{Recipe} A Yankee’s Version of Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

I’m a New England gal. OK, yes I’ve lived in New York for the last 12 years and that’s not technically New England, but it’s close enough in my book. My point is, I am ignorant about all things Southern. I revel in my Northern-ness (much as southern gals are proud of their own heritage). But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a tasty Southern treat (or all of them!). So when my friend Stef at Down the Primrose Path started talking about something called “pimento cheese” I was intrigued.

I, lover of all things cheese, had never heard of this. Pimento loaf? Yuck, but yes. Pimento-stuffed olives? Of course — I eat them all the time. But not pimento cheese. (Unless you count the cream cheese/green stuffed olive mixture I use to stuff celery on Thanksgiving.)

Then, one night I was flipping through an issue of Rachel Ray’s magazine and there it was: a recipe! Of course, I trust my Southern friends a little more than RR, so I took tips from Stefani and whipped up a pot the other night. When I took the ingredients out the fridge and looked at them all together, I questioned myself a bit but continued with the recipe anyway. And when I tried it… well, I was hooked! I think I scarfed down about half the batch that afternoon.

From what I understand of pimento cheese, everyone makes it a little bit different, but the three primary components are cheddar, pimentos, and mayo. In every article I’ve read, a brand called “Duke’s” is preferred, but I’ve never heard of or seen that up here so I went with good old Hellman’s. As I mentioned, my version was thrown together with tips from a friend, so feel free to change things around, use different cheese, whatever! And if you have a favorite pimento cheese recipe, please share it with me!

A Yankee’s Version of Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

4 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
4 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
3 heaping Tbsp. chopped pimentos
Mayonnaise – just enough to mix it all together
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl. Mix in a small amount of mayonnaise. Add more mayo, just a little at a time, until the mixture comes to your preferred consistency. (I like mine less mayo-y and a little more thick). Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Traditionally, pimento cheese is served as a sandwich on white bread with the crusts cut off (at least according to this NPR story). But I really liked eating them on Oopsie Rolls – my favorite low-carb “bread.” I definitely see this recipe become a kitchen staple. It’s the perfect little extra yummy bite to have with soup or a salad!

I’m linking up with Sandra at Diary of a SAHM
because it’s Cooking Thursday!
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countdown to 2012: breakfast dishes

 Countdown to 2011 with Finding Joy in My Kitchen

One of my favorite blog finds this year was Finding Joy in My Kitchen. If you haven’t visited, make sure you do because SnoWhite is a great source for healthy recipes! This week she is counting down to 2012 and inviting readers to join in the fun by sharing their very best recipes of 2011. Today’s theme is breakfast dishes.

You’re going to have to take my word on this one. The photo isn’t the greatest, and yes I know that the recipe sounds a little… well, strange. I mean spiced ground pork? With milk? For breakfast? Trust me, it took years before I would even try this recipe. But once I had, I was a convert. Yum!

Cretons
cretons

cooking thursday: a taste of thai

I thought that Cooking Thursday would be the perfect time to share some of the recipes I made at my Thai Kitchen® Deliciously Different BBQ House Party. I was thrilled, and I mean thrilled to have been selected for this one because I love Asian cuisine, but just can’t make it at home. The Thai Kitchen and Simply Asia products are supposed to make it easier and believe me they did. They took all the “brain work” out of it. Here’s a photo of all the great samples they sent me. I can’t wait to make Red Curry, Tom Yum Soup, Coconut Rice, Spicy Thai Wings… oh, the list goes on and on!

thai kitchen house party

But for my party (which happened to be a get-together for my MIL’s birthday), I tried three of the suggested recipes: Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Cold Thai Broccoli Salad, and Ginger Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps (this was my favorite, and it will be going into regular rotation).

Everyone loved the Chicken Satay, and considering the peanut sauce is just straight out of a jar, I was impressed with the taste. Jake’s favorite was the Broccoli Salad (seriously — I’ve never met a nearly-9-year-old who like veggies as much as this kid). He had three helpings. The best part about these recipes is that they are fast. Don’t get me wrong — I love scratch cooking and I think you all know that. But with three kids, sometimes you just suck it up and take a little help from some packaged sauces and seasonings. And with that, here are the recipes!

Ginger Teriyaki Lettuce Wraps
thai kitchen house party

1 tablespoon oil (coconut oil adds a subtle flavor, but olive or vegetable oil works too)
1 pound ground chicken or ground turkey
1 pouch Simply Asia® Ginger Teriyaki Stir-Fry Sauce
lettuce leaves (I find that Romaine or Boston lettuce works best)
Toppings: shredded carrots, bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, chopped fresh cilantro and chopped scallions

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. Add Stir-Fry Sauce; cook and stir until heated through. Spoon chicken mixture into the center of each lettuce leaf. Add desired toppings. Fold sides of lettuce over filling and roll up to serve.

