'To dip or not to dip?' The answer is pretty obvious
By Kara Kimbrough
I got a little feedback – make that pushback – from last week's suggestion to make your own chicken and beef broth. I’m not sure I adequately explained how easy it is to simply let pour everything in a stockpot and let the ingredients boil while doing other things. And, the beef stew made from my homemade beef broth was delicious, although lighter in color than normal. I attribute this to the lack of brown dye most likely used to give commercial beef broth its rich brown color. But enough about broth. This is an easy sell: I want to convince you to make your own dips.
Before you swear allegiance to your favorite container of French onion in the dairy case, hear me out. Making your own dip is infinitely easier and less time consuming than broth. Using a food processor or blender reduces the time to literally minutes once the ingredients of choice (and not tons of sodium and other unpronounceable powders found in commercial dip) are added. Even stirring by hand is an easy chore that results in a smooth, creamy dip filled with ingredients you actually select and about which you feel relatively good.
Finding a recipe-sharing internet site on which participants regularly ask for helping in cooking almost anything caused me to start making my own dips in earnest. After someone asked for “everyone’s favorite homemade dip," literally hundreds – possibly thousands – of recipes were contributed to the post, each one sounding better than the last.
Warm feta dip with artichokes, "most popular vegetable dip from the 70’s," loaded crack bacon and cheese and family favorites like, “My mama’s favorite shrimp dip” and hot crab dip from a Marylander (the crab capital of the U.S.) poured in. It was almost impossible to choose just one for an event at which I was instructed to bring “some kind of dip.”
After copying and pasting the list into a document I saved in my computer files, I watching an Instagram video of someone topping a dish of hot pizza dip with slices of pepperoni cut and shaped to resemble a jack-a-lantern. The dip was the hit of her family’s pumpkin-carving party. Even better, she allowed her young children to partake of the dip since she knew the ingredients and felt good about allowing them to partake along with the adults.
Halloween has passed, but fall festivals and other fall events, including tailgating, will be around at least until Thanksgiving. Making a hot baked dip makes more sense than summer's chilled ones. However, I would never shun any type or variety of dip.
I sampled a few found on the recipe site and am passing on the recipes for three that stood out. Besides serving as a dip, they perform triple duty as a spread for crackers and a burger or sandwich sauce. And even better, they tasted much better than French onion in a carton.
Hot Crab Dip from a Marylander
8-ounce cream cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (use name brand)
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Several teaspoons of Old Bay Seasoning (use more or less according to taste)
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more or less according to taste)
1 pound fresh lump crab meat (no substitutions or it won’t be good)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese until soft, then add all the other ingredients (except for crab meat and about ¼ cup of shredded cheese). Hand stirs in the crab; reserve the remaining cheese.
Pour everything into a 9” skillet or baking dish, sprinkle reserved cheese on top and bake 25-30 minutes. Serve hot with sliced baguette or crackers.
Best Vegetable Dip from the 70’s
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Miracle Whip or favorite mayonnaise
1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
1 teaspoon dried parsley (adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon dried parsley (adjust to taste)
Mix ingredients and refrigerate for a few hours. Serve with chopped vegetables or crackers.
California Party Dip
1 14-ounce can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
¾ cup chopped Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon dill weed or lemon dill
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Place in shallow baking dish. Bake 35-45 minutes until heated through and lightly browned. Serve with crackers.
Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.