We didn't serve a meal at Ben's birthday party, but we had snacks. I made marinated cheese, strawberry fruit dip with strawberries and grapes, a mix of cheddar, pretzel, saltine, and multi-colored goldfish (to fit the water theme), and this dip from the Barefoot Contessa. It's an amped-up version of the old onion soup mix/sour cream version: richer and infinitely more flavorful.
Once again, though - it's rich! But that just means you'll eat less of it (truly). Isn't that what we say is the correct approach to eating - a little bit of something you love rather than a whole lot of something okay? It would certainly be fine to sub lower-fat dairy products and to offer vegetables along with chips. We're thinking the leftovers would taste good as a sandwich spread.
Be sure to caramelize the onions- they should be golden and brown - not pale, and not black. If you double the recipe (recommended unless you have a small group), cook the onions in two batches.
Pan-Fried Onion Dip (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
2 large yellow onions
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (can reduce by 1-2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
Cut the onions in half and then slice them into 1/8-inch thick half-rounds. (You will have about 3 cups of onions.) Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions, cayenne, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 more minutes until the onions are browned and caramelized. Drain and allow the onions to cool. Chop onions roughly (I used kitchen shears).
Place the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or bowl and hand mixer and beat until smooth. Add the onions and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.