Tag Archives: party food

130. Dixie-Style Party Food: Dip it Good!

15 Nov

Spinach artichoke dip–click for recipe.

Spinach artichoke dip–click for recipe.

As I plunged yet another tortilla chip into a cheesy dip embellished with bits of delectable shrimpiness, I said, “I wish we had an O’Charley’s in Seattle.”

Upon second thought (and perhaps taking a moment to swallow) I added, “But there’s really nothing here Geoff would eat.”

Mom said, “What about this?”

“The dip? It has shrimp in it.”

“They won’t let him eat SHRIMP?” Mom said, horrified.

“Who? The vegetarian police?”

“Well, I think he ought to be able to eat shrimp. It’s just a little bit of meat. And it’s so good.”

Like many folks here in the Pacific Northwest, Geoff doesn’t really understand the concept of dip. Sure, he’ll spread a little hummus on flatbread or add an olive tapenade to toast, but that’s about it. Unless you count chutney, which I don’t.

I, on the other hand, come from a long line of folks who’ve perfected the art of dunking carbs into fat.

The last gathering I attended in Mississippi featured no less than three dips and a variety of dip-delivery vehicles. In order of my personal preference, we had: 1. Rotel embellished with sausage and cream cheese with Fritos Scoops for dipping 2. Creamy spinach dip with Hawaiian bread (vegetable = “healthy”) and 3. A garlic and onion dip made with a spice pack my sister bought at the fair. I believe the last one was served with Chicken in a Biskit crackers to compensate for the meat-less dip.

Dip mix booth at the MS state fair.

Dip mix booth at the MS state fair.

Perhaps I should also mention the strawberry cheesecake dip mix Jenna brought along in case the huge strawberry cake and tub of ice cream failed to deliver sufficient sweetness. Thankfully, the emergency rations weren’t necessary.

Dips are the ultimate communal Southern food. Even more comforting than casseroles. Why? Because you almost always eat them while standing around chatting with folks. Whether you’re attending a party or a wake, the camaraderie that develops around a dip bowl is palpable. Until some asshole double dips. But then the rest of the group has a new topic of gossip–with a shelf-life of YEARS. Decades, even.

Communal dipping allows some mighty powerful self delusion, such as:
• Calories don’t count when you eat standing up.
• Each dipped chip is just a small bite. It’s not like you’re eating a whole entire PLATE of nachos.
• You deserve something yummy after eating all those vegetables (doused in Ranch dressing).
• Since there’s no food on your plate, folks will assume you’re still keeping track of those Weight Watcher points.
• You may never encounter such a wealth of dips again–better stock up!

There is some truth to that last one. One never really knows where the next dip is coming from. Oh, sure, you could whip up a batch of Rotel and eat it at home in front of the TV, but this completely eliminates the self-delusion factor. With every dunk of the chip, you’re just waiting for the Biggest Loser folks to sneak in and film you. Or maybe I’m the only one with this particular fear…

Now that we’ve discussed the hows and whys of dipping, let’s talk about the whats.

Like most Southern snacks, dips fall into two distinct categories: Sweet and Savory.

On the savory spectrum, you’ll find two separate but equally tasty groups (although occasionally cross-pollination occurs). Let’s call them cheesy and creamy.

Click for recipe

Click for recipe

Cheesy dips include, but are not limited to: Rotel (with or without meat), artichoke, broccoli, shrimp, crab, Buffalo chicken, Jalapeño popper, Vidalia onion, bacon and cheddar, and pimiento cheese. One might even toss bleu cheese dressing into this category. Preferably as an accompaniment to wings, not crudités.

Creamy dips tend to be a bit mayonnaise-y in nature, but can also feature sour cream as the main ingredient, seeing as some folks harbor mild to severe aversions to oil and egg emulsions. These include everything from your basic, store bought French onion dip to homemade comeback sauce. You’ll also find cheese-less versions of shrimp or bacon dip, but they are probably not as good. In fact, when I started writing this paragraph, I thought there would be a long list of creamy dips, but I’m kinda drawing a blank. Even after spending far too much time poking around on Pinterest. So let’s move on…

Click for recipe

Click for recipe

Sweet dips. I honestly don’t have much experience in this category either, seeing as I prefer my sweets to be baked up in the oven. But I’ll give y’all the recipe for my all-time favorite sweet dip, courtesy of my sister-in-law Karen.

