Dips and Spreads to Keep You Well Fed!

Have you ever been to the grocery store 2 days before Christmas? Are you sure you weren’t at the Crowfoot Calgary Co-op today? Because I swear there were more people in that store than the entire Charlottetown population. Forget “co-op” it was literally like a chicken “coop”. Not really an experience I need to replicate anytime soon. However I did pick up some ingredients to start all of my prep for our Christmas meals.
First up, cranberry sauce! With the spices I didn’t really measure so just sprinkle them in to your taste.
Ingredients:
– 1 bag of fresh cranberries (I think it was around 1 pound)
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 cup cognac
– salt and pepper, to taste
– cinnamon, tt
– nutmeg, tt
– cloves, tt
– dry ginger, tt
Add just the cranberries and the cognac to the pot. Turn the heat on to high and use a match or a lighter to burn off the alcohol. Just make sure you don’t burn your house down! Once the flame is gone, add the sugar and spices. Cook on medium to low heat until the skins have split on the cranberries (they will actually make a popping sound). It’s done when it looks like cranberry sauce (this should take about 15-20 minutes). I know that’s not very descriptive but literally, it will look like a saucy, thick pool of cranberry goo. A delicious pool of goo at that! This can definitely be made a few days ahead of time. I find it is best served at room temperature so just remove it from the fridge 20-30 minutes before you are ready to eat.
Next it’s time for edamame bean dip. Both low fat and vegan. And it doesn’t taste like crap!
Ingredients:
– 2 cups shelled edamame beans
– 1/2 cup tofu
– 2 green onions
– 1 garlic clove
– salt and pepper, to taste
– vegetable stock (if needed to thin out the dip)
Combine everything in a food processor and blend until smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula so you don’t leave any bits behind. If it is too thick and refuses to puree easily, add vegetable stock to thin the consistency. Taste to ensure the seasoning is adequate. Don’t be afraid to add more salt – lots of it – to help bring out the flavours. Again this can be made ahead and refrigerated. Serve with crackers, crustinis, etc.

Now for another vegan treat, nut loaf. Open your mind people, it’s actually really good!

Ingredients:

– 2 cups bread crumbs (they are so easy to make yourself, instead of throwing out dry bread, blitz it in your food processor until it turns to crumbs)
– 1/2 cup each slivered almonds, sunflower seeds and pecans (you can use any nut/seed combination you like)
– 1 1/2 cups carrot, small dice
– 1 cup onion, small dice
– 1/2 cup zucchini, small dice
– 1/2 cup tofu
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries plus more for decorating the top of the loaf

Blend everything except the cranberries in a food processor until the mixture reaches a consistency you like. It can be chunky or smooth, the texture is up to you. Stir in the cranberries at the end by hand. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 325 F for about an hour. Slice and enjoy!

These were the leftover bread crumbs.
Can you guess what it is? Come on, it doesn’t look that bad does it? It’s a Christmas tree!
Mark Bittman’s Tomato Jam (altered ever so slightly)
– 5 medium sized tomatoes (about a pound to a pound and a half total)
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– salt and pepper, to taste
– red pepper flakes, to taste
– 1/4 tsp. dry ginger
– 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/8 tsp. cloves
Cook over medium to high heat to get everything started, stirring to ensure that the sugar doesn’t burn. Then turn the heat down to low and let it blip (isn’t that a fun word?) away for about an hour until it becomes thick and jammy. If there is still too much liquid remaining, turn up the heat to let it evaporate, again while stirring to prevent an hours worth of work from turning into a burned mess. I intend on serving this as a condiment when we do raclette tomorrow but it is also great with plain cheese and crackers. Or even some baked brie, that would be delicious!
Finally I came up with a lazy man’s veggie dip to have on hand for the next few days. I basically mixed together a bunch of condiments to make one super condiment. It turned out kind of like a Thousand Islands or a Russian dressing.
Ingredients:
– 1 cup sour cream
– 1/2 cup Miracle Whip
– 1/4 cup ketchup
– 1 tsp. Worcestershire
– 1 tbsp. grainy mustard
– 1 tsp. yellow mustard
– 1 tsp. lemon juice
– 1 tbsp. honey
Mix everything together. Make sure to taste it because sometimes it needs more salt, more sweet, more acidity, etc. You want everything to be balanced. Serve with veggies, as a sandwich spread or even use as salad dressing for hearty greens that will hold up to the thickness of the dip.

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