Beer Cheese Dip
I have my second grade teacher, Mrs. Hamilton, to thank for this recipe. I loved to hang out with Mrs. Hamilton at the end of the school day before my bus arrived and this is when I learned she loved Cheetos! At the end of many days, my teacher would pull out a bag of these puffy treats from her bottom desk drawer and share a few with me and the other “late bus” kids. Because of Mrs. Hamilton's love of the cheesy taste of Cheetos, it makes complete sense as to why she is responsible for introducing this cheesy dip to me years later when I ended up teaching with her at my former elementary school, Crystal Lawns. Each month a potluck was held in the teachers’ lounge and this was her go-to dish. This is one of those recipes I have committed to memory. It too, is my go to when asked to bring something to a get-together. If you love cheese, chances are you will love this dip! Here it is…
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix
2 scallions finely chopped (include some green)
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
½ to 1 Cup beer
Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese and ranch dressing mix until smooth. Add the chopped scallions and cheese – use the mixer to blend. Add beer starting with ½ cup and blend. If dip is too thick, add a bit more beer and mix being careful not to add to much as it will make the dip soupy. Chill several hours before serving.
Serve with pretzels. I like to use the “old style” large pretzels, but any pretzel will work!
Matt and I took a Thanksgiving cooking class over 18 years ago at the original location of the Chopping Block in Chicago located on Sheffield Avenue. It was so fun to watch owner, Shelley Young, quickly put this recipe together before she got started on the main menu of Thanksgiving dinner. Matt and I along with four other students got to taste the apple pie - I knew at the first bite this would be a favorite for years to come. I bought the pie plate she recommended using for the pie and have been baking in it ever since!
2 cups of flour
1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 ½ stick of unsalted cold butter
¼ cup of cold shortening (place in refrigerator several hours before using)
¼ cup cold water (use ice water for best result)
Put flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Cut up butter and shortening into small pieces and add to processor. Pulse mixture until slightly blended. Use your hands to make sure butter is in little pieces throughout the flour mixture. Process mixture a bit more and then add the cold water. Continue to process until the mixture forms into a ball. Turn dough out onto the counter and divide the crust into 2 unequal parts – larger portion for bottom crust and smaller portion for top crust. Wrap separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours. (This dough can also be frozen for up to 6 months – just place in refrigerator 24 hours before use).
3 ½ pounds apples (I have always used granny smith) – peel, core and cut into chunks
½ cup flour
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
Heavy cream and sugar for garnish
Mix the first five above ingredients together and let sit. Roll out bottom, larger crust and place in pie dish. Add filling and sprinkle pieces of butter on top. Roll out top crust and place over filling. Close crust by pinching top and bottom crusts together around the pie dish. Brush top of pie with heavy cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. Place pie on baking sheet and bake in 350 oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours.
P.S. If you are too tired to bake, you can order an apple pie from the Chopping Block! Tell Shelley I sent you!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 ½ dozen cookies
This is from my very good friend Judy. We have enjoyed several treats while visiting her and her husband Jim over the years in New Buffalo, Michigan, but this cookie made a huge impression on Eleanora. She now requests Judy’s chocolate chip cookies and only Judy makes them just so, but if you follow the recipe and use the times indicated for mixing, you will end up with results that Eleanora enjoyed one special summer day in July on their boat.
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips*
Place sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in a bowl of a stand mixer. Using the flat beater turn mixer to speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds. Stop and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Turn to speed 4 and beat for an additional 30 seconds.
Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture on Stir Speed for about 2 minutes. Increase to speed 2 and beat for 30 seconds. Add chocolate chips on Stir Speed and mix for 15 seconds.
Drop by teaspoonful on parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Enjoy!