Tiki Cocktail Skillet Cake

On a recent grocery run, I was stopped in my tracks in the produce section by a stunning display of fresh pineapple. Their luscious fragrance caught me first, and those golden beauties were staring me in the face, just begging to go home with me. All the way home, I imagined whipping up some fun tiki drinks, one of my hubby’s favorites. I also considered making a classic pineapple upside-down cake, though I don’t have a great track record with dessert baking. It isn’t for lack of trying; rather, it’s a matter of getting into my own head in a way that messes me up. Still, I’d try it. And then, as I was putting away groceries, a crazy thought hit me.

Could it be a terrible idea to combine the two? Throw a little Comfort du Jour curveball on a pineapple upside-down cake by applying all the tropical flavors of a tiki drink? The magical combination of rum, pineapple, coconut and lime is the flavor equivalent to summer sunshine, and once the idea hit me to include them in a cake— with my good cocktail cherries, of course— well, there was no turning back!

It was every bit as delicious as it looked!

As I gathered up my ingredients to get started, I realized all at once the source of my frustrations with baking sweet treats. It’s me. Yep, it’s my own fault I’m a lousy sweets baker.

But this recipe proved I can break free of that negative self-talk. I just needed to be diligent.

My muse is frequently five or more steps ahead of my mind and my hands, and the exuberance that kicks in when I start making on-the-fly adjustments to a perfectly good recipe is exactly what gets me into trouble. I confuse myself with too many ideas for substitutions, throwing off the ratios that are so necessary for good baking results. It makes me crazy after hours spent in the kitchen on a recipe that seemed so promising at the start.

When I have a crappy result, I inevitably swear off baking— and I am using the word swear quite intentionally. Then, when my persistent muse comes around again, I repeat the whole scenario, sometimes verbatim. But for this cake, I pledged to slow down, chart my substitution ideas more thoughtfully, read the recipe (twice), and truly organize my ingredients into pre-measured amounts (not just put their pantry containers on the counter) to reduce the chances of disaster. And what do you know?— it worked!

My baseline recipe was a skillet version of pineapple upside-down cake that I found on the King Arthur Baking website, my go-to for all things baking. I imagined the wonderful flavors of a tiki cocktail and started rounding up my substitutions.

I wanted rum in the brown sugar topping, and in the cake batter itself. Sweetened flaked coconut would be great in the batter, but that wouldn’t be enough flavor so I’d swap out some of the sugar in favor of this sweet cream of coconut— the same stuff I use in a real tiki cocktail. Key lime juice would spike it with a touch of citrus, but just a touch. Almond extract would play the role of orgeat, the nutty-sweet syrup ingredient that is so distinctively tiki-ish. Our bourbon-drenched cocktail cherries felt more appropriate than the artificially colored bright red maraschinos, and it would be another touch of boozy, grownup candy goodness. And then, of course, my lovely fresh pineapple would be the centerpiece.

With my ingredients measured and in order, following the recipe roadmap was a cinch. The topping was easy, just melting together brown sugar and butter, and then boosting it with a shot of Jamaican rum. I let it get nice and bubbly, then turned off the heat and arranged the pineapple slices. The cherry halves would come later.

I creamed together the butter and cream of coconut, then gradually beat in the sugar. Next came the egg yolks, the flavorings and the flour-milk-flour-milk-flour additions. Alternating those ensures more even blending without overmixing. The egg whites, which were whipped separately, were folded in at the end and I spooned the batter over the brown sugar butter mixture that held the pineapple slices in the skillet.

The baking time was true to the recipe (my toothpick said so), and I inverted the cake onto a serving platter to cool. There’s a sweet spot in timing the inversion from a hot skillet; too soon and the cake may fall apart, too long and the toppings will stick and you’ll be patching them into place. Aim for 15 to 20 minutes for best results, then immediately press the cocktail cherry halves into place while the topping is still warm and gooey. Cool it completely before serving. Waiting to enjoy it was the hard part!

I served my tiki cocktail cake with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, spiked with more booze of course, as well as a lime twist and a sprinkling of toasted coconut.

Having my cake and drinking it, too!

So was it worth the trouble? Mostly, yes. The cake was really delicious— definitely boozy, as intended— and the coconut and pineapple were solid co-stars. It had the perfect hint of almond, but the key lime was barely detectable, and next time I would probably just grate a little lime zest over the cake at serving time. The boozy cherries, as much as I love them, got lost a little bit with all the tropical flavors swirling around them, but they were still a nice little nod to a traditional upside-down cake.

The biggest victory for me was seeing the success that resulted from my planning and, for once, I didn’t swear off baking when this was finished. To the contrary, I’m already imagining my next cocktail-to-cake creation. Any suggestions? 😄

Tiki Cocktail Skillet Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Average
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A few thoughtful ingredient swaps turned a classic cake into tropical tiki territory. You might say that I'm having my cake and drinking it, too!


  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp.) salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. rum (I used Jamaican dark rum)
  • Fresh or canned pineapple rings, drained
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or additional all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup, minus 2 Tbsp. milk (see recipe notes)
  • 2 Tbsp. rum (Jamaican again)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. key lime juice
  • Cocktail cherries, halved (use as many as you have pineapple rings)

