Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole and (im)perfect moments

Grits.  You either love them or you hate them.  There is typically no in between ground there.  No gray area where someone is a little iffy and be swayed one way or another.  I am definitely a grits lover.  I like them with a good bit of salt, pepper and a ridiculous amount of butter.  This year I discovered something surprising…grits are so delicious with garlic and cheese in them.  I mean really, really delicious. Creamy, cheesy with just a hint of garlic to them.  Topped with more cheese…they are a wonderful accompaniment to any brunch.  I told ya’ll this week I was doing “blog about brunch”…I will say again…I am a fool for some brunch.  This grits casserole can find a home on any brunch table.  I have so many brunch recipes that I am not sure I could share them all with you over the course of a week or two…but I will round up some of my faves.  The other day I gave ya’ll the breakfast danish casserole.  Score one for Cajun Mama cause that baby is a winner.   Anyway, this is another excellent addition to your brunch recipe repertoire (say THAT 3 times fast!).

Like anyone, I tend to reflect as one year comes to a close and we usher in another.  I guess the time for reflection and taking stock comes for all of us at this time.  I hate to put too much emphasis on these days because for some it is such a hard time to get around and most of us are ready to move on to another year.  I don’t know what kind of year it has been for many of you.  For me, it has been good and fast paced but also has brought many things to light.  Some good and happy.  Others not so much.  But I do know this..and I hope you do too…I am where I am for a reason.  It is part of my path.  Just like finding these cheesy garlic grits are part of my destiny (I am not kidding…they are that good!), so is whatever you are doing or where you are at this moment.  I will not get all deep because I know ya’ll probably don’t get on here to listen to my insights about life..also because we have some family coming in for New Years Eve.  I have cooking to do.  Shocking…I know.   I will only say this…my in laws came in the other day to celebrate our Christmas.  They wanted to take pictures in front of the tree.  I took some of them and the kids.  They wanted me to get in there.  I had no makeup on.  My hair was not really fixed.  I didn’t know how my outfit would look.  I don’t consider myself a vain woman, but I am a woman.  Taking an ugly picture is not really ever my goal.  But I decided to be grateful for the moment to take pictures with my precious family.  To BE in the moment, instead of wishing to be somewhere else or look another way.  I ended up loving the picture because it captures our joy as a family.  The fun we always (ok…well usually) have together.  Being in the moment is not easy for me.  I tend to want to jump ahead or look behind.  But the good stuff, however not perfect it may seem, for me, is usually right where I am.  Even if I cannot see it or appreciate it at that moment.  So today, I hope you can look around and see the beauty in where you are.  In this moment, or the day, or of your life.  Every moment has something to offer and teach.  Even the imperfections (and mine are so many) can be beautiful.  Anyway, enough of that.  The focus here is cheesy, garlic, yummy, creamy grits.  Make them.  You will be oh so happy you did.  Much love and many blessings to all of you.

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We may not have it all together…but together we have it all (that should be our family motto)

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Garlicky cheesy goodness…so perfectly Southern and perfect 

Southern Living Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole (Southern Living magazine December 2010)

Stuff you need:

4 cups milk (I use 3 cups whole and 1 cup half and half for extra creaminess but the other way is great too)

1/4 cup butter \1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (that Kraft kind with Philidelphia cream cheese added is amazing in this)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

What to do with the stuff:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 11 x 7 inch baking dish.  Bring milk just to a boil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Whisk in butter and grits a little bit at a time.  Reduce heat and simmer, whisking mixture constantly for 5 to 7 minutes, or until grits are cooked.  Remove from heat. Stir in lightly beaten egg followed cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Add in finely chopped garlic if desired at this time.  Pour into prepared dish.  Sprinkle with grated Parm.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until mixture is set.  Serve immediately.  Yummmmm!!!!  The epitome of southern dishes, right on your kitchen table or brunch buffet table.  Be sure to take a nice long whiff of the garlicky aroma before digging in.  I also sprinkle some Tony’s on it before serving.  Adds just a hint of spice and a nice kick of color.

