Just a Pinch- Easy Pimento Cheese and More

-Compiled by Teresa Vinson-                                      

The holidays are here! I love Christmas with all the smells of food cooking, fresh greenery and happy people. Some of my fondest memories revolve around the holidays. My mother made each holiday special for us. I still carry on some of her traditions and use her tried and tested recipes. This makes every holiday special and brings back sweet memories of her.

Easy Pimento Cheese

Everyone knows that pimento cheese is a staple in the south. There are hundreds of recipes for this southern delicacy. This one is fast, easy, and delicious. I serve this stuffed this with celery sticks and small bread rounds or chips as an appetizer.

  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (4 ounce) jar pimentos with juice
  • ½ cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste. Mix cheeses together. Add pimentos with juice. Stir in mayonnaise until well blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Tennessee Caviar

  • 2 cans of black eye peas, drained
  • 1 can of shoe peg corn, drained
  • 1 can of mild Rotel
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 bottle of Italian dressing.

Mix all of the above ingredients together and serve with corn chip scoops.

Sweet & Savory Bacon Crackers

  • 36 (approximately) Country club-style crackers
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Brown sugar
  • 1 Pound of bacon (not thick sliced)

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Place a rack onto a rimmed baking sheet. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of brown sugar on half the crackers. Repeat with parmesan cheese. Cut the bacon in half and wrap a strip of bacon around each cracker, tucking the ends on the back side. Place each bacon wrapped cracker onto the rack and place in the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for approximately 2 hours. The bacon will shrink and wrap tightly around the crackers as they bake.

Grape Salad

  • 2 lbs. red grapes
  • 2 lbs. green grapes
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Blend together sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add grapes and stir. Mix together brown sugar and pecans and sprinkle on top.

Orange Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 can (14 ounces) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1 jar (12 ounces) orange marmalade spreadable fruit
  • Orange zest for garnishing.
  • Stir all ingredients together and garnish with orange zest strips.

Baked Ham with Apricot Glaze

  • 1 fully cooked, bone-in spiral sliced ham half (7-8 pounds)
  • 1 (18 ounce) jar apricot preserves
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place ham, cut side down, on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in a heavy duty aluminum foil lined broiler pan; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Stir together preserves and next three ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve 1½ cups. Brush remaining glaze over ham. Bake at 325 degrees, uncovered, on lowest oven rack 2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 140 degrees, basting every 30 minutes with reserved 1 ½ cups glaze. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

This is delicious.

Coconut Cake

Nothing says Christmas like a coconut cake. I remember when I was a child my family would always have coconut cake with boiled custard. My grandmother always wanted a little “spiking” as she called it in her boiled custard. It was a joke in our family that granny wanted a little boiled custard in her spiking. The original recipe came from an old Southern Living Book and is as follows.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh coconut milk

Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, l at a time, beating until well blended. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in flavorings. Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9 inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and coconut milk. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir until sugar dissolves. Brush 1 cake layer with half of the coconut milk mixture leaving a ½ inch margin around edges. Spread with 1 cup boiled frosting and sprinkle with ½ cup shredded coconut. Top with second cake layer and repeat procedure. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake; sprinkle with remaining coconut.

Teresa’s Tip: when making a coconut cake in a hurry, do the following:

Use 1 box of Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla cake mix and 1 box Duncan Heinz white cake mix. Mix according to package directions substituting milk for the water and use the whole eggs instead of just using the egg whites. Bake in three 10-inch pans. I spray my pans with Pam and put wax paper in the bottom and then spray again. Let cool on a wire rack and then wrap the layers in foil and freeze for an hour or so.

Bring the following to a boil:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract.
  • I pour this through each layer as I stack them to frost.

Boiled Frosting

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tarter
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large or 42 miniature marshmallows cut into small pieces.

Combine sugar and water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is clear. Cook, without stirring, until syrup reaches soft ball stage on a candy thermometer registering 240 degrees.

While syrup cooks, beat egg whites at low speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high, and add hot syrup in a heavy stream. Add marshmallows, a few pieces at a time. Beat until stiff peaks form and frosting is thick enough to spread.

I use bagged coconut. I do not like the generic brand of coconut as it is sometime dry. I prefer the name brand.

I entered the homemade version of this cake in the 2015 Obion County Fair and it won a blue ribbon.

I like to decorate the cake with fresh rosemary that has been dipped in corn syrup and then sugar. Add dried cranberries in center of rosemary.