Posts Tagged 'dip'

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip

Last Friday the snow had mostly melted, although it was still in the mid-30’s. I went out to see what will need to be done to clean up the garden for spring planting in April. To my amazement, things were growing under the snow. There was arugula and lettuce, and some scrawny green onions. But the biggest surprise was a whole row of carrots!
onion dip carrots
Mind you, it was mid-February. it has been down to 4 degrees at night, and is still regularly in the 20’s. How did these things survive! I made quick work of the carrots – they were amazingly sweet, crunchy and delicious. After I scarfed down a couple of them, I made myself a plate of veggies and dip to snack on.
onion dip with veggies
I have been looking for a non-fat onion dip. Mind you, you can make regular onion dip with non-fat sour cream and onion soup. But that is a bit salty, and it contains MSG, which I am trying to avoid. So I have been experimenting to come up with a tasty dip.  This dip is easy to make, and I expect you could add herbs and such to it. It is better if you refrigerate it for a day so the flavors mellow.  Now I have something to pack with my lunch veggies.

Caramelized Sweet Onion Dip

Cooking spray
1 large sweet onion (Walla Walla, Vidalia, or other kind)
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon onion powder
16 oz (2 cups) non-fat sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce.

One big beautiful onion

One big beautiful onion

Coarsely slice the onion. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray. Over medium heal, caramelize the onion by “steam “frying” (See HINT).
onion dip onions cooking
When the onions are golden brown, put them in the food processor and pulse a few times.

onions almost caramelized

onions almost caramelized

Add the salt, pepper, onion powder, and sour cream and process everything until well blended. Add the lemon juice and soy sauce. Process again for a bit. The texture will be a bit lumpy. Put in a container and refrigerate overnight. This has 0 grams of fat, and makes at least 8 quarter cup servings, although I usually just spoon it into a bowl and dip away. Its good with lower fat chips and crackers, too – but be sure to count those grams in your daily fat gram count.
onion dip

HINT: Often, the only reason you need a tablespoon of oil (14 grams of fat) in a recipe, is to brown onions.  But you really don’t need the oil. Spray a pan with cooking spray, heat over medium heat, and add onions or other vegetables. Stir frequently. Every little while, add  about 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Each time the pan gets dry, add a little more water, until the onions are the shade of golden brown you want. The trick is not to let them burn, and to be patient stirring and adding water.


Chips and Dip

It is officially chip and dip time.  I actually am very found of the crunch of chips, particularly good corn chips, but most of them have too much fat for me to eat them often – and I haven’t yet found really low fat corn chips that taste good. Most of them are also too salty for my taste. But there are good corn tortillas that don’t have much fat. And it occurred to me that a tortilla is a corn chip waiting to happen.

Cumin Corn Chips

12 six inch corn tortillas (the kind that have about 1.5 fat grams for 2 tortillas)
Cooking spray
Sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Crushed cumin seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Spray 1 side of each tortilla with cooking spray; cut each tortilla into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on a large baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and cumin.
Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Check frequently to make sure they don’t burn. Cool. Makes 3 servings, at 3 grams of fat for 32 chips. NOTE: you could really spice these up with cayenne pepper or other spices.

Sesame Wonton Chips

OK, these were kind of experimental, and I have mixed feelings about them. The recipe came from Relish, one of those little magazines that comes stuffed in your newspaper (for those of you who still get a paper newspaper.)  I think I would like them better if I had a fruity dip or salsa, rather than the creamy dip I made.  I also think that the wontons need to be cut in half, either into rectangles or triangles. The big square wonton wrappers are kind of ungainly once they are crisp.

Sesame Wonton Chips

2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
30 wonton wrappers
sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Whisk together honey, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Lay wonton wrappers out on prepared baking sheets. Brush with soy sauce mixture and sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. Bake for 7 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. Makes 6 servings at about .5 grams of fat/serving.

I sprinkled some of them with black sesame seeds for contrast.

Lemony Dijon Dip (adapted from Costco magazine)

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Makes about 1 cup of dip, with 0 grams of fat/serving.

