Taste Test: Jaime and Chris Try Fancy Holiday Party Cheese
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Wondering what to put on the charcuterie board at your next holiday gathering? We try some options.
This week on Taste Test, Chris and I tried three types of holiday cheese from Fresh Market. I was so excited for this taste test because, well, I’m obsessed with cheese. From cheddar to feta, I love it all. There’s just one type of cheese I cannot stand—blue cheese.
Our producers must’ve known, because of course we ended up, in fact, trying blue cheese.
The first one was a Stilton flavored with raspberries and prosecco. We thought it was a blue cheese, so I was surprised by how tasty and sweet it was—not pungent and blue at all. It turned out that's because Stilton makes a white cheese too, which is what this was. Chris also enjoyed it, and said it would be a good dessert.
Next, we tried an actual blue cheese—this one was studded with juniper berries. I could tell as soon as I opened the package that this was not going to bode well for me. The scent of mold filled the room, and I spotted the bright blue veins. Chris’s eyes lit up in delight. I audibly gasped in horror. You’ll have to watch the full video to see how that one played out, but I wasn't very happy.
Watch the video above to see what else we tried—and then comment on our Facebook or Youtube pages and let us know what your favorite kind of cheese is, and if you’re #TeamBlueCheese like Chris, or #TeamNoBlueCheese like me! And if you want to read more about the cheeses we tried—and others available at the Fresh Market, click here.
We Tasted 5 Popular Pimiento Cheeses, and These Are Our Favorites
Five grocery store brands face off in the ultimate pimiento showdown. Who will emerge victorious?
It wouldn&apost be an exaggeration to say that Southerners are crazy for pimiento cheese. We put it in sandwiches, slather it on crackers, melt it in grilled cheeses, and find endless creative ways to reinvent this classic spread. I first tried pimiento cheese a few years ago, when I&aposd just moved to the South. One taste, and I was hooked.h week, I scope out the artisanal pimiento cheese stand at my local farmers&apos market and snag a sample. Currently, I have three different containers of pimiento cheese in my fridge.
As a vocal pimiento cheese enthusiast, I was bestowed the honor of conducting Southern Living&aposs official pimiento cheese taste test. (Should this be deemed a national holiday? I think yes.) We tasted five popular store-bought pimiento cheeses to see which best resembled a homemade version of the South&aposs favorite dip.
First off, let me say that pre-packaged grocery store pimiento is no match to small-batch, locally-produced, or homemade pimiento cheese. I try to make my own pimiento cheese each week𠅌lassic pimiento spread on crackers is my go-to midday snack and favorite easy, yet impressive potluck dish. But some days I just don&apost have the time. Enter store-bought pimiento.
To determine which pimiento brand tastes like the real deal, we conducted a blind taste test of five popular pimiento cheeses that you can probably find at your local supermarket. We tasted Price&aposs Pimento Cheese Spread, Trader Joe&aposs Pimento Cheese Dip, Original Palmetto Cheese Spread by Pawleys Island Specialty Foods, Publix Cheese Spread with Pimentos, and Ruth&aposs Original Pimento Spread. I spooned all the cheeses into bowls ahead of time to ensure the testers didn&apost know which was which. Then, with trusty Saltine crackers as the vehicle for the cheese spreads, Southern Living editors tasted all five pimientos and recorded their comments. Here&aposs what we thought.
Chex Party Mix
Dump cereal into a large mixing bowl. Add in pretzel sticks and nuts.
In a microwave-safe bowl, add remaining ingredients and microwave until butter is melted. Stir together and toss into a cereal mixture, stirring as you go.
Transfer mix onto one or two baking sheets, and bake in a 250-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Grab a handful every forty minutes. Eat. Spoil your appetite.
I know what you&rsquore thinking: &ldquoChex Party Mix? But I can just buy that in bags from the supermarket!&rdquo But the truth is, my turkeys, you really, really can&rsquot.
