Tag Archives: velveeta

Grilled pimento cheese spread and bacon sandwiches

Grilled Pimento Cheese Spread and Bacon Sandwiches. Please note the oozing cheese and red pepper garnish for health reasons.

As you all know, the Chicks at the Community Resource Center celebrate every Wednesday with bacon. And we had a truly revolutionary Bacon Wednesday a few weeks ago. Betsy made her grandmother’s pimento cheese spread. We used it on bacon and pimento cheese sandwiches. I am just going to say that we were happy nobody else was here because there was no sharing.

I have Googled this extensively and there is nothing like this recipe on the Internet so this will be a world premiere of Callie Everett’s pimento cheese spread. I will warn you that Betsy’s recipe makes about two gallons of the stuff. You can refrigerate it and use it again. In fact, Betsy had it on crackers this morning, about three weeks after she made it. So the shelf life seems to be, like, forever. It contains Velveeta, after all.

A word about my beloved Velveeta. Yes, I know it’s not real cheese. But I don’t care one bit. Any of you out there wanting to hate on my Velveeta just leave it alone. If you don’t like it, don’t eat it. More for me.

By the way, you will question the use of dill pickle juice. Don’t. It makes the recipe.

Pimento Cheese Spread

1 pound Velveeta

1 16-ounce jar mayonnaise

1 small jar pimentos

Dill pickle juice to taste

Melt the Velveeta in the microwave just until its softened. Fold in the mayonnaise and pickle juice to taste. Spoon in the pimentos, adding a little bit of the pimento juice. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 Recipe by Callie Everett, Betsy Everett’s grandmother

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We are worms

It is the first day of Lent. If you are not Catholic or Episcopalian, this probably means nothing to you. But if you are, this is a BIG season. From now until Easter, it is the season of self-examination, introspection, denial, and, yes, worms. As in, whatever riches or fame we have…it just doesn’t matter. We are sinners in search of redemption. We are worms.

Now, then. The classic feature of Lent is giving something up. And that most often involves food. Isn’t that telling? The most painful, self-sacrificing thing we can think up to deny ourselves is food. So for most of the day, I have been thinking about what to give up. My friend, Kim, noted that usually you figure this out before the Imposition of Ashes, or as we call it, “getting ashed.” I got ashed at noon today and at 8 p.m. I am just getting around to the denial part.

So I have been pondering. Wine? Should I give wine up? No, no. no. That would be creatively counter productive. And unhealthy. Wine is one of the good food groups, being primarily made up of grapes, which is a fruit. We need our fruits and vegetables and since they don’t make wine from radishes, I need to keep the grapes.

Hamburgers. I dearly love hamburgers. But giving them up would mean 40 days of never darkening the door of Five Guys. Can I really pass by Five Guys for more than a month? Well, maybe. Let’s put that one on the possible list.

French fries. Geez, if I’m giving up hamburgers French fries would be a breeze. But this isn’t supposed to be a breeze. This is supposed to be hard. French fries aren’t epic enough.

Velveeta. Oh, gosh. Velveeta not only involves the processed cheese block, but also the slices that go on the sausage bagels. I have a package of those cheese slices in my icebox right now. Will they keep until Easter? Who am I kidding. They’ll keep until William and Kate produce an heir to the throne.

What else? Pigs in a Blanket? No, don’t eat those often enough. Pizza rolls? Ditto.

God is watching me now. He is taking a close personal look at me. My choice is important. I know this.

O.K. I’m digging deep here. Hamburgers. No more hamburgers. Five Guys, Rotiers, Brown’s Diner…bye, bye for 40 days. Do Krystal’s count? Yes, unfortunately they do.

However, there is one catch in the contract that Episcopalians keep at Lent. It’s the “Sunday only” rule. That is, if denial is just too much you have an “out” on Sunday. Slackers. We are not only worms, but we are also slackers.

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Cheater’s casserole

My son, Noah, got very lucky when he entered high school. He found forever friends. And I got lucky, too, because they’re all adventurous eaters and they like my food.

Think about this. Noah was a freshmen when he met Anna (at the top of the photo), who was a senior; Linda (next one down), who was a junior; and Evie, a sophomore. (That’s Anna’s friend, Daniel, at the bottom – visiting from New York City). What are the odds that upper classmen in high school would allow a freshmen to infiltrate their ranks? Four years later, they are still fast friends although life has taken them to different corners of the country. Anna is an aspiring actress in New York, Linda is studying at Tulane and Evie is an art major at Warren Wilson outside Asheville. Noah is, of course, at the University of Tennessee leaning toward a major in business administration (much to the delight of his mother who still cannot do percentages).

Food. I’m getting to the food. So it’s Christmas break and everyone’s home. “Mom,” Noah says one day. “Can Evie come to supper?” Of course, she can. “And Anna might come, too.” That’s fine. Somehow I conveniently forget that Anna is bringing Daniel and that – how did I miss this? – Linda is coming, too. All of them. In an hour.

