Post #2 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …
I have to combine some of my favorite things or I’m not going to fit them all in five posts!
I am quite taken with appetizers … little bites … dips … party food! Also I looove seafood … although I don’t cook it that often, since we are quite land-locked and it is difficult to get good seafood here. Unless you count walleye, silver bass, northern pike … THAT is quite attainable in these parts. But I made an exception for this special occasion and splurged on some seafood. Shrimp and crab … ah yes!
This yummy dip also features wine. And cheese. Another two of my foodie flavor loves. And a few veggies, because veggies and I are buddies too.
Let’s put this all together, shall we? Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you … it’s really quite a simple dip. You will be popping it in the oven to heat up in no time … it’s also great as a make-ahead-and-pull-it-out-and-bake-at-serving-time dip.
Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons of Chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed, with the moisture squeezed out of it
- 1/2 cup white beans (great northern or cannelini beans)
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded Romano cheese (or other sharp, hard cheese like Parmesan)
- 1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (or other soft, melty cheese like Swiss)
- 1 Tablespoon (or more) of fresh snipped dill weed (or 1 teaspoon of dried dill)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 6-oz. can of crab meat, drained (or 4.25 oz. of fresh crab meat)
- 1/3 cup of pre-cooked shrimp, chopped fine (I used medium frozen shrimp, but you could use any size … if yours are fresh, pre-cook them a little before adding them)
Toppings: a bit of extra shredded Romano and/or gouda cheese, some crushed crackers or breadcrumbs, and some chopped fresh chives and/or dill
- In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the wine and worcestershire sauce and sautee until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the spinach, white beans, light mayonnaise, and light cream cheese. Whir until well pureed and everything is a fine paste. If the mixture is too thick, add the lemon juice as well and maybe even the yogurt.
- Now in a medium-sized bowl, mix the sauteed veggies, the pureed mixture, and the remaining ingredients except for the toppings.
- Spray an oven proof bowl or small casserole with cooking spray and pour the dip into the bowl. Spread it with a spatula till it’s flat, then sprinkle with extra cheese and crushed crackers or bread crumbs.
- Bake at 400 for 10 – 20 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted. Top with the fresh chives and/or dill before serving. It is good to put a shrimp on top to clue everyone in on what they can expect from this luscious dip!
Serve with crackers, toasted pita or bagel chips or vegies. (You can also put it in a mini-crockpot at a party to keep it warm.)
This is even better if you make the dip ahead of time and let the flavors meld overnight (or longer) in the fridge, then pull it out, top it and bake it just before you serve it.
This recipe was shared at Midweek Fiesta, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked Whole Foods Recipe Swap, Tastetastic Thursdays, Full Plate Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Strut your Stuff Saturdays.
Yesterday my little blog reached a new milestone: 5,000 “likes” on my facebook page. I was so excited I took a screenshot! … I have met sooo many wonderful foodie friends through this blog. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey for me. My foodie friends take me on culinary journeys all over the world, but not only that, they lift me up when I am down, they always have a cheery good morning and a good night, a cup of hot coffee, and oh the amazing foods we share. We have parties together, share stories, food, music, drinks … They are my inspiration, but more than that, they are my friends … I want to do something to celebrate and thank all of you but I wasn’t quite sure what to do. One of my friends suggested “5 different things” … we tossed around some ideas for that … at first I was thinking party foods, but I think I will go with 5 favorite foods.
First of Five Favorites: Salad. One of my very favorite foods is salad. I loooove salad! I think I could eat salad every day. Salads are often meals for me. I dress them up with all sorts of things, and I love to make my own salad dressings. And I love sharing my salads with my foodie friends.
For this salad, I wanted to do something like an Italian Bread Salad with my sunflower spinach parmesan bread, but I didn’t follow a recipe. This salad just sort of “happened”, like a lot of recipes in my kitchen do. I just wing it. Most of the time it turns out pretty good. This one was really good, but I’ll warn you it’s super garlicky. Personally I like that. One of the things I want to do before I die is to get to the garlic festival in Gilroy, CA. I already have two garlic cookbooks from there and they are very well used. We drove through Gilroy once. You can smell the amazing garlic from inside the car. For a couple minutes, our car smelled like an Italian kitchen. I bet everyone in Gilroy cooks with a LOT of garlic. I think I’d fit right in …
Bread and White Bean Salad with Feta & Basil
Makes 1 “meal-sized” salad or 2-3 side salads. Multiple if you are cooking for more people!
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 2 slices of french bread or Sunflower Spinach Parmesan Bread
- 1/2 cup cooked Great Northern, Cannellini or other white beans
- 2 whole canned tomatoes
- Granulated garlic
- Red Robin seasoning (or seasoned salt)
- Italian seasoning
- Mixed greens
- Red onions, thinly sliced
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Fresh basil leaves
- Sunflower seeds, toasted
- Lowfat garlic ranch dressing (I used this one) … or I think a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette would be nice on this salad too …
- In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and granulated garlic. Cut the bread into cubes, and brush lightly with the olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 – 10 minutes or until the bread is toasted and crunchy.
- While the croutons are baking, put the beans in a small bowl and crush the tomatoes over them, allowing the juices to drip into the beans, then add the tomatoes. Season to taste with garlic, Red Robin seasoning and Italian seasoning. Heat the beans in the microwave or a small pan till they are hot.
- Assemble the salad: in a salad bowl, toss the greens with the onions, beans, and croutons. Sprinkle with feta, basil leaves, and sunflower seeds and drizzle with the dressing.