No offense to Chex, but I grew up in the seventies and eighties&mdashback when prep was all the rage and the original, HOMEMADE Chex Party Mix reigned supreme at Christmastime. To me the stuff in the bag just doesn&rsquot cut it. Sure, it&rsquos salty and flavorful. Sure, it&rsquos crunchy. But there&rsquos just something missing.
I follow the original Chex-created recipe, but since I&rsquom a malcontented middle child I&rsquom forced to change things up a bit. For one, I substitute the garlic powder the original recipe calls for with fresh, minced garlic, which really gives the Chex Mix a beautiful roasted garlic flavor. Mmmm. And because I&rsquom really spicy and dangerous, I add in several shakes of Tabasco, which makes an amazing difference in the end.
I&rsquom not really spicy and dangerous. But I&rsquove always wanted to be.
C&rsquomon, guys. If you&rsquove never made your own batch of Chex Party Mix, you&rsquove GOT to try it. Do a side-by-side taste test with the prepackaged stuff in a bag. You&rsquoll never, ever go back.
The Cast of Characters: Corn Chex. Wheat Chex. Rice Chex. Chex, Chex, Chex. I&rsquom getting dizzy. Also: Pretzel Sticks, Mixed Nuts, Butter, Worcestershire Sauce, Lawry&rsquos Seasoned Salt, Onion Powder&hellipand FRESH GARLIC! Oh&hellipand TABASCO! Little changes excite me, even if they take place in a bowl of Chex Party Mix. I&rsquom very easily amused.
In a grrrreat big bowl, measure 3 cups each of Corn, Wheat, and Rice Chex.
Dump in 2 cups of pretzel sticks&hellip
And there you have it&mdashChex Party Mix!
Now it&rsquos time to get serious, folks. Unwrap 1 to 1 1/2 sticks of regular (salted) butter and place in a microwave-safe bowl.
Now find your Worcestershire. Remember? You just used it to make the Marlboro Man Sandwiches? Yeah. Yeah, that&rsquos the one.
Measure 3 tablespoons of the stuff and add it to the butter.
Now find your Tabasco. Remember? You just used it to make the Marlboro Man Sandwiches? Yeah. Yeah, that&rsquos the one.
Go ahead and add Tabasco to taste, which I know is difficult to judge with something like this. I used about seven good shakes, and the resulting party mix had a delightfully spicy undertone, though I never felt enough heat for it to be uncomfortable. If you&rsquove got the culinary kahones, bump it up to 10-12 shakes. But only if you&rsquove got the kahones.
Now find your Lawry&rsquos, which I KNOW you have in your spice cabinet because I mention it so much I&rsquove burned a subliminal crater in your medulla oblongota and you wouldn&rsquot dare be caught dead without it. Or something like that.
That really made no sense at all.
I find that 1 teaspoon of the stuff is really good enough, though another 1/4 to 1/2 would work if you&rsquore rrrrreally into salt. But start with 1 teaspoon, and you can add more later, after you&rsquove tasted it.
Now for my TOP SECRET PIONEER WOMAN CHEX PARTY MIX INGREDIENT: Fresh garlic, baby. Break off 2 to 4 cloves, depending on how much you l-o-v-e garlic.
To get to the good stuff inside, just use the bottom of a glass or jar and give the cloves a nice hit.
Then just peel the skin right off. And aww&mdashlook. That little one&rsquos starting to sprout a little. These little cloves grow up so fast&mdashI just can&rsquot believe it!
Okay, so my garlic is a little old. I&rsquom sorry, okay? I&rsquom a Pioneer Woman and it&rsquos a long way to a supermarket.
Now, you can chop the garlic if you like, but I&rsquove found that mashing it in a garlic press allows the garlic flavor to really distribute itself and give the mix a deep, roasted garlic taste. In other words, use a garlic press. OR! (Another way to do it is to turn a butcher knife on its side and press the garlic against the cutting board, forming a paste.)
A press is also great because as you&rsquore mashing the garlic, it squeezes the garlic juice right into the mixture.
