October 2012 Foodie Penpals

I had a really good experience with foodie penpals this month.  My penpal, Kendra Lee from Over the Spoon, is from CA but recently moved to  my home state: NC!  She is getting to experience all that NC has to offer and I asked, as usual, to send local treats!  She reacquainted me with some items I haven’t had in years, as well as some new treats!

First of all, the card that she wrote had a picture of bacon on it.  This is a girl after my own heart!  She sent me 2 types of Moravian cookies (these wonderful wafer thin cookies from Old Salem), she sent a pecan brittle and Frog jam from Young’s Plantation, a wonderful snack mix, tea, and Pop Rocks for good measure.  We enjoyed the Frog jam on biscuits yesterday and it was so yummy – raspberries, ginger, fig and orange is an amazing combination!

The Lean Green Bean

If you are interested in participating in Foodie Penpals, go here for more information.

Shrimp and Grits

Need I say more?  I think the title says it all.  Shrimp and grits had been on my mind for a while and since we had some frozen shrimp that needed to be consumed, off I went.  I have been trying to clean out the fridge and although I used a recipe as a guide, I completely veered off course.

This is my ultimate comfort food.  Are you having a rough day?  This is your answer.  It comes together fast enough for a weeknight meal but definitely feels special.  Pair a green salad and a glass of wine, you are set.

Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp:
4 strips of bacon, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Lemon juice, 1/2 a lemon’s worth
tabasco to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Grits:
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups water
1 cup quick grits (yeah, yeah, no self-respecting southerner eats instant grits)
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons of salted butter
hot sauce of your choice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a pot, render the bacon, take out the cooked bacon to drain and keep enough bacon grease in the bottom of the pan to coat it.

2. Add the onions and cook until soft.  Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and cook until soft.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque.  Finish with lemon juice, salt and pepper and hot sauce.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare the grits.  Bring the water and heavy cream to boil (this is what I had, use whatever you want, you could use all water too).  When boiling, add the grits and turn down the heat to medium, stirring.  When the grits reach the desired thickness, turn off the heat and add the sour cream, cheese and butter.  Finish with the seasonings.

4. Enjoy!!!!

September Martha Stewart Cupcake Challenge

You may notice (or not) that I failed to post the August Cupcake.  (If you are new to this project, you can see previous cupcakes here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)  That’s because it was lackluster.  Over half way through the year, I think Martha slacked.  Or the poor sap responsible for August through December has terrible taste in recipes.  I made the August cupake and it wasn’t worth presenting to you.  This one wasn’t either but I doctored it to make it better.  So my new strategy is to go with my gut and if I don’t like her recipe, I’m not making it and I will use her recipe as inspiration for a better cake.  Because we all know that life is too short to eat lackluster cake.

Per my Sprinkle Bakes experience, I decided the felon’s suggestion for using marshmallow fluff was to be ignored.  Cook’s perorgative.  I made a pastry cream instead and I found it to be delightful.  Also, Martha wanted us to dig out the interior of the cake with a paring knife which seemed like too much work, so I just stuck the icing tip in the top or the cupcake and filled it with the cream without digging any holes in the cakes.   The hole in the top of the cake was covered by a lovely dark chocolate ganache so no one was the wiser.  I used the Martha cake recipe but I highly recommend the devil’s food cake recipe (here) instead.  I used Bake at 350’s recipe for the ganache and decorators icing.  I used Baker’s Royale’s recipe for the pastry cream.

I had the most fun playing with the writing on the cupcake.  The evidence has been eaten, but I put many names on the cakes so I could practice my loved one’s names.  I like how the white icing looks against the dark chocolate ganache.  This is something to be explored.  Of course I was out of decorator bags so I may have had better luck had I been using a metal tip.

Do you avoid piping on cake like I do?

September Foodie Penpals

Foodie Penpals. Awesome little program!  Get on it.  But first…

Back to our regularly scheduled post.  Sometimes you need a pick me up.

Holly over at Leaps of Faith hooked me up.  I always ask for local items and she surpassed all expectations.  She lives in Oregon and gave me some local treats like Picky Bars (right out of OR) and chocolate covered espresso beans!  Also, the fabulous White Chocolate Wonderful from Peanut Butter & Co., honey almonds by Sahale Snacks, chocolate cherry coffee from Harry & David and a special chili sauce that I am waiting to use for a little football watching meal.  I didn’t get to try the almonds because a sneaky person may have eaten them, but no complaints were heard!

If you are interested in participating for October, go to The Lean Green Bean to learn more.