What To Do with Leftover Eggplant

The previous recipe for Lamb-Stuffed Eggplant said to hollow out the eggplant, and discard the centers. This seemed very wasteful to me. And I am sure that my good Mumbai housewife friends would be horrified at the thought of wasting all that good eggplant meat. Frugality – or rather who was most frugal in tending home and family – was a frequent topic of conversation. In late afternoon on our way back from the open air market across the railroad tracks, we would gather in Mrs. Bidikar’s ground floor corner apartment…the one with the best view from which to see and comment on passers-by on Goregoan Road. Sandals left outside the door and saris draped comfortably around us, we drank sugary, hot black tea boiled with milk and spices – the original chai – and we would share the contents of our market baskets, discuss prices and which merchant was honest or a thief. Women would regale one another with how they used every bit of the produce to stretch their husband’s salaries. One confided that she was more frugal than another – using even the stems of cauliflower or finding a use for potato skins. So wasting the interiors of eggplants – I think not.

Being of equally frugal bent, while the stuffed eggplants were baking, I chopped up an onion and the innards of the eggplant, and sautéed them in a frying pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  I sprinkled them with dried herbs – marjoram, thyme, and chervil – but any combination of your liking would do, and added a bit of garlic.  I cooked the mixture down until the eggplant and onions were quite soft.  At this point, I could have tossed the mixture into a food processor and made a nice eggplant dip, adding  bit of salt and pepper, or maybe even a spoonful or two of nonfat yogurt.  But I really didn’t need dip, and I was in the mood for something warm. So I put the mixture into the refrigerator to keep until I had more time.

The next day, I decided to make a casserole similar to moussaka, the Greek eggplant and lamb dish.  I had 3 ounces of ground lamb left, so I browned it and added it to the eggplant mixture (I think you could also make this meatless).  I crumbled about 2 ounces of fat free feta cheese into the mixture, added about ¼ cup of fat free half and half, and 1/4 – 1/2 cup of egg substitute.  I poured the whole thing into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray and baked it at 350 for one hour.

eggplant casserole pan

This made 6  servings at about 2 grams of fat/serving.

eggplant casserole plate

And I didn’t waste any eggplant. The women of Goregaon Road would be proud of me.

Smoked Trout Platter

There is a potluck today.  It’s hot – in the 90’s, although today might be 2 degrees cooler. Too hot to bake something interesting.  And you know everyone will be bringing salads and if they don’t feel creative, boxes of store-bought baked goods.  And did I mention it’s hot?  I am not fond of hot weather.  I like clouds.

Then, to my rescue, the local grocery had whole trout on sale. Chubby, sleek trout with their heads on. I bought six of them.   I had the butcher remove their heads (“I’m decapitating” he said. “Tell the other trout not to look”).   I took off tails and fins at home and smoked the whole trout in my handy smoker.  I didn’t do anything special to them – no seasoning or brine. I smoked them over alder chips for 2½  hours.  Trout are actually rather fatty, so they grill and smoke well without getting dried out.  They have a distinctive flavor, too, that I didn’t want to mask.  I think next to steelhead, trout are my favorite fish.

Once the trout were done, I skinned them and took as many of the bones out as possible.  I find this easier to do once the fish is cooked, since the skin peels right off and the bones more or less lift out when you pull the spine out.  Then I wrapped them individually and put them in the refrigerator to chill.  This morning, I made a big platter of smoked trout – three of the fish (the rest I’ll use for other things) atop fresh leaf lettuce, with thinly sliced sweet onion, ripe tomatoes, and  cucumber, with lemons scattered about for those who want them.  Now this has the requisite Wow Factor to take to a potluck.  It actually looks more involved than it was to make (Remember, it’s hot).  It’s all in the presentation, sort of like accessorizing a basic dress.

trout smoked

This also follows my Principle of never making anything for a potluck that you don’t want to eat as leftovers.

