Tasty Tuesday: Such a DIP!

We like to entertain here at Boystown.  Even if we’re only having a couple of friends over for dinner, its still an occasion to whip up something awesome- not just order a pizza.

Not that there’s anything WRONG with pizza.  I’m a big pizza fan- huge!  And -if we’re being honest here- there are times when pizza just sounds DANG good and nothing else will do.

But when I’m having friends over, I aim to impress them with my culinary skills- not my INSANE ability to order out.

Sometimes, though, it can be a pain and OH-so-expensive to go all out with homemade goodies, and, the more the people, the more expensive.

Like New Year’s.

It was SUPPOSED to just be a small thing- just a couple of friends.  Nothing big.  It was practically an after thought, anyways.  Why go through all the trouble of making a lot of food for a couple of people?

But the problem is, we don’t just HAVE a couple of close friends.  We have what we like to call “our crowd”.  They’re the people that we invite to everything, and you can’t invite just a couple of them without inviting the rest.  What makes it better (or worse?) is “our crowd” keeps growing every year.

So, what do you do for a huge crowd, that isn’t pizza, that doesn’t break the bank, but that stills calls out “Made from scratch!”?

I didn’t know either so I went on -that’s right- Pinterest.

After scouring the boards, I came up with the conclusion that everyone likes dips.  Its one of the favorites to order at restaurants, they’re usually the first things that disappear at get togethers, and *BONUS* they’re usually cheaper than buying tons of meat appetizers and other food items.  Plus, they aren’t hard to put together.

The dips I chose were all pretty easy to do and, just like I figured, they were a hit.  Hopefully they’ll be a hit for you, too.

Hot Spinach Dip (check out the original HERE)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • about 1-1 1/2 lbs of spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 ounces reduced-fat bar cream cheese
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Baguette slices, breadsticks, or crackers, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add spinach in two additions, letting the first batch wilt before adding the next; cook until completely wilted, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander; drain, pressing to release all excess liquid.
  3. In the same pot, warm milk over high heat. Whisk in cream cheese until melted, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and 1/4 cup mozzarella; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a lightly oiled 1 1/2-quart shallow baking dish; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  4. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot with accompaniments, as desired.  I made some herbed foccacia bread, but only because I have a bread maker and it did all the work for me for the most part.
Hot Corn Dip (check out the original HERE)
This was a FAVORITE among everyone, and it tasted great reheated the next day, too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded chedder cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Montery Jack
  • 2 tbs chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced small
  • 1 small can (4oz) diced green chilies, undrained
  • 1/2 cup Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 11oz can of corn, drained
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 tbs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbs green onions, sliced thin

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the cheeses, chiptole and green peppers, mayo, garlic powder and corn together. Pour into an oven safe dish.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
  4. Top with diced tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Serve immediately with tortilla chips

Spicy Chorizo Dip (check out the idea for this HERE)

Ok, so this dip was SUPPOSED to be a Taco Dip, but a funny thing happened on the way to my pantry- I realized I’d forgotten to buy the ingredients I needed.  No worry, though- I switched it up a little and made a HUGE hit.  I had one of our friends gushing… repeatedly… over and over… how I needed to give his wife the recipe.  And I could have written off his compliments as due to the vast quantities of alcohol he was consuming, but everyone else seemed to love it, too.  Its a bit on the spicy side, so if you are sensitive to that sort of thing, you might want to steer clear.

Ingredients:

  • About a pound of chorizo (I used 2 links that had 9 oz. each)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup light ranch dressing
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups of refried beans (if you have pinto beans on hand, you can always follow this recipe HERE, without adding all the spices it calls for.)
  • Tortilla chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.

In a skillet, cook the chorizo until completely done.  I just followed the directions on the links which said to cook the meat for about 10 minutes, but see what your package says.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, ranch dressing, chili powder, and ground cumin.  Add the chorizo and half of the shredded cheese.  Stir to combine.  Add 1 1/2 cups of refried beans and taste to see if you want to add more.  The beans just cut through some of the spice.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate, and sprinkle with the remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly.  Serve with tortilla chips.

White Pizza Dip

This was -by FAR- the favorite of almost everyone.  Its gooey and cheesy and completely drool worthy.  Just make sure you have a mini-crock pot or something that you can put this in to help keep it warm, because its MUCH better when its warm and gooey and… I might have to make some more tonight.

Ingredients

1 pint grape tomatoes, tomatoes cut in half (if you don’t have grape tomatoes, I’m pretty sure you could just diced a couple of tomatoes into 3/4 inch chunks (enough to make a pint) and roast that.)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 (12 ounces) blocks cream cheese, softened

8 ounces mozzarella cheese, freshly grated

8 ounces provolone cheese, freshly grated

1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish

4 (or more) garlic cloves, roasted and minced

1/4 cup freshly chopped basil leaves

2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves

1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano leaves

crackers, bread or chips for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then place tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then roast for 20-25 minutes, until bursting. Set aside.

