Showing posts with label dips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dips. Show all posts

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Making Apple Dip Out of Nothing at All

An ode to Air Supply ... in dessert form.

I am an 80s girl, through and through.  Needless to say, when I learned that 80s popstar duo Air Supply would be playing at the casino just across the Oklahoma border, I jumped at the chance to go.

So last weekend, my friends Bethany and Elizabeth and I drove the forty five minute to the WinStar, checked in, and got dolled up for the concert.  (And by "dolled up," I mean Elizabeth put on her best t-shirt and I slapped a little mascara on my lashes.)  We played penny slots, ate some cheese fries, got hopped up on free diet soda, and then made our way into the "event room."

The band only drew a few hundred people, but those people were PUMPED.  I've never seen such a frisky bunch of middle-aged women.  To be honest, I'm surprised everyone remained fully clothed throughout the concert.

It was awesome.  I mean AWESOME.  They played all their hits, encouraged people to sing along, and even strolled through the crowd. (If we're still being honest, Russell Hitchcock had a look of raw fear in his eyes as his bodyguard forged a path through the screaming, lunging throng.  Poor guy.)  The best part was the back-up band.  They couldn't have been more than twenty-five ... Air Supply had peaked and faded before they were even born.  But they put on a brave face, acting like those soft rock ballads were genuinely cool.

After the show, we played the slots for another few minutes and then headed toward our hotel room.  Lo and behold, as we were passing through the hotel bar, we saw Russell Hitchcock (and the extremely talented youngster on lead guitar) trying their best to order cocktails despite the rush of photo-seekers.

I felt guilty bothering them ... but there was no way I was passing up an opportunity to get a picture with Air Supply.  Or at least half of Air Supply.

This week's recipe is an homage to the most rockin' Australian pop duo ever.  It's sweet, nutty, and super-cheesy, but also incredibly delicious.  As an added bonus, I made it out of stuff I just happened to have in my fridge and cupboard ... so you could say I made apple dip out of nothing at all!

Creamy Apple Dip

8 oz. mascarpone cheese**
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom


1/2 c. chopped craisins or raisins
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

** If you can't find mascarpone cheese, you could substitute cream cheese (or even reduced fat or fat free cream cheese).  I prefer the mascarpone because it has a silkier texture.

Blend first six ingredients in a medium bowl with a hand mixer.  Stir in craisins and nuts, if you're using them.  Serve with sliced apples and/or pears.


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook. She also writes the Pet Boutique Mysteries under the name Annie Knox; you can follow Annie on Facebook, too!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dipping into Dips

by Sheila Connolly

I hear there's a football game this weekend. (Since I live about thirty miles from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, it would be hard not to know.)  For those of us watching on the East Coast, the Big Game falls at the dinner hour, and I'm pretty sure nobody in my house will be cooking.  Ordering a pizza, maybe.

So we need munchies.  Wendy started the trend yesterday, so I'll roll with it.  Not being a dip (not to be confused with dippy) person myself, I went back to my multi-generation trove of dip recipes—and I can't say I was impressed.  In my family, pre-dinner munchies were actually kind of healthy:  mostly olives, carrot and celery sticks, maybe some nuts, that kind of thing.  I dimly recall that there were cocktail parties, which must have meant hors d'oeuvres, but not so often at our house.  Then in her later years my mother and her second husband got really involved with bridge (like three times a week), and the bridge ladies started competing with food, and a whole new crop of recipes crept into my mother's file.

But still . . . some of these I don't want to make, or even eat.  For example:

--From my Swedish step-grandmother:  Cheese Balls (knead--she wrote "kneed"—together Bisquick, grated cheese and sausage, roll into balls, then bake.  I'm not convinced.

--From a friend of my mother's:  Liver Paté Ball (liverwurst, onion, mustard and horseradish, all rolled into a ball).  Ugh—I'm not a fan of liverwurst, much less large blobs of it.

--From my mother:  Caviar Mold (gelatin, lemon juice, onion, mayo, Tabasco, grated hard-boiled eggs, and lumpfish caviar, all squished into a mold).  Uh, no?

