Dip into 2021 with a mini-party for family

White Bean Spinach Artichoke Dip has a creamy texture and a unique blend of flavors that makes it a party-time favorite.

The year 2020 has been the most unusual of my lifetime and I bet it has for you as well.

I don’t know about you, but I will be missing those holiday parties, getting together at my favorite watering hole with friends, enjoying late-night bar food, office get-togethers around a table full of festive appetizers and even the nonstop Christmas music from the mall food court.

This holiday season will look completely different for everyone, but there are activities and traditions that can keep us in the spirit, even if we can’t be together with a crowd of people.

The one thread running through these traditions is food. Who doesn’t love an array of finger-foods, fancy appetizers, assortments of crackers and vegetable conduits for those decadently creamy dips and spreads that adorn the party buffet table? This is the time of year that folks like me, love to show off our kitchen prowess.

Having friends and family oohing and aahing over a dish that came out of my kitchen is of course an ego booster, but it also is how I show appreciation for all who share in that evening’s festivities.

The immediate members of your family, who have been sequestered with you since March, may need a reminder this time of year that they too are special.

Your children, whether tykes, still wide-eyed waiting for Santa or grown up enough to have lost a bit of the magic but feeling that something is missing, need a party, even if it is the same faces they have been seeing day in and day out for the last several months. Let’s give them a party.

Pick an evening this holiday season to party with your home pack. If you usually attend a grand office or work party, make it on that same night. Come up with a theme and get everyone involved. Whether it’s dressing to the nines and setting out a spread worthy of the CEO, a pajama party with fun finger foods and the Hallmark channel, or a disco-ball lit home dance party with sliders and nachos complete with festive cocktails for those that can legally imbibe and holiday punch for the younger ones. By the way, this can be done via Zoom if you want to make it a multi-family party.

My go-to party dip has got to be my son’s favorite, spinach artichoke dip. Over the last few years, I have revamped my recipe to eliminate dairy, but he still loves it. White beans add the creaminess and nutritional yeast brings the cheesy flavor. The toasty panko breadcrumbs on top of this bubbly treat, whether using rice crackers or sweet bell peppers, is always a hit.

Give it a try and see if your mini, not many, party-goers don’t agree.

Kathy Nicarry is the former chef at Bernheim’s Isaac’s Cafe. Her style unites her passion for cooking with love of the natural world. She can be reached at kjsh956@yahoo.com.

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