Super Bowl Super Dips

pan fried onion dip2

I am trying to decide which one of my favorite party dips will make the Super Bowl cut this year– definitely something with cheese.

I am including a new recipe for Pan-Fried Onion Dip courtesy of the Barefoot Contessa in tonight’s post, and the recipe is followed by photos with links to my other favorite party dip recipe posts. Please leave a comment to vote for the Super Bowl dip recipe TheRoomMom should serve this Sunday. If you vote for the winning dip choice, you will have the satisfaction of the knowing that you made TheRoomDad (aka my husband) very happy.


  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 t. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream (or a little more)
  • 1/2 c. good mayonnaise (or a little less)

carmelizing onions


  • Cut the onions in half, and then slice them into 1/8-inch-thick-half-rounds. (You should have about 3 cups of onions.)
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large sautee pan on medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and sautee for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and carmelized.
  • Allow the onions to cool. I scooped mine out of the pan with a slotted spoon and let cool on a couple of layers of paper towel on a plate.
  • Place the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings.
  • Serve at room temperature with kettle cooked potato chips, pretzel sticks, or veggies.

Black Bean Salsa Dip

Black Bean Salsa Dip

hot artichoke dip

Hot Artichoke Dip

I recently tweaked this recipe, and I love the new combination. I especially like the blue corn tortilla chips, but it is also good with mini party rye slices.

bacon almond cheese dip w cracker

Bacon Almond Cheddar Dip

This meets the cheese criteria, and it has crumbled bacon. It is a classic!

dill dip in bread bowl w veggies

Dill Dip

I scoop out the center of a round loaf of bread to use as a serving dish and surround with carrots, celery, red and yellow peppers, pita chips, and pretzel dipping sticks.

sun dried tomato dip

Sun Dried Tomato Dip

The best raw veggie for this dip is definitely sugar snap peas.


Matchbox Valentines

group matchbox valentines

If you have seen the American Girl or the Bitty Cupcakes post, you may already suspect that I am partial to mini things. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to mini things. Last year, I was visiting Sewing Sister and discovered a mini matchbox Valentine that my nieces made. I have been hanging on to that idea ever since, and I am happy to report that we will be sending mini matchbox Valentines this year. As usual, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby are reporting increased sales.

matchbox valentines with candies


  • small matchboxes (I found bricks of 10 at the grocery store)
  • festive scrapbook paper
  • glue stick(s)
  • paper cutter or scissors
  • craft scissors with the fancy cutting edge
  • baker’s twine
  • decorative brads and mini screwdriver (optional)
  • mini candies (mini M&Ms, candy hearts, chocolate covered sunflower seeds…)

matchbox and scrapbook paper


  • Measure the width of the matchbox and cut strips of scrapbook paper to match width (my matchboxes were 2 1/4″ wide). I own a paper cutter, and if you want these kinds of projects to look good, you should invest in one too.
  • Wrap one cut strip around box to get the length. The paper should overlap across the top about 1/4″ to 1/2″ (my strips were ~4 1/2″ long).

matchbox and fancy scissors

  • Using the fancy craft scissors, cut the end of the paper to the needed length.
  • Smear glue on the back of the scrapbook paper and begin wrapping around the box. Make sure you wrap so the inner box still slides out. Begin gluing the plain end of the scrapbook paper to the top of the box, press the paper around the sides, and glue down the fancy end to the top of the box last, overlapping the starter end, as it comes back around to the top of the box.

matchbox and brad

  • OPTIONAL PART: Remove the inner box. Using the little screwdriver, gently drill a hole in the center of the top of the box. Push the prongs of the brad through the hole and flatten brads to attach to the box. Carefully slide inner box back into the outer part of the matchbox.

matchbox valentine with candy

  • Fill box with mini candies. (This is the part Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars get to do. After all, the Valentines are for their friends.)

matchbox valentine with bow

  • Cut a piece of baker’s twine. If you do not have the brad, wrap the baker’s twine around the matchbox like a Christmas present. If you opted to use a brad, fold your piece of twine in half and wrap the loop over the top of the brad. Pull both ends of the string around the box covering the sliding ends of the matchbox. Wrap the loose ends around the brad again the way you would close an interoffice mail envelope.

