Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese Recipe

Since it’s Labor Day weekend (and the start of college football), I thought I would share a lightened-up version of pimiento cheese perfect for a game day appetizer, Labor Day picnic, or weekend snack with crackers. Most of our friends will be at the Alabama game, Auburn game, the lake or the beach (that is how it goes around here in the south). I will be at the Auburn game because my daughter’s cheerleading team gets to cheer during the Auburn halftime show. How cool is that? Anyway, this Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese uses Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. It tastes great, and no one will know the difference. I also like to add smoked paprika or chipotle seasoning for an added kick. Have a great, safe weekend!

Atlanta Food & Wine Festival: A Southern Event Like No Other

What a weekend! As you may have seen from my recent post, it was a big one for me. I was in Atlanta attending and speaking at two conferences:  the BlogHer Food Conference 2011 and the first ever Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. Friday night at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, I was so excited to have a chance to dine at Miller Union, a wine and food dinner featuring the Lee Brothers. With 6 courses of fabulous food, wine and company, I was in a foodie wonderland. It was such a treat to be able to have dinner with the Editor and Publisher from Oxford American Magazine, an Editor from Southern Living, an Editor of the Nashville Scene, Chef Tyler Brown of Capitol Grill, the Marketing Director from the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, and Chef Chris Hasting of Hot and Hot Fish Club in Birmingham.

The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival was the most incredible event I have ever attended in the South. Food and wine tents, speakers, chef food demos and more in the heart of Midtown Atlanta. Truly this was the first ever Aspen Food & Wine Festival of the south. See Warren Brown from Cake Love showing his cake making secrets (below).

More food samples, oh my.

I was honored to be speaking at this festival on Sunday with the talented Food Stylist, Tami Hardeman of Running with Tweezers; Bourbon Expert, Tom Fischer of the Bourbonblog.com; and Dennis Byron of the amazing beer blog, Ale Sharpton (see below) on a food blogger insight panel. We had a full crowd, and our talk actually ran over 3o minutes since no one was leaving. I learned new things from this talented group as well as the questions asked. I can’t thank the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival enough for their incredible hard work on this event. You get a standing ovation and many thanks.

 

Southern Thanksgiving Dessert-Pralines and Praline Bundt Cake

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I was working in New Orleans last week, and one of my closest food friends took me into a fabulous classic New Orleans candy shop where they were making Pralines, Fudge and other homemade confections. It’s “Southern Candy Makers“, and next time you head to New Orleans, put this stop on the top of your list. It inspired me to try a new recipe with pralines for Thanksgiving. It’s really simple to prepare and my kids loved it for breakfast, a snack, dessert and especially for Thanksgiving.

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Praline Bundt Cake

Prep: 25 minutes

Cook: 1 hour

Cool: 1 hour

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

1  cup  chopped pecans

1  cup  butter, softened

1  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1  (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar

4  large eggs

2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon  baking powder

1/2  teaspoon  baking soda

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1  (8-oz.) container sour cream

2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

Praline Icing

Preparation

1. Arrange 1 cup pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes or until toasted. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

2. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add brown sugar, beating until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

3. Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat batter at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in toasted pecans and vanilla. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan.

4. Bake at 325° for 55 minutes to 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

5. Prepare Praline Icing, and spoon immediately over cake. Sprinkle top of cake with Sugared Pecans.

Praline Icing

Ingredients

1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2  cup  butter

1/4  cup  milk

1  cup  powdered sugar, sifted

1  teaspoon  vanilla extract

Preparation

1. Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Use immediately.

Southern Candy Makers has two locations on Decatur Street. See http://southerncandymakers.com

Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine see http://southernliving.com