Tomato Grits

I love grits and this is coming from someone who had never tried them until after I graduated from college and moved to Mississippi.  At first I was a bit befuddled by them, do you eat them with salt and pepper? butter? sugar?  Finally I decided that straight up with a dash of hot sauce was going to be my way to eat this Southern breakfast favorite.

Last week the local newspaper decided to highlight grits in one of their Wednesday food articles.  When I saw this recipe I knew that I had finally found a way to serve grits for dinner.  The original recipe called for a whole (!) stick of butter to be stirred into the casserole.  Listen, I love butter just as much as the next person, but that seemed a tad bit ridiculous, so I left it out entirely.  If you think it would taste better with some butter, I would suggest using only a couple of tablespoons, as the casserole is rich enough already with the cheese and the sausage.  In addition, you can substitute a can of Ro-Tel, undrained, for the diced tomatoes and diced green chiles.  I also used reduced-fat sausage which only comes in a 12-ounce package.  If you use a 16-ounce package of regular sausage make sure to drain away any excess fat before adding the onions and garlic to the skillet.  This casserole would also make an excellent addition to a brunch menu. Continue reading

Beef & Macaroni Casserole

I always struggle with what to do with ground beef.  I usually buy it with the intention of making burgers or chili and then when I change my mind I have to scramble to come up with something else.  I must have looked at a dozen online sites trying to find inspiration.  After wading through countless listings for (of course) chili, tamale pie and spaghetti, I was just about ready to give up.  My last hope was going to Eat Your Books which I joined two years ago.  For those of you not familiar with this website, it is a place to catalog all of your cookbooks.  They index the books which then makes your library searchable.  I still had to sift through lots of entries but I eventually found this in a cookbook I have had for years but rarely use, Craig Claiborne’s The New New York Times Cookbook.  The casserole is basically a hearty macaroni and cheese.  It takes a bit of time to put together but the results are cheesy goodness at its best especially if you use extra sharp cheddar cheese.  This recipe can be made healthier by using whole grain pasta, skim milk, 2% cheddar cheese and low fat ground beef or a lean ground turkey. Continue reading