Shrimp and grits with kale and cilantro purée

shrimp and grits

Comfort food time! Only this time I made it (semi) healthy. Though honestly, in the food blog world, anything with the addition of kale makes a dish healthy.

However this time I took things to the next level. In case you guys haven’t heard of shrimp and grits before, it is a common food in the south that mixes creamy grits and grilled shrimp. In this recipe, I overload the grits with cheese and I top the dish with a drizzle of lemon cilantro purée to lend a little acidity. Last, I gave the shrimp a smokey dry rub of chili powder and cumin to help mellow everything out.

Now on to the recipe!



  • 1 cup instant grits plus enough water (according to the package instructions) to cook it
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 1 cup defrosted frozen whole, raw shrimp (the bigger the better for this – no one wants wimpy shrimp for this kind of recipe)
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 tbs low flavor olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste


Step 1: Blend the cilantro, lemon juice and zest and olive oil in a food processor until you have a smooth liquid. Add more olive oil as needed to help the blending process along. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook the grits according to package instructions, I made it in the microwave. Add the cheese. If the grits are too thick, thin it out with a little milk until the grits have the thickness of mashed potatoes.


Step 2: Preheat a large pan on high. In a large bowl, rinse the raw shrimp in water. This will remove any excess fishy taste or salt. Drain the water from the bowl and pat the shrimp with a paper towel.

Mix the defrosted shrimp with the chili powder, cumin and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until they turn pink and are firm to the touch. Push the shrimp to the side of the pan and add the kale. Season the kale with salt and pepper. Cook until the kale develops a deep green color and softens slightly.

shrimp and grits

Step 3: The plating! Start with a healthy dollop of grits. Make a small indent in the middle of the grits to make room for the toppings. Then, add the kale on top and then top with a few of the shrimp. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the cilantro sauce.

Moroccan influenced quinoa cakes


Based on a request from one of my vegetarian friends, I wanted to try making something fun she could eat. Her one request was that it involved quinoa as it “is one of the only non-animal sources of B12 for a vegetarian.”

Since quinoa rotates through her meals at least once a week, I was determined to think of something cool for it. I’ve also found that most quinoa recipes come in the form of salads, or simply warm but loose as a grain, so I played with what shape it could make.

My thought on vegetarian food is that if there isn’t meat to give that savory sense of taste, I’d use every flavor and texture combination possible for this dish. I wanted something satisfying. What’s my definition of satisfying?

It’s something that touches all of the bases. Is it salty? Sweet? What about crunchy?

I gave myself requirements.

There had to be a variety of textures. I wanted there to be a substantial chew, something hearty. There had to be crispiness and creaminess. There had to be a punch of flavor- which is why I went the Moroccan route. It’s spicy and sweet. There was that umami element there that would replace the savory aspect of meat.

So Julia, this is for you girl!




  • 1 ½ c. quinoa, cooked
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbs. flour
  • 2 tbs. raisins
  • 1 tbs chopped mint
  • ¾ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch allspice
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cloves
  • Pinch ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 cups kale, stalks removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Egg topping

  • Enough water to generously fill pan
  • 1 tbs. white vinegar
  • However many eggs you want
  • Dollop of sour cream optional for topping.

*Spices are relatively optional based on availability- however cumin and cinnamon MUST be included.



Mix all the ingredients.



Form palm sized disks, about three tablespoons a handful. Make solid pressing movements, the binding can be a bit loose. Worst case, press back together when cooking.



Pour a generous amount of oil in pan, enough to coat the bottom. Drop cakes in pan, press slightly with spatula to create solid flat bottom. Cook till golden on both sides. Remove to paper towel lined plate. Set aside.



Drop kale and garlic in remaining oil. Cook till tender, but not soggy. Season to taste.



Pour water and vinegar in saucepan. Make sure there is enough water that the egg when dropped does not come close to the bottom. Gently drop egg in water, and with a big spoon, nudge and hold the egg in the water to prevent it from touching the bottom of the pan. Cook two minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.



I decided to go artsy with my plating. You do not have to use a cookie cutter to mold the kale- go ahead and just spoon in on the plate. But if you want to be like me: place a 3 inch cookie cutter in the center of the plate. Press the kale into the mold, pushing to make sure the shape stays. When full, use a spoon to push the edges of the kale down while you remove the cookie cutter from the plate. This prevents the greens from moving too much.



Start stacking. Place the quinoa cake on top of the kale. Then lay the egg on top. I wanted more creaminess, so I put a dollop of sour cream on after. Then top with whatever garnish you like and slit the egg’s side to release the creamy yolk. Or just dig in!

Fun note, if there is anyone that cannot eat eggs, you can omit the poached egg, and replace the egg in the cake with three tablespoons ground flax seed with a little water.

Let me know how yours turns out!

Clean and simple breakfasts


There is nothing I love more than a simple egg. Tender, supple egg whites paired with a creamy yolk. Now that is my version of heaven.

When I stumbled across this post from Cannelle et Vanille, one of my favorite food blogs and my foodie role model, I knew I had to make it. Only this time I gave it a spiced twist.

Soft baked eggs, with a sprinkling of cream to give it a luscious texture, paired with refreshing herbs and vegetables. At the last minute, a pinch of cumin speckles the top with a hint of smokiness.

These are perfect for a last-minute brunch. All you have to do is drizzle, crack and bake.



  • 4 eggs
  • 4 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, add more or less depending on what ratio of egg to vegetable you want
  • A sprig of cilantro
  • A pinch cumin per egg



Roughly chop the cilantro and quarter the tomatoes. Divide the cilantro and tomatoes equally into 4 oven-safe cups. Pour on top a teaspoon of cream into each cup, one for each egg.



Crack the egg on top. Sprinkle the cumin on top.



Bake the eggs on a baking sheet at 350 ˚F for 15-20 minutes until the egg sets, but the yolk is still runny. The egg should barely be opaque. If you want your eggs to be full cooked, bake until the eggs don’t jiggle.

I toasted some bread in butter and accompanied my eggs with a light kale salad. The narrow slices of bread really help dig into that egg yolk.

Sometimes simplicity is the best of flavors. I always took it for granted, thinking that I had to depend on many ingredients to make something good. Additionally, the egg its self is often ignored in terms of flavor. People associate them with how they transform flour into cakes, brownies and cookies, but never as a simple item with a delicate taste. However this recipe does what little else can- focus on the flavor of an egg. All while accompanying it with light, if not subtle seasonings. You don’t even need to add salt or pepper.