Live with Holley Grainger: Lightened Pimiento Cheese

Find Holley's recipe here: Lightened Pimiento Cheese

Join us live with nutritionist Holley Grainger, who is demonstrating how to lighten up one of our all-time favorite Southern dishes – pimiento cheese. With just a handful of ingredients, you'll be on your way to a perfect dinner party appetizer.


Hi everybody, I'm Holly Granger. I'm a registered dietician and mom. I am here in Birmingham, Alabama in the Southern Living kitchen to share one of my favorite lightened recipes. Lightened classic pimena cheese, now before you go up in arms that how dare I adulterate perfectly delicious southern pimena cheese Hang with me because I guarantee you that this recipe may make you actually rethink changing your grandmother's favorite recipe. I'm so glad all of you guys are here with me. This recipe is absolutely delicious and once I make the [UNKNOWN] cheese I want to show you a few fun twist on how you can serve it. One is a southern Canape, and another is a stuffed mini bell pepper. I want to thank all of you for chiming in last week, I loved all of the questions and responses, all the dialogue. So today, go ahead and sign in, let us know you're here! Tell me where you're from and if you have a favorite pimento cheese, maybe it's yours. Your mom's, your grandmother's, and just what makes it really special. I'll also be asking a few other questions throughout the course of the demo because we wanna hear back from you, and of course, if you have any questions for me, let me know. I'll be happy to answer those as we're going along, but let's go ahead and get started. Now, the first twist to lightening this classic southern pimento cheese is to reduce the amount of mayonnaise And use plain greek yogurt. So, I'm adding a cup of plain greek yogurt. And I actually like to start by making my binder before grating the cheese. That way I can mix all of the ingredients so everything is evenly distributed. So add some plain greek yogurt and then I'm using about half a cup of lightened mayonnaise. Now, if lightened mayonnaise isn't your thing, or maybe you use Miracle Whip, there's the whole Duke's versus Hellman's versus Miracle Whip debate. Feel free to tell me what you like to use, too. I'm always interested. This one I found and thought okay, since I'm making it for Southern Living, I'll pick up some Duke's. This is actually some Duke's. Light mayo but you can just use whatever you have in your fridge. So I'm going to mix these two ingredients together and then add pimentos. Now if you like some heat in your pimento cheese this is a great place to add jalapeno as well, right around now. Then I have some Worcestershire A squeeze of fresh lemon juice, that helps to brighten up the flavor. I just like to squeeze it with the top up, that way all these little seeds, I can catch them. We don't want seeds in our pimento cheese. All right. Add some red pepper, just about half a teaspoon, kinda depends on how much heat you like, you can add or subtract. And then another key ingredient that makes pimento cheese just stand out is onion juice. So I like to use my micro plane grater. And then just grate about two teaspoons of onion. And you can see that juice coming off. That's what gives it so much flavor. That's one of those delicious secret ingredients. I'm just going to grate a little bit more of this. You have to put a little muscle behind it. You can see all that dripping in. And sometimes likes to catch on the back. So you may have to use your finger and just push it right in. Let me get just a bit more. You know, some people like to chop onion. Right now, onions are so sweet. So they're perfect in [UNKNOWN]. So if you wanted to finely chop some onion to add to the recipe as well Go right ahead. Alright, that should be plenty. Get some of that juicy stuff off the back. Noe of course, I have it on my fingers, so my hands are going to smell like onion. but hey, that's ok. It's worth it for this recipe. Alright, so just mix all of this together and this is my binder. just make sure you have everything evenly distributed. Right here like this [SOUND] there we go now for the fun part. I'll wipe my hands off here I've got lemon juice all over my hands. Okay so now for the fun part grating the cheese now for this recipe I like to use sharp or extra sharp actually on my recipe call for one of each And I like to use a reduced fat version. Not fat free, reduced fat. Now, if you aren't so sure about reduced fat, or maybe you think that's just gonna taint the pimento cheese, use one regular fat, use one reduced fat, whatever works for you. I actually like to use a white cheddar and a traditional orange cheddar. So this is where you can take this recipe and make it whatever you want it to be. Now I will say, the number one cardinal rule, key rule, for making pimento cheese is to grate your own cheese. So none of the pre-packaged shredded cheese. It takes a little bit of extra effort. Just think about it as Just a little bit of extra love for the people that are gonna be eating it. Just