Shirley’s Pepper Cheese Dip

Made with cream cheese and a relish-like assortment of green peppers, sweet pickles, stuffed olives, garlic, and onion, this retro pepper cheese dip is enormously flavorful, and extremely popular.

I’m sharing a family recipe today in honor of my late grandmother, Shirley Russell Seavey.

A zippy cheese spread (known simply as “Nana’s Cheese”), this was one of her trademarks, served at family parties and given out at Christmas. Made with cream cheese and a relish-like assortment of green peppers, sweet pickles, stuffed olives, garlic, and onion, it’s enormously flavorful, yet somewhat hard to describe.

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mushroom tacos with fresh peach salsa

Portabella Mushroom Tacos with Fresh Peach Salsa

A few nights ago I got a text from my co-worker Lori Pedrick (the talented Art Director behind every Yankee cover and layout) asking if I was interested in some of the bounty from her peach tree. Georgia might have the peach market cornered, but New England still produces a delicious and hearty crop of the fuzzy orange fruit every year, and not one is to be wasted!

After saying yes I found myself with a generous basket of small, ripe peaches. Making something sweet was inevitable, but I also wanted to use them in something savory, which is how I got to today’s dish — Portabella Mushroom Tacos with Fresh Peach Salsa.

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Pico de Gallo

No condiment is as nearer and dearer to my heart than salsa.  Restaurant-style or fresh, and loaded with any combination of tomato, onion, jalapeno, garlic, black beans, corn, cilantro, lime, and pineapple.

I put salsa on my cheese and mushroom omelettes, mix it into brown rice and beans, or scoop it right out of the bowl with crunchy, salty tortilla chips.  I love salsa, but I had never made it myself.  Outrageous…

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“Hot Doggities” Veggie Dog Bites

I love food ads in mom magazines from the 60s and 70s.  How could I not when it means I encounter things like these Kellog’s/Reynolds “Hot Doggities”?

I eat a lot of veggie dogs.  On the grill or sautéed in a skillet, I eat them in buns and add them to omlettes and batches of veggie chili.  Hot dogs aren’t gross if you know they contain zero mysterious “meats”. 

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Cranberry-Pineapple Relish

I am not typically a fan of relish, but that was before I knew it could be fruity.  Fruity and refreshing and delicious. Especially when paired with a sharp cheddar and buttery cracker.

Courtney made this relish for pre-Thanksgiving snacking, because she had already committed to making the cranberry sauce (our first year having it from scratch, and I will never go back).  Unfortunately, our family isn’t very culinarily adventurous and I only saw 2 other people besides us try it (cheers to Mom and Uncle Ricky) without her forcing them (semi-cheers Uncle Al). 

My favorite reply to Court’s attempted cajoling was Nana, who deferred by saying she doesn’t like anything cranberry, and she knows this despite the fact that she has never even tried it.  And don’t try to argue with her. 

I am still laughing about this.  I love my Nana.

And I loved this relish!  It was great way to get my appetite going for the big meal ahead.  The tartness of the cranberries and pineapple, the sweetness of the brown sugar and honey, and the bite of the coarse salt and ground pepper made for one tasty condiment.

I am sure it would be equally delicious on a leftover turkey sandwich, if you’re into that kind of thing.

How cute is my big sister?  I love her. 

Keep the faith, Court!  I will always try anything you make! 

Especially if it’s one of Martha’s recipes.

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