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Welcome

Welcome to PolkaDotTheory™, a personal blog, where I'm navigating through this thing called life, mid-life that is.

My name is Tren, thank you for stopping by. Here you will find a hodgepodge of posts that are inspiring and entertaining. I hope that you will follow me on this journey.

Again thanks for stopping by!

xoxo - Tren

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Apr 14, 2017

XO My Grits - A Quick & Big Easy Brunch Dish




Theory No: 106 - Home is where the brunch is!! 

Confession: I love to eat. As a matter of fact, I get great pleasure out of eating a tasty meal. I can't say where and how this love affair began, but I am sure I can attribute it to my upbringing.  A little about me, I was born and raised in a truly special place. Most would say there's no place like this city. I mean it's a place where everyone says hello or haaaaaaaaaay baaaaaybe; we tend to find any excuse to have a party; we often walk down the street with cocktails in hand any time of day... Can you guess?? Last hint, cooking and eating really good food is our religion as most of our dishes include the “holy trinity”.  


You got it... Nawlins baaaybe (translation: New Orleans, baby - yep I have an accent sometimes too)!!

Like most of my people I do enjoy being friendly to strangers, celebrating for no reason, and of course a cocktail here and there... But above all, whipping up a traditional New Orleans style meal is closest to my heart. It keeps me grounded and connected to my city no matter how far away I am. Cooking is also a way for me to pay homage to those that had a hand in teaching me how to prepare a good dish. Simply put, cooking is my peace. Here on the blog I will share some of my favorite recipes and hope that you join in my love for Creole Cuisine.

With Easter Sunday fast approaching, I want to share a brunch favorite. It has gained great popularity around the country including here in Indianapolis. Good ole Shrimp & Grits!!!

This is a very easy and dish to make, especially if you are good at making grits. With that said, I have a second confession: I CAN NOT COOK GRITS!! So how in the heck can I introduce this meal when I can’t make grits - LOL??!! Well insert the good Samaritan, the BF, who is an expert grits maker. His grits are the best DAMNED grits in the world. As a matter of fact, I solicited his expertise for this recipe and he did not disappoint.

With a batch of extra cheesy cheese grits as the base for the recipe, adding shrimp ( or another seafood option) with a delicious lemon garlic butter sauce, it is a  great dish to impress your guest with for the ultimate spring brunch. Pair with a mimosa or your signature brunch cocktail and you'll be the talk of the town for sure.

So here goes (full recipe can be found at the bottom of the post):

With grits prepared and simmering, start by chopping 1 (one) large onion, 4 (four) scallions, and 2 (two) garlic cloves (I typically use pre-chopped garlic). Rinse 1-2 lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, pat dry, season with salt and pepper (or substitute creole seasoning), and set aside.

In a large skillet fry 6 (six) slices of bacon until brown and crisp, set bacon aside on a paper towel to drain. After the oil has drained, chop bacon to yield 1/2 cup. Next, add the shrimp to the hot bacon grease and cook through.


As you can see I'm heavy in the mix of cooking the shrimp, but there's a large pan of catfish frying as well. I'm a lover of all things seafood, but the BF stays away from some of my faves like shrimp. If you or your guest are shellfish adverse, the shrimp can be replaced with your favorite fish. Here I altered the recipe slightly and used catfish so that he could enjoy the deliciousness as well. 


Back to the recipe, after your shrimp has turned pink add 3 (three) tablespoons of butter, chopped seasonings (onion, scallions, and garlic), it's always a good idea to add the garlic last so that it won't burn or overcook. Saute seasoning until tender, next drop in the chopped bacon, and add 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper or if you'd rather kick your dish up a notch with a bit of spice, replace the salt and pepper with your favorite cajun/creole seasoning mix. I swear by Tony's Chachere's Creole Seasoning. Let this simmer for 5 - 10 minutes.

Once your shrimp mixture is done, spoon grits onto a plate and top with shrimp mixture and garnish. Here I added roasted asparagus and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes which complimented the dish really well and not to mention it added a bit of flair to the presentation. Such a beautiful and tasty meal - did I mention it was ready in no time?! Enjoy!!


