Southern Comfort [GUEST POST]

Hi everyone! So today you are in for a treat! My roommate Annie volunteered to do a guest post for Cooking Between Classes – and trust me the following recipes are to die for! 

ANNIE: Hi y’all!! I’m so excited to do a guest post on Paula’s blog. I always think I want to make a blog and become, like, the greatest blogger ever, but the fact that I have yet to follow through to even make one is a sure sign that maybe I should stick to one-time blog appearances like this one.

I’ve been working at Pure Barre in Dupont Circle since the end of the summer, and yesterday we had a party at my friend Lauren’s house for college game day. Being from the south (Memphis, TN to be exact) I was raised on game day and tailgate fare. Not necessarily the healthiest cuisine, but as long as you keep it in moderation (AKA just every Saturday during the fall) you should be fine…

Anyway, Lauren’s husband was making Carolina-style pulled pork, so I offered to bring one of my all time favorite foods and a southern classic—cheese grits—to accompany it. Good grits are hard to come by in DC grocery stores (Whole Foods only offers “Polenta [also known as Grits].” Not willing to compromise on quality, I found what I consider to be the real McCoy—Palmetto Farms Yellow Corn Stone Ground Grits— on Amazon, and they were here 2 days later. The grits were a hit at our party, and I made them again for Paula and our other roommates Gaby and Gabi. If nothing else, they are the epitome of comfort food. BONUS: they’re super easy to make. I also made home made chex mix yesterday, another southern holiday tradition, and am including that recipe as well!

Best Ever Baked Stone Ground Cheese Grits

1 Cup Palmetto Farms Yellow Corn Stone Ground Grits (you can also use Quaker Oats quick cooking grits)

4 Cups of 2% milk

¼ Cup butter

1 egg

2 Cups grated cheddar cheese (I use half sharp and half mild cheddar)

½ Cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

IMG_6582 Step 1: Bring the milk, butter, and grits to a boil in a large pot, stirring frequently

IMG_6585Step 2: After the mixture has reached a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer (low heat) and cover the pot with a lid. Let it cook for 6-8 minutes or until done. It should still be bubbling as it simmers, so watch it closely and stir it around every couple of minutes. You’ll know it is done when it has reached the consistency of mashed potatoes or oatmeal.

IMG_6586Step 3: Remove from heat. Stir in the egg, cheddar cheese, half of the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture into a large baking dish (I used a 9×13 glass Pyrex dish, but a large stockpot or a cake/pie tin works too). Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

IMG_6589Step 4: Bake at 350 uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the top turns a golden/light brown color.

IMG_6606Never heard of grits? They’re very similar to Polenta. I like to eat them with eggs and bacon at breakfast, or with roasted chicken and sautéed spinach at dinner. They also paired really well with Matt’s pulled pork yesterday and are a great alternative to mac and cheese. If nothing else, grits are comfort food at its finest.

 Home Made Chex Party Mix

5 cups Rice Chex Cereal

4 cups Corn Chex Cereal

1 cup bite-size pretzels

1 cup mixed nuts or peanuts

1 cup cheerios (I didn’t use these in this batch)

8 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt

¾ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

IMG_6575 Step 1: Preheat oven to 250. In a large bowl, mix the cereals, pretzels, and nuts.

IMG_6578Step 2: Heat the butter in the microwave until it has completely melted. Whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, orange juice, seasoned salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.

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IMG_6577 Step 3: Pour the butter and seasoning mix over the cereal mix, stir so that the entire mixture is coated evenly. Spread the mixture pour on a large roasting pan or cookie sheet.

IMG_6579Step 4: Bake for about an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving, store in an airtight container.

IMG_6588WARNING: you’ll never be able to eat the bagged chex mix again!

Told you guys that you were in for a treat! These are really simple recipes and they are absolutely delicious!! 

Overall Prep Time for Grits: 20 min 

Overall Cooking Time for Grits: 30-40 min 

Overall Price: ~$20-30 (depends on what kind of grits you buy) 

Overall Prep Time for Chex Mix: 10 min 

Overall Cooking Time for Chex Mix: 1 hour 

Overall Price: ~$15-25 

Let me know if his post inspired you guys to learn how to make some southern comfort food! Also, let me know if you enjoyed the guest post! I have other friends that have been wanting to share their recipes as well! 

Happy Cooking!! 

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Fall Treats

Fall is here! Fall is here! Fall is here!!!!! What better way to celebrate fall than with some delicious fall treats!?!?!