--From my sister:  Shrimp Dip.  Actually I might consider this one, maybe (canned baby shrimp, mayo, small-curd cottage cheese, horseradish, and a package of (dried) ranch salad dressing).

--From my mother again:  Smoked Salmon Paté.  Canned salmon, cream cheese, liquid smoke . . . say what?  Not in my pantry!

--Ditto:  Egg and Artichoke Dip.  Possible, but a bit close to Wendy's recipe.

--and finally, my mother's classic Spinach Dip!  Something I've eaten, and would eat again!

Spinach Dip

1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 onion, chopped
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 envelope vegetable soup mix (or onion soup mix)

Make sure the spinach is well drained (squeezing it helps). Mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until fairly smooth.  If you're using a food processor, it's easiest if you put in the onion and water chestnuts and chop them a bit before adding the rest.

Be sure to taste it to see if it needs a bit of seasoning, because you don't know how salty your soup mix might be.  Refrigerate until ready to serve (often served in a hollowed bread loaf), with crackers.

You can use fat-free sour cream and a lower-calorie version of mayonnaise, if you want to keep the fat and the calories down. Love the water chestnuts, though—gives it some texture.

If you really want those other recipes, let me know and I'll send them to you.

Go Patriots! (After all, they've got a Connolly playing!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kicky Artichoke Dip

My wonderful critique group, the Lit Girls (which includes authors Melissa Bourbon and Molly Cannon), held another day-long brainstorming session last weekend.  We gathered in a big circle in Melissa Bourbon's den, laptops open and ready to go, and took turns pitching our stories to each other.

It's a fascinating process.  When you write, you're often so focused on the page-to-page trees that you completely lose sight of the story-telling forrest.  In these brainstorming sessions, we help each other get a firm grip on the heart of our conflict, develop the plot to emphasize that conflict, and cut the stuff that really doesn't fit.  Oh, and we help each other write our one- or two-sentence "log line":  a quick encapsulation of the whole story.

While we're working, we're also having a ton of fun.  Molly has a gift for punny titles, Tracy has a wicked sense of humor, and I have developed a reputation for solving all plot problems by killing someone.  Kym tells us stories about her years as a cop.  Melissa's kids and critters keep us laughing.  And, of course, there's always a spread of delicious food.

This go-round, Tracy brought this awesome spicy artichoke dip.  I e-mailed her afterward to ask if she would share the recipe and let me share it with you.  Ah.  Turns out she didn't actually make it.  It came from Costco.  Which is great, if you happen to belong to Costco ... you can pick it up and enjoy without even stepping foot in the kitchen.

But we do recipes here, so I cobbled together a version of the dip that comes pretty close to Costco's.

The Mezzetta tamed jalapeno peppers are KEY.

So, for your Superbowl snacking pleasure, I bring you this zippy artichoke dip.  I think it has a lot more flavor that the usual fare, with just the right amount of heat.  It's great served with Triscuits, pita chips, or crostini.  Num!

Kicky Artichoke Dip

1 large (12 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed out, and chopped
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts (in water), drained, squeezed out, and chopped
1 - 8 oz. carton cream cheese, softened
1 c. mayo
1 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 c. "tamed" chopped/pickled jalapenos (heap that 1/3 c. if you like extra kick)*

Preheat oven to 350.

Make sure you've pressed the excess oil/water out of your artichoke hearts.  You can use your hands (if you're so inclined), or press them against the sides of a colander with a large spoon.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine mayo and cream cheese.  Mix with a hand mixer until fairly smooth.  Add artichokes, jalapenos, and 1 c. parmesan.  Mix well.  Spread in a 7x12 baking dish, top with remaining 1/2 c. shredded parmesan, and bake for 30 minutes.  Raise oven temperature to 425 and continue baking for another 10 minutes (keeping an eye on the dip to make sure it doesn't burn).

Serve warm or room temperature.

* Look for Mezzetta "tamed" jalapenos.  They are made from a special variety of the pepper that has a lot of flavor but reduced heat.  If you cannot find Mezzetta's, then opt for a tablespoon of regular pickled jalapenos and make up the remaining with mild diced green chiles.  But really look for the Mezzetta peppers.  They're also fantastic on nachos!


