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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
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Archive for Spreads/Dips/Salsa

RECIPE: Artichoke Dip With Sun-Dried Tomatoes

/home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/artichoke dip sundried tomatoes mooneyfarms 230

Artichoke dip with sun-dried tomatoes. Photo courtesy Mooney Farms.


After yesterday’s recipe for spinach and artichoke dip appeared, our friend Rachel emailed to say: “I don’t like spinach. Do you have a recipe for artichoke dip without it?”

This one’s for you, Rachel: an award-winning recipe courtesy of Mooney Farms. The recipe uses Mooney’s Bella Sun Luci brand of sun-dried tomatoes (a brand we favor).



  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed or diced
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, diced
  • 6 Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomato Halves in Oil, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh basil leaves, diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning*
  • Optional: ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For serving: bagel chips, pita chips or crackers

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. In a glass 9-inch pie pan or baking plate, mix the cream cheese, garlic and artichoke hearts. Use a large fork to blend together.

    2. ADD the sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and basil. Stir together until well blended.

    3. FLATTEN the dip with a fork or spatula, so the dip is an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle top with the Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper to taste.

    4. BAKE for 16-18 minutes; the dip should be golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

    *You can make your own Italian seasoning by combining equal parts basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in an airtight jar.



    TIP: Uses For Artichoke Hearts Beyond Spinach & Artichoke Dip

    If you shop at a club store, you may run across large cans of artichoke hearts or artichoke pieces, nicely priced. There are also occasional sales on regular formats (13.85 ounce cans). Grab them!

    Should you grab marinated or plain? It’s a toss-up. Canned artichokes, packed in water, are more bland out of the can, but fine for dips, soups and other recipes where you don’t want the vinaigrette that comes with marinated artichoke hearts.

    Marinated artichoke hearts are marinated in white vinegar and cheaper oil: soybean, sunflower or lower-quality olive oil. If your palate notices the difference, you’re better off marinating your own, adding salt and spices to taste. They’re best in antipastos, salads and on sandwiches.

    If you score a jumbo size, what should you do with all that artichoke?

    The good news is that artichokes are low in calories: a 14 ounce can has 165 calories. So use them wherever and whenever. Here’s a starter list. A recipe for spinach artichoke dip (with a few calories) is below.


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/spinach artichoke thegirlwhoateeverything 230

    The Girl Who Ate Everything uses cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream in her spinach and artichoke dip. Here’s her recipe. See ours ?below.


  • Antipasto: Create a platter with marinated artichokes, cheese, pimento (roasted red peppers), salami, olives, etc.
  • Crostini: Combine plain or marinated chopped artichoke hearts with seasoned ricotta (lemon zest, pepper, salt) and spread on grilled or toasted bread. Or, first spread the seasoned ricotta on the bread and top with a whole or sliced artichoke.
  • Fish topping: Do a quick sauté of plain artichoke hearts in olive oil with halved cherry/grape tomatoes, minced garlic and olives. Or, make a more intense sauce with brown butter, capers and sage.
  • Grains: Add plain artichoke hearts to cooked whole grains (barley, couscous, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), either hot or a grain salad. Mix with other ingredients of choice, from raisins to nuts
  • Gratin: Place plain artichoke hearts in a baking dish, with or without other cooked vegetables; top with shredded Gruyère and breadcrumbs, and bake at 400°F until the cheese is melted and the artichokes are warmed through.
  • Omelet: Toss in plain artichokes alone, with other vegetables and/or with cheese (feta, Gruyère, mozzarella, etc.): an easy, fancy side dish.
  • Pasta and risotto: Mix plain artichoke hearts with chopped or whole artichoke hearts and olive oil or sauce of choice.
  • Pizza: top with plain artichoke hearts, optional anchovies, capers, olives, red onion, etc.
  • Salads: Add plain or marinated artichoke hearts to a green salad.
  • Sandwiches: Top the main filling with marinated artichoke hearts.

