Pear and Pistachio Guacamole

Pear and Pistachio Guacamole | Pinky's Pantry
I saw this recipe on foodnetwork.com and I thought it would be fun to make a different kind of guacamole for Cinco de Mayo. This guacamole recipe couldn’t be any more different from the traditional, but it was delicious! It had a slightly sweet, slightly spicy flavor that went great with tortilla chips and was a perfect addition to our Cinco de Mayo dinner.

PEAR AND PISTACHIO GUACAMOLE

  • 3 Hass avocados, halved, pitted and cubed
  • 2 firm ripe Seckel pears or 1 large Anjou pear, cored and finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1½ – 2 fresh limes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, minced (if you want it less spicy, remove the seeds)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped roasted pistachios
  • lime wedges, for serving
  • blue corn tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Toss together the avocados and pears in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir in the cilantro, juice from 1½ limes, garlic, jalapeño, salt, and pepper.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper if desired.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle pistachios over top.
  5. Serve with lime wedges and blue corn tortilla chips.

 

Warm Mexicorn Dip

Warm Mexicorn Dip | Pinky's Pantry
This dip has been a long time favorite in my family. It’s very, very easy to make because you just throw all the ingredients into a bowl and microwave it! It’s a great appetizer for a Cinco de Mayo party. I you want to make this meatless, you can omit the bacon. I think it’s fine without it, but my kids swear it tastes better with bacon. Either way, you’ve got to give this recipe a try. You won’t be sorry. Make sure you serve it warm!

WARM MEXICORN DIP

  • 4 cans (11 ozs. each) Green Giant mexi-corn, drained well
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 of a 16-oz. container sour cream
  • 16 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 or 4 green onion stalks, chopped (depends on how big they are)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 slices bacon, fried crispy and crumbled
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Microwave until hot and bubbly, stopping to stir halfway through (about 5 minutes).
  3. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Hot Clam Dip in Bread Bowl

Hot Clam Dip | Pinky's Pantry
This is an old recipe that I’ve had for many years. I got it from one of my old cookbooks, but sadly, I don’t remember which one. Probably a Junior League cookbook. Clam Dip is rich, creamy, and utterly delicious. I haven’t tried making it with low-fat cream cheese or mayo, but I don’t see why you couldn’t if you felt inclined to try cutting down on the calories. Let me tell you though, calories or not, this dip is worth every scrumptious bite!

HOT CLAM DIP IN BREAD BOWL

  • 1 (1½-lb.) unsliced round bread bowl
  • 2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • a couple of dashes tabasco sauce, or to taste (optional)
  • 4 (6½-oz.) cans minced clams, drained
  • 4 large green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Slice top 2 inches off bread and reserve for lid.
  3. Cut out insides of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell.
  4. Tear cut-out bread into pieces to use for dipping.
  5. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco (if using) in large bowl until well-blended.
  6. Stir in clams and green onions.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour filling into bread bowl.
  9. Place reserved lid on bread.
  10. Wrap bread tightly in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil and place on cookie sheet.
  11. Bake until filling is very hot and bread is crusty, about 1 hour.
  12. Unwrap bread and place on serving tray.
  13. Remove lid and lean lid against bread at angle for a pretty presentation.
  14. Lid can later be cut into cubes for dipping.

NOTE:  If you can’t find a bread bowl, or you just don’t feel like doing the whole bread bowl thing, you can skip it (like I did in the photo above). Just beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco together in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave for 3 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is hot, stopping to stir every 30 seconds or so. Mix in drained clams and green onions. Microwave 30 seconds more. Stir well and serve with sliced baguette bread for dipping.

Hot Artichoke Dip

Hot Artichoke Dip | Pinky's Pantry
The first time I tried artichoke dip was at a restaurant in San Francisco. It was to die for. They served it with thin, crispy tortilla chips. The dip was warm, cheesy, gooey, in short, everything you want in a dip. One bite and I was a fan for life.

This dip is easy to prepare. If you have a food processor, you could throw everything except the artichoke hearts in there and get it all blended together. Then add the artichoke hearts last and pulse them a few times so they’re chopped but not mush. Scrape it all into your gratin dish and bake.

HOT ARTICHOKE DIP

  • 1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can (14 ozs.) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
  3. Beat in mayonnaise until well combined.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir together well.
  5. Transfer mixture to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish.
  6. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and top is golden brown.
  7. Serve hot with bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or veggies.

