Set it and Forget It!

And no, I’m not talking about Ron Popeil’s Rotisserie oven, but mashed potatoes — in the slow cooker!

This has been a difficult and challenging year (last year was no picnic, either), so desire and time for this blog has been short. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t still be making some yummy things!

This Thanksgiving, I spent the holiday with my mom. (Her health, never very strong, has taken a most definite dive for the worse this year.) We actually had two Thanksgivings — one on the day, with ham, green bean casserole, spaghetti squash, and cornbread (which we used the next day for dressing). I did ham on Thanksgiving for a few reasons: 1) it was easy, 2) it gave the kids and grandkids a different meal to eat after the turkey meal eaten at my in-law’s, 3) it added some ham leftovers for ham sandwiches into the leftover mix, and 4) it gave us a delicious ham bone to freeze later for beans.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we hosted what we informally call “Thanksgiving II,” which we also shared with two dear friends of ours. This was the more traditional Thanksgiving meal and included Mashed Potatoes.

Potatoes have gotten a bad rap, bless their little eyes. ;-) Chris Voigt, head of the Washington State Potato Commission, got so fed up with all the trash talk about potatoes that he went on a potato-only diet for two months — and lost 21 pounds eating 20 potatoes a day!

As Wikipedia tells us:

The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols. Others found in potatoes are 4-O-caffeoylquinic (crypto-chlorogenic acid), 5-O-caffeoylquinic (neo-chlorogenic acid), 3,4-dicaffeoylquinic and 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acids. A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiaminriboflavinfolateniacinmagnesium,phosphorusiron, and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breadspastas, and cereals.

In terms of nutrition, the potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestine, and so reaches the large intestine essentially intact. This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage. The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.

Wanting to simplify the meal as much as possible, I was struck by an idea — why not make mashed potatoes in the slow cooker? I Googled and, after reviewing several recipes, inspired by this recipe:

I decided to give Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes a try.

While I will sometimes peel potatoes when I make mashed potatoes, I usually just scrub them really well and leave the skins on — not only is it faster and easier than peeling them, but it leaves in the nutrition and fiber from the skin. I first had mashed potatoes with the skins at Calico County Restaurant in Lawton, Oklahoma and I found them to be quite tasty.

I’m not too picky about what potatoes I use — I tend to go with whatever I have on hand or what looks good at the store. Red potatoes are a favorite, but I’ve also used Idaho and white potatoes. Last night, I did a mix of red and white potatoes.

I use 1% milk (skim is fine, too) and just a dollop of butter. The amounts depend upon the quantity of potatoes I’m making; I just add it in slowly, bit by bit — remember, you can always add in more, but you can’t take it back out!

These potatoes cook up to be sooo tender that they mash incredibly easily with a potato masher. My mom was shocked at how delicious these potatoes turned out (apparently, she’d had doubts about them but hadn’t said anything beforehand). From now on, if I’m making mashed potatoes for more than just a few folks, I’ll be doing them in the slow cooker! And if you have a slow cooker liner, clean-up will be a breeze, too!

These taste so yummy, you’ll be dancing the mashed potato! (Go on, give it a watch! The first link shows you how to do the dance; the video has the song. You know that watching them and singing and dancing along will do your heart and soul good!)



Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8 – 12, depending upon serving size; I’ve written this up for 3 pounds of potatoes, which is how I made it in my 3 1/2 quart slow cooker; you can increase or decrease based on your needs)