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/can roland artichoke hearts 2301

    Use canned, unmarinated artichoke hearts in recipes where you don’t want the soybean oil. Photo courtesy Roland Food./font>



    Spinach and artichoke dip can be served hot or cold, in a bowl or in a hollowed-out bread bowl (use a round loaf), along with crackers, pita chips, toasts and crudités.

    Spinach and artichoke dip is one of the most popular dips in the U.S, so it’s surprising that we can’t find information on its origin. If you know it, please let us know.

    Our mom recalls that in the 1950s or 1960s, a recipe appeared on the containers of mayonnaise or sour cream, and possibly on packages of Knorr or Lipton dry soup mixes, both of which featured spinach dip with sour cream, mayonnaise and chopped water chestnuts. Such recipes were typically developed by home economists employed by food producers, to encourage popular new ways to use their products.

    Mom’s recipe, transferred from the package to an index card, is below.

    Some recipes include cream cheese, Parmesan or other cheese. We prefer the a less cheesy cold dip but do like grated Emmental or Gruyère cheese in the hot dip.



  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained and squeezed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (and zested if desired)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion and/or parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: a few dashes of nutmeg or Worcestershire Sauce
  • Optional for hot dip: grated Emmental, Fontina, Gruyère, Jarlsberg or similar cheese
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (we use canned)

  • Baguette slices, crackers, pita chips/wedges, toast points, tortilla chips, etc.

    1. DRAIN the spinach in a strainer and press with the back of a large spoon to press out the remaining water. Further blot with paper towels if needed.

    2. COMBINE the spinach in a food processor with the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice and optional zest and nutmeg; blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

    3. ADD the artichokes and pulse a few times. For a cold dip, refrigerate spread in a tightly-capped container for several hours or overnight, to enable the flavors to blend.

    4. FOR A HOT DIP: Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend in the grated cheese and fresh-ground black pepper. Place in an oven-proof dish, top with more grated cheese and bake at until golden brown, about 15–20 minutes.



    TIP: Create A Guacamole Party Bar

    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/guacamole sabrinamodelle calavocomm 230

    Guacamole with crispy bacon and shredded
    cheddar. Here’s the recipe. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Sabrina Modelle | The Tomato Tart
    via California Avocado Commission.


    National Guacamole Day is September 16th, and we wondered: If there are salad bars and frozen yogurt bars, cereal bars, baked potato bars and chili bars*, why not a guacamole bar? Who doesn’t love the opportunity to customize their foods?

    Individual bowls and an array of ingredients enable each person to start with a base of smashed avocado, and pile on the fixings. They can then be mixed in or eaten as is—a mountain of flavors and textures.

    Whether for a general party or drinks, we like to include a crunchy salad base, to make a more substantial dish. We prefer shredded cabbage, a.k.a. coleslaw mix. You end up with “guacamole coleslaw” at the bottom of the dish.

    To encourage creativity, mix some non-traditional items (bacon? mint? pineapple?) with traditional ones.

  • Avocado: mashed, smashed or diced†
  • Cheese: crumbled cotija, goat cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco or queso oaxaca; shredded cheddar or jack
  • Diced veggies: bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, green and/or red onion, jicama, radish, tomatillo, tomato/sundried tomato
  • Seasonings: cayenne, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and/or minced garlic, hot sauce, lemon and/or lime wedges, paprika, salt/seasoned salt, Worcestershire sauce
  • Heat: chile flakes, minced chipotle and jalapeño‡
  • Herbs: chives, cilantro, mint, parsley
  • Salad base: arugula, chicory, escarole, iceberg, radicchio, romaine, shredded cabbage, watercress
  • Toppings: bacon, corn, crushed pineapple, diced mango, olives, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, toasted nuts

  • Chips and dippers: celery sticks, crostini (toasted or grilled baguette slices), endive leaves, pita chips, tortilla chips, flatbread
  • Drinks: beer, white wine (Sauvignon Blanc or other crisp, medium-body white wine), white sangria
    Set the dishes on a table or buffet in this order: bowls, salad, avocado, veggies, heat, seasonings and toppings; include serving utensils with each option.

