Maple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits

maple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threads
I can’t say just how the tradition began. But every year at Christmas, my family would gather twice. First on Christmas Eve for shrimp louie and clam chowder, and second on Christmas Day for a Thanksgiving-like feast.

My heart swells to ten times its size at just the thought of my grandparents’ home in those days… warm, inviting, and filled with the scent of freshly-baked pie, with appetizers at the ready and grandpa at the counter mixing singapore slings.

Sure, none of our traditions made sense and sure, on more than one occasion that epic meal was followed by an equally-epic storming out of one relative or another, egged on by my grandfather, left giggling in the corner, so tickled by his own tomfoolery…

“What?!” would be his response to any question or comment directed his way. With a wink in my or my father’s direction a split second later…

He played deaf for years before anyone ever caught on — and by then he really was.

maple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threads
But that house during the holidays… there was no better place in the world.

As a kid, I just barely made it through my clam chowder on Christmas Eve… so excited to get to the important part. Handing out presents, opening them one by one, slowly seeing my little pile build… then heading off to sleep with the anticipation of what Santa might bring.

I feel lucky to have such good memories of my family in those years… of my grandparents, who no longer bake pies or mix singapore slings, but who live on in my heart every day, and whose presence is never stronger than in the holiday traditions we keep.

Every year on Christmas Eve, Mark and I make clam chowder and shrimp louie and mix our own singapore slings… it still doesn’t make sense, but there’s nothing that feels more like Christmas than shrimp.

So this year, rather than just ramble on about the shrimp… I thought I’d share this amazing little recipe, which is also a nod to my family in that today, my sister lives in New Orleans, and Mark was inspired to create this dish shortly after our last trip.

… around Christmas, she might supplement it with jambalaya, but my sister makes our clam chowder too. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a little seafood.

(Lovely photos by Reema Desai. Be sure to scroll all the way down for the latest links to our 24 Merry Days giveaways!)

maple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threadsmaple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threadsmaple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threads
Cream Cheese Grits

3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup cream
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 cup stone ground grits
1/3 cup cream cheese
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Bring milk and butter to a simmer in a large saucepan. Over low heat, add your grits, whisking to combine with milk and butter. Stir frequently for 20 minutes. Grits should begin to thicken.

Add cream, then stir for an additional 5 minutes. In the meantime, cube your cream cheese. When your grits have reached the desired thickness (I like them around the 25 minute mark) add your cream cheese and stir to incorporate. Finish with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Maple Glaze

1 cup maple syrup (we use a local syrup that has been lightly smoked!)
4 teaspoons Old Bay (I mean you just can’t make seafood in Maryland without it…)

Combine ingredients in a large saucepan over medium heat and reduce the mixture to half its original volume, or to your desired consistency.

Add shrimp, toss, and serve over grits.

maple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threadsmaple glazed shrimp and cream cheese grits // a thousand threads
24 merry days // a thousand threads24 merry days // a thousand threads24 merry days // a thousand threads24 merry days // a thousand threads


  1. Posted December 9, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I just love this. A beautiful tribute to your grandparents, and a delicious sounding holiday recipe.

  2. Posted December 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    This looks and sounds absolutely incredible, Laicie! Such a unique take on a dish that reminds me so much of where I grew up 🙂 and such lovely words about your grandparents and your family traditions. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Posted December 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh my, this looks so decadent and perfect…

  4. Leanna
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Laicie, as always you so beautifully put into words what I’m feeling in my heart….you described our holidays perfectly and we all miss those special traditions. Now Grandparents have past and we are spread across the globe…..I was just thinking that it is not Christmas Eve without our clam chowder and Singapore slings……I’m so glad that you and your sister still cling by your toenails to keep those traditions alive……I love you…..Mom

  5. Kami
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Inspired to do the Slings this year with the hand written recipe of grandpas. Thanks for the shout out and oh how do I miss those days of grandma’s chowder-Once, after I moved away I remember driving with the family and arriving at 2am but still knocking on grandmas door for a bowl of chowder. Mine isn’t the same so I morphed it into a sweet corn and pepper crawfish chowder -another New Orleans flare. Love you so much and miss you!!! Sister

  6. Kami
    Posted December 10, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    p.s. I’m going to make this dish for sure – YUM

2 Trackbacks

  • By Friday Link Love - Two Places at Once on December 12, 2014 at 3:02 am

    […] these gingerbread biscotti from Smitten Kitchen Make maple glazed shrimp with cream cheese grits from 1000 Threads Listen to classic holiday music Drink […]

  • By Setting a simple holiday table | A Thousand Threads on December 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    […] grown up, we begin to trace the pieces of ourselves back to our parents… my love for holiday traditions, of course, has everything to do with my family. But so does my love for setting a holiday […]

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