Rotel is my lifeblood; it is basically the only way I consume tomatoes happily, and I replace every instance of “1 can diced tomatoes” with “1 can Rotel” in my recipes. But here in New York, the so-called greatest city in the world, finding Rotel is a full-time job, if not an impossible dream.  Specific groceries are a pin to find here anyway, but I have been everywhere for Rotel with no success. I have even contacted my friendly neighborhood agricultural conglomeration ConAgra to try to get an idea of where it might be stocked within a 50 mile radius. To no avail.

So now, every time my mom sends me a package, she stuffs all the crevices of the flat rate box with cans of Rotel.  Thanks, mom! And with a fresh shipment in, and summer around the corner, this is all I want to eat! Bonus: it only takes about 30 minutes start to finish.

Cajun Shrimp and Grits

adapted from Downhome with the Neelys

For the Grits

  • 4 cups chicken broth (I love better than bullion myself)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup grits (quick cooking will work, but stone ground is better.  More hearty and toothsome)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup parmesan or a parmesan blend. Stay away from the powdered stuff. Real melty cheese please!

For the Shrimp and Sausage

  • 2 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lb andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal in 1/2″ slices (if you can find some house made near you, do that. Otherwise I like Aidell’s, and I just use the whole package.  Cause sausage!)
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (confession:not the biggest shrimp lover… and sometimes I just do sausage. Sausage!)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth. Cause who has actual wine hanging around?
  • 2 10-oz cans Rotel, or 1 can Rotel plus one plain diced tomatoes if you are boring/chile averse
  • chopped chives for garnish

In a heavy bottomed saucepan or dutch oven, bring the chicken stock and whipping cream to a low simmer, being careful not to scald the cream.  While simmering, whisk in the grits and a pinch of salt. Stir constantly while returning to a low simmer. Cook until thickened, probably 5-15 minutes depending on if you went with quick cooking or stone ground, but should correspond to the package directions.  Once thickened, turn off heat and stir in cheese and butter.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt bacon grease and sauté onion and green bell pepper until tender and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for about 1 more minute (garlic tends to burn), pile to the side wok-style, then add sausage. Brown cut sides of sausage, about 2 minutes a side, then add shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add white wine and Rotel/tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve shrimp mixture over grits and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Serves 4-6, depending on the number of men/southerners eating.

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onion and vegetables on cutting board

I have a pretty complex system for making sure everyone around here get fed well and in a timely manner–staving off hangry is a full time job without a little planning. Here’s what’ll be on my table–er, ikea desk–this first week of feels-like-spring!

  • I’m on a quinoa kick, so my lunch salad this week is this Greek Quinoa Salad–just filling enough with my staple lunch accessories of an apple, a babybel cheese, and a Brownie Batter Bar for dessert. Ross is the master of his own lunch, thank God. Quinoa salad is not man food, as it turns out.

As for dinner, it goes as follows:

  • Sunday-Tuesday (I ain’t afraid of no leftovers): Cajun Style Shrimp and Grits and a big ol’ salad
  • Wednesday is a run day, which means I have minimal time to be cooking between my arrival home and Ross’s. Paprika Porkchops with Garlic Feta Mashed Potatoes, rolls, and again, the requisite big ol’ salad. My favorite run day dinner cause it takes 20 minutes and the boiling happens while you shower.
  • Thursday/Saturday is a trial run of a Taste of Home recipe for chicken and artichokes…I’ll let you know how that goes over!  I try to do one experiment a week so if it flops, we have something tried and true to look forward to. Dinner is serious business around here, and we wouldn’t want it to disappoint.
  • Friday is date night, so we’ll probably hit up the Lock Yard for some crazy hot dog and waffle fry action. The Bridgeview dog is bacon wrapped AND deep fried…be still, my beating, cholesterol-riddled heart.

And that’s it! Well, except for some upkeep of the desserts on hand… I take keeping the freezer stocked seriously, and it is full of cookie dough.

What are you eating this week?