President is a higher-end French butter that&aposs widely available at supermarkets, which is a nice thing to be. It&aposs a solid industrial butter with a nice mellow aftertaste, and I wouldn&apost be ashamed to bring it to a party. It ranked pretty highly in our previous grocery store butter ranking, and I can see why. In less illustrious company, it would definitely be a more serious contender. As it was, it wasn&apost anyone&aposs favorite, but it wasn&apost anyone&aposs least favorite.
I came into the tasting as a fan of Ploughgate&aposs maple butter, which has a nice salty-sweet-funky balance. So I was excited to try the straight-up cultured salted butter they make, but it ended up not being my favorite. The truth is that the further into high-end cultured butter you get, the more the gap between cheese and butter closes. This butter reminded me of that—it tasted very cultured, with almost a yogurty tartness to it, and a strong funky note. I liked it with radishes, but it was a little bit too assertive for bread. It&aposs butter that challenged you, which is interesting, but not exactly what I was looking for in a fancy butter.
10 Twists on Hot Dogs
Want an easy way to spice up your next dog? Pair this cookout staple with deli favorites! Top with egg salad, a few dollops of pickle relish and freshly cracked pepper.
Easy peasy: Spread with cream cheese, then top with grilled onions and sliced jalapenos.
It might not be Cinco de Mayo, but that doesn&apost mean you can&apost have a fiesta in your bun! Sprinkle with shredded cheddar melt. Top with guac, pickled jalapenos and crumbled tortilla chips.
Craving a little Italian flavor? Spread your dog with a blend of mayo and pesto. Top with fresh basil, chopped tomatoes and grated parmesan.
Pastrami Reuben Dog
Who says you can&apost blend two classic recipes into one? Wrap the dog in pastrami. Layer on a lice of Swiss melt. Top with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.
In a Pickle Dog
Make the pickle the star of your meal instead of an after-thought. Top with pickle relish, cucumber wedges and dill pickle wedges. Sprinkle with celery salt.
Pimento Cheese Dog
Cheese and crackers are to hot dogs as peanut butter and jelly are to bread -- at least in this recipe! Spread with store-bought pimento cheese, then sprinkle with crushed buttery crackers, such as Ritz.
Hummus Deluxe Dog
Give your dog a Greek makeover. Spread with hummus, then top with sliced roasted red peppers. Sprinkle with paprika.
Throw all the perfect pairings of buffalo chicken wings on this bad boy -- trust us, you won&apost regret it. Just toss finely chopped celery and carrots in hot sauce. Spoon onto the dog top with blue cheese crumbles.
French Onion Dog
Make a fancy dog that won&apost empty your wallet. Top with caramelized onions and shredded gruyere melt. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme.
We Tried Every Item From McDonald's New Worldwide Favorites Menu
It's finally here! McDonald's new Worldwide Favorites Menu has official landed in the U.S., and we got a chance to try it out today. Anyone who's been to an international McDonald's knows how exciting is to try a new take on an American classic (a personal favorite is the Chinese Taro Pie). McDonalds&mdashbeing the food giant they are&mdashof course picked up on this, realizing that their "U.S. customers are curious about McDonald&rsquos international menu items, and that there was a need "to leverage [their] global scale and offer popular flavors from around the world&rdquo. Hence, the Worldwide Favorites Menu.
Check out our thoughts below:
#1 Stroopwafel McFlurry (The Netherlands)
To be honest this treat blew everything else out of the water. Can you even go wrong with vanilla soft serve and crunchy caramel Stroopwafel? Probably not.
#2 Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich (Canada)
This sandwich had us feeling fancy. The tender chicken, juicy tomatoes and fresh mozzarella brought together by a crispy, brioche bun felt thoughtful. And of course it's from Canada. They really can do no wrong!
#3 Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger (Spain)
Sorry folks, but it all goes downhill from here. While McDonald's might have put down a 100 percent fresh beef burger with "smoky McBacon Sauce," all we seemed to pick up was "a quarter pounder with smoky cheese and a weird sauce." We know that this burger was supposed to be special but.
