Tag Archives: Dip

Roasted Broccoli Stem Dip with Parmesan-Black Pepper Pita Chips

roasted broccoli stem dip with parmesan black pepper pita chips

In my week covering broccoli and exploring some different ways of preparing it, I really wanted to do something with the broccoli stems. They kind of get the shaft. They are admittedly not as aesthetically pleasing as the florets, and when not pureed, don’t seem to taste as good either. But they still deserve their day in court, so to speak, and apparently Jennifer Perillo thinks so too. When I was hunting around for broccoli recipes to make for this week, I immediately lit up when I saw that she had made a dip out of broccoli stems for her book.

roasted broccoli stems

Seeing as I simply adore dips of just about any kind, I knew this was going on the menu. I must say, it’s a pretty ingenious idea! The stems are roasted, then pureed with lemon and Greek yogurt and a touch of Parmesan. The end result is extremely tasty! It was smooth and somewhat creamy, very lemony, and didn’t scream broccoli stems at you. I have no children to test-drive this on, but I think you could at least get a child to try it, and who knows, maybe even like it!

Parmesan Black Pepper Pita Chips

I do heartily recommend it for a healthier dip and appetizer alternative. I absolutely loved the pita chips I made for dunkers (also from Jennie’s book), but if you wanted to go even more low-calorie, you could use carrot sticks, celery sticks, and red bell pepper pieces. Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli Stem Dip

{One year ago: Easy Cranberry Apple Cake}

Source: Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo


3 cups coarsely chopped broccoli stems, from about 1 medium head of broccoli (I like to peel my stems before chopping them)
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon
2 tsp grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

4 whole wheat pita breads, cut into eighths
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil, salt and pepper in an 8-inch square baking dish. Roast in the oven until the pieces are tender when pierced with a sharp paring knife, about 18 to 20 minutes.
Scrape the broccoli into the food processor bowl. Add the garlic, lemon juice, cheese and half the yogurt. Pulse 2 to 3 times to break up the broccoli, then process for 1 to 2 minutes until it takes on a chunky, pesto-like consistence. Stop the machine, add the remaining half of the yogurt, and process again until very smooth. Taste, and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
Transfer the dip to a bowl and serve with the dunkers of your choice.

Preheat the oven to 400 F (or keep it there from the broccoli stems). Lightly grease a baking sheet. Spread the pita wedges onto the sheet in an even layer. Brush each wedge with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the Parmesan cheese onto the pitas, then liberally sprinkle them with black pepper, to your heart’s desire.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until the chips are lightly golden brown and crisped. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly and serve with the dip.

Hummus {the Classic}

Classic Hummus Dip

Here’s a story for you – it’s about the time I ruined my perfectly good Oxo Good Grips rubber spatula… and probably ate part of it too! It all began when I ignored my kitchen instincts.

making hummus

As an aside, instincts have been shown to be not a sixth sense or divine revelation, but the result of experience. So it’s usually a good idea to follow them, especially if you’re dealing with something you’re good at or have some expertise in. So when I saw a recipe that said to make hummus in the blender, my instinct said “No, you should use your food processor.” My reasoning was that chickpeas are fairly thick and dense, and they would have more room to groove in the food pro. But the recipe said blender! It said blender! So I went with the blender.

chickpeas in the blender

And my instinct proved correct. The blender (my blender anyway) wasn’t quite equipped to puree all those garbanzos. It jammed up and wouldn’t catch the top third of the vessel. So I kept stopping the machine, using my wonderful spatula to scrape it down, and was getting nowhere. So, with the machine still running, I gingerly stuck my spatula in and scraped as the blender was running. It did work, in the sense that the chickpeas all got pureed, but predictably I scraped too low, and the blade caught the spatula.


