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Leigh’s (Almost) Famous Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Jun

18

Posted by on Jun 18, 2017 | 1 comment

Leighs_Shrimp_and_Grits_Casserole

 

One of my favorite things is tasting a dish that is so delicious, I must ask for the recipe; and, then every time I make it, I think of the person who now mingles her kitchen with mine. When I had my friend Leigh’s Shrimp and Grits Casserole, I knew it was one of those. It’s easy, a little bit fancy, and diverse enough to serve for brunch or dinner. It’s a turn on traditional shrimp and grits, and if you don’t care for either, well, a) try this and you might change your mind, or b) if you’re a hard-core hater, I feel for ya. (Unless you’re like my friend Holley, who has a worse-than-Will-Smith-in-Hitch reaction to shellfish. She can’t even look at ’em.)

Leigh’s Scrumptious, Easy
Southern Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Pre-heat oven to 350°F
Lightly grease a 9×12″ baking dish

  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup regular grits (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack pepper cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1½ pound fresh (or frozen) shrimp, peeled and cooked
  • 1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained (Rotel)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Bring 4 cups chicken broth and ½ teaspoon salt to boil in a saucepan; stir in grits.
  2. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir together grits, ¾ cup cheddar cheese, and Monterey jack cheese.
  4. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat; add green onions, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté until tender.
  5. Stir together green onion mixture, grits mixture, shrimp, and next 3 ingredients.
  6. Pour into a lightly-greased 2-quart baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle top with remaining ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.

Personal notes:

  • Leigh actually got the recipe from her friend Lisa; clearly good recipes keep goin’ and goin’, Energizer Bunnies of the culinary world.
  • Using half each of a red and green bell pepper make this dish especially festive at Christmas.
  • Depending on how much heat you like in a dish, you might want to use more cheddar and less jack cheese; or, if you want to add more heat, use Rotel’s spicier version of tomatoes. You can mix up the dish with your favorite cheeses, too.
  • This divides well into two smaller casseroles; keep one and give the other to someone who could use a meal!

 

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Dabo Swinney’s White House Speech Will Make You A Clemson Fan (Full Transcript)

Jun

12

Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 | 3 comments

Dabo Swinney quote from national champions White House visit - June 2017

Today Coach Dabo Swinney and the national champion Clemson Tigers visited The White House, and President Trump said a lot of nice words about the team, individual players, Clemson’s president James Clements, and head coach Dabo Swinney. But it was Coach Swinney’s heart-felt speech that made me proud to be a graduate; if I had a son who was competitive as a D1 player, I’d want him to play for Dabo.

 

Coach Swinney’s speech was so positive and affirming, I took time to listen to it seventy-eleven times so I could transcribe it in its entirety. I’m pretty sure at this point I could give it myself.

 

If you take a few minutes to read it (or click the video below to watch and listen), you’ll understand why I’m not just a Clemson fan, but also a Dabo Swinney fan. Even if you can’t stand Clemson (haters gonna hate), it’s hard to argue with Dabo’s results.

 

Thanks to The White House for broadcasting this moment for all Tigers fans to enjoy, and to the ACC Digital Network for posting it on You Tube.

 

Alright, I appreciate it. Uh, thank you so much, what a, what a special and unique opportunity this is to stand here and look at the Washington Monument and have a chance to also see this trophy, and have the opportunity to speak to all of you today.

 

It’s such an honor to be a part of such a special tradition, a special and unique tradition, where the White House and the President honor the champions. And that’s exactly what these guys are. They’re the champions. Lets give ’em a hand.

 

I really thought we were going to be here last year, I really did, but we came up a little short and I am so, so thankful and glad, that my players and my staff has had the opportunity to experience what I got a chance to experience as a player as a part of the Alabama National Championship team in 1992. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to tour the White House and see all the great history and to just experience this great day.  So thank you so much.

 

I appreciate everyone involved. I know there’s a lot of logistics to make something like this happen. From the Secret Service to all of our folks at Clemson, to all the WH staff and what a special, special day it’s been. So thank you so much for the opportunity.

 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians, “in a race everybody runs, but only one wins first prize. So run your race in such a way as to win.”

 

And that’s exactly what this team did. And that’s exactly what this team epitomized.

 

They did that with great leadership, belief, accountability, heart, genuine love and appreciation for one another, and they did it with great chemistry.