  • Approximately 3 pounds of potatoes, scrubbed well
  • Margarine or butter (amount depends upon quantity of potatoes, I used about 4 tablespoons or so, DIVIDED)
  • Approximately 1 cup chicken stock OR vegetable stock/broth (NOTE: I’ve found that stock has less sodium than reduced sodium broth)
  • Milk (1% or skim is fine; amount depends upon quantity of potatoes and how thick — or thin – -you want them)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (because I cooked with stock, I didn’t add any salt)
  1. Scrub the potatoes. Peel them, if desired — I leave the peel on and just cut away any unsavory-looking spots. Cut into good-sized chunks.
  2. Place a slow cooker liner in your slow cooker, if desired (this will make clean up easier).
  3. Place prepared potatoes in slow cooker. Pour in approximately 1 cup of stock or broth. Add a tablespoon or two of butter.
  4. Cover. Cook on high for 4 hours or so.
  5. Add in more butter (start with another tablespoon or two), some milk (start with just a splash or two), and season with salt and/or pepper as desired. Mash potatoes with a potato masher.  (NOTE: If you’re wanting to be fancier with your potatoes, you could also try adding in some light sour cream or fat-free Greek yogurt, some reduced-fat cream cheese, some garlic powder, maybe buttermilk in lieu of milk.)
  6. Keep warm in slow cooker until ready to serve. Remove to serving dish or serve from slow cooker.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers.


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It’s the Most Spook-tacular Time of Year!

The_nightmare_before_christmas_posterI love holidays and special occasions. I love almost any reason to build a celebration around. Life is often difficult (believe me, I know that this year more than ever before!); it’s important to find reasons for joy and celebration whenever one can.

I’ve always thought Halloween was fun, and often wished it were longer than just one night.

When I was n my mid 20s, I came across a book in the library by Anne Rice titled The Feast of All Saints. That was the first I’d heard of All Saints’ Day,” which is a religious holiday that Wikipedia tells us …”begins at Vespers on the evening of 31 October and ends at the close of 1 November. It is thus the day before All Souls’ Day.” I was intrigued by this holiday, but I also learned I was not an Anne Rice fan (I could not make it through that book; nor could I make it through Interview with a Vampire years later, so I’ve pretty much given up on her as an author for me).

Later on, I also learned of the Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos in Spanish. It, too, is celebrated on 01-November. As Wikiepedia tells us:

Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de Muertos) is a Mexican holiday observed throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico where the day is a bank holiday.

So for several years, I maintained a low-key observance of Day of the Dead, typically with some “spooky” leftovers and attitude from our Halloween festivities.

After all of the frustrations and chaos that this year has brought thus far, I have been especially looking forward to reasons to celebrate and be festive. Already happy that Halloween falls on a Friday this year, I decided to do a bit more research into both Halloween and Day of the Dead, and you cannot imagine how thrilled I was to discover a heretofore unknown holiday to me of Hallowtide, which can also be referred to as Hallowmas!

Yes, that’s right — it’s like the Nightmare Before Christmas!! :-)

As handy, dandy Wikipedia tells us:

AllhallowtideHallowtideAllsaintstide, or the Hallowmas season, is the triduum encompassing the Western Christian observances of All Hallows’ Eve (Hallowe’en), All Saints’ Day (All Hallows’) and All Souls’ Day, which last from October 31 to November 2 annually. Allhallowtide is a time to remember the dead, including martyrs, saints, and all faithful departed Christians. The present date of Hallowmas (All Saints’ Day) and thus also of its vigil (Hallowe’en) was established for Rome perhaps by Pope Gregory III (731-741) and was made of obligation throughout the Frankish Empire by Louis the Pious in 835. Elsewhere, other dates were observed even later, with the date in Ireland being 20 April. It was only in the early 11th century that the modern date of All Souls’ Day was popularized, after Abbot Odilo established it as a day for the monks of Cluny and associated monasteries to pray for the dead.

So this year, I’m looking forward to three days of spook-tacular celebrations — which will also include some somber contemplation of loved ones who have passed on.

Happy Hallowmas! :-) May your spooky treats be yummy and may no mean tricks come your way.


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I’ll share my Hallowmas tricks and treats on my Facebook page as time permits :-)

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Easy Bake Oven

Easy Bake OvenDid you have an Easy Bake Oven when you were a kid? I did, and I loved it. :-) As I recall, I got it for my 8th birthday, or maybe it was the Christmas just before I turned 8. (And no, that’s not me in the pic — it’s from Wikipedia ;-) LOL.)

