The bridal shower is one of the most charming, pre-wedding customs in existence. It is a time of happiness and excitement for the bride-to-be, and it is an event that requires planning and organization to be successful. But where did the practice begin? Tradition says that a beautiful young Dutch maiden fell in love with the village miller, who was so good to the poor that it left him without much for himself. Everyone in the town loved him, except the young maiden’s father. When she told her father she wanted to marry him, he said she could not or she would lose her dowry. When the people of the town learned about this they were outraged and determined to help. Without much money, they thought of a gifts that they could contribute –– and thus showered her with gifts and a finer dowry than even her father could afford! The maiden and the miller married and lived happily ever after, thanks to the support of the townspeople. And hence, the “shower” was born.
Today’s showers are intended as a celebration, to honor the bride and groom and wish them well on their new life with one another. And in the South, delicious food is a must! The following recipes are easy for the hostesses and will have guests raving. An added plus, no one will lose their dowry over it!
Grit Cakes topped with Sautéed Shrimp and Sweet Tomato Relish
A different take on shrimp and grits that gives guests a bite size sample of the dish.
3 (14-ounce) cans chicken broth
1 1/3 cups quick cooking grits
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large saucepan, bring chicken stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in the grits and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until grits are thick and creamy. Once creamy, add the cheese, green onions, salt and pepper to grits. Add grits to the baking pan and let cool before refrigerating for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
Once cooled, turn grits out onto a cutting board and cut into rounds using a cookie cutter. The smaller your cookie cutter, the more cakes you will make. A 3 1/2 inch cutter makes a nice sized cake.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with melted butter. Place grit cakes on pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms are lighting browned. Turn cakes over and bake an additional 12 minutes on the other side.
Sweet Tomato Relish
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomato (about 4 large tomatoes)
1/2 cup minced red onion
In a medium saucepan, combine orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half. Add tomato and onion and simmer for 15 minutes, or until mixture is very thick. Let cool and store covered in the refrigerator.
1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (25-30 count works well)
2 tablespoons butter
Juice of half a lemon
Dash of Cajun seasoning
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt before adding the shrimp to the pan (you may want to do this in two batches so that the shrimp sear a little and don’t steam). Sauté for 2 minutes and then add Cajun seasoning and lemon juice. Remove from pan and cover lightly with foil until ready to assemble.
Spoon a teaspoon of sweet tomato relish over each grit cake and top with one sautéed shrimp. Garnish with fresh parsley, micro greens or fresh herb of your choice.
Mini Tomato Pies
A classic, Southern favorite! Cheesy and delicious with a crunchy crust.
3 packages of phyllo shells (15 per carton)
1 container of grape tomatoes, quartered
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup shredded jack cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
3 to 4 green onions, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place quartered tomatoes in a strainer with basil, salt and pepper and let them drain for 15 to 20 minutes. Once drained, place in a small bowl.
While the tomatoes are draining, place phyllo shells on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned but not completely done.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine mayo, sharp cheddar cheese, jack cheese and green onion.
Fill the partially baked phyllo shells evenly with the seasoned tomatoes then top with a dollop of mayo/cheese mixture. Bake the shells for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. Garnish with chopped fresh basil if desired.
Artichoke, Brie and Crab Dip
Decadent and a crowd pleaser, this dip won’t last long!
1 can artichokes in water, roughly chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cubed brie cheese
12 ounces fresh lump crab meat (picked over for shells)
1/2 to 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl until incorporated evenly, reserving 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Spread mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers or crudités.
Bride and Groom Pasta Salad
The farfalle, or bowtie pasta, represents the groom while the rotini, “curly q,” pasta represents the bride. This is a cute wink and nod to the happy couple through this colorful Mediterranean inspired pasta salad.
1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
1 pound rotini pasta
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/2 English cucumber, diced
1 cup feta cheese
1 cup olive oil
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
Garlic salt, to taste
Boil pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, chop all of your vegetables and add to a large bowl. Drain pasta and run cold water over it until cool enough to handle. Add pasta to bowl of vegetables and gently toss to combine. In a separate bowl whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Season the pasta with garlic salt and then pour dressing over the top. Top with crumbled feta and toss gently. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve. We suggest sampling the pasta to see if additional dressing or garlic salt is needed as the pasta will absorb the dressing and could appear dry.
Cucumber Finger Sandwiches with Herb Cheese Spread
This classic finger sandwich is elevated with the herbaceous flavor of fresh dill. Great for vegetarians attending the shower.
1 English cucumber, peeled alternating strips so that some peel still remains and chopped into half-moons
1 loaf white or wheat bread, crusts removed
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
Combine cream cheese, sour cream and fresh dill. Spread over each piece of bread. Top one bread slice with the sliced cucumbers and top with other slice that has been spread with the herb and cheese mixture. Cut each sandwich into quarters and serve.
Blushing Bride Champagne Punch
A proper celebration can’t be without a bubbly cocktail. You can’t mess this one up!
1 (2-liter) bottle of ginger ale
2 bottles of champagne
2 cups orange juice
1/3 cup grenadine
Orange wedges for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl and stir gently. More or less grenadine can be added depending on your guest’s preference for sweetness, and desired color. Garnish each champagne glass with an orange wedge. Cheers!
Individual Limoncello Tarts
Elegant, tasty and not too rich. The perfect way to satisfy any sweet tooth.
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tablespoons limoncello
1 cup marscarpone cheese
Beat the whipping cream and limoncello together with a stand mixer or hand mixer until cream starts to thicken and form soft peaks. Gently fold in marscapone cheese until well combined.
1/2 cup butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. In a mixer cream together the butter and cream cheese. Gradually add flour. Once a dough forms, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour (this dough can also be made ahead and chilled for up to 24 hours). Take pinches of the dough and roll into 24 balls, then gently press into the bottom and sides of each mini muffin cup. Bake shells for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly golden.
Once cooled, pop each shell out of the muffin tin and fill with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Garnish with lemon zest and blackberries, strawberries or fruit of choice.
Food styling by the ladies from Lillian’s Eatery & Bakery