#4 Cheesy Bacon Fries (Australia)
These fries just didn't make sense. While the cheddar-bacon flavor was appreciated, they were quite "A LOT" in terms of the cheese content. After a few minutes, the fries became soggy, heavy, and just not very fun to eat.
Best festive cake recipes
Try our traditional fruit cakes along with alternative ideas to serve over the festive season – including an impressive white snowball cake, Italian chocolate cake, After Eight cake and plenty more.
Published: November 12, 2019 at 10:07 am
Bake one of our classic fruit cakes for Christmas. Or try a festive alternative, including an indulgent white velvet snowball sponge, Italian chocolate cake and gingerbread bundt cake.
Impress everyone over the festive season with these ideas, or try our Christmas baking or Christmas dessert recipes.
If you get stuck along the way, be sure to check out our best ever baking tips and tricks right here.
Classic Christmas cake
Get ahead with your Christmas baking and rustle up our gently spiced, orange and ginger wine-spiked fruit cake.
Chocolate yule log
Chocoholics need not fear over Christmas! This indulgent festive chocolate log combines a boozy Baileys cream with rich dark chocolate ganache and a crunchy hazelnut brittle - a proper grown-up bake.
White velvet snowball cake
Impress your friends and family this Christmas and make our standout snowball cake. It might not be snowing outside, but one bite of this cake and you'll feel like you're in a winter wonderland. Filled with coconut and covered in white chocolate, it's sweet and indulgent, making it the perfect Christmas Day centrepiece.
Looking for more stand out cakes? Click the link for our best evershowstopping bakes.
Italian Christmas cake
This decadent recipe for chocolate hazelnut cake (torta alla nocciola) celebrates a classic combination and is deliciously indulgent, a great Christmas day cake idea for an Italian-inspired Christmas sweet treat.
Rum and almond fruit cake
Want an easy fruit cake with no fuss? Impress your guests this Christmas and jazz up your cake with rum and a simple almond buttercream. Make it now or save the recipe to whip-up a quick, last-minute Christmas cake.
A real showstopper of a cake, this three-tiered beauty is all dark chocolate and Baileys Irish Cream. It's perfect for an impressive Christmas dessert.
Clementine Christmas layer cake
This is a festive spin on a classic victoria sponge – instead of jam and cream it is layered with a homemade clementine curd (you can use shop-bought if you prefer) and a champagne-spiked cream.
After Eight cake
This showstopping bundt-shaped cake is a glorious combination of chocolate and mint that makes an excellent dessert for a festive party.
White Christmas cake
This is a very light vanilla cake, and one that we love to serve on Christmas Day in place of a normal fruit cake. Our Christmas cake is super easy to make, so you can have it on the table in no time. In order to keep the colour as white as possible, use a very light-coloured butter such as Lurpak.
Gingerbread bundt cake
Check out this Guinness and dark chocolate bundt cake, an impressive alternative Christmas cake idea to easily feed a crowd. This recipe is best to make in advance, then leave un-iced in an airtight box overnight or for a couple of days and glaze it an hour or so before serving. That way the deep flavours of this indulgent cake get a chance to develop in time for Christmas Day.
This easy yet standout pandoro recipe is sure to bring the wow factor to any Christmas table. The chocolate and amaretto semifreddo is all encased in an Italian pandoro bread and topped with a crown of crunchy pistachios.
Victoria sponge with spiced Christmas curd
This Victoria sponge recipe is an easy, festive twist on a classic cake – a perfect baking idea for afternoon tea over the festive period.
Spiced rum baumkuchen
This rum cake is a show-stopper for Christmas Day. Slice it open to reveal the many layers that will wow your guests. It might take a bit of time to prepare, but it's worth the effort. This cake will store for up to three days in an airtight container, or longer if stored in the fridge.
Chocolate Christmas cake with hazelnut and cinnamon (Kugelhupf)
Kugelhupf is a light Christmas cake similar to brioche or baba and is popular in central Europe. This version is made with chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon, a great alternative to the traditional British Christmas cake recipe. Plus, it's easy to make, too.