Got a pen? Well, you don’t even need one; it’s that easy.

Mix 8-oz of softened cream cheese with one jar of marshmallow fluff. Serve with any fruit you like. It would probably be awesome on cookies, if you don’t even want to bother pretending to be healthy.

You’ll find copious recipes for sweet dips on the Internets featuring everything from chocolate chips and cream cheese to peanut butter and bananas. Salted caramel, cake batter, cookie dough, Oreos, s’mores…endless variations of stuff to plunge Nilla Wafers or Graham crackers into. Or pretzels for the sweet & salty lovers among us.

I’ve put together a handy reference on Pinterest for y’all. You’ll find links to all manner of yummy-looking dips. I have not personally made any of them (yet), but I did make sure they all link to actual recipes. Proceed with cautious optimism.

What’s your all-time favorite party dip? And do you consider solo dipping a taboo?

Photo Credits: Spinach Artichoke and Monster Cookie Dip from The Girl Who Ate Everything; Hail Mary Dip from ‘liciousfood; Dip Stand Pic courtesy of Jenna.

Advertisements

82. Rotel Dip–Just Add Fritos

1 Mar

Seeing as this Dixie delicacy has come up in conversation here in Seattle twice in as many weeks, I reckon I’d better get to writing about it. (And folks think I’m not hip to the zeitgeist.)

The folks who make the dip’s title ingredient (diced tomatoes and green chilies in a can) call it “RO*TEL” but I don’t believe in adding asterisks to names. Also, for most Southerners the “dip” is implied, so I will stick to the vernacular and henceforth refer to the dip of cheesy goodness as simply “Rotel.”

Rotel is about the easiest dip you’ll ever make. Even my six-year-old nephew could do it, if he were allowed to cook with actual heat. For now, he is content with such concoctions as “Chocolate, Cheez-its and Applesauce Delight” or “Peanut Butter, Jelly, and Water Surprise.” What do you dip in Jackson’s dips? He recommends chocolate.

Here’s the recipe for Rotel: Take a brick of Velveeta and add a can of Rotel. Heat and serve. We also like to doctor up the dip with some ground beef or sausage (pre-cooked!!). And it’s best to make Rotel in a Crock-Pot so you can keep it warm. Cold Rotel is frightening, my friends. Just remember to turn the heat from high to low before guests arrive. There’s nothing worse than lifting a lid off the Crock-Pot to discover a crusty, burned cheese-like substance. Well, except being the one who has to clean that mess up.

With the pasta sauce!
Sure, that makes sense.

A few years ago at a Christmas party, I encountered Rotel in which the traditional Velveeta had been replaced by CREAM CHEESE. WHY didn’t I think of that? It would have saved me hours spent on grocery store scavenger hunts trying to determine where they’d stashed the Velveeta. You’d think they’d put it in the dairy case with the rest of the cheese, but I think store keepers have this sadistic need to remind folks that Velveeta is a “cheese product,” not actual cheese and therefore does not require refrigeration. Honestly, if I hadn’t grown up eating Velveeta, I don’t think I’d touch the stuff. And now, thanks to cream cheese, I don’t have to.

Ok, then, moving on to what all may be dipped in Rotel. I, myself, do not stray too far from the classic Fritos (though I prefer the newfangled “Scoops” variety, which greatly improves the dip to chip ratio). Some folks prefer tortilla chips, which are fine (just not as good as Fritos). There might even be some folks tempted to dip crudités in Rotel. But who invited them?

Potato chips and Rotel are an iffy combination. To my mind, most potato chips are too flimsy to stand up to a meaty Rotel, but could probably handle the cheese-only variety.

Whatever you do, don’t serve Rotel with Cheetos or any off-brand cheese puff. This is overkill. Also, Doritos should be avoided, if at all possible. In an emergency, you might could get away with the nacho cheese flavor, but Rotel plus “Cool Ranch” is a recipe for disaster.

Photo Credits: Rotel and Velveeta pic by Adam Kuban, Flickr Creative Commons, Velveeta in pasta aisle pic by Frazgo, Flickr Creative Commons

%d bloggers like this: