Snacks & Sides

A Picnic with Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mason Jar Salads

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

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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



Homemade Pimento Cheese & Mediterranean Mason Jar Salad


  • 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


  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


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 




Jambalaya Nachos

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6


  • 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


  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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Making Smarter Snacking Choices

Sharing my newest and healthiest snacking obsession, Pure Growth Organic
Filed Under > Food

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I’m one of those people that will eat an entire bag of chips without even realizing it, (any other “grazers” out there reading this?!)  I actually don’t like to have snacks on hand at home because of that very reason.  So I was recently over-the-moon to find a brand that has less-guilt snack options with all the organic ingredients I can feel good about. 

Enter Pure Growth Organic.  Pure Growth Organic has an incredibly refreshing take on organic eating; it’s affordable, approachable and downright easy.  And not to get too technical but, PGO has no artificial colors or flavors, no MSG and 0g trans fat per serving.  The brand covers all the sweet and savory bases too, and actually makes snackable items that I would want to eat, even if they aren’t on the healthier side.  From chips to popcorn, pretzels, snack mix, animal crackers, breakfast biscuits, bars and oatmeal, there are seriously so many goodies.  My personal favorites are the super chips (pictured here), the animal crackers and the chocolate banana breakfast bars

Another reason I’ve been focused on smarter snacking is because of my schedule.  If you’ve been following along, the team and I have been on a string of road trips lately, and having smart snacking options with us was an absolute must.  We had a whole canvas bag filled with PGO snacks which was perfect as we didn’t feel bad noshing in the car between stops (and it helped us all avoid being hangry…cough, cough, Kat).  At home in Atlanta, I’ve been splitting my time between the shoppe, my office at home, and wherever we’re shooting that day, and I’ve found that having these healthy snacks with me in my bag is a life-saver too; sometimes I don’t find the time to eat and just need some quick fuel to be onto the next item on my to-do list.  

One other bonus worth mentioning: the snacks, specifically the super chips, are beautiful.  So next time you’re putting out a crudite, cheese, or dip platter when entertaining think a little outside of the box and grab some PGO super chips!

Word to the wise though: it’s a little harder to find these snacks at your local grocery store, but you can order them online from Walmart and Amazon.  I promise you that they’re worth ordering and trying out, especially if you have little ones at home and are struggling to find a healthy snack-time options.  Truly, MKR

P.S. Check out PGO’s Facebook page and Instagram for more healthy eating inspo. xo 

Photography, Rustic White for Waiting on Martha | This post is in collaboration with Pure Growth Organic, a brand we love and adore.  All opinions are 100% our own. 

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