internet for crazy people to post every friggin' thing they cooked or ate.  Guilty as charged.  So one of the old school casseroles I've been eyeballing is this super retro asparagus beauty.  Now, the original recipe was a true work of convenience food horror, with canned asparagus, cream of mushroom soup, and god knows what else.  This version is still creamy and cheesy and eggy, but it uses fresh asparagus and no canned soup.  Retro memories, updated for the modern world.  Enjoy.

Note: I used Emmentaler for the Swiss because I didn't want to dig through the 20 different Swiss cheeses at Food Mecca and decide which one would be considered an old school Swiss cheese.  #toomanychoices  #modernproblems

Asparagus Casserole
Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen blog

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2½ pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
½ medium sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ cup whole milk
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (6-ounce) can french-fried onions
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

Grease a casserole dish and preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms, onions, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 to 2 minutes.  Gradually stir in milk. Cook until thickened.

Reduce heat to low and mix in mayonnaise, sour cream, both cheeses, salt, lemon pepper, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Remove from heat.

Crush about ⅓ of the can of french-fried onions and mix them into the asparagus mixture.  Transfer half of the asparagus mixture to the prepared casserole dish.  Sprinkle with the chopped eggs.  Pour the remaining asparagus mixture over the eggs and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the remaining french-fried onions on top. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Donna Hay: Rhubarb and Dark Chocolate Tart

It's kinda late in the season for rhubarb, right?  I mean, it's a spring thing, isn't it?  Except I never saw any for sale this spring, because I was definitely going to try my hand at using it.  Big disappointment.  But then I walked into my local food mecca today, and there it was!  Big and beautiful and red as a ruby.  At this point, I'm not sure I care where they managed to find it, even if it involved a plane ride from South America.  Because look at this tart!  Rhubarb has now been added to the list of ingredients that have been done deliciously.

Rhubarb and Dark Chocolate Tart
Adapted from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 58, Aug/Sept 2011

Chocolate dough:
¼ cup cocoa powder
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup powdered sugar
9 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cold water (optional, depending on texture of dough)

Roasted rhubarb:
1 pound rhubarb, washed and trimmed, cut into 4-inch lengths
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rosewater

Dark chocolate ganache:
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Extra cocoa powder, for dusting

To make the chocolate dough:
Sift the cocoa powder, flour, and powdered sugar into a large bowl.  Add the cold butter and work it into the flour mixture by rubbing your palms together through the mixture until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the center and add the yolks. Work the yolks into the dough with a fork or even your fingers.  If the dough is slightly dry, add a spoonful or so of cold water until the desired texture is obtained.  Form the dough into a disk and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, or at least for 1 hour.

Roll out the disk of dough between two pieces of parchment until it is 3 mm thick.  Line a 9-inch removable bottomed tart pan with the dough and work it into the corners and edges. Trim and neaten it up.  Freeze the unbaked tart for half an hour or until very, very cold.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Dock the pastry with a fork.  Place the tart on a baking sheet and blind bake the tart for about 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is fully cooked and appears dry (not glossy).  Remove the tart from the oven. If there are any bumps of air under the surface of the tart shell, press down very gently with a clothed hand (beware of steam) to release the steam. Let cool before unmolding it carefully and placing it on a plate.

To roast the rhubarb:
Toss rhubarb with the sugar and rosewater and bake it at 350°F on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with foil, until the rhubarb is tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before using.

To make the chocolate ganache:
Heat the cream in a small saucepan and when it is steamy, pour it over the chopped chocolate.  Wait a minute, then begin to stir it from the middle, out, until you obtain a smooth, silky ganache. Let the ganache thicken slightly before using.

