Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pimiento Cheese

I grew up on this stuff. There was never a family gathering, holiday, or celebration of any kind without the presence of Pimiento Cheese. It was there for picnics, showers, birthday parties, anniversaries, family reunions, and holidays. It may appear stuffed into celery, made into little tea sandwiches, served as a spread on toast points or crackers, on biscuits with ham for brunch.

As summer rolls in, I will be making this delicious spread on a regular basis. I love having it on hand for quick suppers when it becomes too hot to cook. Always delicious as a sandwich spread, it is equally delicious with fresh summer vegetables.

As with most simple recipes, the quality of the ingredients makes the dish. Choose an excellent quality cheddar cheese and grate by hand. Additions, such as olives, jalapeno peppers, chopped pecans, minced onions, and Worcestershire sauce are popular. I like to make a big basic batch, then add any additional ingredients to individual servings.

Pimiento Cheese is also a good way to use bits of cheese you have on hand from other recipes. I recently made a batch using the usual cheddar cheese, but I added in small bits of leftover blue cheese, swiss cheese, Parmesan, and pepper jack. It was delicious!

Basic Southern Pimiento Cheese
16 oz. hand grated cheddar cheese
4 oz. jar diced pimientos with juice
1/4 c. good quality mayonnaise (more for a "creamier" texture, if desired)
Freshly ground black pepper, or cayenne pepper, to taste

Mix well.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day & Sweet Potato Surprise

Here is a picture of my Mother taken March 5 when we met in Augusta for the birth of the twins. She would probably hate this shot but I love it. She is 84 years old and is in great health. She has always taken care of herself and still works out at the gym several times a week.

Here she is with Daddy, holding one of the twins. They are both looking at the other twin, who is in the process of being waken from sleep, by orders of the lactation nurse, to get a little more practice latching on.

(From Mama's Recipe Collection)

My Mother is a marvelous cook and loves to cook. I loved spending time with her in the kitchen when I was growing up, watching her, and when I got old enough, helping her. She is my inspiration. She still loves trying out new recipes and every time we talk, we talk about what we have been cooking.

We both love getting in the kitchen together to make feasts for family and friends. We love planning the meals, making our shopping list, and going to the grocery store. Bringing in the bags of food is a bit of a chore and the clean up is not fun, but neither of us really minds. She is better at washing china and polishing silver. I am better at scrubbing pans.

When Mama and Daddy were visiting for the week of Thanksgiving, we were watching an episode of Paula Deen. Paula made what she called Sweet Potato Balls and it evoked a memory in Mama. She said her grandmother used to make them and called them Sweet Potato Surprises.

Mama told me of when she was a girl, there would be big Sunday dinners at Granny's house. Granny had 12 children, so you can imagine the crowd once all the spouses and children were included. Mama said Granny had a huge round dining room table but it was not large enough for everyone. First the men would sit down and eat. Then the women would eat. And then finally the children got to eat.

Mama said she always prayed there would be one of those Sweet Potato Surprises left by the time she got to eat. Of course there wasn't, but her own Mother would save half of hers. And she said the only piece of fried chicken she ever got was a back.

Mama decided she wanted some of those Sweet Potato Surprises and here are the ones she made.

Sweet Potato Surprise
(A Paula Deen recipe)


  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, sweetened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large marshmallow per potato ball


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the potatoes until tender, then peel and mash them. Stir in the brown sugar, orange juice, zest and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, toss the coconut with the sugar and cinnamon. Press mashed potatoes around each marshmallow, creating a 2 to 3-inch diameter ball. Roll the balls in the coconut mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Watch carefully for the last few minutes of cooking; the expanding marshmallows can cause the potato balls to burst open.