To accompany the trout platter, I thought that most people would want to put their bit of trout on bread or crackers.  I bought some interesting dark bread and also cut up a baguette, toasting the slices to crisp them up.  I made two spreads to go with the trout. One was cream cheese and chives – put chives in the food processor to chop, then add an 8 ounce bar of low fat or non-fat cream cheese.  The second spread was a little more unconventional – blue cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

Blue Cheese and Sun Dried Tomato Spread

1 bar (8 ounces) fat free cream cheese
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes (not oil pack)
1/3 cup reduced fat blue cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Place the sun dried tomatoes in a food processor and pulse several times to chop.  Add the remaining ingredients and process until fully blended. Refrigerate overnight to blend flavors. This has about 1 gram of fat/2 tablespoon serving.

trout bread plate

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

I have been wanting to make home-made ranch dressing for a while now.  I’m not a big fan of bottled ranch dressing, so I though I could make one that suited me better. I took this basic idea from Relish magazine, one of those weekly publications that is tucked in my local newspaper once a week – usually on the day that they are running the food ads.  The original recipe uses buttermilk, light mayonnaise, and sour cream – and I lightened it up a bit.  And here is an important hint about light mayonnaise.  I am not a big mayonnaise eater – usually just in tuna salad.  So I usually only buy a small jar of it.  When I went to make this recipe I discovered that there wasn’t enough left in the jar, so I went to the store to get more, and even bought a larger jar because it’s summer, and I’m liable to want to have tuna salad more often.  I grabbed a jar of the brand I usually buy that was labeled “light” mayonnaise.  Somewhat to my surprise, the label said that it had 6 grams of fat/tablespoon.  I don’t like non-fat mayonnaise – it tends to be too sweet.  So I did a little searching and discovered that the same brand has a “low fat” product that only has 1 gram of fat per tablespoon.  This makes a big difference in the fat gram count of the final product, so check your labels.  By the way, I’m using Best Foods Low-Fat Mayonnaise Dressing.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

½ cup reduced-fat buttermilk
½ cup non-fat sour cream
½ cup low fat mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons chopped chives
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in bowl. Whisk well. Refrigerate for one hour.  I actually think this tastes better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to blend. Makes 1½ cups. A two tablespoon serving has just under 1 gram of fat/serving.

This is the reason that I actually made the dressing – to serve as a dip for snap peas that are showing up in the market now.

ranch dressibg

However, I made a double recipe so I can experiment with it.  More about the experiments later.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Spread

I have gone to wild mushroom heaven.  In the effort to use up the remaining Mothers’ Day mushrooms, I made this delightful recipe that has three of my favorite ingredients: wild mushrooms, goat cheese, and sherry.  But first, a note about the mushrooms.  They were purchased at, and came in a basket with 2 pounds of organic gourmet mushrooms.  I have been comparing the prices of various gourmet mushrooms at my local grocery, and at about $20/pund, the Costco mushrooms are actually a good buy for what is, I’ll admit, a luxury food. They were very fresh. The only drawback is that you have to purchase two pounds at a time, which is a lot of mushrooms. However, if you are having a party and want something special to serve, it would be worth buying the two pound basket.

This wild mushroom dish, originally from Cooking Light,  is probably intended as a party dish – a hot dip to be served with crackers or slices of a nice baguette, to be scooped up by guests as an appetizer.  I wasn’t having guests, so I bought a nice French bread at the farmers’ market, toasted a few thin slices, and scooped out several servings worth to have for dinner, with a side of tomatoes with sea salt.  It was a very satisfying dinner that felt like something a bit luxurious – if not terribly attractive.

I also plan to take the spread for lunch with interesting crackers – and maybe experiment with using it as a spread on sandwiches.

Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Spread

¼ cup boiling water
½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon minced shallots
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary  (or other herb if you don’t like rosemary, like me)
½ teaspoon salt
¼  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces wild mushrooms, finely chopped (I used all wild mushrooms, since I wanted to use up the remaining mushrooms)
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
5 Tablespoons sherry
6  tablespoons (3 ounces) goat cheese, divided
Cooking spray
1 Tablespoon  chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Combine 1/4 cup boiling water and porcini mushrooms in a bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Strain porcini mushrooms through a sieve over a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.  Preheat boiler.

