This Christmas I was invited to a friend’s house for a wine-and-bring-your-own-appetizer party. With no specific direction from the hostess on what to bring, I thought, “I’ll whip up my onion dip from my favorite cookbook, Heart and Soul from the Memphis Junior League.” This one, hands down, gets rave reviews whenever I serve it.
As I walked in the door and set my bubbly, piping hot dish on the table, I noticed there were about six different versions of the same thing — but most of them were the classic, hot artichoke dip: 1 cup mayo, 1 cup canned artichokes and 1 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly.
OK, I am going to say something radical: just as Matt Lauers’ favorite dish Chicken Mirabella needed to be shelved, it’s time to file this one in the inactive file, at least for a couple of years. I am declaring artichoke dip is overused, overexposed and seriously, way too fattening. What then to take its place? I have a couple of suggestions and yes, they still hit the calories pretty hard, but what appetizer doesn’t? These are easy and really great to take to a party.
If you haven’t heard about The Pioneer Woman blog, and her cookbook, The Pioneer Woman’s Cooks, then you are in for a treat. She has an incredible talent for taking our favorite, everyday foods and making them special. This is a blog you’ll want to bookmark.
Here is one of my sister Sarah’s favorites from The Pioneer Woman.
Jalapeno Pepper Poppers
- 20 whole Fresh Jalapenos, 2-3 inches in size
- 2 cubes Cream Cheese, softened
- 1 pound Thin(regular) Bacon, sliced into thirds
If you have them, slip on some latex gloves for the pepper prep… Cut jalapenos in half, length-wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and white membrane (the source of the heat; leave a little if you like things HOT). Smear softened cream cheese into each jalapeno half. Wrap jalapeno with bacon pieces (1/3 slice). Secure by sticking toothpick through the middle.
Bake on a pan with a rack in a 375-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want the bacon to shrink so much it starts to the squeeze the jalapeno. If, after 20 minutes, the bacon doesn’t look brown enough, just turn on the broiler for a couple of minutes to finish it off. These are best when the jalapeno still has a bit of bite to it.
Serve immediately, or they’re also great at room temperature.
You’ll love these so much, you’re gonna come out of your skin. Or something like that.
Now, onto non-artichoke dip appetizer #2
If you ever tasted a dip and you find yourself “grazing” over it, this is one of those. From another of my favorite Memphis cookbooks, Key Ingredients.
Crazy About Corn Dip from Key Ingredients Cookbook, Le Bonheur Club, Memphis
2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. lime juice
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
dash of black pepper
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 (16 oz.) can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 c. chopped pecans
1 small white onion, finely chopped
Beat cream cheese, lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper and oil with an electric mixer until blended. Fold in corn, pecans and onions. Serve with tortilla chips. Store unused portion in refrigerator for up to a week.
This one comes from Aunt Mary, mother of 10 children, radical thinker and artist — pretty much in that order. It was always one of my mother’s favorite dips to serve at cocktail parties and we finally found the recipe.
#3: A Lewis-McDonnell Family Favorite: Meat Dip
(OK- we will have a picture here, but the internet is down at Elizabeth’s…. and she has the picture! Check back. I’m dying to see what this here meat dip looks like as well….)
2 lbs. ground chuck
1lb. ground pork
2 c. chopped onions
4 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano
1 small can chopped jalapeno peppers
1/2 lb. white raisins
1 lb. toasted slivered almonds
1/2 c. white wine
1 large can tomatoes, drained
Saute meat, onions, garlic; add bay leaf, oregano, parsley, tomatoes, salt, and jalapeno peppers. At the end of cooking, add raisins, almonds, wine; cook 2 minutes longer. Serve warm or in a chafing dish with corn chips.
I am not sure where your allegiances lie when it comes to the Steelers vs. Packers (and yes, I did ask my 11-year-old who was playing in the Super Bowl this year), but I know any one of these three delicious appetizers will get some play — so to speak.