Janet's Notebook
Homemade Dips: An Easy Way to Celebrate the Everyday

Fresh Pico de Gallo Mexican Dip

Which came first, the party or the party dip? Right here and now I'm going on record with my theory that where there's homemade dip, a party is soon to follow!

I remember standing on my tip-toes as a child, peering over the table edge and reaching as far as I could to get a finger in my mother's chip dip. I'm happy to report that my table manners have improved greatly, but my love of chip dippers hasn't budged a bit.

Over the holidays I was able to indulge my cravings with a wide array of yummy spreads. You folks have wowed us in the Test Kitchen with your creative recipes. From salty to sweet and spicy to tart, chips have never been in better company.

A favorite recipe of ours comes from Janette Dellanos-Poland of Islamorada, FL. She took a fairly straightforward Mexican layer dip and spiced it up with her own mixture of fresh ingredients.

"This recipe is my version of the Mexican layer dip BUT I make it with my fresh homemade pico de gallo!" explains Janette. "It's simple, affordable and with an extra twist.. Delicious!!"

A scoopful of this zesty dip and it's not hard to imagine your way onto a white sand beach. (I choose to also super-impose a frozen drink into my hand.) While we don't all have the pleasure of spending winters in Florida, the flavors of these ingredients are so vibrant that it's worth hunting down fresh veggies... even if they do end up costing a mite more.

Buffalo is the next stop on our tour of delicious dipping. Buffalo chicken, that is! I've recently come across two wonderful takes on Buffalo Chicken Dip that are simply must-tries.

Gautier, MS gal Melissa K. Hand heats things up with her hot and bubbly version of Buffalo Chicken Dip. It is her family's favorite game day snack and comes with her own victory "guarantee": Pass 'em this fantastic dip and you will score every time!

Now I don't know how much affect Melissa's recipe will have on the outcome of the big game, but I wager that your own home team will be cheering for more!

Cooling things down is Jessie Adams of Nashville, TN. She has managed to capture that unique Buffalo flavor with just a few simple ingredients: cream cheese, cheddar, hot sauce, ranch dressing and chicken. When thrown together these deceptively simple ingredients turn into a party powerhouse.

"This is a great hit at parties," says Jessie. "Serve or bring it one time, and people will keep requesting it at future gatherings!"

Oh, and did I mention there's no cooking required? Toss these goodies together and you have a fast-prep snack that is sure to impress.

And finally, let's wing our way to Germany for a sampling of Goldie Barnhart's Reuben Dip. This crafty cook from Palmyra, NY has managed to jam-pack her creamy dip recipe with all the delicious flavors of a classic Reuben sandwich! With Swiss cheese, corned beef and mustard, Goldie's recipe is delicious on rye crackers or toasted rye rounds.

"My favorite sandwich is a nice Reuben sandwich," explains Goldie. "[I figured] why not combine this into a dip? ...If you love Reuben sandwiches you'll love this too."

My husband may just be the world's biggest fan of German food and he has requested that I let you know that he has given Goldie's recipe two enthusiastic thumbs up. Now that, my fellow cooks, is a ringing endorsement!

Each recipe we taste here in the Test Kitchen transports us to a different destination - whether it be your hometown or a far-off country. Handcrafted recipes - even ones as simple as a chip dip - open a door into someone else's kitchen. Seize that opportunity to learn from others, experiment on your own and then share the fruits of your labors. If you make cooking a celebration, a party becomes inevitable. And you're always invited.

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Donna Thiemann - Jan 29, 2011
Congratulations to you gals on such good recipes like this. I made some similar and took to a party and they loved it. I will have to try all your new versions!

With humble Kitchen Best Wishes, Donna~
Roberta Etters - Jan 27, 2011
Presentation is beautiful taste great! To see it reminds me how easy it is to make and is a great super bowl dip. That is the mexican dip and the shrimp dip.
Polly Anna - Jan 25, 2011
Easy dips can have a huge impact. I brought a shrimp dip to share at a pot luck and was amazed at the number of people who wanted a recipe. There really is none...just cream cheese spread on a plate, sprinkled with tiny canned shrimp and covered with cocktail sauce. Looks good,tastes great!