matchbox and string

matchbox valentines with brad

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Dinner with Friends

parmesan bowl with salad

We tried to have an adult dinner with another couple at a restaurant Saturday night, but I struck out with babysitters. We moved to Plan B, which was to meet at our house and park Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss in front of a movie upstairs. Our friends offered to bring salad, and Mrs. Friend showed up with Parmesan Salad Bowls. Holy Pinterest! According to Mrs. Friend, they are pretty simple to make. She did say it took one or two tries to get the hang of the thickness of the cheese.

parmesan salad bowl


  • 2 c. freshly grated Parmesan (1/4 c. per bowl)
  • large non-stick skillet
  • small bowl the desired size of the final cheese bowl (about a 6-inch diameter)


  • Spread 1/4 cup cheese thinly and evenly over the bottom of the skillet to form a (roughly) 7-inch circle.
  • Put the pan over medium heat and cook until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Put the bowl upside down on a cutting board. When the cheese stops bubbling,  lift the cheese pancake out with a metal spatula and drape over the bottom of the bowl. With the spatula, gently mold the cheese around the bowl.
  • Let cool.
  • Carefully remove from the top of the bowl. Can be stored in an airtight container. Do not fill with salad until ready to serve.

Parmesan Crackers

  • You can also scoop 1 T. piles of Parmesan on a cookie sheet with a silicon baking mat and bake until browned and bubbly (350 degrees about 6 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool. Serve these little cheese crackers as a tasty appetizer bite.

My dessert was not nearly as fancy as the salad bowls. I served Banana Peanut Ice Cream Sundaes. I think my mom created this combination years ago when she was craving a banana split. The salty/sweet is perfect. It is always enjoyed, easy to make, and requires little prep. If you put it in a wine goblet, you can give the impression of fancy!

banana peanut sundaes2


  • good vanilla ice cream (I like Haagen Dazs)
  • sliced bananas
  • peanuts, lightly salted
  • chocolate sauce


  • Put two scoops of ice cream in bowl.
  • Sprinkle with banana slices and peanuts.
  • Drizzle with chocolate sauce. Serve.

banana peanut sundae close2

Ready to Research?

research folder

Each year, I approach my 4th grade non-fiction unit with equal parts excitement and dread. I am excited because along with my students, I always learn something new about an American business founder. I dread the unit because it involves a research paper, and it takes all of my teacher super powers not to jam a child into his locker when he looks up at me and says, “I’ve read EVERYTHING and there is no information about Henry Ford.” Fortunately, I also teach common prefixes, so I can calmly remind the student that REsearch means search again.

Coaching these kids through their first research essay is a good thing, and they acquire so many skills because of it. As much as the process pains me, I repeat it every year. I have used this research system with 4th grade, 6th grade, and 9th grade. It works for every age on any topic in almost every subject area.

Prepping the Research

Before letting kids loose on the Internet to find facts, focus on some sub-topics. In my classroom, students write 3-5 open ended questions they will try to answer. Parents, if you are working with a child at home, brainstorm some sub-topics to give the research a direction.

  • An opened ended question is one that requires multiple sentences to answer. Instead of asking, “When did Ruth Handler sell the first Barbie doll?” ask, “How did Ruth Handler get the idea for a Barbie doll?”
  • Use the 3-5 questions or sub-topics for research. Now, every time a student opens an article, he will be trying to answer one of his questions. Rather than writing random facts, students are actively searching for information that is related to a specific idea about the main topic. In addition, the questions provide key words to help narrow Internet searches and make the research more efficient.
  • The idea is that a student tries to answer all of his questions with one source. Then, the child tries to answer the same questions with a new source. Repeat with a third source. If the child is getting the same information in all 3 sources, it is reliable information. If a student can’t answer any question, he moves on to a fourth source… or a fifth. I have been known to repeat the fact that websites and reference books will not have big red arrows and highlighted words pointing to the exact information someone might need. A student might have to summarize, interpret, and infer reading material. The information will not be provided in the same tidy way as a textbook.

student ben and jerrys research folder

The Research Folder

Create a way for students to contain all of their information, so it does not get lost traveling from school to the locker to home.

  • Give students a manila folder with pockets to hold notecards. Seal business envelopes, cut them in half with a paper cutter, and glue them to the envelope. I also print a short list of Internet reference links and sample bibliography formats, which we glue to the folder as well.
  • Students write each question or sub-topic on one pocket. Any time a student finds a fact related to one question, they write the note on the notecard and store it in the appropriate envelope. Now all related notes are grouped together in a handy carry case.

research folder A notes

Sources and Bibliography

This is very difficult for my students since it is their first serious attempt at a bibliography. Having the pre-printed bibliography page with samples pasted to the manila folder helps.

