Lately, I’ve found myself in a bit of a dilemma. Actually it’s kind of like an epic battle; a battle I call “Willpower vs. Crack Cheese.”
I discovered “crack cheese” a few months ago, when I was perusing the cheese section at the grocery store. Just the fact that I was in the cheese section of the grocery store was a sign of trouble, because I am dangerous in the cheese section. Seriously dangerous. I love cheese in all forms–even the stinky ones that most people think smell like sweaty feet. I’m so bad that I’ll even snack on Velveeta, if that’s the only thing around. I draw the line at the cheese in the squirt cans, but that’s about the only kind of cheese I’ll reject. I imagine that if you were to slice into my side, cheese would ooze slowly out. It’s that bad.
I’m not much for restricting my diet, but if I HAD to, I’d much rather give up sugar, or chocolate, or meat. Even *God forbid* bacon or gluten. Those things I could probably do, but cheese? It would shatter my heart if I had to break up with cheese. Cheese makes the sun shine and the stars sparkle. Cheese also likes to settle on my butt and thighs and prepare for a lengthy visit, so I have to be careful.
Clearly, I’m not careful enough, because I found myself yet again in the cheese section, looking at a
container huge-ass tub of a delicious-sounding concoction called “Roasted Jalapeno Pimiento Cheese.”
Hoo-boy, that’s trouble. I grew up with a Southern grandma, and she always had a jar of pimiento cheese in her refrigerator. When I stayed with Grandma Rhetta, there were always tasty treats and tidbits in the house to tempt me–lemon bars in the icebox, tubs of peppermint and tin roof sundae ice cream, peanut butter balls. But it was the pimiento cheese that called to me, especially in the middle of the night, when I’d tiptoe into the kitchen and eat it by guilty spoonfuls.
Colorado isn’t really pimiento cheese country, so I didn’t have to worry about it for a while and had, in fact, pretty much forgotten about it altogether until BAM! There it was, waving to me in the cheese section, smiling like George Clooney.
Actually the waving was being done by a little old lady with a not-Clooney smile but she said my six favorite words in the English language: “Would you like a free sample?”
If you’re not familiar with pimiento cheese, let me explain. I wouldn’t actually classify it as “cheese.” It’s more of a dip or sandwich spread; a combination of shredded cheeses, chopped roasty pimientos, mayonnaise and some sort of spice sorcery that makes it wildly addictive and impossible to resist.
This tub of pimiento cheese was made even more seductive by the addition of roasted, chopped jalapenos, which gave it a sexy, slow little burn in your mouth after a few spoonfuls. This little addition transformed my “problem cheese” into full blown “Crack Cheese.” Crack. The stuff is crack.
It also, as you probably surmised by the ingredient list, is not exactly diet food. It is certainly not something that a girl should be eating when she is on le Regime to fit into a swimsuit in a matter of weeks.
I was determined not to put that first tub of pimiento napalm into my cart but was then hit with a wave of nostalgia (or gluttony) and plopped it in the cart. When I’d unpacked my huge grocery haul–a chore I hate–I decided that maybe I deserved a little treat for my efforts. I grabbed a wheat cracker (healthy, you know) and put on a generous shmear of pimiento napalm and popped it in my greedy little pie hole.
Ho, Mama. I’m in trouble. It’s been a daily wrestling match between my mind, who knows that daily consumption of crack cheese is not going to shrink ass space and my tastebuds, who just want to hang out in a hot tub of crack cheese and watch Drunk History all day.
A few days ago, my husband and I polished off the last of the crack cheese (yes, he did help me) and I vowed not to buy any more containers of it until after our Thanksgiving trip to Mexico. Not one container.
But then, life without crack cheese started to make me sad. And perhaps a little grumpy. So one afternoon, I took to my good friend the Internet and entered a search for “Healthy pimiento cheese, lower calorie pimiento cheese recipes.”
Bingo! I found several recipes but settled on this one. I did have to modify it a little to get the “crack” element to the cheese, so I roasted up some jalapenos, diced them and stirred then into the mix. I’m not even sure if I’m going to roast them next time, just because the raw ones might have more heat/bite.
This Better-For-You Crack-Cheese will get you through your cravings, if you are pimiento cheese loving girl like me. It also works great in a grilled cheese sandwich or smeared on a tortilla for a white-trash quesadilla. Just don’t put yourself in a hot tub of it, because that can’t work out well.
slightly modified from Eating Well
makes 1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 cups reduced-fat Cheddar cheese**
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use fat-free)
1 (4 oz.) jar sliced pimientos, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons minced scallions or shallot
dash of Worchestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste (or if you are like me, 1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper, roasted or raw)
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with crackers or crudites.
**Eating Well magazine is VERY, very fussy about the cheese used in the spread. They know their stuff, so listen to them, even if they are bossy. The ONLY low-fat Cheddar that’s acceptable is Cabot or Cracker Barrel brand. And only the kind sold in block form–no pre-shredded cheese allowed. And not lower-fat than 50%. Got that? Disobey orders and your pimiento cheese will not be Crack-Worthy. I could only find Cabot low-fat Cheddar in the white variety, so you’ll notice that my spread is a little pale, but it tasted just lovely.