Americans love appetizers. We really do. How many times have I invited people and served only appetizers? The answer is many times.
For my husband’s surprise 30th birthday party, I had 70 people in my little house. He thought only a few people were coming over, but the house was packed. I was working full time and had two kids, so I was too busy to cook everything.
So I decided to cater the party—one of the first times that I didn’t do everything myself. I had the catering place provide various appetizers on trays, and everybody was extremely curious to see what the next appetizer was going to be.
With that large a crowd, I couldn’t possibly provide the space for a sit-down dinner. Because of that, the appetizers were a great substitute. No one was hungry; I had plenty in addition to a nice dessert selection for later on.
The party was a huge success. No one ever sat down—of course with that many people, who could?—and no one left until the wee hours of the morning.
A few years ago, Friday nights for me had become ladies night. I have all different friends in different stages of their lives—some divorced, some single, some married—who like an occasional night out with the girls.
Since I still had one more little one at home to take care of, the ladies usually came to my house on Friday nights. Now, any time you get a group of women together, 95 percent will say they are on a diet or should be on a diet. That means, don’t worry about cooking because I shouldn’t eat.
Well, let me tell you that those who say it are the biggest eaters. You know why? They have been starving themselves all week. Women who are cleaners but not cooks are the second largest eaters. That’s because they never eat homemade food at home, only take out.
As for me, I am what I am. I love to cook and I love to eat. I am always the same—basically the average woman.
For my Friday night get-togethers I always made different appetizers, or, as we ladies called them, pickings. Pickings are appetizers, because you can pick at it, like a bird picks. It is psychological I am sure, but women think an appetizer is less fattening than a full dinner. Even when I go out to eat with some ladies we always order two appetizers and share them instead of two dinners. It is more interesting to try different things that way.
This black bean dip is extremely popular. I got the recipe from a friend of mine who always makes it for a holiday party we attend every year. I changed it a bit to my taste, but it is still one of the easiest appetizers to make. You just mix it and pop it in the oven. Everyone I make it for wants the recipe.
For your next get-together, make some appetizers and forget about the big dinner.
Black Bean Dip
- 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 can chopped chilies (4 ounces) (sold in the Mexican food section)
- 4 chopped scallion stalks
- 4 chopped tomatoes (plum tomatoes are best for this recipe)
- 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped (red or green pepper is OK to use also)
- 1 10-ounce package extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- Oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all ingredients together in a 9- by 13-inch oven baking pan.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately with tortilla chips (large triangle-shaped, Mexican corn chips)
- ENJOY—This dip is so good you’ll have your guests eating out of their hands and yours.
Mariann Raftery, creator of Somebody's Mom blog, cooks up comfort food recipes for families here at home, as well as sending homemade cookie care packages to our American soldiers overseas. Somebody's Mom Cooking videos at http://www.youtube.com, search "Thesomebodysmom".