Finger foods, appetizers, antipasto, h'orderves... whatever you call them, one thing is for sure: EVERYONE loves them. What's not to love about a snack before a meal? Sometimes an appetizer is so good, you want to eat it in place of your meal. I thoroughly enjoy a good party or reception with small bites as far as the eye can see. The only problem with that kind of spread is deciding how to fit one of everything on those tiny little plates... but I digress.


Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for a new drool-worthy appetizer recipe to add to my repertoire. While flipping through the pages of the March issue of Coastal Living, I came across the holy grail of appetizers: Shrimp-and-Andouille Gumbo Dip. New Orleans-style gumbo is one of my favorite things in the world, so right off the bat, the name sold me. After skimming the ingredient list, I concluded that there was no way a spicy, creamy, panko-topped, seafood and sausage dip could turn out badly and boy was I right!


The most time-consuming part of making this recipe was getting the ingredients prepped. After everything was peeled, chopped, grated or measured, it was a breeze to bring together. You can cook all the ingredients for the dip together in one 10" cast iron skillet.


The sausage goes in first, then the veggies, shrimp and lastly, the cheeses. Once everything is cooked and mixed, you just top with the panko-butter mixture and throw it under the broiler for a minute to get it browned and bubbly. We had friends over for dinner so I got the dip totally ready and broiled it when they arrived so it would come out of the oven at the perfect temp.


The recipe suggests veggie strips, crackers or sliced baguette as dippers, but I opted for fresh Italian bread that I cut into pieces and toasted. It served as a good vehicle for the dip when chips broke under the weight of all that deliciousness. I served this dip before a main course of grilled salmon, brown rice and roasted asparagus but it easily stole the supper spotlight. Between four of us, we had it wiped out in record time. Take that suggested serving size!

Even with high expectations, I was seriously impressed with how terrific this dish came out. It truly ranks as one of the best dips I have ever made or tasted! Give this tempting recipe a try yourself and be sure to share your own adventures with us on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #CookWithConfidence.