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Creole food is city food, slightly more rarefied than its rustic Cajun cousin, with roots that reach back to Louisiana’s French colonists. You can certainly see the French connection in this recipe—the base of the sauce is a brunoise (finely diced vegetables), the sauce itself is a reduction that’s mounted with butter, and the shrimp is cooked with a quick sauté . . . très française, n’est pas? One not-so-French element here is the hefeweizen I use in the Creole sauce. Its light, citrusy flavor intensifies as it reduces and helps cut some of the richness of this luxurious dish. This dish has quite a following at Brown Sugar Kitchen; it's a popular item on our breakfast and brunch menu, but it’s equally at home on the dinner table.
RECIPE: Creole Shrimp and Grits
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup/40 G diced green bell pepper
¼ cup/40 G diced red bell pepper
3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoon Creole Spice Mix (recipe follows)
1½ lb./680 G medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
¾ cup/180 M L Creole Sauce (recipe follows)
¼ cup/60 M L heavy cream
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 oz/140 g baby spinach leaves
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
White Cheddar Grits (recipe follows) for serving
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the green and red bell peppers, green onions, garlic, and the Creole Spice Mix, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and sear just until opaque, turning once, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Creole Sauce, cream, and butter, and bring to a simmer. Add the spinach, a handful at a time, stirring to wilt and coat with sauce. Once all the spinach has been added, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Serve immediately over the grits.
Creole Spice Mix
Makes about 1 1/2 cups/200 grams
3 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoon herbes de Provence
3 tablespoon ground cumin
1/3 cup/45 g cayenne pepper
¼ cup/30 g freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup/30 g sweet paprika
In a small bowl, stir together the salt, herbes de Provence, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, and paprika until thoroughly combined. (To make ahead, store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.)
Makes about 1 cup/240 ml
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 green onions, white parts only, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
One 12-oz/360-ml bottle wheat beer, such as hefeweizen
¾ cup/180 ml Worcestershire sauce
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the green onions and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and Worcestershire sauce and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thick and syrupy and reduced to about 1 cup/240 ml, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. (To make ahead, refrigerate sauce in an airtight container for up to 1 week.)
White Cheddar Grits
2 3/4 cups/660 ml water
2/3 cup/95 grams quick-cooking grits
2 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 oz/115 g sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated
1½ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of white pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Whisk in the grits, reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring constantly, until the grits are fully cooked and thick like mush, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cream, butter, cheese, salt, and white pepper.
Cover and keep warm over very low heat until serving.