I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. More accurately, I totally suck at keeping them. Two years ago my resolution was to unpack my paintbrushes and canvases, which I hadn’t touched in over five years, and which I still haven’t pulled out of storage. Last year I resolved to brush up on my French and even bought Rosetta Stone as impetus (thinking I’d have oh-so-much time during maternity leave, ha!), but the box is now in under two millimeters of dust on the corner of my desk (maybe I should resolve to clean more?). This year I decided to keep it easy. My resolution was to touch my husband more. Oh stop—you have such a dirty mind! I literally meant that I would consciously (that is, with intention) hug him every single day. Between our daily shuffle of getting the kids out the door in the morning (he takes Juniper, I take Ella), then the after-school-dinnertime-scramble, followed by baths then bedtime for the girls, then more work for us, not to mention our GIANT new king size bed that requires a megaphone to communicate from one end to the other, it sometimes feels like days go by without us even brushing hands.

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So, this year is all about more hugs. While I can’t claim a hundred-percent success rate at this point (although if hugging my kids counted, I’d be ROCKING it), I have gotten better at allocating weekly date nights for James and I. This usually means putting the kids to bed on a Friday night then enjoying a peaceful, candlelit meal in the dining room. These sriracha-spiked, coconut-bathed shrimp are perfect for such occasions. The shrimp are served with a tangle of garlicky kale over the creamiest grits you can imagine (and yes, in case you’re wondering, grits are the same thing as polenta). The kale and grits can be made before the kids go to bed, and then I can finish off the shrimp right before eating. It’s comfort food at its sexiest. And trust me when I say this, it inspires hugs.  Lots of them. (Oh there you go again with that dirty mind!)

Spicy Shrimp, Greens & Grits

Congratulations to Sheri Fetter, who was the winner of my cookbook and mini food processor giveaway!!

Spicy Shrimp and Greens over Grits

These sriracha-spiked shrimp, which are cooked in a coconut milk sauce, are served on a tangle of garlicky, sautéed kale over a bed of creamy grits. It’s comfort food at its sexiest. Start the grits first, then sauté the kale and prep all of the remaining ingredients. Wait until the last minute to cook the shrimp, as they go quickly. The shrimp are also great over rice.
Servings 4
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , divided
  • ½ medium red onion , thinly sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves , thinly sliced, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch curly kale , stems removed and discarded, leaves coarsely chopped
  • Juice from ½ lemon , or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons sriracha , plus more as needed
  • 1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro , plus additional for serving
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallions , plus additional for serving
  • Grits for serving (see below)

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet with a lid, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and half of the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened and starting to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the kale and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted and tender, adding more water as needed if the skillet starts to look dry, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper or lemon, if needed. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  3. Wipe the skillet clean then place it back over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Once melted, add the sriracha and the remaining garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are almost cooked through but still pink in the middle, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp. Scrape the shrimp mixture onto a plate.
  4. Place the skillet back over medium heat (don't wash), and add the coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring, until slightly thickened around the edges, about 1 minute. Scrape the shrimp back into the skillet and simmer until cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and season with additional salt, pepper and/or sriracha as desired. Stir in the cilantro and scallions.
  5. To serve, spoon grits into four shallow bowls and divide the kale over top. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over top and garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and scallions.

Creamy Grits

These ultra creamy and luscious grits (which, by the way, can also be called polenta) are a spectacular bed for shrimp, braised meats, sautéed vegetables and meatballs. Be sure to buy whole grain grits or polenta, not the instant kind. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand.
Servings 4
Author Nicki Sizemore

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups milk
  • Salt
  • 1 cup grits or polenta (not instant)
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt and whisk in the grits. Bring the mixture back to a boil, whisking constantly.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, stirring often with a rubber spatula, until the grits are tender and thickened, about 30-40 minutes. Stir in the butter. Season generously with salt. Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve, up to 20 minutes. Before serving, reheat over low, adding a splash more milk if needed.