Having all my ingredients measured and lined up before beginning made all the difference in the world for my successful outcome. Separate the eggs while they are cold, but let them come to room temperature before you start the recipe.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, with rack in center position.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, coconut, baking powder and salt. Set bowl aside.
  3. Cut unsalted butter into chunks to quicken softening. Separate the eggs, keeping the whites in a large bowl to be whipped. This will be added to the batter just before baking. Combine milk and 2 Tbsp rum in a measuring glass and set aside.
  4. While all the ingredients are coming to room temperature, prepare the pineapple topping. Melt salted butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk until combined and just beginning to bubble. Turn off heat and stir in 2 Tbsp of the rum. Give the skillet a few gentle shakes to settle the mixture evenly in the skillet. Arrange the pineapple slices as desired.
  5. Cream butter and cream of coconut together in the bowl of a stand mixer, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides. When mixture is lighter and somewhat fluffy, gradually add sugar, beating and scraping down sides as needed.
  6. Use an electric hand mixer to whip the egg whites until light and airy but not broken. Set aside.
  7. Add one egg at a time to the batter, beating until well combined after each. Beat in vanilla, almond and lime juice.
  8. Alternate addition of the flour mixture and milk as follows: 1/3 flour mixture stirred in until smooth. Next, 1/2 milk mixture. Then 1/3 flour mixture, remaining milk, remaining flour mixture. Scrape down sides and blend as evenly as possible without overworking the batter.
  9. Give the egg whites a quick whisk again, then gently fold them into the batter, taking care to mix only until the whites are not distinguishable in the batter. Gently spoon the batter over top of the pineapple topping. Use a spatula to smooth out the top.
  10. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 15 minutes.
  11. Run a knife or offset spatula around edges of the skillet to loosen the outer edge of the cake. Invert onto a plate or serving platter. Immediately place the cocktail cherries into the topping, pressing gently to set them into caramelized sugar.
  12. Cool cake completely. Cut into wedges and serve with a dollop of whipped cream, spiked with cointreau or coconut rum. Sprinkled with toasted coconut.

Copper Pennies

As much as I love experimenting in the kitchen, there are times that I crave a classic. These copper pennies were a dish that I learned to make during my short stint at A Pinch of Thyme, an upscale catering business in Greensboro, North Carolina, during the 1990s. I suppose if they were to have given me a title, I might have been a “food prep specialist” or some such thing, but I basically just did a whole lot of chopping of fresh vegetables for crudité, salads and other recipes.

One of the most important lessons I learned in the “Pinch kitchen,” as we called it, was that simple dishes tend to be everyone’s favorites. You didn’t have to make grand gestures to impress people with food—it just had to hit their palates with balance and sometimes a bit of nostalgia. No wonder these copper pennies were popular with our clients for catered lunches—they cover both!

Copper pennies started appearing on American tables in the 1940s or so (the history on this is tough to track down), and most vintage cookbooks I’ve seen call for Campbell’s condensed tomato soup in the marinade. That’s the nostalgia part, I suppose, but we were having none of that in the Pinch kitchen. Our clients expected the food to be prepared from scratch, and that’s how I’ve made them here as well. In the spirit of full disclosure, the recipe I’m sharing today did not come from Pinch, but from a Junior League cookbook that was gifted to me many years earlier.

When I ran across the recipe, my mouth instantly began to water, as I recalled the tasty and vibrant copper pennies I had made so many years ago. The recipe builds on a small can of tomato sauce, and I tweaked it a bit for my own taste, cooking the marinade to deepen its flavor as well as cook off the tinny taste from the can. Here’s a glimpse of the rest of the ingredients. See? simple.

The onions and green bell pepper are standard, and I backed off the sugar in the Junior League recipe and added a splash of dry vermouth to elevate the marinade flavors. Dry white wine would be a perfect substitute, but I never have a bottle of that open and, after reaching for vermouth in its place one day, I found the complexity so appealing that I never looked back. If you’re a fellow martini lover, with a bottle of dry vermouth in the fridge, give it a try in a few recipes and let me know what you think about it in place of wine. I whisked in olive oil when the marinade was nearly finished, and sprinkled in celery seed for an herbal note.

While the sauce simmered, I got to work slicing my carrots, and I purposely selected larger, fatter carrots for this recipe. My mandoline came in handy for this, as I was able to get perfectly round, even slices, but you must be careful using a mandoline. You see the large carrot “heels” I had leftover after slicing? That was because I stopped when my hands were getting too close to the blade. If you have never used a mandoline before, may I suggest you circle back to my post from two years ago, A Quick Flick of the Wrist, to see firsthand how dangerous it can be to ignore the safety features of this versatile kitchen gadget. If you’re more comfortable slicing by hand, that’s fine, too.

The only thing left to do was steam the carrots, which I did for 8 or 9 minutes, until a carrot slice tested to al dente firmness. I transferred them directly into the tangy tomato marinade, along with the onions and peppers, then tossed it all together before cooling it down in the fridge. 

This is a great option for make-ahead side, when you want a chilled salad that isn’t carb-heavy the way pasta or potato salad might be. You can serve it as is, or dress it up a bit by serving it over a bed of greens. One of the tricks I learned in catering is that serving a marinated salad over greens allows for the excess liquid to run underneath, keeping the main part of the dish nice and crisp.

Copper Pennies

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: Average
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Tender-crisp steamed carrots and a tangy tomato marinade make this vintage recipe a keeper! It's perfect to make ahead for any kind of summer gathering.


  • 2 pounds fresh carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 8 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin from top to bottom
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips and then cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. prepared Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine (or vermouth)
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • A few handfuls washed baby greens, for serving


  1. Combine tomato sauce, vinegar, Dijon, sugar and worcestershire a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add white wine (or vermouth) and cook until mixture begins to thicken slightly. Stir in celery seeds and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool to room temperature.
  3. Prepare to steam carrots by placing a steamer basket or pot over a pot with approximately one inch of water. Heat until water maintains a consistent gentle boil. Add carrots to basket and steam for 8 or 9 minutes, until tender-crisp. No stirring is necessary during steaming.
  4. Transfer carrots directly into cooled tomato sauce. Add onions and bell peppers and toss gently to combine. Cool and then refrigerate overnight to meld the flavors. Serve copper pennies over a bed of baby greens, if desired.

Turkey & Black Bean Stacked Tostadas

South-of-the-border flavors have been a mainstay in my diet since I was in the first grade. I spent a few of my formative years in southern Colorado with my mother, so cooking and eating Mexican food feels like a homecoming for me. The foods of that region had so much flavor and complexity, and the fact that the earliest Mexican foods I ate were homemade means the bar is set pretty high for me.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up this week, I wanted to share a fun meal that is as versatile as it is delicious. Though most of the Mexican food my mom made at home was some version of ground beef tacos, she occasionally dabbled into more involved recipes, and at some point when I visited her as an adult, she made something she called “stacked tostadas.” I loved them! With crunchy tortilla shells, warm ground meat and melty shredded cheese, they satisfied all my texture cravings, and the authentic flavors took me back to my younger years.