While tomatoes are roasting, mix softened cream cheese with about 7 ounces each of provolone and mozzarella, then and parmesan. Stir in fresh herbs, garlic and roasted tomatoes, mixing well to combine. Transfer mixture to an oven-safe baking dish (mine was 6 x 4 round). Sprinkle with remaining provolone and mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbly. Serve immediately with crackers, chips or toasted bread.  I actually served this with the same foccacia I used for the Spinach Dip.

There now!  4 dips that you can break out at YOUR next get together- or anytime!  Let’s celebrate Tuesday with a mini party and some dips!

Happy Tuesday!  I’m off to eat- let me know what you think!

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Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

I’m someone who will try almost anything- seriously.  While I’m not as extreme as Andrew Zimmern or even Anthony Bourdain (and yes, Andrew is MUCH more extreme), I’m willing to give something a shot even if it seems weird.  I’m not sure why I’m so open to trying new things- my parents didn’t ever impress upon us that we needed to try everything or give all foods a fair shot; if anything, my mom would often recall her horror at having to eat liver and onions when she was younger, and I remember one particular wedding we attended where they were serving caviar and escargo (for the laymen- fish eggs and snails), and I was warned by my cousins to steer clear of the table.

Nope.  My ability to look past the odd and dive headlong into new waters is purely a ‘me’ thing, I think.  Like liver- I’ve never tried it, but I DO believe that -if its cooked well- perhaps it might not be so bad.  Usually what turns people off to something is texture, anyways, so maybe I’d like it.  If I ever try it, I’ll let you know.

Anyways, I say all this because I DO insist that my kids give all foods a fair shot and not to shoot something down just because it sounds weird or looks odd or has ingredients that won’t seem to work together- and even once they’ve tried something and written it off as “Do not ever eat again”, I STILL will make them try it again in the future.  Why?  Because tastes change.

Case in point- this dish.  I found it off Pinterest and Bug declared before ever taking a bite that he hated it.  Why?  Because it combined chicken and mangoes- a “no-no” in his book.  He fought me for a long time until I finally won the battle with “well, I’m not a short order cook, so you can try it and possibly like it, or you can go to bed hungry.”  In the end, he tasted it and loved it- even going back for seconds… and thirds. (Although, his pride kept him from ever REALLY saying he had been wrong in making a quick judgment.)  This is now one of our family’s favs.  Yeah, its a tad labor intensive, but every once in a while you should throw your clock out the window and just make something that will taste amazing.  This does- trust me.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Bake

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade (for 4 chicken breasts)
-3/4 c vegetable oil
-Juice and zest of 2 limes
-2 cloves garlic -2 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt -1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/2 C finely chopped cilantro
*I put everything in blender and have it mix and chop it.

Cilantro Lime Rice
-1 cup uncooked rice
-1 can chicken broth
-1 cup water
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbls freshly squeezed lime juice
-2 tsp sugar
-3 Tbls finely chopped cilantro
* Throw the rice, broth, water, garlic & some lime juice into a pot and let it cook. I also usually add a tbsp or two of butter to the pot to keep the grains of rice from clumping.  While it’s cooking I mix the sugar, lime juice & cilantro in a bowl. When rice is finished fluff the rice while mixing the sugar mixture into the rice.

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
-1 batch prepared Ranch Buttermilk Dressing
-3-5 tomatillos (quartered)
-1 handful of cilantro
-1 jalepeno (optional)
-juice of 1 lime
-salt & pepper to taste
*Blend all ingredients in blender and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
*This ranch is for drizzling on top of each slice of casserole after it’s been cooked right before serving.  And for salads.  And veggies.  And for licking off the spoon…

-You’ll also be using a small container of sour cream, Pepper Jack cheese and prepared Mango salsa. (Or you can make your own.)

Before you do anything, you need to prep the chicken with the marinade.  This makes it so it isn’t a “last minute meal” that you can just whip up, but -once again- its worth it.  And if you do this the night before, it’ll make your life easier the next day- and the flavors will be a LOT more intense.

Next on the list- and you can do this after you’ve prepped the chicken the night before, too- is making the dressing.  Its OH-so-tasty and it makes a LOT, so save it in an old jar in the fridge.  We loved it on salads the next day and with veggies as a snack.

The day of, make the rice and layer it on the bottom of your dish.  Grill your chicken (or cook it in a pan if you don’t have a grill) and shred it.  Put it all on top of the rice (with the exception of those few bites you probably stole while you were shredding).  Slather it all with the sour cream.

Next, cover the sour cream with the mango salsa.  How much you use is your choice, but I suggest making sure the whole dish is COVERED.  Its yummy and you won’t regret it.

Finally, cover the whole thing with a TON of the cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until heated through (about 20 min). Then turn on broil until the cheese crisps a little.

When serving, drizzle tomatillo dressing on top and ENJOY!

Let me know how you like it!