Appetizers and Snacks

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Sometimes you just need a great dip. Dane and I were hanging out one weekend and I really wanted spinach and artichoke dip. Instead of going out to a restaurant, I figured I could just figure out how to make some on my own.

I started with looking through some recipes just to get a sense of the amounts I should be working with. I saw recipes that called for cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo. None of those seemed right to me. Mayo in a spinach and artichoke dip? Not so much for me.

My favorite kind of spinach and artichoke dip always has a delicious cheesyness mixed in with the spinach and artichoke. Since I’ve made all kinds of things with cheese sauces (because I LOVE CHEESE!) I knew I could make it work. And the results were awesome!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 4-5 strips bacon, fried crisp, drained and crumbled
  • Assorted chips for dipping (pita chips, tortilla chips, bagel chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round dish (I actually used a pie plate, which worked perfectly) and set aside. I also drained the spinach, which took awhile to get all the water out. Really make sure you drain off as much water as you can. I then drained the artichoke hearts and chopped them into bite sized pieces.

In a medium pot, cook the bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Remove the bacon and crumble once it has cooled. In the bacon fat, add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes.


Add the flour and stir constantly, to make a roux. Cook about 3 minutes then add the milk and cream. The mixture will start to thicken, so make sure to keep stirring constantly. It should take 3-5 minutes of stirring before you feel it starting to thicken.

Add the spinach and stir in well. Then add the cheeses, artichoke hearts, and bacon, and stir together.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour into the prepared dish. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly (you can add more cheese on top if you want). Remove from the oven and serve hot with chips.

This does make a LOT of dip, and Dane and I didn’t get through even close to half of this. It’s the perfect amount for company though. I froze the rest that we didn’t eat, and plan to try and reheat it next time I’m feeling the need for some dip. It may or may not work, but hey, it’s worth a shot.

Hope you enjoy!

Homemade Apple Sauce

After we went apple picking we had a ton of apples, and wasted no time using them. I got home from work one evening, and Dane was in the kitchen cooking. He decided to make applesauce, which neither of us had made before. He got the idea from a recipe in the Betty Crocker cookbook (which I got for my bridal shower), but then just decided to wing it and make it to our tastes (he doesn’t always follow instructions well).

Apple Sauce

  • 4 or 5 apples, peeled and cored
  • about 1/4- 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Cut the cored apples into quarters (they cook faster that way). Add the water to a medium saucepan, and put in all the apple pieces. Over medium heat, cook the apples until they begin to break down.

This took a while, and we actually started to think they weren’t going to ever get soft, but have a little patience and they will. Use a wooden spoon to break them up once they begin to break down to your desired consistency. We like a few chunks of apples still in the sauce.

Once at the consistency you like, remove from the heat and add the brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir it up and enjoy! You can have it warm, or chill in the refrigerator before you eat it.

all done!

Other recipes called for orange zest, lemon juice, allspice, and a variety of other things. I think the best thing about this recipe is you can really add whatever you want to flavor it the way you’d like. If you want to get crazy, you can try it with pears too. If you’re feeling sassy, maybe even add some craisins. It’s up to you! Enjoy!

Fried Ravioli

That’s right. Fried. Ravioli. Two words could not go more perfectly together. The first time I tried these was at our wedding, and they were delicious. My sister Jenna and her boyfriend Rich became totally obsessed with fried ravioli after our wedding, so when they came to visit recently, I knew I just had to make them. Jenna had (not surprisingly) figured out how to make them, so she gave me some suggestions and I took it from there.

So thanks Jenna, for the instructions. Here how you do it.

Fried Ravioli

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen mini round ravioli (or square, whichever you’d like, but make sure they are the smaller variety)
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

First take the ravioli out of the freezer to defrost about 10-15 minutes before you plan to start cooking it. I put them all out on a wire rack because sometimes they freeze together and you have to separate them. It was just easier for me to separate them all this way before getting started so you’re not doing it while your hands are messy.

Next get your eggs and breadcrumbs ready to easily dip your ravioli in. I scrambled three eggs (but I made two bags of ravioli, you should only need two eggs for one bag) and put about a cup of bread crumbs in a small bowl so that I could easily transfer the ravioli from the egg, to the breadcrumbs, to the pan.