Velveeta Cheese Sauce

Velveeta Cheese Sauce | Pinky's PantryI know, I know…. you can say it….. Velveeta is NOT cheese. Even the box says it’s “Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.” (When I was a kid I remember it used to say, “Pasteurized Process Cheese Food.”) But don’t dis Velveeta. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. Smooth, creamy, and meltable (is that a word?), it made the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever….. the grilled cheese sandwiches of my youth that spelled comfort food. It’s what we grew up with in the Philippines. It was introduced by the Americans during World War II and stayed a big part of Filipino cuisine ever since. It’s all I knew of cheese until I moved to the United States.

Velveeta makes the easiest and creamiest of cheese sauces as far as I’m concerned. You can cook it in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove, or if you’re pressed for time, you can make it in the microwave. If you use a microwave, be sure to stop and stir in 30-second intervals so you don’t get hot spots that turn into burned spots. The sauce will thicken and firm up as it cools. Just reheat it a bit if you need to make it pourable again. If it’s too thick, whisk in some more milk until it reaches the consistency you want.

VELVEETA CHEESE SAUCE

  • 1 cup cubed Velveeta cheese
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk or fresh milk (add more if you want the sauce thinner)
  1. Microwave Velveeta and milk in a microwaveable bowl on high for 2-3 minutes, stopping to stir every 30-seconds or so, until completely melted and well-combined.
  2. Serve immediately as a dipping sauce; pour over cooked veggies like broccoli or cauliflower; or pour over nachos.

NOTE:  ¼ cup is just a starting point for the milk. If you feel it’s too thick, add as much milk as you need to get it to the consistency you’re looking for.

You can also add flavorings to your cheese sauce like a teaspoon or so of mustard powder, a splash of beer or white wine, a tablespoon or two of diced pimientos, a dash of Tabasco or Sriracha sauce, a half teaspoon of onion powder, or whatever else you think might taste good with cheese.

Copycat La Bou Creamy Dill Dressing

Dill Dressing | Pinky's Pantry
La Bou is a local bakery cafe chain. They opened their first store in 1981 and it was a huge success with people lined up outside to buy their delicious handmade croissants. Since then, they’ve expanded to open several stores in the greater Sacramento area serving wonderful salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and espresso drinks. But what they’ve really become famous for is something that’s not even listed as a choice on their menu. I’m talking about their baguette bread that they serve with a creamy dill dipping sauce. I know it sounds weird to dip slices of bread in what is essentially a salad dressing, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. It is so addictive that every time you go there, you’ll find yourself ordering a full or half baguette with dill sauce to take home.

Anyway, it’s with extreme sadness that I report that our local La Bou in town has just closed its doors. Everyone at work was so dismayed to hear the news. They were right down the street from the office and were a favorite lunch time spot. I can’t understand why they closed. To mark this sad occasion, I’m making a copycat version of their dill dressing for the family to eat with some baguette bread this evening. I don’t know how La Bou makes their actual dressing, but this tastes just like it and will hit the spot whenever you need a La Bou fix.

COPYCAT LA BOU CREAMY DILL DRESSING

  • 1½ cups mayonnaise
  • 1 pkg. Hidden Valley buttermilk ranch dressing mix
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, minced
  • 1¼ cups water
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
    (If you don’t want to mince the dill by hand, you could place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until dill is finely minced.)
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE:  If you make this in a food processor, the dip will seem frothy and bubbly immediately after mixing, but don’t worry. The bubbles will settle down and disappear after the dip has sat for a while. It will also seem very watery at first, but will thicken a bit in the refrigerator. La Bou’s dipping sauce is really pretty thin but if you want yours to be thicker, feel free to cut down on the amount of water you add.

Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki | Pinky's Pantry
Have you ever tried Tzatziki sauce? Tzatziki is a yogurt based sauce that is very popular in Greece. Rich and creamy, Tzatziki sauce is typically served cold with grilled meat. It is also often served as a dipping sauce.

Tzatziki is best made with Greek yogurt, but if you can’t get Greek yogurt, you can use regular yogurt. It will have a runnier consistency but as long as you don’t mind that, it’s fine. Alternatively, you could make your own “greek” yogurt by taking a piece of cheesecloth, folding it in half, and then in half again so you have 4 layers. Lay the cheesecloth in a bowl, pour the yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth, then pick up the 4 corners and tie them together. Hang the cheesecloth bag over the bowl for about 2 hours or so. This will drain the water out and thicken the yogurt giving it a more “greek yogurt” consistency.

