Seafood Dip

(Dec. 24, 2021) Can you believe Christmas is finally here?

The tradition of Santa Claus is a must for the little ones. Time to dust my most cherished book, “The Night Before Christmas,” and hope my rendition comes close to mother’s.

Celebrations are in full swing and the menu must mirror this glorious holiday.

Through all the hustle and bustle, I know there will be one less seating at the table.

My father went to be with the Lord on Christmas Day. In his honor, I always serve his favorite seafood dip.

Succulent shrimp, bay scallops, fresh oysters, cheese and bacon are the primary components of this delicious appetizer.

For those who are not fans of seafood, a hot spinach, baby kale and artichoke dip is also provided.

Entertaining is about enjoying time with your guests. Dips are decadent and guests help themselves.

I wish you a blessed Christmas and wonderful holiday. Enjoy!

Seafood Dip

Ingredients

1 pound frozen shrimp, deveined, shells and tails removed

1 pint fresh oysters, drained

1 cup bay scallops

3 cups cooked thick bacon, coarsely chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

1 ½ cups combined finely chopped red, orange, yellow and poblano peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 large scallions, white and green parts, chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 (12-ounce) container cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup good quality mayonnaise

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/3 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese

1 cup shredded mozzarella

1 cup shredded 5-Cheese Italian Blend

kosher salt to taste

Italian parsley for a garnish

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large nonstick pan, sauté shrimp in ½ stick of butter until protein just starts to turn opaque. Remove and set aside. Sauté scallops in the same butter just until the scallops start to turn opaque. Remove and set aside. Repeat this process for the oysters.

3. Chop the shrimp very coarsely. Using paper towels squeeze any excess liquid.

4. Wash pan and add remaining butter. Sauté peppers, garlic, scallions and celery for 5 minutes. Place cooked veggie in a mesh strainer to remove any excess liquid.

5. In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer, blend cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay and red pepper flakes until thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and adjust seasonings if necessary.

6. In a medium bowl, combine shredded cheeses, mix well, and reserve 1 cup of the cheeses.

7. Add seafood, bacon, veggies and shredded cheeses to the cream cheese mixture and gently combine. You do not want to break up the oysters.

8. Place mixture in an 8 x 8-inch pan. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cup of shredded cheeses on top. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, the dip should be bubbly when it is removed. Place under the broiler for a few minutes for a golden-brown finish.

9. Garnish with a light dusting of Old Bay and fresh parsley and serve with favorite crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Hot Spinach, Baby Kale and Artichoke Dip

Ingredients

3 cups vegetable bouillon

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 bags Fresh Express Baby Kale and Spinach (11 oz.)

2 jars (12 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

2 cans (8 oz.) whole chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups Hellmann’s mayonnaise

2 (1.4 oz.) packets of Knorr Vegetable Recipe Mix

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

4 cups shredded Monterey Jack

1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella

1 ½ cups shredded 5-Cheese Italian blend

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. In a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat, add vegetable bouillon, garlic and onions and sauté until vegetables are soft.

3. Add spinach and kale, cover, and steam until tender.

4. Place cooled veggies into a mesh strainer. Using your hands, press down until all the liquid has been drained. Finely chop the greens.

5. Blend mayonnaise, vegetable recipe mix and cream cheese and in a large bowl.

6. In a medium bowl, combine shredded cheeses, mix well, and reserve 1 cup of the cheeses.

7. Add all of the ingredients to the cream cheese mixture (except for the reserved shredded cheeses) and place in an 8 x 8-inch oven proof dish. Sprinkle the top with reserved cheeses.

8. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. Place dip under the broiler for a golden brown finish. Serve with favorite crackers or toasted baguette slices.

* Both dips will yield a little more than an 8 x 8-inch can hold. Consider baking the extra in a small oven-proof dish to brighten someone else’s day.

Secret Ingredient – Generosity. “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”

– Kahlil Gibran

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