To assemble the tart:
Line the bottom of the baked tart shell with the rhubarb.  Top with ganache, and let the tart set in the fridge for a couple of hours.  When you are ready to serve the tart, sprinkle the top with some cocoa powder.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Courtney McBroom: Elixir (Root Beer) Floats

Holy shmoly, Batman!  Did you know that you can actually make root beer at home?  On your on stove?  Seriously.  It's not only possible, it's fantastic!  Now, it's not as dark brown as the bottled stuff, because this drink-of-the-gods does not have caramel color in it, just amazing herbal and spice things.  You'll have to get the sassafras and sarsaparilla bark off of Amazon, but otherwise, all of this stuff is at your local grocery.  And honestly?  This is even more fantastic than the best bottled stuff.  Fight back against those hot summer days with something refreshingly delicious.

Elixir (Root Beer) Floats
Adapted from Courtney McBroom in Food and Wine magazine, October 2015

2 cups water
1¾ cups granulated sugar
Three 2-inch pieces of orange peel
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon sassafras
1 tablespoon sarsaparilla
½ cinnamon stick (about a 1½-inch-long piece)
1 star anise
5 cloves
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2½ cups cold sparkling water
1 pint vanilla ice cream

In a saucepan, combine everything except the vanilla extract, sparkling water, and ice cream and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Let cool for 1 hour.  Strain through a fine sieve and stir in the vanilla, the refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.

Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, scoop 30 ice cream balls onto wax-paper-lined plates and freeze until very firm.

For each drink, pour ¼ cup of the elixir syrup into a chilled glass.  Add three ice cream balls, top with ¼ cup of sparkling water, and serve.

Makes 8 to 10 drinks

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Blog is TEN YEARS OLD

I can't believe I have blogging for TEN YEARS.  Ten friggin' years.  It seems like yesterday when I started this thing, and it has turned into this monster record of all of the ridiculously delicious things I have made in the last decade.  Not that that's a bad thing.  It's just not what I had planned at the beginning.  If there even was a plan.

Once I got over the initial shock that I'd been doing this blogging thing for almost forever and a day, I had to decide exactly how to commemorate it.  I'm not making my blog a birthday cake.  And I'm not buying it a birthday present.  (Although I did just recently order a very nice All Clad nonstick 14-inch pan which will very much assist in my efforts here.)  I finally decided that the answer was to go through the bizillion things I have posted and pick the top 10 recipes.

You have no idea how difficult this was once I actually started looking through everything.  While not everything I make turns out something ground-breaking, I came up with a first-round list of thirty items where I was literally licking the crumbs/sauce/other embarrassing remains once the main serving was finished.  Then I painstakingly crossed off items until I got a list of ten things I would be perfectly happy to eat everyday for the rest of eternity.

And now for......THE LIST (in no particular order):

In case you're curious about the twenty runners up, here they are:  Chicken with Morels, Baklava Cups, Currywurst, Better Than Paula's Banana Pudding, Ham & Provolone Sliders, Tony's Chocolate Pecan Pie, Plum Crunch, English Pea Salad, Scalloped Potatoes and Pork Chops with Onion Gravy, Migas, Blueberry Cobbler, Egg Salad Supreme, Ultimate Vanilla Cupcakes, Tagliarelle with Truffle Butter, Beatty's Chocolate Cake, Fried Catfish, Broccoli Cheese and Rice Casserole, Nicoise on a Roll, Shahi Korma, and Thai Spring Rolls.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Mansour Gorji: Sautéed Beef Tips with Pomegranate Cream Sauce

You know, once I made that delicious wedge salad yesterday, I started looking through the whole Zing! cookbook.  And looking through cookbooks leads to drooling.  And drooling leads to delusions of grand delicious things that you have to cook immediately.  Such as this tenderloin in pomegranate cream.  Yes, I went to the store just to get the beef and pomegranate.  Yes, it was worth it.

Sautéed Beef Tips with Pomegranate Cream Sauce
From Zing! by Mansour Gorji

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
½ cup julienned red onion
Kosher salt
Coarse ground black pepper
1 pound beef tenderloin, sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon ground sumac
Handful pomegranate seeds

Pour the olive oil in a medium-size sauté pan.  Add the butter, mushrooms, and red onion, and sprinkle with salt and pepper (leaving a pinch of pepper to add to the meat).  Sauté on high heat for about 1 to 2 minutes, mixing constantly, until the red onion becomes translucent.

Add the tenderloin and a pinch of pepper and continue to mix.  Sauté with mushrooms and red onion for 1 more minute.

Turn heat to medium, add cream, pomegranate puree, and sumac and mix.  Once you see bubbles in the middle of the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 minutes.

Plate individually over rice, pasta, or gnocchi and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Makes 4 servings

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Mansour Gorji: Canary's Wedge Salad with Grilled Jalapeños

There's a tiny restaurant near me that has maybe 10 tables in the whole place.  The chef randomly walks out among the customers and checks on everyone's dinner.  And the food is fantastic.  This little place is called Canary, and I still remember when I got to eat there for New Year's dinner about four years ago now.  I remember being most surprised by the salad that we were served.  I'm not normally a salad person, as you can probably tell by the limited number that I've posted, but this one was special.  It was a wedge salad, but it was topped with this fantastic prosciutto and grilled jalapeños.  Yes, I said grilled jalapeños.  It was like upscale-steak-place-meets-Texas-chile-pepper.  And it was amazing.  I always wondered how the salad was made, and as luck would have it, the chef released a small cookbook of some of his most requested recipes.  Until I'm able to go back for another dinner, I'll have to make do with this.

Canary's Wedge Salad with Grilled Jalapeños
From Zing! by Mansour Gorji

2 cups Greek yogurt
4 ounces blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, in small pieces
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
4 jalapeño peppers
Olive oil
Sea salt
1 head iceberg lettuce
4 prosciutto slices, preferably San Daniele

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, blue cheese, balsamic vinegar, and pepper.  Cover and let set in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

Wash and pat dry the jalapeños; cut and discard the ends of the peppers.  Hollow out the interiors, removing seeds and ribs.  Cut diagonally and brush with olive oil and salt only.

Discard the outer leaves of the lettuce.  Cut 1 inch from each end, allowing the slices to lay flat.  Then cut the iceberg head into 4 slices and plate.  Spread the dressing over the slices and lay the prosciutto on top.

Grill jalapeños for about 1 minute on each side (can also be placed under a broiler).  Place grilled jalapeños on top of prosciutto and serve.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, July 08, 2016

Wolfgang Puck: Tart Cherry Crisp with Shortbread Crumble

Last week when I told my sister that I was making cherry tomato cobbler, she thought I said cherry cobbler.  And she got very excited.  And then I had to disappoint her.  But then I started thinking...why not make a cherry cobbler?  So I started looking around at recipes.  And most of them had this big doughy topping.  And suddenly I was feeling more...crispy.  So I made a cherry crisp with a shortbread crumble topping.  Because shortbread may be the perfect cookie, and I can't imagine a better topping.

Tart Cherry Crisp with Shortbread Crumble
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy

2 pounds frozen pitted tart red cherries, thawed and drained
¼ cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover or orange blossom
½ cup packed light brown sugar, divided use
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided use
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Kirsch
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 (5.3-ounce) package Walker's shortbread cookies
½ cup old-fashioned oats
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large pot, combine cherries, honey, ¼ cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice, Kirsch, and almond extract, and stir into the cherry mixture.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Pour into a greased 8x8-inch square baking dish.

Break shortbread cookies into a food processor and pulse until large crumbs form.  Add the oats, the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, remaining ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and salt.  Pulse once or twice to mix.  Add butter and pulse until crumbs form.  Add the almonds and pulse just two or three more times to incorporate.

Sprinkle the shortbread crumbles evenly over the top of the cherries.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until cherries are bubbling and shortbread crumble is golden.

