Well, kiss my grits!

9 Oct

If you grew up in the 70’s, you probably remember that funny phrase from the TV show, Alice. Waitress “Flo” always said it when she was angry with Mel, the owner of the diner, and her timing and delivery were impeccable. It’s probably still one of the most memorable television catchphrases of all time, even for those of us who’ve never had grits before!

The other day, Madison actually made a joke about grits being gross and I said, “Have you ever had grits?” Of course, she said no. Then the kids and I had a full-blown conversation about what grits are, where they come from, how you eat them, etc. They asked me to make them sometime.

While grocery shopping last week, I came across a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits/Polenta. In case you didn’t know, grits are the same thing as what we Italians call polenta. It’s just ground corn and water, cooked until it becomes creamy. You can serve it like that, or doctor it up with all kinds of herbs, spices and other goodies. I’ve technically never ordered or cooked “grits” before, but I’ve had polenta many, many times.

Last night, I decided to experiment with the grits. I wanted to make them cheesy because I had a feeling the kids would like them that way. A little bit of thought as to what to do to get that cheesiness (without using cheese or milk) and I got busy. The end result? Fabulous. Creamy. Kid-pleasing. Fast. Seriously fast.

Best of all, my kids absolutely loved them. When I asked them what they thought they tasted like, they were kind of looking at each other and throwing out words left and right. Then Brady said “Cheesy Mashatoodles!” I think he was trying to say mashed potatoes or cheesy noodles and it all came out together! It was so funny, they all started cracking up and then asked for more. What a perfect, last-minute side dish.

“Cheesy” Grits (aka Cheesy Mashatoodles)
makes 4 large or 6 medium servings

3 cups vegetable broth (I used the instant one from Whole Foods)
pinch salt
1 cup quick-cooking grits
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or other milk substitute
2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted (Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ounce vegan American or cheddar cheese shreds (about 1/4 cup)
chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

In a medium saucepan, bring broth and salt to a boil. Stir in grits. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until creamy and smooth. Cover and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, melted butter, nutritional yeast flakes, mustard, pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Pour over cooked grits and mix together well. Sprinkle cheese on top and stir again until cheese is melted into the grits. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

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