Two Super Tasty Appetizers and Downton Abbey

I needed to made an appetizer for a party and I remembered a great cookbook I bought back in 1997 – Soap Opera Cafe by Robin Mattson. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, let me give you a little hint.

She had an evil twin named Janet. She often talked to herself in the mirror (don’t we all?).

Give up? She played Natalie and Janet from another planet on All My Children.

I met Robin at a book signing and she was so very kind to me and my daughter. The bonus was that her cookbook, based on healthy eating, was really good.

Take a look at the recipes below and give them a try.

It’s no secret that I’m still mourning the loss of All My Children. However, Dowton Abbey (thanks to my parents for the recommendation) has been some consolation.

Not only that, I could count on a good workout for two hours on Sunday nights when it was on last season. The only thing was I had to have the TV volume at the highest level to hear over the treadmill and to understand what the actors were saying.

After each episode I found myself talking with a British accent for a three to four-hour span and I’ve asked my kids to refer to me and my husband as Ma’ma and Pa’pa and my mother as Grandma’ma.

(Didn’t Morticia call Gomez’s mother “Grandma’ma” in The Adams Family? They were so European.)

I was really surprised when the Dowton Abbey season finale didn’t end with a cliffhanger. For the most part, loose ends were neatly tied.  No who shot JR?, or who killed Trevor and stuffed his body in the freezer?, or who is _____’s (fill in name) Babydaddy? Those Brits….they are a tidy bunch.

I’ve heard a new Dallas is coming this Summer. In the words of Mary, I’m gonna make it after all.

Black Bean Dip*

My kids had a few comments about this photo, but it really is good!


1 15-can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup diced chopped Vidalia onion

1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon slat

1/3 cup sour cream (also tastes good if you use low-fat)

Combine all the ingredients, except the sour cream, in a food processor and mix well. Add sour cream and blend until smooth. Place in a dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fresh Herb and Garlic Cream Cheese Spread*

This has a slight green tint to it so it could be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!


1/4 cup fresh parsley sprigs

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

1 1.2 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh chives

1 12-oz container whipped cream cheese

3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 black pepper

1/4 salt

Place the parsley, basil and chives in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add cream cheese, feta cheese, garlic, and pepper and puree until smooth. Spoon into a dish, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Note: if you don’t have these fresh herbs, you can substitute dried dill for the basil and scallion greens for the chives. Also, to save a few calories, you can use low-fat cream cheese and feta and it still tastes great.)

*Serve the black bean dip and cream cheese spread with pita chips. You can find the pita chip recipe here.

2 thoughts on “Two Super Tasty Appetizers and Downton Abbey”

  1. DEFINITELY have to second Kaley and Jake’s critique of the photo. Doesn’t really do the great sounding recipe justice. 🙂 Oh well.

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