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Lanie’s Pimiento Cheese

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Since last month’s Inspire Women Inner Circle was a dessert fest, today I wanted to take something more substantial to share with the ladies. Pimiento cheese sandwiches on mini Hawaiian rolls sounded like a good autumn sandwich, and they were a hit! Here’s the story of my affair with pimiento cheese…

I had never heard of pimiento cheese until I lived in Memphis – it’s a southern thing. A friend wanted to buy a pimento cheese sandwich at the gas station convenience store, so that was a disgusting introduction, imo. I was re-introduced to this southern spread by my father-in-law who buys a certain pricey brand. And then one of my colleagues brought her famous dill pimiento cheese spread to an office pot luck, and I was inspired that I too could make homemade pimiento cheese. I tweek my friend’s recipe to make it my own by mashing softened cream cheese with the mayo for a little tang, and I serve pimiento cheese spread on mini Hawaiian rolls. This is my recipe:

16 oz (1 lb) sharp cheddar cheese block, shredded (I used a blend of 2 Trader Joe’s sharp cheddars. It is important for the recipe to buy block cheese and shred it on a box grater.)
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup real mayo
4 oz jar pimientos, strained and chopped (Reserve the pimiento juice.)
1-2 Tbs fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
Finely ground black pepper
2 packages mini Hawaiian rolls

Start straining the pimientos so they will be well-strained. Shred the block cheddar with a cheese grater. Mash together softened cream cheese and mayo to achieve a consistency which will mix into the shredded cheese. Add the shredded cheese to the cream cheese/mayo and mix; add the chopped pimientos and mix; add the chopped dill and mix; add seasonings and mix. Add 1-2 Tbs reserved pimiento juice to thin cheese spread to achieve desired consistency.

Notes: If time permits, make the day before so the flavors may get acquainted; pimiento cheese is even better the next day. Serve on mini Hawaiian rolls or with Wheat Thins.

 

 

Pumpkin Muffins

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Because I adore pumpkin recipes for fall, I wondered if I could modify my award-winning applesauce muffins (August 2016 archives) by substituting canned pumpkin. Yes! Here is my updated recipe:

Cream together: 1/2 cup softened butter + 1 cup sugar.
Mix in: 1 egg.
Sift together: 2 cups unbleached flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1+1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
Measure into measuring cup: 1 cup canned pumpkin.
Alternately add and mix flour mixture and pumpkin into creamed mixture, beginning and finishing with dry mixture.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup dried raisins (I’ve been favoring golden raisins). Pour boiling water over raisins and let fruit soak to plump. Strain plumped raisins and fold into muffin batter.

Scoop muffin batter into cupcake tin lined with cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef large scoop or an ice cream scoop is a perfect size for portioning muffin batter.) Bake @ 375* 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and the toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove individual muffins to wire rack to cool.

Note: I had only a dozen cupcake papers, and the recipe makes 15-18 muffins, so I portioned the extra batter into mini cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef mini scoop is the perfect size for portioning mini muffins.) I don’t have mini cupcake tins (Santa, baby…), so I stood the cupcake papers in a pie dish to fill and bake them. Bake mini muffins 15-18 minutes, until muffins are set on top. Super cute for quick breakfast or little snacks!

Award-Winning Applesauce Muffins

Back-to-school season causes me to crave applesauce muffins. Something comforting about the spices and raisins suggests autumn is coming even though temperatures are still hitting the 80s in humid Houston. I loved when Mom made these applesauce cupcakes (I call them muffins now), and I won with this recipe in the Marion Star cooking contest when I was in 8th grade. I remember Mom helping me decide if I should enter the children’s category or the baking category, and I chose to enter the baking category, so some adults were not thrilled when a middle-school kid took the honor. I also remember one of my best friends coming to the mall for the event to cheer me on and my teachers making a big deal of my accomplishment at school the next day. This is my family’s recipe:

Cream together: 1/2 cup softened butter + 1 cup sugar.
Mix in: 1 egg.
Sift together: 2 cups unbleached flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1+1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup unsweetened applesauce.
Alternately add and mix flour mixture and applesauce into creamed mixture, beginning and finishing with dry mixture.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup dried raisins (I’ve been favoring golden raisins). Pour boiling water over raisins and let fruit soak to plump. Strain plumped raisins and fold into muffin batter.

Scoop muffin batter into cupcake tin lined with cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef large scoop or an ice cream scoop is a perfect size for portioning muffin batter.) Bake @ 375* 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and the toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove individual muffins to wire rack to cool.

Serve with love! Applesauce muffins are a wonderful treat because they can pass for a healthy breakfast-on-the-go or lunchbox or after-school snack. I’ve also packaged warm muffins in a cutesy basket to share at a ladies’ gathering or the office. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I baked in the morning and was rushing out the door…

…Ahh, but Mom had the brilliant idea to dig up the press photo from 1979. So, to prove I really did win the Marion Star cooking contest (and to demonstrate I am not vain by my willingness to post this tragic middle-school picture on the forever web), here I am so extremely excited to display my award-winning applesauce cupcakes. I do not remember if I thought I was having a good hair day.
muffins

Lanie’s Pink-berry Ice Cream

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One of my co-workers at Tammy Bateman Properties office raved about a black raspberry ice cream, so I was inspired to make some for us. I modified my strawberry lime ice cream recipe (June 2016 archives) and think I got the blackberry/raspberry fruit ratio right on the first try. Because the ice cream is very pink and not blackberry in color, I named my flavor pink-berry. Here is my latest berry ice cream creation:

2 hours in advance, in a small bowl combine:
1 cup fresh blackberries, rinsed;
2 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed;
1/2 cup sugar;
1/4 cup fresh orange juice (juice 1 orange).
Let berries macerate. When it’s time to mix the ice cream, strain berries and reserve berry juice. Mash half the berries to mix in the ice cream mix, and reserve half to add in later.