As much as I enjoy cooking, there are times when I want or need meals to be very simple and involve the least bit of labor possible, such as when I’m busy with other things (work, some sort of project/task/chore, or something fun, like watching a movie, reading a good book, playing a game, visiting with family or friends, or spending time with a four-legged furry family member), overly tired, not feeling well, or whatever. And while hubby and I will sometimes eat out or bring back take-out when I’m feeling that way, I still generally prefer preparing something or other at home, because even a meal prepared with some convenience products is more likely to be far and away healthier and more affordable than restaurant food or TV dinners.

Meet Maisie Dobbs! :-)

Meet Maisie Dobbs! :-)

Speaking of furry family members: Those of you who know me and/or have been following on my blog or Facebook page know that 2014 has been a difficult one for my beloved and me in more ways than one.  I will never be so glad to see the end of a year as I will this one. One happy note with this year, though — the Wednesday before Labor Day (27-August-14), a stray puppy showed up on our doorstep. She is ADORABLE and she adopted us immediately. After checking around for any “lost” posters for her and waiting over the long weekend to see if anyone came searching for her, we decided she could be ours and took her in to our vet’s (where they also checked her for a microchip — no chip). She is part Jack Russell terrier and other terrier mix. The vet estimated her age to be 4 -5 months old when we brought her in the day after Labor Day. She’s gotten two rounds of her puppy shots, and she has an appointment to be be spayed in mid October. Although hubby and I typically aren’t small dog people, this puppy has a big dog heart, and we both think that our late, beloved Sid and Big Dog conferred on their side of the Rainbow Bridge and sent this pup our way. We have named her Maisie Dobbs in honor of the character in Jacqueline Winspear’s books. No doubt, some uncaring soul dumped a loving, spirited, intelligent, beautiful creature and left her to fend for herself; we are so very grateful that she found us.

Maisie, ever vigilant in her search for gophers and moles. (She likes chasing after birds, too!)

Maisie, ever vigilant in her search for gophers and moles. (She likes chasing after birds, too!)

Maisie and Scraggles (so named because she was the sorriest, scrawniest, scraggliest looking stray we’d ever seen), a stray cat on whom hubby and I took pity in August 2012, have developed a wonderful “sister-ship” and get along quite well, often playing together and they’ve reached the point that they will curl up together on the recliner or couch with one of us or in the bed at night with both of us. Of course, it helps that Maisie is “cat-sized” now and will only grow to be a bit bigger than Scraggles (Scraggles is typically around 10 to 10 1/2 pounds; Maisie is expected to reach about 15 pounds when she’s grown).

Our Scraggles -- she's put on a couple more pounds since this photo in 2012 and now typically weighs 10 to 10.5 pounds.

Our Scraggles — she’s put on a couple more pounds since this photo in 2012 and now typically weighs 10 to 10.5 pounds.

Anyway, yesterday was one of those days I wanted an easy supper — one I didn’t have to futz with  — so that I would have more time free to relax, read, watch a Midsomer Murders with my hubby via Netflix, and play with Maisie and Scraggles. I decided on cheese ravioli. In and of itself, this is an easy and quick enough meal when you use frozen ravioli and doctor up your favorite prepared pasta sauce (I’m partial to Hunt’s Garlic and Herb or No Sugar Added sauces, myself): you heat the sauce while you boil water, cook and drain the pasta, then toss together. Add a tossed green salad and a bit of bread, if you like, and you’ve got a meal!

But that was more hands-on than I wanted, because you have to stir the simmering sauce and tend to the boiling water. So, inspired by Betty Crocker’s Easy Ravioli Bake, I decided to bake the ravioli instead. This takes longer than the more traditional boiling method, but it’s all hands-off time once you’re done with the prep. Also, because it bakes at a relatively low 350F, it wouldn’t overheat your kitchen too much if you wanted to make it in the summer.

