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Pepper cheese spread stirs up quick and easy

As much as Beverly and I insist on making things quick and easy in the kitchen, I sometimes forget to translate those time-saving tips to my oldest favorite recipes.

Most of our conversations revolve around food, whether it is shopping for it, cooking it or eating it. One morning we were talking about pimento cheese spread."I used to make the best pimento cheese," I boasted.

"So why don't you anymore?" Beverly asked.

Without thinking, I answered honestly. "I hate getting the food processor out to shred all that cheese. And cleaning the processor is the pits."

To say she was shocked would be putting it mildly. Truth be told, so was I. Shred cheese? When was the last time I did that? Being the level-headed journalist she is, Beverly asked, "Is there a reason you can't use already-shredded cheese?"

I had to admit that there wasn't.

We decided to see just how fast we could mix up a batch of that delicious, old-fashioned cheese spread. Whether it's a quick lunch on toasted whole wheat, a cracker spread for appetizers, or an afternoon snack with celery sticks, Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Spread is so quick and yummy, you'll always want to keep some on hand.

PEPPER CHEESE SPREAD

2 cups (2 percent milkfat) finely-shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (2 percent milkfat) cottage cheese

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 roasted red pepper (for 1/2 cup chopped)

1/8 teaspoon (4 drops) Tabasco sauce, optional

Pour the cheddar cheese into a 2-quart or larger bowl. Finely chop the roasted pepper and add it to the bowl. Stir to distribute the peppers evenly. Stir in the cottage cheese, mayonnaise and Tabasco, if using. Serve at once on bread slices or crackers. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Approximate values per tablespoon: 62 calories; 6 g fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 0 g carbohydrates, 0 g dietary fiber, 109 mg sodium.

Beverly Mills is a former food editor of the Miami Herald food section; Alicia Ross is a food columnist for The Raleigh News and Observer. Their new cookbook, "Desperation Dinners!" is now available from Workman Publishing. Send desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016; or e-mail (ddinners@aol.com)(C) United Feature Syndicate, Inc.