The Beauty of Pimento Cheese…

Pimento Square Plate with Names

I just remembered that I never posted the November 2012 article I wrote for the November issue of our local magazine here.  Enjoy you guys!  December will be posted in the next couple of days!  *smiles*

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There aren’t many moments when I went to Maw-Maw’s house and didn’t see a plastic container of Pimento Spoons Red 2 with Nameshomemade Pimento Cheese sitting proudly in the refrigerator. Come to think of it, it’s probably one of the first things I learned to make growing up – besides homemade Buttermilk Biscuits that is. It wasn’t always about the Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Cookie Jar, the paintings we would do, the late nights watching Statler Brothers on PBS, or the playing of (banging on) the piano. Part of the joy at Maw-Maw’s was that container of orange-colored goodness named Pimento Cheese.

Let’s take a look at what Pimento Cheese is for the folks that may not quite understand this Southern delicacy. It’s typically shredded cheddar cheese, diced Pimentos, a little mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. That’s it. You can eat it slathered between two pieces of lightly toasted white bread, sandwiched on crackers, or even spread into the hollow of a celery rib if you’d like. It’s one of those treats you can eat how you prefer and no one judges the method to your madness.

Speaking of how you prefer your Pimento Cheese – there are many different ways it’s prepared. Some like more mayonnaise so it’s creamier. Some like it thicker and chunkier. You can use Mild or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, depending on your preference. Some like it hot and add jalapeno, or even get adventurous with green olives and pecans in theirs. There are just so many tasty options when you start with such basic ingredients!

This brings me to my point – Did you know there are three different Pimento Cheeses that start with the letters “St” made right here in Alamance County? We have Stan’s, Star’s, and Steve’s. Out of curiosity, I went on a tasting spree the other day, and I wanted to share with you what I discovered with each one.

Before we start this, I think you need to know that I’m not one to be swooned by elaborate wrappers and labels. I’m a no-nonsense kind of Southern Gal. So, these were judged strictly on taste, and these are my Pimento Square Plate with Namesown opinions. Let’s go over each one’s high and low notes, just like at a fancy wine tasting.

· Stan’s (Burlington, NC) – Other than Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese, this one was the other staple in our house. There are nice large shreds of the cheddar cheese which gives it a thicker consistency, but still creamy. The coarse grind of black pepper in it helps balance out the mayonnaise twang. Pimentos are scattered evenly throughout the container, and the label even says it has Texas Pete in it. It’s a little higher in calories, and the high fructose corn syrup may contribute to that. However, I’ll make the sacrifice for a nice overall flavor.

· Star’s (Burlington, NC) – The “cheese” is quite a bit more processed in this one allowing it to be a thicker and creamier spread. The fact that it has a creamier texture would make it easy to pipe into cherry tomatoes or onto crackers as an appetizer at a holiday gathering. It’s definitely sweeter than Stan’s. The only thing that I found to be a negative about this one was the ingredients read “imitation” cheese, and this might explain the much embellished orange color of the spread. I guess this is why they call it Pimento Spread and not Pimento Cheese.

· Steve’s (Graham, NC) – You buy this little gem at Steve’s Garden Market in Graham, so that makes it a Pimento Cheese Bowls with Namesnice buying experience with the super friendly staff and great looking produce. If you’re a mayonnaise fan, this would be your choice. The first ingredient listed is mayonnaise, and it’s obvious why it’s listed first. The texture is very smooth, almost runny, with large chunks of cheese throughout and plenty of pimento. This was the only commercial one without High Fructose Corn Syrup as well. It ended up being pretty tasty. I personally prefer a little less mayonnaise with a thicker texture, though.

· Maw-Maw’s (Burlington, NC) – You knew I couldn’t leave hers out! Even though you can’t purchase it, I added it among the taste test so I would have my constant. Maw-Maw’s has always had Sharp Cheddar Cheese in it to give it a very cheesy deliciousness. She leaves the pimentos somewhat chunky so you can see and taste them. Very little mayonnaise goes in it, and just a hint of mustard. Salt and Pepper of course join those ingredients, and you end up with a nice chunky Pimento Cheese. What was that you asked? Any negatives about Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese? Only one negative…that you aren’t able to enjoy it with me.

Who would have thought they would have such similar names, but have such different flavors? Now I’m not one to tell you which one to go out and buy. I am one, however, to tell you to go taste them all. Life is about making your own decisions and enjoying the variety of options that you have in front of you to feed off of. Fortunately for you, food is one of the easiest decisions in life. I’m just here for guidance, and right now, I want you to smile. For the simple reason that you just read an entire article about the Southern delicacy that is Pimento Cheese. Say CHEESE y’all!

