Posts Tagged 'jalapenos'

Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich

There is no better comfort food than warm melted cheese oozing between two slices of crisp buttered bread…that is unless you make it ultra-indulgent by using pimento cheese!


Grilled Jalapeno Pimento Cheese Sandwich
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

For the Jalapeno Pimento Cheese:

1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces), at room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely diced roasted red peppers (1 peppers)
2 tablespoons seeded and finely diced fresh jalapenos
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce (optional)

For the sandwich:
8 slices white bread
8 teaspoons unsalted butter

To make the pimento cheese: In a large mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sugar until smooth. Add the cheddar cheese, red peppers, and the jalapenos. Stir, mashing with a fork, until well combined and relatively smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash of the hot sauce if desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the sandwich: Evenly butter one side of each slice of bread. Place 4 slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. On each slice, evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pimento cheese. Top each sandwich half with 1 of the remaining buttered slices of bread, buttered side up.

Preheat a griddle (or a large skillet) over medium heat. Place the sandwiches on the warm griddle and cook until the bottom is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using a flat spatula, carefully turn the sandwiches over. Cook until the second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes.

Serves 4.

Cooking Tip: I prefer the texture of the pimento cheese better when I grate the cheddar cheese myself. But if you are in a hurry, you can use packaged grated cheese.

This recipe makes approximately 3 1/2 cups of pimento cheese. Pimento cheese will keep for up to 4 days in your refrigerator. (That is if it lasts that long!)

Back-to-the-Basics: I love the kick that the jalapenos give to this pimento cheese. But if you prefer a milder version, omit the jalapenos.


Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Nothing is more Southern than the combination of black-eyed peas and greens.  For a lighter version, I substituted tender baby spinach leaves for the traditional collard greens.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad
From Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler

For the Red Wine Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
2 cans (15-ounces) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
1 small garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bag (6 ounces) Baby Spinach salad blend, coarsely chopped

To make the Red Wine Vinaigrette: Place the vinegar in a small bowl.  Slowly add the oil in a stream, whisking to emulsify.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare the salad: In a large salad bowl toss together the black-eyed peas, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onion, jalapeño, and garlic. Add the vinaigrette to taste and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the spinach among the plates.  Top with a generous spoonful of the black-eyed peas.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 side salads

Tips: For an authentic Southern touch, add a dash of hot sauce to your black-eyed peas for a little extra zing.

This Black-Eyed Pea Salad also makes delish dip served with Fritos!

Baked Cheese Grits

It’s just one of those days.  You know … one of those days when you are just craving something warm, cheesy and delicious. For a Southerner like me, nothing fits that bill like a big bowl full of Cheese Grits.

I always joke with my friends up North … “Do y’all even know what grits are?!”  (By the way, if you haven’t heard of them … it is always plural … never refer to this iconic Southern staple in the singular!) Basically, grits are made from coarsely ground corn. It’s the Southern version of Italy’s polenta.

Good old Martha White (of the flour fame) offers a very comprehensive definition on her Martha White’s Southern Cooking Glossary:

Grits are related to corn meal, since both are made from dried corn. Grits are just more coarsely ground than corn meal. White grits made from white corn are the most familiar; however, yellow grits made from yellow corn also are available. Whole ground grits are made by grinding the whole corn kernel, including the bran, germ and hard starchy endosperm. Quick and regular grits, the two most popular types, cook much more quickly. They’re made by tempering dried corn, removing the brand and germ, then grinding the hard starchy endosperm. Instant grits are cooked and dehydrated before packaging and are prepared by adding hot water.

In my baked cheese grits recipe, I use quick-cooking white grits since they give this dish a deliciously creamy texture. For a “grittier” texture, you can substitute stone-ground grits.  (Just keep in mind that stone-ground grits take much longer to cook so be sure to prepare them per the package directions before adding the cheese, butter, and eggs.)

This dish is one of those few exceptions that can be perfectly served at any meal … breakfast, lunch or dinner!


Baked Cheese Grits
From Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease the baking dish
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking grits
3 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the butter and 3 cups of the cheese until the cheese has melted, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the garlic and eggs until well combined.

Pour the grits into the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of the cheese across the top. Bake, uncovered, until bubbly and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 8 to 10. 

Cooking Tip: For an added kick, add chopped jalapeno peppers.

Fish Tacos with Mango Slaw & Avocado Crema

If you travel to Mexico’s Baja region or sunny southern California, you will find hundreds of restaurants and food stands offering fish tacos. Most often the fish is beer-battered and fried. This version using marinated fish is a lot easier, and in my opinion, even more flavorful.

Plus I just love the extra boost of flavor from the crunchy mango slaw and the avocado crema. 


Fish Tacos

For the Mango Slaw:
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
1 1/2 cups finely shredded red cabbage
1 cup small-diced mango
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (about half a small onion)
2 tablespoons seeded and finely diced fresh jalapenos
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the Avocado Crema:
2 large ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Fish Tacos:
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 small (4-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

To make the mango slaw: In a large mixing bowl combine the green cabbage, red cabbage, mango, red onion, and jalapeno. Add the lime juice and olive oil and toss until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold in the cilantro just before serving.

To make the avocado crema: In a food processor puree the avocado and lime juice until smooth.  Blend in the sour cream. Place the crema in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the fish tacos: In small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and chili powder until well blended. Place the tilapia in a shallow dish, and pour the marinade over the fish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove the fish from the marinade, drain off any excess, and discard the marinade. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the remaining tablespoon of oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan. Sear the fish on one side until the meat is well browned and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Transfer the fish to a plate and break into large pieces.

Assemble the tacos by placing the fish (approximately half a fillet per taco) in the center of the tortillas. Garnish with desired amounts of the mango slaw and avocado crema. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Time Saving Tip: Instead of shredding the cabbage for the slaw, pick up a package of shredded Angel Hair Cole Slaw in your produce department.

Do Ahead: The slaw can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Store covered in your refrigerator until ready to serve.

Variation: For a kid friendly version, melt cheddar cheese on a tortilla and top with the seared fish.

Jennifer Chandler

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