This week, I made two simple treats that were absolutely delicious: Cinnamon coated pumpkin seeds & chocolate/peanut butter pretzels!!

Let’s begin with the Cinnamon Coated Pumpkin Seeds:

It all started when my roommate and I wanted to carve a pumpkin…. We went to Whole Foods and bought a giant pumpkin, once we started to carve it – we realized that there were so many pumpkin seeds that were going to waste, so we decided to save the pumpkin seeds and look up a simple recipe for them.

image-5Your first step is to remove the pumpkin seeds and place them on a colander… You run it under some water and make sure to get pumpkin gunk off of them.

image-9image-10Preheat the oven to 400. In the meantime, dry the seeds on paper towel and then place them on a butter-coated pan. Sprinkle the cinnamon powder on them and once the oven is ready – you place them inside.

image-3They are going to be in the oven for 20 minutes total, but after the first 10 minutes you have to remember to move them around just to make sure that all of the pumpkin seeds get evenly roasted.

image-4Once the 20 minutes are done, you place the pumpkin seeds on a plate and enjoy them!! SUPER SIMPLE & DELICIOUS!!

imageimage-2The other recipe has more steps…

Chocolate/Peanut Butter Pretzels

 You are going to need a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, a cup of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter powder and a cup of confectioner’s sugar.

Get the bag of chocolate chips and the cup of peanut butter and add them to a bowl

IMG_6436 IMG_6437Place in the microwave for 1:30 min or until the chocolate chips fully melt. Once melted, mix the peanut butter and melted chocolate together.  Also, add the peanut butter powder to make it a little bit denser.

IMG_6444-1Get your pretzels and place them in a bigger bowl

IMG_6450Pour the chocolate/peanut butter sauce over it and stir all together

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If you want, you can add other things to it – we added cheerios!

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Once it is all mixed together, place everything in a large Ziploc bag and add the confectioners sugar to it.

IMG_6462IMG_6467Seal the Ziploc bag and shake it – the goal is to get all of the pretzels covered in powdered sugar.

IMG_6468Once that is done, place it in the freezer for 20 min and then enjoy!!

IMG_6469image-1Simple as that!!

Overall Prep Time: 30 min

Overall Cost: $15-20

Let me know if you enjoyed these simple snacks – planning on making many more this semester!! Happy Cooking!

End-of-the-Summer Pasta

These first two weeks of school have been SUPER hectic! From buying books, setting up the dorm room and adjusting to a new class schedule –  I barely had any time to just sit down and make a delicious meal! 

Finally, this weekend I was able to go to Whole Foods and buy some groceries. While I was there, I have to admit I was having some trouble deciding what types of ingredients I should get (they have way too many options).

But after walking by all of the aisles, I finally decided to buy the following ingredients to make the perfect end-of-the-summer pasta…image-4

As you can see, I bought some whole wheat rotini pasta, frozen shrimp, basil pesto, grape tomatoes, olive oil, pine nuts and salt & pepper. Most of the ingredients are Whole Food’s 356 Everyday Value products which are really cheap and delicious! Overall, this purchase was inexpensive and the best part is that most of the ingredients can be re-used for other meals!

Okay, so now to the step-by-step process:

The first thing I had to do was thaw the frozen shrimp … yeahh how do I do that?

I literally had no idea – at first I got a pot and filled it with water and put the bag inside … and that clearly was not the right thing to do. My roommates called me out and were like “Paula, you have to take the shrimp OUT of the bag and place them in the water” which obviously made a lot more sense. So I did that and after 10 minutes of waiting the shrimp was completely thawed. Once that was done I placed them in a strainer until I had to use them again.

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Next, I put some water to boil so I can cook the pasta…It took like 5-7 minutes for the water to boil and 10 minutes for the pasta to be perfectly cooked. Make sure you taste the pasta so you know it is fully cooked!

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In the meantime, I had my roommates cut up some tomatoes and set up the table.image-9

The next step was to get a pan drizzle some olive oil on it, turn up the heat and start cooking the shrimp (which is seasoned with salt & pepper).image-1

And add the tomatoes and the pine nuts

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Once the shrimp is fully cooked, you go back to the pasta, strain it and then add a tablespoon of olive oil, extra tomatoes, two tablespoons of basil pesto and the shrimp/pine nuts/tomato combo to it.

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The final step is *drumroll, please*:  ENJOY THE FOOD!

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Overall Prep/Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes

Overall Cost: ~ $25 for all of the ingredients (keep in mind that half of them can be re-used)

Let me know if this post was helpful, and if you had the chance to make this dish tell me about your experience!

Happy Cooking!