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Monday, October 18

Feeling Dippy?

I got to thinking about what all I've been covering so far, and realized that my Starters section was somewhat lacking.  Only 3 recipes...GAH...and the holiday season fast approaching!!  Well, I'm going to rectify that a bit.  After all, if we're going to be doing any entertaining, we need more variety, right?  So, let's step over to the marvelous world of DIPS!!

Dips are quite versatile...they can be hot or cold, sweet or savory, vegetarian or meaty.  Heck, some people make meals from certain types of dip (I know salsa and chips are a great lunch for me)!!  There will be several recipes today...Fruit Dip, Crab Dip, Smoked Salmon Dip, Hummus, Guacamole, Fresh Tomato Salsa, and the ultimate party dip, Mexican Seven-Layer Dip.

We have our work cut out for us, so let's get started!!  Oh, and I do have variations for a few of these, so they will be included at the end of each recipe!!


1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 8oz carton dairy sour cream
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 tablespoons milk
Assorted fruit, such as cherries, sliced apple, pear, banana or strawberries

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.  Gradually add the sour cream, beating until combined, scraping the sides often.  Add the brown sugar and vanilla, blend thoroughly.  Stir in the milk until it's a "dippable" consistancy.  Cover and chill at least 60 minutes before serving.  Serve with assorted fruit. Makes 2 cups.

NOTE - for a lighter version, use one 6oz carton of plain yogurt in place of the sour cream.

VARIATION - Spice Dip - Prepare as directed, except add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice.


1 cup cooked crabmeat OR 1 6oz can crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion OR green onion
1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill OR 1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 teaspoon lemon juice OR lime juice
Several dashes hot pepper sauce, to taste
Dash ground cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Assorted crackers and/or vegetable dippers

In a small bowl stir together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, sour cream, onion, dill, lemon peel, lemon or lime juice, hot pepper sauce, and cayenne (if using).  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Transfer to serving bowl, cover and chill for at least 2, and up to 24, hours.  If desired, garnish with additonal finely chopped onion.  Serve with crackers or vegetable dippers.  Makes 1 1/3 cups

VARIATION - Crab Tartlets - Prepare dip as directed through mixing.  Spoon dip into 30 miniature phyllo dough shells (2 2.1oz packages).  Place the phyllo dough shells on a large baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until heated through.  Garnish with finely shredded lemon peel and fresh dill sprigs.


4oz smoked salmon, skin and bones removed (you can use lox-style salmon)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 8oz carton dairy sour cream OR whipped cream cheese OR 1 6oz carton plain Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Assorted crackers and/or vegetable dippers

In a medium bowl, finely flake salmon (or chop lox-style salmon); stir in the onion, horseradish, and sour cream (or whipped cream cheese or yogurt).  Season to taste.  Let stand for at least 15 minutes, then cover and chill for up to 24 hours.  Stir before serving.  Garnish with chopped chives (if you like) and serve with crackers and/or vegetable dippers.

VARIATION - Smoked Salmon Spread - Prepare as directed, except substitute one 8oz package softened cream cheese for the sour cream.  Use as a spread on crackers or baguette slices.  Makes 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups.


1 15oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley OR 1 teaspoon dried parsley
Stir ins (ALL optional)- 1/4 cup sliced green onions; 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese; 1/3 cup chopped ripe olives OR Kalamata olives; 1/3 cup chopped roasted red sweet peppers; 2-3 chopped chipotle peppers; 1 tablespoon snipped fresh dill OR 1 teaspoon dried dill; and/or 1/4 cup purchased basil pesto
Toasted pita wedges and/or assorted vegetable dippers

In a blender or food processor combine the garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and paprika.  Cover and pulse until smooth, scraping sides as needed.

If desired, add one or more stir-ins.  Spoon hummus onto a serving platter.  Top with parsley.  If desired, drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.  Serve with pita wedges and/or vegetable dippers.  Makes 1 3/4 cups.


2 ripe avocados*, halved, seeded, peeled, and coarsely mashed
2 tablespoons dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro OR 2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several drops hot pepper sauce, to taste
Sliced green onions, for garnish
Chopped tomatoes, for garnish
Tortilla chips

*Ripe avocados feel soft under gentle palm pressure (don't press them with your finger or they'll bruise).  To speed ripening, place in a closed paper bag at room temp overnight.

In a medium bowl, combine avocados, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and hot pepper sauce.  Cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use (up to 8 hours).  Alternate method - place avocado meat, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and hot pepper sauce in a zippy bag.  Squeeze out most of the air, and seal.  Knead bag to crush and blend the ingedients.  Place in refridgerator until ready to use (up to 8 hours).

To serve, arrange chips on a serving platter. Place bowl in center (if you used the baggie method, put the bowl on the platter, snip a corner off the bag, and squeeze the contents into the bowl).  Top with green onions and tomatoes.  Makes 1 1/4 cups.

VARIATION - Toasted Cumin Guacamole - In a small dry skillet, heat 2 teaspoons cumin seeds over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until lightly toasted, shaking skillet occasionally.  Remove and let cool; coarsely crush the seeds, and add to the guacamole mixture.


6 Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
1 large fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 large fresh jalapeno chile peppers, seeded, coarsely chopped*
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil (you can use vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted** and ground OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted** and ground OR 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

*Because chile peppers contain volatile oils that can burn your skin and eyes, avoid direct contact with them as much as possible.  When working with chile peppers, wear plastic or rubber gloves.  If your bare hands do touch the peppers, wash your hands with soap and warm water BEFORE you touch anything else.

**To toast seeds, place them in a small dry skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until lightly toasted, shaking skillet occasionally.  Remove from heat, let cool, then grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients.  Process by pulses until finely chopped.  Cover and chill up to 3 days.  Makes 3 cups.


1 16oz can refried beans
1/2 cup bottled salsa OR the fresh salsa above
1/2 of a 14oz package guacamole OR 1 cup of guacamole above
1 8oz carton dairy sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
1 cup tomatoes, chopped and seeded
8 cups tortilla chips or crackers

In a medium bowl, combine refried beans and salsa.  Spread evenly in the bottom of a 2 quart serving dish with straight sides (can be a round bowl, but must have straight up and down sides).  Carefully layer guacamole and sour cream over bean mixture.  Top with cheese, green onion, and olives.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours (up to 24).

Before serving, sprinkle with chopped tomato.  Serve with the tortilla chips or crackers.  Makes 16 servings.

That's it for today, folks.  Think I'm gonna mosey into the kitchen, and grab me something to nibble on myself.  ENJOY!!!

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