We are entering party season, people. Maybe we’re already in it–it’s football season, after all, and there were plenty of Halloween parties just a few days ago, and then there will be Friendsgivings and, of course, Thanksgiving itself. Maybe you’re throwing these parties, maybe attending them. Maybe you’ve been asked to bring something–an appetizer? You could just pick up a bag of Doritos. People like those. But if you want to take it another step further, here are three sure-to-please recipes, none of them requiring any culinary skill or know-how. Read on but beware: you might drool. That’s okay. It’s a normal, human response.
These are all my twists on some party classics. For example, the classic “queso” recipe (the one on the back of the Velveeta box) calls for two ingredients. Mine calls for four:
8 ounces Velveeta
8 ounces pepper jack cheese
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives
Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes, stirring every minute or two, until melted. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
Then we have my holiday twist on hummus, which is delicious and healthy (and vegan/gluten free!):
Pumpkin Hummus with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix!)
1 tbsp tahini paste
1 tsp salt (plus more, to taste)
1/2 tsp ground sage
dash ground nutmeg
extra virgin olive oil (about half a cup, more or less)
toasted pumpkin seeds, to garnish
In the bowl of your food processor (or high-power blender such as VitaMix), combine all the ingredients except the oil and the pumpkin seeds. Puree to a thick paste, then begin drizzling in the oil until it reaches a consistency you like. Taste for seasoning and add salt (or don’t) accordingly. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Serve with crudité, pita chips, tortilla chips, crackers, or sliced crusty bread–heck, serve it with anything, it’s just really good.
Then there’s the twist on spinach and artichoke dip which is… well, it’ll clog your arteries. And it isn’t beautiful like the hummus, either. But OMG. If you’re feeding meat-eaters, they will love you for this one.
Slow Cooker Sausage and Spinach Dip
One pound sage-flavored pork sausage
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 15-oz tub part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 oz grated Asiago cheese
Stir everything together in the bowl of your slow cooker, combining well. Set it to high and walk away for about an hour, then come back and stir to make sure the meat is really well broken up. If you bought a particularly greasy sausage, there might be an oil slick on top at this point, which you can mop up with a paper towel (or just stir it in–come on, it’s the holidays!–but seriously, use your judgment). Now switch it to low for another hour or so, and then you can put it on warm pretty much indefinitely.
Serve with crackers.