    At the end of the table, place the forks and spoons for blending and napkins, and dinner plates for the individual bowls and chips. Place large bowls of chips or other dippers on the tables.
    *More food bar ideas: Breakfast & Brunch Bar, Lunch & Dinner Bar and Dessert Bar.

    †Hass avocados are preferred. While other varieties are larger, the Hass variety is creamier, a desired characteristic for guacamole.

    ‡To accommodate those who just like a little heat, have two bowls of jalapeño: one minced and served as is, one with the heat-carrying seeds removed before mincing.



    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown in what we now call Central America for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs‡‡ called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.

    When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant. According to Linda Stradley on the website, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.


    Guacamole On Spoon

    Custom-blending guacamole is not only fun; you get exactly what you want. Photo courtesy McCormick.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”
    ‡‡The Aztecs, who probably originated as a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico, arrived in Mesoamerica around the beginning of the 13th century.


  • Avocados been cultivated for over 10,000 years.
  • Avocados have more potassium that a banana, plus many other health benefits (here are the 12 health benefits of avocado).
  • Leaving the pit in to keep it from browning doesn’t really work.
  • The largest-ever serving of guacamole weighed 2,669.5 kg (5,885.24 lbs), created by the Municipality of Tancítaro Michoacan in Tancítaro, Mexico, on April 4th 2013. But how many tortilla chips were needed?
  • During festivities for the last Super Bowl, 104.2 million pounds of avocados were consumed nationally, mostly as guacamole.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Chimichurri Sauce

    Each country in Latin America has a national salsa, or sauce. In Argentina, it’s chimichurri.

    Chimichurri sauce is made of finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, white or red vinegar and red pepper flakes. Oregano can be added. Cilantro can replace parsley in some regions; vegetable oil can replace the olive oil.

    The original sauce is green from the parsley; later red versions add tomatoes, red bell peppers and/or hot chiles.

    In beef-endowed Argentina chimichurri is the steak sauce of choice, also used with other beef-based dishes and any grilled meats.

    As one story goes, the name name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe in Argentina. However, there is no written documentation of this.

    Purportedly, McCurry was sympathetic to the cause of Argentine independence in the 19th century, and served in a troop under the command of General Jasson Ospina. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri” sauce (pronounced chimmy CHOO-ree).


    /home/content/71/6181571/html/wp content/uploads/grilled rib eye steak with chimichurri sauce dartagnan 230r

    Classic: grilled beef with chimichurri sauce. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.

    Another theory is that the name comes from the Basque settlers who arrived in Argentina in the 19th century. According to grilling expert Steve Raichlen, the name of the sauce comes from the Basque term tximitxurri, loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” [Source: Raichlen, Steven, “Planet Barbecue!,” Workman Publishing Company. p. 159. ]

    It’s easy to make chimichurri in a blender or food processor; but purists may want to make it the original way, with a mortar and pestle. We find that pesto made this way tastes better than food processor pesto, even when the exact same ingredients are used.

    Ideally, make the chimichurri sauce a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves, tightly packed
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves or 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    1. PLACE the parsley, garlic, oregano, vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a blade attachment. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, about 1 minute total.

    2. ADD the oil in a steady stream, with the motor running. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few times to combine.

    3. TRANSFER the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir, taste and adjust seasonings before serving.


    Grilled Halloumi With Chimichurri Sauce

    This chimichurri sauce has been made elegant by pureeing. It’s served with a vegetarian dish, Grilled Halloumi And trumpet Mushrooms. Photo courtesy Gardenia Restaurant | NYC.



