Food You Can Eat: Halloween-ish Baked Cheese Party Dip

What will you be this year? I'm going to be The Cynical Curmudgeon, which won't be a stretch

Annie Oakley here demonstrates why it is important to consume enough cheese dip to soak up the excess moonshine.

Are you attending a Halloween party this year, or maybe even having your own? As I write this it has been 30 months since we’ve had anyone over (except for witnesses and my lawyer to sign my will, and I wouldn’t really count that as a party) but I still have party dreams. I grabbed this easy base recipe recently from Food 52 and made a small amount, adapting it to imagine I was making a much larger batch for some notional Halloween party. My version is really yummy, and I’ve certainly given you enough lead time if you want to make it yourself for All Hallow’s E’en.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a little more for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sliced small mushrooms
1 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated orange cheddar cheese
1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella
2 tablespoons sour cream, thinned a little with lime juice or water, for drizzling
2 tablespoons spicy honey, preferably from a squeeze bottle
1/2 cup halved small black olives, plus more if desired

Hearty crackers, tortilla chips, or hunks of crusty bread for serving


Heat oven to 475°F. 

Set a 10-inch high–heat safe skillet over a medium flame. Add butter. When it has melted, add the onion and salt. Sauté the onion, moving it around only every so often, until it’s soft and golden brown and just beginning to caramelize in places, about 5 to 8 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add the mushrooms. Sauté another minute or so until they’re soft and have shrunk a bit. 

Add the grated cheeses, and mix thoroughly with the onion and mushroom. Transfer the skillet to the oven, and bake a few minutes until cheese is bubbling. Turn on the broiler and broil for just a minute or two, until cheese is browned in spots across the top—watch closely to make sure it doesn’t burn!

Remove from the oven. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the cheese. Very carefully, because it will be hot hot hot, transfer to a bowl that can take the heat. With any luck your dip will be orange-ish, especially the parts near the browning. Then, drizzle the top with spicy honey and sour cream. Be artistic and draw a witch’s face in profile or a couple of ghosts or a haunted castle or just write Happy Halloween. Dot with the olives so the overall effect is black and orange. Serve with sturdy chips, crackers, or bread.

Author’s note: This, believe it or not, was dinner, because I made less than is written here but still a little too much for it to be an appetizer, and it was that tasty. 



  1. I should have mentioned: In the original recipe you take the dip out of the oven and drizzle and serve from the skillet. I guess you’re meant to leave this on the stove or something and not be creative and let everyone dig in. No. What I did was as described above because it’s more fun, even if your FYCE-prompted faux Halloween party consists of Two and a Half Men, and the Half Man has four legs and a ravenous appetite.

      • Oh, he’ll try to eat anything, like any hound would, but for him on this faux-Halloween/self-designed FYCE project I scooped out a little of the mixture, just maybe 1 tbsp. (who am I kidding, 2 generous tbsp.), before the drizzling and the olives, and smeared it on his kibble. You shouldn’t really give a dog onions but in very small doses and cooked, not raw, not so bad.

        I say this as someone whose previous dog lived so far beyond her breed’s normal lifespan that when she died the Director of our vet practice asked to donate her organs and other remains to his alma mater for further study. We agreed, of course. We are hoping for the same for the now elderly, for his breed, Faithful Hound. His diet, like hers, is at least 50% modified human food and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. I wish his Deadsplinter-contributing manservant could say the same.

        • Our dog will literally eat crap but also turns up her nose at cat food and various human food too. We’ve had dogs that eat fruit and veggies happily, but this one won’t, won’t eat regular chicken and rice, but then will go to town on potatoes. Helps cut down on counter surfing, so that’s good, and she’s never fussy about dog food, which is convenient.

          • The current hound won’t turn his nose up at anything, but I know in my head there’s tons of stuff I can’t/shouldn’t feed him or any other dog. We both grew up with dogs so we kind of learned from our parents (who also grew up with dogs) what will cause GI distress and what won’t. Basically if you put any dog on a keto diet supplanted with lots of dairy (cheese, yogurt, but not milk for some reason) they’ll be very happy.

            My other rule of thumb is, what would their wolverine ancestors have eaten in the forests 10,000 years ago? Again, meat, but probably not mushrooms, because they’re not boars and they wouldn’t have foraged for them unless they were desperate.

            All our dogs have loved potatoes, which they wouldn’t have known about 10,000 years ago, it being a Western Hemisphere import, but not raw. Where the cheese comes from I don’t know, because it’s not like cheese wheels were dropping off trees in the Teutoburg Forest, and the same with unflavored non-additive yogurt. And peanut butter, another Western Hemisphere introduction that dogs can’t seem to get enough of. These last three are vet-recommended (I think that’s still the case) but I can’t think why.

            A million years ago, when we had our first dog, she developed a lump on the side of her stomach, under the rib cage, and I thought the worst. I walked her over to the nearest vet in my then-new neighborhood and this absolute lunatic (I should have known by the whole “vibe” of the office and her, let’s say, non-traditional medical gear) advised me that it was probably cancer and I should switch her over to a plant-based diet, added by supplements which she sold, which would heal the cancer naturally. I thought this was weird, so I left that Heaven’s Gate office and bundled the dog (a small terrier) into a cab and went to the Animal Medical Center. The vet there said, “Your dog has a cyst and if you want I can remove it right now but it’s not causing your dog any pain, is it? And by the way, who diagnosed this dog with cancer?” Marianne Williamson, or whatever her name was, had given me her card so I handed it over and within weeks her storefront was empty and it was replaced by, you guessed it, a shop selling crystals and healing oils geared toward gullible humans, not defenseless animals. That too closed down within weeks, because there were a lot of whack-jobs in my neighborhood but not enough to support such an enterprise.

            Ah, the early 90s, I miss it so.

  2. Dip looks great. Unlike your lovely hound, one of the Cheweenies has a *sensitive* stomach. I am on type 3 of very special food to avoid the dreaded yellow tummy juice puke experience. He’s been on white meat of chicken for a week, so is doing better, As a socialist Dogatariate, all dogs get the same food. I image the others saying “come on, Bill, puke – we want the good chicken dinner this week”.

    • Oh I’ve been there, sister. You poach the chicken in unsalted water and then serve it up with plain white rice? I’ve done this many a time in the past with all of our dogs. In solidarity I’ve eaten this along with them, but I would always top mine/ours with heavily marinated stir-fried vegetables, to make it taste like something.

Leave a Reply