I ventured into my closet yesterday. Believe me I’m kinda ashamed to say once you get deep into my closet one would have no other alternative but to clean one’s way out. That only took all afternoon to find the floor and ironing board. I even looked at the shoe rack that goes all the way around the wall and thought, “What was I thinking” when I bought some of them.

So, I took a minute to pile those ugly shoes into a pile to take to the S.P.C.A. store. I don’t know how it happens so fast to get in that condition. It only seems to take one trip in there for it to happen…often. I was looking for a certain pair of white pants this last disastrous trip into nowhere land when it went to heck in a handbasket. Of course running a little late. Tried on one pair of pants…nope they called for high heeled shoes. And so from there it went south. I tried on at least four pairs of white pants before I found the right ones. Now I need a certain jacket, same thing. I won’t even mention the shoes.

But when I finally made my way out it looked like Cheryl’s house the last time one of her boxer’s chewed her way out of her beautiful crate. Her den looked like someone came in and just randomly tossed the whole house. That was how my closet looked and it only took one session to do it. How does it happen in a matter of minutes, but takes all day to assemble it back together? And I’m still not finished. Seems like I’ve started a snow ball rolling downhill.

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They say, and whoever “they” is, says whatever you didn’t have when you were young becomes important to you when you get older. I must have had just one dress, and one pair of shoes when I was a kid.

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Since I can’t take a dip in the pool, I’ll just give you some recipes for dips. To take a dip in the pool right now while it is cold would make the dial on my electricity thing spin faster than it takes me to suck down a fresh baked spice cake (Duncan Hines) with White Mountain icing right out of my oven. Of course these dips are coming to you from Pillsbury. You surely didn’t expect them to come from me. The one who has to dust the stove.

Bacon Cheddar Dip

Ingredients:

1 cup dairy sour cream

1/2 cup sharp Cheddar cheese-flavor cheese food (from 8-ounce container), softened

3 tablespoons real bacon pieces

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon instant minced onion

3 or 4 drops hot pepper sauce

Directions:

In medium bowl, combine sour cream and cheese food; mix with wire whisk until well blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours to blend flavors. Serve with assorted vegetable dippers.

Tip: This quick dip can be made 3 to 4 days ahead; the flavor actually improves.

Gorgonzola-Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

5 slices packaged precooked bacon

1 can (14-ounce) artichoke hearts, well drained, chopped

1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (2-ounce)

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2-ounce)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Directions:

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Spray 8-inch quiche dish, or 8 or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Chop 3 slices of the bacon; place in medium bowl. Reserve remaining bacon for garnish. To bacon in bowl, stir in remaining ingredients. Spread mixture in dish.

Bake 10 minutes. Stir; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until dip is bubbly around edges.

Chop reserved bacon; sprinkle on top of dip. Serve warm dip with petite toasts, assorted crackers or baguette slices.

Tip: Use blue=veined cheese in place of the Gorgonzola. Look for Danish blue, Roquefort or Stilton.

Comments: I run the artichokes through a mini food processor so there aren’t ungainly chunks and so that it’s distributed easier. I also used Morning Star bacon strips (soy bacon) to keep it vegetarian and it worked out just fine. I heaped my 1/2 cup of Gorgonzola and it was yummy; I would definitely wouldn’t increase it any further, though. I served with Parmesan-Garlic Triscuit Thin Crops and they were an excellent match.

Comment: This was a big hit with my family. My 11 year old son kept eating it and even ate it as leftovers.

Made this numerous times and it is always a huge hit. Great for dinner parties or even nights when we’ve fixed steak. We like to add a little of it to the steak. I’ve had tons of people ask me for this recipe.

Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped

1 (9-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain

4 ounce (1 cup) shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 garlic clove, minced, paprika

Directions:

Heat oven to 325-degrees. In 1-quart casserole, combine all ingredients except paprika; mix well. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 325-degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Tip: To make ahead, prepare as directed to this point. Cover; refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking. Sprinkle with paprika; bake at 325-degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.

Comment: the creamy spinach dip had an excellent flavor but was not as creamy as I expected. The next time I will add either more mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt. It tasted better the second day.

Okay, now take a dip and enjoy. Be safe and well. Remember it’s more important than ever to remember to laugh. It’s the holidays. You will need a good laugh.

If you have recipes or tips to share, or a request, send to Conversations with Gin at virginiacrawford30@yahoo.com or ginscolumn@hotmail.com.

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