Heat about 1/3-1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Dip the ravioli in the eggs. I put a handful of ravioli in the eggs at a time so that it wouldn’t take quite as long. Then transfer the ravioli to the breadcrumbs to coat the ravioli. I took the ravioli out one at a time from the eggs, then put 6-7 in the breadcrumbs before shaking it up to cover them all. Place in the hot oil to fry, making sure there is enough oil in the pan to mostly cover the ravioli.

This will take about 3 minutes per side. You just want the ravioli to become golden brown and they’ll be done. After the first side is done, flip each ravioli and cook for another 3 minutes. When the ravioli are nice and crispy, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to collect any extra oil and cool.

Once cooled for a few minutes, serve with some marinara sauce for dipping.

This is a great appetizer to serve at a party. They’ve been a hit for me so far with friends and I would definitely recommend them for something fun and a little different. My sisters and Rich scarfed these down when they got to our apartment, so for them it was more of a meal, but I think they were totally OK with that.

I’ll close with a picture of my sister Melissa and I in cool hats. Go make some Fried Ravioli!

Fresh Salsa!

Sometimes you just need something filled with cheese and salsa. Jayneel and Dane took over dinner duty one night and made nachos for us with chicken, homemade guacamole, and fresh salsa.  I go on these kicks where I have a certain snack that I just want all the time. Recently it’s been salsa, so for the nachos my responsibility was to make fresh salsa. Jay was kind enough to volunteer to help.

We started with fresh ingredients: plum tomatoes, lemon, cilantro, red onion, scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper.

I used about 4 plum tomatoes that I washed and cut into quarters. I cut up half a red onion and the scallions (about 1/4 cup), did a rough dice and added them to my Tupperware Quick Chef. Then, I added the juice of a lemon, about a handful of cilantro, 3 cloves of garlic, and some salt and pepper. Now take it away Jay!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znFmAC5mXFQ&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x2b405b&color2=0x6b8ab6&border=1]

After some turns, the pieces are small enough and the salsa is ready to eat! You can use a food processor and pulse a few times too, or do it manually by chopping up the pieces very small and mixing together. If you’re looking for some heat, add some chili peppers or chili paste. I let it sit covered in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving and I think the flavor melded together nicely during that time.

Ole!

Kristen

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

This is one of my favorite snacks. Cinnamon sugar tortilla chips are so easy to make that I think I take them for granted. I actually learned the basics of this recipe about 5 years ago at, stay with me here, a Tupperware party. Not just any Tupperware party, but a Tupperware party I was hosting. Yup, 19 years old and hosting Tupperware parties. Because that’s how awesome I am.

Anyway, the Tupperware lady made chips just like these for us to dip in fruit salsa. The fruit salsa was made with one of the Tupperware gadgets, which she demonstrated, and she thoughtfully brought these for the group. It probably won’t shock you to know that I’m the proud owner of said Tupperware gadget used for making fruit salsa. And I got it for FREE. Ahhh, the benefits of being a Tupperware hostess.

But back to the point of this post: cinnamon sugar chips. They’re delicious. You should make them.

Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat tortillas (or regular flour tortillas, if you prefer)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Canola oil spray (or if you want to get crazy, butter)

First, put together the sugar and cinnamon. I didn’t put measurements here, because it really depends on how many chips you plan to make. I usually use about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon for every cup of sugar, but you can make it to your taste. Go crazy with the cinnamon if you love cinnamon. Make sure they’re mixed together well in a small bowl.

Take a tortilla and spray each side with the canola cooking spray. If you prefer, you can melt butter and brush each side with butter instead. Somehow, I feel slightly healthier using the spray. Once each side is coated enough to make the sugar and cinnamon mixture stick, cut the tortilla into chip sized pieces. Think of Tostito sized chips. You can do this step first, but it’s much easier to spray or brush a whole tortilla than to do it to individual pieces. Cut up as many pieces as you’d like to make. The picture below was about 4 small tortillas cut up.

Now, dip both sides of each chip in the cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on a baking sheet. I’ve never had a problem with these sticking to my baking sheet, but if you’re worried they will, just do a quick spray with the canola oil again. Chips should not overlap on the baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. When they are done, let them cool for a few minutes, then remove from baking sheet and enjoy!

The top will stay mostly sugary, but on the bottom the sugar will caramelize. The chips will be crispy and light. This gives a great texture. They’re hearty enough to be used for a dip too. Give it a shot with some fruit salsa!

Kristen

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