It took a few little chips out of the end, small enough so that I wasn’t able to fish them out, but big enough chips that the spatula was forever ruined. May he rest in peace. Oh, and the part about eating some of the spatula? Yeah, that was because it was late, I was tired, and this was dinner. So I pressed on, and hit puree again until the mixture came together. And there were undoubtedly little chips of rubber spatula in there, little rubber chips that likely got consumed on a pita chip. Oh well. No one died. (Perhaps Oxo will start advertising them as non-toxic when swallowed!)

Pioneer Woman's Hummus

But I am sharing this recipe with instructions to use your food processor, thus sparing you from eating some of your nice spatulas!


Source: slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond

3 (14.5 oz.) cans chickpeas, well drained
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup to 1 cup cold water (yes I used the entire cup!)
2 tbs olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

To your food processor (or blender, but you know where I stand), add the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Process the mixture, pouring in the water as you go, starting with ½ a cup and adding up to 1 cup as necessary.
Once it is to your desired thickness, add the olive oil and give it a final pulse. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Place the hummus in a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, veggie sticks, whatever you want!

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar and tortilla chips

A few months ago, I had the following exchange with my darling husband, who you’ll remember is not from Texas.

Matt: What’s Texas caviar?
Me: Black-eyed peas.
Matt: Oh, I thought it was veal testicles.
Me: ???????

What can I say, the man leaves me speechless sometimes……

black-eyed peas

Texas Caviar is actually a salad-esque dish of black-eyed peas and veggies; it’s eaten either with a spoon as a salad/side dish, or with tortilla chips as an appetizer/dip. It was created in the 1950’s by a woman named Helen Corbitt. Corbitt moved from New York to Dallas to become the food service director at Neiman Marcus, an upscale department store.

assembling Texas caviar

The New York native was understandably unfamiliar with the humble legume, but quickly discovered its deep roots and beloved status in Texas. She came up with this dish and began serving it at swanky gatherings and chic hotels. When she served it to some wealthy patrons at Austin’s Driskill Hotel, it was dubbed Texas Caviar, and the name stuck.

making Texas caviar

It’s a delicious, healthy and filling dish. I was happy to finally make it for Matt and let him see what the fuss is *really* all about (as well as what it’s not about). I can report that he is now a big fan of the humble black-eyed pea recipe. With tortilla chips, of course.

So now I proudly present to you official, legit Texas Caviar.
With no veal. And no testicles.

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar with tortilla chips

Source: The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

2 (15 oz.) cans of black-eyed peas, drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lime juice
1 generous tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving

In a large bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, scallions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Stir into the black-eyed pea mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 4 hours. Serve cold with tortilla chips.

Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche

Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche

I have very fond memories of the first time I tried ceviche.  San Pedro, Belize, May 2010.  I was eating lunch with Matt after doing some exploring of the town in a rented golf cart (which was awesome, by the way – both the town and driving a golf cart).  We got lunch in this little seafood shack right on the beach with beautiful views.  Matt was actually the one to order it, but never fear, I stole several bites.

chopped shrimp for ceviche

We both really enjoyed it.  It was fresh, clean, citrusy, and a touch spicy from the habaneros that Belizeans love so much.

Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche

I really didn’t know about ceviche growing up, seeing as we didn’t eat much seafood. BUT, all things considered, I doubt I’d have touched this dish with a ten foot pole even if I had been exposed to it. It’s a Mexican specialty that has easily migrated to other Central American countries and Caribbean islands. Ceviche means that seafood has been “cooked” in citrus juice. It is never exposed to a traditional heat source for cooking it. So up until about my mid-twenties, I would have considered it raw and stayed far, far away.

shrimp ceviche

I’m very glad I have changed my mind, because ceviche is delicious, easy, and healthy! Our waiter in Belize told us that ceviche is usually consumed after a long night of drinking. That hasn’t ever been my experience of it, but I can attest to the sheer pleasure of eating it with an icy cold beer.

Shrimp and Avocado Ceviche

Ceviche has since become a favorite of mine. I love how easy it is to prepare – you just need time to let it sit in the fridge. It’s so refreshing and clean tasting. Try it if you never have before, it’s so delish!

shrimp and avocado ceviche

Recipe note: Don’t chop the veggies until right before they are needed, particularly the avocado, which will oxidize on you.

