Posts tagged southern food

Maple Pecan Pie

I’m really not that big on making desserts and usually just rely on a quick scoop of ice cream or a piece of chocolate to get my sweet fix. But every once in a while, I’d get a hankering for something I haven’t had in a long time.

Although, I still have to have that scoop of ice cream, that’s right. 🙂

Ingredients:
1 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Raw Cane Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
3 Large Eggs
4 tbs. Unsalted Butter, melted
1 tbs. Pure Vanilla Extract
1 tbs. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
1 1/2 cups Pecans (pieces or halves)
1 9″ Pie Crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients until well blended. Pour mixture over the crust and bake for 1 hour. Let stand at room temp until completely cool.

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Chicken & Dumplings

Here’s my version of the ol’ Southern staple. Greatly simplified and healthier but just as flavorful.

Ingredients (4-6 servings):
2 Chicken Breasts, diced into bite size pieces and salt & peppered
4 Frozen Buttermilk Biscuits, halfway thawed and sliced into thin strips
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup, low-sodium/ low-fat
1 can Cream of Celery Soup, low-sodium/ low-fat
3 cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock (NOT broth!)
4-6 Garlic Cloves, minced
2-3 Celery Ribs, finely diced
1 small Onion, finely diced
2 Tbs. Canola Oil
Salt & Pepper
Finely chopped Fresh Chives (optional)

Directions:
Prep everything before cooking. Also, make sure you slice the biscuits on a flour-dusted surface or they will stick.

Using a medium-heated large pot or dutch oven, saute chicken pieces in oil until brown, about 5 minutes. Then, throw in the onions and celery and cook for another 5 munites. Now, stir in minced garlic for another couple of minutes. Mix in the soup and stock, salt and pepper to taste.

When it starts to boil, drop the biscuit strips into the soup a few pieces at a time, spreading it out evenly then reduce heat to medium-low. Make sure that all of them are fully immersed in the liquid, but don’t stir. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked and no longer doughy. By this time, it should have an almost chowder-like consistency.

Ladle on a soup bowl and garnish with chives, if you want.

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Shrimp & Grits

Even though I lived in the South for years, I never had a chance to try shrimp & grits. I know! That’s like going to New York and not seeing Broadway. Anyway, I was watching the Charleston episode of No Reservations last week and was enamored by the sight of this southern staple being quickly whipped up in the kitchen, that I just had to go make it myself, already!

I was going back and forth on the DVR trying to capture the sequence of events in the making of this dish. It seemed pretty simple. And I’m glad to say it, indeed, was a breeze to make. Plus the flavors are just amazing! You oughta try it to believe it!

But as with anything, of course, I had to make little tweaks just to accommodate my preferences (by using healthier alternatives). Though for the most part, the whole process is pretty fundamental and can easily be adjusted to one’s liking.

Now, enough talk already! Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients (1 serving):
Quick Cooking Grits (1/4 cup)
Uncooked Shrimp, peeled (a few pieces)
Turkey Bacon, diced (1 strip per serving)
Unbleached Flour (1/4 cup)
Cajun/Creole Seasoning Powder
Mushrooms, sliced (a few pieces)
Garlic, minced (1 clove)
Scallions, finely chopped (1-2 tbs)
Hot Sauce
1/2 Lemon

Directions:
Cook and season grits to your preference. Usually, one serving consists of 1/4 cup grits and a cup of water. See package for further directions. Also, you can use broth for the liquid. At the end, add a dab of butter and some grated cheese of your choice.

Now, season flour with Cajun seasoning powder and lightly coat shrimp. Shake off excess flour and set aside on a plate.

In a skillet, cook diced bacon until crisp. Set aside bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. Leave the drippings on the skillet. Now, since we’re using turkey bacon here, there might not be enough grease left, just add a little cooking oil then.

Saute mushrooms in skillet for a few minutes. Add shrimp, garlic, scallions and a little hot sauce and saute for another couple of minutes. Add a little water to create a roux and keep stirring for another couple of minutes.

Right at very the end, squirt a little lemon juice and serve over grits on a bowl. Garnish with crumbled bacon, more scallions and a lemon wedge.

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Chicken Fried Steak

Another high scorer in the comfort food factor, chicken fried steak was something I got used to eating a lot of when I lived in the south years ago. Although, a lot of times, for most of us, it is only relegated to Sunday brunch visits at country-style restaurants. I’ve always wanted to do one myself since I didn’t think it was complicated at all. I don’t do it often now, especially since I’ve been really mindful of healthy habits these days but every once in a while, it is still good to find some of that good ol’ southern comfort on your plate. And this dish most definitely delivers.

It’s easy to make this dish and so many different ways to do it. Take your pick.

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