Heat butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. (I also sprayed it with olive oil cooking spray.) Add shallots, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in reserved porcini mushrooms, wild mushrooms, and cremini mushrooms. Cook 10 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in sherry and reserved mushroom liquid, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 5 minutes or until the liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat. Place mushroom mixture and 3 tablespoons of the goat cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Scrape the mushroom mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 3 tablespoons cheese. Broil for 7 minutes or until edges of cheese begin to brown. (Mine got a bit too brown.) Remove from heat, and sprinkle with parsley if you  want to make it prettier.  This makes ten servings (serving size is about 3 tablespoons) with 2.8 grams of fat/servings.

mushrooms in pan
If I were serving this to company, I’d broil it in an attractive oven-proof dish, instead of an old baking pan. I also would consider adding another 2 ounces of goat cheese to sprinkle over the top. It would only raise the fat level by one gram of fat/serving and would make it a more party-like dish.

Black Bean Dip

This is another good party dip, although I also use it on sandwiches and on crackers. It can be used with veggies or chips. The original recipe came from Cooking Light.  It has unlikely ingredients, which is why I made it.  What food has both cocoa and balsamic vinegar? The caramelized onions give it a pleasant sweetness. Don’t be turned off by the black bean name – it doesn’t taste really beany.  In fact, I can’t really describe the taste.  You’ll have to make it.

Black Bean Dip

Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed.
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika

Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and add oil.  Heat over medium high heat.  Add onion and sauté.  As the onion begins to turn golden (about 5 minutes), add ¼ cup of water, stirring the onions.  The water will evaporate and help the onions soften without extra oil.  Cook the onions until they are golden.  Be careful not to burn them or they will be bitter.

Put the onions and all the remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  This makes 12 ¼ cup servings with about 0.3 grams of fat/serving.  The original recipe said that the serving size was I tablespoon.  Who ever eats 1 tablespoon of dip?


Light Guacamole

What with the Super Bowl on the horizon, a good dip recipe is handy to have. I love guacamole either as a dip or on top of various Mexican dishes.  But avocados are pretty high in fat, and I tend to want to eat a lot of guacamole once I get going.  This lighter recipe has a number of virtues in addition to being lower in fat, it is really a lovely color, and it doesn’t turn brown if left standing, like conventional guacamole does.    It is also good on sandwiches, especially veggie sandwiches.  It goes well with veggies, or as pictured below, with a variety of low fat chips such as baked tortilla chips and pretzel chips.

Light Guacamole

1 medium sized ripe avocado
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 Tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce or to taste
½ cup chopped tomatoes (optional)
1 chopped scallion (optional)

Blend the avocado and cottage cheese, preferably in a food processor. Mix in the lime juice, cilantro and hot pepper sauce.  I usually don’t add the tomato or onion, but if you do, mix them in now.  This makes about 8 quarter cup servings, at about 3 grams of fat/serving.


Eggpplant and Yogurt Dip

This dip uses the smoked eggplant I made earlier.  It is somewhat Persian in origin, and uses flavors that are often found in Persian dishes – garlic, yogurt, mint, and saffron.

This dip is a bit tart, and probably goes better with crackers or pita chips than with raw vegetables.  I have also used it as a spread on a sandwich.

Eggplant and Yogurt Dip

1/8 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large eggplant, peeled, sliced, and smoked (you could easily use grilled eggplant)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup non-fat yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh mint or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar (optional if the dip seems a little bitter)

Soak saffron in 1 tablespoon of hot water for 10 minutes.  Set aside.  Place all remaining ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth, scraping down bowl once.  Strain saffron water into mixture and pulse until blended.  This has about 1/2 gram of fat in 2 tablespoons of dip.

Variation: I have also made this with 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, instead of the mint, and it was very tasty.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

AddThis Feed Button

Follow me on Twitter