TZATZIKI SAUCE

  • 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ English cucumber, about 5-7 inches
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh dill (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place the greek yogurt into a medium bowl.
  2. Finely chop the cucumber. You could also grate it, if you prefer.
  3. Add the cucumber to the yogurt.
  4. Smash, then finely mince the garlic and add to the yogurt. Start with 3 cloves first, then add more if you want it more garlicky.
  5. Add the lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper, and stir all together well.
  6. Cover with sarap wrap and chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

NOTE:   This recipe is very versatile. I’ve given you a base to start from but you could really make it to suit your own tastes. If you like lots of cucumber, you could add more; if not, add less. If you want it more lemony, add more lemon juice; or less. Same with the garlic and dill. Just play around with the amounts till the sauce is to your liking. Otherwise, the base recipe is great as is.

Tzatziki will keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but as it sits, water from the yogurt and the cucumbers will separate. Just stir it well before serving. Or for a thicker consistency, you could pour out the water and then stir the sauce.

Shrimp Mousse

Shrimp Mousse | Pinky's Pantry
This is an old recipe of my Mom’s. She made it all the time for get-togethers or when we were expecting company. It’s very addictive and you’ll find yourself heading back to the appetizer table again and again for just a little bit more.

It always reminds me of my mother-in-law whom I miss terribly. She absolutely loved this mousse! When the party was over, you just knew any leftover shrimp mousse was hers. She would spread it on toast and eat shrimp mousse sandwiches for breakfast, lunch or a snack the next day. I have to say, I picked up that habit from her and on the rare occasion that we actually have leftover shrimp mousse, I find myself having a shrimp mousse sandwich for lunch the day after.

SHRIMP MOUSSE

  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 1 box (8 ozs.) cream cheese
  • 1 can Campbell’s cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lb. cooked small shrimp, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk green onion, green and white part, finely minced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely minced (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the Knox gelatin in 2 tbsp. cold water and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream cheese and celery soup over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat, add in the gelatin, and stir until well-blended.
  4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Pour into an oiled mold and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until firm.
  6. Unmold and serve with crackers.

NOTE:  You can easily turn this into “Crab Mousse” by substituting 1 pound crabmeat for the shrimp. I’ve also made it into “Seafood Mousse” by making it with ½ lb. shrimp and ½ lb. crab.

Coffee Cream Sauce

Coffee Cream Sauce | Pinky's Pantry
I created this sauce to serve with my Coffee Panna Cotta but it could be used as a sauce for ice cream, chocolate soufflé, pound cake, or anything else you might want to serve with a dessert sauce. I cook it just until it’s heated through and the cream cheese is completely melted. If it comes to a boil, take it off the heat. I wouldn’t let it cook for too long or it might become too thick to pour.

COFFEE CREAM SAUCE

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 8-oz. box cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp. instant espresso or coffee granules
  • 1 tbsp. butter or margarine
  1. Place all ingredients except the butter into a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a wire whisk, until mixture is smooth and well blended. You don’t need to bring it to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
  4. Cool completely before serving.

NOTE:  You can store this sauce for up to a week in the refrigerator but it will thicken when it’s chilled. To use, warm it for 30 seconds or so in the microwave. If it’s still too thick, stir in a little cream or milk until it reaches a pourable consistency.

Warm Cheesy Salsa Dip

Warm Cheesy Salsa Dip | Pinky's Pantry
It’s Super Bowl weekend this weekend! My Old Goat can hardly wait. His favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, are playing. He’s going to be glued to the TV all day so I’ve planned a few appetizers and tailgate party dishes for him to nosh on while he enjoys the game.

I learned to make this recipe from my sister, Helen, who is a great cook and an amazing hostess. She was living in Ohio and during one of our frequent phone calls, she told me about this recipe that was perfect for football parties. I decided to give it a try and have been making it for Superbowl Sunday ever since. Not only is it deliciously addicting, but it’s super easy to prepare. All it takes is three ingredients. Now what could be simpler than that?
Warm Cheesy Salsa Dip | Pinky's Pantry

WARM CHEESY SALSA DIP

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large jar (24 oz.) of your favorite chunky salsa (I used Pace Chunky Salsa)
  • 1 box (1 lb.) of Velveeta cheese
  1. In a small saucepan, brown the ground beef and drain off the fat.
  2. Stir in the whole jar of salsa. You can use mild, medium or hot depending on how spicy you want it.
  3. Cut the cheese into cubes and add it to the beef and salsa mixture.
  4. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cheese is completely melted.
  5. Transfer mixture to a small crockpot and set on Warm.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips.