By Jenny Stauffer

Spring is finally here, albeit still cold and rainy as I type this!

Already in my kitchen, meals are lighter and fresher as we anticipate the warmer weather and the chance for outdoor dining! I have tried some new recipes this year that are now in our regular rotation of meals that will work either as a quick weeknight meal or just as well if you are entertaining this Spring.

Buffalo Shrimp Tacos

Buffalo anything is all the rage now! We like to incorporate buffalo flavors for an adult version of a taco, and keep the ground beef for the kids. I buy just a half of a pound of ground beef from the butcher and cook it up early. If you were having friends over, this is a great way to have something for the kids and the adults. All I have to do is reheat their meat as ours is ready! These are a hit with the hubby!

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
Olive oil, a few tablespoons
flour tortillas
crumbled blue cheese or shredded cheddar
Blue cheese or ranch dressing
shredded lettuce

Mix Old Bay, chili powder, and garlic powder together. Season shrimp with mixture.

Pour olive oil in pan. Add shrimp and saute about a minute or two on each side.

Remove shrimp from pan and toss in buffalo sauce in a bowl.

Prepare your taco by filling it with lettuce, blue cheese or cheddar cheese, dressing and shrimp.

Sausages with Cheese Grits and Tomato Sauce

This is a restaurant quality meal with little work! It packs so much flavor into so little of an ingredient list. We have fun with the different flavor sausages, but my favorite is the sweet Italian chicken sausage. We have had this several times and it is well-received by everyone! It suggests oven-fried okra on the side, and it is perfect. You can buy breaded frozen okra in some stores, spray it with cooking spray and bake it, or you can make your own. See the recipe below!

3 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt (or more!)
¾ cup old fashioned grits (not instant or quick-cook)
¼ pound cheddar cheese, grated (I like to use smoked gouda!)
1 T cooking oil
1 pound turkey or chicken sausages (or enough for everyone)
1 1/2pounds tomatoes (not grape), chopped-about 2 cups
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil. Add the grits in a slow stream, whisking. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the grits are very thick, about 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Meanwhile, in a medium, nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the sausages and cook until they are just done, about 15 minutes. Remove the sausages from the pan. Add the tomatoes, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper to the pan. Cook until the tomatoes are just heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve the grits topped with the sausages and the tomato sauce.
*Image from

Oven Fried Okra

Source: Cooking Light

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 pound fresh okra pods, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 450º.

Combine cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and red pepper in a shallow dish; set aside.

Combine buttermilk and egg in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add okra; toss to coat. Let stand 3 minutes.

Dredge okra in cornmeal mixture. Place okra on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat okra with cooking spray. Bake at 450º for 40 minutes, stirring once. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

The Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Scampi

Oh, my word! I made this for Tom and I one Saturday night and it was dee-licious! Super easy and tasty, we enjoyed this while the girls enjoyed a frozen pizza! We definitely got the better deal!

4 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
4 cloves Garlic Cloves, Minced Or Pressed
1 pound Large Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined
1/2 cup White Wine
2 whole Lemons
4 dashes Hot Sauce (I Used Tabasco; More To Taste)
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
8 ounces, weight Angel Hair Pasta
Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Boil water for pasta; have it ready.

Heat olive oil and melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook for two or three minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add shrimp, then stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Squeeze in lemon juice. Add wine, butter, salt and pepper, and hot sauce. Stir and reduce heat to low.

Throw angel hair pasta into the boiling water. Cook until just done/al dente.

Drain, reserving a cup or two of the pasta water.

Remove skillet from heat. Add pasta and toss, adding a splash of pasta water if it needs to be thinned. Taste for seasonings, adding salt and pepper if needed.

Top with grated Parmesan and minced parsley and serve immediately.