    You can adding or substitute other ingredients to create a signature chimichurri:

  • Substitute lemon or lime juice for the vinegar.
  • Use fresh or roasted chiles instead of the red pepper flakes.
  • Add minced onion.
  • Try balsamic or flavored vinegar instead of wine vinegar
  • Give it an Asian spin with fresh ginger and mint, or an Indian influence of green curry and cilantro.
  • Turn it into mint sauce by substituting mint for the parsley; or make a parsley-mint blend.
  • Substitute basil for “Caprese sauce.”
  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard.
  • Make red chimichurri sauce by adding red bell peppers and/or raw or roasted tomatos (Red Chimichurri Rcipe).
  • For elegance, purée the naturally textured sauce into a smooth one (see photo at left).

    Like Italy’s pesto, chimichurri is a bright green, herb-based, versatile sauce that you can use with:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Burgers
  • Caprese salad dressing
  • Crostini (serve the toasts with grilled meats)
  • Eggs, any style
  • Egg salad, chicken salad, potato salad, tuna salad, etc.
  • Fries and onion rings
  • Grilled fish or seafood (recipe: Mango Grilled Shrimp With Chimichurri Grilled Mango-Citrus Chimichurri Shrimp)
  • Grilled halloumi or other grilling cheese (see photo above)
  • Grilled or roasted beef, chicken, lamb, pork
  • Hot dogs, brats and other sausages
  • Marinades (add more oil, vinegar, citrus juice or and/or water to thin out)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Pasta (toss pasta lightly with EVOO before adding the chimichurri)
  • Rice and other cooked grains
  • Soup and stew garnish
  • Tacos
  • Tofu
  • Sandwich spread (mix with mayo or mustard)
  • Vegetarian dishes, including veggie wraps
  • Vinaigrette
  • Yogurt sauce (blend into plain Greek yogurt)
    Other ideas? Post them here.



    RECIPE: Blueberry Pineapple Salsa


    A salsa with something special: blueberries! Photo courtesy


    July is National Blueberry Month, and the price of the little blue nuggets should be at its lowest. In fact, experts recommend that blueberry lovers with lots of freezer space buy and freeze them to enjoy in winter. (Freezing tip: First freeze the berries in one layer in baking pan or rimmed cookie sheet so they don’t stick together; then store in freezer bags.)

    But our focus today is on summer and fruit salsa, with this recipe from the Blueberry Council. Use it with tortilla chips or to top grilled fish or chicken. We also like it as a topping for lemon sorbet (without the red onion)!



  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed, minced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE the blueberries, pineapple, jalapeño, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, lime zest, cilantro and red onion. Season with salt, taste and add more lime juice as needed.

    2. SERVE with tortilla chips or as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

    Find more delicious recipes at Check out the savory blueberry pizza!

    When you buy fresh blueberries, look for berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned, with a silvery white surface bloom. If the bloom is gone, the berries are old.

    If you see juice stains on the bottom of the container of blueberries, the fruit can be bruised. Pick another carton.

    Berry size isn’t an indicator of maturity, but color is: The berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black. Reddish blueberries aren’t ripe, and won’t ripen after they are picked (but you can use them in cooking).

    Refrigerate fresh blueberries when you get them home, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container. Wash the blueberries just before using.

    Don’t buy more than you’ll use, and and eat them within 10 days of purchase (the sooner, the better).



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Salsa For National Salsa Month


    Salsa fresca, made with raw ingredients. Other salsas are cooked. Photo courtesy Melissa’s.


    Salsa, which has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000 (when it supplanted ketchup),actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The chile was domesticated around 5200 B.C.E., and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E. both in Central America. The Aztecs combined the two, often along with other ingredients like beans and squash seeds, into a condiment, which the Conquistadors named “salsa,” or sauce. Here’s the history of salsa.

    May is National Salsa Month. If you’ve never made salsa at home, now’s the time.

    Basic salsa couldn’t be easier: salsa fresca, “fresh salsa” made with raw ingredients, is a combination of chopped tomatoes, onions, chiles and lime juice.

