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Appetizers & Sides

How To Easily Pack For a Picnic; Plus Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean Mason Jar Salads

My go-to's for an afternoon in the park
Filed Under > Appetizers & Sides

How to pack for a picnic, waitingonmartha.comPicnic outfit inspiration on waitingonmartha.comMason Jar Salads on a Picnic with @waitingonmarthaHow to plan a picnic in the park, waitingonmartha.comEasy pimento cheese recipe for a picnic, waitingonmartha.com How to make mason jar salads for a picnic, waitingonmartha.com Mason Jar Salads for a Picnic in the Park, Waiting on Martha How to pack for a picnic in the park, Waiting on Martha

Friday I shared a picnic-ready outfit, along with peek at my ideal day off: an afternoon visit to the farmers market, followed by a picnic in the park.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I have a little free time with the Mr., and always a sign that spring is finally upon us. As promised, I’m sharing a few of my go-to picnic essentials, along with two super simple recipes that I like to pack in my picnic basket, neither that sacrifice flavor or a gourmet effect: my Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean-inspired Mason Jar Salads.

Whenever I’m packing for a picnic, I always make sure I have the following: a big blanket, a great picnic basket, portable tunes and easy food.  Nobody has time to deal with messy, high-maintenance bites when you’re camped out on your favorite blanket in the grass!  So today I’m dishing on the recipes for said easy food. 

First off, with your pimento cheese, and I’m just going to come out and say it: don’t ever use the pre-shredded cheese for your homemade pimento cheese. It’s just not ever going to taste as good as the stuff you buy by the block and shred yourself.  You’ll get a much creamier and more satisfying spread when you do it the right way. And I like my pimento cheese a bit chunkier, so I stay away from processing/blending it so that I can see the cheese and peppers with each bite.  Of course, if you like yours creamier (which is just as heavenly), take it a step further and throw the mixture into a food processor until you reach your desired consistency. I also love to use Vegenaise (vegan mayo) in place of traditional mayo, though I know all southerners will tell you that Duke’s is the only way to go. 

For the Mason Jar Salads, I went with a Mediterranean vibe; a tangy balsamic vinaigrette (I used store-bought, but you definitely can make your own) with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, cooked orzo, greens & more. The trick with any good Mason Jar Salad is to layer the ingredients in your jars (I love this set with clamp lids) so that the salad doesn’t’ get soggy or begin to wilt when in transit.  You do that by always, always putting the salad dressing at the bottom of the jar. Then, you’ll put whatever ingredients won’t get soggy from being in contact with the dressing (think tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, etc.)…bottom line is you don’t want the greens to be next to the dressing. 

You can have fun with Mason Jar Salads; the possibilities are truly endless!  Find my current go-to combination, along with my recipe for the best homemade pimento cheese below.  I’d love to know how you’re shaping up your picnic plans in the comments below!  Truly, MKR

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Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad

Ingredients

  • Pimento Cheese
  • 1 block of yellow sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 block of white mont jack, shredded
  • 3 large spoonfuls of mayonnaise, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (optional)
  • dash of cayenne (optional) 
  • Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad
  • balsamic vinaigrette, to taste
  • cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • red onions, sliced thinly
  • cucumbers, sliced thinly
  • edamame, cooked and shelled
  • almonds, raw and unsalted
  • cranberries
  • cooked orzo
  • lettuce (I used baby kale, mixed greens mix)
  • micro green mix

Instructions

  1. Pimento Cheese
  2. Add all ingredients in mixing bowl. When adding the jar of pimentos, eyeball this with how creamy/chunky you want it.
  3. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, and serve!
  4. Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad
  5. Stack your ingredients inside the Mason jar in the following order:
  6. balsamic vinaigrette
  7. cherry tomatoes
  8. red onions
  9. cucumbers
  10. edamame
  11. almonds
  12. cranberries
  13. cooked orzo
  14. lettuce
  15. micro green mix
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Cajun Inspired Jambalaya Nachos with Kielbasa, Rice, Peppers & Pickled Okra

An Irresistible Take on Layered Nachos
Filed Under > Appetizers & Sides

Blog-Jambalaya-Nachos-Recipe
Blog-Jambalaya-Nachos

Last week I shared my must-try One Pot Cajun Jambalaya, which I hope you’ve had a chance to try.  The recipe left me for an itch for more jambalaya, and I began to brainstorm a few ways I could make it happen.  By now you know about my love for great layered nachos (I take the art of layering very, very seriously as you can see in my vegetarian queso nachos, vegetarian breakfast nachos, and sweet potato nachos), so you won’t be surprised with what’s on the lineup today.

