Skip the Take-Out: Quick Southern Comfort Recipes

by Matt Moore on March 13, 2013 · 22 comments

in Cooking, Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure

These days, it seems that my life never gets any less busy. Just when I think I’m on top of things, another project or opportunity comes along that puts me right back behind the eight ball. I imagine most of you can relate. Between work, relationships, significant others, kids, (insert your own craziness) – life never seems to slow down.

It’s no wonder why so many of us choose to “outsource” our meals to the local restaurant or drive-through. After all, it’s much faster and easier to pick up dinner than spend your valuable time working away in the kitchen, right?

Not always.

Of course, I’m a bit biased, but I believe making food at home doesn’t have to be such an involved process. Besides, you are likely to save money, calories, and potentially even relationships by sharing and preparing meals around the family table.

I’ve put together some of my favorite Southern-inspired comfort food recipes that can all be prepared rather quickly – perfect for a weeknight meal when life gets too busy. Rest assured, just because we’re saving some time doesn’t mean we are sacrificing any flavor! So the next time you are dialing for delivery or hopping in the car for take-out, give these recipes a try. I guarantee you’ll find a favorite amongst the bunch.



Sliced Vine Ripe Tomatoes

Yes, it’s just that simple. Pick up tomatoes from your famers market whenever possible. Not only do they taste better, but they are typically much cheaper than those found in the supermarket. This makes for a great side dish or as a simple alternative to preparing a salad. (Prep: 1 minute, serves 4)

4 vine ripe tomatoes
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Slice tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Quick Cook Grits

Nothing is more Southern and comforting than a bowl of creamy grits. To save calories, you can substitute olive oil for butter and omit the cream. (Prep: 1 minute, cook 10 minutes, serves 4)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup quick cook grits
3 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
¼ cup heavy cream

Combine the first 5 ingredients into a stock pot and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat – stirring to ensure no lumps are formed. When mixture reaches a boil, cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 7-8 minutes. Finish by adding cream, stir, and serve.

Roasted Broccolini

No Southern meal is complete without some greens. Instead of the traditional greens (collards, mustard, or turnips), I’ve chosen broccolini to help speed up the process and get dinner on the table. Substitute broccoli spears if you cannot find broccolini. (Prep: 1 minute, cook 15 minutes, serves 4)

1 bunch broccolini
¼ small red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a baking sheet, arrange broccolini and onion slices into a single layer. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes. Discard garlic prior to serving. Serve.

Grilled Pork Chops

pork chops

Thinly sliced, bone-in pork chops cook up quickly while still maintaining great flavor. Paired up with your favorite BBQ sauce – I recommend Slap Sauce – and this dish is sure to be a favorite. (Prep: 5 minutes, cook 10 minutes, serves 4)

4 thinly sliced bone-in pork chops
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
BBQ sauce

Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Drizzle chops with olive oil and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Grill over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and rest for 3-5 minutes prior to serving. Serve alongside your favorite BBQ sauce for dipping.

Traditional Southern Pound Cake

pound cake
A relatively simple and delicious cake that keeps well all week long for dessert. Since this recipe takes longer to bake, I prefer to prep this before dinner and get it into the oven. You can make all of the other dishes, enjoy your meal, and pull this out just in time to enjoy a great dessert. Better yet, this cake serves as double duty in the meal department – making a great accompaniment to your morning cup of coffee. If you don’t have time to bake your own (you do!), order your favorite cake online from Atlanta, GA’s St Rita’s Cake Company. (Prep 10 minutes, bake 60 minutes, serves 4-6)

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup half and half
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a Bundt pan or loaf pan using shortening and dust lightly with flour. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt into a strainer and sift into a bowl; set aside.

Beat the room temperature butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar into the butter 1/2 cup at a time and continue beating on medium until mixture becomes fluffy (about three minutes). Add eggs, one a time, to the butter and sugar mixture, blending each egg in before adding the next.

Reduce speed to low and begin to alternately add the flour mixture and the half and half into the creamed butter, starting and ending with the flour, until all is fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and blend it in. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread out the top evenly. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Place the pan onto a cooling rack and cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto the rack and allow to cool completely.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ediv710 March 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Good piece. That chop looks pretty good. I’m not advertising for other websites, but the Weber Grill ap has some great and QUICK grill recipes. Sure it’s winter, but come on, we men can handle winter grilling.

2 Elliot March 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Omitting cream saves calories. Since butter has water and milk solids, olive oil has more calories than butter.

3 William A.M. March 13, 2013 at 10:25 pm

you know, I like the last three recipes alot, especially the pound cake one because I like to bake and for some reason baking seems to have a perception of being a non masculine art in society. So, way to go on that AoM.