Gluten-free Christmas cake
Move over Christmas puddings, our festive clementine cake is in town and it tastes GREAT. Slice it up and watch everyone come running for a piece of this sweet, yogurty deliciousness, plus, it's super simple to make and it's gluten-free.
Click here for more exciting gluten free baking recipes.
Red velvet cake
Looking for an alternative yet Christmas bake? Give your chocolate cake a red tinge in this classic American cake recipe, covered in silky-smooth cheese frosting for extra indulgence to serve your hungry festive guests.
Irish coffee cake recipe
How do you improve on a classic coffee cake? Get inspired by the Irish, with a splash of whiskey and Guinness, and top with pillowy coffee-flavoured cream for an decadent addition to a Christmas spread.
Russian honey cake
This Russian cake with moreish burnt-honey icing is an impressive layer cake that takes a bit of effort to make but is the perfect Christmas cake idea to show off to friends and family over the festive season.
Rum and raisin bundt cake
Looking for boozy bakes to impress your guests this Christmas? Check out our easy rum and raisin bundt cake, with a real crowd-pleasing flavour combination. Try this cake warm and dolloped with sweetened whipped cream, a great alternative to a classic Christmas cake recipe.
Nutella cake with Baileys
Add a splash of Baileys to this easy chocolate christmas cake idea. Our decadent sunken Nutella cake is a quick yet indulgent sweet treat that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser with all the family this Christmas.
Christmas bundt cake with redcurrants and lemon
Need a stunning recipe for a Christmas party? This beautiful festive cake is made in a heritage bundt tin, which is made by Nordic Ware, an American company. It isn’t cheap but will last forever and works like a dream – the cakes release perfectly every time, a great way to impress your friends and family this Christmas.
Chocolate and ginger brownie cake with ginger
A stupendous chocolate cake for afternoon tea this Christmas. Our chocolate brownie cake has chopped preserved ginger in the mix to give it an extra festive spice, and a bit of a grown-up twist to really impress your friends and family.
Dirty chai chocolate cake
Inspired by the dirty chai (a masala chai latte with a shot of espresso), this showstopping cake boasts layers of chai ganache and chocolate ombre sponge, the perfect way to impress guests over the festive season.
Vegan chocolate layer cake
Looking for an easy chocolate cake to feed vegan friends over the festive season? Decent espresso powder is the key to this luxurious vegan chocolate sponge, sandwiched together with indulgent (and butter-free) chocolate buttercream.
17 Frozen Pizzas That Taste Better Than Delivery, Ranked
We know frozen pizzas aren't usually what you think of when you picture yourself biting into a hot, delicious slice, but there are times when you can't wait on delivery , and frozen will have to do. Plus, frozen pizza has really evolved, and (gasp!) some of them really ARE as good as delivery!
A team of taste-testers sampled every kind of frozen pizza sold at major grocery stores, rating them on a scale of one (is this even pizza?) to five (is this delivery?), so you don't have to waste your money on the cardboard stuff.
We had high hopes for this one when one of our taste-testers raved about how he would eat it almost daily as a child. But as soon as we bit into the pizza we realized this number was better left for kids. To say that the party pizza was lackluster would be an understatement&mdashthe unmelted cheese, lackluster crust, and weirdly chunky pepperoni made us put this one in last place.
BUY NOW $2, Totino's Party Pizza, target.com
Whole Foods is a pro at healthy food but pizza is not always their strong suit. Though no tasters completely hated the pizza, it didn't go beyond decent. The biggest complaint was that it didn't "have a lot of flavor, but quite a bit of grease"&mdashdefinitely not something you'd expect from the chain.
A cheese pizza is all about that, well, cheese! But in the words of one of our testers, "without as much going on, the cheese needs to deliver. This cheese does not."
BUY NOW $12, Amy's 4 Cheese Pizza, walmart.com
Like its pepperoni counterpart, this Whole Foods supreme was not a stunner. According to one taster, the toppings were nice and fresh, but the pie as a whole needed more flavor. "It's nothing to write home about," another said. It's OK though, 'cause Whole Foods has SO many other delicious things!