  • You can customize your salsa with beans, bell peppers, cilantro, corn kernels, and fresh herbs.
  • You can vary the texture: uncooked salsas can be puréed until smooth, chopped finely like pico de gallo or be served semi-chunky, in which case it is called a salsa cruda.

  • You can include Old World ingredients like garlic and olives.
  • You can add fruit—mango, nectarine, peach and pineapple are the most popular—for sweet heat.
  • You can make salsa verde, green salsa, by substituting tomatillos or avocado for tomatoes (guacamole is avocado salsa; the tomatillo is not a small green tomato but a relative of the gooseberry).
  • You can vary the chile flavor and strength, from mild to hot, from green and vegetal to smoky chipotle.
    If you want to make a cooked salsa, another world of ingredients opens, including roasted vegetables and sweet potatoes to.

    There are many easy recipes for salsa fresca; most use jalapeño chiles. But you can layor the chile flavors by adding other varieties.

    We adapted this recipe from one for Five Chile Salsa from It adds an Anaheim chile to the jalapeño.

    The Anaheim chile was developed around 1900 in Anaheim, California from New Mexican pasilla chiles. (See the different types of chiles.)

    The Anaheim is not a hot chile. It has a modest heat level, as low as 1,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU). Jalapeños are about 10,000 SHU, while habaneros are 100,000 SHU or more.

    Bell peppers are also chiles (all chiles come from the genus Capsicum), but they have no heat. Chiles, new world fruits, were mis-named “peppers” by Columbus’s sailors, who compared their heat to black pepper (no relation).

    While much of the world continues to use the misnomer “pepper,” we use it only for bell peppers, calling all other varieties by their proper name, chile.




  • 3 roma* (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 Anaheim chile
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • Juice of one lime or lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. SEED and dice the tomatoes and peppers, chop the cilantro and red onion.

    2. MIX the tomatoes and peppers in a bowl with the cilantro and red onion.



    Top a baked potato with salsa, with or without sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Photo courtesy TexaSweet.

    3. JUICE the lime or lemon over the other chopped ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

    4. MIX the ingredients until well combined, serve with tortilla chips, or as a garnish.

    *Named after the city of Rome, Roma tomatoes are also known as Italian tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes.


  • On eggs as a garnish
  • Mixed into frittatas and omelets

  • As a sandwich condiment—especially with grilled cheese or roasted veggies
  • Mixed into chicken, egg, macaroni, potato or tuna salad
  • With fries, instead of ketchup
  • With anything Tex-Mex

  • As a sauce for seafood cocktail (add some horseradish!)
  • Atop a baked potato, or mixed into mashed potatoes
  • Made into compound butter and served as a pat atop grilled meats
  • Mixed with cooked rice or other grains
  • With mac and cheese

  • Mixed into deviled eggs
  • Mixed into a dip with mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
  • On nachos
  • With chips
  • With crudités
    What’s your favorite use? Let us know!



    RECIPE: Lobster Guacamole

    In the chips? Add lobster to your guacamole!

    This recipe is adapted from one sent to us by Dos Caminos restaurant in New York City.


    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped white onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeño or serrano chilies (seeds and membranes removed for less heat)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • 2 large ripe avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 1 small plum tomato, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 pound whole lobster or 4 ounces lobster meat, steamed, cleaned and rough chopped
  • Tortilla chips


    Fancy schmancy: lobster guacamole. Photo courtesy Temazcal Cantina | Boston.



  • Optional garnish #1: Japanese pickled ginger (a.k.a. gari or shoga—here’s a recipe to make your own)
  • Optional garnish #2: Diced tomatoes, extra lobster meat


    Tortilla chips taste so much better when warmed in the oven before serving. Photo courtesy Cabo Chips.



    1. MASH 1 tablespoon of cilantro, 1 teaspoon onion, 1 teaspoon minced chile and the salt together in a medium size bowl, using the back of a spoon to mash against the bottom of the bowl.

