Monday, November 26, 2012

This is not your mama's pimento cheese.

Last Sunday while filling my paper plate to its maximum capacity at a church covered dish supper I was trying to figure out how to load my plate with veg-all casserole, fried chicken, and cheesy potatoes without anything touching. I was also thinking about Southern food. In the South there are certain recipes that vary greatly from household to household. Recipes are passed down from generation to generation and often cause disputes among families that go like this: Mom: "I want to make my mom's potato salad" Dad: "No I'm making My mom's potato salad. I don't like your mom's" When I think about dishes like this three things instantly come to mind, chicken salad, deviled eggs, and pimento cheese.
I know chicken salad isn't really a strictly southern thing but in the south chicken salad is a big deal. It is served at every funeral, wedding, birthday party, and shower. When it comes to chicken salad for me there are a lot of factors going on. Is the chicken shredded, chopped, or cubed? Is the dressing sweet, mustard based, or simple with just a little mayo? Whats in it? celery? pickles? herbs? There are a lot of variations. For me its all about finely shredded sweet chicken salad with finely diced celery and pickles.
As far as deviled eggs go they may seem pretty self explanatory. You know egg yolk, mayo, pickles, and mustard. However the amount of mustard and pickles changes everything. Also there are huge texture differences in some peoples deviled eggs. Some people like the filling wet, others like it stiff like frosting.  Personally I will eat any deviled egg that is set in front of me, unless it has dijon mustard in it. Blech!
Finally pimento cheese. Again, this seems self explanatory grated cheddar, pimentos, and mayo. However after sampling a fair amount of pimento cheese I've noticed a lot of differences. Some people use very thick  pre shredded cheese and it makes for something more like a salad. Some people just add mayo. I do it really differently. I grew up eating my grandmothers pimento cheese and basically wen't in the opposite direction. I like mine spicy, with finely grated extra sharp cheddar, a scant amount of mayo, and a spreadable texture. This is my pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese with a kick

14 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup of Dukes mayo (yes it has to be Dukes)
1 4oz jar of pimentos
2 clove of garlic finely minced
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Shred the cheese in your food processor using the proper attachment, if you don't own a food processor with the proper attachment take a brief moment to cry and brace for yourself for a grueling workout on the box grater.
Transfer the shredded cheese to a bowl and fold in the mayo with a rubber spatula, followed by the pimentos. Finally fold in the pepper and garlic. By folding each ingredient separately it gives the pimento cheese the right texture.
Allow the mixture to chill in the fridge for at lest 30 minutes.
Spread on ritz crackers, make teach sandwiches like my grandmother did, or my personal favorite spread on bread and grill on a panini grill.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sorry for my lack of posting this week but I've been on a bit of roller coaster ride. Last Sunday a newspaper in Florida called me for a phone interview for a reporter position. Monday they called and offered me a job. Wednesday I left to go and check out the town and the paper to see if I liked the area. After going back and forth between excitement at the thought of breaking out on my own and fear at the thought of leaving my family and loved ones and moving 12 hours away I had decided I would take the job. I came home Friday and began packing the next day. I also started trying to reach the editor of the paper to try and tell him I would accept the job, but he wasn't answering, which made me nervous. In all of our communication thus far he had always answered his phone. I finally got a hold of him yesterday only to have him tell me that the corporate office had decided they couldn't afford another writer and so I found myself back at square one, with a lot of stuff to unpack and a long list of people to tell that I wasn't moving. Needless to say I didn't find the time to bake something up for you all. I promise I will make it up to you soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Frozen pumpkin cheesecake

For once my family has actually gotten a jump on Thanksgiving. Typically the day before Thanksgiving is a mad rush to find recipes, buy ingredients, and menu plan, which is probably why every year we end up with enough food to feed a small country. We always get carried away with the appetizers and then by the time we sit down, at 8:30 mind you, no one is really all that hungry. This year we had a pre-Thanksgiving conference several weeks ago and drew up a menu. We limited it to three appetizers, classic dishes, two extra sides, and three desserts. All of this careful planning is held together by one golden rule "No changes without substitution" i.e. no adding dishes at the last minute. Luckily, this recipe made the cut.

A few months ago my aunt made an awesome mocha ice cream pie and when I saw pumpkin ice cream in the grocery store I figured I could replicate it with a different flavor profile and a few tweaks. Her recipe called for marshmallow fluff originally but freezing the pie caused little chunks of fluff to turn into marshmallow  pebbles. So I decided to skip the fluff and opted for Cool Whip, it helps keep the pie light and creamy. The cream cheese mixed with the ice cream really does make this easy pie taste like cheesecake and the ginger snap crust is a nod to the Cheesecake Factory's pumpkin cheesecake. I'm really proud of this recipe and can't wait to serve it to my family, hopefully you'll do the same.

Frozen pumpkin cheesecake

Gingersnap crust
1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups gingersnap cookies

Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.
Place cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the you get a fine crumb.
Drizzle the melted butter into the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Press into a 9 inch spring form pan and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

1 quart sized tub of pumpkin ice cream (I used Eddy's)
1 tub of cool whip
1 8oz. block of cream cheese

Place the ice cream and cool whip on the counter to thaw until they are soft and pliable.
Place the cream cheese on a microwave safe plate and microwave for 1 minute. Place the cream cheese into a large bowl and stir until smooth. Whisk in the thawed cool whip until lump free. Then whisk in the ice cream.
Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and freeze for 4-6 hours.
To release the pie let it set on the counter for a minute or two and then run a thin knife around the edge. If you just try and spring the pan the pie will crack.
Top with fresh whipped cream, crumbled ginger snaps, and caramel sauce.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nutella French Toast

Sorry for the delayed blogging. Life got a little crazy this week. I was short on ingredients for what I originally wanted to make so I had to resort to a back up plan. However, that's probably fitting because that is how this recipe came to be in the first place.
I served as an arts and entertainment editor for my school newspaper for a year and a half and in my last year there I started a recipe column. It sort of took the place of this blog for a little while. I was trying to achieve the same goal with it that I am now with this blog, all original recipes all the time, but with a college flair. A.k.a easy cheap recipes. I was digging through the cabinets in my apartment one night looking for things that I could piece together to create a recipe for my quickly approaching dead line and I found several things that almost everyone has lying around: nutella, bread, and eggs. French toast seemed like and obvious solution and so this brain child was born. It's super easy, can be made for one or many, and most of all is
tasty. The other thing about it is that it's impressive. If you top it with whipped cream and berries and serve as breakfast in bed to your sweet heart they'll be sure to feel spoiled.

Nutella French Toast

8 slices of bred (wheat or white)
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
1/2 Tbs. cinnamon

Take two slices of bread and spread each one with a layer of Nutella, how much you use is really up to you.  Make a sandwich with your two pieces of bread repeat with the rest of the bread, set aside.
Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip both sides of your sandwich into the egg mixtures and place in a lightly buttered pan over medium head until golden brown on both sides.
Sever with a drizzle of chocolate syrup or fresh whipped cream and sliced strawberries.