Good ol’ Southern comfort foods for a rainy day (or any day)… 

Well the weather has been pretty crazy down in South Florida… I’m talking hailstorms and tornado warnings. Even at 26, my mom still makes sure to call to remind me to stay away from windows! Haha Gotta love her!

Yesterday’s storm: Doesn’t look too bad but the wind was crazy!

I was released from the hospital three days ago finishing my 4th round of chemo. As a result, I’m in hibernation mode. The ultimate goal: to stay away from people, places, things… just nouns in general I guess!  Doctors’ appointments will be my only reason to get out of the house so now I fill my time by cooking.  Today, I had the first of many blood transfusions I will receive now that I’m ‘starting to crash.’  I definitely feel very fatigued.  I was so happy that I cooked Chicken and Dumplings yesterday and could have the leftovers after being at the cancer center for 6 hours this morning.

There’s nothing like good comfort foods when you’re feeling crappy.  I love southern cooking but it’s usually really involved and I’m a more simple gal.  It’s not because I’m limited on time by any means but I still don’t feel like spending all day in the kitchen.  Here are two simple, yet delicious, recipes for a rainy day..sunny day.. Whenever your little heart desires!!

Chicken and Dumplings 

  • 1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into 1″ cubes
  • 16 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 celery sticks and 3 carrots, chopped small – add more or less to your liking!
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • I add crushed red pepper but not necessary

For the dumplings:

  • 2 cups bisquick
  • 2/3 cups milk  
I do my best to buy organic!

Pour 3 cups water, chicken broth and salt and pepper into a stock pot and bring to a boil.  Add chicken and garlic – boil for 7-10 min. I usually chop the vegetables while the chicken is cooking.  Add 1/2 cup milk, celery, carrots, onions to stock pot and cook for additional 10 min.

Fun fact: Celery, carrot and onion mix is called a Mirepoix

Make the dumplings by mixing 2 cups bisquick with 2/3 cup milk until the dough forms. Drop spoonfuls of dumplings into the rapid boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 min.  Uncover and then cook for an additional 5-10 min. Poke dumplings with a fork to make sure it comes out clean which ensures they’re cooked through. Serve immediately! I usually make a big batch and freeze portions for later to Will’s dismay… ‘We don’t have enough freezer space’ he says.. For this deliciousness, I think we can make an exception 😉

Yum! And so simple…

I have to give a shout out to my girl Lindsay who first cooked this for me when we were in college and continued to have it as ‘our dinner’ when we lived together a couple of years later! The best roommate!

In an attempt to broaden my horizons, I decided to try this take on shrimp and grits.  I’ve never really eaten okra, let alone cooked it, before this recipe but it is so good! Okra is prominent in Southern cooking and can be eaten fried, sautéed, pickled, etc. You’ll find them in most gumbos.  The whole pods are edible but become slimy when the seed pods are cut and cooked. I don’t mind it but to reduce the sliminess you can stir fry the pod as a whole and then slice.  A few drops of an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar will help dissolve the mucus aka slime if necessary.  Still on the fence about Okra? Give it a shot at least for the health benefits: they’re high in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, calcium and potassium.

This recipe serves the shrimp over cheesy grits but if you’re not a fan, you can easily serve over white or brown rice! 

Sautéed Shrimp with Okra and Tomatoes

  • 10 oz. shrimp
  • 4 oz. (about 2 handfuls) okra, tops removed and quartered
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves (preferably) fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grits
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

In small pot, bring 1 1/2 cups water, milk and pinch of salt to a rapid boil and slowly stir in grits until well mixed.  Return to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding more water if necessary.  Set aside, covered. I have the hardest time cooking grits and can never seem to get the same result twice so don’t lose hope!  I nailed them for this picture.

Cheesy Grits – I love ’em but you don’t have to use ’em!

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in cast iron skillet (or any nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat. Add okra and sear for 4-5 min. Season with salt and pepper.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant… about 30 seconds. Set aside.  Add tomatoes to pan and cook for about 3 minutes or until they start to burst.  Set aside with okra.

Heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the pan.  Season the shrimp with salt, pepper and as many crushed red pepper flakes as you like!  I add at least 2 teaspoons because we like spicy foods but remember you can always add more, you can’t take it away so be careful! Add shrimp to the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until pink and opaque.

Return the okra and tomatoes to the pan and cook, tossing, until warmed through.  Season with salt, pepper and parsley. Finish by adding the cheese to the grits, stir to combine. Top grits with the shrimp, okra and tomatoes and you have an impressive, yet easy, dinner!  (recipe adapted from HelloFresh.)

Wowza. You can serve this over rice if you’d prefer!
Voila! Look at that presentation!

Hope y’all enjoy!


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