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Today is January 22, 2021

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Plated with Rebecca Turner: Guests will flip for these Christmas dips

By Rebecca Turner

Plated with Rebecca Turner: Guests will flip for these Christmas dips

The holiday season is here, and if there was ever a year that needed some Christmas cheer, it is 2020! For many families, Christmas is the most meaningful holiday full of traditions, joy and hope in a Savior born. 'Tis the season for bright lights, sparkly ornaments, caroling and cooking seasonal, signature recipes. Out of storage comes our Christmas dishes, cookie cutters and Corningware, ready to take food wherever there is a festive celebration. My grandmother’s vintage Christmas china set makes its debut on Dec. 1. We enjoy drinking coffee and eating everything from weekday dinners to a full-blown holiday feast on dainty dishes adorned with holly and angels playing holiday horns.

The last month of the year is often the busiest, with a calendar full of entertaining events with family, friends, church and workplace colleagues. An array of festive appetizers and finger foods help set the tone for parties, giving guests the opportunity for casual, friendly banter while munching on delicious dips, chips, spreads and crackers. A good holiday dip is a perfect snack to balance out all those Christmas cookies. And when done right, a good dip recipe can guarantee a future invite to the next seasonal shindig. And, in my opinion, an appetizer should tease your taste buds while leaving room for the main course.

Amid the cheeseballs, cocktail meatballs, and pigs-ina- blanket, try serving a dip without the guilt: substitute reduced-fat or fat-free plain Greek yogurt for mayonnaise. If you can’t part with your mayo, spoon in one tablespoon at a time till you reach your desired consistency or taste. Often, you can spare several hundred calories by just being mindful of how much goes in. Go lighter on the toppings and use half the amount of nuts and other add-ins. With pecans and nut prices on the rise, this can help save money, too. If a recipe calls for crushed pecan or walnut pieces, sub in half the amount with peanut pieces.

Never underestimate the power of a great dip to get a party off to a merry start. Serve them with whole-grain pita or, ideally, sliced veggies. Try some less-than-usual options such as asparagus, or in-season vegetables like chicories, parsnips and radishes along with the standard carrots and celery. Creamy and flavorful, try the pumpkin pie dip and spice up your starters with the cranberry salsa. Both so tasty, guests won’t know they’ve been lightened up.

 

Cranberry Christmas Salsa

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 to 2 tablespoons can diced jalapenos, drained

1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

3 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1. Combine cranberries and 1 quart of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Cranberries will begin to pop; do not overcook. All you need is for them to soften, not cook down. Drain. Let your cranberries cool before mixing in with the rest of the ingredients.

2. In a mixing bowl combine the garlic, jalapeno (start with 1 tablespoon and add more if you like it spicy), cilantro, scallions and cranberries. Mix by hand, squeezing some of the berries to a pulp and leaving the rest whole.

3. Add lime juice, sugar and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve with chips, pita bread or festive crackers.

 

Pumpkin Pie Dip

INGREDIENTS

1 8-ounce package low-fat cream cheese, softened

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed

 

1. Beat cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

2. Mix in pumpkin puree until smooth.

3. Stir confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice into mixture until evenly mixed.

4. Fold in whipped topping.

5. For the best flavor, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about two hours.

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