You can have lots of fun with this recipe and shake it up in different ways:

  • The Ravioli: Use the frozen ravioli, which is typically much more affordable — and more convenient — than the fresh. I used cheese ravioli, but you can use whatever kind you like — mushroom ravioli, spinach ravioli, meat-filled ravioli, whatever floats your boat and is available in the freezer section of your store. 
  • The Sauce: You can make your own sauce, of course, but I’ve found that a tin of Hunt’s Pasta Sauce is the perfect amount of sauce for a package of frozen ravioli. Also, I’m doing this for an easy meal, remember? I always like to dress up the sauce a bit with some additional basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, parsley, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a bit of fra diavolo flavor, and a nice splash of Worcestershire sauce and a bit of red wine.
  • The Cheese and Vegetables: Betty Crocker’s recipe calls for quite a bit of cheese. Now don’t get me wrong, hubby and I adore cheese, but the cheese was overdone for my taste, especially since I was using cheese ravioli. (Also, no doubt it is the copious amounts of cheese that prompted Betty to divide it into 8 servings instead of the 5 one typically gets from a package of frozen ravioli.) I cut back on the cheese and added in some fresh vegetables — this is another time-saving step in baking it as opposed to the more traditional method, as I didn’t need to sauté the vegetables first. I used fresh mushroom and diced yellow bell pepper, but you can add in some of whatever sounds yummy to you — zucchini, eggplant, whatever makes you happy. Or you can leave the vegetables out — sometimes I like my ravioli with added vegetables; sometimes, not. ;-) If I were making this with other than cheese ravioli, I might use more cheese.

This smells so yummy as it bakes, you’ll find yourself having visions of Italy while you sip a glass of vino. ;-) (Go on, give it a listen — it’s a bouncy song with some glorious pics of Italy in it.)


Easy Baked Ravioli (Serves 5 to 6)

  •  26 to 28 ounces of your favorite commercial pasta sauce (I like Hunt’s Garlic and Herb or No Sugar Added sauces)
  • Package of frozen ravioli (around 25 to 28 ounces) (I used cheese ravioli)
  • Mozzarella cheese to taste (about 3 or 4 ounces)
  • Parmesan cheese to taste (couple – three tablespoons — just sprinkle it)
  • Sliced vegetables and/or fresh herbs to taste, if desired

1. Lightly spray with cooking spray or oil a 9″x13″ pan. (I used my festive red lasagna pan.) If desired, doctor up the pasta sauce (I always like to dress up the sauce a bit with some additional basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic powder, parsley, a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for a bit of fra diavolo flavor, and a nice splash of Worcestershire sauce and a bit of red wine). Vegetarians: Leave out the Worcestershire sauce or use a vegetarian equivalent.

2. Spread a layer of sauce along the bottom of the pan (about 1/4 of the sauce). Place about half the frozen ravioli in the pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with some sliced fresh vegetables, if desired — I have gobs of fresh basil, so I added in some fresh basil, along with some sliced fresh mushrooms and diced yellow bell pepper. Top with about half or a little less than half of the remaining sauce and sprinkle with a bit of Parmesan and a small bit of mozzarella cheese. Vegetarians: Use a vegetarian Parmesan cheese or another kind of cheese.

Layer the 1st. ;-)

Layer the 1st. ;-)

3. Layer remaining ravioli and vegetables. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with some more Parmesan and mozzarella.

Layer the 2nd ;-)

Layer the 2nd ;-)

4. Lightly spray with cooking spray or oil a sheet of aluminum foil. Tightly cover the casserole. Bake at 350F for 50 minutes; remove foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. IMPORTANT NOTE: I did not preheat my oven before baking. If your oven is preheated, then reduce initial baking time to 40 minutes before you remove the foil.

Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

Let's Eat!

Let’s Eat!

Buon Appetito!

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Posted in Main Dish, Pasta, Uncategorized, Vegetarian/Meatless | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Purple People Eater?

eggplantNah, it’s something purple that people can eat. ;-)

Perusing the Kraft Food website one day, I felt inspired by one of their recipes for Eggplant Parmesan. Unlike most recipes for this meatless dish, this recipe doesn’t require breading and frying the eggplant. Chock-a-block with mushrooms and fresh eggplant, it has a rich taste, but isn’t heavy at all.

Every time I make this dish, I marvel at how I could have forgotten how good it tastes.

