Spinach Artichoke Dip, The Perfect Game Day Snack

Superbowl Sunday is just another reason to extend the weekend by throwing a party and enjoying some good eats. And I was doing exactly that at my friend Rob’s this past weekend. I have to admit, I spent a few days contemplating what to bring. Since it would be rare for me to bring something NOT homemade, I knew I’d need to step it up. And as soon as I received Saveur’s Sunday Supper newsletter featuring their Spinach-And-Artichoke Dip, I immediately decided on my game day contribution.

Spinach Artichoke Dip is not an easy dip to make. And the simple reason being, EXPECTATION. Sure, how bad could a mix of any ol’ cheese, mayo, spinach, artichokes, and sour cream be? But, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting Houston’s infamous Spinach and Artichoke dip, the bar has already been set.
Admittedly, Saveur’s Spinach-and-Artichoke dip recipe seemed pretty easy. It called for accessible ingredients and there wasn’t much prep time involved. But as you all know, it’s not always what you put in your dish, but the quantity and quality of what you’re putting in it that matters. And after tasting Saveur’s version, this adage proved to be true.

Depending on your preference you might LOVE Saveur’s dip, but I prefer the creamier alternative. Saveur calls for equal parts sour cream, mayo, and cream cheese which is probably the first thing i would alter. Aside from using their lower fat counterparts, I’d probably start by increasing the amounts of sour cream and mayo to 1/2 cups (rather than 1/3 cups). I would also decrease the amount parmesan to 1/2 cup, leaving 1/4 cup or less for the top crust. And I would most likely subsititute the mozzarella for something with a little more flavor either a smoked mozzarella or a gouda, which would give the dip a deep rich flavor. I’d also add in 1/4 tsp or more of cayenne pepper and even another 1/4 tsp of chilli or adobo powder to give it a slight kick (though it WILL NOT taste too spicy).

Follow my alternative Spinach and Artichoke recipe and you’ll WOW your guests at your next football gathering. But, if you like to go by the book, stick to Saveur’s version, but be sure to use frozen spinach, canned artichokes, and LESS parmesan cheese! Or, if you prefer a guaranteed game day dish, serve up some classic pigs n blankets. My friend Lindsay Trust was kind enough to whip up a homemade batch of these in no time. And two plates were literally gone in 30 minutes! Her homemade version is far superior to the premade frozen brands because she wraps these mini Hebrew Nationals in the sweet and savory Grand’s biscuits.
I hope these recipes and tips have helped you prepare for your next gathering!
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Food for Thought 2/2 – 2/6

Since I’ve been dining out quite a bit over the last two weeks or so, I decided that I will be posting a brief recap of some of the recent places I’ve visited, the latest food news & food related events, and what you can look forward to reading via this week’s posts. Every Monday morning I will post the “Food for Thought” of the week. And here goes…

EVENTS*

  • TONIGHT: Israeli Wine Tasting Event at Suba, $25 cover charge for a THREE HOUR wine and tapas tasting (which will be kosher). Proceeds will be donated to Save a Child’s Heart. Pictures and details of the event will be posted later in the week.

GOSSIP: This might be your last chance to hit Suba before Spitzer’s management turns it into a Mexican joint. As if we need another one of those…

*I will be present at both events so come and say hello : )

BRUNCH

  • Though it has been some time since Borough Food and Drink has turned over, I headed over to the newly replaced Almond to see what all the fuss is about.
  • And an oldie but a goodie (for some) I finally tried the European style Petit Abeille.

DINNER

  • Apparently Cambodian streetfood is just that good. More on my experience at LES hot spot Kampuchea later this week as well as details on their one time only Valentine’s desserts and half-price wine Sundays.

PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS

  • Second time’s a charm at Wogies. Chicken vs. Steak and Free Fries…

SUPERBOWL SUNDAY

  • Wings, pizza, beer, SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP, and more.

Thanksgiving Appetizers: Houston’s Spinach Artichoke Dip?

There’s nothing better than a variety of appetizers to whet the appetite before a Thanksgiving dinner. The appetizers my family traditionally serves are the old fashioned but classic pigs in a blanket and my mom’s famous Sourcream Dill Dip with mixed vegetables and Cape Cod Russet Potato Chips.