Pimento Spoons Words

It’s not funny…I’m serious. Laughing Cow Cheese Alfredo

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Well I started thinking after posting tonight’s meal on The Onyx Plate’s Facebook page (that you can find by clicking here) that it wasn’t too fair for me not to provide you with my recipe for Laughing Cow Alfredo. It’s just too good not to try.

This is honestly one of my favorite meals that I prepare. Nothing beats a delicious Alfredo, and even better if it’s semi-healthy. *smiles* I normally top it with sautéed chicken and green onions. I serve it over Raviolis normally. Feel free to doctor it as you wish. Your kitchen, your fun!

So for this short post tonight…I leave you my shining, wonderful recipe. May it lighten up your culinary world and waistline (in more ways than one). *big smiles*

Laughing Cow Alfredo

(I calculated the WW points…4 points per serving, 4 servings)

  • 8 wedges of The Laughing Cow Light Pasteurized Cheese, Light, Creamy Swiss Flavor
  • 2 cups 2% reduced fat milk (Feel free to use skim, 2%, whole, heck, even some heavy cream works great if you’re going for full tasty fat)
  • 1 garlic clove (or more depending on your palate)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I use a grated Romano and Parmesan mix)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste (I don’t normally add any, but you might like some. Less salt the better in dishes.)

Directions:

*Sidenote: This requires a decent amount of stirring, because you don’t want the milk burning or skimming. Don’t leave it unattended for too long.

  1. Put all ingredients in a pot on the stove, and bring to a simmer. While stirring, try to mush the cheese wedges as you go. Yeah, I know you liked the word mush. *smiles* Sometimes I leave small chunks for a cheesier bite in the end product.
  2. Stir until it all begins to thicken, and when it reaches the consistency you want, serve up and enjoy!

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More Bacon Please! Bacon Biscuit Muffins

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Confused? Yeah…me too. But, I couldn’t find a better name for these little guys. I posted very recently about the BEC Pockets, and the day before I had made these Bacon Biscuit Muffins. Don’t worry, I don’t eat like this normally. It sure is nice though to get up on the weekend and have time to actually prepare and cook a warm breakfast. The humdrum 5am buzzer and lucky to grab a pack of oatmeal workday mornings are gruesome. Nothing better than getting to cook in my opinion. *huge smiles*

I believe I have posted about these previously. Honestly though, I just want to drive home the point that it is so easy to get creative with breakfast. We get so tied down to processed “crap” for breakfast on our busy work mornings that we forget about the other options. Sure, you can make this healthier and all…but the point still stands. Simple, homemade, and warm in the morning is good for the breakfast soul.

Bacon Biscuit Muffins

  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 green onions
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese (your choice of cheese) + a little extra
  • 6 pieces of bacon (more or less, this is 1 pc per jumbo muffin)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Spray muffin tin with baking spray. I used a jumbo muffin tin.
  2. Put one biscuit in each muffin hole.
  3. Next, cook bacon to desired doneness. I preferred crispy since it was going to be mixed with the eggs. It would hold it’s own better in the mix.
  4. Add the eggs, onions, salt and pepper to the skillet with the bacon and cook until the eggs are soft set (just before the doneness of how you would serve them).
  5. Stir in cheese, and spoon the mixture evenly amongst each biscuit.
  6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. You are looking for the biscuit to have risen and the edges to be golden brown if you can see the edges.
  7. About 5 minutes before being done, sprinkle the extra cheese on top of each one to have a melty golden topping. *smiles*
  8. Finish baking and serve with your favorite cup of coffee! Enjoy!

***Adapt this recipe for more people by increasing the ingredients. I have faith in you…eyeball it. *wink*

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BEC Breakfast Pouches–Perfection!

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It’s no secret that I LOVE bacon…however, I try not to keep it around so often, because I could literally consume so much it would be very bad for my health. It’s also no secret that I like to experiment with wrapping food in doughs for breakfast.

Sooo…this leads me to today’s recipe.

I had a small can of biscuits, bacon, cheese, and eggs…what other option than bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits was there? Ahhhh, my own homemade version of the classic breakfast hot pouch. As I typically say…why not?

This was so simple, and I encourage you to try it next time you want to mix things up a bit for a weekend breakfast.

