Posts Tagged ‘dip’

Roasted Onion Cheese Ball

This is an excellent party recipe that can be made, in stages, and ahead of time. I’m going to give you the original recipe from Stonewall Kitchen, the makers of the roasted garlic and onion jam I’m enamored with, but I also give you this caveat: I have yet to make the full-sized recipe come out quite right. But I think that has more to do with the cream cheese than the recipe itself. More below.

Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam Cheese Ball
serves many as an app at a party

16 ounces cream cheese (you can use fat-free)*
1/4 c. Stonewall Kitchen Roasted Garlic Onion Jam
dash of freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 c. Monterey Jack cheese**
1/2 c. chopped pecans

*Caveat: I do not believe that this recipe will work, even in half measures, if you use the cream cheese that comes in a tub. I have tried this twice, once as a full recipe and once as a half recipe, and it didn’t work either time. I think the cream cheese in the tub has a higher moisture content, and it takes more than twice as long to reach a stage in the fridge where it will retain the shape you want to give it. I haven’t tried the full-sized recipe using bricks of cream cheese because only 1 of the stores in my area carries fat-free cream cheese in brick shape, but it works a treat for the half recipe. Stick to the bricks.

**I cannot find low-fat Monterey Jack cheese to save my life. I’ve been using a fancy-shredded low-fat 4 cheese Mexican blend and it’s been a hit all three times I’ve brought this recipe out. If I weren’t striving to make this recipe low-fat, I could use regular Monterey Jack, which can easily be found in the grocery stores; but just so you know, the 4 cheese Mexican-style blend works just fine.

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. This will make it easier to work with.

When the cream cheese has come to room temp, mix together the cheese, the jam, and the pepper. Fold in the shredded cheese. At this point, I return the bowl with the mixture to the fridge so the mixture can firm to a malleable state and for the flavors to meld. If you are preparing to have guests over, take this opportunity to vacuum something.

Form the chilled mixture in to a ball. It will probably warm up, between your handling it and the warmth of the room, so once it is in a ball return it to the bowl and pop it back in the fridge for fifteen minutes.

When the ball is chilled and firm again, roll in the chopped pecans. Pat the pecans in with your fingertips, gently, to make sure they’re stuck on. Wrap tightly in clear plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator until the guests arrive!

Serve on a plate with a cheese knife and handfuls of small crackers. We prefer Breton Minis.

If you have no other choice than to use the tub cream cheese, don’t panic. Follow all the steps through trying to form the cheese mixture in to a ball. Do not even attempt it because it is icky and you will get stressed out. Mix in the chopped pecans and pour the whole thing in to a serving dish, smooth the top over, and cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until party time. This tastes NO different as a dip than as a ball, and at a recent party I watched people spread not only crackers but also vegetables and tortilla chips with the cheese “dip.”


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I’ll bet that not a lot of people out there know whether they like capers, or not. I’m not exactly sure myself what a caper is. Let’s see…

“A caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a perennial spiny bush that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean region, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit (caper berry) which are usually consumed pickled.”

Thanks, Wikipedia!

So the caper, as used culinarily, is the pickled bud or berry of the caper plant. This explains, then, why capers come packed in a brine.

Try this dip at least once. The flavors are subtle, and crab and capers go well together to create a quietly complex flavor profile.

Crab-Caper Dip
serves 8

1/2 c. chopped onions
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
2 oz. (1/2 c.) sliced reduced-fat Swiss cheese, finely chopped*
1/4 c. cooked lump crabmeat, drained and flaked OR
1/4 6-oz can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1 Tbsp. capers, drained

*Getting reduced-fat Swiss instead of regular Swiss is critical. The reduced-fat version keeps itself intact better when it melts.

In a small saucepan, cook the onions, covered, in a small amount of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain well. In a large bowl stir together the cooked onions, mayonnaise, finely chopped Swiss cheese, the crabmeat, and the capers.