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook. She also writes the Pet Boutique Mysteries under the name Annie Knox; you can follow Annie on Facebook, too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vidalia Onion Dip


First of all, thanks to Dave at My Year on The Grill for featuring a finger lickin’ good review of both my new release, Finger Lickin’ Dead, and my peach cobbler recipe! Thanks Dave!

One fun thing about summer is the catching-up I get to do. You know how the fall and spring can be—always so busy! So it’s fun to actually hang out and really visit with friends—at the pool, cookouts, and little get-togethers.

Usually, to make things easy, we all bring a little something to eat and share with others. Of course, there are always a ton of dips at these gatherings—which is great for me, because I love them! But the dip that I frequently bring is a little bit different from some of the others…and everyone seems to really enjoy it.

It’s also a featured recipe in Finger Lickin’ Dead. :) Because Lulu likes quick and easy almost as much as I do.

Vidalias are a favorite onion of mine—sweet and Southern. But any sweet onion will do. Soak them as long as you can because it really does bring out the sweetness and flavor in this dip.


Lulu’s Vidalia Onion Dip

5 or 6 sliced Vidalia onions
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup vinegar
2 cups water
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon celery seed

Thinly slice the onions and soak them for 2 to 4 hours in the vinegar, sugar, and water. Drain well. Toss onions with mayonnaise and celery seed. Serve on crackers.

Another oven-free recipe! :) (Fingers crossed these 100 degree days will end soon!)

Delicious and Suspicious (Riley Adams)
Finger Lickin’ Dead—June 7 (book 2 of the Memphis BBQ series!) It’s here!
Download it on Kindle:
Mass market paperback:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

A note from Krista ~

January first is traditionally a time for new starts. You made some resolutions, right? I know I did.

This January first, we're going through some changes at Mystery Lover's Kitchen. It's with great sadness that we're waving so long to Jenn McKinley. She's bowing out to spend more time writing her delightful books. We're sorry to see her go, and we'll certainly miss her. Don't worry, Jenn promises to come back and visit!

On a happier note, three new regulars will be joining us on Saturdays. We're thrilled to add Wendy Lyn Watson, Sheila Connolly, and MJ Maffini to Mystery Lover's Kitchen!

Wendy Lyn Watson writes the Mystery A La Mode series about Tallulah Jones, proprietor of Dalliance, Texas’s old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. In addition, Wendy is a vegetarian, so she'll be sharing some great meat-free dishes.

Sheila Connolly writes the Orchard Mystery series, about apple orchard owner, Meg Corey. In addition, Sheila writes the Museum Mysteries, which just debuted this fall. Sheila's interest in food and history has spurred her to recreate some fascinating recipes like Emily Dickinson's Black Cake.

MJ Maffini is the author of the Camilla MacPhee mystery series, the Fiona Silk mysteries, and the Charlotte Adams mysteries. Shh, I hear there's a new series on the horizon. While MJ isn't writing culinary mysteries, she's a creative cook and tells us that the new series will include a housekeeper, Senora Panetone, whose cooking skills are phenomenal.

Mystery Lover's Kitchen is delighted that these three talented authors and cooks have agreed to join us!

Today you're getting a twofer! Jenn McKinley is leaving with a bang with her Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes. Ringing in the new is Wendy Watson with Touchdown Taco Dip!

Well, what better way to start the new year than
with cupcakes? BUTTERCREAM BUMP OFF will be released in just three days on January 4th, and I am so excited I decided to whip up a batch of Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes for Christmas and share the recipe here with you!

Sadly, this will also be my last regular post for Mystery Lover's Kitchen, so I wanted to share a special cupcake recipe and this one will be featured in DEATH BY THE DOZEN, which is due out in October 2011.

It was a hard decision to leave the kitchen. These ladies are the best, but I've signed on for another mystery series (yes, that makes four) and what with being a part time librarian and a full time mom, well, something had to give. Hey, maybe this
means the Hub will take me out to eat more often. See? There's always an upside!