Source: adapted from Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith and Evangelina Soza

1 lb. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, then chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
1 tbs chopped red onion
Half a jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 very small Kirby cucumber, chopped
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
Half an avocado, chopped
Olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Tortilla chips

Spread out the chopped shrimp in a glass baking dish. Pour the lime juice and lemon juice over the shrimp, toss well, and refrigerate for 2 hours, mixing occasionally. The acid from the citrus juice will “cook” the shrimp.
Toss the prepared shrimp and the juices with the remaining ingredients (except for tortilla chips) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour longer. You can prepare this and let it sit overnight.
Serve cold with tortilla chips.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

Chile de Arbol Salsa

May I rant about dried chile de arbols for a second? First a disclaimer: I love them and use them often. Okay, that’s out of the way, now I’ll rant.

dried chile de arbol

Chile de arbols are tiny little FIERY HOT dried chiles. A little bit goes a very long way. Most recipes call for at most two little chiles. So you’d think the manufacturers would realize this and sell them in small packages, right? Oh no. They are sold in bags of like, fifty plus chiles, and it takes forever to use up a bag, even if you make tons of Mexican food like I do. So I usually don’t use up an entire bag before the last dozen or so have gone bad. As I hate to waste food, that really bugs me!

chile de arbol salsa from Muy Bueno

So when I ran across a recipe that called for twenty, count ‘em, twenty chiles de arbol, I was beyond excited and had to immediately make it. As I expected it would be, this salsa is HOT. Definitely not for those who don’t like it spicy. But the flavor was unique from probably most any salsa you’ve had before, and it really was delicious. So if spicy chiles are your thing, then I would heartily recommend this one. With some salty, crispy tortilla chips and cold Mexican beers, it’s quite an enjoyable snack.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

Source: Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor by Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack, Veronica Gonzalez-Smith and Evangelina Soza

1 tsp canola oil
20 chiles de arbol, stemmed but not seeded
1 small white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup canned whole peeled tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 tsp kosher salt

Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chiles and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly so chiles are fried well and change color.
Add onion and garlic and saute another 2 minutes, again stirring constantly.
Transfer ingredients in the skillet to the blender. Add whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and salt. Puree until salsa is smooth with flecks of chile running throughout. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with crispy tortilla chips.
Note: if you find this is seriously too hot for your palate, mix in some sour cream. Tastes terrific and it will cool things off.

Pimento Cheese Spread


If you’re a regular reader here, you know that my childhood self absolutely despised vegetables. But childhood Julie did enjoy eating fruits, French fries, most desserts, and several (though not all) varieties of CHEESE!! Especially cheddar – that was my favorite. I loved it just eaten straight from the block, I loved it sliced on crackers, I loved it in dips, and I loved it on burgers.


So it might surprise you to learn that I hated, I mean hated, pimento cheese. For those unfamiliar, pimento cheese is an American South staple that has meandered into parts of Texas, where it is enjoyed but not eaten as frequently as in, say South Carolina. It began its culinary lifespan as a sandwich: shredded cheddar was tossed with jarred pimentos (which are just chopped, roasted red bell peppers) and mayonnaise and then slapped between two slices of sandwich bread. That’s how my mom always made it for us. A quick lunch to throw together for sure, but man oh man I couldn’t stand it. Sorry Mom. :/


Why, you ask, when I was such a self-proclaimed cheddar lover? Simple – I hated mayonnaise. I always thought it was gloppy and unappealing. I still have some issues with it to this day. And the idea that you could take an ingredient as divine and hallowed as cheddar cheese and glop it up with the lowly and despised mayonnaise… well, that sincerely offended me to my core.


