The Original Nicky Dip

When friends get together for food and drink, the conversation sometimes gets a bit quirky.  It was a small get together of six and somehow the conversation turned to dip.

“What’s in that cheese dip you guys made once.  It was awesome.”

“We didn’t have any dip tonight.  What are you talking about?”

“I had it one of the other times we were together.  It had cheese in it.”

Now that was helpful.

“What else was in it?  What kind of cheese?  What did it taste like?  What kind of chips were served?  Can you remember anything else about the dip?”

Imagine six people trying to figure out which cheese dip recipe it was based upon a single clue: cheese.  Then the quirky one who started the whole quirky conversation said,

“It also had chilies in it.”

“Oh, you must be referring to Nicky’s Cheese Dip.”

To The Box.  I found an email dated January 10, 2010 from one to all of us in the group.  There it was and here it is.

  • 2 eight ounce packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 four-ounce can of chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 ounces diced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise using a hand mixer.
  2. Stir in the Parmesan, peppers and chilies.
  3. Place mixture into an ovenproof serving or baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
  5. Serve warm with chips.

 

Random thoughts – For the chips use tortilla chips or Frito’s (if you’re into that sort of thing).  For some strange reason I always thought this dip had a few dashes of hot sauce in it.  Add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce (trust me on this).   He Who Asked the Question will probably play with this recipe by removing some fat and calories while preserving the original flavor profile.

Do it.  And if you come up with a tasty low cal version, please share.  Let the cream cheese soften a bit at room temperature.  Start the mixer at a slow speed unless you want cream cheese and mayo splattered on the wall.

 

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Semi-Organic Beef Vegetable Soup

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots,peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, skin on
  • 1 medium green squash, diced
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound top blade roast
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 large white button mushrooms, thick dice
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • pinch dried parsley
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 quart organic beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Makes about four healthy servings.

  1. In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot.  Salt and pepper the roast.  Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion.  Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
  3. Add garlic powder and thyme.  Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer slowly for two hours.
  5. After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  6. Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  9. When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
  10.  Adjust your seasonings.  Add parsley.

My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup.   The jeans are getting a little loose.  I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever.  Yes, The Boss is still sick.  Friday I made chicken soup.  Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup.  Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.

A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth.  This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not.  The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth.  I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference  due to the cut and marbling.

Tips

I remembered the mushrooms.   Use vegetables you have on hand.  I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables.  The corn adds a touch of sweetness.  Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup.  The beef stays tender this way.  You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.

A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.

So would a three pound top blade roast.  But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.

Semi-Organic Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

  • 1 T minced sweet onion
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 2 small red potatoes, diced, skin on
  • 1 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 15.5 ounce can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • pinch dried parsley
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart vegetable stock or broth
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Makes about four healthy servings.

  1. In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot.  Add the carrot, celery and onion.  Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
  2. Add salt, white pepper, garlic powder, and thyme.
  3. Add the potatoes and continue sauteing for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the yellow squash and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetable stock and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Add the beans, tomatoes, and spinach.
  7. Simmer until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Adjust your seasonings.  Add parsley.
  9. Serve this soup with grated Parmesan cheese on the side.

I typing this as fast as I can.  Before I forget.

The Boss is sick.  Last night I made chicken soup.  When you’re sick you have to have chicken soup.  There was enough leftover for lunch.  So we’ve had chicken soup, raisin bran, chicken soup for the last three meals.  The Boss has a sore throat.  As I’m typing I hear coughing.  Well, time for soup again.

A high quality vegetable soup is the end result of the ingredients you have on hand.  The other key issue is balance, hence the small amount of spinach leaves and just a half cup of diced tomatoes.  This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not.

Tips

I kind of tossed this together and surprisingly, it tasted fine.  Next time mushrooms.  I used low sodium organic broth.  The Boss didn’t add any additional salt but I added a dash and it really helped.  Use vegetables you have on hand.  I bought a green squash but didn’t use it.  I also decided to leave out peas and corn.  Try different beans.  Chickpeas or kidneys would work well.

A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.

But so would a nice ribeye.

Black-Eyed Pea Dip

Source: Zannie’s Black-Eyed Pea Dip | The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 cups cooked Black-eyed Peas
  • 1/4 whole sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 8 slices Jalapenos
  • 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Salsa
  • Hot Sauce (optional)
  • Garlic powder, a dash or two
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain black-eyed peas and mash, leaving some whole.

Add all other ingredients, stirring to combine.

Spread into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Serve warm with tortilla chips.

I stole this recipe.  I did the usual change one or two things but refuse to claim this recipe as an original.  Instead of canned beans I prepared my own from dried beans.  The hot sauce is optional because I forgot to add it and when we started to chow down the dip didn’t really need any more heat.  As far as bean dips go this recipe is a keeper.  There were only six people at the gathering and we ate it all.  So the recipe serves six.

The stuffed mushrooms all got eaten too but that’s another recipe for another day.

Helpful Hints –  This is a Texas thing, black eyed peas for good luck at New Year’s.  So here are a few hints.  Salsa is not optional and I think I used a half cup but since I tossed and didn’t measure it might have been a little less or a little more. Hell on the Red from Telephone Texas.  Use a different salsa but the dip won’t taste the same.  If you like your dip spicy add more jalapenos.  Add hot sauce too but it better be a good Tex-Mexican hot sauce.  Don’t do the sriracha thing that everyone else does or it won’t taste the same.  

 

 

The Unoriginal Chili Lime Rub

The Unoriginal Chili Lime Rub

Wet –
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fresh-squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
Several dashes of your favorite hot sauce (I used Frank’s)

Dry –
1 teaspoon each of the following:

chili powder
brown sugar
oregano

1/2 teaspoon each of the following:

ground cumin
paprika
onion powder
garlic powder
sea salt
ground pepper

It is summer and it is hot. We’ve had several 100 degree plus days already and when the heat is on I think about grilling. Don’t heat up the kitchen and minimize the mess. Fearing the Rut I began to think about the limes I had in the fridge and thought “I wonder if there are any chili lime marinade recipes on the Internet?”.

There are literally dozens of chili lime recipes on the Internet. So I looked at several and while different they were all basically the same. They all looked like taco seasoning with oil and lime juice tossed in. So for the record, I didn’t steal this rub. But since they’re all very, very similar I’m calling this stuff The Unoriginal Chili Lime Rub.

The recipe makes enough rub for a little over a pound of animal protein. If you are cooking for a crowd doubling or tripling this recipe should work out fine. I made boneless chicken breasts to test the rub and the meat turned out well. Unlike marinades, just rub on the rub and let the protein sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Grill until done. Eat.

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. Add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  You should have a wet rub with the consistency of a loose paste.  If the rub is too thick, add a touch more oil.  The hot sauce can be omitted or kicked up to taste.
  3. Slather (like this word?) your animal protein with the rub, making certain the entire surface area is SLATHERED.
  4. Allow the protein to sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before hitting the grill.

Tips:

The rub was so tasty The Boss and I decided it was a keeper.  I’m looking forward to using this rub on chicken thighs, beef, and pork.  NO FISH.  Really, no fish.  That could get ugly.  TOFU?  You try that first and let me know.

 

Baked French Toast

“I’ll take a loaf of challah please.”

“Sorry, we just ran out 10 minutes ago.”

“You must have had quite a few people buying challah this morning.”

“No.  We only made one loaf for the morning.”

This really happened at a bakery contained within one of those fancy we sell you everything type of grocery stores.  It was a Saturday morning.  I came to the store specifically for this type of bread.  So this little story explains how a loaf brioche got into this recipe now adapted from a recipe of nearly the same name by the Steep Acres Farm B&B somewhere in Oregon.

Seriously.  Why does a bakery make one loaf of bread?

  1. One stick butter
  2. Half cup brown sugar
  3. Half cup pure maple syrup
  4. One cup chopped pecans
  5. Eight large eggs
  6. One and a half cups of half and half
  7. One and a half tsp cinnamon
  8. One tsp vanilla extract
  9. One loaf brioche sliced thick

Heat butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth.  Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish.  Sprinkle pecans.

Whisk the eggs, half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Dip bread slices into the mixture and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.  Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread slices, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator a minimum of thirty minutes prior to baking.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the dish uncovered until it becomes golden brown and puffy.  This will take between 35 and 40 minutes.  It will be done when a knife stuck in the center of the puffiest part comes out clean.

Serve warm with more maple syrup.  Sit back, savor, and enjoy the compliments.

Tips

Pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.  Any usage of maple flavored sugar syrup or imitation vanilla will destroy this dish and you’ll never be invited over for anyone’s pot luck brunch ever again.  In a pinch, a loaf of soft French bread will work.

 

Marinara Sauce Number Two

I have a lot of cookbooks and one of my favorites is Cooking from an Italian Garden by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen.  There are over 300 vegetarian recipes in this book.  Over the years I’ve made virtually none of the recipes in the book.  Yes, virtually zero.  This cookbook remains a favorite because it is inspirational.  You can prepare simple healthy meals without animal proteins.  The section on sauces alone is worth the price of admission.

The following is my adaptation of a flavorful marinara sauce that I recently prepared for a Stack Project recipe.

  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 1 stalk celery diced
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • handful fresh basil, chopped (or healthy pinch of dried basil if fresh is not available)
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped ( or dried, if fresh is not available)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  1. Saute the vegetables until wilted.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, herbs and simmer uncovered for one hour.
  3. Salt lightly and add just enough sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
  4. Done.

Tips

Garlic???  By all means if you have to have garlic, use some.  The quality and acidity levels of canned tomatoes vary tremendously.  Use sugar only when necessary.  This sauce freezes well.