Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cajun Please, Hold the Butter

A BIG EASY meal that takes it easy on the waistline? It’s not impossible my friends. I decided to make a meal from New Orleans to kick off the new season of True Blood (I know I themed again) without going too overboard with the calories. Hey, its bikini season people, shallow remarks on keeping fit are in plethora around these parts. So I started doing my research of Cajun fare online and weeding out all those gluten glutinous recipes. It reminded me of this year’s Super Bowl when I had fare from both teams stomping grounds. I will be honest, after the Super Bowl Cajun feast overload, I did not think I would crave Cajun for a while. We ate our way through cheesy shrimp and grits and olive tapenade drenched muffalettas until we were blue in the face. Or rather, purple.

I set the table with an eerie candlelit glow and deep red roses. I filled a large decanter full of cabernet sauvignon and accented with large wine goblets.Unfortunately, my play at eerie came out more romantic than intended but it made for a pleasant ambience nonetheless. Leave it to me to not be able to pull off romantic unless by accident.

Now for the New Orleans reVamped banquet. I ran across a garlic cheesy grits recipe on eatingwell.com that would ward off any vampire in this area. With a few tweaks of my own, I accomplished near perfection. I promise you, the butter was not missed. I made up my own spicy shrimp recipe, and let me tell you, this has some BITE! I tried to estimate about how much of each spice I scattered in, as I am a perpetual tosser and taster instead of a meticulous measure minder. True Blood Fans, this meal is for you.

Cajun Spicy Shrimp

•1 pinch kosher salt
•3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 teaspoon white pepper
•1 teaspoon dried dillweed
•1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
•1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (add as much or as little for your own spice meter)
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 pound large shrimp - peeled and deveined

1.In one bowl, combine the seasonings. In another bowl, combine oil and shrimp; toss in the seasonings until well coated.
2.Sautee in a shallow pan for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Garlic Cheese Grits

•4 1/2 cups water
•1 cup grits, quick or old-fashioned (not instant)
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
•2 medium cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
•1/4 Pecorino Romano
•1/4 Parmesan
•1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (again, add at your own will)


1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
2.Bring water, grits and salt to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer until the grits are thick, about 20-30 minutes, depending on the type of grits.
3.Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
4.Stir the oil and garlic into the grits along with the cheeses and cayenne and transfer to the prepared pan.
5.Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and crusty on top, about 45 minutes.

**Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 4, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Per serving: 168 calories; 6 g fat (3 g sat, 2 g mono); 16 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 1 g fiber; 264 mg sodium; 35 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (15% daily value).
*derived from EatingWell.com

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