This recipe is not quite the same as what my mom made, and I doubt she even worked from a recipe but from whatever she had on hand at the time. A few of the ingredients are necessary, including the corn tortillas and cheese, but the other fillings are subjective. The thing that really makes this dish is the red sauce— it’s bold and flavorful, but not tomato-based. Rather, it is built on ground chile peppers.

For as long as I can remember, one of the staple seasonings in my mother’s arsenal was a pure chile powder that came in a generic looking cellophane packet with a white label and red lettering. It was made by a local, southern Colorado company, which had a whole line of other products as well, but I most remember the“chile molido puro.” Unlike most commerical brands of “chili powder,” which usually include various other seasonings, additives and a ton of salt, this stuff was just pure ground chiles—the exact literal translation of chile molido puro.

I have not seen those cellophane packets in many years (I’m sure they’re only distributed regionally), and until a few days ago, I couldn’t even remember what the brand was called, but it’s amazing what one can find on the internet with only a few keywords in a search bar. Here’s one of the images the web found for me when I asked for “chile seasonings Colorado company:”

This is the REAL deal!

Just seeing the package made my heart giddy! It’s funny that whatever made you fall in love with a particular food becomes the standard, and I guess that’s what comfort food is all about! If you want to try something fun and new for Cinco de Mayo, give this recipe a try, either as I made it with ground turkey, or by substituting whatever sounds delicious to you.


I haven’t been able to get my hands on a package of the Fernandez seasoning just yet, so I’ve substituted ground ancho chile powder for my enchilada sauce. Always read the labels to see whether your seasoning includes other ingredients, and if you find that you have one labeled “chili powder,” with cumin, oregano and garlic, that will cover most of the flavors you need. If it also contains salt, adjust your salt and pepper accordingly.

My recipe for the sauce is very similar to what’s offered on the back of the Fernandez label, which recommends making a basic oil and flour paste, with garlic and seasonings for flavor and water to thicken (though I used a low-sodium veggie broth). If you find the flavors of your sauce too intense, you can tame it by adding a few tablespoons or up to a small can of tomato sauce. We crave intensity at our house, so I went the other direction and added a spoonful of pureed chipotle with adobo. We had some in the fridge because my hubby had just made a batch of his awesome smoky guacamole, which was perfect on top of these tostada stacks.

For the filling, I cooked up some ground turkey with onions and red bell peppers, a few shakes of my favorite Mexican spices and some black beans. Want more heat? Swap the red bell pepper for diced jalapeños. My mom always used ground beef, but turkey lightened this up a bit without sacrificing flavor. Ground chicken would also work, or you could skip the meat altogether in favor of additional beans or perhaps roasted sweet potatoes for body and texture. For a little pop of sweetness, I also added a little fire-roasted sweet corn, which we almost always have in the freezer.

Use whatever kind of Mexican melting cheese you like— cheddar, Monterey Jack or pepper jack work nicely, or Colby is good if you want really mild flavor. For best results, buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The stuff in the bag is coated with cellulose powder to keep the cheese from sticking, and the melting quality suffers. I promise, it’s worth the extra effort.

Store bought corn tortillas are fine for this, but if you want to go all out for Cinco de Mayo, consider making a batch of easy handmade corn tortillas. Give them a brief dip in hot oil to make them nice and crispy, then start layering! Filling mixture goes on first, then cheese and sauce. Second verse, same as the first.

After a third layer, finish the enchilada stack with a handful of shredded lettuce, a dollop of sour cream and fresh guacamole. And though tostadas are typically a handheld item, the stacked and sauced method here requires that you use a fork.

Turkey & Black Bean Stacked Tostadas

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Average
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Cinco de Mayo is a great excuse for me to celebrate the flavors that I've loved since early childhood.

It’s best to prepare the chile sauce first, or perhaps even a day ahead so the flavors can mingle overnight in the fridge. The sauce can be rewarmed while you make the turkey-black bean filling.


  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. pure ground chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • A pinch of oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • 1 Tbsp. pureed chipotle with adobo (optional; substitute tomato sauce for milder flavor)


  1. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Swirl in olive oil and saute garlic briefly, just until it begins to bubble.
  2. Add flour and whisk to combine. Let this cook until bubbly, then add seasonings and broth.
  3. Whisk constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Stir in chipotle with adobo (or tomato sauce) and reduce heat to a simmer while you prepare the tostada filling.

Any other ground meat may be substituted for the ground turkey. If you prefer to keep the tostada stacks meatless, swap the ground turkey for refried beans. Swap other ingredients as desired, but aim to incorporate flavors and textures that will complement each other, such as roasted sweet potatoes and sauteed mushrooms.


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup fire-roasted sweet corn (frozen is fine)
  • 12 regular size corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil for frying (peanut or canola oil are good)
  • Shredded lettuce, sour cream and guacamole for topping


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then sauté onions and bell peppers until softened. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Push the vegetables to the outer edges of the pan and add turkey, half at a time, to the center of the pan. Cook until browned and then add remaining turkey to finish cooking.
  3. Add seasonings, black beans and corn. Stir and cook until heated through. 
  4. Reduce heat to keep mixture warm while you prepare the tortillas.
  5. Place a second skillet over medium heat, and add oil to about 1/2-inch depth. 
  6. Fry tortillas, one at a time, until crispy (about 2 minutes) and blot on paper towels.
  7. Create stacks, beginning with a tortilla base, topped with turkey-black bean mixture, cheese and sauce. Follow with two more layers.
  8. Top finished stack with a handful of shredded lettuce, sour cream and guacamole.

Benedictine Spread

How do you know when a dish is a winner? Is it compliments received or perhaps a request for the recipe? Maybe it’s no words at all as the eaters enjoy each bite in blissful silence. It could be any of the above, but in my experience, an empty plate tells no lies!

When Kentucky Derby rolled around last year, my husband and I were invited to join some friends for an afternoon of snacking, sipping and generally feeling fancy with gussied-up hats and minty bourbon cocktails. I offered to bring an appetizer and though it isn’t really my style to share a straight-up classic, I decided on Benedictine, a cream cheese-based spread developed by an early-20th century Louisville caterer.

