Bless Your Cheesy Heart

Okay, so picture you’re at a Sunday picnic in the south – under a big, southern live oak tree that is dripping in Spanish moss. Everybody is still dressed from Sunday morning church services. The breeze is light but warm and carries the scent of pulled pork barbecue coming from the barbecue pit. The kids are playing hide and seek with one another, while Carol Ann can be heard in the background, hollering at her husband Joe Luke. According to Penny Jean, who heard it from Mary Grace while at the beauty parlor, who heard it from Tommi Lynn, who was told by Carol Ann during their weekly, boozy Bridge game – Joe Luke has been fixing a lot of leaky pipes, broken windows, and sqeaky doors at the new neighbors house. Apparently, this new neighbor likes to wear her pants so tight that you can see her religion. The pitchers of lemonade and sweet tea are starting to sweat as they sit out on the red and white checkered covered picnic tables. The buffet table is full of all kinds of grilled goodness from ribs, to burgers, to grilled shrimp kebobs. There’s a basket full of Grandma Mae’s famous fried chicken right next to a big bowl of bacon baked beans. There is corn bread, deviled eggs, and potato salad. And in the middle of a spread fit for a king, in all of its glory, there it sits, Pimento Cheese.

There isn’t a picnic, baby shower, birthday party, boozy Bridge game or any other gathering in the south without Pimento Cheese. Although, the south is known for this tasty spread – it actually originated in New York! Back in the mid to late 1800s, a soft and unripened cheese was developed which evolved into what we know today as cream cheese. Around the same time, Spain started exporting canned red spanish peppers over to the United States. It didn’t take long until someone had an “Ah-Ha” moment and married the two ingredients together, and thus Pimento Cheese was born. The first recipe for Pimento Cheese made its debut in 1908 in Good Housekeeping. The recipe called for cream cheese, minced pimento peppers, mustard and chives. It was such a heavenly combination that it started to be mass-produced in the south and made its way into everyone’s refrigerator.

Since then, the recipe has been adapted in many different ways. I’ve seen very basic recipes for it and very extravegant receipes for it. Mine is somewhere in middle. The most basic and most popular recipe in the south is cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. I hope you enjoy this recipe and that it becomes one of your party staples. Oh, and if you see Joe Luke, would you tell him to get the hell home? Carol Ann is about to have a duck fit with a tail on it. Good Lord, that boy ain’t got the sense God gave a goose. Bless his heart.

Pimento Cheese

DSC_0648-2

Ingredients:

The Cheese
16 oz Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 cup Mayonnaise
4 oz jar Pimento Peppers, drained and diced
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Serve with
Crackers
Pita Chips
Celery Sticks
Carrot Sticks
Green & Yellow Bell Pepper Slices

Directions:

1. Using a food processor or cheese grater, shred the cheddar cheese and place it in a large mixing bowl.

2. In the large mixing bowl, mix together the shredded cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, drained pimento peppers, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and mix again until everything in combined.

3. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Notes: **Stick with full flavor and full fat ingredients. This is not meant to be healthy.

**For Pimento Cheese Finger Sandwiches – Place the mixture between two slices of fresh, soft, white bread. Slice into quarters.

**For Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches – Take two pieces of white bread and spread a very thin layer of mayonnaise on one side of each slice. Add one slice of bread, mayo side down to a skillet, grill pan, or panini press. Spread a half-inch layer of Pimento Cheese on to that slice of bread and then top the cheese with the other slice of white bread, this time mayo side up. Cover and cook over medium heat until golden brown.

Written by Brendan

I am the oldest, funniest, and best looking of the three pieces of fruit to come from our parents loins. Hmmm… if I was a piece of fruit, I think I’d be a peach. Fuzzy on the outside, a little soft, a little juicy, and a big ol’ heart in center. I believe I was 17 years old. The year was 2003 (holy crap, that was 15 years ago?) when I decided to make the change and become a vegetarian. Born and raised in Northeast Pennsylvania, being a vegetarian was not all that common. And, because it wasn’t all that common, I had to figure out the vegetarian lifestyle all on my own. I quickly discovered how much more energy I had and how much better I felt. A few years later I met the macaroni to my cheese, the basil to my pesto, someone that really made my dough rise, the love of my life, Sarah. Many of you already know the story of our first date and are still wondering why she said yes to a second. For those that don’t know the story, I don’t know if you’re lucky or if you missed out. While only being together for 6 months, we decided to move in together. Actually, Sarah the Stalker found an apartment in Jim Thorpe, PA – where I lived. She had lived just 20 minutes away in one of the next towns over and couldn’t bare to be that far away from this piece of Porter House steak. Can you blame her? So, she bought me a tooth brush for her place and gave me a key, at which point it became our place. Here is where I rediscovered how much I loved to cook – by making our nightly dinners. Also, I may or may not have had a small obsession with Rachael Ray. Fast forward to 2016, and my now wife Sarah and I are moving to the Carne Asada capital of the world, Tucson, AZ. No more cold and no more snow! Tucson is a charming little city with a small town feel in Southern Arizona, about a stone’s throw away from Mexico. There is a lot of Mexican influence here from the street names, the adobe style homes, and the FOOD. The food is incredible here. There’s an old wives’ tale here about the salsa in Tucson. How hot the salsa is depends on how angry the lady in the kitchen making it is at her husband. We have had some mild salsas and we have had some salsas that made you feel like you sold your backside to el diablo. I’ve always had an interest in food, ever since I was a little kid. I have great memories of being in the kitchen with my grandparents and mom that inspire me to continue to cook for people and write recipes. Last June, with the support of my wife, I quit my career of 13 years in banking to focus on writing a cookbook. My cookbook will incorporate dishes I ate growing up, recipes I created, and a modern twist on some classics. My focus is not going to be strictly vegetarian recipes. I have plenty of recipes that include meat. My days start with a large cup of coffee and a walk on the treadmill or a hike through Saguaro National Park. It continues in the kitchen either testing a recipe, writing one, or working on my new website! The cookbook is taking longer than I anticipated, so I decided to start sharing my recipes online and to start to gather a following. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions and don’t forget to subscribe to never miss a recipe!

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