The Best Recipes for Pimiento Cheese and Benedictine

The other day, I saw this post on Instagram via @fruitloopkeeper, and it totally spoke to me (and made me snort laugh). So I’m going to honor this truth and get right down to it with my mom’s recipes for pimiento cheese and benedictine with just a tiny bit of explanation. No endless scrolling. Promise!

Pimiento Cheese

I never liked pimiento cheese until I had my mom’s. She doesn’t use mayonnaise, which is what I think really seals the deal for me.

INGREDIENTS:

1 block cream cheese, cut into cubes (the real deal, not fat-free)
1 8-oz pkg sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 stalks green onion, green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp salt (add more to taste)
1/4 tsp red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
1 4-oz jar pimientos drained
Pinch of fresh jalapeño (optional)
METHOD:
1. Add all ingredients to food processor
2. Combine and enjoy!

Benedictine

If you aren’t from Louisville, Kentucky, you probably have never heard of benedictine, but it’s surprisingly one of several recipes indigenous to my hometown. It’s basically a spread made with cucumber, cream cheese and dill that works as well as a dip with veggies and crackers as it does between two slices of rye bread with some bacon. I made it for Derby and had some folks on Instagram ask me for the recipe. Like any good Southern recipe, there are endless interpretations and variations. But this is the only one you need;)
INGREDIENTS:
2 8-oz bricks cream cheese, cut into cubes
4-5 stalks green onion, green parts only, sliced thin
1 cucumber
1 tsp salt (Add more to taste.)
4 tsp dill (fresh or dry; I prefer fresh, and I always add more)
METHOD
1. Peel and seed cucumber. Wrap it in a paper towel and leave in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight to absorb moisture.
2. Combine all ingredients in food processor. Enjoy!
Notice that “enjoy” is part of the process:) Now you have two easy, go-to spreads/dips that are perfect for your spring and summer gatherings, or just to keep in the fridge for snacking and sandwiches!
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6 Snippets of Magazine Inspiration

So much of my mom life is spent in waiting rooms, lobbies, and my mobile waiting room (aka, the car). Yesterday, I found myself waiting my way through a doctor appointment followed by a haircut. Between books and sick of scrolling through Instagram, I picked up a couple of magazines. I LOVE magazines. Whoever says print is dead, is dead to me. I love the feel of the lightweight coated paper between my fingers. And my favorite magazines mean talented editors at the mast who curate inspiring, beautiful, and sometimes surprising content in a layout that’s at once striking and flowing. I. Love. Print. Magazines.

When I find myself playing the waiting game, and I actually have time to read a magazine or two from cover to cover (I read from back to front, does anyone else do that?), I devour them like a pint of Halo Top ice cream.

When I find articles or helpful tidbits, it’s not enough for my scattered brain to make a mental note. I might as well ask my three-year-old to write it down for me. I wouldn’t be so gauche as to steal an entire magazine from a waiting room or tear out a page, rather I take photos. Yesterday’s bounty was reaped mainly from the April 2018 Redbook with the exception of one recipe from a winter edition of Real Simple.  Not as simple as hitting a “share” button, but I want to spread the love. Here are my finds:

  1. What a friend we have in cheeses. I must admit, I borrowed that headline from an editor I worked for years ago in Charlotte. It’s still my favorite of all time. And it suits these beautiful appetizers that I think I could actually make myself. Look how pretty!
    Credit:Redbook

    2. Seedy. I can do so well with my diet, but lack of a good snack in the car or at night always gets me in the end. This spin on sunflower seeds sounds so munch worthy.

    Credit:Redbook

    3. Leaf conquers all. I’m forever in search of a salad that sounds better than pasta or a sandwich. This one fits the lunch bill, plus it makes enough for four days!

    Credit:Redbook

    4. Something in ramen. This recipe for ramen looks way better than the stuff I made in college (and let’s face it, still sometimes make late night), and it sounds like it could actually live up to its “easy” promises.

    Credit:Real Simple

    5. Shake what your mama made ya. They describe this meditation jar for adults, but I want to do this craft with my kids and make one for each of them as well!

    Credit:Redbook

    6. Here comes the sun (screen). And I say, it’s more than all right. All this time I’ve been looking for a daily SPF lotion to wear under my makeup. Why didn’t I think of something like this setting mist? Brilliant!

    Credit:Redbook

     

    I love websites, but print magazines will always hold a special place in my heart. Do you prefer print magazines or websites, or both?

