Monday, December 12, 2011

A Blast from Christmas Past: Creamy Dried Beef Dip

I had popcorn for lunch today so I’m just a little bit hungry this afternoon. The problem with eating light is that sooner or later I find myself eating cold spaghetti bolognese with a side of left over fried chicken straight out of the fridge, undoing any bit of good that I have done earlier in the day. Then the remorse sets in.

This time of year it is especially hard because I try to eat several lean little snacks during the day so I can enjoy a heartier meal with my family in the evening. What makes it a challenge is all the fun little snack foods that I have hanging around for my children while they are home from school. For some reason theirs always looks better than the bowl of edamame with my name on it. You know, when you are really ravenous it is impossible to skip the fudge all together. Just a pinch doesn’t have many calories does it?

Yesterday I made a bowl of dip for this post thinking that my family would run through it before my hunger pangs got going. Well, they did pretty well on it, but unfortunately left enough for me to satisfy my cravings and blow my diet again today. I guess there’s always tomorrow.

This time of year I always get a bit sentimental and start blowing the dust off of old recipes that I enjoyed while growing up.  The dip recipe I am sharing today is one that my mom used to make for holiday parties and I always loved it.  It is really a blast from the past for me and if you aren't already familiar with it, I hope you'll give it a try.  If you grew up eating it too and have forgotten about it, this is my Christmas present to you.
Creamy Dried Beef Dip
1 tablespoon butter

1/3 of an orange bell pepper, finely diced

1/2 of a small yellow onion, finely diced

1 fresh jalapeno, finely diced

1 large garlic clove, crushed

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup soured cream

1 heaping tablespoon of coarsely chopped pimento stuffed Spanish olives (I've also used chopped artichoke hearts, yum)

1 – 2.5 ounce jar sliced dried beef (I found mine in the same aisle as all the other nutritious meat like Spam and Vienna sausage), sliced into thin strips and then in half

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Melt butter in a medium size saucepan over medium high heat. When butter is melted and begins to sizzle, add the bell pepper, onion and jalapeno. Sauté vegetables until the just begin to soften; add garlic and sauté for one minute longer.

Reduce heat to medium and add the cream cheese, Parmesan, soured cream, olives, dried beef, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes (if desired), mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer stirring frequently.

When the dip is heated through it is ready to serve or it can be placed into a 325 degree oven and baked for approximately 15 minutes or until it is slightly brown on top. My husband likes it best at room temperature so you can serve it many ways. I love to serve mine with thinly sliced and toasted French bread, sliced fresh vegetables and fruit or with rye crisps and crackers.

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