Category Archives: Appetizers/ Sides

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)


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


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.


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!

7-up Biscuits

Yes, you read that right.  ‘7-up biscuits’.

I know.  I know.  I thought it was weird when I first heard about them, too, but the reviews on Pinterest intrigued me and I knew it was something I had to try.

Of course, once again, I encountered… issues.

Why in the world do people pin these FANTASTIC looking recipes from sites that ONLY allow you to post pictures?  Its a tease!  Its wrong!  Its oh-so-very wrong.  Food -pardon the expression- is my *ahem* porn.  I LOVE watching the Foodnetwork the way some people watch XXX videos.


I’m one of those people that actually DOES read the magazines for the articles.

The food magazines.  Not those other ones.

Anyways, all that to say that I hate when I see a tasty looking recipe and there’s nothing else.  Not that it deters me, but it just causes more work for me before I can devour something yummy.

So, I looked online, and -wouldn’t ya know it?- this is actually a really well known thing!  I tried it out, and now I’m hooked.  I would eat them with gravy.  I would eat them with butter and honey.  I would eat them by themselves.

I would eat them in a box.

I would eat them with a fox.

Sorry.  Dr. Suess moment.

So, for all you food porn junkies, here’s a pic AND the “article”, if you will.  Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

7 UP (or Sierra Mist) Biscuits
4 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1 cup 7-up
1/2 cup melted butter

Cut sour cream into biscuit mix. I used my stand mixer, but you can use a fork. You just want to keep the sour cream from scooting around the bowl instead of mixing in.

When its mixed in, it will look kinda crumbly. Add 7-Up. This will bring it all together and make a very soft dough.

Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out.

Pour melted butter into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Place biscuit dough in the pan, pressing down SOFTLY a little more (it helps to sprinkle a little Bisquick on top to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers). It won’t fill the pan completely but that’s ok. It will spread out as it bakes.

(Doesn’t it look pretty already?  And this is pre-baked!)

And, because I’m not healthy in the LEAST, I basted the whole thing with melted butter.  Yes, I did.

Bake at 450 degrees until golden brown. (about 12-13 minutes)

Now, go.  Flee to your kitchen and make a batch.  Or two.  Or 10.  They’re so easy that the only problem you’ll encounter is you’ll eat them all in one sitting.  I promise.  I couldn’t even wait to take the picture before tearing into them- hence, the missing square.  Actually, these would make a GREAT delivery system for all that leftover turkey you have from Thanksgiving.  Maybe later I’ll post a recipe for sausage gravy to go with these.  In the meantime, go get a check up from your doctor to ensure you won’t die from all the amazing pork fat.

Oh, and if you try these and you love them, PIN ME!  Yes, I’m a little bit narcissistic.  Just think of it as you saving the world from pointless pictures of food that go nowhere.

Tasty Tuesday: Spanish Rice

Ok, no more stalling.  I told you last week and the week before that I’d give you a great recipe for Spanish Rice, so here ya go.

I’m kinda excited to share this recipe.  Its not very often that you’re given a fantastic recipe that has been passed down through the years, and yet, hasn’t been messed with.  This dish is found at EVERY Christmas gathering I’ve spent with my husband’s family, and its the reason I went on a quest to find the best Spanish rice for a meal I was making a while back.  Funny thing, though, none of the dishes came out right until I finally asked about this recipe.  I made this the first time, and I knew there was something special about it.  I shouldn’t be surprised- there was something special about the man it originated from.

When I got this recipe (via my sister in law who got it from our late grampa in law), she had just forwarded the email he’d sent to her.  In it, he said that the recipe was over 100 years old, and during hard times, they had used water instead of chicken broth.  Since I LOVE recipes with a little bit of history (Aren’t you proud, dad?  I’m fond of SOME sort of history!), I’m going to post the recipe as it was given to me.

Of course, since I’m also a bit on the wild side, I’ll let you know of the few changes I made. 🙂

Now, like I’ve said before, I get it- making things from scratch is time consuming and not always cost effective.  On the plus side, though, its usually healthier (at least, when someone besides ME is making it. 🙂 ), and you can pat yourself on the back in knowing that you put more love into your family’s meal than normal…

Did I mention that its usually healthier?

Besides all that, this recipe is oh-so-yummy, so I know you’ll love it as much as Boystown does.  Trust me.