Instant Pot Paralysis and Getting Out of My Side Dish Rut

I’m part of a large group of impulsive people who bought the Instant Pot a few weeks back when it was on super sale. I’d heard about all of its wonders, from yogurt making to 6-minute chicken, but I’d also seen the price tag. So when it was half-off, I didn’t hesitate. Now, it’s been sitting on my counter for three weeks, intimidating me with all of its buttons, bells, and whistles. It’s a pressure cooker, not a landmine, but I still can’t bring myself to use it for fear of blowing up my kitchen. So I continue to search for the perfect introductory Instant Pot recipe that speaks to me without saying my last rites.

A lot of the recipes I’ve found come from Skinnytaste. While I’m working up the courage to try her chicken taco chili in the pressure cooker, I did take a stab at the zucchini tots, which merely require a grater and good old-fashioned oven cooking. I can only steam veggies so many times, and all of my favorite frozen sides at Trader Joe’s come in servings of “about 3” which might as well read “not enough for your family, Lindsey.”

Gina describes this side as kid-friendly, which of course it is, but you don’t need kids to appreciate a good tot. When my super picky 2-year-old didn’t want hers, I was exasperated on the outside for show, “Fine, I guess I’ll have to eat them so they don’t go to waste,” and all Homer Simpson on the inside:

udbwnde

Abbie doesn’t like pizza — yet — so I’m confident she’ll come around on these zucchini tots with time. For now, they are a hit with the rest of my household. I will say I should’ve added more breadcrumbs to my batch, but they were still delish. I’m no Beatrice Peltre, but this is how my tots turned out. No filter, no photography skills, no nothing:

unnamed-8

Hopefully my next food post will be about my adventures with the Instant Pot…and I won’t be typing it from the burn unit at the hospital.

 

Artichoke and Crusty Bread Kebabs, Discovering Barramundi

Last night, we went to our friends’ house for Father’s Day. It was very modern meets nuclear — the women worked away in the kitchen while the men drank and the children frolicked. But they were drinking microbrews, not scotch neat. And we were not wearing ruffled aprons and getting lightly slapped on our bottoms by gin-blossomed, cigar puffing misogynists. And because I was charged with the grocery shopping, we ate fish, not steak:) I guess it wasn’t so much nuclear as I was actually doing the cooking for a change. Some women make dinner for their families every night. I’m not one of those women.

This month’s Whole Living has a great collection of grill recipes, and I decided last night was as good a time as any to try one out. Usually with kebabs, I get stuck in a rut of green peppers and onions with either chicken or beef. But we did the Artichoke and Crusty Bread Kebabs last night and they were delish… and so easy!

Photo from Whole Living. Artichoke + Bread kebabs, all the way on the left.

I just followed Whole Living’s very simple recipe:

Artichoke + Crusty Bread: Skewer two 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (drained) and 2 1/2 cups torn crusty bread. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.

The best part? Unlike other kebabs, there wasn’t any chopping, slicing or dicing. The hearts come out ready to skewer from the can, and you simply tear the pieces of bread from the loaf (I used ciabatta). I can’t wait to try the others!

We also grilled up some yellow peppers and onions from my friend’s garden, a bulb of fresh garlic (tastes great spread on the bread), and a whole eggplant, which my friend seasoned after it was grilled with tahini and fresh cilantro. It was a-MAZE-ing. Like grilled baba ganoush (also good spread on the grilled bread).

And then there was the fish. It was an Australian white fish called Barramundi, which isn’t well-known here, but is very popular down under. I admit I chose it because it was on sale, but I’m glad it was, because it’s now on my fish list. Apparently, it’s Dr. Oz’s number one super food, being very high in Omega-3’s. I’ve seen it called “the sustainable sea bass” because of the way it is harvested, but whatever you want to call it, it has a wonderful, rich flavor that you don’t want to over power with a marinade that’s too strong. I don’t know all that my friend mixed into her marinade, but it was gooood. She combined tahini, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, red pepper flakes… and I lost track from there (cooking with wine will do that to you).

All in all, an amazing Father’s Day feast. At least I think it was. I forgot to ask Dave what he thought:)

Bloody Mary Smoothie Recipe

There’s nothing I like better on a weekend morning than brunch, bluegrass and a Bloody Mary. During our stay  in Isla Bastimentos, Panama, when you run out of Bloody Mary Mix, a quick run to the store is not in the cards. But it ended up being the greatest thing that could have happened, because Lloyd came up with this Bloody Mary Smoothie:

Ingredients

  • fresh tomatoes
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt + pepper
  • lime juice (we squeezed from fresh limes!)
  • ice
  • vodka
  • Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce

Method

Add ingredients to taste and blend.

