A Volpe Family Christmas

For the past week, we’re been traveling around Central Florida. I took the opportunity to detox from technology (no Facebook, Twitter, email, or blogs and minimal texting) and make the most of time with family and friends.  We had a great time with Artie’s family and in Winter Haven.  Here’s a brief snapshot of our Winter Haven Christmas:

Christmas caroling with the Burkes and the Wales is an 18-year tradition. This was the first year the parents didn’t come and I think the kids did pretty well for our first time flying solo.

Ginger crinkles – my mom’s holiday cookie specialty

White chocolate bark with dried cranberries and apricots (So easy to make – I’ll make sure to post the recipe after the new year.)

Annual Christmas eve photo with Amy at her family’s Christmas party

Stockings for Mom, Dad, five kids, and one son-in-law

My stocking (the one with the teddy bear in the picture above) was made by my Grandpa Volpe the year I was born.

Christmas tree that my family cut down at our Polk City grove.

Robert working the scrambled eggs for Christmas morning breakfast.

And of course it wouldn’t be a southern breakfast without the grits!

Any recap of my family’s Christmas would be incomplete without photos of the family pets: Lucky St. George, Forest, and Paco. Watching the three of them attack/play with each other provided hours of entertainment.

Lucas and Dad prepping the green bean casserole and peas for Christmas dinner.

Aunt Judi mashing the potatoes under Grandma’s watchful eye. Christmas dinner would be incomplete without mashed potatoes.

The star of the meal – a beef tenderloin. I’m told it was really good, but since I don’t eat beef, I wouldn’t know.

My contribution: cheddar cheese soup. Okay, it was supposed to be mac and cheese from scratch. Except I didn’t check the recipe (I thought I had it memorized) so I accidentally doubled the sauce without doubling the noodles. Oops. My family still like it – it was just really saucy.

Artie’s contribution (and my personal favorite dish): brussels sprouts with dried cranberries. When it comes to veggies, brussels sprouts don’t get enough love. These were delish.

Aunt Judi switched it up and made a light and fluffy egg nog pound cake for dessert. A perfect sweet ending to the meal.

All in all, it was a very good Christmas. It was a great time with family and friends, the food was fabulous, and “Santa” was very good to me: I got gift cards to iTunes, Starbucks, and Publix (my parents know me so well!). I hope that you had a great holiday and that you have a very happy New Year!

Shrimp and Grits

Since we’ve been traveling, we haven’t posted a recipe in over a week!  The pictures below are from our 2009 Georgia Christmas, but I figured the recipe was appropriate given the delicious shrimp and grits we had last weekend while on vacation.

Start by melting a combination of olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Once the oil and butter are heated, add some chopped vegetables.  Pictured above (clockwise from the top) are halved cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley, diced green peppers, minced garlic, chopped celery, and diced yellow onion.  In order to make sure the vegetables cook evenly, add the garlic and onion first and cook until soft and translucent.  Then add the celery and green pepper and cook until softened but not mushy.  Finally add the tomatoes.  Hold off on adding the parsley until the end.

Stir and smile 🙂

Add about a pound of peeled, deveined shrimp.  Cook for a few minutes until the shrimp are pink and cooked through.  How long you cook the shrimp will depend upon the size of the shrimp you are using.  For medium shrimp, it takes about 4 – 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Cook four servings of grits according to the package directions, adding cheese (we used smoked gouda) and cream to taste.  Adding some cream at the end is the secret to creamy, yummy grits.

Serve the shrimp and veggie mixture on top of hot grits (or on the side, if you are like me) with a green veggie (steamed broccoli, a spinach salad, or whatever you like best).