  • As students take notes, they must record the source at the same time. Do not put a source away (or click it closed) without writing the information needed for a bibliography.
  • Code all notecards from one source with some sort of symbol or letter. All “A” cards would relate to one source. Or, all cards with a star would relate to one source.

research folder bibliography

Taking Notes

I have to model note taking for my students, and we practice before the project starts. You may not have to go through this step, but it is still a good idea to give some reminders about note taking. I have a few rules I ask the kids to follow.

  • Never write more than one line at a time. This reduces plagiarism since students can’t copy large chunks of text. They must summarize and re-word to fit information into one line at a time.
  • Never write a word on a notecard you do not understand. Look up the unfamiliar word, write a synonym, or explain the word.
  • Avoid Wikipedia if at all possible. Anyone can post information on Wikipedia, so it is not always reliable. Kids like to go there first and then quit. I tell my students that Wikipedia is off limits (audible groans detected immediately).

research folder A notes2

Preparing the Paper

If students have sufficient notes, the paper is easy to organize.

  • If students are taking notes related to the questions or sub-topics, notes will be organized and ready to be translated into paragraphs as part of an essay. The organization happens while researching rather than having to sort notecards later and hope that central ideas emerge from the pile of notes.
  • Create an introductory paragraph using the open ended questions or subtopics. Those ideas become the body sentences for the first paragraph.
  • Notes from the first pocket will create the 2nd paragraph that follows the intro and so on.
  • If any extra fun facts are collected, incorporate those into the first or last paragraph.
  • This is a good time to practice or introduce Transition Words

research sample paragraphs

My system is by no means foolproof, but it is more efficient than the way I learned to prepare a research paper. To purchase my Non-Fiction Business Unit with the full research paper directions CLICK HERE.

research folder notecards in pocket

Pizza Bread

slice pizza bread

It was our turn again in the kindergarten snack rotation. This time I talked Miss Priss into pizza bread. Our dear neighbor friend has a dear longtime friend who brings a batch of this stuff every time she visits. I love it, and it tastes great at room temperature. I thought it would be a good kindergarten snack that would appeal to all kinds of different eaters (that is code for picky).

If you missed the dill dip post, I will update you about our snack dilemmas. My daughter eats lunch at 10 am and has a snack each day at noon. Since the snack is at normal people lunchtime, I always feel obligated to send in something a little more substantial than a graham cracker when it is our turn to provide snack. My daughter disagrees. She wants me to send in a tiny bag of pretzels like all of the other kids. I don’t want to be like all of the other kids. Disregarding the damage I may be doing to my daughter’s school image, I moved ahead with the pizza bread.

ready dough


  • Ready-Dough*, thawed only– not raised (available in the grocery store freezer section) 
  • turkey pepperoni cut into slivers
  • shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese

* If you can’t locate Ready-Dough, use Pillsbury French Bread in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

assembling pizza bread


  • Flatten the thawed Ready-Dough out into a rectangle on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Try to press it out as close to the edges as possible without ripping holes in the dough. If using Pillsbury French Bread, unroll and press out the same way.
  • Sprinkle a generous amount of cheese down the center of the dough. Top with the slivered pepperoni.
  • Fold the sides of the dough into the center like you are folding a business letter. Pinch the ends together.
  • Flip the loaf, so it is seam side down on the cookie sheet and bake according to the package directions for pizza (400 degrees about 15 minutes).
  • Let cool slightly and slice. Serve warm or at room temperature.

folding pizza bread


  • If you are sending pizza bread to school for snack, make up the loaves, put on cookie sheets, cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, wake up 20 minutes early and put loaves in the oven. Get in the shower while the bread is cooking. Pull out of the oven and let cool. Slice and arrange in a large tupperware. Get as close to room temperature as possible before putting the lid on the tupperware. Send a note to the teachers letting them know to keep snack at room temperature until serving and to NOT refrigerate.
  • If you are taking to a tailgate, follow the school snack serving directions above.
  • If you are taking to a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house, bake the bread at your house, let cool, and wrap completely in tin foil. Re-heat in the tin foil at the friend’s house and serve hot. Set out a dish of marinara sauce for dipping!

pizza bread slices