Notes

We used Belvedere Vodka (my migraines make me a liquor snob by default). If I could have run to the store, I would have added celery salt. You can also use tomato juice instead of whole tomatoes. We probably would have, but again, used what we had. And it turned out I was glad we didn’t have canned tomato paste, bloody mary mix or tomato juice, because using all fresh ingredients made it taste truly (big surprise) fresh! Necessity truly is the mother of invention.

Also, we added ice after we blended and served on the rocks but decided it would be best to blend the ice into the Bloody the next time around. It’s the perfect refreshing, savory summer cocktail!

What’s your favorite summer cocktail?

Mother’s Day Gifts for the Mom Who Wants Nothing

This is not to be confused with the mother who wants for nothing.

I’m talking about the mom who feels guilty getting gifts from her daughter. She only feels comfortable on the giving end of the relationship. She can’t enjoy anything extravagant (read: more than a card) because all she can think of is how much money you’ve spent… even if it’s just $15 for a magazine subscription, forget a bouquet of flowers. This is my mom. And if it’s your mom, and you still want to show her your appreciation beyond Hallmark, try these guilt-free twists on traditional Mother’s Day gifts.

Instead of flowers, try MINT.

Photo by (and “borrowed” from) Nina Eve Zeininger at thingsimakeandfind.blogspot.com. Thanks, Nina:)

If you don’t have some growing in your own yard, ask a gardening gal pal to clip some out of her yard to share with you… trust me, she’s got plenty of this quick-growing herb. Get crafty and pot it in something like a coffee mug (sneaky double gift) or my favorite, a mason jar. Finish off with a ribbon or piece of twine tied in around it in a bow! Unlike a bouquet of flowers, mom can use the mint for cooking, in her tea or to help her headaches. Perfect on a window sill in the kitchen or planted along the sidewalk.

Instead of chocolates, make your own CHOCOLATE-COVERED PRETZELS.

Photo by Elly in Canada.

This super easy recipe over at Food.com got rave reviews:

Serves: 4

Yield: 22 pretzels

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

22 miniature pretzel twists

Directions:

1. Put chocolate in small bowl.

2. Microwave for 35 seconds.

3. The chips will still look whole, DO NOT MICROWAVE ANY LONGER! IT WILL BURN, instead stir for 20 seconds and all lumps will be smooth.

4. Lay out a piece of foil.

5. Dip pretzels with fingers in chocolate scrape off excess and lay on foil.

6. Wait 30 minutes to cool (Better if not put in fridge or freezer, they melt when they come out).

You can go organic with your ingredients, or substitute dark chocolate chips. Lots of room to play with this one!

Instead of a spa certificate, try this DIY SUGAR SCRUB.

Source: letbirdzfly.blogspot.com via Dawn on Pinterest

We found this amazing sugar scrub recipe via Dawn at Indigo + Canary’s Reader Pinterest Board (Thanks, Dawn!). Created by Bailey at Let Birds Fly, it’s quite simple to concoct. While all the ingredients might not be in your cupboard, once you gather them, you’ll be able to whip up this gift for birthdays and holidays in a snap. The perfect healthy indulgence, all natural, and SO pretty!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbsp sea salt, finely ground

3 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted (refined = no coconut aroma)

1/4 cup refined safflower oil (or other mild flavored oil, NOT olive oil)

20-35 drops of essential oil of choice OR a few drops of extract of choice

a few drops of non-toxic food coloring

Directions:

Mix dry ingredients, then add coconut and safflower oil. Add in essential oil (or extract), and mix well. Scrub should be wet and thick. Add more safflower oil by the teaspoon if needed. Add food coloring, mix well.

Makes a little over 2 cups.

Tips:

– Do NOT used unrefined coconut oil. The aroma is too strong and will not go well with the scent you choose, unless you choose coconut, of course!

– Do NOT use olive oil. The flavor and aroma are too strong and will not go well with the scent you choose.

– Try not to use vegetable oil or canola oil. This is a healthy scrub, meant to add good oils to your skin. If you cannot find safflower oil, try grape seed oil or flaxseed oil.

– You might need even more essential oil than recipe calls for. I used about 35 drops (big drops), but I wanted the scrub’s aroma to be very strong.

What scents could you add?