Grampa’s Dry Rice Soup (Sopa Seca de Arroz) (Spanish Rice)

1 cup UNCOOKED rice

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp minced onion (I use 1 small onion, minced)

3 tbsp tomato sauce

2 1/4 cups BOILING water (you can use chicken broth)

salt and pepper to taste

***I also add 1/2 a jalapeno, seeded and minced***

Brown garlic in oil, remove from pan, and throw away.  DO NOT USE MINCED GARLIC!  Trust me.  I know some of us are fond of our garlic, but if you add minced garlic, it will burn and taste nasty.

Add the rice and fry it until its golden brown

Not my picture, but this is what ‘golden brown’ looks like.  Just thought you should know.





Add onion, tomato sauce, jalapeno (if you choose), boiling water (or broth), season and  cover tight.

Cook slowly on LOW for 30 minutes.


Ok, now, take your rice and eat it.  Whether or not you wait for your family is up to you.  Whether or not you eat it alone or with the beans and Chili Verde I gave you the recipes for is also up to you.  Heck, taking the dish and eating it in the confines of the closet is also up to you- weird, and could send out warning signs that you should seek help- but highly justifiable to anyone who tastes this.  Trust me.

Enjoy, and you’re welcome. 🙂

Tasty Tuesday- Refried Beans

As I said last week after giving you the AMAZING Chilie Verde recipe, if you want a TRULY fantastic fiesta, you need to finish it off with sides- rice, tortillas, salsa… and refried beans.

Most of you probably just pictured THIS

and do I blame you?  No.  Honestly, canned is good in a pinch.  I remember catering my friend’s son’s 2nd birthday and after spending a LONG time making fresh refried beans, Camo picked up the tray the wrong way and the whole thing dumped out.  Making more was out of the question.  Luckily, my friend is forgiving and she sent her hubby to go buy some beans.

I learned something from that experience- use a cookie sheet under flimsy trays of heavy beans.  I was embarrassed, but, like I said, canned came through when I needed it.

However, if you have the time, the difference is HUGE and you’ll be happy.  Trust me.

Refried Beans

2 cups dried pinto beans, soaked overnight w/ water to cover by about 2 in. (if you forget this step, you can do a quick soak by covering the beans with HOT water, letting it come to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, removing it from the heat, and letting it sit for about 1 hour.  When its doen, empty the water, rinse, and follow the recipe as usual.)

1 bay leaf

3/4 c bacon fat or lard

2 c yellow onions, chopped

1 1/2 tbsp garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp seeded and minced jalapeno

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp coriander

salt to taste

Combine beans, bay leaf, and enough water to cover by 1-2 inches.  Bring to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer UNCOVERED (unless you like to clean your stove up.  Just sayin’), stirring occasionally until  the beans are tender.  Very tender.  Maybe you like your pasta to be al dente, but generally, refried beans don’t have any bite.  Anyways, this could take anywhere from 1 1/2 -2 1/2 hours (maybe even longer if you only did the quick soak).  Add water as necessary to keep the beans covered.  When the beans are nice and soft, mash ’em up with a tator masher.  Remove the pot from the heat.

In a med. skillet, heat the bacon fat/lard over med./ hi heat.  Add the onions and cook about 4-6 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook 1 minute.  Add to the beans and stir to combine.

Cook about 15-20 minutes more over med. heat, adding a little water as necessary to keep the beans from drying out.  Taste it to see if you need to add salt.  If not, you’re done.

These are so tasty you might just decide its a meal by itself.  If you’re having a hard time justifying that, just ask me and I’ll be happy to help you find a way.

Add some cheese, maybe some scallions- yum.  Use for your Mexican fiesta as a side dish, or use it to top a tostada shell (they sell ’em in the Mexican aisle in the market).  Add some thinly chopped lettuce, tomato, and cheese and you’ve got a quick dinner- and I should know- I did this a few nights in a row when we were swamped with things to do around here.

Next week, I’ll give you a great recipe for Spanish rice.  The recipe is from my late grampa-in-law who said it was over 100 years old.  If THAT’S not enough to get you to come back, well, its also a WONDERFUL addition to the Chili Verde meal.

Yeah- that’s what I thought.  I’ll see you next week. 🙂