BEC Breakfast Pouches

  • 1 can of biscuits (Your choice of brand and style…I would probably recommend buttermilk biscuit though)…Or make your own. *smiles*
  • 1 strip of bacon per pouch you are making
  • 1 tablespoon of cheese per pouch you are making
  • 1 egg for every TWO pouches you are making
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Flatten out each biscuit as thin as you can get it without breaking the dough. Refer to the picture below for approximate thickness.
  3. Cook bacon in strips, and drain on paper towel to get rid of the majority of the grease.
  4. Scramble eggs with salt and pepper to taste , just until the soft set stage – just past the runny stage (use a tidbit of the bacon grease to keep the eggs from sticking and for more flavor if you would like, or keep it healthy and use cooking spray)
  5. On top of each biscuit dough round, divide the eggs amongst them.
  6. Then break each bacon piece into fourths and put the equivalent of one bacon strip per biscuit on top of the eggs.
  7. Sprinkle each one with cheese, being careful to keep everything in the middle of the biscuit, and leaving an edge of dough for folding.
  8. Next, fold each side of the dough over like a pouch (see below photos), and set them on a pan, lined with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray, seam side down.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes. You might want to watch them when you get to the 18-20 minute mark. The biscuits that I had were flaky, and may brown different than some of the other types of biscuit doughs. You want them to be a nice golden brown, just like a normal biscuit when you bake them. Enjoy!

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Will Cook for Foo–Week 11: Dave and Puff…Pastry.

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Before we begin…if you aren’t that interested in the Foo Fighters posts that I write (which you should be, because the Foo Fighters are awesome! *smiles*), I highly suggest you scroll down for the recipe I created…”The Other Wellington”.

There comes a time, hopefully more often than not, that we as a people are blessed with a musical genius amongst our generations. I do understand this is a matter of opinion…some people that I believe to be musical geniuses – Stevie Ray Vaughan, Trent Reznor, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Eric Clapton, Beethoven, Ray Charles, and let’s face it…everything Timbaland touches, turns to gold. These are just a few of mine, but I certainly add Dave Grohl to the top of my mix. He’s not just a handsome face with a great head of hair to sling around fronting Foo Fighters. He can do anything! Did you know the very first Foo Fighters disc was just him? He wrote and recorded every single instrument to every single track (I think it’s minus one guitar part on one song though…just one).

He truly is a musical genius that our generations should feel blessed to have around! He keeps Rock n’ Roll alive and fresh…fresh with Footos. *smiles* He is…….awe-inspiring.

On one of his collaborations, he worked on remixing Puff Daddy’s song (by Puff Daddy’s request), It’s All About the Benjamins. This is hands down one of my favorite Hip-Hop/Rock mixes. Dave…you did excellent adding your touch, my friend!

This week’s “Will Cook for Foo” comes from Dave’s collaboration to the Rock remix of “It’s All About the Benjamins”.

The selected lyric was “Now… what y’all wanna do? Wanna be ballers? Shot-callers?…”

My Twitter update “@foofighters Now…what y’all wanna do? Wanna be ballers? Shot-callers?…No, I just wanna cook for you!”

Next step for you, take a second and enjoy the song…Click here for the song “It’s All About the Benjamins (Rock remix)”.

Find the previous “Will Cook for Foo” posts by clicking here.

On to the most amazing recipe!!!

It includes Puff Pastry…get the relation to the post???  Puff Daddy and Puff Pastry…Haha!  Me finds me very funny!  *snickers*  Don’t get upset Gordon Ramsay…I didn’t slice my Wellingtons on top!  Ugh!

The Other Wellington

  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3/4 cup of shredded Asiago Cheese (or a stronger cheese, Gouda maybe?)
  • 8 thin boneless Pork Chops (I used thin because they would fit in the pastry better once flattened and rolled)
  • 1 box Puff Pastry (in your grocer’s freezer)
  • 2 tablespoons of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place the pork between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound, roll, or hand press the chops until they are about 1/8 inch thick (or the best you can do). This was the first time I’ve ever pounded something thin, so I used a coffee cup to press and sort of roll them thin…I know.
  3. Meanwhile…sauté the onions, garlic, EVOO, and salt until everything is soft. Add the spinach to the pan and toss it until the spinach starts to wilt.
  4. Spoon a bit of the spinach mix on your pork chop, sprinkle a little cheese, and then roll up. Set the roll on it’s seam while you complete the others.
  5. Once all pork rolls are done, put them seam side down in the pan you just took the spinach mix out of. Allow to brown, and then turn until all sides are white/golden. When done, pull them off and place on a paper towel to absorb any remaining grease. We don’t want that in the pastry.
  6. (You should have followed the thawing instructions on the Puff Pastry, by the way, for this next step.) Unroll the Puff Pastry sheets and quarter them both. Lie one roll in the middle of each, and roll the Puff Pastry around each one. Try and tuck the ends in the best you can to create a sealed “pocket”.
  7. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down, lined with parchment paper or sprayed with Pam. I suggest a good 2 to 4 inches apart. Unfortunately, I didn’t do mine far enough apart, but they still turned out great.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them so you don’t burn them. Serve and enjoy!