Much to my surprise, it turns out that eggplant is 1) technically a berry and 2) is a member of the deadly nightshade family! :-o

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a species of nightshade commonly known in British English as aubergine and also known as melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal. It bears a fruit of the same name (commonly either “eggplant” in American, Australian English and sometimes Canadian English, or “aubergine” in British English and Canadian English) that is widely used in cooking, most notably as an important ingredient in dishes such as moussaka and ratatouille. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to both the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated in India and Bangladesh from the wild nightshade, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum.

The fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids(being a relative of tobacco).

The most time-consuming part of this delicious dish is slicing and “sweating” the eggplant and cleaning and slicing the mushrooms. For ease, I purchase pasta sauce (I’m partial to Hunt’s Garlic and Herb or Hunt’s No-Sugar Added sauces, as neither has the abundance of sugars and fats typically added to commercially available sauces) and doctor it up a bit more with herbs to boost the flavor, but you can use 2 1/2 to 3 cups of your favorite homemade pasta sauce if you prefer.

You can peel the eggplant if you prefer, but I like to leave the skin on. Lightly sprinkling it with salt and letting it rest in a colander, then rinsing or wiping it down before using it in the recipe will help keep your sauce from being runny.

This yummy dish is comforting enough for a family meal but elegant enough to serve to company.

Add a tossed salad, bread, and a glass (or two! ;-) ) of red wine (Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel is absolutely divine with this dish!), and you’ll be so happy to be a person eating purple that you might break out into song! ;-)

Easy and Light Eggplant Parmesan (Serves 4 to 6 as main dish)

  • 1 large eggplant (approximately 1 1/4 pounds), sliced
  • 8 ounces (1/2 pound) fresh mushrooms
  • 6 to 8 ounces (1 1/2 to 2 cups) mozzarella (do yourself a favor and shred your own!)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup grated Parmesan (Vegetarians: Use a vegetarian Parm or substitute a different cheese)
  • Can or jar (24 to 28 ounces) of your favorite pasta sauce (I like to add some additional seasonings to boost the flavor)

1. Slice eggplant. Lightly salt and layer in colander to drain.

2. Gently clean and slice mushrooms.

3. If desired, boost the flavor of your pasta sauce with some additional (I like to add in some basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sprinkling of red pepper flakes, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce — vegetarians, leave out the Worcestershire).

4. Lightly oil or spray 13″x9″ pan with cooking spray. Wipe and/or rinse and wipe dry the eggplant slices. Layer approximately half or just over half of the eggplant slices and about half of the sliced mushrooms in the dish. I like to try and cover the bottom of the pan as well as I can with the eggplant slices, so you may use a bit more than half of the eggplant.

First Yummy Layer of the Eggplant and Mushrooms

First Yummy Layer of the Eggplant and Mushrooms

5.  Sprinkle with approximately 1/3 of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Top with remaining eggplant and mushrooms. Sprinkle with about half of the remaining cheeses.

Things are looking kinda cheesy! ;-)

Things are looking kinda cheesy! ;-)

6. Pour pasta sauce over all.

Pour on the sauce!

Pour on the sauce!


Looking and feeling saucy! ;-)

Looking and feeling saucy! ;-)

7. Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray a sheet of aluminum foil and tightly cover dish. Bake at 400F for 35 to 45 minutes, until bubbly and eggplant is softened. (I typically don’t preheat my oven for this dish and just bake it for 45 minutes instead of 35.)

8. Remove from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to oven until cheese is melted, about 5 or 10 minutes (I usually just turn the oven off and let the residual heat do the job). Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.

This smells -- and tastes -- so yummy!

This smells — and tastes — so yummy!

Buon Appetito!

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Want Some Southern Caviar? ;-)

Southern StatesThe American South.  My late father’s “people,” as we say in the South, are from Tennessee (many in the Knoxville area); my mom’s, southeastern Kentucky.  And one of the things Southerners take seriously is food — we’re serious about our food, be it humble but heartily delicious pinto beans and cornbread or something more elegant, such as a Mint Julep sipped at a Derby Party.