Try these essential oils: almond, juniper, cinnamon, ginger, guava, peppermint, spearmint, wintergreen, lavender, rose, orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, or tangerine.

Or try these extracts: vanilla, pineapple, strawberry, coconut, banana, cherry, lemon, lime, orange, almond, mint, or root beer (hehe)!

LL NOTE: I do not have all the links in Bailey’s recipe that she has on her blog. To learn more about essential oils, etc, go to the full post on her website.

What are you giving mom for Mother’s Day?

No Whine with Dinner, 2 for 2!

I’m blessed that Jed is not a picky eater, but lately I’ve found myself in a recipe rut, offering him the same dishes (“quesadillas or chicken nuggets?”). I make sure to incorporate different sources of proteins, especially fish, but when it comes to my tilapia repertoire, I’m a one-trick pony. I don’t know if he was getting bored, but I was. So I scoured the Internet, and after much deliberation, decided on this healthy eating, family-friendly cookbook by the “Meal Makeover Moms” :

Don’t be deterred by their gimmicky name– as Registered Dieticians, the Moms know their stuff. There were some other cookbooks that got great reviews like the The Sneaky Chef, but like I said, Jed’s not a picky eater so I wasn’t looking to hide the nutritious stuff… just looking for new, fun ways to cook it! So far I’ve tried two of the recipes and with both man and child, I’m batting a hundred.

Friday night, I made their Spaghetti Zucchini Pie. There’s no pie crust per say as it’s cooked in a baking dish (more of a casserole) but it’s delish! This pic from Fitness Magazine is way prettier than my final product:

No Whine With Dinner's Spaghetti Zucchini Pie via Fitness Magazine

But I was able to cut a square or two out that weren’t too embarrassing to look at:

Looks aside, it tasted great! For those who do have picky eaters at their table, the zucchini is shredded so you can hardly taste it. It definitely adds a lightness to the dish, though. As someone who’s cooking for a family of  zucchini lovers, I might add more in next time. Or maybe a squash to mix things up! I also like how the ingredients call for dried basil. I know I can always upgrade to fresh basil, but dry is much more budget-friendly and always in my spice cabinet. Fitness Magazine also shares the recipe here.

COOKING WITH KIDS? I let Jed (two-years-old) whisk the eggs and then mix the milk in with the eggs. He loves to whisk!

THE “DISH” DISH: Easy to Moderate. Immediately, I only had a mixing bowl, sauce pan and skillet. After we finished the leftovers (bonus!) the baking dish was a tad icky, but after a soak it wasn’t a big deal. If your dishwasher works better than mine, I’d just toss it in there.

Dave was on his way back in from Charlotte, so it was up to me to keep the home fires burning. After I made dinner, I made fire! (I will forgo the gratuitous image of Tom Hanks in a loincloth shouting at the night sky. And I will definitely spare you a pic of me in a loincloth.)

I was pretty proud of myself. With all of the stories on the news of places accidentally catching fire, I was amazed what a difficult time I had starting my own. But after 20 minutes (and the sacrifice of most all my knuckle hairs) it was a-blazin’!

Last night, I made the Sweet Chili Glazed and Walnut Crusted Tilapia only without the walnuts. We didn’t have walnuts, I’m not too crazy about them anyhow, and I was trying to avoid another trip to the store. This recipe came from the book’s Bloggers’ Best chapter, where they feature recipes from their favorite mom bloggers. This one is from Jenny over at Picky Palate. I was halfway into the preparation when I realized that I also didn’t have chili powder, so I substituted cayenne pepper and a little garlic powder. Of course I was way more careful with the cayenne than I would’ve have been with the chili powder. I little of that stuff goes a long way! But the heat of the cayenne ended up matching perfectly with the sweet of the honey in the glaze.

SWEET PLUS A LITTLE HEAT. Why show you mine when Jenny's looks SO much better? 🙂

Next time though, I’ll try the recipe in its original form: chili powder, walnuts and all!

COOKING WITH KIDS? Let them mix the bread crumbs together with the chili powder, salt and pepper. And then help brush on the honey glaze. Just like using a paint brush in art class!

THE “DISH” DISH: Easy. Just a small bowl for the honey, a dishwasher-safe shallow bowl for the bread crumb mixture and the skillet. I probably could’ve used an extra dish during prep, but one less dish to wash just meant a little more honey to wipe off the counter (and cookbook!).

What’s your go-to, kid-friendly cookbook or blog? Any favorite recipes? Please share!