Better Than Applebee’s

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

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Referred to Martha Stewart’s Hot Spinach Dip recipe

Ingredients

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for sautéing and to coat baking dish)

1 medium sized Vidalia onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

18 oz (2 9 oz bags) fresh spinach

5 or 6 (about 1/2 a can) artichoke hearts, washed and drained

Light margarine (to add to spinach and artichoke sauté)

1/2 cup water (to add to spinach and artichoke sauté)

1/4 cup milk (any type, or can substitute heavy cream)

8 oz (1 bar) 1/3 less fat Philadelphia cream cheese

4 oz (or about 1 hefty spoonful) Breakstone sour cream (can substitute reduced fat or fat free)

Hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Worcestershire sauce, to taste (optional)

Salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 cup (Kraft) Italian shredded cheese (1 cup for mixture and 1/2 cup to top)

Tostitos Scoops! tortilla chips

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a 8×8 glass baking dish. A ceramic dish would also work fine.

2. In a large skillet or sauce pan (or a medium sized pot), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, just until glossy, before they brown. Then add minced garlic. Cook for a total of 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add artichoke hearts and cook for about 2 minutes. Then add spinach in four additions, adding a bit of water after each addition. Finish with a dollop of margarine.

4. Drain spinach and artichoke sauté in a strainer or colander (this step is optional, it would be fine to add the sauté drippings to the mixture, and would certainly taste delicious).

5. In the same saucepan, heat milk over medium to low heat. Whisk in cream cheese and sour cream. Be careful not to burn the mixture or let it curdle.

6. Toss in spinach and artichoke mixture, in addition to salt, pepper, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in Italian cheeses.

7. Add contents to oiled glass dish, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or put on low broil for about 10, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

8. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Substitutions:

  • Can use frozen spinach instead of fresh (thawed and drained)
  • Serve with baguette slices or crackers of choice

Verdict: Being that this was the first time this recipe was attempted without following any exact directions, it was delicious! Creamy, with just the right amount of artichoke to spinach ratio, this dip will definitely serve as a great appetizer for a party or a cheesy snack. The only thing I thought should be done differently would be to put in more hot sauce, to give it some extra heat. Otherwise, this dip certainly turned out better than expected, but I cannot complain about that!

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*Second Edition*

When made a second time, I used:

2 1/2 (9 oz) bags of spinach

1 full can artichokes, drained

all heavy cream (substituted for milk)

Verdict: much heartier than last time, but the extra spinach and artichoke was spot on!

Happy Barbecue Month!

Happy May!

May is barbecue month and to take advantage of this beautiful spring time weather while it lasts, I will attempt to barbecue as much as possible! I absolutely love to grill, and although I do not eat meat, one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables is to fire up the propane or charcoal and allow it work its magic.

In honor of this special time of year, I will share one of my absolute favorite dishes to make…

Grilled Eggplant with Provolone and Red Onions

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Eggplant gets an entirely underrated and misconstrued reputation. That may be because it is usually not made properly. I have learned that if you want your vegetables to TASTE good, they need to LOOK good. And I do not mean that in the realms of food having to look neatly plated in order to devour it, I am talking about in the sense of BUYING produce that looks HAPPY. Sounds a bit foolish, but give it a go next time you are picking out fruits or vegetables. If they look sad, skip by it. If it warms your heart and catches your eye – do not hesitate, it will taste good and you will be satisfied.

This recipe is simple, but it is delicious. I have made it for a few people who never tried eggplant, and those who have always had a bad experience eating eggplant. Well, fear no more! This recipe will give you an entirely new perspective, and a new dish, surrounding this purple “fruit”.

How to tell if an eggplant is ripe: (also includes some fun trivia and knowledge on this “mad apple”)

http://www.helium.com/items/1786217-how-to-know-when-an-eggplant-is-ripe

Ingredients:

Baby Eggplant (or a purple of your choice), 1/2 inch slices (keep skin on)

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (I used Lucini’s cherry balsamic)

Salt

Black pepper

Fat-free Sargento Provolone cheese

Red onion, sliced

Directions: 

1. Wash the eggplant and cut off the stems and bottoms. Slice the eggplant into at least 1/2 inch slices (up to about 1 inch). You do not want them to be too thick or they will take longer to cook.

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2. Combine EVOO, balsamic, salt and black pepper (just a dash for seasoning) in a small to medium sized bowl.

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3. Dunk each slice of eggplant into the oil marinade. Once they are covered (front and back), let them sit for a few minutes to allow the oil and balsamic to soak into the eggplant.

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4. Lit up the grill or a sautee pan (with a bit of oil) and allow each side to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender. If grilling, you want to see grill marks before flipping them. The red onion can be put on the grill with the eggplant as well. Give the onion slices about 5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness.

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5. Once the eggplant is tender, with grill marks on both sides, cover each slice with provolone cheese, or some cheese of preference. Once the cheese is melted, and the onion is grilled, you are ready to take it off the grill and enjoy!

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I personally love to eat this eggplant with ketchup, but it alone, even without being smothered in gooey cheese, is delicious.

To fancy it up, you can lather the eggplant up with some BBQ sauce of your choice.

This recipe also makes a great substitute for a burger or portabello mushroom sandwich. This eggplant recipe is also the same one I use for my Eggplant Parmigiana. Just add sauce!