take in this little time to grate your cheese. Now you can if you have like a big stand mixer or food processor. You can put your cheese in there give it a whirl and it mixes it right up but I'm old fashion I like to grate my cheese. So let me get this one grated and then I think we may have some questions coming in. You'll see, yes Brandon we have a question Would you ever use any other type of cheese in your permino cheese. Yes, absolutely. I love using like a colby jack or a mozzarella. It just changes the flavor up.. something like a soft cheese like a Brie or a Feta or a goat cheese I probably would pass on. But even a Monterey Jack with some pepper in it just to spice it up, that's a great question. Thank you for asking. Are there any other questions coming in? Yeah. If we had an event coming up and you wanted to make pimento cheese for it, how many days ahead could you make your pimento cheese? Great question. That's actually the beauty of pimento cheese. So the question was If I had an event coming up, how far ahead could I make this pimento cheese? I would say you can make it up to two to three days. Just keep it in an air-tight container and keep it in the refrigerator. I love to let pimento cheese sit at least for a few hours after I make it before serving. That way it allows all of the flavors to come together and marry. It just add so much to it. So definitely the beauty of this recipe is a make ahead. I actually made the same recipe last night and brought it to brunch this morning, it's my daughter's last day of 4 year old pre-school, tears. And another mom and I just wanted to do something sweet for the teachers because. We all know teachers are just fantastic. So, I brought this pimento cheese with some mini croissants and some chicken salad. The other mom brought fruit and muffins. And it was the perfect size brunch for just a couple of teachers. They were thrilled. But, again, the beauty of this recipe is that I was able to make it last night. Grabbed it right out of the fridge this morning and took it right into school. So this feeds a crowd. The recipe actually makes three cups. So it feeds quite a few people and like I said it can be made ahead. That's actually the great part about it. So all right I'm almost finished grating my cheese. You can see you have to watch those thumbs sometimes on the grater. But it is so worth it, you can see how yummy and creamy this is. As a dietitian, I always laugh that I can justify just about any recipe. If you want to eat donuts for breakfast, give me a call, I'll justify it for you. We got some whole grains, some enriched grains, we'll make it work maybe with some It was fried in some healthy oil. Well, we can justify, don't you worry. So the one thing that I love about this [UNKNOWN] cheese is it actually has a lot of nutrition. And you may not think about that when you're making or eating something like a [UNKNOWN] cheese because it is so creamy and really just one of those indulgent foods. But what's awesome about this recipe is that it uses Greek yoghurt So greek yogurt is a strange yogurt, so it has a higher protein content and of course it's made for milk, so it has the calcium and vitamin D that you want. And then of course cheese is also a delicious option. And. great way to work in some protein, so this is actually a very protein rich snack. Now, I'm not saying eat the whole bowl, no, all about portion control. Now, some of you are kind of, maybe you turned your nose up when I said reduce fat cheese. You know what? Make the same recipe, use traditional fat cheese, and just eat a little bit less. This is where the dietician hat comes on that I can say Hey, it is alright. I'm giving you permission, no guilt. Enjoy this pimento cheese. Let me wipe my hands off because I wanna show you some fun ways that you can dress it up for your crowd. Put that aside. Let me clear off my space. Now one thing I love to do when I make this recipe and I'm serving it to a crowd, is that I love to make Pimento cheese, little Southern canapes. So you can either use a cornbread cracker, maybe some party pumpernickel or party rye, the little pieces of bread that are about that big. Or you can just use some toasted baguette. Here's a shortcut. At the grocery store now, it's so easy. Of course you can buy a baguette, slice it yourself But you can also buy them pre-sliced. I just sprayed it with a little bit of cooking spray pop in the oven for few minutes and got it nice and crispy and toasted and then what I like to do of course usually Palmetto pimento cheese is set in the fridge for probably at least an hour to firm up a bit but just spoon let's see if we can do this spoon some on About a bite-size, this is about a two-bite appetizer. You don't want people putting the cheese all down their face. So, about two bites, this is about a tablespoon. And then, here's the secret, I like to top it with bacon. So just some bacon crumbles, you can make your own bacon. Or you can look for the bacon pieces. Not bacon bits, but look for the bacon pieces. They are really close to