Delectable dips, spreads and toppings

For a delicious brunch plate, serve warm, buttery French toast and caramelized bananas.

Fun to eat dips make me smile. I enjoy a savory dip as an appetizer or served alongside a protein like grilled fish or steak kabobs. And fall football season is a perfect time to serve a dip and chip tray. Simple spreads are similar to dips—a generous schmear of spread on a cracker, bread, or tortilla can satisfy a breakfast, lunch or snack craving. On a dessert, like angel food cake or ice cream, a topping of chocolate ganache or caramelized walnuts will take it to the next level. Burgers, tacos, baked potatoes, pancakes, and scrambled eggs are delicious on their own but taste even better with a tasty enhancement added to the top.

Creamy Baked Spinach Dip

• ½ cup sour cream

• 1 (8oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

• ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese

• ½ cup shredded Colby Jack cheese

• 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

• 1 TBSP. minced onion

• 1 TBSP. minced garlic

• ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

• Salt and pepper to taste

Thaw and drain the spinach; squeeze out the excess moisture. In a bowl, stir together the sour cream and cream cheese until smooth. Add the spinach, shredded cheeses, minced onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to a greased 8x8 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minute or until hot and cheese has melted. Serve with pita chips.

Creamy Horseradish Spread

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature

• 1 cup pineapple preserves

• ¼ cup apple jelly

• ½ to 1 TBSP. prepared horseradish, drained

• 2 TBSP. dry mustard powder

• ½ tsp. cracked black pepper

Combine the pineapple preserves, apple jelly, horseradish, mustard powder, and black pepper in a bowl; mix well. To serve, place the softened cream cheese on a plate and pour the sauce over the top. Serve with crackers. Note: You can use lemon-pear marmalade instead of the apple jelly.

Pina Colada Dip

• 1 (3.4 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding mix

• 2 cups cold milk

• 1 (8 oz.) container Cool Whip

• 2 (8 oz.) cans crushed pineapple, drained well

• 1 ½ tsp. coconut extract

Prepare the pudding mix with the 2 cups cold milk according to box directions. Chill until just set. Fold in the Cool Whip, crushed pineapple, and coconut extract. Serve with strawberries, melon, grapes, apple slices, and other fruits or graham crackers.

Raisin-Pecan Spread

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 3 ¼ TBSP. pure honey

• ¼ tsp. cinnamon

• 4 TBSP. raisins, chopped

• 4 TBSP. finely chopped pecans

Allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature. Combine the cream cheese with the honey and cinnamon. Stir in the chopped raisins and chopped pecans. Use as a spread for bagels, toast, muffins, or wheat crackers.

Lemon Glaze

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 2 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

• 1 ¼ TBSP. freshly grated lemon zest

• ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Stir together all ingredients until glaze is smooth. Drizzle glaze evenly over pound cake, scones, or sugar cookies.

Caramelized Bananas

• 3 large ripe bananas

• ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

• 3 TBSP. salted butter

• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

• ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a skillet, melt the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together, about 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the vanilla extract. Slice the bananas and add to the pan; cook for 2-3 minutes, then flip the slices and cook for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Serve immediately as a topping for French toast, pancakes, waffles, cooked oatmeal, crepes, or pound cake.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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