Pimento cheese has evolved from a sandwich to a spread, and is sometimes called cheddar cheese pate. In this more modern version, shredded cheddar is put in the food processor to spin around with mayonnaise and cream cheese, then pimentos are folded in. Then it gets spread on crackers, traditionally Ritz crackers, and eaten as a snack.


Despite my bad memories of pimento cheese, I decided to be brave and try it this way. Oh holy lord, I am so glad I did! It’s delicious, creamy, rich, and addicting. This is so making an appearance as an appetizer at a dinner party sometime! No matter what your history and experience of pimento cheese, whether that be as a spread, a sandwich, or nonexistent, I think you should definitely give this a try.


Source: adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt and Ted Lee

1 red bell pepper
8 oz. shredded sharp yellow cheddar cheese
2 oz. softened cream cheese
3 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp crushed chile flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Ritz crackers, for serving

Using tongs, place the bell pepper over a medium to medium-low flame on your gas stove. Let it roast until all sides are blackened, turning as necessary. Alternately, you can do this in your broiler. Place the pepper on a baking sheet close to the flame and turn until it has blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
When done roasting, place the pepper in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it steam for about 15 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and take the blackened skin off with your hands or a paper towel. Seed and chop the pepper.
Place the cheddar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a few times to really grate it fine. Then add the cream cheese, mayonnaise, chile flakes, salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and fold in the chopped red pepper.
Put the pimento cheese in your desired serving bowl and set out with the crackers. Use a knife to spread a generous amount of pimento cheese onto each cracker. Watch it disappear!

Mediterranean Baked Feta and Tomatoes

I truly was the pickiest eater as a kid.  While I think it’s somewhat normal for kids to be finicky about vegetables, I have to wonder: is it normal for kids to be picky about cheese?  Because I actually was!  I liked cheddar, Monterey jack, mozzarella and parmesan, and that’s about it.  I hated Swiss cheese, and I cared not the least for provolone.  There were many out there that I just flat out never tasted, but probably would have turned up my nose given the chance.  But what I really hated, I mean seriously and utterly despised, was feta cheese.  That stuff could propel me right out of a room.  I hated the smell, the taste, and even the sight.  I would love to be able to tell you that I outgrew this around middle or high school.  Alas, I cannot honestly say such a thing. I specifically remember being in my mid-twenties and telling Matt that I wasn’t going to make a recipe we saw because “I don’t care for feta.”  Geez…

I don’t recall what compelled me to give it a second chance, but I can’t tell you how happy I am that I did!  I love feta now.  I have really opened up to Greek cuisine over the past several years, and it’s one I very much enjoy.  I love feta tossed in salad or pastas, which is usually how I eat it.  Occasionally, I crumble it atop my soup.  But I’d never had it as a dip.  So when I ran across this recipe, I was very intrigued and knew I’d have to try it.

I usually think of cheese dips as being the softer, melty cheeses like Cheddar or mozzarella.  And there’s nothing wrong with those, is there?  Queso Fundido is one of my absolute faves.  But those dips are also quite high in calories and fat, and serve as more of an occasional treat in our house.  Feta is very easy on the waistline as far as cheeses go, so I was pretty psyched to see it turned into one of my favorite snacking dishes.

This dish is superlative.  It was absolutely fantastic.  Easy to make, elegant, delicious, it would make a perfect appetizer for a fancy dinner or cocktail party.  The only thing that would have made it better is if I hadn’t been so eager to try it, because then I wouldn’t have burned the roof of my mouth.  Make this when heirloom cherry tomatoes are in season if you can.  If you missed the season, you should still make it with regular cherry tomatoes, and it will still be amazing.

Source: ever so slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup chopped, pitted Kalmata olives
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 8- to 10-ounce block feta, cut down the middle*
Pita chips

In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, olives, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the parsley, oregano, olive oil, salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Check to see that your dish is oven-proof. Spread the feta pieces over the dish in an even layer. I used a square baker. Pile the tomato mixture on top of the feta. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the rest of the parsley.