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There are some recipes that just come to you in a sudden flash and the first time you make them they are absolutely fantabulous the very first time you make them.
There are others that take a lot of work, several iterations, sometimes months or even years to perfect. Your tasters get tired of tasting and you get tired of trying to find ways to reuse the “failures”. My Philly Cheesesteak French Dip recipe was one of those. I don’t know how many pounds of meat I went through before I got that one right! Each version was certainly edible, but not quite up to the flavor-filled goodness I wanted.
This dip recipe was another one of THOSE. I know there are plenty of spinach artichoke dips out there–and yes, I had one that I REALLY liked, but still it was laden with fat from all the cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise. ( I tried some of the “light” versions and they just didn’t have the right creamy cheese-ilicious taste.) In fact, the health experts tell you that Spinach Artichoke Dip is one of the foods to AVOID at holiday parties because it’s one of the most fattening (and misleading!) appetizers that people serve at parties.
You don’t have to avoid this one. I admit, it still does have fat from the cheese, but I used small amounts of good strong flavorful cheeses, so you get the cheesey taste without as much fat. And I added some cannellini beans–they add creaminess, protein, fiber, and flavor. I skipped the sour cream and used fat free greek yogurt instead. Oh, and I included the Chardonnay Mushrooms. They were just begging to join in the party.
And yes, they fit right in.
The Perfect Spinach Artichoke Dip (with Chardonnay Mushrooms)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 of a medium-sized onion
- 1/3 c. Chardonnay mushrooms (recipe is here)
- 1/2 of a 15-oz. can of canellini beans, drained (reserve the juice in case you need it for blending)
- 1 c. cooked spinach (roughly … you can add more if you like!)
- 3 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 6 oz. fat-free greek yogurt
- 1/2 of a 15-oz. container of artichokes, chopped with a knife into small pieces
- 1 T. loose blue cheese crumbles
- 1/4 c. freshly shredded asiago cheese
- 1/4 c. freshly shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 – 2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
- 1/4 c. light mayonnaise
- A bit of part-skim mozzarella cheese and a few chopped cherry tomatoes
- Toss the garlic, onion, and mushrooms in your handi chopper or food processor and process till they are just little pieces. Take them out and put them in the mixing bowl where you’ll be whooshing together your dip.
- Next take your spinach, put it in the processor to chop it up fine, then blot out the extra moisture with a clean towel. Add it to the bowl
- Now take the cannellini beans and process them in your food processor until they are a smooth soft paste. Add some liquid from the can if you need to. Pour the beans in your handy dandy mixing bowl.
- Now add all the other ingredients and mix them up with a spoon in the bowl until everything is nicely mixed.
- Pour your dip into a baking dish or casserole, top with a bit of shredded cheese and tomatoes to make it look pretty, then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it’s all hot and bubbly.
- Serve with bread, toasted tortillas, bagel chips, or vegies for dipping. Ordinary tortilla chips are not quite strong enough to stand up to this dish.
Another pretty way to serve this dip is in a bread bowl. Heat the dip, then pour into a hollowed out bread bowl with the chunks of bread for dipping. When I serve it this way, the entire thing usually gets eaten up, bowl and all!
The Realistic Nutritionist reminded me this morning that this dip also makes a great pizza!
This dip is totally addicting! If you bring it to a party, all your friends will totally love you … even more than they already do. Yes, really. Just make sure if you’re going to kiss any of them that they eat the dip too.
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.
This is day 5 of my challenge to blog every day in October about connections through food. Starting a food blog was simply a way to share my cooking creativity … and when I started I had no idea what wonderful places and fantastic friends this blog would open up to me. Now the friends I’ve made mean more than the food. I look forward to talking to them every morning, and often we say goodnight to each other before we go to bed. Some I talk to every day, some only once in a while, but I really really love them all.
They are an endless source of inspiration, support and love. Some of them, I don’t even know their real names. But it doesn’t matter. We party together in cyberspace and share stories, struggles, encouragement and food.
This recipe is from one of my favorite foodie friends: A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll. She serves it with a remembering of her visit to Italy, which brings up memories for me of my trip to Italy over 20 years ago.
She says of this soup: ”As stunning and memorable as those places were, I’ll never forget the soup my father ordered at an outdoor cafe almost nineteen years ago: Bread Soup.”
I had to make it.
This is her recipe, copied verbatim. When I made it, I altered it a little, made about half the amount, didn’t soak the beans overnight (actually I used my sister’s trick for cooking beans), used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, and couldn’t locate my red pepper flakes. I had no leek , and I used frozen spinach and my mom’s canned tomatoes.
1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans that have been soaked overnight
6 cups organic, low sodium vegetable broth
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper flakes
2 medium onions, diced (divided)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3-4 cups (or more) roughly chopped fresh baby spinach
1 (28 oz.) unsalted, whole canned tomatoes (including juice, break the tomatoes with your hands)
handful of fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper to taste
day old italian bread
Drain soaked beans. Add to a large stock pot along with 1 diced onion, thyme, and the 6 cups broth. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
Saute leek and onion in the olive oil until the onions become slightly translucent. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, carrots, potato, and can of tomatoes. Add to the cooked beans. (Add more water to cover the veggies, if needed.)
Continue simmering until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, chop the stale bread into cubes, coat in olive oil and toast in a skillet.
When the potatoes or tender, add the chopped spinach, bread cubes, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow the bread to soak in the soup until it breaks down.
Keep some in the fridge so you have a lovely, healthy tasty meal when you are in a rush.
This recipe was shared at It’s a Keeper Thursdays.