I used to view appetizers as precursors to a meal—little snacks that leave you wanting more. Now, they are so much more than that!
My family and I are very much into our appetizers. When it’s time to party and my family and friends arrive at the starting gate armed with empty stomachs and huge appetites, it’s off to the races.
Spying a variety of these little teasers, they descend upon the table like a bunch of lions zooming in for the kill. Hey, I understand totally because I could easily make a meal of appetizers. They’re easy to eat—a napkin becomes a plate and your hands serve as utensils—what more can one ask for?
Clam dip continues to be a very popular appetizer. The minute I see it at a party or dinner I think of my Aunt Midgie. Her real name was Anita, but everyone called her Midgie.
Aunt Midgie and her husband Uncle Ray were my parents’ best friends. They did everything together and they had lots of parties. Aunt Midgie and Uncle Ray were not related to us, but they were a part of our extended family. We spent holidays and Sundays together, along with my biological aunts and uncles, but I especially adored Aunt Midgie. She and Uncle Ray had a boat and we would spend the whole day on it with my family. Aunt Midgie would buy the chocolate Yoohoo drinks and Mallomar cookies that I liked. She was the fun aunt.
I loved my mother’s sisters but they were like second mothers to me, so they could be a little strict. You guessed it—Aunt Midgie would let me do whatever I wanted. One time I slept at her house when I was about 6 or 7 years old and she asked me what I wanted for breakfast. Naturally, I told her I wanted ice cream, and she gave it to me. How cool was that? She gave me some great memories. There should be an Aunt Midgie in everyone’s life.
Aunt Midgie always made her wildly popular clam dip. Unfortunately, this is not her recipe, but it is the next best thing, because it is from another extended family member. In this case, it’s my son’s mother-in-law, Gerry. We all spent Thanksgiving together one year and Gerry made her famous clam dip, and she graciously shared the recipe with me. I added a few of my own touches, but it’s still Gerry’s.
It would come as no surprise to those close to me that I’m a great believer in the saying “the more, the merrier.” There can never be too many people at the table of my life, whether they are related or not!
- 3 6-1/2 ounces cans minced clams in clam juice
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/2 stick margarine
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon parsley
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon basil
- 8 splashes of cayenne pepper sauce
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs
- Oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large frying pan, cook 3 cans of clams with clam juice and lemon juice until simmering. Remove from pan to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same frying pan, add butter and margarine. Cook green and red peppers with onion and garlic until tender. Add basil, oregano, parsley, crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper sauce. Mix well. Return clams to frying pan.
- Lastly, stir in parmesan cheese and bread crumbs. Turn off stove and stir until dry ingredients are blended in well with wet.
- Place in a shallow baking dish and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve hot with crackers.
- ENJOY—You’ll really “dig” this clam dip!
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."