Cold Thai Broccoli Salad
thai kitchen house party

8 cups water
4 cups broccoli florets
1/4 cup Thai Kitchen® Sweet Red Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded carrot

Bromg water to a boil in a large pot, add broccoli and cook just until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Mix chili sauce, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl with a wire whisk until well blended. Add broccoli and carrots; toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or until ready to serve.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce
thai kitchen house party

1/2 cup Thai Kitchen® Coconut Milk
2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Premium Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons Thai Kitchen® Red Curry Paste
2 teaspoons minced fresh lemon grass ***
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch wide strips
Bamboo skewers
1/2 cup Thai Kitchen® Peanut Satay Sauce

Mix the coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste and lemon grass in a small bowl until well blended. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag or a glass dish. Add marinade; toss to coat well and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Thread chicken strips onto skewers. Grill or broil over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through. Serve with Peanut Satay Sauce for dipping.

***I did not have lemongrass so I substituted a bit of lemon zest and some freshly grated ginger root. It tasted great to me!

Be sure to visit Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom to check out other delicious recipes!

creamy indian-spiced lentils (dal)

As you are well-aware, I love Indian food. A good dal is a great recipe to have in your arsenal because it is inexpensive, delicious, and packed full of nutrition. Unfortunately, I have not had a lot of luck with many of the dal recipes I’ve tried. Either they didn’t cook down right, or else they were bland. So when I saw this recipe for “Dal Nirvana” on Budget Bytes, I was intrigued by all the rave reviews. Last week I decided to make it for lunch (even though it was scheduled for Friday’s dinner — I simply couldn’t wait that long). I made a few tweaks so the recipe better suited my tastes, and wow! Just… wow. It was absolutely delicious. I think the best part of this recipe is that it tastes great with regular lentils that you buy at any supermarket — there’s no reason to make a trip to the Indian grocery store (unless you want to, obviously!)

Creamy Indian-Spiced Lentils (Dal)

indian-spiced lentils (dal)

1 c. dry lentils
1 can (15 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. garam masala
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 c. half-and-half

Pour the lentils in a medium sauce pan and cover with 1-2 inches of water. (Make sure you have checked your lentils for tiny stones first!) Bring the pot to a boil over high heat and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils and set aside.

Add the butter and oil to the sauce pan and melt over med-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Then add the chili powder, cumin, and coriander, salt, and pepper and fry until spices are fragrant (just about another minute or so). Return the lentils to the pot and then add the can of tomatoes along with a can full of water (or just a little bit less).

Stir everything well and then add the tomatoes. Fill the empty can with water and add that to the pot, as well. Stir everything again, bring the mixture to a simmer and the reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for a half an hour. If the lentils are not softened or the mixture is not thick enough, continue to simmer until it reaches your desired consistency. The dish should be thick, but not dry.

Finally, stir in the half-and-half. Garnish with fresh, chopped cilantro if desired and serve with rice and yogurt.

 

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this recipe! If you’re searching for a meatless dish to try tomorrow (Good Friday), this one is definitely a winner!

Be sure to visit Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom to check out other delicious recipes!

cookbook review: the indian slow cooker by anupy singla

While searching for Indian recipes last December, I stumbled upon a new book entitled The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. Anupy is the author of the blog Indian as Apple Pie. I’d never read her blog before, but as I looked through it I became more and more interested in this book. As you know, I love Indian food. I craved it constantly when I was pregnant with Laura (who incidentally loves it as well), and I make quite a few Indian and Indian-inspired recipes in my kitchen.

But putting my slow cooker to use to make mouth-watering Indian dishes — and healthy ones at that — seemed almost too good to be true! No, there’s no need for diet pills when you’re cooking with fresh veggies, beans, and heart-healthy oils.

The first recipe I made was “Dhuli Moong Dal – Simplest of Simple Yellow Lentils” (p. 55). Being new to cooking lentils, they still weren’t simple enough for me at first! I followed the recipe and let it cook for several hours. When I checked on my dal, I saw that the lentils weren’t cooking down at all. They were still quite hard. After doing a little research, I attribute this to adding salt at the start of cooking. So I poured out my lentils into a large pot and cranked the heat on the stove. This quick-fix worked quite well and my dish was saved! The result was delicious. Per the author’s suggestion, I topped it with a bit of butter, which made the dish extra-delicious. Don’t you want a bowl of this?

Dhuli Moong Dal - Simplest of Simple Yellow Lentils

Sunday I decided to try making her recipe for “Aloo Gobi – Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes” (p. 91). I halved the recipe and it turned out perfect! In an ideal world with extra time, I would probably saute the potatoes first to give them a little more texture, but even without doing so it was delicious. And the whole point of the book is simplifying cooking: chop, drop, and go.

Aloo Gobi - Spiced Cauliflower and Potatoes

Laura gobbled up both these dishes. She absolutely loves rice and lentils, so that didn’t surprise me. But the aloo gobi was quite spicy and she still devoured a dish. I’m really looking forward tor trying out more of these recipes, especially the Split Chickpea Curry, Dry Spiced Dal, Goan Black-Eyed Peas, Spicy Punjabi Eggplant with Potatoes, Minced Lamb with Peas, and Lamb Biryani.

I wish that the book had the nutritional information for the dishes, but it’s not that hard to figure it out. The book was tough to find when I was originally looking for it. It was out of stock at my local Barnes & Noble and Amazon didn’t have it, either. Thank goodness for Oblong Books! I checked their inventory online and was able to drive over that night and buy it. I don’t purchase a lot of cookbooks, but this is one I’m happy to have in my library.