The feta will not melt, just warm and soften. Serve immediately with the pita chips as your dipper. As it cools, the feta will firm up again. The dish can be returned to the oven to soften it again, if need be.

*My 8 ounce feta came in two rectangular blocks. I cut them both in half down the middle so they were simply slimmer pieces in the same shape. I found that doing this let it get a slight bit more melty than it otherwise would have because each piece was flatter and there was more surface area. Hopefully that made sense. 🙂

Fried Summer Squash with a Horseradish Dipper

When it comes to eating, I was the child every expectant parent secretly prays they don’t have. To say I was picky puts it rather mildly. I really couldn’t stand eating vegetables. My parents preached nutrition until they were blue in the face, and they always served meals that included a veggie of some sort. And I didn’t really care for any of them, sometimes not even potatoes.

I put up a respectable fight on the I-will-not-eat-vegetables front. I’m not saying I won or anything, but I made quite an admirable effort to not insult my taste buds. I whined and cried. I tried to flatly and calmly refuse. I tried to politely turn them down. (“Here’s some asparagus, Julie.” “Oh, no thank you.”) I held my nose and made sure to chew with my mouth wide open, thinking that maybe they’d be so grossed out they would relent. Most often though, I cut my vegetable servings into teeny, tiny pieces and swallowed them whole with my water or iced tea. It took a while, and often I was still sitting at the dinner table a good half hour after everyone else had finished, still consuming my vegetables as though they were medicinal pills. And like swallowing medicine, I shuddered and made faces after each swallow. I must report that nothing really worked. Night after night my plate was still filled with vegetables, and my parents never let up on making sure I got my nutrients.

One veg that I hated in particular was cooked yellow summer squash. I thought it was slimy and had a weird, unpleasant flavor. That being said, I would, however, make a mighty exception when it was breaded and deep-fried. On those (not terribly frequent) occasions, I popped it into my mouth like it was Halloween candy, and begged for more when it was gone. This dish definitely stands out as one of my childhood favorites that my mom made at home.

I was recently flipping through a cookbook of family recipes she gave me when I got married, and I realized I didn’t see it in there. I hadn’t had it in years, and suddenly I was craving it. I knew I could recreate it in my own kitchen. I decided to make a dipping sauce to accompany it. Since the squash is rather sweet, I wanted the dip to have some heat. Horseradish became the star, mixed in with some mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon, and scallions. The dipper is my contribution to my mom’s classic dish. I think it worked. Mom, if you ever try it, let me know if you agree.


1 large summer squash, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup flour
3 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Dash of cayenne
2 eggs
Dash of hot sauce, such as TX Pete’s
Kosher salt and black pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Combine the flour, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper into a pie plate. Mix to combine.
In a second pie plate, whisk the eggs with a splash of water and a dash of hot sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Dip the squash rounds in the flour, then shake off the excess. Then dip them in the egg wash, letting the excess drain off. Then they go back into the flour, again shaking off the excess. Place a cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet and lay the squash on the cooling rack in a single layer. You will probably need two sheets. Continue until the squash has been battered. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to let them set up.
Pour the canola oil into your deep fryer according to manufacturer’s instructions and begin heating up.
When the oil is ready*, fry the squash in batches for about 3-4 minutes, flipping once during the cooking. They’re ready when they are nicely browned and the bubbles start subsiding. Lift them out with a slotted spoon onto paper towel lined plates to mop up any excess oil. While they are very hot, sprinkle with a dash of kosher salt. Repeat until done. Serve with the Horseradish Dipper.
* To test the readiness of your oil, simply drop in a pinch of the flour mixture you used to batter the squash. If it sinks and otherwise does nothing, your oil is too cold. If it immediately burns, your oil is too hot. What you’re looking for is for the flour to immediately begin bubbling but not immediately change color.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 rounded tbs prepared horseradish, drained
2 scallions, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
3 dashes of hot sauce, such as TX Pete’s
Kosher salt and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly, making sure to get all the lumps out. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to marry.