Spicy Pimiento Cheese

Spicy Pimiento Cheese

When I was in college, I joined the Baptist Student Union. I am not going to lie…I went because a hallmate dragged me along, and I stayed because of the food. Baptists can cook!

Before I became a Baptist, I had never even heard of pimiento cheese. But some time during one of the many potlucks or snacks I enjoyed during my four years as a Baptist, I stuffed a bright orange, white bread sandwich into my mouth, and I was hooked.

Pimiento cheese may have kind of a bad rap, so let me set you straight. It’s delicious! It’s full of cheddar and cream cheese and spices. It is NOT made entirely out of mayonnaise and food dye.

Whip up a batch! Spread a thick layer onto a slice of whole wheat bread. Your mouth will thank you.

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Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie

My husband loves rhubarb pie.

When we first started dating, I had never even heard of rhubarb! I, being a quite sensible girl, had tried to endear myself to him by baking him brownies and cookies…and he rather matter-of-factly informed me that if I really wanted to impress him, I should make him a rhubarb pie.

What is rhubarb, anyway? Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable?

All I know is that it bakes up into a sour-sweet pink pie. Which Dave can eat half of in one sitting.

In fact, Dave’s whole family goes crazy for rhubarb pie. Once when I was hanging out with them, one of his brothers mentioned pie—the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the car with my father-in-law, off to buy a huge bundle of rhubarb. They aren’t too interested in most baked goods, but wave a rhubarb pie in their general direction? You will feel a whiff of wind whiz by, and then when you look down, your pie plate will just have a few crumbs left on it. Like in a cartoon when something disappears in a puff of smoke.

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Asparagus Green Bean Salad

Asparagus Green Bean Salad

Right after Jake was born, a bunch of amazing friends brought us food for a few weeks to lighten our load. And thank goodness! Otherwise I am not sure we would have eaten anything except cereal, cereal, cereal.

It was a great opportunity to try new things! One of my new dishes was this side salad, full of bright colors and flavors. The best thing about this asparagus and green bean salad was that it brought me and Dave together.

You see, I have never really been a fan of green beans (gasp!). Of course, I will eat them when pressed (and, I admit a certain sense of relief that most Southerners prepare their green beans with bacon or ham, giving me an easy out…), but I hardly ever go out of my way to track them down.

Dave, on the other hand, hates asparagus. I’m still reeling from that pronouncement, given that it’s one of my favorite vegetables of all time.

So, flash back to our first respective bites of this salad, in which I thought, “Here are some green beans I can get behind!” and Dave thought, “I could eat asparagus more regularly if it tastes like this!”

And history was made. (Also, I recently made this for a friend who hates tomatoes with much success…so I’m pretty sure this salad is magical.)

Let’s make some veggies and evangelize more green bean or asparagus skeptics!

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Spicy Black Bean Pita Pockets

Spicy Black Bean Pitas

Attention, all mothers of babies and toddlers!

I have found you the perfect meal delivery vehicle.

That’s right, the pita pocket! You can hold it in one hand, it won’t fall apart when you put it down (plus it’s easy to pick back up again!), AND nothing will fall or drip out of the bottom of it while you are juggling your baby with one hand and your meal with the other.

Seriously. You can easily hold it out of your baby’s reach, you can walk around with it…

And it’s delicious!

Another new mommy bonus: This meal only takes 10 minutes to make.

…Did anyone else just hear the Hallelujah Chorus in their head?

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Homemade Baby Food

Pea-Puree Goatee

I can’t believe Jake is almost 7 months old!

We have been feeding him solids for about a month now. We started with rice cereal, per our pediatrician’s recommendation, and then slowly started introducing vegetable purees.

But, um…did you know that a lot of store brand baby foods have all kinds of chemical additives in them? Yikes!

Am I crazy to think that baby food should just be made out of, well…food?

Baby Food CubesI was thrilled to see a great idea for baby food on this month’s Secret Recipe Club blog, Join Us, Pull Up A Chair. I had already tried making a few veggie purees for Jake, but I particularly loved Heather’s method for storing the baby foods: freezing individual portions in an ice cube tray! This totally eliminates the need for baby food jars, and it also means that I can make and store a variety of foods all at once. Hooray!

Don’t worry. It is not at all hard to make your own baby food. You don’t need a Baby Brezza or anything like that. Doing it yourself is not only way cheaper than buying the jarred baby food, but it is also healthier for your baby.

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Tabasco and Asparagus Quinoa

Tabasco and Asparagus Quinoa

Recently, we have started making family dinners a higher priority. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much eating a family dinner every night would tax my cooking repertoire!

So I started dividing meals into categories, to make it easier for me to lay out a variety of different meals over the course of each week. We have tortilla meals (loosely Mexican-themed), pasta meals (loosely Italian), soups, salads, sandwiches, fish, and of course, grain salads. (I am now realizing how many of my meals revolve in some way around carbs…yikes…at least I buy/make whole grains most of the time!)

My hubby is not such a huge fan of grain salads. Honestly, I am much more likely to make grain salads for lunch for myself than for dinners with him. But when I came across this recipe from Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, I was pretty sure it would be a hit with Dave.

And what’s not to love? Butter and spicy Tabasco for him, asparagus and quinoa for me! And crème fraîche! Oh me, oh my! If you have never tried crème fraîche, this is definitely the time to take the plunge.

I’m not sure I would call this a healthy meal, exactly, but it sure was delicious! So, quick! while asparagus is in season, run out and make this meal! Promote it to dinner! You will definitely love it.

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Strawberries and Cream Cake

Strawberries and Cream Cake

Well by now, you probably all know how much I hate fruit.

But if you ever met my dad, you would seriously wonder how I turned out this way! He never met a fruit he didn’t like. In fact, he prefers fruit over chocolate (gasp)!

So this year I got to play the host for my dad’s birthday celebration. He requested an amazing meal…none of which I ate. Pork chops with white balsamic glaze, baby potatoes and peas with bacon, applesauce, and strawberry cake. Not the most Melissa-friendly meal, but honestly I was delighted to prepare it for him!

The crowning glory of any birthday meal, of course, is the cake. And I have to admit that even though strawberries are my second least favorite fruit, they sure do make a beautiful cake!

I hear it’s strawberry season. You should go buy a few cartons of fresh strawberries at your local farmer’s market (yay! they just opened in our area!) and set in on making a towering cake filled with strawberries and cream and frosted with a light strawberry Swiss buttercream. I hear it will be delicious 😉

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Sesame Soba Noodles

Sesame Soba NoodlesIn our house, this noodle dish represents the best of all worlds. I like it because it is full of whole grains and vegetables. Dave likes it because it’s tossed in an Asian style sauce.

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this sooner!

This meal is a snap to put together. In about the time it takes to boil some buckwheat noodles, you can chop up your veggies and stir together a sauce. Toss them all together and you will have an amazing dinner!

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