Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

9 Hot and Cold Dips for Every Occasion

posted in Appetizers and Snacks by Kathy Maister

Dips are a party delight that everyone seems to love. There are all kinds of dip options to match your taste or diet, and many can be made in advance.

Of course, dip needs something to stick to or sit on, and the choices here are also numerous – chips, crackers, veggies, bread sticks, or toasted pita bread, to give just some of the possibilities.

startcooking.com’s Vegetable and Dip Platter video, is a great starting point to learn how to cut vegetables for a party dip platter.

Cold Dips Recipes and Ideas

  1. Shrimp: If you’re looking to keep things healthy and tasty, this recipe can’t be beat. Low-fat cottage cheese substitutes for sour cream, which is usually used in most dips. You can indulge and be kind to your heart.
  2. Onion Dip and Spinach Dip: These classic dips are fabulous for reasons beyond the fact that they are just delicious. They can be made 2 or 3 days in advance of your festivities, and will just get better as they sit in your fridge. On party day they just need to be spooned into serving dishes and enjoyed!
  3. Black Bean: It’s healthy and it’s scrumptious! On a pita or a tortilla chip, this dip is guaranteed to get your party started. Don’t be afraid to spice this one up with a good dose of cayenne pepper.
  4. Guacamole: Be sure to use fresh ripe avocados. If your avocados are really firm, put them in a paper bag with a Granny Smith apple and in just a day or two they should be perfect!http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_4828.JPG
  5. 7 Layer Dip: This dip includes layers of bean dip, avocado, seasoned sour cream, olives, tomatoes, green onions and cheese. Plan to have lots of tortilla chips on hand because guests will want to get to the bottom of it!

Hot Dips Recipes and Ideas

  1. Artichoke: This hot dip could easily be the BIG hit at your next party! It’s rich, creamy and smooth with just the right amount of tangy zip from the canned artichokes. Even people who say they don’t like artichokes, LOVE this dip!http://startcooking.com/public/IMG_0597.JPG
  2. The Best Hot Spinach Dip Ever! Ramona Woo and my sister Marie Woolf, both of Greenville, South Carolina, have figured out the perfect balance of ingredients to make this version of spinach dip a real winner!
  3. Easy Cheesy Salsa Dip: Microwave 16 ounces of shredded Nacho-style cheese and 8 ounces of your favorite salsa together in a microwave-safe bowl on High for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave, stir, and return to High for 3 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Serve corn chips—of course!
  4. Crab: “Here’s a delicious, piping hot crab dip, perfect for a winter gathering. The base is cream cheese, mayo and crab. It’s dressed up with green onions, parsley, horseradish – for kick, slivered almonds and Tabasco”.

Sweet Dips Recipes and Ideas

Keep in mind that dips can be sweet as well as savory.  Fruit Dip made with macaroons can be served in a bowl.

Or—for a really spectacular presentation—cut a whole pineapple in half lengthwise, scoop out the fruit and use the shell for your fruit dip!

Another sweet dip option is my Nutella Dip.

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Quick Tip:

If you simply have zero time to make a dip, you still have options. These days, your supermarket has interesting choices that can work in a pinch and still delight your guests. Hummus is popular and comes in interesting flavors — my favorites are red pepper or roasted garlic. You’ll typically find it in the veggie section of the store. Some companies are also making fresh onion dips . But at the end of the day, a simple Mexican salsa with tortilla chips works well, too.

Just be sure to take store-bought dips out of their original packaging and put them in an attractive bowl. Sometimes, presentation is the key to making store-bought taste a bit better.

Heck, you might even fool a few guests, too!

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Artichoke Dip

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

Hot Artichoke Dip could easily be the BIG hit at your next party! It’s rich, creamy and smooth with just the right amount of tangy zip from the (canned) artichokes.
The only skills needed to make this dip are to be able to:

All of these steps could be done the day before your party!
Click the Recipe Card on the top of the post for the list of ingredients and amounts needed.

You could cook the bacon and the onion in a frying pan but I’m doing it in the microwave. Clean-up is much easier this way!

5 Slices of bacon will take about 5 minutes to cook in the microwave. Once cooled, chop the bacon up into crumbly, small bits.

Dice the onion. One medium onion equals approximately 1/2 cup of diced onion. One clove of garlic needs to get crushed. (That’s about 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic)

Put the onion and the garlic in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Microwave the mixture on high for 1 minute to soften (or wilt) the onions. It will look like this:

Shred 8 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese. The Monterey Jack cheese will go into the mixture, and melts into a creamy and smooth consistency. The Parmesan cheese is for sprinkling on the top of the dip.

Parmesan (on the left) and Monterey Jack cheese

In a colander, drain 2 cans (14 ounce each) artichoke hearts and chop them up.

All of the above steps can be done the day before and the ingredients wrapped up and stored in the refrigerator.

The 8 ounces of cream cheese needs to be soft in order to blend it with the other ingredients. You can just let it sit (still wrapped) on the counter for about 2 hours. Or remove it from its packaging and put it on a plate. Then zap it in the microwave for about 30 seconds or until it is soft.

In a large mixing bowl, mix well the softened cream cheese, the shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise.

It should look like this:

Now mix in the onions and garlic, and the chopped artichokes.

Spread the mixture into a 9-10 inch round baking dish. (The dip is going to be served in this dish as well, so be sure it looks nice!)

Sprinkle on the parmesan cheese…

and the bacon bits.

Now it is ready to go into your 350 degree preheated oven.

It will take about 30 minutes to cook. While it’s in the oven, cut some pita bread into triangles. (Tortilla chips also work really well with this dip.)

The dip is ready to come out of the oven when it is slightly puffed and the edges are just a little browned.

Enjoy!

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How to Mince, Dice and Chop Onions

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

The photograph below shows minced, diced and chopped onions. Minced (on the left) is the smallest cut. diced (in the middle) is a bit bigger, and chopped (on the right) which is cut, at most, into about ¼ inch chunks.

When it comes to chopping an onion or any vegetables, choose a knife that you are comfortable holding. As long as it’s sharp, it really comes down to what knife you feel you can control well.

So, let me show you how to chop an onion.

This is the root end of an onion.

Leave the root end intact. It will actually help to make cutting the onion easier.

Cut off the top of the onion (the other end.)

Peel off the outside skin (the dry, papery layer.)

Sometimes you end up removing the first layer of onion as well which is ok.

Cut the onion in half from the top end to base. Place the cut side down on the cutting board.

Always hold the onion with bent fingers while slicing and chopping. This allows you to use your knuckles as a guide against the side of the knife and not the tips of your fingers under the knife. It will feel pretty awkward at first but it’s the only safe way to hold the onion!

For chopped onions, with the knife tip pointed towards the root, slice the onion to within 1/2 inch of the base. Make about 1/4 inch parallel cuts.

Now cut perpendicular to the slices you just made.

Oh look! Chopped onions!

“Diced” onions are nothing more than onions cut into smaller pieces. For diced onions do the exact same thing, only with smaller cuts. Minced is even smaller!

If the onions need to be chopped finer you can run your knife through them in a rocking motion. Be sure to hold down the tip of the knife, otherwise the onions are going to go flying around the room.

If cutting onions makes you cry, try putting your onion in the freezer for about 20 minutes before cutting it.

Cheers!

Kathy

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