So I resort to the cheater’s casserole. It’s quick. It’s tasty. And it involves Velveeta, as so many truly outstanding casseroles do. I made up this recipe a few years ago under similar circumstances. If I were a professional culinary person, I would say I “developed” the recipe. But when you see what’s in it, you’ll understand why that would be too grand a description.

It just consists of two boxes of Velveeta Shells and Cheese, ground chuck, a can of diced tomatoes and a few special flourishes. I cannot express to you how good this stuff is.

By the way, reading a food story about the guilty pleasures of chefs on the Huffington Post made me feel so much better about my love of Velveeta. Do you know what Wylie Dufresne’s guilty pleasure is? American Cheese! And what is American cheese at its core? Velveeta, of course.

Cheater’s  casserole

2 boxes Velveeta Shells and Cheese

1 pound ground chuck

2 tablespoons dried onion

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ cup panko bread crumbs

Prepare shells and cheese according to package directions. Brown ground chuck well, until parts of it brown. Drain excess grease and add dried onion and tomatoes. Mix with the shells and cheese. Add the smoked paprika. Put in a casserole dish and top with dried bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Squash casserole

I believe there are two camps where squash casserole is concerned: the camp that likes their squash casserole with identifiable chunks of squash and the camp that prefers their squash casserole to be almost the consistency of cornbread dressing. I am in the later camp.

I have already held forth on the abundance of zucchini in the Southern summer and that at some point polite people avert their eyes when they see a neighbor coming with a bag of zucchini so as not to make eye contact. It is the exact same thing with crookneck squash. Southerners feel compelled to grow crookneck squash even though, in their heart of hearts, they don’t like it. Crookneck squash is a bland, watery vegetable. That’s just a fact. Not only do Southerners grow it in abundance, but they “put it up” so that they can be reminded of how much they hate it in December.

So the only answer to the challenge of using up crookneck squash is to disguise it. Thus, the ubiquitous squash casserole.  You cannot go to Sunday supper anywhere in the South during the summer without encountering it. Some, as I’ve said, prefer it kind of chunky. But I feel that only highlights the shortcomings of crookneck squash. I prefer to disguise it completely.

For my squash casserole, I like to grate the squash and then fry it with the onion in butter until it just begins to brown. That browning gives it some extra flavor. Then – and here’s the secret – I mix the squash with Ritz cracker crumbs and Velveeta cubes. Shameless, I know. But here’s the thing. When you take that casserole out of the oven and spoon some on your plate, the Velveeta oozes out of the casserole! How can you not love that? As with almost everything in Southern cooking, I have taken an essentially healthy ingredient and made it unhealthy. And I’m not at all ashamed about it.

Squash Casserole

4 cups seeded grated crookneck squash

½ medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, diced

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons butter

24 Ritz crackers, crushed

4 ounces Velveeta, cubed

1 egg, beaten

Melt the butter in a sauté pan and add the squash and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat until the squash begins to brown. Put the squash and onions into a bowl and add the Velveeta cubes. Then add 2/3 of the cracker crumbs and the egg. Mix thoroughly.

Put squash mixture into a casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cracker crumbs, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Velveeta redux

Ya’ll know of my love of Velveeta, even though it’s not really cheese. It’s a thing unto itself and there is slap nothing better than a dip made of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and Velveeta. Add cooked crumbled up sausage and you will just lose your mind.

So Sunday, Mark and I went to get some fancy coffee at Barnes and Noble and when I walked through the door where all the bargain books are, it was there. Lookee, lookee. A Velveeta cookbook! How could I pass up a cookbook based entirely on processed cheese product? I could not. It was only $7.98 and with my Barnes and Noble discount, the total came to under seven bucks. Never pay retail, but ya’ll already knew that.

The melting quality of Velveeta is unsurpassed and I am convinced makes it the secret guilty pleasure of the most sophisticated gourmand.  So I rushed home to see what recipes the Velveeta producers had come up with that I hadn’t already tried. Of course there are a variety of dips – Velveeta Bacon and Green Onion Dip, Cheesy Spinach and Bacon Dip and Cheesy Pizza Dip.  Moving on to “crowd-pleasing entrees” we have Velveeta Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese, Cheesy Italian Pasta Bake and Velveeta BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Mac. I am just noticing that either Velveeta or Cheesy is in every recipe title. I want that job – naming Velveeta recipes. Of course, none of this is remotely healthy. Let’s take a look at the vegetable section: Cheesy Chipotle Vegetable Bake, Cheesy Potato Skins and Easy Cheesy Potatoes (oh, look, they  made a rhyme!).

So I am thinking for supper one night, I’ll make the Cheesy Pizza Dip, the Velveeta BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Mac and the Easy Cheesy Potatoes. Do you think that’s overkill?

Now then, even before my discovery of the Velveeta cookbook, I had a 16-ounce block of Velveeta in the pantry that is due to expire in April and so I was desperately thinking of ways to use it up. So here is a recipe not in the Velveeta cookbook that turned out to be pretty darn tasty.

Easy Cheesy Velveeta Kentucky Hot Browns (see, I can name recipes, too!)