Since our Thanksgiving is typically an intimate dinner of 5, we tend not to go overboard on the appetizers. But I’ve always dreamed of having a big Thanksgiving dinner filled with family and friends and endless hors d’oeuvres. I can just envision guests anxiously awaiting the next round of Baked Brie with Apples, Stuffed Mushrooms, and Butternut Squash Soup Shooters. There’s always next year!

And in preparation, my friends and I had our own Thanksgiving dinner where we served the following appetizers:

  • Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Homemade Hummus & Pita Chips

Though my dip has been compared to Houston’s Spinach and Artichoke Dip, it has less fat and more vegetables yielding a tasty counterpart. The crunch of the water chestnuts and elimination of heavy cream create a light dip that won’t weigh you down before your big Thanksgiving day meal.

For more appetizing ideas to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner visit the Food Network’s Thanksgiving 2008 Menu.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Ingredients

  • 1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + 3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 small can water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 1 8 oz package light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs or panko

Preparations

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Spinach Artichoke Dip Ingredients2. In a traditional blender, hand blender, or food processor, place artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic . Pulse until slightly chopped and set aside.

Spinach Artichoke Dip3. Heat the cream cheese for approximately 1 minute, or until soft and easily spreadable, and mix together with spinach, sour cream in a medium bowl. Stir in artichoke mixture and spoon into prepared baking dish.

4. Top with 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.

5. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until breadcrumbs have browned.

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

Pre-Thanksgiving Festivities

I don’t know about you, but Thanksgiving mostly makes me think of eating. And I don’t just mean eating anything out of the ordinary, but delicious seasonal dishes that, for me, begin with the Union Square Green Market. The Green Market is where my dream of endless Butternut Squashes, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Apples become a reality!

On a leisurely walk through Saturday’s Green Market, I couldn’t help admiring all of the incredibly fresh winter fruits and vegetables. Although my purpose at the Green Market was to pick up the infamous $1 3-Pound bag of apples for an apple pie, I couldn’t help picking up a few other seasonal ingredients on the way. The Green Market is mixed in terms of pricing, but you always leave reassured that you’ve purchased the freshest produce of the season.

The Largest Broccoli I've Ever Seen!

The Largest Broccoli I’ve Ever Seen!

Apples

Migliorelli Apples

$1 3-Pound Bag of Apples

$1 3-Pound Bag of Apples

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

BottleRocketAfter leaving the market I stopped off at a nearby wine shop called BottleRocket. I’d read in a recent Eats.com newsletter that BottleRocket was hosting a complimentary Pre-Thanksgiving Wine and Food Pairing with City Bakery. Although BottleRocket’s interior was slightly small, they made the most of their space by setting up different food and wine stations throughout the store. Each guest was greeted with a taste of Champagne which was followed by a taste of City Bakery’s Thankgiving Menu which featured turkey,stuffing, two different kinds of potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and some gingerbread cookies for dessert. My favorite dishes on the menu were the Multigrain Bread Stuffing with Mushrooms, Herbs, & Aromatic Vegetables and the Sweet Potatoes with Grilled Pineapple and Toasted Homemade Marshmallows paired with the $9 Sauvignon Blanc (who’s name currently escapes me).

And after a wonderful afternoon of mouthwatering Thanksgiving bites and plentiful sips of wine, I began thinking about my own Pre-Thanksgiving festivities. Thanksgiving is the perfect excuse to get together with friends for a nice home cooked meal. And though it isn’t quite Thanksgiving yet, it’s close enough.

A few friends and I got together last night for a Pre-Thanksgiving dinner with all the traditional fix-ins. And I must admit that I was quite impressed with everyone’s cooking skills. Between the Macaroni & Cheese, the Barbeque Chicken, the Sweet Potatoes, and the Pumpkin Bread you’d think one would have their Thanksgiving fill. But until my Christmas Vacation rolls along, Thanksgiving dishes will be a regular staple which I look forward to sharing with all of you.

The recipes from our Pre-Thanksgiving dinner will be posted throughout the week, so please check back for more information about each dish along with enticing photos.

PRE-THANKSGIVING DINNER MENU

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner Spread

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner Spread

Appetizers

Main Course

  • Roast Chicken Kosher
  • Barbeque Chicken

Sides

Desserts