In a large mixing bowl, mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved (2 minutes):
1 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup sugar.

Stir in:
2 cups heavy cream;
1/2 berries, mashed;
Reserved berry juice;
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.

Add in:
Reserved berries.
Let mix another 5 minutes.
Ice cream will be soupy. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up. If you can wait long enough that ice cream is frozen hard, remove from freezer to soften for about 10 minutes before scooping.

If seeds are a problem, strain seeds from berry mixture. This sounded too tedious to me, and I think my friends at work agreed the occasional seed adds texture to the creamy deliciousness. Enjoy!

Unpaid ad, but FYI: My ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.

Lanie’s Strawberry (lime) Ice Cream

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I am blessed each month to attend Inspire Women’s Inner Circle where the sweet staff and wonderful teacher, Anita Carman, refresh and encourage women’s ministry leaders. Since one of my personal missions is to “feed the sheep,” I enjoy taking a dish to share for the refreshments. Because the summer heat has hit Houston, this month I offered cold, sweet, homemade strawberry ice cream for the sisters. Here is my strawberry ice cream creation:

2 hours in advance, in a small bowl combine:
1 pint fresh strawberries; rinsed, hulled, thinly sliced;
1/2 cup sugar;
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice (juice 1/2 lemon);
2 Tbs fresh lime juice (juice 2 limes).
Let berries macerate. When it’s time to mix the ice cream, strain berries and reserve strawberry juice. Mash half the berries to mix in the ice cream mix, and reserve half to add in later.

In a large mixing bowl, mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved (2 minutes):
1 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup sugar.

Stir in:
2 cups heavy cream;
1/2 berries, mashed;
Reserved strawberry juice;
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.

Add in:
Reserved berries.
Let mix another 5 minutes.
Ice cream will be soupy. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up. If you can wait long enough that ice cream is frozen hard, remove from freezer to soften for about 10 minutes before scooping.

This is so fresh and delicious! Sweet! Happy summer!

Unpaid ad, but FYI: My ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.

Lanie’s Garden Green Goddess Dressing

I have been enjoying hosting luncheons for girlfriends in my new home. We find it’s more relaxed, healthier and more cost-effective than meeting at a restaurant. Homemade green goddess dressing, blended with fresh herbs from my urban patch of garden, has emerged as a new specialty. Since Greek yogurt has become a staple in my ‘fridge, my salad dressing recipe has evolved since last time I posted it. This is my updated recipe:

In food processor, blend until creamy green:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 oz fresh basil, rinsed and patted dry (I loosely fill a regular-sized colander when I go to the back yard to pick basil, and that weighs in at 1 oz when I check it on the kitchen scale. Fresh basil at the market tends to be packaged in 1 oz containers.)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, rinsed and patted dry
2-3 scallions, whites + greens, sliced (I’ve substituted 1 large shallot, sliced.)
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed + chopped
2 anchovy filets, chopped (You can skip the anchovies, but this is the secret ingredient which gives a big impact in the dressing.)
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Especially tasty on a BLT salad (February 2015 archives), spinach salad with cucumbers & berries & feta or even on fresh watermelon.

 

Americana table decoration

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Over the Memorial Day weekend I updated the dining room table decoration for summer. I’m sharing not because it’s impressively fancy but because it is simple. American flag table runner I invested in from Pottery Barn. Parade of red, white & blue vases from various flower deliveries. Okay, this is special to remember: White vase when my friend, Kim, brought flowers to bible study for my birthday. The white vase matches a beautiful salad bowl she gave me when we had a housewarming lunch. Red vase is probably from flowers from Mom at some point – sorry I don’t recall which occasion – and the vase might be from my brother because they are both really sweet to send flowers. Blue vase is when Mom had flowers delivered for housewarming. Add pink peonies from Trader Joe’s ($6.99). Ruffle up the table runner a bit so the flag looks like it’s billowing in the breeze. Done! Ready for summer gatherings.

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I also want to share that we celebrated with quite a special patriotic service at church Sunday. Lt. Colonel Darryl Southern English led the service with a terrific talk about the history of our National Anthem.

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Scouts posted The Colors, and we said The Pledge of Allegiance.

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Bugler played Taps, and we observed a long moment of silence to remember our fallen heroes.

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Of course, we love a baby dedication at Grace Community Church. Pastor Rick Minett had the honor of dedicating his own precious granddaughter to the Lord, and we sang our traditional baby dedicating song, Jesus Loves Me, to her. Poppy cried, or was she singing along?

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All Star Banjos youth band from Sagemont Church picked up the pace with spirited Americana songs.

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And last, but certainly not least, we honored our servicemen from all branches of the United States military. Following the service we gathered in the fellowship hall for a good ol’ church lunch complete with hot dogs and apple pie. God bless America! Amen!

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