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Chips, Dips and Strips: Healthy Appetizers So what if your favorite football team failed in its attempt to reach the Super Bowl? Plenty of other reasons exist in life for you to throw a get-together with friends! Start the festivities out with mix and match homemade dips, chips, and strips. The exotic flavors of the Cajun Tortilla Chips and the Indian Egg-Roll Strips play nicely with the flavors of the Thai Shrimp Dip and the Hot Bean-and-Cheese Dip—so nicely, in fact, that you won’t even miss the fat in these tasty low-fat appetizers!

Recipes by Jim Fobel for Cooking Light Magazine

Thai Shrimp Dip
INGREDIENTS
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
1 (12.3-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, drained
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons minced green onions
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Cooked and peeled shrimp (optional garnish)
Cilantro sprig (optional garnish)

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the first 3 ingredients in a food processor, and process until minced.
2. Add lime juice, fish sauce, and tofu; pulse until blended.
3. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat; sauté ginger and garlic 2 minutes.
4. Add to shrimp mixture, and pulse until combined.
5. Add onions and chopped cilantro, and pulse 3 to 4 times.
6. Spoon into a bowl; cover and chill 1 hour.
7. Garnish dip with additional shrimp and cilantro sprig, if desired.

Yields: 3 cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. In this recipe, fish sauce is a more flavorful ingredient choice over low-sodium soy sauce. Fish sauce adds more depth of flavor. I would substitute soy sauce only if you absolutely can’t find/buy fish sauce in your region.

Hot Bean-And-Cheese Dip
INGREDIENTS
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and divided
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
1 (4.5-ounce) can green chiles, drained
Cooking Spray
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Combine 1 cup tomatoes and the next 7 ingredients (1 cup tomatoes through chiles).
3. Spoon tomato mixture into a 1½-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
4. Top with cheese.
5. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted. Top with remaining tomatoes.

Yield: 4½ cups

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The next time I make this I will add a little more hot pepper sauce for additional kick.
2. The combination of the melted cheese and the vegetable spray created a slight ring of oil around the edge of the dip after it was baked. I blotted this excess oil off with a paper towel before serving. Next time I will spray the cooking oil more sparingly or just lightly wipe a little oil with a paper towel on the inside of the dish.

Cajun Tortilla Chips
INGREDIENTS
Cajun Seasoning:
1½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Chips:
10 (7-inch) flour tortillas, cut into 8 wedges
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375° .
2. To prepare Cajun seasoning, combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl.
3. To prepare chips arrange the tortilla wedges on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
4. Coat wedges with cooking spray. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning over wedges.
5. Bake chips at 375° for 6 minutes or until crisp.
6. Note: Store remaining Cajun seasoning in an airtight container.

Yield: 80 chips

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I find it easiest to use a pizza cutter to cut the tortillas into wedges.
2. Since the recipe makes a fair amount of seasoning, I sprinkled it on the tortilla wedges a little more generously than the recipe specified.
3. Instead of spraying cooking oil on the baking sheets, I covered them with parchment paper.
4. My chips took more than double the amount of time to become crisp.

Indian Egg-Roll Strips
INGREDIENTS
Curry seasoning:
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Strips:
10 egg-roll wrappers, each cut lengthwise into 8 strips
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat over 375°.
2. To prepare curry seasoning, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.
3. To prepare strips, arrange the egg-roll strips on 2 baking sheets coated with cooking spray.
4. Coat strips with cooking spray, and sprinkle 2 teaspoons curry seasoning over strips.
5. Bake strips at 375° for 8 minutes or until crisp.
6. Note: Store remaining curry seasoning in an airtight container.

Yield: 80 strips

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Again, I lined the baking sheets with parchment paper instead of spraying them with cooking spray.
2. Unlike the Cajun Tortilla Chips, these egg-roll strips brown faster, so monitor them while they bake.
3. I felt my first batch of these were underseasoned, so the next batch I applied the curry seasoning more liberally.

ENJOY!

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Appetizer Roundup: 6 Party Appetizers Revisted “Ugh, I have to bring appetizers again! Any ideas on what I should make for the party next week?” grumbled my daughter. “Why don’t you check out the appetizer recipes on my blog?” I replied, trying not to smile. “You could make “Bloomin’ Onion Bread, Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, or Kate’s Cheese Squares. They’re always crowd-pleasers. You could make something healthy like a Trio of Dips served with crudités. Or, if you’d rather bring something more exotic, make Sushi Casserole or Banh Mi Bruschetta,” I suggested to her. “Oh, I don’t know . . . . I’ve got to think about this,” sighed my daughter.

That conversation reminded me of some of the great appetizers that I’ve prepared in the past, so I thought I would revisit them – just in time for holiday and New Year’s entertaining!

Banh Mi Brushetta (Top left)
Bruschetta with a twist or Banh Mi simplified? Either way, this appetizer brings together some incredible flavor combinations.

Bloomin’ Onion Bread (Left center)
Sourdough bread, Monterey Jack cheese, butter, green onions, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese . . . need I say more?

Sushi Casserole (Bottom left)
This recipe serves a crowd and can be easily adapted. What ingredients you layer and the order you layer them is part of the fun in making this appetizer. Sushi rice will always be the base layer, but be creative with everything else!

Kate’s Cheese Squares (Top right)
A tried and true recipe that’s been around for decades is the best way to describe these cheese delights. They are light in texture, yet sinfully rich.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs With Homemade Pizza Sauce (Middle right)
The smell of these small puffs of pizza will drive you crazy while they are baking, but they will be even more irresistible fresh out of the oven. They are best eaten hot, but they’re never around long enough to cool down!

Trio of Dips for Crudités (Bottom right)
Healthy does not mean blah. These three dips paired with fresh vegetables creates an explosion of flavors and colors!

ENJOY!

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Pizza Hummus Pizza-flavored hummus? As a lover of hummus, this recipe caught my eye. I thought of all the wives and mothers out there who constantly battle to get their loved-ones to eat a more healthy diet. Why not be clever and sneak this healthy dip onto the table under the guise of a tasty “PIZZA” dip? It’s worth a try!

Pizza Hummus
Food Network Magazine

INGREDIENTS
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 to 3 cloves garlic
3 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed, 1/2 cup liquid reserved
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add the tomato paste, oregano and basil and cook until slightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
3. Transfer the tomato paste mixture to a food processor. Add the garlic, chickpeas, chickpeas liquid, tahini, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon salt.
4. Purée until smooth and creamy.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. To learn about the “Nutritional Facts for Roasted Sesame Tahini,” read this article from SFGate.

2. Two 15.5 oz. cans of chickpeas equaled 3 cups of drained and rinsed beans for me.

3. I used 2 cloves of garlic, but the next time I make this, I will try adding 3 cloves of garlic for a little bit more flavor.

4. Next time I will also add a little bit more basil and oregano. I may even try adding fresh basil and fresh oregano. The conversion for dried to fresh herbs is about 1 teaspoon of dried to 1 tablespoon of fresh.

5. I also will try sprinkling a little bit of diced sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil) on top of the hummus before serving.

6. Obviously it is more nutritious to serve this dip with vegetables, but pita chips would be great with it, too.

ENJOY!

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crudities  with dip Instead of serving a tray of high-calorie appetizers at your next party, how about presenting a beautiful platter of fresh crudités? Boring, you say? Not if you serve the crudités with a variety of interesting dips! Don’t be fooled by the simple list of ingredients in the Herb Dip; the fresh herbs really shine in this easy and delicious recipe. Tempt your guests with the cooling flavor of lime juxtaposed against the heat of chilies in the Chili-Lime Sour Cream Dip. Last, but certainly not least, the Peanut Sauce is sure to be a crowd favorite – what’s not to like about peanut butter with a little attitude?

Herb Dip
Recipe by Ina Garten

Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 scallions, white and green parts, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, scallions, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 2 cups

Linnell’s Notes:
Due to the cream cheese, this recipe produces a thick dip. To further cut calories, you could experiment with low-fat versions of the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise. For best flavor, though, you’re going to have to leave some fat in the recipe!

Chili-Lime Sour Cream Dip
Recipe from Better Homes and Garden

Ingredients:
One 16-ounce carton of sour cream
Two 7-ounce cans of diced green chilies, drained
1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup jarred salsa
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon mild or hot chili powder
2 teaspoons finely shredded lime peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
Bottled hot pepper sauce to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl combine sour cream, chilies, cilantro, salsa, garlic, chili powder, lime peel, salt and bottled hot pepper sauce. Cover and chill overnight.

Makes 3¾ cups

Linnell’s Notes:
The level of preferred heat can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the amounts of chili powder and hot pepper sauce. Also, the type of salsa you use, will affect the heat of the dip. Chilling the dip overnight allows the flavors to meld.

Peanut Sauce
Recipe originally from Sunset Hors D’oeuvres Cookbook

Ingredients:
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chili sauce or ketchup
1/2 – 1 teaspoon soy sauce, to taste

Directions:
Mix ingredients until well-blended. Serve with raw vegetables (cucumber, jicama, bell pepper, carrot and celery)

Makes 3/4 cup

Linnell’s Notes:
After tasting this at one of her parties, I begged my friend Tina for this recipe. Because it’s a crowd-pleaser, I double or quadruple this recipe when I make it!

Enjoy!

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