SHRIMP & gRITS (OR cATFISH)

INGREDIENTS
  • 4 cups of water or vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup of grits
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined or 3 catfish filets
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper then add grits and cook water is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Set aside and keep warm. 
  1. Rinse shrimp or catfish and pat dry season with salt and pepper. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned and crisp; set cooked bacon aside to drain. 
  1. Add shrimp or catfish in bacon grease, and cook through. If cooking shrimp, cook shrimp until pink and move to step four without removing shrimp. If using catfish, remove catfish from skillet when thoroughly cooked. 
  1. Add lemon juice, chopped bacon, parsley, onion, scallions, and garlic. Saute ingredients for 3 minutes or until onion is translucent and garlic is tender. 
  1. Spoon cheese grits onto into a serving bowl or plate and top with shrimp mixture. If using catfish, place catfish on top of grits and glaze with sauce. 
  1. Best served while hot. 
NOTES
Garnish with your favorite green veggie and red pepper flakes (asparagus used here) and enjoy!!! 


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Apr 11, 2017

Keep On Movin - 4 Affordable Brands That Will Rock Your Workout.


Theory No.:003 - When you find your groove, you'll find a way to keep moving...

Growing up I was always slender, under weight some may say. I was the girl that the boys looked away from because I wasn't what was considered "fine". Simply put I was the skinny girl that stood among friends who's bodies developed a lot sooner than mine. I would cry to my mom, who's argument against the adolescent tragedy was "just wait until you're in your 20's, you'll see the benefits in all of this. You'll have the body that these girls have later". While my mom's argument proved to be correct and took me well into my 30's, she didn't advise is what would happen when I reached that mere tipping point in life,  "the 40's".

Like most women approaching the big 4-Oh, I adhered to a diet and fitness plan to ensure that I would be able to flash that confident smile when I coyly confessed my age. I admit, was successful in the first year, but not maintaining seemed to have had its costs - 13 pounds to be exact. 

So sitting at the crossroads of feeling uncomfortable, fed up, and wanting to maintain good health I decided to take on a challenge that consists of putting down the cheesecakes that I've grown to love and partaking in the sweetness of a healthy and fit lifestyle [insert double eye roll here - lol].

Fast forward 3 weeks in.... I must say it is a struggle to go from lack of activity to full on workouts 3-4 times a week. Finding my groove has not been easy. While an expanding waistline and overall good health is my primary motivation, on some days I need just a little more. It's these days that I look to my love of fashion because a great outfit is always good motivation and tends to make a woman (me) smile (even at the gym).

Choices in activewear are rather unlimited, however, I do my best to stick to low-cost, budget-friendly options to kick myself into gear. And for the record, low cost doesn't mean low quality. Here are a few of my favorite go-to labels for fun, functional, good looking activewear.

First up: Fabletics offers up activewear for all sizes and shapes. I love how they help customers choose options based on the type of activity. Also, keep an eye out for a store opening near you. As we're used to seeing Fabletics as an online store, there are many storefronts opening nationwide. Here in Indianapolis, Fabletics will be opening really soon at the Keystone Fashion Mall. Visit their website for a location near you.

While I try my best to avoid Forever 21 - because let's be honest, who wants to be 21 Forever? Lord knows I'm over it. Now if someone creates a Forever 31 we can talk (lol). Seriously, while the store caters to my little niece and her friends, often times women like myself can find great buys there as well. Trust me, I've popped in for deals on everything but I've got to say the activewear is a good option. The cost is reasonable as you would expect and the quality does not disappoint. These mesh panel leggings are not only cute, they are quite functional. Anything that allows a breather during heavy workouts is a must.
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My darling Vicki, oh how I loooove thee!! I don't know what they put in the kool-aid, but I drink it heavily. Expanding their brand outside of intimates and swimwear, activewear has been a great product line for VS as well. With a host of not only functional but "Very Sexy" choices, these optiosn would make anyone want to drop and do a burpee or two.  Featured below is the Anytime Legging, which is not only on trend with the cutouts they allow a breathable option for your body to stay cool. 

Last but certainly not least, Old Navy's active wear is not only an affordable option, it brings functionality and motivation to the table. This Good Vibes tank is my favorite, I wore it to the gym yesterday :). It's comfortable and has the Go Dry technology that helps you stay dry during those heavy workouts. Newsflash - 50% off activewear while supplies last (today only)



With all of these fashionable items, who wouldn't stay beasting and killing their fitness game. What are some of the ways you stay motivated and keep moving through your fitness goals?
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