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup whole milk

4 ounces Velveeta

Dash hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

4 slices bread

2 chicken breasts, cooked and sliced

4 strips bacon, cooked

Make a white sauce by combining flour and butter in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat and whisk until butter is melted and the flour has lost its raw taste, about two minutes. Add the milk and whisk until thickened. Add the hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Add the Velveeta and stir to melt. Set aside.

Toast the bread. Top with the sliced chicken. Spoon the cheese sauce over the chicken and top that with the bacon.

Note: Hot Browns are supposed to have tomatoes, but I never, ever use tomatoes from the supermarket because, first, they taste bad and, second, they are produced by what amounts to slave labor in Florida. So no fresh tomatoes for me until summer.

Second note: The bacon on my hot browns was produced by my new favorite boyfriend, Ralph Cole of West Wind Farms. It is sublimely lean bacon, if there can be such a thing. The Coles sell at the Franklin Farmer’s Market every Saturday so if you can get over there, stop by and support Ralph’s sustainable farming efforts.

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Super Bowl: Reader favorites

You know how it is when you go to a church potluck and all the ladies bust out their best recipes? And funeral food? Nothing finer. Well, that’s how I feel when readers send in recipes for their favorite foods. And, in this case, all the recipes come from BBQ people, who most folks outside the BBQ community don’t know are usually superior cooks in all other genres as well.

On a Friday night at a competitive BBQ contest, you will eat better than if you’d gotten a gift certificate to Ruth Chris. You might have filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce. You might  have crab-stuffed shrimp. You might have lamb lollipops.

But this, of course, is about Super Bowl food and if you are eating lamb lollipops during the game you are a complete wimp. So, without further adieu, reader recipes.

This first one comes from John Verville, also known as RibDog on the BBQ circuit.  You have to love any kind of dip that involves the word “fried”. He got this recipe from Ina Garten.

Pan-Fried Onion Dip

Yield: 2 cups

2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise

Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Allow the onions to cool.

Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Copyright, 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All rights reserved

NOTE: I, RibDog, serve this with either bagel chips or French baguette toasts.

This next one comes courtesy of my friend, Mary Ann Francis, who is part of the Chicks in Charge team along with Linda Gould, Roxanne Gould and myself. The recipe is from another friend, Chris Cappel, who himself is the head cook of the competition team, Dizzy Pig.

The recipe is for twice-baked potatoes, which I absolutely adore. I’m just linking to it so you will go to his website and buy some of his outstanding rub. I don’t get a percentage. I just  like the guy. Here it is. Now I will offer that I believe Chris made a serious error when he omitted fried bacon crumbles from the recipe. I’m just saying.

The last is a suggestion from my friend, Terrell, who keeps me honest when it comes to spreading the love of Southern food. And he’s absolutely right. How could I have omitted Rotel tomato and Velveeta dip! He did not include a recipe, because any fool who lives in the South already knows how to make Rotel tomato and Velveeta dip. But because this is, in part, an instructional blog, I will give you the recipe any Southerner knows by heart.

Rotel and Velveeta Dip

1 pound Velveeta

1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies

Cut the Velveeta into cubes and add them to a crockpot on low heat along with the tomatoes. Heat until cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

By the way, if you really want to go whole hog, as it were, add a half pound of cooked crumbled sausage.

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Manwich and Tater Tots

There are certain food combinations that are just right. On a night when Noah has class starting at 6 p.m. and my favorite show starts at 7, there is the all-time favorite Mayhew meal: Manwich Sloppy Joes and Tater Tots. With Velveeta cheese slices. Registered trademarks all, but I don’t care.

You have to start with the original Manwich sauce. I find it comforting that the can notes that it has a full serving of vegetables. Manwich was invented when I was 17 years old, in 1969. Now Noah’s 17. That’s two generations worth of Manwich loving in the Mayhew household.

Of course, you brown a pound of ground beef and add the sauce. You let that sit on the stove over low heat for about 15 minutes so the Manwich starts getting sticky around the edges, making it even more succulent.

Then while that’s going you get your Tater Tots in the oven. On a foil-lined cookie sheet so you don’t have to wash the pan. We have tried this meal with French fries, but it is just not the same. We feel that baking the Tater Tots instead of frying them makes them somewhat virtuous.

The next thing you do is butter the buns. They must be French hamburger rolls from the Publix. And, of course, you must use real butter. Pop them under the broiler until the butter is melted and the rolls are getting a toasty brown around the edges.

Once the Tater Tots are done and the rolls are toasty, assemble the Sloppy Joes.

I cannot emphasize enough how tasty this is. As you might be able to tell, I didn’t even have time to shoot the picture before Mark took a bite out of his first Sloppy Joe. I had to get between him and the plate just to snap this photo.

Even if it didn’t take more than 20 minutes to make, this would still be one of my favorite combinations of all time.

You know, at the end of the day your food can be fancy or it can be plain. I like both types. Sloppy Joe and Tater Tot night always produces a clean plate. And that says something, doesn’t it?

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