 

This was a team that bought in to one of our core values. I believe it was George Washington Carver who said, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

 

And eight-plus years ago I had a group of young men come together that bought into that very core value; it’s not the big things it’s the little things, we’re going to do the common things in an uncommon way. And when we do that, we will command the attention of the world.

 

And this group of young men behind me, that’s exactly what they did.

 

Yeah, we got good players and good coaches, but they did the little things better than everyone else. And to stand here and have the opportunity like we had today is a great credit to this team and what they did starting last year.

 

So it’s great to be back together and getting the chance to reminisce with some of these guys that I haven’t seen for a little while. I appreciate Mr. McNair for getting a couple of our players here. But it’s great to be back together one more time.

 

And I just, I wanna make a message really to our players. Because this is, this is a special moment. Ya know, back in January, that was an incredible moment. What a moment, January 9th, into the 10th actually, what an incredible moment that was.

 

And then I had a chance to see a lot of these guys put those caps and gowns on and become graduates of Clemson University.  What a special moment.

 

Some of ’em have already taken jobs, getting their first paycheck. Special moment.

 

Some of these guys have signed with NFL teams. What a special moment.

 

Being here at the White House as the nation’s champion? What a special moment.

 

But I want you players to know that there’s going to be other special moments. There’s going to be other special moments–when you get married, when you become a father, when you buy that first house. There’s going to be other special moments.

 

Ten years from now we’re going to have a special moment when we have a reunion. Some of you are going to be bald, some of you are going to have big bellies. But it’s goin’ be a special moment when we get back together.

 

But I want you all to know, all you players, and really everyone, life is not about those moments. Life is truly about how we live between the moments. That’s really what it comes down to. It’s all about how we live between the moment. It’s just doing the little things in a great way. It’s the daily focus and purpose and commitment and attitude that you choose to embrace every single day between those moments.

 

That’s what we’re all going to be defined by.

 

So I challenge you players and our team as we come together one last time, I challenge y’all, as we all move on with our lives to take those core values that we have at Clemson, take ’em with you. Take ’em with you. Continue to do the common things in your life in an uncommon way. Continue to be All In, continue to apply Best as the standard in everything you do.

 

Be a person of excellence in everything you do. As a worker, as a husband, as a father. Every thing that you choose to do, put your heart into it. If you don’t take anything else from this past year’s season, you saw what can happen when you see a group of people come together and really put their heart into something.

 

When you put your heart into something, you can make up that little extra, that little extra, because you go a little bit above and beyond, and that’s what this team has done.

 

So, my prayer is that you guys will take this with you.

 

And most of all, that you keep that windshield mentality that you’ve seen every single day that you’ve been at Clemson. I hope you’ll take that windshield mentality with you ’cause no matter what’s behind us, good or bad, in the rearview mirror, it’s always about what’s next. It’s always about what’s next, and the best truly is yet to come.

 

And the last thing I want to say is I love all of you.

 

It’s something that we dreamed about, this is something that we all dreamed about. But we all understand that the goals that we’ve had, they pale in comparison to the daily commitment that it took to get here.

 

So I hope that y’all will take this with you.

 

And President Trump, I want to thank you for giving us this special time. I know you’re a busy man. Thank you for giving us this special time, and this opportunity for us to come together as a team and celebrate an incredible moment in all of our lives; something we’ll take with us for the rest of our lives.

 

And we are truly excited about having a great day in Washington, DC. The food was excellent. We’re gonna head over to the Capital here in a little bit. I’m sure there’s plenty of orange over there. Look forward to just hanging out here in DC for a while  and then getting back to business tomorrow. So Thank you President Trump, I know it is your birthday on Wednesday, so happy early birthday to you.

 

So on behalf of our team, on behalf of our staff, our board, President Clements and our AD Dan Radakovich, I want to present to you a jersey from the National Champions, a jersey to you and your son, Barron, as well. So I’ll hand that off to you here.

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Storied Dishes || ~ a Grace Table feature ~

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2017 |

GraceTable_StoriedDishes

After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for our dishes and gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.

I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.

A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.

I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.41.42 AM

 

We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.

Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best.

Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need.

And then God winked. Twice.

 

Do pop over to Grace Table to see why I can’t help but think God is especially fond of me :).
Sometimes He’s kind enough to assure you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be….

