Everybody needs a go-to appetizer, something you always have the ingredients for and can make from memory. This creme cheese and sausage dip is mine. With only three ingredients, it’s easy to make, delicious and perfectly suited for almost any occasion!

I first tasted this recipe when my Aunt Connie made it for a family gathering and it’s been a Shiffler family favorite ever since. I’ve honestly never seen a dish of this stuff go unfinished. Your guests will be scraping the sides trying to get one last delicious bite!

Though it’s served hot, this dip makes a great dish all year round — even in the summer! Also, it freezes well, making it a marvelous make-ahead dish. In fact, I often double the recipe so I can have enough to freeze a batch for unexpected occasions. Pop it in the oven for 30 minutes and it tastes fresh as ever!

Tostitos Scoops (the multi-grain kind) are my chip of choice with this dip though many of my friends prefer it with Fritos Scoops instead.

Do you have a go-to dip? Share yours in the comments below! Or keep reading for step-by-step instructions & a downloadable recipe card.

Creme Cheese & Sausage Dip

  • 1 pkg Jimmy Dean sausage (Regular or hot, depending on your taste)
  • 1 can Original Rotel tomatoes
  • 2 8oz Whipped cream cheese (if you use the blocked cream cheese, make sure it’s softened)
  • 1 bag Multi-grain Tostitos Scoops or your favorite tortilla chips

Crumble and brown sausage. In a separate bowl, mix together Rotel and cream cheese. Drain sausage in a colander or on a paper towel then add to the cream cheese mixture. Mix together and put in baking dish (I use chafing dishes – it fills two). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly. Serve hot with tortilla chips or fritos.

(I usually make two batches and freeze one – before cooking – so I have it around. I have one in the freezer now!)

Download the Recipe

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Cooking Hostess

Most people think that because I like to entertain, I also like to cook. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. Planning the menu, of course, is an ever important part of a successful soiree, however; this task is most often left up to my Mom or her best friend Leslie who have flawless taste in food and a surefire stock of recipes.

Entertaining, in fact, is one of the few times I actually enjoy cooking. You see, as a single gal most meals I prepare are for one. I find it hard to get enthused about preparing a meal that only I will be able to enjoy. The thrill of pulling off a new recipe is just not as fun when not shared with a friend.

Maybe that is why I like hosting parties so much — it challenges me to experiment in the kitchen and also comes with the added pressure of getting it right.

Over the past year, my adventurous spirit in the kitchen has blossomed. While in the past I was satisfied with heating up taquitos or ordering in Chinese, I’ve stepped up my game and ventured to try some new dishes that require more than a cookie sheet and a hot oven.

At a party I hosted for the most recent premier of The Bachelor, I served up a panini bar, offering a delicious array of deli meats and cheeses with a serious selection of spreads. Also, I recently attempted a new avocado bruscetta recipe for a dinner party I attended.

I’ll save the rest of my culinary crusades for upcoming posts, but I’ll leave you with the recipe for avocado bruschetta — a delicious little number I picked up from Lauren, Leslie’s daughter, who is a pretty good cook herself!

Remember, a good hostess doesn’t always have to be a good cook. Do like me and fake it till you make it! Chinese and frozen bites are always a great fallback when your short on time, money or culinary creativity! Throw them on a pretty porcelain platter and your guests will never know!

Photo courtesy of: Elle's New England Kitchen

Avocado Bruschetta

  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 2 avocados, cubed
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 in. ciabatta slices
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper

Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk in oil, then stir in cilantro and parsley.  Fold in avocado cubes.  Brush ciabatta slices with olive oil and toast lightly under broiler.  Spoon avocado mixture onto toast slices, and serve.

{Photos via Pinterest and Elle’s New England Kitchen}

Filed in: Appetizers, Parties, Recipes | 2 Comments »

Pasta Salad

Pasta salad is truly an art. Trust me, I’ve been to enough barbecues and family reunions to talk. One poorly chosen ingredient, be it in taste or texture, can ruin the whole thing. Too much dressing and your pasta wilts, too little and you’re left with dry, starchy noodles. Obviously, I’m pretty particular about my pasta salad, which is why I’ve never attempted it for a party of my own before.