Friends, today I give you my Cajun Inspired Jambalaya Nachos.  Here I stacked layers of tortilla chips with savory Kielbasa sausage, white rice, green and red peppers, and of course ooey-gooey Monterey Jack and mild cheddar cheese.  To top it all off (and I’m quite proud of this addition), I included spicy pickled okra wheels in place of traditional jalapenos.  

The beauty of this recipe, of course like all of my nachos, is in the layering and by cooking each relative ingredient separately before layering. Check out the step-by-step tutorial in the recipe below, and tell me if you’re going to be enjoying these anytime soon!  Truly, MKR 

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Jambalaya Nachos

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. of shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 large chicken breast, cooked & shredded shredded
  • 1 package sausage or turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock (with ratio to liquid for the rice)
  • 3-4 cups of cheese (I used a mix of Monterrey Jack and Mild Cheddar)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Pickled spicy okra, diced and set aside for garnish

Instructions

  1. Sautee the shrimp and kielbasa separately, each with Slap Yo Mama or Old Bay Seasoning. Once cooked, set aside.
  2. To cook the rice, use half of the diced tomatoes along with the rest vegetable stock (to make the ratio of liquid:rice). This will keep the rice from getting soupy or soggy on the nachos.
  3. Spread the tortilla chips evenly on the pan. Layer first with spoonfulls of rice, 1/2 of your peppers, and cheese.
  4. Next layer the cooked kielbasa, shrimp and chicken and then add remaining cheese, spread evenly.
  5. Broil or bake until the cheese melts (less than 5 minutes).
  6. Remove the nachos from the oven and garnish with the rest of your red and green peppers and hot pickled okra.
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How to Build a Seasonal Cheese Board

A holiday-worthy cheese & charcuterie platter
Filed Under > Appetizers & Sides

Building a seasonal cheese board, @waitingonmartha

I don’t know about you, but the holiday season find us doing a whole lot of sitting, a whole lot of visiting, and a whole lot of noshing.  And what’s better, or easier to nosh on then a crowd pleasing, seasonal cheese and charcuterie board that will be quickly devoured even when a huge meal is next up on the menu.  I mean this is the season of over indulgence is it not? 

If you may remember, I shared this easy cheese and charcuterie board for New Years Eve last year, and shared my usual suspects on this ultimate cheese platter.  No matter what you have on your seasonal cheese board, it should be hard to stop at just one bite.  So with that in mind, I like to cater everyone with picks for the savory & sweet, the soft & hard, and the indulgent & health conscious alike. 

So let’s pick it apart this seasonal board, shall we?  On my seasonal cheese boards, you can usually always find the following: four to five mixed cheeses, think soft, hard, pungent and mild, (you can never go wrong with Cow Girl Creamery and Midnight Moon).  Two to three meats (think thinly shaved prosciutto and high quality salami).  A variety of local honey (I always include actual raw honeycomb because it’s so much prettier on the board), jam and chutney (fig is my favorite), spiced and salted nuts, and for this time of year roasted root vegetables. Root vegetables are especially an unexpected treat on the board, yet they’re such a simple way to incorporate warm, rustic flavors that pair so perfectly with the season.  And last but not least, I like to toss candied ginger on the spread for a little aid in clearing the palette between bites.  Tell me friends, what’s a must-have on your seasonal cheese board?!  Truly, MKR

P.S. If you’re at a loss for which cheeses and meats to include, don’t be afraid to ask someone at the deli counter in Whole Foods or your local grocery store.  They’ll be able to point you in the right direction for a nice variety of flavors that no one can resist. xo

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Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha

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