Southern Classics Made Easy

Craving a little down-home comfort but without the hassle? These classic Southern recipes deliver the authentic Southern flavor of their labor-intensive counterparts with super short prep time.

Shrimp and Grits
Photo: Beth Dreiling HontzasPhoto: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

2 bacon slices
1 pound unpeeled, medium-size raw shrimp
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
Cheese Grits

Cheese Grits
Bring 1 (14-oz.) can low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, 1 cup fat-free milk, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; gradually whisk in 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 3/4 cup (3 oz.) shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 tsp. hot sauce, and 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 10 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tsp. drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon.

Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; dredge in flour.

Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings with oil in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly browned. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet. Spoon shrimp mixture over hot Cheese Grits; sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

Related: Unbeatable Pimiento Cheese Recipe

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
Photo: Beth Dreiling HontzasPhoto: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

1 (32-oz.) container low-fat sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 1/2 lb.)
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 (10.2-oz.) can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits
2 carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, diced

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; return to a low boil.

Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Drop strips, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture. Add carrots and celery. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.

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Chicken-Fried Steak
Photo: Van ChaplinPhoto: Van Chaplin

6 (4-oz.) cubed steaks (1 1/2 lb.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup egg substitute
45 saltine crackers, crushed (1 sleeve plus 7 crackers)
Vegetable cooking spray
Cream Gravy

Cream Gravy
Gradually whisk 1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk into 1/4 cup all-purpose flour until smooth; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. low-sodium jarred chicken soup base and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Dredge steaks in flour; dip in egg substitute, and dredge in crushed crackers. Lightly coat steaks on each side with cooking spray.

Cook steaks, in batches, in a hot nonstick skillet over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden, turning twice. Transfer steaks to a wire rack in a jelly-roll pan. Keep warm in a 225° oven. Serve with Cream Gravy.

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Stovetop Chicken Pie
Photo: Jennifer DavickPhoto: Jennifer Davick

8 frozen buttermilk biscuits
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix (about 2 tsp.)
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

Bake biscuits according to package directions.

Meanwhile, sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, and cook 2 minutes. Spoon chicken mixture over hot split biscuits.

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