As Wikipedia tells it, Jennie Carter Benedict served this concoction to her catering clients and later to guests in her tea room, though at that time it was more of a silky dip than a spread, made with the juices of cucumber and onions and sometimes a few drops of green food coloring for effect. The combination of cream cheese and cucumber is cool and refreshing and makes Benedictine a delectable filling in pretty cucumber sandwiches. Its popularity continues all these years later, with a few modernizations. There will be plenty of it served up at Kentucky Derby gatherings alongside mint juleps and hot brown sandwiches, and probably even at Churchill Downs itself when the riders take their positions on the first Saturday of May.

Benedictine is made with very simple ingredients, requires no cooking, and can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge until post time. And, as I mentioned, the empty plate I brought home after last year’s Run for the Roses was proof that this appetizer was a clear winner.

This recipe for Benedictine is inspired by the original, but follows my own general formula for a cream cheese-based dip. As with my tzatziki dip, I salted and drained the grated cucumbers to ensure the shreds would not turn the spread soupy. I did the same with the onions, swapping new paper towels over the mixture until they no longer felt soaked. I did this part of the recipe first, and let the cukes rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before proceeding. I used Persian cucumbers because they have fewer seeds and the skin is tender enough for some of it to be included.

The creamy base was a blend of light cream cheese, sour cream and a bit of mayonnaise. Rather than drops of hot sauce (mentioned in the Wikipedia article), I gave my Benedictine a little zing from a bourbon barrel-rested Worcestershire sauce made in Louisville—that seemed apropos for a Derby Day recipe and it was a pleasant, savory complement to the freshness of the cucumbers. This sauce also happens to be vegetarian, as it omits the usual anchovies.

If I were in a hurry or making cucumber sandwiches, this would have been ready as soon as the drained cucumber and onion shreds were mixed in, but I wanted to serve my Benedictine on a platter with fresh veggies for dipping and some toasted mini brioche squares, so I pressed it into a bowl lined with plastic wrap and gave it some fridge time to set up for prettier presentation.

When I inverted it onto a lettuce-lined platter a few hours later, it occurred to me that fresh herbs would finish it nicely. Unfortunately, all I had in the fridge that day was cilantro (not the best match here), and it was too late for a last-minute dash to the store, so I had to concede to using dried dill leaves. The flavor was still very good, but fresh dill would take the win—by a nose. 😉

Benedictine Spread

  • Servings: 6 to 8 as an appetizer
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Print



  • 2 Persian cucumbers*, cleaned and partially peeled (a little of the tender peel is fine and adds lovely color)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. brick light cream cheese (or full-fat)
  • 1/4 cup stirred sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (mine was aged in a bourbon barrel, available in specialty stores or online at https://bourbonbarrelfoods.com/product/bourbon-barrel-worcestershire-sauce/)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill leaves, chopped

Persian cucumbers are usually about five inches length and they have fewer seeds and more tender skin than typical “slicing” cucumbers. Consider peeling and seeding other types of cucumber. This recipe requires about 1 cup of grated cucumber. I peeled one of my Persians, and kept the other intact.


  1. Use a box grater to shred the cucumbers and onion. Place shreds in a bowl or plate, lined with layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then wrap in the paper towels; refrigerate a couple of hours to draw out as much excess moisture as possible.
  2. By hand or with a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise until smooth and fluffy. Stir in Worcestershire. Cover and refrigerate until ready to combine with cucumber mixture.
  3. Use clean paper towels to blot away any lingering excess moisture from cucumber-onion shreds. Blend evenly into cream cheese mixture.
  4. Transfer Benedictine spread to a small bowl lined with plastic wrap. Press and smooth the mixture so that it assumes the shape of the bowl with no air bubbles. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours to firm up.
  5. Invert Benedictine onto a lettuce leaf-lined serving plate. Remove plastic and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve with fresh vegetables, crackers, crostini or toasted brioche squares.

Green Shakshuka

Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite meal categories, and now that I have discovered the joy of shakshuka— the Mediterranean dish that combines vegetables and sauce with gently cooked eggs— there seems a world of possibilities beyond the standard rearrangements of eggs, bacon and pancakes. 

Shakshuka, which is very popular in Jewish culture, is typically made with a tomato sauce base and any variety of vegetables. The ingredients are stewed together in one pot, and eggs are simmered on top until set. It’s quick, hearty, simple and inexpensive (depending on egg prices, of course). My husband and I have enjoyed many versions of this dish since I first learned to make it in 2017, including last summer when I made a Ratatouille Shakshuka that was so, so good.

This time, however, my shakshuka is missing the bright red color of tomatoes because I have swapped them out in favor of hearty green ingredients.

Tis the season to be green!

In Spring, it’s only natural that cooks everywhere would begin to lean into the freshness of green vegetables. This past week, I opened my email to find a Green Gumbo, posted by my blog buddy Maylee at Beyond Gumbo. I had never heard of “green gumbo,” made with ham and every leafy green under the sun, but if this is what they’re doing with food in Louisiana, then I’ve got to get down there as soon as possible!

We are still some time away from harvesting the tender vegetables of spring, but consider all the cool-weather vegetables that can carry us until then— broccoli, kale, collards, spinach, leeks and bok choy would all be very easy to incorporate into shakshuka, which is a cook’s choice kind of dish anyway. The main consideration is knowing how long your chosen vegetables need to be cooked so you can plan your time accordingly. The rest is subjective, so find what you like and get cooking!

I like a dish to be texturally interesting, so I went with cauliflower, which I pulsed down into “rice” in the food processor, collard greens, also processed into smaller bits for quicker cooking, and shiitake mushrooms for a little bit of chewy, almost-meaty goodness. Onions and garlic, of course, and some sliced cooked potatoes, just because I had a few left over from another meal. They were a good addition. For kicks, I also tucked in a spoonful of the crazy-hot habanero chili crisp that I picked up at Trader Joe’s. They are no longer selling it, but if you bought a jar, you know that it keeps for a long, long time, and it adds a serious punch of spicy flavor to a dish. I’m still looking for ways to use it and it worked here, but you could sub in any other kind of seasoning you like.