Spoon the mixture in to an appropriately-sized ovenproof casserole. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until heated through. Can be served in the ovenproof casserole, transferred to a serving bowl, or transferred to a hollowed-out round bread loaf for presentation. Serve chips, vegetable dippers, or small toasts alongside.

for 40 servings
2 c. chopped onions
2 c. light mayonnaise
8 oz. (2 c.) sliced reduced-fat Swiss cheese, finely chopped
1 c. cooked lump crabmeat, drained and flaked OR
1 6-oz. can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/2 c. capers, drained

Prepare following the same steps, but bake in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 55 minutes or until heated through.

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Why did I not give you this recipe last summer?

Spicy Artichoke Dip
from Better Homes & Gardens Hometown Potluck Favorites
serves 14

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1/3 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp diced green chile peppers, drained
2 tsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl, combine chopped artichoke hearts, mayo, Parmesan, green chile peppers, chopped jalapeno peppers, cumin, and garlic. Spoon in to an ungreased small casserole. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

for 40 servings (!)

3 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained
2 Tbsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Same preparation, but use a larger casserole — about 1 1/2 quarts — and bake for about 30 minutes.

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OK, this is crazy easy. Large tortilla; spray each side with a bit of butter spray; heat in a heavy skillet on low-medium heat. The first one I made I let brown too long before assembling, and it turned out a little too crispy for me. If you like really crispy quesadillas, go for it. The second and third I made with a dozen seconds on one side, flip, assemble, fold, and keep flipping til the cheese is melted and the outside is the way you like it. These turned out much, much softer and more to our liking. I made two cheese & chicken quesadillas (using pre-cooked, pre-sliced, packaged chicken from the refrigerated deli case) and one that was just cheese.

It turns out I am in love with SimplyRecipes.com. Elise’s excellent recipes are well and clearly written, and so far, incredibly tasty. And her “How to Cut and Peel an Avocado” link is INCREDIBLY useful. Her instructions make me feel confident enough to tackle a new vegetable and a new recipe all in one go.

Perfect Guacamole 
serves 2-4
 2 ripe avocados*
1/2 red onion
1-2 serrano chiles, stems and seeds removed, minced
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped**
1 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse salt
dash freshly grated black pepper
1/2 ripe tomato, seeds and pulp removed, chopped***

*My grocery store’s avos weren’t Haas, they were Mission and unbelievably small, so I got 4 of the smaller-ish ones.
**Cilantro is not used in my house, because my husband and I are both these people. Cilantro is vile & tastes like soap to us, ruining everything it touches. As it turns out, that means there’s a protein, or scent receptor, in our noses that doesn’t work.
***I used one whole plum tomato, seeds and pulp removed, which I always do to tomato anyway.

1. Cut avocados in half. Remove seed. Scoop out avacado from the peel, put in a mixing bowl. (See How to Cut and Peel an Avocado.)

2. Using a fork, mash the avocado. (NB: I used a potato masher!) Add the chopped onion, cilantro, lime or lemon, salt and pepper and mash some more. Chili peppers vary individually in their hotness. So, start with a half of one chili pepper and add to the guacamole to your desired degree of hotness. Be careful handling the peppers; wash your hands thoroughly after handling and do not touch your eyes or the area near your eyes with your hands for several hours. Keep the tomatoes separate until ready to serve.

Remember that much of this is done to taste because of the variability in the fresh ingredients. Start with this recipe and adjust to your taste.

Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent oxidation from the air reaching it. Refrigerate until ready. Just before serving, add the chopped tomato to the guacamole and mix.

I also added a 1/2 tsp of minced garlic from a jar (I have gotten so sick of constantly mincing garlic!) and a couple generous splashes of orange juice. I think I picked that up from the commenters on SimplyRecipes. Also, toss the avocado seeds back in the guacamole, it apparently helps retard the oxidation process and staves off the guacamole turning icky slimy brown.

This recipe yields LOTS of guacamole! I think I could get 4-6 or possibly 8 servings from this recipe, depending on how hungry my guests were. With the quesadillas and some sour cream, a very filling meal.

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