A recipe for a flavorful pimento cheese spread, as well as an easy school lunch of pimento cheese and ham pinwheels for the back-to-school season. Keep it cool until lunchtime with PackIt Insulated Lunch Bags and enter to win $100 in our giveaway below.
I tucked him in tight, zipping his sleeping bag around him, only his mop of sandy hair visible as he clutched his stuffed red squirrel purchased at the Chik-Wauk Museum on Lake Saganaga at the end of the Gunflint Trail. “Get some rest because we head back in the morning.”
“Does that mean we have school?”
“One more month.” I know, a whole month. Still, it feels like it’s creeping closer, and soon it will be here. Summer is winding down, and we’re getting to the end of our summer bucket list. I’ve printed school supply lists. We’ve started cleaning closets and dressers. We’ve celebrated over new teachers. And I’m brainstorming easy recipes that the kids will accept in an attempt to keep their lunch boxes interesting and varied. Enter: pimento cheese and the appeal of the pinwheel.
Pimento cheese from a Minnesota family. Oh my. Not only that, but I prepared and served it on the Canadian border, straddling the line between the Boundary Waters and the Quetico.
Pimento cheese has a universal appeal. A bit of mayonnaise and plenty of cream cheese create a smooth base, seasoned with garlic, onions, hot sauce, and loaded with red pimento flecks, this chunky cheese spread can be served multiple ways: on crackers, as a vegetable dip, tucked between slices of bread (with pickles, please), and, my personal favorite, thinly spread over tortillas with sandwich ingredients, rolled, and sliced into colorful pinwheels.
Pinwheels are perfect lunch box finger foods with their ease of both consumption and creation. We whipped ours up in the cabin, rolled it tightly between flour tortillas with salad greens and deli meat, and packed it up as we hiked along forested trails and pretended that summer would last forever.
Pimento Cheese Pinwheels
- For the pimento cheese:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce (like Crystal's)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 4 ounces pimentos, drained
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
- For the pinwheels:
- flour tortillas
- deli ham
- spinach leaves or other dark leafy greens
- To make pimento cheese spread: In a large mixing bowl, blend together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon, red wine vinegar, hot sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Stir in the shredded white cheddar, sharp cheddar, pimentos, and the green onions until evenly incorporated throughout.
- Store the pimento cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- To make pinwheels: Spread 2 tablespoons of pimento cheese over the surface of a tortilla. Cover with a thin layer of deli ham and a layer of greens. Roll the tortilla from one end to the other, securing with a bit of extra pimento cheese. Slice into pinwheels.
If you are following Food for My Family on Facebook or Instagram, then you’ve likely seen several of our school lunch photos, documenting what I’m packing for the kids for school. Some of the most common comments about our lunches, just behind “do your kids actually eat REAL food?”, are in regards to keeping lunches cold or hot. People are concerned about hard-boiled egg temperature, fried rice in a thermos, whether deli meat sandwiches are safe, and do those cheese cubes start to sweat and get that filmy look by the time they are opened for lunch?
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PackIt actually cools food as it stores it, chilling food and beverages for up to 10 hours (5x longer than regular insulated bag + ice pack), which means my kids can have all the freezer smoothies and hard-boiled eggs they want without worrying about whether they’ll stay cold until lunchtime.
We recently gave our PackIts a pre-school test run, packing them for a daylong drive up to Lake Superior, and then eating our lunch along the rocky shoreline. Despite being tucked in a hot car all morning and then carried on a hiking path before reaching our lunch destination, our food stayed cool and crisp and just like we’d pulled it directly from the refrigerator moments before.
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