An easy approach to shakshuka

The easiest way to approach shakshuka is to build it in layers, starting with a quick saute of the firmer ingredients and aromatics. Next, I added my mushrooms and chopped collards and steamed the mixture down in a half cup of vegetable broth, plus a squeeze of lemon to balance the slight bitterness of the greens. I spread the potato slices out over the top with a little more broth, and then slipped the eggs into the mixture. This stage of the recipe can be done in the oven, but I have found it simpler and quicker to put a lid on it and keep it stovetop. The eggs cook within a matter of a few minutes, and the meal can be served straight from the pot.

Feta crumbles and fresh chopped dill were a nice final flavor touch to this twist on a classic. We enjoyed our green shakshuka with one of our final pieces of store-bought matzo left over from Passover. We are always so glad to see it go. 😉

What creative twists would you like to see in shakshuka, or which have you already tried? I love reading your comments and I’m always up for a challenge, so please let me know what you think below the printable recipe.

Green Shakshuka

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Average
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  • About 2 cups of fresh cauliflower florets
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. spicy chili crisp (mine was Trader Joe’s habanero)
  • 1 small bunch fresh collard greens, cleaned and rough-chopped
  • 3/4 to 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon
  • 1 cup cooked sliced potatoes
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Crumbled feta and fresh dill, optional for serving

This dish can be made with any number of vegetable substitutions. Consider the cooking time for each vegetable you plan to use and add them to the pot accordingly. Chopping the vegetables into very small bits will significantly shorten the cooking time, and is a good way to get this dish on the table in a hurry.


  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cauliflower into small bits. Heat oil over medium heat in a wide, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet. Add cauliflower, onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. When onions and cauliflower are softened, add the mushrooms and chili crisp and saute to cook off some of the moisture.
  2. Pulse the collard greens in the food processor to the size of cereal flakes; this will help them cook quickly and will prevent the shakshuka mixture being too chunky. Add greens to the pot and toss to combine. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the broth plus the lemon juice and reduce heat to simmer, until the greens begin to tenderize (about 5 minutes).
  3. Arrange potato slices all over the top of the mixture and pour over additional broth as needed to just cover them. Cover the pot with a lid and steam until potatoes are hot.
  4. Use the back of a large spoon to create four indents in the shakshuka mixture. Carefully slip an egg into each of the indents. Season with salt and pepper and cover the pot with a lid. Steam for about 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set to your liking. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and fresh chopped dill and serve immediately.

Spicy Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

Every home cook has an arsenal of “go-to” dishes, tricks or final touches to elevate their menus in a given situation. One of mine is deviled eggs—who doesn’t love them, right? It’s a staple at potlucks and family get-togethers for good reason. This simple but universally loved finger food is one that I consider a blank canvas for interesting variations. With just a few ingredient swaps, you can turn a basic deviled egg into something flavorful and unexpected, and that’s what happened with these pimento cheese deviled eggs only a few weeks ago. 

Go ahead, grab one!

When my husband’s adult son, Alex, announced in February that he would be visiting from Europe for a few weeks, my mind went racing about all his favorite tastes of home I would need to make while he stayed at our house. Like his dad, Alex has a very short list of foods he doesn’t enjoy, and pretty much everything else is fair game, especially if there’s spicy heat involved. He likes spice so much, in fact, that the hostel he co-owns in Budapest is literally called Spicy Hostel! It is apparently the place for young, adventurous people to stay when visiting the capital of Hungary.

That’s Alex, on the bench!

The hostel keeps Alex very busy, so we try to make the most of his infrequent visits home, and I was ready to cook whatever he requested! On the first day of his visit, I invited him to join me on a journey to one of our supermarkets, where I quickly realized that the “taste of home” he missed the most was not any home-cooked meal at all—nope, he wanted junk food! I watched in awe as he piled cans of Spaghetti-Os, Spam and chunk light tuna into the shopping cart. These are all things he cannot easily find in Budapest, so he spent the first week or so satisfying those cravings. He was also pretty excited about York peppermint patties, which he loves so much that he smuggled a multi-pack onto the plane for his trip home.

By the end of his three-week visit, though, we had treated Alex to many home-cooked meals, including the Hot Italian Sausage and Cherry Pepper Pizza that was inspired by our 2021 visit to New Haven’s Modern Apizza. We tossed some burgers on the grill, with American cheese—something we take for granted around here—and he loved it. He also requested fresh seafood (not much of that in Hungary, either), and I was happy to oblige with a panko-crusted halibut, as described in my post about Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Miraculous Mayo Marinade. Finally, Les fired up the bullet smoker at the end of his visit and made a veritable feast of smoked meats, including a pork shoulder, brisket, several artisan sausages and a gorgeous side of fresh salmon.

This smoker holds enough to feed a hostel-ful of hungry travelers!

For that smoked feast, Alex invited a couple of local friends over for dinner, and we enjoyed a great meal that started with a smoked salmon spread that Les makes—I will insist that he make it again this summer and share it here on Comfort du Jour—and these pimento cheese deviled eggs.

This is about to become a flavor explosion.

I had picked up this very spicy pimento cheese in the cold pantry section at the butcher shop where I purchased the meat for the smoker. The spread was quite heavy on the mayo (not really our thing), so rather than serving it just with crackers, I decided to mix it with the egg yolk filling for a batch of deviled eggs. There was so much heat and flavor in the pimento cheese that no other seasonings were necessary. I only needed a little dab of extra mayo to loosen the filling and some finely minced shallot for crunch. As usual, I grabbed a small zip-top bag to use as a makeshift piping bag for filling the split egg whites. It’s easier and less messy than spooning it in.

Let me tell you, Alex and his friends devoured these deviled eggs in no time flat, and you can bet this treat will be coming up in the rotation again this summer. Come to think of it, deviled eggs are great for both Easter (this Sunday) and Passover, which starts this evening at sundown. I might be convinced to make another batch this weekend!

Spicy Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Here come two of the South’s favorite all-time foods, combined into one tasty little two-bite appetizer—let’s just call this a win-win!


  • 6 large or extra large chicken eggs
  • 1/2 cup prepared pimento cheese, on the mayonnaise-y side
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
  • A few tablespoons additional mayo, as needed to loosen yolk filling
  • Salt and pepper as desired

There’s no “right” amount of pimento cheese or mayonnaise to add, as it depends on the texture of the egg yolks and pimento cheese. Adjust each ingredient to suit your fancy.


