Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

Every New Year's Eve, my family concludes the season of pigging out by making all sorts of tasty appetizers--bite-size spanakopitas, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, artery-clogging chili-cheese dip, piglets in the blanket, and, if they aren't already long gone, leftover tamales from Christmas dinner.  After church we spend the evening grazing, playing games, and waiting for the ball to drop so we can go to bed.

Since most of us have already gained 50 pounds from cookies and eggnog at this point, I'm feeling the need to contribute something healthy.  Hummus?  Carrot sticks?  Pumpkin dip?  Pumpkin's a vegetable, right?  (Or is it a squash?  I can never remember.)  Okay, so the main ingredient might be cream cheese.  And it tastes just as good with gingersnaps as with apples.  Compared with Velveeta and sausage, though, it might as well be a bowl of brussels sprouts.  And no, I don't suggest bringing brussels sprouts to your New Year's party.  Try making this instead.

Pumpkin Dip (from here)

3/4 cup (6 oz.) 1/3-less-fat (Neufch√Ętel) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 T. maple syrup (use the real stuff if you can)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
gingersnaps or apple slices, for serving

Combine cream cheese, brown sugar, and pumpkin in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add syrup and cinnamon and beat until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes.  Serve with gingersnaps or apple slices.

A couple of tips:  You can freeze the leftover pumpkin.  I use an old sour cream or cottage cheese container--make sure to label it!  Also, if your apples will be sitting out for a while (as in at a party), sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

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