Not only that, but the ladies will be inviting some truly spectacular talents to take over the Saturday slot! It's going to be terrific!

Oh, and I will be popping into the kitchen, so it really isn't goodbye but more of a I'll see you when I see you!

And now here is the recipe, which I must say, turned out AMAZING!

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 box devil's food cake mix

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp chile powder

A pinch of kosher salt

A dash of black pepper

3 large eggs

1 cup water

4 tbspn canola oil

1 disk (3.1 oz) Mexican chocolate,

ground in food processor

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a cupcake tin with paper cups.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, cinnamon and chile powder, plus salt and pepper. Add eggs, water and oil. Stir until the mix is just combined, then add the ground chocolate stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix.

Ganache frosting:

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a double boiler bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips, stirring frequently until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and let sit for five minutes to cool and thicken. Holding the cupcakes upside down, dip them into the ganache until the top is coated. Allow the excess to drip off and then set aside to allow the frosting to set.

Tip: To jazz it up, I piped a little red chili pepper on top.

I used a basic buttercream frosting recipe and red food coloring!

Enjoy! It has been a pleasure blogging with all of you for the past year and a half. Good luck and good eating, everyone!


And now, Wendy Watson!

New years means lots of things to lots of people -- drunken revelry, resolutions, diets (ahem), clean slates. For me, though, January 1 means football.

It will come as a great surprise to my students--who have to put up with my half-baked and ill-conceived sports analogies on a regular basis--but I watched a lot of college ball as a child. I'm a third generation Michigan Wolverine - Go Blue! - so I didn't have a lot of choice in the matter.

For the first 28 years of my life (until the whole BCS nonsense), the Rose Bowl on January 1 was the crowning moment for the Big 10 Champ, and for 20 of those 28 years, the Rose Bowl was either the last chance to cheer on my beloved Wolverines or the last chance to boo and hiss at our arch-rival, Ohio State. So our family always spent January 1 planted in front of the television, doing terrible things to our blood pressure and our overall cardiovascular health.

As I mentioned before, I watched a lot of football, but I never exactly understood, well, the rules. The ball moved up and down the field, there was a lot of yelling of "hit him, hit him!", but the finer points were wasted on me. For me, there were two highlights to watching football. First, I could sing "Hail to the Victors" as loudly as a I wanted, and no one complained about how off-key I was. And, second, there were lots of snacks ... especially chips and dip.

So for those playing along at home, here's the math:

January 1 = Football = Vast Quantities of Chips and Dip

By the transitive property, January 1 = Dip. Isn't math grand?

Many dips graced my childhood--the ever-popular French-onion-soup-and-sour cream, the Knorr spring vegetable soup version of the same, Velveeta queso, pecan-crusted cheese balls. But no dip was so loved, and quickly devoured, as our family's take on the 7-layer taco dip.

The beauty of this dip is
  1. it takes about 10 minutes to make (before photo taken at 10:52, after photo at 11:00);
  2. it's pretty;
  3. it's delicious;
  4. you can get just about every ingredient at the corner 7-11;
  5. it has protein and veg in it, so you can rationalize eating the whole pan yourself; and
  6. while I have no firsthand experience (riiiight....), I've heard it's excellent hangover food.
So if you're spending today watching football or simply huddling at home trying to recover from last night's overindulgence, take 10 to whip up some of this dip.

Touchdown Taco Dip

1 15-oz container sour cream (light is fine)
1 can refried beans (fat free is fine)
1 packet of taco seasoning (1/4 c., if you buy in bulk)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 c. jarred salsa or picante
small can chopped black olives (optional)

Spread the beans in the bottom of a 7 x 11 or 9 x 13 pan. Mix the sour cream with the taco seasoning. Spread that over the beans. Sprinkle with cheese. Drizzle with salsa/picante. Dot with black olives.

If you're really feeling festive, you could spread a layer of purchased guacamole between the beans and the sour cream. Or throw a handful of actual diced tomatoes on top. Go crazy!


Happy New Year from all of us to all our friends who make Mystery Lover's Kitchen such a special and fun place!