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The Philadelphia Flower Show ~ A Botanical Paradise

Apr

03

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 |

As soon as I learned about an opportunity to represent DaySpring at the Philadelphia Flower Show, I knew I had to go. In a sweet, odd sort of way, my going paid homage to my grandmother.

 

Philadelphia Flower Show

But first, the background:

DaySpring® Gratitude & Grace Thank You BouquetAbout a year ago, DaySpring became a licensing partner with FTD, meaning, if you’d like to send flowers with a faith-based message included, you now have some beautiful options in the DaySpring store (also found at ftd.com). DaySpring and FTD go together like peas and carrots, and the partnership means thoughtful gift-givers can choose from gorgeous, professionally designed arrangements with meaningful, inspirational sentiments.

As a major sponsor of the Philly Flower Show, FTD hosted a Designer’s Studio daily throughout the event. Together with FTD lead floral designer Andrea Ancel, talented designers and creatives joined her on stage for beautiful demonstrations and conversation all week long. Because of DaySpring’s partnership with FTD, an {in}courage writer was invited to join Andrea at the Designer’s Studio for a chat about inspiration and how it fuels creativity.

When asked if I was interested, I knew immediately I wanted to go; thankfully, I was able to work out my schedule to attend.

While most of the on-stage guests worked with flowers or as designers, my floral knowledge is limited to sticking flowers in a vase; clearly, there was no intention of me coming to talk floral design. Instead, to mix things up a bit, FTD planned for Andrea Ancel to create an arrangement while she and I spoke to the things that inspire us, the kinds of things that fuel the creative process, and how ALL of us need to exercise the gifts we have. What we – all of us – have to offer is unique and special and beautiful.

There’s only one you in this world, and the world needs what only you were created to give.

Theres only one you quote - Robin Dance

Anyway, our Designer’s Studio was Facebook live-streamed, at least until the convention center’s wifi dropped the connection. It would tickle me pink for you to watch and thumb’s up, and if you’re feeling generous, please share it on your Facebook page or share your thoughts in comments. FTD (or I, as appropriate) will still make sure to answer questions and we’re all paying attention to engagement :).

 

 

If being surrounded by colorful, inspiring, creative floral beauty is your jam, DO ink in a spot on your Bucket List to the Philadelphia Flower Show. It is amazing what can be done with flowers.

 

Friends at Philly Flower Show

(L-r) Robin & Andrea Ancel; Cassidy and Jamie, incredible FTD Staff; me and Carol, a fabulous PFS Volunteer; Designer’s Studio selfie; DS Stage; #ILookToHer backdrop

All last month, FTD celebrated women through their #ILookToHer campaign. Social sharers were invited to snap a picture of women they look to for inspiration, and then share online using the hashtag #ILookToHer. It’s had me thinking of the women who have shaped, encouraged, and inspired me, and if you watch the video above, you’ll hear about some of them (SO fun that special people in my life were shocked to hear a personal shout out during my Designer’s Studio clip :) ).

Flowers-Philadelphia Flower Show-Holland

 

 

 

Peace Lily - DaySpring-FTDWhether it’s a time of celebration and great joy, or mourning the loss of one you love, flowers can speak for you when it’s hard to find the words. DaySpring®’s Happy Birthday bouquet is practically on fire, and with gerberas and snapdragons, the Gratitude and Grace bouquet is one I want to give myself. There are options for more lasting gifts, too–a mini rose, azalea, and beautiful orchid. A group of friends and I recently sent a DaySpring bouquet to a friend we knew was down, and those flowers let her know how deeply we cared.

I’m grateful to FTD and DaySpring for sponsoring my first – hopefully not my last! – trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show!

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The Panhandler’s Breath

Mar

26

Posted by on Mar 26, 2017 |

03232017_RobinDance_AlwaysRightEDIT

He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to a meeting; he pressed the “5” without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame.

His stealth entry stiffened the hairs on the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of rowdy teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away where the downtown electric shuttle picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting his next prey.

The four of us were sealed in a four-by-six-foot metal tomb. Tomb — that thought really muscled its way into my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his pocket. I wanted to protect my son.

Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there was nowhere to run.

 

A true story, the kind that reveals so much. Hope you click through to read
The Panhandler’s Breath over at incourage and
then share your own thoughts in response

(the last line still rattles me….).

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