A romantic meal for 2, or an easy dinner party!

I’ve been slack about posting to the food portion of my mission, so here’s a quick how-to on a great and very simple meal, perfect for either a romantic dinner for 2, or when you’re having a few friends over.

So, I’m big on creating dinners that are do-able in the real world. They should taste great, not require a day of shopping, and not require you to spend the day in the kitchen getting it ready. This recipe requires no odd spices that you have to shop for, and just a few ingredients, and it can be done in less than 30 minutes, so you have time to spend on the important parts of your evening! It looks very gourmet, and on top of that, it’s healthy!
jan08 065
Shrimp* & Grits, with Balsamic Kale:

I realize that grits may not be available everywhere, but if you don’t have them in your area, substitute polenta, it’s basically the same thing.

To make it easy, I bought preshelled shrimp, and prewashed kale, at the local grocery store.

The below does 2 people with a bit of leftovers

1 lb shrimp (any size/kind that you like)
Minced garlic (mince it yourself, or be lazy and buy the jar)
Cajun or other spicy spice mix – optional, and being creative here is fine

Quick (not instant) Grits, water, salt – follow package directions for 4 servings. (For mine, it was 3/4 c grits, 3 c water, 1/2 t salt. cook for 5-7 min)
Sour Cream – 1/4 c or so

Kale (I bought a prewashed bag, 16 oz, and used about 1/2)- it will cook down to about half of what it looks like when you start
Balsamic vinegar
Optional – 1/2 pkg of ham seasoning (i use goya) from the ethnic food section

Salt and Pepper

jan08 056

Step 0: Pour yourself a nice glass of wine!
Start this about 30 min before you want to serve.

Step 1: put the water on to boil.
Start the water for your grits. Salt as directed.
Start the water for your kale. (I like to steam it with a steamer basket in a big pot, so just an inch or so of water.

Step 2: Prep
Rinse shrimp, sprinkle with salt & pepper.
measure out grits
if you’re mincing fresh garlic, do it now–several cloves.

Step 3:
Put Kale in steamer basket in pot when water boils. Sprinkle on salt. Set timer for 10 min. Cover, lower heat to medium low.
3 min later, put add grits to grits pot. Now they’ll both be done around the same time. Lower heat to low or according to package.

jan08 063

Step 4: Shrimp
Heat several tablespoons of butter in skillet. when melted, add shrimp (in batches if necessary) Stir fry til almost done. Add garlic, 2-3 cloves, depending on how much you like garlic or if it’s a first date. Shake on additional seasoning/spices. Cook til done (shrimp will be pink and curled up)

Step 5:
By this point, the kale and the grits should be done or close to done.
When the buzzer goes off, drain the kale and remove from heat.
Keep grits on heat but super low, and and sour cream, stirring it in. the grits will thicken too much if left on too long, so add a little water if they are looking too thick to be easily spoonable. And if you let them cool too much, they will solidify, so watch that!

jan08 064

Step 6:
In a bowl large enough to toss the kale, pour balsamic vinegar (start with about 1/8-1/4 cup) Add optional ham flavoring and stir well till dissolved.
Toss greens in mixture, adding more balsamic if necessary. you want just a light coating, not drowning in it. Add additional salt/pepper to taste if necessary.

jan08 065

Step 7: Plating
On a plate or large wide bowl, spoon grits in the center.
Place greens around the edge
Spoon on shrimp and butter/garlic.


The vinegar seeps from the greens into the rest, and gives a lovely flavor.

*This can also be done with broiled salmon in place of the grits.