First up, the savory top-picks (and I apologize in advance for the recipes that are missing a photo--which is almost all of them--I completely lacked the forethought to take pictures last month when I served them up):
Layered Pizza Dip
1 container (8 oz) chives-and-onion cream cheese spread
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup pepperoni, finely chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Bagel chips or cubes/slices of French bread
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grab yourself an ungreased 9-inch glass pie pan or shallow glass baking dish (1 qt. size). Spread the cream cheese on the bottom of the pan. Top with the pizza sauce. Then (I'm sure you can see where this is going, but I'll tell you anyway) layer the pepper, pepperoni, and cheeses on top of the sauce. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You could also microwave it if you are trying to avoid turning the oven on. If so, heat 1-3 minutes or until just hot and cheese is melted, not a roiling (or is it "rolling?") boil.
Serve warm with bagel chips or fresh (soft) French bread slices (although chunks is more accurate. Because have you ever tried to thinly slice fresh French bread without mutilating it? Yeah, we gave up on the slices and just cut it into small hunks for dipping. Still tastes the same, even if not as pleasing to the eye).
Cheesy Bacon Spread
1 pkg. (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives or scallions
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8 slices bacon, cooked until crisp
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the food processor (I typed that in there because that's what my recipe says, but I always do it by hand because I try to avoid cleaning my food processor at all costs), combine cream cheese and mayo until smooth. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese mixture with the cheddar, chives or scallions, parsley, and garlic powder until well combined. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of a 9-inch glass pie plate or shallow baking dish.
Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut the fully cooked bacon into small pieces (or crumble with your fingers) and garnish the top of the cheese spread. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.
Coming up tomorrow: Marinated Cheese Squares and Greek Tomato Chillers (neither require heating up your house to make -- Yay!)