EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 31, 2014

Party, family and dips for chips

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — This Sunday a lot of people will get together with family and friends for some kind of a Super Bowl party. At the very least the Super Bowl has become a great reason for simply getting together for fun and good food, something to look forward to in the middle of a snowy winter whether you are a lover of football or not.

Coming from a football-loving family, I appreciate the camaraderie and the game but I am one that just loves a party. To me, the upbeat mood of the day is catchy!

No food is out of bounds; anything goes, everything goes — burgers, fries, chili, pasta, pizza, and almost any kind of bean dip, cheese dip, and more. Advice from my brother is to keep the food simple and quick so that everyone can be in front of the TV for pre-game, game, and half-time (not to miss the new commercials). Tradition can play a big role here, from my nephew Ed’s “Attack 6 Chili” or my brother Bill’s “Layered Bean Dip,” annual favorites will be served on this day with pride.

This Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe is like hot wings all wrapped up in a cheesy dip. It has become a classic over the years and most popular with the guys; the hotter the better! My niece Tracy and her husband Eric sent me their version, which I am passing on to you along with their note.

“Eric first tried the dip at one of our friend’s parties and really enjoyed it,” wrote Tracy. “He has always loved buffalo chicken and different dips so the idea of combining the two was genius! After the party, he went home and searched online for an easy buffalo chicken dip recipe. There are several different versions. He never serves the dip with celery or crackers. He believes it has to be served with Tostitos (and prefers the scoops). You have to use Frank’s Red Hot ... that’s key! This has been a hit when we’ve had parties and is always tasty on Sundays when we watch football!”

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Yields about 5 cups

For the dip

2, 10-ounce cans chunk chicken, drained

2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup bottled ranch dressing

3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Accompaniments

Original recipe suggests:

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4-inch pieces

1 8-ounce box chicken-flavored crackers

1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat until heated through.

2. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing, continuing to stir until well blended and warm.

3. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker.

5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly.

6. Share it! Serve with celery and crackers.

Note: If you do not have a slow cooker, mix all ingredients until smooth and place in an ovenproof dish and bake at 350 degrees until bubbly hot, about 25 minutes.

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A couple of years ago, actress Eva Longoria was on a television talk show to talk about a cookbook she had written. I remember her saying how much she enjoyed cooking. She demonstrated this recipe on the show and I copied it down. I like this version of guacamole as it maintains its “chunkiness.” It’s now my go-to recipe when I want to make guacamole, although I do not add a full chopped Serrano pepper as I prefer a bit less “heat.”

Eva Longoria’s Chunky Guacamole with Serrano Peppers

6 avocados, roughly chopped

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 Serrano chili pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1. Put ingredients into a large bowl in the order listed so that you end with the lemon juice.

2. Stir gently only after all the ingredients are in the bowl, until well combined.

Here are some “scribble notes” that I wrote down next to the recipe:

To keep guacamole from turning brown, press a pit from one of the avocados into the center of the dish (until ready to serve).

Do not skimp on lemon juice or salt

Use jalapenos instead Serrano peppers (Jalapenos are milder than Serranos).

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Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com, or send a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope when writing care of Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930.