COOK OF THE WEEK: Taylor Blue recipes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Rum Frosting

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Rum Frosting

Skillet Steak

Olive oil

3 to 4 (1-inch) chuck steaks

Blackened seasoning

Salt and pepper

1 large onion, sliced

Heat cast iron skillet over high heat. Cover bottom of skillet with olive oil. Coat meat with blackened seasoning and salt and pepper on both sides. Sear meat quickly in prepared pan until a crust forms. Remove meat from skillet and cover to keep warm.

Add sliced onion to skillet and cook until brown and caramelized. Return meat to skillet and continue cooking over medium heat until desired degree of doneness.

Chicken and Grits Bake

4 cups water

1 cup quick grits

2 cups of shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie is fine)

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk Ricotta cheese

11⁄2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup chopped onion, cooked until soft

1 (3-ounce) package real bacon bits

Creole seasoning to taste

Sauce topping

2 cans petite-diced tomatoes

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring water to a boil and add grits. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and let stand until grits are thick. Pour grits into a large bowl and add chicken, cheeses, onion and bacon bits. Stir and add Creole seasoning to taste. Pour mixture into a large greased casserole dish and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

For the topping, combine tomatoes, olive oil, parsley flakes and salt and pepper in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes.

To serve, place a serving of grits on each plate and top with sauce. (Do not pour sauce over the casserole or it will become soggy.)

Serves 6.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Rum Frosting

3 medium sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 box of golden butter cake mix

4 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 stick butter

Rum Frosting

2 containers whipped buttercream frosting

11⁄2 teaspoons rum extract

1 (7-ounce) package sweetened coconut

2 (2-ounce) packages Fisher chopped walnuts

For the cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Beat for at least 3 to 4 minutes. Fill cupcake liners 2⁄3 of the way full with batter and bake for 23 to 25 minutes. Let cupcakes cool on a cooling rack before frosting.

For the frosting, combine frosting and rum extract. Toast sweetened coconut at 350 degrees until golden (watch carefully or it will burn). Frost cupcakes and top with toasted coconut and chopped walnuts.

Makes about 24.

Shrimp and Grits

2 (2-pound) bags uncooked frozen shrimp

1 stick butter, divided

Creole seasoning

Red pepper flakes

1 (32-ounce) container chicken broth

11 cups water

31⁄2 cups quick grits

2 to 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 pound bacon

6 green onions, green and white parts, chopped

Olive oil (optional)

1⁄4 cup cream sherry

Thaw shrimp. Peel, devein and remove tails. Melt 1⁄2 stick butter and pour over shrimp. Stir to coat. Sprinkle shrimp with Creole seasoning and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat shrimp. Set aside for about 1 hour.

Combine chicken broth and water in a large stockpot and cook grits according to package directions. Add cheese to grits and allow to melt. Blend melted cheese throughout grits.

In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon until crispy. When cool, crumble. Pour off most of the bacon grease. Return sauté pan to heat. To drippings in the pan, add remaining 1⁄2 stick butter and let it melt. Sauté green onions. If more liquid is needed, add some olive oil. Add sherry and crumbled bacon to pan. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp has turned pink. Cover and set aside.

Put a scoop of grits into an individual serving bowl. Top with a serving of shrimp mixture. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Serves 10 to 12.

Baked Balsamic Tomatoes

4 vine-ripened tomatoes

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette

2 tablespoons capers

1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven at 400 degrees. Quarter tomatoes but do not cut all the way through. Pour vinaigrette over tomatoes and top with capers. Bake for 20 minutes. Add cheese and bake 5 minutes more or until bubbly.



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