  1. Boil the eggs, following your own preferred method. Here’s mine: Bring a pot of water to a full, rolling boil, then lower the eggs in on a slotted spoon. Set a timer for 12 minutes, then use the same spoon to transfer the eggs directly to an ice water bath for about 30 minutes. Peel under cold running water. Works great every time.
  2. Cut the eggs lengthwise, and empty the yolks into a medium bowl.
  3. Add pimento cheese, onion and additional mayo (if needed) to the yolks, blending to a smooth, creamy texture. Adjust seasoning to taste. Spoon the mixture into a quart size zip-top bag and seal.
  4. If working ahead, chill the filling and the egg white halves (covered, of course) until just before serving. Snip a small triangle on the corner of the zip-top bag and pipe the filling into the egg white halves. You will probably have some filling left over; enjoy it on crackers or fill a couple of celery sticks. Or, if nobody is watching, squeeze the bag directly into your mouth. 🙂


Today is National Spinach Day, and I would be remiss if I did not share this pizza that I pulled from the oven on Friday. It is absolutely packed with the nutritional powerhouse that is spinach, and a few other key ingredients like feta and dill that give it the signature flavor of Greek spanakopita.

In a roundabout way, this meatless, sauceless pizza brings me full circle to the launching of my blog back in 2020. I have been known at times to take inspiration from the idea of “national” food days, and on this date in that year, I surprised my husband with a batch of spanakopita— the real kind, made with layered phyllo— and served it alongside a Greek salad and easy chicken souvlaki. With spinach being Les’s favorite vegetable, he took a picture of that meal and posted it (along with my national day inspiration) on his Facebook page. 

That’s when it occurred to me that I should probably be doing that myself, not on Facebook but on my own platform. About 10 days later, I started Comfort du Jour.

Pizza, as many of my blog followers already know, is one of my favorite “blank canvas” foods,  and for this tasty pie, I took inspiration from a different kind of recipe made by another food blogger, Diane Kochilas. She is an amazing chef who shares her passion for Greek food not only through her blog (linked here), but also several award-winning cookbooks and her PBS-aired television show, “My Greek Table.” It just so happens that Diane also went to grade school with my hubby back in the day in Queens, N.Y., and the only reason I mention that is because Les follows Diane’s culinary adventures on Facebook and recreates some of her recipes when he takes his turn in our kitchen.

Diane’s “warm spanakopita dip” has become a big-time favorite at our house. When I scanned the ingredients list on the recipe Les had printed— mozzarella, feta, fresh spinach, onions, leeks, dill— I began to imagine them rearranged on a pizza, and I finally brought that idea to life this past Friday. It wasn’t until this morning, when that picture of my spanakopita popped up in Les’s Facebook memories, that we realized the significance of the date. I decided to hustle and get this post ready to mark the occasion. So that’s the story of this pizza— inspired by a dip that was inspired by a Greek specialty— and it was delicious. A delightful way indeed to recognize National Spinach Day, even if it was not intentional!

So. Much. Spinach!

As with most of my pizza creations, this one begins with my own sourdough pizza dough, but any pizza dough you like is probably fine because it’s the toppings that makes this one special. I bake in a very hot oven (550 F) on a pre-heated slab of steel, and the pie is done in only 6 minutes with that arrangement. On a pizza pan, it will take longer. If you have at least a pizza stone, I recommend using it for even baking of the crust. There is a fair amount of moisture in the toppings, and your crust will thank you for the extra bit of heat.

I like to shape the dough by hand, as it results in the light, airy crust we love. A little drizzle of olive oil, and then I layered on freshly grated mozzarella— no sauce is needed for this pie.

Next was a handful of fresh baby spinach, because I wanted to present the ingredient a couple of different ways. I crumbled up two ounces of feta (the kind packed in brine) and mixed it with chopped fresh dill. This was scattered over the spinach and then buried under a generous amount of spinach that had been sautéed with sweet onions and chopped leeks. A little more mozzarella, and I slid it into the oven!


  • Servings: 6 slices
  • Difficulty: Average
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This pizza is packed with nutritious spinach and carries all the flavors of the Greek specialty, spanakopita.


  • 1 pizza dough ball (about 11 ounces), at room temperature
  • 3 fat handfuls (about 3/4 pound) fresh baby spinach, divided (you’ll cook most of it, and keep a small handful fresh)
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks, white and very light green parts only
  • 1 cup freshly shredded whole-milk mozzarella, divided
  • 1/3 cup brine-packed feta, patted dry and crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

I bake all my pizzas at very high oven temperature (550 F) on a pizza steel that is preheated for one hour. If you have a baking stone or only a pizza pan, you may need to adjust temperature and baking time accordingly. Use a flour- and cornmeal-dusted pizza peel for easy transfer into and out of the oven.


  1. Preheat oven (and steel or stone) to 550 F, with rack placed about eight inches from the upper heating element.
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a generous swirl of olive oil in the pan. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onions and leeks and sauté a few minutes until they are softened and translucent. Add two-thirds of the baby spinach (give it a rough-chop first if you’d like) and sauté until most of the moisture is evaporated and spinach is greatly wilted. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, combine crumbled feta and fresh dill. Set this aside.
  4. Lightly dust a counter or board with flour. Shape dough into a 14-inch round, taking care to keep some airy bubbles in the outer edges of the dough. Transfer to the prepared peel.
  5. Drizzle olive oil onto the dough and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Arrange most of the mozzarella evenly over the dough, reserving about 1/4 cup for the final layer. Scatter reserved handful of fresh spinach over the mozzarella.
  6. Sprinkle the feta-dill mixture over the spinach. Use a spoon to evenly distribute the sautéed spinach and onion mixture all over the pizza, and be careful not to leave large clumps of it near the pizza’s edges. Top with the remaining bit of mozzarella.
  7. Slide the pizza onto the preheated steel (or stone) and bake 6 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and edges of crust are puffy and golden brown.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks

Any child of the 70’s will likely remember the TV ad for Reese’s peanut butter cups, in which characters crashed into each other to accidentally merge their respective favorite treats. 

