Prior to the playoff game last week, a friend informed me that Fred Meyer was completely out of Velveeta. What the heck? How will everyone make their ubiquitous Queso Dip if they can't get a 16-ounce block of creamy processed-cheese-product goodness? Real cheese separates and melts unevenly, Fred Meyer!
|[Pic courtesy of the Kraft website]|
According to Discover Magazine, folks began messing with actual cheese back in 1912, finding that, if they added salts to cheese in the form of sodium citrate, they could prevent it from separating into protein and fat. Kraft took it from there, fiddling with additions of salts, whey, milkfat, "and other goodies" to arrive at the cheesish products Americans know and love today. Strangely rubbery when sliced? Yes. But no oily film, ma!
In a world with no Velveeta, however, what's a football fan to do?
Allow me to suggest some somewhat-homemade snack alternatives.
For Christmas, my sister gave me a new cookbook
and if I ever required proof that she doesn't read this blog, this cookbook was it. While there isn't a can of cream of mushroom soup in every recipe, there are a lot of canned goods called for. Canned enchilada sauce, storebought pesto, jam, spaghetti sauce, you name it. But I plan to try some of the recipes that aren't too pre-processed, and among those I've modified this one:
6 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 ozs frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry and chopped
10 ozs frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 Tbsp minced scallions
Mix all ingredients except scallions until well combined. If you have a small slow cooker, dump the mixture in and cook until heated through, 1-2 hours on High or several hours on Low. If you have a cooker larger than 5-1/2 quarts, put the dip in a smaller dish and set the dish in the cooker, surrounded by about 2 cups water.
Top with scallions and serve with pita chips, crackers, or bread slices.
Another perennial grocery-store favorite is the 7-Layer Dip, which is just silly because it takes roughly five minutes to make your own, and then you don't have the plastic container to dispose of. In our home we do five layers because no one likes olives and the boy doesn't like corn. But feel free to add those layers back in, if things are different in your house.
1 can of refried beans
2 ripe avocadoes
salt and pepper
some of your favorite salsa
shredded cheddar cheese
For the guacamole, mash up the avocado with some lemon or lime juice and salt/pepper to taste. Spread the layers in the order given in an 8-inch square Pyrex dish. I like to completely cover the guacamole so it doesn't turn brown. So, beans, guac, salsa, dollops of sour cream (hard to spread without mixing the layers), and cheese sprinkled over all.
Then there are the roasted nuts. Who needs all the sugar, sugar, and more sugar (and additives) of Planter's Honey-Roasted Nuts, if you can make your own blend at home more healthily? I'm trying to avoid cottonseed oil mainly because cotton is one of the most sprayed crops.
The Planter's List:
Ingredients: PEANUTS, SUGAR, HONEY, PEANUT AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL, CORN SYRUP, SEA SALT, FRUCTOSE, CORNSTARCH, XANTHAN GUM. CONTAINS: PEANUT. MANUFACTURED ON EQUIPMENT THAT PROCESSES SUNFLOWER SEEDS, TREE NUTS.
I've been checking out a new book which I'll review later when I've tried more, but I did give the nut recipe a go.
Mixed Roasted Nuts
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped rosemary (I would even up this the next time I made it to 2 Tbsp)
4 cups RAW mixed nuts (I did almonds and cashews, but everyone agreed they liked the cashews best)
Preheat the oven to 300F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet.
Combine butter, chili powder, maple syrup, salt, and herbs in a medium mixing bowl.
Add the nuts, tossing until coated. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake 15 minutes. Stir around. Bake 15 more minutes.
When completely cooled, taste for salt. Then store them in a tin or covered container in the fridge until ready to be eaten!
As you could see, the only sugar was the tablespoon of maple syrup, which, spread among four cups of nuts, provides just a hint of sweetness.
So no worries if you couldn't get Superbowl tickets! Invite your friends, make your snacks, and enjoy the game in the comfort of your Polar-Vortex-free home.