Makes 6 servings

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Bon Appétit: Smoked Potatoes and Cipolline Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce

My apartment complex owners used to be totally cool with everyone having a grill on their patio.  And some people actually used them out there.  And for forty years, the place didn't catch fire.  Now we have a new owner.  And this owner is convinced, absolutely CONVINCED, that if you even have a grill stored on your patio, not in use, mind you, just stored, it is a fire hazard.  So now my grill lives in my living room.  Seriously.  How did we ever take care of ourselves before lawyers and insurance companies and everyone else told us what to do?  It boggles the mind.  But the whole point is that in the middle of the summer, I can no longer grill, barbecue, smoke, etc. any item.  For any reason.  So I am forced to use my little indoors stovetop smoker to make delicious smoked dishes.  Although now that I think about it, my complex would probably ban those, too.  If they knew I was doing it.  Ah well, these potatoes were worth it.

Smoked Potatoes and Cipolline Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce
From Bon Appétit magazine, July 2016

1½ pounds small Yukon Gold or fingerling potatoes
8 ounces cipolline onions or other small onions, unpeeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off).  Scatter a handful of wood chips over coals if using a charcoal grill, or place in a smoker box and place over direct heat if using a gas grill.

Toss potatoes, onions, and oil in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.  Arrange potatoes and onions over indirect heat and close grill lid, positioning top vent directly above potatoes and onions, if possible.  Smoke potatoes and onions, turning occasionally, until fork tender, 30 to 45 minutes for onions, 45 to 60 minutes for potatoes.  Transfer to a platter and let cool slightly.  Tear all or some of the potatoes open, if desired.

When onions and potatoes are almost done, cook butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally, until it is browned and smells nutty (be careful not to let it burn), about 4 minutes.  Add caraway seeds; let cool lightly, then stir in lemon juice.  Season sauce with salt and pepper.  Arrange smoked potatoes and onions on a platter and drizzle with caraway butter sauce.  Top with scallions.

Makes 4 servings

Monday, July 04, 2016

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

I'm a big fan of stuffed jalapeño peppers.  They may be one of the most perfect appetizers.  Spicy chile?  Check.  Creamy, cheesy interior?  Check.  Meaty, fatty, smoky bacon?  Check.  And now that I have a new fun toy to play with (hello, pepper roasting stand!), I have an excuse to make these dang things all summer.  Can one get sick of stuffed peppers?  I'm betting the answer

Note:  The red, orange, and yellow peppers in the photo are actually small sweet peppers that I mixed in since I brought these to a party with children, and I'm all about being kid friendly.

Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

25 to 30 large jalapeño peppers
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
¾ cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack, plus additional for the tops
4 green onions, white and light green parts, chopped
2 tablespoons diced pimento
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt
¼ teaspoon mesquite smoke powder or liquid smoke
½ slice of applewood smoked bacon for each pepper

Slice the top off of each jalapeño pepper and use a corer to remove the ribs and seeds.  In the bowl of a blender with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese with ¾ cup shredded Cheddar, green onion, pimento, seasoned salt, and mesquite smoke powder until smooth.  Stuff each jalapeño to the top with the cheese mixture.  Wrap each pepper with half a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.  Stand each pepper upright in a jalapeño grill rack and top each one with a pinch of shredded cheese.  Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Aarti Sequeira: Root Beer Baked Beans

I was going through my recipes today, trying to decide what kind of side dish to make for a cookout, and I came across this little number.  I've never made baked beans with root beer, but why not?  Sounds awesome.  And with the other fun spices, this turned out a pretty complex baked bean dish.  Definitely going in the rotation, especially since my nephew actually ate some.  Beans - 1, nephew hunger strike - 0.

Note:  This recipe calls for cannellini beans, but I honestly think they're too big.  Next time I would use some plain 'ol navy beans.  Also, the original recipe says this takes 30 minutes to cook, but I like my bean sauce thick, so I left it in the oven for another half an hour until it was just the way I like it.