I know this seems like a lot of steps, but it’s so worth it in the end. It wasn’t that difficult though, so at least try it! I promise you will love it! *huge smiles*

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Picky Eaters: Are they really that Picky?

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Since I am on vacation for a few days coming up, I asked a few of the fans on The Onyx Plate’s Facebook page (click here to go and become a “fan”) what they wanted to see me write about. One wise individual suggested Picky Eaters. I thought and thought about how to write about it. Then suddenly it came to me.

Here is my take on Picky Eaters.

It’s no lie. You can look at my beautifully curvy body and recognize immediately that I know how to eat. I indulge in good Southern items, fusion items, good carbs, bad carbs, and – surprisingly to my form – good home-cooked fresh and healthy meals. On top of that, I’ll try anything at least once. Well, I’m not quite sure about miscellaneous body parts yet, and some of the things Anthony Bourdain partakes in are still questionable to my tongue (no wonder he drinks so much in his shows). One day…maybe I’ll try Blood Sausage. But, regardless, by NO MEANS am I a picky eater….or so I thought.

In this post, I’m not referring to young Picky Eaters. I am simply talking about adult Picky Eaters. Children are a whole different story with picky eating, and you DON’T want me to get started on that. With that being said, I do have a friend that proclaims himself to be a Picky Eater. Let’s think about this folks, what exactly is a Picky Eater?

The WWW describes a Picky Eater as someone that has a lot of food dislikes….

If we look at this simple statement, who is the one judging here? Who says you’re a Picky Eater? Who’s to say that it’s just not someone that knows what they want, and isn’t afraid to tell you? Someone that knows what their palate enjoys, and what it doesn’t? Someone that knows their body and the reactions it has to certain foods? What in the world are we saying to these people that we are labeling as “Picky Eaters”?

Apparently, we are telling them that what they want and desire is WRONG. You shouldn’t dislike tomatoes. You shouldn’t dislike onions. You shouldn’t dislike spaghetti. You shouldn’t dislike fish. You shouldn’t dislike eggs. Who are we to tell these people what they are SUPPOSED to eat?

If being a Picky Eater means knowing what you want and not taking no for an answer, then I’m a Picky Eater. If being a Picky Eater means saying exactly how you feel and sticking by it, then I’m a Picky Eater. If being a Picky Eater is being in tune with your likes and dislikes in flavors, then goodness me, I am definitely a Picky Eater.

In conclusion, I never thought I would say this…I guess I AM a Picky Eater, and I bet some of you are as well. To me, it sounds like being a Picky Eater is the foundation of how we should live life – Don’t be afraid to say what you want. Don’t be afraid to explore your heart and find what really makes you smile. Don’t be afraid to pay attention to your gut feelings. Don’t be afraid to be YOU.

With love,

From one newly proclaimed Picky Eater to another

No worries, I’m not going to leave you hanging without a recipe that is sure to please everyone….Check it out!

The Grown-Up Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Roll

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Did you miss National Cheese Day???

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Well, if you did…It’s not a big deal. There’s always today. *smiles*

It seems that we have become – or have always been – a cheese loving world. There are days all around to celebrate cheese. See below for a list I found through this site…(Disclaimer: Some of these are quite wacky, and I’m not sure how in stone they are.)

  • National Cheese Lover’s Day – January 20th
  • Cream Cheese Brownie Day – February 10th – Yum!
  • National Cheese Doodle Day – March 5th – Cartman said it best…“I love Cheesy Poofs, you love Cheesy Poofs. If we didn’t eat Cheesy Poofs, we’d be lame. I’m talkin’ Night-Court-in-it’s-fifth-season lame-aaaahh!”
  • National Cheeseball Day – April 7th – I have a delightful chocolate chip cream cheese ball recipe I need to share with you guys!
  • National Cheese Fondue Day – April 11th – Still haven’t explored fondue to it’s fullest. Note to self: Do this!
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day – April 12th – Ummm….yeah…don’t need a holiday for this one. *smiles*
  • National Cheese Souffle Day – May 18th
  • National Dairy Month – June – Moooooooooooooooo!
  • National Cheese Day – June 4th
  • Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day – July 29th – Curious what this is too??? Check out this post from Sandwich Lover’s Club for more details.
  • National Cheesecake Day – July 30th – There are multiple cheesecake flavor days throughout the year.
  • Moldy Cheese Day – October 9th – Ummmmm….ok.