Like most other cheese-only pizzas this one isn't exactly a star. As one tester put it, "the cheese was tasty, but the rest is meh."
BUY NOW $3, Tombstone Original 5 Cheese Pizza, walmart.com
According to one taster, this pizza may have been "too thin to leave an impression." If you're into a super crispy crust, this is the pizza for you, but bear in mind that given the fragile dough, the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni will be lacking.
This BBQ pizza is mostly on-point. Though some tasters described the dough as slightly chewy, which we can all agree is not optimal in pizza, the sauce &mdash AKA the main attraction &mdash did not miss. A tangy sauce with a slight kick gives this pizza the edge to take it from the freezer to near-delivery status.
"This pizza is not the most exciting, but also not threatening," one taster said. The cheese is light, the mushrooms actually taste roasted, and the spinach is a welcome touch of green. It's not extraordinary, but it's definitely good, and probably a great option for a vegetarian pizza lover.
Based on initial taster comments, this frozen pizza was a little divisive. Some testers loved the pepperoni, while others felt it tasted like it had been pulled straight out of the freezer. But like a fine wine, it got better with age (and by that we mean the passing minutes between bites, not actual years), and in the end, our tasters enjoyed it.
BUY N OW $5, DiGiorno Original Rising Crust Pepperoni Pizza, walmart.com
This pepperoni number was alright, but again, nothing too special. The one complaint that tasters had was that the crust was slightly too thick and you really had to bite down on it. Other than that, this is a traditional pepperoni pie.
The veggies and toppings taste super fresh for a frozen pizza and the pie has a little spicy somethin'-somethin' for those craving an extra kick. However, t he cheese seems almost non-existent, and a razor-thin crust means you're likely to have crumbled pizza on your plate instead of a slice in your hand.
This supreme may have gotten a little too ambitious. This pie had a lot going on and although all the ingredients were fresh and flavorful, they overwhelmed the pizza. The sauce was top-notch, but the cheese got lost in it (and all the veggies and meats).
BUY NOW $5, DiGiorno Original Rising Crust Supreme Pizza, walmart.com
As one taster said, "I had low expectations for this, but I actually can't stop eating it ." Let's be real: Tony's may not be your idea of a gourmet pizza, but there's just something about it that won't let you stop munching on it until there's nothing left. Let's not question it.
CPK came through with this BBQ-inspired pie. The chicken is actually juicy and the sauce is not too overwhelming, making this really enjoyable. The only caveat is that with such an extremely thin crust this number resembles a flatbread more than a pizza, so if you're craving something on the doughier side, you may want to try something else.
We Tried 6 Jarred Alfredo Sauces and This One Belongs on Your Fettuccine
Nothing beats homemade Alfredo, but when you need a shortcut, this one's the best bet.
Marinara is well and fine for the average pasta dinner, but when it’s time to feel decadent, there’s no better sauce to turn to than Alfredo. The creamy, peppery, garlicky sauce is a great way to finish off nearly any Italian dish, and works well whether you’re cooking up fettuccine or planning to make a lasagna. And while we very much encourage you to try making your own Alfredo sauce at home, some nights you just need a shortcut that will help you put together a quick, but delicious dinner. That’s why we decided to try six jarred versions of Alfredo, all available in stores or online. Here are our rankings, from best to worst.
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Take your pizza snacks to the next level with a southwest bean dip with help from Old El Paso®.
A tasty jalapeno dip made with cream cheese and made just to dip your pizza rolls in?
Add some cheese, a few green onions, and you’re looking at the best invention since Totino’s® Pizza Rolls
Barbecue. Spice. Dip. Need we say more? Easy to make. Easier to eat. Not so easy to share.
Take salsa, add some mango, cilantro, lime, and turn your pizza roll snacks into a pizza roll feast.
Surf hard, snack hard. Ride the snack wave and try this Hawaiian inspired dipping sauce.
Make this warm cheesy dip in minutes. Your stomach will thank you.
Make this easy dip and give your pizza rolls the chance to prove that they also slap with ranch.