    2. ADD the chopped lobster to the bowl. Add the avocados and gently mash them with a fork until chunky-smooth.

    3. FOLD in the remaining cilantro, onion and chile. Stir in the tomatoes and lime juice; taste to adjust the seasonings.

    4. GARNISH with the pickled ginger or extra cilantro. Serve with warm corn tortilla chips.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet or pan with parchment paper (optional, for easier clean-up).

    2. ADD the tortilla in a single even layer. Heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the chips are warm.




    APRIL FOOL’S DAY: Faux Cookie Dough Dip

    This is not a cookie dough dip, ready to be devoured.

    It has the texture of homemade cookie dough, and it does have chocolate chips. But it’s actually a better-for-you chickpea dip in disguise.

    April Fool!

    Thanks to our friends at, who sent the recipe our way. Whip it up and see how many people you can fool.



  • 1-1/2 cups chickpeas (canned or cooked from scratch)
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (look for a natural, unsweetened variety)
  • 3 tablespoons oats
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • For dipping: apple slices


    Not chocolate chip cookie dough! Photo courtesy



    1. BLEND in a food processor the chickpeas, brown sugar, peanut butter, oats, milk, vanilla, salt and baking soda.

    2. FOLD in the chocolate chips. Serve with apple slices or other fresh fruit. And don’t tell anyone until they’re finished eating. Then you can say: April Fool: It was bean dip!

    The recipe, developed by Katie Higgins of was originally published in the April 2014 issue of FamilyFun.

    Here’s last year’s trompe-l’oeil April Fool recipe, “Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup.”

    The origin of April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, is obscure. The most accepted explanation traces it to 16th century France.

    Until 1564, the Julian calendar, which observed the beginning of the New Year in April, was in use. According to The Oxford Companion to the Year, King Charles IX then declared that France would begin using the Gregorian calendar, which shifted New Year’s Day to January first.

    Some people continued to use the Julian Calendar, and were mocked as fools. They were invited to bogus parties, sent on a fool’s errand (looking for things that don’t exist) and other pranks.

    The French call April first Poisson d’Avril, or April Fish. French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered.

    What a fish has to do with April Fool’s Day is not clear. But in the name of a kinder, gentler world, we propose eliminating this holiday. (Source: Wikipedia)


    ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Guacamole Recipe

    What’s Irish about guacamole, the quintessential Mesoamerican sauce, we wondered as we saw the headline in the email for St. Patrick’s Day Guacamole, sent to us by the California Avocado Commission.

    The answer: the integration of Irish ingredients—bacon, carrots, Cheddar, onion, parsley—into conventional guacamole. The idea was developed by Sabrina Modelle of

    Alas, conventional Irish crackers (cream crackers, digestive biscuits, oat cakes) don’t go well with guacamole. Instead, default to tortilla chips.

    Food Should Taste Good makes Guacamole Tortilla Chips that have a slight green tinge, but we’re going with their Yellow Corn Dipping Chips.

    And some Irish beer.

    Prep time is 20 minutes. For a beautiful presentation, set aside a small portion of the Step 2 ingredients to use as garnish.

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 3 ripe Hass* avocados, seeded and peeled
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


    Guacamole with “Irish” ingredients for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo courtesy

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ cup very finely diced carrots
  • ¼ cup very finely diced red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ jalapeño, seeded and very finely diced (optional)
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup very finely chopped parsley
  • 2 ounces Irish Cheddar cheese, crumbled (substitute other sharp Cheddar)
  • Tortilla chips, crudités or other dippers (how about green endive leaves?)
    *While there are much larger varieties of avocado, the Haas has the creamiest, most delicious flesh. As a result, 98% of the avocados grown in Mexico are Hass, a variety discovered as a seedling by Rudolph Hass, a California postman who planted it in his front yard in the 1920s. He patented the cultivar in 1935.



    The avocado was long considered too sexual for “proper” people to eat. Photo courtesy Hass Avocado Board.