I could always relate to that kid eating his peanut butter straight from the jar, and I still do that today, though my preference for peanut butter has shifted toward the natural variety that contains only peanuts and salt. It’s true that chocolate and peanut butter are a natural pairing, but so are and peanut butter and banana— the King of Rock and Roll certainly knew this; word has it his favorite sandwich combined the two (and it is unexpectedly delicious).

So when I had to come up with a plan to use up the brown-speckled bananas that were taunting me from the counter, I figured there’d be no harm in putting all three flavors together, and wouldn’t you know, I came up with a winner!

This flavor combo was appreciated by my husband more than the last banana bread I made, with dark chocolate and ginger (Les is not a fan of the ginger), and we both found this one delicious for breakfast, dessert and afternoon snack. Les said it was especially tasty straight from the fridge, with a light smear of butter.

The only consideration I needed to make when adapting my usual banana bread recipe was how to adjust for the peanut butter. The sticky, dense texture of my natural-style peanut butter might make the batter heavy, I thought, so I inched forward just a bit on the Greek yogurt to compensate and add some moisture to the mix. A Jif or Skippy style would probably be easier, and would also make the bread sweeter. To ensure that my peanut butter blended evenly, I creamed it together with the sugar at the start of the recipe, then proceeded with beating in the eggs, mashed banana and yogurt. Finally, I blended in melted butter and then gently folded in the dry ingredients and the dark chocolate chunks.

I always hold back about a tablespoon of the sugar from the recipe to sprinkle over the top just before baking. I love the delicate, sparkly crunch it gives the finished loaf.

It’s two great tastes that taste great together— wait, it’s three! Every bite flaunts the peanut butter and banana flavors, and those pockets of chocolatey goodness make my taste buds very happy. Thank you, thank you very much.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks

  • Servings: About 10
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Print

If peanut butter and banana are good together, and peanut butter and chocolate, then why not combine all three? This banana bread is a winner!


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup organic cane sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling before baking
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter (see ingredient notes)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe banana
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (or large chips)

My natural peanut has only two ingredients, organic peanuts and salt. This type of peanut butter is stored in the fridge, very firm and not easily mixed with other ingredients. If your peanut butter contains palm oil and sugar, you may want to consider dialing back the amounts of butter and sugar ingredients to keep those flavors in check.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F, with oven rack in center position. Prepare a loaf pan by buttering or oil-spraying the bottom and sides.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Add sugar and peanut butter to a mixing bowl. Beat until evenly combined with no visible clumps of peanut butter. Beat in eggs.
  4. Smash the banana and blend it into the sugar-egg mixture. Take care not to obliterate the bananas; it’s nice to have a few visible chunks of it in the finished bread. Gently fold the melted butter into this mixture.
  5. Add the flour mixture, half at a time, and fold gently to incorporate the flour. Fold in the chocolate chunks, taking care not to overwork the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Jiggle the pan slightly to even out the batter. Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of sugar all over the top.
  7. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (you may have to poke in a few spots, because there’s so much chocolate in the recipe).
  8. Cool banana bread in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and let it cool completely before enjoying.

Jalapeño Popper Pizza

Most pizza lovers would agree that there’s never a bad day for pizza. But someone somewhere decided that February 9th should be “National Pizza Day,” and I am here for it with a pizza that is not only delicious, but also especially appropriate for snacking during Sunday’s Super Bowl, er, “Big Game!”

Everything you love about a jalapeno popper, on a pizza!

This pizza, which is built on my go-to homemade sourdough crust, is a fun interpretation of the classic jalapeño popper, which is usually a hot pepper, stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar, then wrapped in bacon and baked.

We focused on those same ingredients, spread them out onto a pizza crust and turned it into a delicious slice. Two game day favorites, one tasty bite!

Arrange the ingredients so that every slice has all the flavors!

If you aren’t into making your own pizza dough, choose a store-bought dough from the deli department, preferably one that is about 11 ounces, and shape it by hand into a 14-inch round. There’s no sauce on this pizza—it doesn’t need it. Only mozzarella on the base, but also multiple cheeses in a homemade pimento cheese mixture (don’t worry, I’ll share that recipe, too), thumb-size pieces of smoky, salty bacon and fat chunks of fresh jalapeño, which I blistered in the same skillet I used to par-cook the bacon. You know what else would’ve been great on this pizza? Sautéed onions. Next time!

The pizza is surprisingly not all that spicy, despite having those two enormous jalapeños scattered all over it. If you desire more heat, keep some of the seeds on the jalapeños or consider adding some crushed pepper flakes at the table. Personally, we thought the pizza was just right.

The pizza steel has been a total game changer for our home pizzas. I highly recommend it!

We bake all our pizzas on a thick pizza steel, preheated for an hour at 550°F, the hottest our home oven will go. At this temperature, and with the steel, the pizza takes only 6 minutes to achieve blistered, bubbly perfection. If you’re using a stone or a pan, adjust temperature and baking time accordingly.

Jalapeño Popper Pizza

  • Servings: 6 to 8 slices
  • Difficulty: Average
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All the flavors you love in a jalapeño popper, tossed onto a homemade pizza dough. It's two game day favorites in one delicious bite!


  • 1 ball pizza dough, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup low moisture mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 large jalapeño peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 slices thick smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup pimento cheese (see recipe notes about this)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

Use a sturdy pimento cheese that does not have a lot of mayonnaise. If it drips or slides off a spoon, it is too runny for this recipe. Look for an artisan brand or make my Roasted Poblano Pimento Cheese for this recipe.


  1. Preheat oven to 550 F, with a pizza steel on the oven rack about 8 inches from top heat element. From the time the oven reaches 550, set a timer for one hour. If using a pizza stone or pan, adjust heat and baking time accordingly.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, until most of the fat has rendered but the bacon is just shy of crispy. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Drain off excess grease.
  3. In the same skillet, toss jalapeño chunks until they are slightly softened and the skins are somewhat blistered. Transfer to the same plate as the bacon.
  4. Shape pizza dough by hand into a 14-inch round and transfer it to a floured, cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Drizzle or brush olive oil onto the crust, and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Scatter mozzarella all over dough, then arrange the jalapeño and bacon pieces. Place small dollops of pimento cheese onto the pizza, so that every bite will have a little bit of every flavor. Sprinkle minced garlic onto the pizza.
  6. Slide the pizza from the peel onto the pizza steel and bake for about 6 minutes, until crust is blistered and golden and the cheeses are melted and bubbling. Serve at once.

