Maine Roots

A blog about all things Maine


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Weekly Recipe: Creole Dipping Sauce with Green Beans

I’m pretty excited about the recipe I’ll be sharing with you today.  When I came across it in The Maine Summers Cookbook, I knew it would be a perfect choice for a summer party we were going to.  It’s fun, different, and healthy – which as we all know can be a challenge to find in any ‘chips and dips’ section!  Typically, these recipes involve mayo, cream cheese, breadcrumbs, and any number of other things that make them deliciously bad for you.

In addition to its healthfulness, it sounded quick and easy (my number one recipe test), and it can be made ahead.  I was sold, and I hope you are too!

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • Dijon or other mustard
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 1 lb. wax beans
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • Several flat-leaf parsley sprigs for garnish

To make the sauce, place the vegetable oil, garlic, scallions, celery, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cayenne, Tabasco, paprika, ketchup, vinegar, horseradish, and mustard in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until the mixture is smooth – about one minute.  Cover and refrigerate. (Easy – check!)

To prepare the beans, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt and the green and wax beans.  Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes.  Remove the beans to a colander and rinse under cold water.  Drain and pat dry, then cover and refrigerate.  Bring the beans to room temperature before serving. (Also easy!)

To serve, place the sauce in a small glass bowl on a platter and garnish with parsley sprigs.  Arrange the beans in a spoke pattern around the bowl of sauce.  This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of sauce, or 10 servings.

Colorful and flavorful!

Colorful and flavorful!

As you can see, I served the sauce with both green beans and celery sticks – the cookbook also recommends red and green bell pepper strips.  The sauce can be made 2-3 days ahead and the beans can be prepared one day ahead.

I really liked the flavor of the sauce – although it honestly could have been even a little spicier for me.  It had a nice ‘zing’ and satisfied my unhealthy snack cravings with veggies instead!  As the summer parties continue, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other healthy appetizer / snack ideas to share!  Have you come across any healthy recipes that are easy to take to cookouts and parties?


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Weekly Recipe: Smoked Salmon Spread

As you might imagine, fish and seafood play a prominent role in the diet of a Mainer.  The geography of Maine, as well as its rural environment and long history of gaming, make it inevitable that this would be so.  In addition to the ocean, an undeniably important part of Maine’s economy and food supply, Maine has many lakes, rivers, and streams – at least 5,785 lakes and ponds alone.  A part of what made my childlife so full, in my opinion, was my constant exposure to the outdoors and outdoor sports, including fishing, hiking, hunting, and much more.  My new cookbook, Maine Home Cooking, features many fish and seafood recipes (as well as venison – hopefully my husband will get a deer this year so I can share those with you), and when I came across this one for a Smoked Salmon Spread, I was immediately inspired to make it during my weekend in Maine.

My initial thought was of how much my sister loves smoked salmon, and I wanted to make something I knew she would enjoy.  My mother also pointed out how much my grandfather loves salmon – for as long as he was able, was an avid fisherman and went on an annual salmon fishing trip to Lapoile, in Newfoundland – and I was, after all, home for his 90th birthday.  So it was quickly decided that we would make this spread and take it to share with the family on Saturday evening.  We doubled it and it was a hit – the entire bowl was wiped clean.

What you’ll need:

8 oz. cream cheese (or Neufchatel cheese)

8 oz. smoked salmon

1/4 cup mayonnaise (or yogurt)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Lemon juice or Tabasco, to taste (optional)

Chopped dill, to taste (optional)

Chopped olives or capers, to taste (optional)

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

Throw all ingredients into a food processor or mixer and whirl until you reach your desired consistency (I like mine a bit lumpy).  Adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with crackers.  This would also be delicious as a spread on bagels, toast, or even pasta – my sister took the leftovers and used them in just this way!  I chose to incorporate all of the optional ingredients, because I love those flavors and I felt they would work nicely together.  We used roughly the juice of one lemon, just a splash of Tabasco, a tablespoon of chopped dill, and about a 1/4 cup of capers.  Delicious!

Smoked Salmon Spread, with dill garnish

Smoked Salmon Spread, with dill garnish


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Weekly Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip is an all-time favorite of mine.  It is everything, in my opinion, that a Super Bowl appetizer should be – a little (or a lot) unhealthy, a perfect complement to a good beer, and a consistent crowd-pleaser.  While I’m still getting over the Patriots’ loss in the AFC Championship, the prospect of buffalo chicken dip did brighten my Super Bowl outlook, so I made it for the party we attended yesterday.  The best part – not only is it delicious, it’s also really easy.

Technically, I took the recipe from my cookbook A Matter of Taste, a collection of recipes from the NAIW Maine Council.  But I modified it quite a bit in terms of the preparation and cooking process.  Allrecipes.com also has a great Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe.

According to the cookbook, you’ll need:

  • 5 cups of cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 (10 oz.) bottle of hot sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese (I recommend cheddar)
  • Tortilla chips for serving

Let the modifications begin!  First of all, for a dish that is only going to end up being unhealthy anyway, there is no way I’m poaching and shredding chicken myself.  I buy the canned, cooked chicken and drain the water.  I also hate celery, so I don’t use it – and I don’t think anyone misses it, either.

All the good stuff!

All the good stuff!

The next big modification is that this recipe calls for you to cook it in a large skillet – chicken first, then hot sauce, then cream cheese, and so on.  I always (always) use my Crock Pot.  I turn the crockpot on high and heat the chicken.  Next, I stir in the hot sauce and let that heat with the chicken for a couple of minutes.  I mix in the cream cheese, stirring until melted and blended, then I add the Ranch and blend in.  I give it a few minutes for everything to get hot again, and add the cup of shredded cheddar, stirring until mixed in and melted.  After that, it’s ready to enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip