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I get tired of onion dip, salsa, and queso during the holidays.  Okay, not really, but I do think homemade dips are a fast, easy way to impress friends and family with your kitchen skills.  Plus, if you are having a get together for drinks and appetizers, or something other than a whole meal, dips are perfect.  The following are dips from B’s mom and my mom.

St. James Dip (courtesy B’s mom)

St. James Dip with Red Pepper Jelly and Pomegranate Salsa

 I had never tried St. James Dip before B and I made it the other night, but I had heard B reminisce with his brother about how amazing this dip their mom used to make was, and it still is amazing.  Besides the great taste, this dip is fun to make because you can use different toppings with it.  I used red pepper jelly and pomegranate salsa, and both were good but the red pepper jelly, which the original recipe calls for, was better.  B’s mom said she recently used cherry pomegranate habanera salsa, which I looked for but couldn’t find, and it was a big hit at one of her get togethers.

One final note on this dip: it is sinfully good, meaning it is not low-calorie.  I mention this because I think it would be fine to substitute in low-fat cheese and mayonnaise.  I was not about to try substituting anything, however, knowing the depth of my husband’s feelings toward this dip.  These feelings were demonstrated when I mentioned that maybe we could get a lower fat chip to go with the dip and he proudly said, “No, Fritos are the only chip strong enough for this dip.”  Regardless, after making this dip once, I know that we will be having it again.  I am developing my own stong, fond feelings about this delicious dip.

St. James Dip Recipe

  • 3 cups shredded cheese, (1 cup sharp and 2 cups mild)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped

Combine ingredients and mold into square or rectangle. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.  Remove about 15 minutes prior to serving and top with red pepper jelly.

Shrimp Dip (courtesy my mom)

Shrimp Dip and Lays Potato Chips

Turkey, bread, stuffing, cranberries, scalloped potatoes, coffee, pumpkin pie, pecan pie.  There are certain food that many people associate with Thanksgiving and there are unique preparations for each of these foods that could be a blog by itself. However, I want to focus on one of the unique foods that has always been a part of any holiday at our house.  Most people have those unique foods, right?  In fact, I think people often talk about those more, or at least as much, as the other foods.  One of those unique foods in our house was shrimp dip.

I should say shrimp dip and Lays potato chips because that is what my mother insists on eating with the shrimp dip.  I have memories of standing around the appetizer table, sipping on wine (after I was 21), eating shrimp dip, and waiting for dinner to be served ( we never ate until eight o’clock or later).  My mother has memories of eating shrimp dip at her grandmother’s, Gammy’s, house.  Gammy used to sit on a screen porch, sip on martinis, and eat Lays potato chips with shrimp dip.  At her house, my mother was allowed to have a Coca-Cola with Lays and dip; just like at our house, potato chips and sugary sodas were not allowed unless it was a celebration or you were at Gammy’s.

My impression of Gammy (I remember her only a bit) is that she was kind of a fancy lady, which makes me love that this dip is made from a can of tiny shrimp and blended with cream cheese (not really a fancy dip). I picture my mother as a small girl sitting on the screen porch with Gammy in the summer; the windows are open and there is a cool breeze.  My mother is holding her Coke can with both hands, and swinging her feet from a couch that she has to scramble to get up on, and every once in awhile, feeling like she might be stopped, my mother gets up and carefully puts another handful of chips and another scoop of dip on her little plate.  Of course, I have no idea if this is how it really happened, but I think regardless, my knowledge of my mother eating shrimp dip and Lays potato chips with her grandmother does show how Thanksgiving connects us with not just our own memories, but the memories of generations before us.

I remember my father once said Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday.  I laughed at him then because I was young and, hello, there are no presents at Thanksgiving, but now I agree with him.  It is nice to connect to our past through recipes and through the simple act of sitting down together, talking, and eating a meal that lasts longer than thirty minutes.

Recipe for Shrimp Dip

  • 1 can tiny shrimp
  • 1 block cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise

Blend together with blender and enjoy!

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