Roasted Poblano Pimento Cheese

  • Servings: About 10
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Print

The joy of making your own pimento cheese is that you can spike it with any flavor you like! Here, I've used oven-roasted poblano chiles to complement the tangy pimentos.


  • 2 medium poblano peppers, cut in half and seeded
  • Olive oil spray (or 1 tsp. olive oil)
  • 3 oz. cream cheese or neufchâtel, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • A dash or two of hot sauce, to taste
  • A few quick shakes onion powder or garlic powder (about 1/2 tsp. total)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. drained jarred pimentos
  • 3 packed cups shredded or grated cheese (see recipe notes)

For best results, mix all the ingredients and adjust seasoning before blending in the cheese. Purchase whole blocks of cheese and shred it yourself, as the bagged varieties have a coating to prevent sticking and they won’t blend as well. Several varieties of cheese work great in pimento cheese, and I used a mix of Monterey Jack, American, Colby jack and extra sharp cheddar.


  1. Preheat oven on low broil setting. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (not parchment) and use the heel of your hand to press and break the poblano halves until they’re flat. Arrange them, skin side-up, on the foil. Brush or spray them with oil, and then broil until the skins are blistered and peppers are softened (about 10 minutes). Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover for 20 minutes until they’re cool enough to handle. Peel as much of the skin from the peppers as possible and then chop fine.
  2. In a fairly large bowl (you’ll need plenty of room to stir), blend together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and onion powder. Mix until smooth. Stir in pimentos and chopped poblanos. Season to taste with salt and pepper, perhaps a bit saltier than you like because the cheese will dull those flavors somewhat.
  3. Stir in the shredded cheese, one cup at a time, blending really well each time until all cheese is mixed in. Cover and refrigerate a day for best flavor.

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

I don’t care about football. Let’s get that out of the way, OK? But I do love a theme and the camaraderie of a big-game party with friends, and especially the food!

There is no better food for a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan than a real Philly cheesesteak, with its peppers and mushrooms, all that gooey melted cheese and loaded up with thinly sliced steak. It’s a hearty, flavorful sandwich— and it screams Philly. 

It would be the perfect thing to serve for this weekend’s NFC Championship game, right? If only it wasn’t a fat, messy sandwich.

When things get intense and your team is vying for a spot in the NFL’s biggest game of the year, you’ve gotta have an easier way to chow down on those flavors, or you’ll end up with it spilt all over your green jersey! This recipe has all the right stuff, but in a simplified format so you can take a warm, meaty, cheesy bite in between yelling at the refs and cheering your team on to victory.

Our good friends, Bob and Peg, are two such die-hard Eagles fans and they have generously shared Bob’s recipe for this scrumptious, game day party dip. It’s perfect for halftime snacking, regardless of which team you’re pulling for this weekend. But if you’re at Bob and Peg’s house, you’d best be pulling for Philly.

So delicious, hot from the oven!

The game will be aired on FOX this Sunday at 3:00 PM Philadelphia time, and if you have plenty of time to get this dip ready.

Bob’s cheesesteak dip begins with easy-to-find ingredients, and the prep is super simple. You’ll need cream cheese (Philadelphia brand, obviously), onion, bell pepper and mushrooms, a mountain of white cheese and very thinly sliced steaks. Bob’s recipe suggests an Italian “6-cheese” blend, but I used mainly Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheeses because I already had them in the fridge. Some amount of white American cheese would give a nice, melty quality to this dip, too. I’d recommend steering clear of very sharp, hard cheeses, as they tend to break under heat.

Put the veggies in a skillet and sauté until they’re soft. Then cook up the thinly sliced steaks and chop them into smaller pieces. I scored a package of fresh, shaved Angus steak in the meat case of my supermarket, but these aren’t always available. Bob’s recipe suggests using Steak-umms, specifically the 14-steak package.

While the veggies and meat cool a bit, blend the softened cream cheese together with a dab of mayo, and then blend in the veggies, shredded cheese and chopped steak. It may be a bit clumpy at this stage and that’s OK; it will melt and smooth out during baking.

Transfer the whole delicious mess into an oven-safe dish and pop it into the oven at 350 F for half an hour, then top with more cheese (I used our favorite Parm-Romano blend) and put it under the broiler just long enough to get it browned and bubbly on top.

Serve your cheesesteak dip with slices of French baguette or, as we did at our house, crunchy pita chips. It occurred to me when we were enjoying this that the mixture could also be blended and transferred to a small slow cooker. I’d recommend warming it on the high setting until it’s bubbly, then give it a good stir and drop to low or warm setting to keep it nice and gooey from kickoff until the game is over.

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

  • Servings: About 8
  • Difficulty: Average
  • Print

All the scrumptious flavors of a classic Philly cheesesteak sandwich, but easier to eat while cheering your team on to victory!


  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • A large handful fresh mushrooms, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A quick shake or two of garlic powder
  • 14 slices very thin steak (Steak-Umms work great)
  • 2 bricks cream cheese (Philadelphia brand, duh!), softened
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 12 oz. shredded white cheese (Italian, Monterey Jack, pepper jack are all good choices)
  • About 2 Tbsp. shredded Parm-romano blend cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then add onions, peppers and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are softened and slightly translucent. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. In the same skillet, fry the steak slices until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Season with salt and pepper, plus a little shake of garlic powder. Add to the bowl with sautéed veggies.
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade, gently beat the softened cream cheese together with mayonnaise until creamy.
  4. Add sautéed veggies, shredded cheese and browned steak to cream cheese mixture. Mix until evenly blended. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish.
  5. Bake cheesesteak dip for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with Parmesan or Parm-Romano blend and broil for 2 to 3 minutes until browned and bubbly.
  6. Remove cheesesteak dip and serve immediately with pita chips or sliced French baguette.

Alternatively, follow instructions through step 4. Transfer mixture to slow cooker on high until bubbly. Reduce to low heat or warm setting so dip stays warm and gooey.