the salad dressing at the grocery store. Then top with some chopped toasted pecans. You may have to just sort of smoosh them on. They'll stay if you push it in. And then Course for a pop of color, I like to just add a half grape tomato. That's so easy. These little southern canopies are absolutely delicious and they are always perfect for Or crowd. Now if you are making, if you're entertaining I would say make your promenade cheese a day or two ahead and then about an hour before the party make your kind of paste. So I'll make one more time for you to see and I will show you one more. Do we have any other questions coming in? Are we good right now What other nut would you be able to use? Other nuts? Well of course, keeping it Southern, I do like pecans. But, I think you could definitely use some toasted walnuts or toasted almonds on this. It would taste delicious. And then, feel free to leave the nuts out. Sometimes when I make it, I just use the bacon. But I like the crunch that the toasted pecans add so it just makes it a little bit more fun. And you know a lot of people I've seen make a southern version of pimena cheese. So you could actually take the bacon and the pecans and stir it right into your pimena cheese. So instead of putting it on top Just have it in the mixture already. So add a grape tomato. We'll get one more. There we go. Perfect little bite size treat. Now I'll eat that in a minute. You don't wanna listen to me munch. All right, and then finally, let me show you one more fun way to make A fun little party popper. So I love these mini bell peppers. Don't know if you guys have seen these. They're nice and sweet so you can buy them in a bag. They come in red, orange, yellow. Usually the bag's all mixed together. Then I like to take my paring knife and again just be careful with your fingers and just take the top off Just go right around because you want to make like a little boat and then you'll fill the boat up. Now, definitely don't get rod of this piece, you can use these as scoops. So you can put that on your tray as well so in addition to bread Or maybe pita chips or Frito or something. Use vegetables as a dipper. So I'll just set that aside. And then use your knife and scrape out the seeds. No need for those seeds in there. You just put those to the side. These aren't spicy like jalapeno seeds. So if you touch the seeds then touch your eye, wouldn't necessarily recommend seeing what happens. But it's not gonna burn like a jalapeno seed would. All right so you can see I cleared out this little boat. Now a couple ways you can do this. Either cut a baggie cut the tip of the baggie off and you can pipe it right in. Or you can just use your spoon depending on how big they are. It kinda makes it depend on how easy it is to fill. But use your spoon And then just fill it up with humena cheese. Again, this about a one to two bite appetizer. So easy to eat and if you want to play around add some more bacon to it, more bacon makes it better, right? Add a little bit more bacon and then one thing that I love to do if you don't want to serve these cold Of course, that works perfect like that, but another option is to pop those under the broiler, and cook them until they're nice and bubbly and golden brown. Absolutely delicious, it's a perfect tailgating appetizer, feeds a crowd. And this recipe would be delicious for your Memorial Day picnic. I love to take the [UNKNOWN] cheese, top if on a slider. This morning for breakfast, I made scrambled eggs, put those on a piece of toast, And of course I had some extra palmetto cheese that I made from the night before, put that on my bread, there are so many delicious ways to eat this recipe. I'm thrilled that you guys were here with us. One thing that I want to find out from you is what do you You want to see me make next week. I'll be back again next Monday and would love to make what you guys want to see. Especially with Memorial Day right around the corner. So, in the comment section let me know, do you want to see another appetizer? I made the mango, strawberry mango salsa a few weeks ago Last week we made an asparagus and zucchini ribbon salad. So that was a delicious side or salad. Today another appetizer. Let me know what you want to see, do you want to see a side, a desert? Based on whatever is the most popular choice, that is what I'm going to make for you guys next week. I am so thrilled that all of you tuned in. Definitely make sure to share this video, share this recipe if you like it. It's on my website You can find the link from Southern Living. You can also follow me on Holly Grainger Nutrition. I'll have the recipe there and I'm constantly sharing fun ideas for families, easy recipes for entertaining. I'm all about keeping it practical, doable and delicious. I would love to connect with all of you. Don't forget to share this recipe, like Southern Living, and, of course, check back next Monday. I'll be back with another Memorial Day favorite. Hope everybody has a great week. [BLANK_AUDIO]
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