Virginia Willis Cookbook Giveaway & Sweet Potato Grits Recipe!


French culinary training....sassy southern roots....and a true gift for mixing it all up to create delectable and approachable food . That's what Virginia Willis does. 
Having watched her teach a multitude of cooking classes over the years with grace, humility, and style - I was thrilled with Virginia came out with her first cookbook, Bon Appetit Ya'll. Even more excited when I received a copy of her newest (and super gorgeous!) cookbook, Basic to Brilliant, Ya'll, a few weeks ago. I couldn't wait to cook from it! 
{P.S. - Did I mention the book's photos by Helene Dujardin are amazing?} 
They are.

The tough part was deciding which recipe to make first.
Apple Roquefort Turnovers, Kale Omelet, N'awlins-Style BBQ Shrimp, Winter Greens and Butternut Squash Gratin, Dede's Burnt Caramel Cake.....oh my, cue the mouth-watering. 
Then I saw it, Sweet Potato Grits....that was all she wrote.
Love grits, love sweet potato - this had to be an amazing combination. 

Jay and I eat grits several times a week...usually with a soft boiled egg for breakfast. And we aren't talking about instant grits ya'll. We are talking about coarse stone ground grits {we like Logan Turnpike from Blairsville, GA}. Yes, they take a little while to cook, but Virginia says it best, "patience is a key ingredient." Amen to that.

I love how creamy stone ground grits get when you cook them. When these finished cooking and we sat down to try them, there were a bunch of yummy noises happening. Jay even asked me how much butter was in the recipe.
I giggled. Only a small pat of butter on the top, none in the recipe itself. Gotta love that.
Would definitely make these again and again...thank you Virginia for dreaming up this combination and sharing it in your book. 

And now for THE GIVEAWAY:
{This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to GASmithie who won the copy of Basic to Brilliant, Ya'll.}

Thank you to the generosity of Ten Speed Press, I am giving away one copy of Basic to Brilliant, Ya'll to a lucky Happily Edible After reader.

Starts today, Monday January 7 and ends Saturday, January 12 at 12 noon (EST)
Here's how to enter:
For extra entries!!:
  • Share about giveaway on Facebook with link to this post.
  • Subscribe to Happily Edible After's RSS feed or subscribe to HEA by email (if you already subscribe, leave a comment letting me know to count as an entry).
Please leave a comment for each. Open to US residents only. 
Winner will be chosen at random.
Good luck!


Sweet Potato Grits
Serves 4 to 6

The first time I had sweet potato grits, it was a revelation. Two of the ultimate Southern sides were married into one—delicious. I’ve mentioned cooking has taught me a lot about life, and it sure keeps trying to teach me patience.
Anyone who has burned his or her mouth tasting a spoonful of hot grits before they cool knows the importance of patience. Remove a steak from the grill and cut into it before it has rested? The juices run all over the board and the steak is dry and tough. Even more dire is to cut a cake or a loaf of bread before it cools sufficiently and it crumbles. Open the oven door too often to check on cooking, and your dish ceases to cook because all the heat has escaped. Patience is a key ingredient. These flavorful grits are a reward for being patient.

2 cups water
2 cups low-fat or whole milk
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the water and milk and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Slowly add the grits, whisking constantly. Add the sweet potato. Season with salt and white pepper. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until the grits are creamy and thick, 45 to 60 minutes.

Taste the grits and sweet potato to make sure both are cooked and tender. Add the ground ginger, cinnamon, and butter. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.

Brilliant: Short Recipe
Sweet Potato Spoonbread

Add a bit of technique and our Basic country classic is transformed into a Brilliant soufflélike spoonbread. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter an ovenproof casserole or round 2-quart soufflé mold. To the sweet potato grits mixture, add 2 large egg yolks, one at a time, stirring after each addition. In a separate bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat 2 large egg whites with a pinch of salt on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the warm sweet potato mixture. Transfer the lightened mixture to the prepared pan; smooth the surface with a spatula. Bake until the outside is puffed and risen, the inside is firm but moist, and the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately while still puffed. Serves 4 to 6.

Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y'all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress them Up for Company , copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. Photo credit: Helene Dujardin © 2011. For more information


  1. I think my favorite southern food with have to be grits and greens. I just made some super yummy cheesy grits this weekend but I've never thought to add sweet it!

    Oh, and where do you get your grits again? The only ones I've ever cooked are the quick cooking ones from the store. I think I might be missing out on something!

  2. Hi Allison,
    Love grits and greens. What are your favorite greens?
    You can get the coarse ground grits at Whole Foods.Virginia also has her own grits (see her site:
    Happy grit making!

  3. I prefer turnip greens. I just can't seem to jump on the kale bandwagon...but maybe I'm just not making it right. Will check out those grits. Thanks!

  4. Fried green tomatoes and fried okra are my favorites!

  5. Hopefully, I've followed all necessary steps to enter your cookbook giveaway! I've posted here earlier, commented on Virginia's blog and followed her on Twitter! Happy New Year, Shannon!

    1. Congratulations are the winner of the Basic to Brilliant Y'all book. Please email me at, so we can't get it mailed out to you!

  6. Hi GASmithie....yes, you entered just fine! Good luck to you.
    MMMMM....fried green tomatoes are the best!

  7. I have to say fried green tomatoes are my one real southern thing that I love. I'm not a fan of greens and pepper sauce, okra or biscuits and gravy. I don't love my green beans cooked to limp or piles of fried chicken. But fried green tomatoes with an amazing sauce on the side - now that's delish! When I first moved here there was a place called Mick's that served fried green tomatoes in Cumberland Mall. That was my first taste of the tart and tangy fruit. Since then I have traveled to Juliette just to eat a fried green tomato at the Whistle Stop Cafe!!

    1. Hi Aimee,
      I love those lovely fried green tomatoes myself.....delish! Never had one at the Whistle Stop cool! I have to visit there one day.


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