One quintessentially Southern dish is Pimento Cheese. As Wikipedia tells us:

 Pimento cheese is a common food preparation in the Southern United States, a spread or relish made with cheese. It is affectionately known as “the caviar of the South”. The basic recipe has few ingredients: sharp cheddar cheese orprocessed cheese (such as Velveeta or American cheese), mayonnaise, pimentos, salt and pepper, blended to either a smooth or chunky paste. Regional ingredients include cream cheese, Louisiana-style hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeños, onions, garlic, and dill pickles.

Pimento cheese can be served as a spread on crackers or celery, scooped onto corn chips or tortilla chips, mixed in with mashed yolks for deviled eggs, added to grits, or slathered over hamburgers or hotdogs. Pimento cheese can also be used to replace the sliced cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich.

A pimento cheese sandwich may be a quick and inexpensive lunch for children, or it may be served as a cocktail finger food (with crusts trimmed, garnished with watercress, and cut into triangles) or rolled up and cut into pinwheels. Pimento cheese sandwiches are a signature item at the Masters Tournament. Minor controversy ensued in 2013 when the Augusta National Golf Club switched food suppliers for the Masters but were unable to duplicate the recipe used by the previous supplier, resulting in a sandwich with a markedly different taste. It is also a common snack in thePhilippines, where it is referred to as cheese pimento.

Pimento CheeseSo last Monday, inspired by an absolutely delicious recipe for Juddi’s Pimento Cheese in an issue of Texas Co-Op Magazine, I decided to make up a batch of homemade Pimento Cheese for a supper of homemade Tomato Soup with Pimento Cheese sandwiches.

Me being me, I adhered to the basics of Juddi’s fabulous recipe, but I lightened it up a bit. Some tips for making your own yummy Pimento Cheese at home:

  • Grate your own cheese, peoples! The cheese will taste better, be fresher, and will work better in your recipe. I used cheddar (you can use yellow or a white cheddar or a combo of each), but you can use almost any cheese combo you might like. For easy clean-up, just spritz your grater lightly with non-stick cooking spray or cooking oil.
  • Use a small food processor or blender to finely dice the onion and olive.
  • Can’t do raw onion, but you don’t want to lose that onion taste? Sauté the finely minced onion in a lightly sprayed non-stick skillet, let it cool, and then stir into your cheese mixture.
  • For a nice balance between creamy sweet and tasty zip, I used a combination of reduced fat mayonnaise and light Miracle Whip (salad dressing). You could also probably sub out fat-free Greek yogurt for the light Miracle Whip, which would add in a bit more protein.
  • Don’t worry about exact measurements — this is a sandwich filling/spread/dip! Just remember the Golden Rule: You can always add in more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there!

So go on — fix yourself some of the yummy, homey comfort that is Pimento Cheese. If you want to be fancy with it, say it’s Southern Caviar ;-)

It’s one of the things I like about the South! ;-)


Lighter Pimento Cheese

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) full fat cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces chopped pimentos, drained
  • 3 teaspoons capers (just eyeball it!)
  • Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup finely minced onion (I used my little food processor)
  • Approximately 1/3 to 1/2 cup of chopped green olives with pimentos, drained (I whizzed up part of a jar of sliced olives in my wee food processor)
  • Approximately 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • Approximately 1/3 cup light salad dressing (I used Miracle Whip)
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, gently stir together cheeses, pimentos, onion, capers, and olives. Gently stir in mayonnaise and salad dressing. Taste (remember that flavors will meld together) and adjust seasonings as desired. See Juddi Morris’ original recipe for some delicious add-in suggestions:
  2. Keep refrigerated. Will stay fresh in refrigerator for a week or more.

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Posted in Appetizer, Main Dish, Salad Filling, Sandwich, Vegetarian/Meatless | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What Say You?

Okay, for the faithful few who read my blog (all 8 of you! ;-) LOL), I’ve tried out some yummy new things lately, even despite the chaos that this year has been.

So let me know which of these interest you — and if you have a special challenge you want me to tackle, let me know either by specifying in the “Other” or with a comment.