I do have to complain about the first two recipes though, they just reek of laziness. The recipe for the grits is basically just what is written on the back of any package of grits you buy, The tomato i will admit has a very nice plating, but at the same time really isnt a recipe so much as a preperation guide. One could at least do something interesting like grill the tomatoes. I personally enjoy to take some thick tomato slices and put a layer of basil leaves with another layer on top of parmesan and mozzarella cheese and grill till the cheese is melted with a bit of char on the bottom of the tomato.

4 Jason Hamilton March 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Sliced tomatoes and tomato sandwiches were summer time staples at my home in West Virginia.

5 Josh March 13, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Great article. It’s true, you can save a lot by cooking at home especially if you’re a teacher or going to school. Another BBQ sauce that’s worthy of any meat is taking Sweet Baby Ray’s and mixing a bit of cooking vermouth. Great stuff!

6 ilija March 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm

all look delicious.

one question though. what are quick grits?
do they go by some other name? they look like they might be steel cut oats but im not sure

7 Jim March 14, 2013 at 5:01 am

“To save calories, you can substitute olive oil for butter”

I don’t think you can. Olive oil is more calorific than butter.

8 Beau March 14, 2013 at 5:28 am

Just ordered Slap Sauce. Looking forward to trying it!

9 Bruce Lancaster March 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

Quickie guide for Yankees and Furriners:

Grits are made from hominy, corn treated with lye to remove shell and to do something mysterious chemically which makes the proteins more accessible. The hominy kernels are coarse ground into grits.
You’ve probably seen hominy kernels in cans or in Mexican soups.

Regular grits…realdamngood, must be boiled and stirred forever.

Quick grits…very nearly as good, require only a few minutes of boiling and stirring.

Instant Grits…possibly useful to repel vermin. Do not ingest. Ever.

If you have had Polenta…that’s just grits prepared and flavored by Italians.

Butter and salt are traditional…think movie popcorn flavors! Gravy from bacon is another tradition, stirring in cream or cheese while cooking is great, and some stir in a couple of eggs to cook in the last minute or so of the boiling.
Bacon, ham, tobasco, eggs, and cheddar are all natural companions for your grits.

10 Kieran March 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

I love to bake and cook but it seems like a hell of alot of unhealthyness went into that pound cake. I would definitely thin about changing the recipe if I were to bake it myself.

11 Mark Petersen March 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

Where is the baked mac and cheese?

12 Grayson March 14, 2013 at 11:17 am

Could we get an AoM cookbook? That would be fantastic.

13 Woody March 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

Tomatoes + salt + pepper = HEAVEN!

Every summer when I was growing up in south Georgia, Dad always had a huge garden full of vegetables, and he always had rows and rows of tomato plants of different varieties. Mom canned dozens of quarts of Romas, and we had Beefsteaks or similar for slicing like this and for sandwiches.

You’ve never really eaten a tomato until you’ve brought it in from the garden, still warm from the sun, sliced it, sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and devoured it. Simple sliced tomatoes exactly like this also made regular appearances on our summer table.

Thanks for stirring those memories.

14 Ralph March 14, 2013 at 11:41 am

I love southern!

15 Bob March 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

You actually said to remove the garlic from the broccolini before serving. REMOVE THE GARLIC! As a HUMAN BEING, I’m shocked and appalled.

16 L. T. March 15, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Here is another one for you…..
Southern Cornbread
2 cups cornmeal
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
1 large egg

Beat egg, add oil and buttermilk and then stir in the cornmeal. Preheat a cast iron skillet (well seasoned Griswold number 7 works well) along with the oven at 450…..once heated, spray with cooking spray and pour the mix in the skillet. Bout 20-24 minutes should be just right or once the top is browning.

Goes well with bacon (also baked in cast iron in the oven) and four over easy eggs. Quick, tasty, delicious and will make your cardiologist cringe.

17 xtrasystole March 15, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Put a little bit of smashed garlic cloves on top of those sliced tomatoes; season with olive oil, salt, and chopped basil. Enjoy with French bread and a nice bottle of red wine. La vie est belle!

18 James March 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm

with all due respect this is new age southern because Lard or butter should be used in lieu of EVOO for real southern comfort

19 Richard March 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I have to second Bob’s comment-remove the garlic! For shame sir!

20 gerasim March 18, 2013 at 8:09 am

Olive oil??? Kosher salt??? Fresh cracked pepper??? No lard?? No bacon fat??? Grill pork chops, no cast iron skillet??? Mamma never cooked like that, bless her heart! Sir, I do beleve a yankee boy has done slipped in here!

21 Ugo Colombo April 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

This certainly seems like a better alternative to take-out. Thank you for sharing.

22 Chris July 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm

What’s with the kosher salt.

Just get regular sea salt without the rabbi tax on top.

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