Hey, it’s Colleen here! When it comes to the holidays, don’t you feel like we turn into Wonder Woman? There are presents to buy, parties to host and attend, a house to clean again and again, wrapping to do, lists to make and remake… and if you have young kids, there are presents to creatively hide as well as food to make and cookies to bake! If we put THAT much energy into something else…we could rule the world!!
This year I hosted Christmas Eve (my family celebrates the Wigilia… the Polish tradition in honor of my almost 102 year old grandmother) as well as Christmas Day. If that wasn’t enough, I also had 15 fourth grade girls at my home three days before Christmas for a Cookie Swap and gift exchange. Sometimes I wonder if I am nuts, lol!
Note to self… never… ever… ev-er have more than six girls at a cookie swap or any type of gathering until the Senior Prom!! It was com-plet-ely crazy. I couldn’t hear anything, they couldn’t hear me at times, drama was happening, and “groups” were fractioning off. Time never moved that slowly… ever! Luckily I lived to tell the tale and learned a life lesson, whew!
When it comes to hosting MY family & friends, I have learned over the years to keep it as simple as I can. I used to try to do it all. I always wanted to make everything as fresh as I possibly could and as perfect as I possibly could… I thought THAT was being a good hostess. Now I make as much ahead as I can and say yes to friends and families when they offer to bring a dish. I get to mingle and have fun too, which is less stress for my husband and me, plus everything is just as good!
One app that I make (and am asked to make often) is Stuffed Mushrooms. My husband is crazy for them. I make them a number of ways. Meatless, crab or the always crowd pleasing Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms. This Spinach & Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushroom recipe is great because it’s a 2-fer… 1 recipe that you can serve 2 ways!
Like me, many people want nothing to do with mushrooms. SO when I decided to make my popular Spinach and Artichoke Dip a little bit thicker to stuff into mushrooms, I saved half of the mixture to serve a s a dip. There you go… 1 dish served 2 ways, and just about everyone is pleased… especially me!
Another party staple of mine is this super-simple but oh-so-delicious 5 Ingredient Hot Onion Dip. (I am asked at parties for this recipe more than any other.) It travels well – just cook it when you get there. The ingredients are ingredients that you probably have in your fridge/pantry right now – so when you need an app in a pinch, this is it!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- ¾ cup diced Vidalia onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup flour (gluten-free, optional)
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cups sour cream
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack (pepper jack) cheese, sliced or shredded
- 1 TBS chicken bouillon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 TBS sugar
- 5-6 shakes of Tabasco sauce
- 12 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
- 6 - 6.5 ounce jar of artichokes, drained, blotted dry and chopped
- Mushrooms appropriate for stuffing
- Tortilla chips for dipping
- Warm olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat; add in onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
- Sprinkle in the flour and whisk vigorously; remove from heat and slowly pour in chicken stock, whisking vigorously until it is incorporated.
- Return the pot back to med-low heat; once the mixture is simmering, whisk in the cream, sour cream and then the cheeses, chicken bouillon, lemon juice, sugar and Tabasco. Stir well.
- Add spinach and artichoke, stirring until fully incorporated and bubbly.
- If serving as a dip, serve warm in a small dish that can be heated in the oven, along with tortilla chips for dipping.
- If serving in mushrooms, cool the dip (it can be made one day ahead and stored in the refrigerator). Clean and stem the mushrooms.
- Brush your baking sheet lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper on the tray.
- Line up your mushrooms on the tray and spoon some of the dip into each. Don't over fill them.
- You can also sprinkle a pinch of shredded Parmesan cheese on top of each mushroom.
- Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes (or until mushrooms are cooked to your liking....it depends on the size mushrooms you use).
- If you want to make the mushrooms extra special, throw in a bit of jumbo lump crab!
If making some or all of this as a dip and you want the dip a little thinner, add ½ cup sour cream (to a whole batch or ¼ cup of sour cream to a half batch).
Make the dip as spicy as you desire by adding more Tabasco - or not spicy at all by only adding a couple of drops. Tabasco has a way of flavoring a dish with just a bit yet not making it spicy - taste as you go and enjoy!
Do you have a favorite party app recipe to share? I would love to know what it is…I am always on the hunt for new appetizer ideas. I could live on apps!
Happy New Year!