Blast from the past

Changing is part of growing up, part of becoming who we really are, a constant process. We make mistakes along the way, some of us more than others, and those mistakes shape us just as much as our successes. I’ve had a fair helping of both, and I hope you all have too.

I don’t claim to know everything, I don’t claim to be flawless, and I know I’ve been wrong about things many times in my short 30 years (don’t tell the Hubs though, because I don’t admit this to him!). But what I hope is that at the end of every day, I can rest my head knowing I’ve been the best person I can be, most of the time.

This past year is almost over, and it’s been an interesting one. A couple of scary telephone calls is about all it takes to make you realize that your friends and family members, even your parents, are mortals. A couple of arguments, falling-outs with friends, is about all it takes to make you realize that your relationships will change, and that even your closest friends may one day seem like strangers you pass in the cereal aisle. A couple of new friends, and new traditions, is about all it takes to make you realize that it doesn’t matter when you meet, or how you meet, but that you’ve met. Change is good, for better or for worse.

And as strange as it might seem, a recipe about pimento cheese is completely and totally appropriate here, today, this year. On the surface, the reason is more apparent – I used to hate pimento cheese (pimento cheese sandwiches were more common than PB&J during my childhood), and this recipe was gobbled up as if it were bread pudding itself. Kris and I were both watching Food Network one night, and in moments we were texting about pimento cheese, and the perfection that was an appetizer at a restaurant in my hometown.

But even below the surface, this recipe is appropriate. A little less of this, a little more of that, this recipe was tweaked and adjusted along the way, based on how I remember it to be, a couple of years ago. It’s an interpretation of what used to be, but an adjustment too – spicier, warmer, and robust, but also a little bit rustic, craggy along the edges. It’s not exactly what I remember, but it’s close. Like so many things, pimento cheese may have its rough patches in our minds, but we try to forget those, if we can, and we try, as hard as we can, to move on.

Baked Pimento Cheese Spread
chiknpastry recipe, inspired by Chef & the Farmer; makes ~3 cups

time commitment: less than 1 hour

this ain’t no store-bought tub of pimento cheese spread, that’s for sure. you could make the pimento cheese without the sausage and eat it cold, like i was forced to during my childhood (although now, i’d probably like it), or you can add the sausage, which is what the folks at Chef & the Farmer do – hence the recipe.

printable version

2 T onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz hot sausage (Jimmy Dean)
1 8oz package Neufchâtel cheese
1 c extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 c gruyere cheese
1 4 oz jar diced pimentos, rinsed & drained
2 T mayo
1/4 t kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
1/4 t cayenne pepper

for serving: thinly sliced and toasted baguette, veggie sticks, crackers, etc.

heat skillet over medium-hi heat. add garlic and onion, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until soft. add sausage and cook until browned completely. let cool, and use paper towels to remove as much fat/drippings as possible from the sausage.

meanwhile, make the pimento cheese. in a large bowl, combine Neufchâtel cheese through cayenne pepper, and using a mixer on medium speed, blend thoroughly. add salt and pepper to taste.

preheat oven to 350 F. add sausage mixture to pimento cheese and mix together. bake in an ovenproof dish for 15-20 minutes, until browned on top and bubbly.

8 thoughts on “Blast from the past

  1. Kris says:

    Oh my!!!!! It does look much yummier than my attempt. Your preface to this recipe brought tears to my eyes as I knew or I think I knew your metaphors and what they were pertaining to. Either way, thanks for fixing Paula Deans recipe that was a disaster for me…..I’m so on this recipe this weekend!!! I love you bunches and for the record, no matter what happens, you and I will never be strangers on the cereal isle.

  2. John says:

    Change is good, spot on. Sometimes hard to adjust but the journey never ends. You are so well grounded Heather.

    Speaking of pimento cheese and good ole jif extra crunchy peanut butter, two of the best comfort foods ever. I just baked some homemade whole wheat bread and I’ll be lathering it up with both…..Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  3. Lisa – I hope you love it – it’s a nice change from the ‘regular’🙂

    Kris – keep me posted on how it compares. and sure – you probably knew part of it, at least…

    Jennifer- thanks! you’d be jealous to know i pounded the leftover into a toasted sandwich for dinner monday night. ha!

    John – as usual, you are too nice! and that homemade bread sounds fantastic alongside PB, pimento cheese, or maybe both??!!

  4. lynette says:

    I just had this spread at the Chef & the Farmer just before it burned! Delicous, I can’t wait for them to rebuild. God Bless Them!

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