    1. MASH the avocado with lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

    2. STIR in the bacon, carrots, cheese, garlic, jalapeño, onion and parsley.

    3. GARNISH and serve.

    Mesoamericans cultivated the avocado, a fruit which had grown there for millions of years. The conquering Aztecs called it ahuacatl; the “tl” is pronounced “tay” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1519 under Hernán Cortés, they heard ah-hwah-cah-tay as “aguacate,” the spelling and pronounciation they adopted.

    Guacamole was compounded in a molcajete, a mortar and pestle carved from volcanic stone.


    The name guacamole comes from Mexican Spanish via the Nahuatl “ahuacamOlli,” a compound of ahuacatl [avocado] + mOlli [sauce]. The chocolate-based mole sauce comes from that same word, mOlli.

    Ahuacatl means “testicle.” Aztecs saw the avocado as resembling testicles and ate them as a sex stimulant. According to Linda Stradley on the website, for centuries after Europeans came into contact with the avocado, it carried its reputation for inducing sexual prowess. It wasn’t purchased or consumed by anyone concerned with his or her reputation.

    American avocado growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel the myth before avocados could become popular. After then, their dark green, pebbly flesh also earned avocados the name, “alligator pear.”



    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Beyond Dipping

    We are a huge fan of hummus. We can easily eat one 8-ounce package a day. We often make a meal of hummus and crudités. It’s a nutritious* meal when we don’t want to cook or eat anything more elaborate.

    But there’s so much more to do with this versatile spread than dipping vegetables or pita chips, or garnishing falafel. Here are some of the ways we’ve used it. Feel free to add your own!


    Hummus For Breakfast

  • In an omelet with diced tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, onions, mushrooms or other favorite.
  • On a breakfast tostada, topped with sautéed greens and a fried egg.
  • In scrambled eggs or omelets: Stir a spoonful of hummus into the beaten eggs.
  • On an English muffin sandwich with fried, scrambled or hard-boiled eggs and some raw spinach or arugula leaves.
  • On toast or bagels, instead of butter or cream cheese.


    Serve crunchy hummus cucumber cups with wine or cocktails. Photo courtesy Eat Well Enjoy Life.


    *Hummus is loaded with vitamins and minerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc; vitamins B6, C, E, folate, K and thiamin (B1); plus 20 essential amino acids. It is low glycemic. Calories are 27 per tablespoon, according to



    Use hummus on a sandwich instead of mustard or mayo, and check out these 20+ variations on a hummus sandwich.


    Hummus For Lunch Or Dinner

  • As a healthier sandwich spread, instead of mayo (or mix some mayo into the hummus). Check out our 20+ ways to make a hummus sandwich.
  • In tuna, chicken or egg salad instead of mayo.
  • On a turkey burger or veggie burger.
  • On flatbread or pizza, with artichoke hearts, mozzarella or jack cheese, olives or sautéed vegetables—bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes; top with fresh herbs.
  • As a garnish for grilled or roasted fish, lamb, pork, portabello mushrooms or poultry. Alternatively, spread a light coat of garlic hummus, olive oil and sea salt over the protein before cooking.
  • As a sauce for kebabs.
  • In a vegetable pasta salad, instead of mayonnaise.
  • As a sauce for hot pasta: toss with hummus and season with cracked black pepper and fresh chives or parsley.
  • As a salad dressing: Mix with vinegar, and salt and pepper.
  • On a crouton (toast a slice of baguette) with a salad or bowl of soup.

    Hummus For Appetizers & Snacks

  • On a mixed appetizer plate: Mediterranean inspired with babaganoush, tabbouleh, feta and Greek olives; or with conventional favorites like pickled beets and other pickled vegetables, three bean salad, deviled eggs, etc.
  • In deviled eggs: Mix the yolks with hummus instead of mayo; or stuff them entirely with hummus.
  • As a filling for an avocado half.
  • In stuffed mushrooms and any variety of hors d’oeuvre.
    Hummus For Dessert

  • Dessert hummus (recipes).
  • Hummus ice cream (recipe).
    These should keep you in hummus heaven for a while.



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