My point being, there are many cheese holidays out there. But, to the true cheese lover…do we really need a holiday? It begs a questions that I side with whole-heartedly….Why wait until a holiday to truly enjoy the foods that we love?

Whether enjoying wine, cheese, oreos, ice cream, butter, steak, bacon, etc….. Why put off til tomorrow what you can do today? Hehe, like how I spun the ol’ slogan for getting work done to focus on food? *smiles*

So, yes, thanks to Tillamook Cheese for reminding me that June 4th is National Cheese Day. I needed a highlight to the day, and what better highlight than CHEESE! Just as Tillamook Cheese states in regards to this holiday… “But who needs an official holiday to tell them when to eat cheese, right? It’s not like I only eat jelly beans on Easter or Apple Pie on the 4th of July. Regardless, I do plan on eating one of my favorite cheeses today and celebrating the fact that Tillamook has been making it for over 100 years.”

I celebrated National Cheese Day, and I celebrated it with my last baby loaf of Tillamook Cheese – Tillamook Vintage White, Smoked Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, aged over 2 years (Are you drooling yet?) Talk about mouth-wateringly rich! This cheese is beautiful, and there is a reason that Tillamook has been making cheese for over 100 years. Cheers on National Cheese Day to a farmer-owned company with fabulous product!

In closing, don’t wait to enjoy the beauty of the foods around you. If you miss a holiday, it’s ok…just eat it the day after. I’ll never tell.

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Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant Roll – How can you miss with this one?

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I never feel like I have told you enough about the wonders of the croissant roll.  They are endlessly diverse masterpieces that can forever change the way you look at meals.  I love love love putting things in them and rolling them up for a nice bake in the oven.  The creativity never stops flowing with these!

This past Saturday morning I put together this little gem of a recipe.  If you enjoy easy prep breakfast, this recipe is for you.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant Roll

  • 1 tube of croissant rolls or a tube of a croissant sheet
  • 8 pieces of pre-cooked bacon (I just cooked mine fresh that morning.)
  • 4 eggs or egg whites (cooked, scrambled)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more if you like it really cheesy like we do)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line baking pan with parchment paper or grease pan so roll does not stick.
  3. Lay the croissant dough out flat on the pan, and press perforations together to seal the dough if using the rolls tube. 
  4. Sprinkle the cheese over the dough.
  5. Spread the cooked eggs over the cheese.
  6. Place the bacon on top of the eggs.  Feel free to crumble it up if you would like.
  7. Begin at one end and roll up like a swiss cake roll (sorry, best analogy I could think of right now *smiles*).
  8. Once all the way rolled up – trust me this is the frustrating part keeping everything from falling apart, but well worth it – place in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the outside is golden brown.
  9. Take out of the oven and slice according to the thickness of the roll you want.  Enjoy!

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A taste of Louisiana…

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I would love to think we all enjoy trying new things.  Some more than others.  But, I know I am at the top of the list with this lately.  A really good friend of mine went to Mardi Gras this year.  She asked me if I wanted her to bring anything back for me to chow down on.  Surely I wasn’t going to pass this one up.  I told her to surprise me, and it actually worked out quite nicely.

Now, the product we ended up with was a jar of Italian Olive Salad from The Original Progress Grocery.  I will be the very first to tell you that I am not wild about olives.  However, there was something about this that seemed quite intriguing.  It contains chunks of green olives, pimento, carrots, celery, and small pieces of broccoli and cauliflower.  Sure, it doesn’t sound too amazingly appetizing to some in theory.  But, it was very good in reality.

We were advised to make a meaty cheesy sandwich to try it with.  We used Pastrami, Hard Salami and Asiago Cheese.  Instead of a French Bread loaf, we used Onion Rolls.  The first bite of the sandwich kind of smacks you in the face….quite hard for the non-olive connoisseur.  The saltiness lingers, but the texture makes up for the previous smack.  For some reason I had the urge to try it next time with some slivered almonds on the sandwich accompanying the Italian Olive Salad (not sure where that odd idea came from).  Overall, it added a nice addition to our delicious sandwich. 

We researched this product in our local grocery store, but only found similar products that looked like they had been over-processed in a food processor.  This was nice and chunky.  It’s kinda the same premise of a good salsa.  You don’t want something too processed looking.  It’s good to have chunks and texture.  Thank you to Perrone and Sons in Metairie, LA for a great tasty product.

And, thank you to my Louisiana loving friend for our special treat!

Visit Perrone and Sons here.

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