Entertaining with Habanero-Pimento Quiche Bites

For Thanksgiving, as part of a sponsored post for Collective Bias®,  I made these habanero-pimento cheese quiche bites. Yes, they put some scratch in my holiday coffer. No, you don’t have to read this. 

I think I’m the only person left in the world who would prefer entertaining and cooking for an entire holiday party than actually going to one. Why? Guest anxiety. It’s classic. You’ll know it by the sweaty sheen on the steering wheel as you come up to the entertainer’s house, or by the sudden shift in music from your lighthearted Grunge and Broadway Pandora station (no, I don’t have one, and it definitely isn’t called ‘Kiss Me Kurt’) to Gregorian chants and the soundtrack to Twin Peaks. Especially with new people. Until I enter that house, I won’t know if my quinoa pomegranate mint salad will be meant with disdain, or if I should have worn the Fair Isle vest over the corduroy button-down…or vice versa.DSC_6624I’ll start worrying that the cheap beaujolais I’ve brought won’t go with the Asian five-spice rub on the turkey, or that I’ll spill pastis all over the runner or, at minimum, shoulder the burden of uncomfortable conversation with someone’s friend’s distant great-aunt who both hates France, gay people, and kittens. It’s easier to host. It’s easier to control hosting, I mean. I can coordinate the flavors and plating and make a rush visit to Crate and Barrel as needed, and still come back in time to down a glass of wine before people arrive. This year, our plans were changed somewhat abruptly. I had a brief moment of respite, imagining a Thanksgiving free of briefs, outlines, or other people until we received two invitations to lunch.Price Chopper #shopLuckily, I was prepared this time. Both were at the houses of dear friends, and both were going to be relaxed, pleasant affairs with 30 lbs of turkey and endless champagne. Thank god. I brought quinoa salad and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with roasted almonds. And right after the anxiety subsided, I was commissioned (like some sort of weird appetizer guild) to come up with a solid holiday recipe using select ingredients from Price Chopper. Honestly, I haven’t been to a Price Chopper since childhood, when I would go with my grandmother to pick up single-serve Friendly’s sundaes and pork hot dogs in bulk.

DSC_6607But here we were. We stopped at the quarter vending machines to pick up a dog figurine, then grabbed our necessary ingredients. I decided to make gluten-free miniature quiche bites with pimento cheese filling. I used Pillsbury’s new gluten-free pie and pastry dough. The cheese was bastardized, but for a girl from Connecticut who has been further south in Europe than she has in the US, it ain’t half bad. We substituted the traditional cheddar cheese for habanero cheddar, and mixed in cream cheese, pimento peppers, and bacon mayonnaise from Empire Mayo in Brooklyn.DSC_6597I vaguely remembered reading a passage in an Augusten Burroughs book that insisted that pimento cheese was served with potato chips. So, in the interest of near satire, we topped the quiche bites with potato sticks and thin pickle chips. And we ate them all. If someone served these at a holiday party, I’d be pleased. I don’t recommend eating twelve for dinner alongside a California Cab. Not that we did that.DSC_6617Habanero-pimento cheese quiche bites
Ingredients (makes 36 miniature quiche bites)
1 lb. block of habanero cheddar
1 4oz. jar of pimento peppers, drained and diced
4 oz. of plain cream cheese
1/8 cup of mayonnaise
1 teaspoon of honey
Pepper and hot sauce to taste
1 package of pastry or pie dough (I used Pillsbury gluten-free pie dough)
4 eggs, beaten
Potato sticks, hot sauce, and pickles as garnishesDSC_66001. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grate the cheese– I used a fine grater, but larger-gauge graters and food processors will also work. Put in a large bowl with the peppers, cream cheese, mayo, honey, and pepper. Mix together and chill.DSC_66142. Beat the eggs and mix into the pimento cheese. Price Chopper carried eggs from my hometown, Branford, which I’d never seen before. Press the dough into a 12-space muffin tin and blind bake for ten minutes or until bubbly and light brown at the edges. No need to weigh the dough down.DSC_66263. Pour spoonfuls of the filling into the cups and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the quiches have risen and cracked on top. Top with potato sticks, hot sauce, and pickles at your discretion and serve hot or room-temperature. (I switched to quiche squares for this one, hence the different pan.)

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