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Carol Lynn’s Breakfast Casserole (the best EVA)

So I have already told ya’ll about my precious babysitters and their mama.  They are friends whom we have chosen as family.  Or they chose us.  Either way.  It was destined to be and I am awful glad.  When I was pregnant with baby #4 aka LMB, hot mess, the wild one, those sweet then 14 year old girls decided they wanted to throw me a baby shower to welcome baby Lucas.  It was very unexpected as he was my 4th child in a less than 5 year period and let’s face it…the bloom was off the rose.  Of course, it was very small and only close friends and family were invited.  It was more of a show of support and excitement  than a way to get gifts.  I just don’t want to start one of those debates about whether it is en vogue or appropriate to have a baby shower for subsequent children.  I am not weighing in either way…I will only say that every baby should feel as loved and welcomed as every single one of mine has.  It was not a huge shower it was more of a sprinkle and I felt so very loved and blessed.  Still do every time I look back on these memories.   All I know is that at the time, as I have told ya’ll before, I was not all that comfortable with being the lady with 4 kids back to back.  I was overjoyed to be having my little caboose and after a few miscarriages before and in between, I knew I had been blessed beyond belief, but still…I felt somewhat like a two headed circus freak.  I am completely comfortable now and wear it like a badge of honor, but then, with 3 kids 4 and under and another on the way, on that day, I felt like a queen.  I felt treasured and honored and loved.  So, I guess regardless of whether or not a shower for my 4th baby was en vogue or not…feeling the way I felt that day, was worth any faux paus.  You gotta know when hold them and know when to fold them.  I look back and smile, knowing that those girls and their mama were willing to buck tradition to celebrate me, my baby and ultimately the blessing of my (not so little) family.  Love you girls.

None the less, those girls and their mama planned the sprinkle to a hilt and the food was to die for.  It was my favorite meal…brunch…with cake…yum!!!  My friend and their mama, whom from here on I will refer to as Fairy Godmother, is an amazing cook and has inspired me to try new recipes and branch out, made some of her treasured recipes.  One of them was the best breakfast casserole…Carol Lynn’s Breakfast Casserole.  She got it from a friend (Carol Lynn) and it is oh so easy and oh so good.  I will be making this tomorrow morning for New Years Day breakfast.  It is something you put together the night before and then let it chill in the fridge until morning.  Then you get up and preheat the oven and pop it in.  A little later, out comes a warm and bubbly breakfast casserole.  Sounds fab, right?  Oh it is my friends.  It is.  My fairy godmother is fond of saying “that’s the stuff” or “it’s good stuff” when she really likes something…this stuff is “the stuff”.  So you still have time to get the ingredients if you are so inclined and you might even have most in the fridge already.  I hope you enjoy it when you do make it.

Happy New Year to all my Cajun Mama friends out there.  So glad that you are with me as we go into 2014.  It will be a great year full of new recipes, tried and true recipes, and fun stories.  I hope as we usher in 2014 you feel blessed, treasured and loved.  Knowing you are out there is a blessing to me and you make me look forward to the new year. ~AMB

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Brunch with cake…my favorite…

Blessings abound…the precious cake at my LMB’s baby sprinkle 

Carol Lynn’s Breakfast Casserole

Stuff you need:

3 cups Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing

1 1/2 lb. bulk breakfast sausage (I use Jimmy Dean mild), drained and crumbled

3 cups milk

2 cups shredded cheese (I use a blend of cheddar and colby jack usually)

6 eggs

1 can cream of mushroom soup

What to do with the stuff:

Prepare your 9 X 13 casserole dish by spraying it with cooking spray.  Layer stuffing, shredded cheese and sausage (in that order).  Beat eggs with 2 1/2 cups of the milk until frothy and pour over the casserole.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup with remaining 1/2 cup of milk.  Pour this over the casserole and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until firm.

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Looks good, doesn’t it?