Baked Tex-Mex Pimiento Cheese Dip
This month marked the five year anniversary of my first post. Cook Like a Champion looked very different back in 2008, and I’ve come a long way since sharing that first recipe (seriously, just take a look at that horrendous photo). I mentioned briefly a few months ago that my 5 year blogiversary was coming up, so I wasn’t sure if I should even bother writing about it when the time actually came, which is why this post is two weeks after the actual anniversary of that first post.
When I started this blog, I pretty much had no expectations for it. We had moved (twice in less than a year, at that point) and didn’t have many friends, so I found myself investing more time in cooking. It’s not glamorous, but it’s the truth. Along the way, we made friends, moved again, made more friends, did a few site redesigns, learned how not to burn caramel, made more friends (this time with other bloggers!), had a virtual baby shower, bought a house, had a baby, went to a food bloggers’ retreat, expanded our tastes, started making more food from scratch and about a zillion other things. A lot happens in five years, people, and what I’ve just mentioned doesn’t even come close to covering it. Things haven’t always been sunshine and rainbows, either. There was a family feud (and not of the gameshow variety) because something I wrote on here last year got taken way out of context. There were times (even recently) I was so discouraged that I wanted to quit but somehow couldn’t. This blog is a part of me now, and I barely remember what life was like before I started it. This blog has given me countless days of joy, and I hope that continues over the next five years (and beyond).
I had a grand dessert in mind to share with all of you to mark this occasion, but life (and a teething Clara) happened and the dessert didn’t. It will, eventually, but I think today’s recipe is one you’ll want to make sooner anyway. Not only is it perfect for cookouts, but it’s also a great game day/tailgating snack, and I know a lot of my friends are getting ready for football to start back. It’s traditional pimiento cheese with a tex-mex kick, thanks to the jalapeños, cilantro and pepper jack, and it always disappears when I make it for parties. The main reason I’m sharing it, though, is because the first time I ate it was when my friends surprised me last year. It was the single most memorable moment of my blogging career, having people I met through this site of mine show up out of nowhere to celebrate my sweet baby girl. I still think of them every time I make this dip, and it reminds me that food is about creating moments and memories in addition to full bellies. That’s why I keep blogging. To those of you that read, comment, email, share a photo of a recipe you’ve made, this is for you. Thank you for your kind words over the years. Thank you for reading and sharing. You guys inspire me every day – to try new things, to post more often, to share my stories – and it means the world to me.
Image courtesy of Tasha McKelvey
As a special way to say thanks, I’m giving you a chance to win this beautiful mini cheese plate made by Richmond artist Tasha McKelvey. I’ve got two of her pieces – a necklace that Eric got me for my birthday and a bowl that lives on our counter and holds our rings while we cook that my friend Amanda gave me for Christmas. In addition to the awesome pictures Tasha posts of her work, she also has an adorable dog and a seriously swoon-worthy kitchen garden that she posts on her Instagram. She’s also doing this 100 Days of Clay Animals project, and I’m totally obsessed with the cute little animals she’s been posting. I look at the owl at least twice a week. Not even kidding. Please check out her site to see all of her amazing work, and head on over to the giveaway page to enter.
And lastly, since I do occasionally get questions about how to start a blog and things of that nature, I think every blogger (or future blogger) should read this post from The Bloggess. It totally wins.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: 8-10 servings
½ cup mayonnaise
6 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature (reduced fat is fine)
¾ cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
⅓ cup minced green onion (from 2-3 green onions)
⅓ cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving
Heat oven to 350º and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.
Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, reserving 1 tablespoon each of cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, then spread mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top and bake for 20-25 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve immediately.