Can’t Stop Candied Pecans

No-bullshit intro: Every year, my grandparents get “the boys” (our husbands) a bag of pecans for Christmas. And every year, I hijack those pecans from Marc and turn them into candied pecans, because if there’s one thing that makes pecans better than they already are, it’s sugar. Duh.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED: 

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla (Mexican vanilla, if you can get it)
  • 2 Cups pecans (halves are my favorite unless you’re making pieces to sprinkle on something like ice cream)
  • 1/4 Cup water + a reserved splash to help cool down the pecans later

THROW IT TOGETHER: 

  • In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. In another small bowl, combine water and vanilla and set aside as well. (Don’t forget to leave a splash of water for later!)
  • Place all pecan halves in a medium, heavy pot. Add the cinnamon/sugar mixture and then the vanilla/water over the top of the pecans, and stir constantly like a crazy person over medium heat until it boils until everything becomes thick (5-10 minutes).
  • When it’s nice and ooey-gooey and hard to stir, remove the pot from the heat fairly quickly, and add in that splash you reserved.
  • When everything is coated, spread the pecans on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and do your best to spread them out, using a spoon because they’re hot as f*ck.
  • Let them cool, if you can manage, and break up any pecans that were stuck together. Or shove those in your mouth and run away before anyone can see you. Put the rest in a bowl for guests. Just kidding, you won’t want to share them. Enjoy!

Antipasto Not-So-Salad

No-bullshit intro: my mother-in-law made something similar to this years ago, and my whole family loved it so much. This has just been adapted a little bit, but it’s a really flexible recipe that you can add what you like to. Here’s our favorite version. Enjoy! 

What You’ll Need: 

  • 2-12-oz boxes tri-color rotini 
  • 2-19-oz. bags cheese tortellini, frozen
  • 24 oz. bite-sided tomatoes, (half red, half yellow if you can shake it)
  • 1 ounce fresh basil
  • 1/2 pound white cheddar, cubed
  • 1 pound hard salami, thinly sliced
  • 2- 6-ounce bags pepperoni 
  • 16 oz. mozzerella cheese
  • 1- 6-ounce tub shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2- 9 1/2 ounce jars green Spanish olives
  • 2- 6-ounce cans black olives
  • 2 bottles Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian Dressing 
  • 2-12 ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts 
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt & pepper up in heeeere

Throw It Together: 

  • Boil the rotini according to package directions, and salt the shit out of it, because you won’t get a chance to flavor your pasta later
  • Drain pasta, set aside in a HUGE bowl and drizzle with a tiny bit of EVOO so it doesn’t stick. 
  • Boil the tortellini according to package directions, salt, drain, and throw in the same bowl as the rotini. Toss it all together. This is the base of the whole salad. The rest is just adding ingredients that you like! Omit anything you don’t like, and add what you do! 
  • I chopped the pepperoni in half, cut the salami into small triangles, halved the tomatoes, quartered the artichoke hearts, left the olives whole, thinly sliced the onion, cubed the cheese, and chiffonaded the basil. Add pepper to taste.
  • Pro-Tips: If you’re making this the day ahead, don’t put the cheese in yet. Toss the cheese in a few minutes before you intend to eat it, unless wet cheese doesn’t freak you out. WET CHEESE FREAKS ME OUT. Also, easy on the red onion, and don’t add this until last minute either. It will ALL taste like onion if you add it too soon. 
  • That’s it! Super easy and really delicious. Enjoy! 

Weeknight Shrimp & Grits

My commitment to you as a no-bullshit writer is going to be that I will never write my whole life story before a recipe. Have you ever perused recipes online and you had to scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll and SHIT I don’t even feel like making monkey bread anymore. So – weeknight shrimp & grits. Here it is. Don’t f*ck it up. 

What You’ll Need:

You can be as snobby or as laid-back as you want to be on your ingredients. All my stuff came from good ol’ H-E-B, and you can bet your butt it was no-hassle. 

  • 2 Lbs shrimp (I used frozen Texas gulf shrimp, and I started to devein them, but…you know. I called my mom and she said it was fine, so I threw the rest in a bowl, tiny shrimp poops and all.) 
  • 1/2 stick of butter 
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice 
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire 
  • Spice Mix for Shrimp: 1 Tsp. Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning + 1 Tsp. Old Bay seasoning + 1 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 5 Cups whole milk
  • 1 Cup quick-cooking grits (not instant) 
  • 2 Cups shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar) 
  • 1 bar cream cheese, full fat (duh) 
  • Chives or parsley to garnish if you wanna be fancy

Throw It Together:

  • After shelling, place shrimp in a single layer on a cookie sheet. 
  • Combine butter, lemon juice, worcestershire, spice mix, and garlic cloves in a small measuring cup, then pour over the shrimp. Toss to coat. 
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, but don’t be a scaredy-cat like I am and wait too long to take them out; otherwise, they’ll be tough. I’d check them at 10 minutes. 
  • While the shrimp are baking, bring milk to a boil in a saucepan big enough for what will end up being a shit-ton of grits. Whisk in the grits to the milk, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, or until you think it’s thick enough. 
  • Dump in that glorious block of cream cheese, and the two cups of shredded cheese. This whole saucepan will end up getting thicker by the minute, so whisk whisk whisk until the shrimp are ready. 
  • Plate it, y’all: little scoop of grits, little scoop of shrimp, little bit of sauce drizzled over, then chives. 

There you have it. Weeknight shrimp & grits. Pro Tip: You’re going to want to put a whole bunch on your plate, but don’t. This is richer than you think. A little goes a long way. Enjoy, friends! Let me know how it went or if you perfected this recipe with a secret!