Posted in Poll | Tagged | 1 Comment

Désolé, Charlie

When I was a youngster, I always felt sorry for poor Charlie:

(C’mon. Watch it. It’s only 61 seconds of your life!)

He was being excluded. His feelings were being hurt. This made me feel badly for him.

Then, somewhere along the line, I realized that by being turned down, it meant he was NOT being turned into a tin of tuna. Although I loved tuna then — as I do now — I had trouble wrapping my pre-adolescent mind around why in the world Charlie would WANT to be turned into a can of tuna.

Years of intensive psychotherapy followed. ;-) (Just teasing.)

This past Monday was Bastille Day. Hubby and I kept our celebrations more as a kind of homage or nod to French food this year as opposed to being more authentically French, but for our lunch today, I made us my take on a Pan Bagnat — a French tuna salad sandwich. As Wikipedia tells us:

The Pan-bagnat (Occitanpan banhat for bathed/wet bread) is a sandwich that is a specialty of the region of Nice,France. The sandwich is composed of pain de campagne, whole wheat bread formed in a circle, although white breadis also sometimes used, around the classic Salade Niçoise, a salad composed mainly of raw vegetableshard boiled eggsanchovies and/or tuna, and olive oil (never mayonnaise). Sometimes balsamic vinegar, ground pepper, and salt will also be added.

The name of the sandwich comes from the local Provençal languageNiçard, in which pan-banhat and the alternative spelling pan-bagnat mean “bathed/wet bread”. It is often misspelled “pain bagnat”, with the French pain rather that genuine local pan.

The pan-bagnat is a popular lunchtime dish in the region around Nice where it is sold in most bakeries and markets. Pan-bagnat and the salade niçoise (salade nissardo), along with ratatouille (La Ratatouia Nissardo in Provençal),socca and pissaladière are strongly linked to the city of Nice, where they have been developed over time out of local ingredients.

Inspired by the following recipe at About.Com French Food —

I make mine with quite a bit less oil, and toward that end, I use water-packed albacore tuna instead of tuna packed in olive oil.

This makes for a light, tasty, rather sophisticated tuna salad sandwich. Although you can make it and eat it fresh — that’s what we did today — it’s also perfect to pack for a lunch or picnic, as well. A baguette will hold up better for packing it to eat later; a steak or sub roll or French bread, lightly toasted, works best if you want to make and eat it fresh.

So the next time you want a lighter, fresher twist on the staple tuna salad, make a Pan Bagnat, pour yourself a glass of wine or sparkling water, and pretend you’re in Nice, Franc. :-)

Bon Appétit!

Pan Bagnat (Number of servings depend upon amount of tuna)

  • Albacore tuna packed in water, drained (a 10 ounce can will make about 3 to 4 sandwiches)
  • Capers to taste (a couple of tablespoons for a 10 or so ounce can)
  • Red onion, sliced thinly and then chopped, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar to taste (I’m generous with mine)
  • Coarse ground black pepper to taste
  • Olive oil to taste
  • Minced garlic to taste
  • Thinly sliced tomato
  • Baguette or other desired bread (a baguette will hold up better for packing it to eat later; a steak or sub roll or French bread, lightly toasted, works best if you want to make and eat it fresh)
  1. In a small bowl, mix a tablespoon or two (eyeball it) of olive oil with minced garlic. If using a baguette, split and spread the garlic-seasoned oil lightly on the inside halves of the bread. If using a steak roll, submarine roll, or French bread, split bread and lightly toast it before spreading the inside halves of the bread lightly with the garlic-seasoned oil.
  2. In another bowl, toss  together drained and flaked albacore tuna, capers, minced red onion, and coarse ground black pepper. Add in remaining garlic-flavored olive oil and season with red wine vinegar. Toss together, taste, and add additional olive oil and/or red wine vinegar until desired flavor and consistency is achieved. Remember, easy does it! You can always add in a bit more oil or vinegar, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there!
  3. Place sliced tomato on one halve of bread. Top with desired amount of tuna mixture. Top with other half of bread. TO ENJOY LATER: Wrap sandwich tightly in cling wrap and keep chilled until you’re ready to eat.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers.

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