I've kept chickens for many years. They technically belong to my eldest son, Franky but we all love these silly, squawky ladies. Until recently, the "Girls" had free reign of the yard and only the garden was protected from their ravenous appetites. As a master gardener, it has bummed me out that I didn't have the gorgeous collection of plants and lovely patio of my green-thumbed peers. The chickens ate everything and left, ahem, "reminders" of their presence all over the place. Great for the grass but not the patio. This spring, I set out to change that and have been renovating like a crazy person.
The last parts of my patio makeover are nearing completion and the end is definitely in sight.
I love entertaining casually in the summer. Easy and delicious nosh is a must. Here are three unusual, but equally delicious dips for you to try. Many of the ingredients can use up extra garden goodies, too!
Pineapple Fruit Salsa
From my friend, Julie Olovich. She served this years ago at a neighborhood gals dinner.
Serve with tortilla chips
One pineapple, peeled, cored and diced
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (be sure to wear gloves working with hot peppers)
½ red onion, peeled and diced
1 fresh orange, seeded, segmented and chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive (not metal) bowl. Allow to chill at least an hour before serving.
Spicy Peanut Dip
Serve with raw veggies or pita chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup spicy hot salsa
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
A few dashes of Tabasco (to taste)
Combine ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and serve.
Tomato-Pesto Cream Cheese Dip
Serve with crackers or toasted baguette
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 small (10.5 oz) package of fresh goat cheese, softened
1 teaspoon oregano (fresh, if possible)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
Small jar of basil pesto (6.3 oz) or your own!
Mix together the cream cheese, goat cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread 1/3 this mixture into the bottom of a small, square dish lined with plastic wrap. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes on top. Spread another 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. Spread the basil pesto on top and then spread the final layer of cream cheese mixture atop that.
Chill for at least an hour. To serve, turn the dish upside-down on a serving platter and gently pull off the plastic wrap. This makes a very eye-catching appetizer.
If you’re interested in serving drinks with each of these, here’s what I’d offer:
Pineapple & Mango Fruit Salsa- Mexican beer like Dos Equis or Sol
Spicy Peanut Dip- Sparkling white wine like Prosecco
Tomato-Pesto Cream Cheese Dip- Pinot Grigio if you like white wine and an easy-drinking Chianti if you like red
Cheers to Summer!
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.