That was, until this summer, when while planning a Fourth of July themed soiree for my sorority alumnae club, I ran into the problem of finding a side dish to accompany the mini burgers I planned on serving. Pasta salad would be the perfect solution. But could I find a recipe that was elegant enough to match the menu, company and decor? And was I, the admittedly inconsistent chef, up for the task?

As a last minute addition to the party menu (I was already at the grocery store!) I decided to attempt a pasta salad. A quick call to my mom reminded me of the perfectly prepared past salad that my Aunt Tricia brought to this year’s family Easter festivities. Another quick flip of the iPhone and I found myself scribbling this delicious recipe on the back of my grocery list.

Turns out it was a hit. Not only was the pasta salad delicious, the ingredients came together to make a photo worthy dish! Check out the full recipe after the jump!

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My younger sister, Bailey, constantly mocks me for having wedding blogs in my feed reader. She laughs at my mantra that weddings can be a great source of party inspiration.Bowtini I defend my position and don’t see why I should miss out on great entertaining ideas just because I’m not married or engaged! I mean, a wedding is just a big party, right?!

My friend Alexis, who you might remember from the Blushing Bride Bridal Shower, helped me strengthen my case when she emailed me photos from a recent party she hosted where her menu was inspired by a wedding she recently attended.

Alexis is always on trend, be it in fashion or entertaining, so I was not surprised when I learned that she took one of the biggest wedding trends right now – “mac-tinis” or “bow-tinis” as she calls them, and used it at her at-home get together.

“I first saw the idea at a wedding where the bride and groom opted for a laid-back heavy hour d’oeuvres buffet in place of a more traditional sit-down meal,” Alexis writes. “At the buffet, there were martini glasses with bow tie pasta and a dozen or so toppings that guests could choose from. ‘Bartenders’ served guests and mixed the toppings into the bow-tinis. It was cute and delicious!”

In Alexis’s at-home adaptation, she opted for a self-serve buffet. She set out toppings in colorful bowls filled with chicken, sausage, shrimp, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, and pine nuts and allowed guests to mix and match.

“They turned out really cute and everyone loved them! It’s a great way to serve guests dinner when you don’t have the room to seat them all – a common dilemma for apartment dwellers like us!”

BowtiniAlexis also noted that you don’t have to use bow tie pasta. Any small pasta will do! Mac and cheese is also a great choice for those without time or space for a topping buffet. Alexis’s last tip for recreating this pasta-licious idea — add olive oil to the pasta to prevent stickiness.

An great idea, seen at a wedding, used at a real-life party. Take that Bailey!

{Photo Credits: Top left: Alexis Orf, Bottom right: Matt DeTurck}

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Hot Dog Condiments

Unlike hot dogs and ketchup, sangria and empty stomachs are not a good combo. Knowing we were in for a two-hour premier I wanted to serve substantial food beyond the usual appetizers.

Hot dogs were the obvious entrée choice and I’ve been dying to do mini mac & cheese for a while. I also dreamed up Bachelorette themed cupcake toppers so I rounded out the menu with a sweet cupcake finish. Throw in some chips and a veggie tray and voila… a perfect dinner for 10 in front of the TV! Pictures and recipes after the jump!

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Filed in: Appetizers, Entrees, The Bachelor | 4 Comments »

I had so many pics from my party I decided it merited two posts! (Go To Part 1) Here are photos and recipes from the food and beverage part of the party. More after the jump!

Pat O's

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Filed in: Appetizers, Cocktails, Mardi Gras | 2 Comments »

Hotty Toddy

Last Friday I had the opportunity to watch my Alma mater, Ole Miss, put a whopping on the 11-1 Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Rebs pulled out a victory 47-34 in Dallas surprising everyone!

The game was a blast, but the real fun began before the game with a few great hours of tailgating. Below are a few pictures of my family’s tailgate. We did our best to bring the Grove to Dallas with a nice little spread of food and cocktails. Our tailgate even made a cameo in a Dallas Morning News video (skip to 1:22) and on the Commissioner of Tailgating blog. Sorry for the messy photos; the food was picked over before we could take any pics!

A Spirited Spread

The table cloth was inspired by the Big Game party theme on Hostess with the Mostess.

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