Root Beer Baked Beans
From Aarti Sequeira

4 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (12-ounce bottle) root beer, such as IBC
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Hefty pinch red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon garam masala
2 (14-ounce cans) cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Set a medium oven-safe pot over moderate heat and add bacon. Cook until most of the fat is rendered out and the bacon is crisp. Prepare a plate with paper towels, and using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the pot to the plate. Set about a quarter of the bacon aside, for garnish.

Add the onions, garlic, and ginger to the pot, and sauté until soft and golden. Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato paste deepens in color, about another minute.

Next add the root beer, cider vinegar, molasses, grainy mustard, red pepper flakes, and garam masala. Stir to combine. Then add the beans and bacon, and gently stir so the beans don't lose their shape. Taste for salt and pepper, then pop into the oven, uncovered, until the mixture thickens, about 30 to 60 minutes. Remove the beans from the oven, let cool slightly, and sprinkle with reserved bacon and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, July 02, 2016

In Erika's Kitchen: Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Garden Herbs, Gruyère Cheese, and Fennel Pollen

Summer is the time for tomatoes, so I was hoping for a bumper crop from the tomato plant that I purchased about a month ago.  No such luck.  The poor thing withered down to nothing in the first heat wave, despite the fact that it was a "heat resistant" variety.  So it goes in Texas.  Luckily I'm able to visit my local grocery to access a plethora of fantastically delicious summer tomatoes.  And since there are so many varieties flaunting their ripeness, I decided to make a big cobbler with every variety of cherry tomato that I could locate.  This particular dish includes red, orange, yellow, and brown tomatoes, and it was scrumptious.

Cherry Tomato Cobbler with Garden Herbs, Gruyère Cheese, and Fennel Pollen
Adapted from In Erika's Kitchen blog

9 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons minced roasted garlic
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
½ cup minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, oregano, basil, tarragon
1 teaspoon fennel pollen
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
⅓ cup olive oil
⅔ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Mix the tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of flour, garlic, celery salt, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Pour into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake 15 minutes to soften the tomatoes and start their juices flowing.

While the tomatoes are baking, make the biscuit topping: Whisk together remaining flour, remaining salt, baking powder, baking soda, shredded cheese, herbs, fennel pollen, and pepper in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and buttermilk; add to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until a dough forms. If it's too dry, add a little more oil. With one hand, knead the dough 5-6 times by turning it over on itself in the bowl.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven after 15 minutes and drop the biscuit dough in clumps on top of the tomatoes. Return the pan to the oven and bake about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are cooked through and golden on top, and the tomatoes are bubbling. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.

Makes 12 to 15 servings

Friday, July 01, 2016

A Chef's Kitchen: Spicy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

I don't know why, but all of a sudden, I was feeling shrimp-and-grits-y.  But I didn't want to make something complicated or multi-part.  I just wanted all that shrimp and grit goodness jammed into one dish.  The perfect brunch casserole.  And this recipe pretty much does the trick.  Spicy shrimp, cheesy-smokey grits, all in one place.  Dig in.

Spicy Shrimp and Grits Casserole
Adapted from A Chef's Kitchen blog

1 pound large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, such as Emeril's Essence, divided use
2 slices bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped
½ large red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, such as Rotel, drained
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup whole milk or half-and-half
½ cup quick-cooking grits (not instant)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
½ pound smoked Gouda cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Butter a medium baking dish.

In a medium bowl, toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon seasoning blend.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, cook bacon until crispy over medium-high heat.  Remove slices to a paper towel to drain.  Into the bacon grease left in the skillet, toss shrimp.  Cook shrimp, turning to ensure even cooking, just until they are opaque.  Drain and set aside in a clean bowl.

To the empty skillet, add butter.  When melted, add the scallion, red pepper, and jalapeño pepper.  Reduce heat to medium, cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until beginning to soften.  Stir in garlic, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, milk, and remaining 1 teaspoon seasoning blend.  Bring to a boil.  Slowly stir in grits.  Stir continuously until mixture returns to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Stir in shrimp, bacon, egg, and ¾ of cheese.  Transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through and bubbling.  Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings