Tag Archives: Dip

Tips for Throwing a Holiday Brunch (plus sweet fruit dip!)

BrunchToday’s post is the last in the holiday brunch series, and I thought I’d offer up just a few more tips on making your brunch a success.

1. Finger foods: Never have I ever seen a holiday home brunch where every single person sat down at a nice, long table complete with place settings and a solid surface to cut their food on. Where’s the fun in that? Keep your food small and finger-friendly, and if you must use utensils, limit it to forks. That way everyone can still eat even if they’re standing, and everyone has a free hand for a cocktail. Duh.

2. Keep it small: No one shows up to a holiday brunch ready to eat their faces off. Okay, MOST people don’t. During the holidays, everyone is up to their ears in cookies from co-workers, sweets at home, and candy cane colored everything. The last thing people want is to be force fed your giant culinary mess. I also like to keep things small so that it’s never apparent how much any one person has eaten. Maybe somebody wants only one slice of apple. Maybe somebody else wants eight pounds of hasbrown casserole. No judgment.

3. Balance the sweet and the savory: One year I attended an office potluck holiday party where someone brought chicken wings… they disappeared in about 3 minutes and at the end of the night there were more cookies and cakes leftover than you could shake a stick at (that’s how that saying goes… right?). The moral of the story is that one cannot live on sweets alone… trust me. I’ve tried. Make sure for every sweet dish, you have a savory.

4. Loosen up: No one cares if your plates match or your house is spotlessly clean. They care that they’re all together under one roof, oftentimes for the only time that year. Forgive the spills, laugh off the food flops, have another cocktail, and remember: brunch is an early meal so you can be asleep by 8. Amen.

The last dish on the brunch menu is one I am a tiny bit embarrassed about… it contains Fluff. That’s right. That disgusting, sticky, white spread that my mom wouldn’t let me have when I was a kid but I would sneak at friends’ houses (sorry, mom). It’s gross. But you know what? It makes a damn fine dip for fruit. And when I started researching “fruit dip” this one came up more than I care to mention. So should you dare to add one of those vintage-labeled jars to your cart at the supermarket, you won’t be disappointed. Cross my heart.

On the menu:
Sweet Fruit Dip
Makes 2 cups

1 7-oz jar of Fluff
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, optional

Add Fluff and cream cheese to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, blend the mixture together. Pour into a bowl and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon for decoration if you wish. Cut up fruit to serve alongside, such as pears, apples, and grapes.

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Sweet Pumpkin Dip and Vanilla Wafers

Happy Monday! Oh, who are we kidding, Monday sucks. Bake these tonight and tomorrow will be a little bit sweeter.

On the menu:
Sweet pumpkin dip
Makes 5 cups, 32 servings [aka a LOT of dip!]

8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 15-oz. can of solid packed pumpkin
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp all spice

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. Gradually mix in the pumpkin. Stir in the spices until smooth and blended. Chill until serving.

Vanilla Wafers
Adapted from this recipe at Ezra Poundcake
Makes about 65 cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350. Blend sugar, salt and butter together until smooth with an electric mixer. Add egg yolks and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add flour. Divide dough into 4 portions and roll each into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator at least an hour.

Once chilled, slice each roll into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place slices on cookie sheet [NOTE: these don’t spread so you can place them pretty close together]. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Let cool and then dip them into your delicious pumpkin dip.

Note: These cookies are not your traditional in-the-box vanilla wafers. They are definitely a cookie, and they’re sweeter than the boxed kind. However, the dip plus the cookie is not overly sweet so don’t worry about a sugar overload. Not that I ever do anyway.

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How to Throw a House Party and Make Friends While You’re At It

A month or so ago The BF and I threw a little housewarming party to show off our phat new pad (yes, phat. what of it?). I also used it as an excuse to wow my friends with my culinary talents. If you think that’s obnoxious and pompous, well, in the words of Andre 3000, “I’m… just being honest.”

Sweet pumpkin dip with homemade vanilla wafers, blue cheese dip with veggies, chewy chocolate cookies, onion dip with Ritz, and pizza squares

Here are a few tips on preparing successful dishes for housewarming parties:

1. Finger foods: There’s nothing more awkward than carrying around a plate while you socialize, or trying to shovel salad into your face while hitting on a potential beau. You drop some on the carpet, you’re juggling the fork, the plate, and your beverage… it’s not cute. Enter finger foods. There are only a bajillion versions of utensil-free dishes and your spread should be full of them. My favorites are bite-sized squares of pizza, cookies, and cut up veggies. Which brings me to my next point…

2. Dips: I made 3 dips: sweet pumpkin for dipping cookies, tangy blue cheese for the veggies, and hot onion swiss for Ritz crackers. It’s interactive, it’s delicious, and it allows you to make literally everything the day before. Which brings me to my next point…

3. Make things in advance: I spent hours the night before the party baking cookies, chopping veggies, and mixing dips. Not only is most dip better after it’s had a chance to sit in the fridge overnight, but the day of the party all you have to do is pop it on the table and remove the plastic wrap. Easy as pie.

4. Room temperature foods: What’s grosser than hot food that’s been left to harden and coagulate on your dining room table for 6 hours? Well… lots of things. But during a party no one wants to see that. Try and stick to food that still tastes good at room temperature, or that tastes delicious both hot and cold (i.e. pizza squares).

5. Print out a menu: Everyone thought I was such a loser because I printed and framed my menu. Okay, maybe the frame was overboard… It cost $.99! And it looked sweet. Anyway, providing a menu allows your guests to know exactly what they’re eating before they taste it. Also avoids those pesky allergies. And saves you from having to say 809 times, “It’s sweet pumpkin dip! You eat it with the cookies!” Because after 10 beverages (just kidding, mom, I had THREE I said THREE beverages) it might not come out so nicely.

Starting next week I’ll be sharing with you some of the standout recipes from the party. In the meantime I served this onion dip to rave reviews, even though I accidentally microwaved instead of baking it. It separated… and it was gross.

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