Hot Tangy Spinach Artichoke Dip

the ultimate spinach artichoke dip

Everyone once in a while a party comes around and I get to make something decadent that you wouldn’t eat at home everyday.  I always try to bring something substantial as you never can be certain of gluten free snackies, although my friends are pretty good about it. One of my goto apps is this hot tangy spinach artichoke dip.  I am on the quest for the best recipe ever and think I may have created it this time. This one is tangy with plenty of mustard. I think it helps offset the richness. If you are not a fan of dijon (yellow mustard cannot be substituted) or any mustard, just leave it out. I like the mustard seeds for a little puff of surprise, but again, those could be optional. If you leave it out, just call it spinach artichoke dip, leave the tangy out. In a minute you will read out loud and say roasted garlic? Who has 2 tablespoons of roasted garlic sitting around? Well, I do. I roast a bunch in the oven every once in a while, make it into a paste and then plop it on some saran wrap and roll it up like a tube, twist the ends shut and stick it in a zip bag and into the freezer. When I need roasted garlic, I slice off an inch or two and stick it back in the freezer. If that is not your option, they have some in a jar in the stores or just chop some fresh garlic and very lightly saute it to take the edge off.

Don’t be scared of the list of ingredients (well the half and half), this is an appetizer and you are not eating the whole dish by yourself, right?

1.5 cups of half and half (don’t use milk)
8 oz of grated Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz of cream cheese – I use light usually

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 tbs of roasted garlic
4 tbs dijon mustard or white wine mustard
1.5 tsp mustard seed
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and pressed dry
2 14 oz cans of artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
as much fresh ground pepper as you like (i like a lot)
taste to see if you need salt

In a 2 quart pot, simmer the cream and once it is at a simmer, add everything but the spinach and artichokes. Stir stir stir. Once melted and well blended, stir in your veggies and when every thing is nice and hot, it is ready to serve. How easy is that? You can bake this dish too if you like that baked flavor, if you do, add a bit more heavy cream and top it off with more Monterey Jack and back at 375 until bubbly and light brown. I serve it with strong tortilla chips. Weak ones are well, weak and won’t stand up to this dip.

the ultimate spinach artichoke dip


i’m out

Labbneh, or little spicy herby cheese disks

Ok, the photo is not the greatest, I know.  You try taking an emergency photo of white balls of cheese in greenish olive oil and see how it turns out.


Next time, I will remove a disk, put it on a plate with a cracker, you will see the difference.  You have to just trust me on this one and use the pic as a platform for improvement.  These little disks are delicious.  I can’t take full credit for them, but I take re-creation and improvement credit.  Last summer I was in Santa Fe NM for 48 hours.  I was headed back from Flagstaff AZ to Michigan and jumped off Amtrak for two days to visit my cousins.  Knowing we had limited time and wanted to maximize sight seeing and visiting, they went shopping for some groceries before my arrival.  As we picnicked overlooking a large lake, Abiquiu and Georgia O’Keefe’s playground Ghost Ranch,  we dined on mixed nuts, this cheese, Mary’s Gone Crackers and apples.  We ate every scrap of this cheese and the olive oil it was marinating in.  It was made locally and for sale in their Santa Fe Whole Foods.  I have yet to find any in Michigan.

So, I recreated it based on their list of ingredients.  It is so easy and so tasty.  I took some up to a “cottage on the beach weekend” with friends and they devoured it and wanted the recipe.  Almost 7 months later I am getting around to typing it up.

I might just be what is known as a recipe writing slacker, maybe.  Writing them up means I actually have to measure or give guidance some how when I used none and didn’t measure.  There is no point in keeping it all in my head though, is there? What if you wanted to make it and bring it over to my house for dinner?  You couldn’t could you?  Well, now you can.  As far as the name of these little tidbits, well, my understanding is that labbneh is really a yogurt cheese and this creation involves zero yogurt, so please comment with alternative names in the comments section – really, I mean it.

You will notice that I use all dried herbs and spices, this is because if you are not eating it all right away (and it gets better after a few days), it will hold better with dried ingredients than fresh and no one wants botulism from raw garlic and olive oil hanging out do they?  Of course you can use all fresh ingredients too, just don’t let this cheese dish hang around as long.


4 oz of Feta at room temp French or Greek feta, up to you.
4 oz of Neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese) at room temp
dried thyme
dried oregano (Turkish or Greek if you have it)
dried marjoram
ground rosemary (easier disbursement of flavor) or whole dried rosemary
dried garlic powder
dried shallots (Penzeys is an excellent source for dried)
dried basil (less of this herb, more of the others)
crushed red pepper
freshly cracked pepper
sea salt
good quality extra virgin olive oil

Cream the two cheeses together, add a bit of shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme to the cheese.
Form the cheese into little flattened disks.  Mine were about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter.  Place in a container that has a lid. Sprinkle the cheese disks with all of the herbs and spices listed above, including more shallots, garlic, pepper and thyme. Pour olive oil over the whole thing until the disks are submerged, the more you pack in, the closer they are, the less oil you will need. Let the cheese marinate for as long as you can, but at least a couple of minutes hours.  Then refrigerate, but let it the disks and olive oil come up to room temperature before serving. Goes great with a hearty crispy cracker and also with a cracker that will adsorb a bit of the oil.  I recommend a combo of Mary’s Gone Crackers and Glutino crackers for you gluten freers.  Take this to your next potluck!  Put the disks on a plate and pour the spiced olive oil over them and put a couple of little cheese spreaders around for cracker spreading.


i’m out

Deep Fry Fridays – now a once a month feature

Due to common sense and the need to deep fry, we will be switching the ol’ deep fry Friday feature from every Friday for a month to the last Friday of the Month, or any day you want to deep fry in a given month. In fact, even my plans changed and my deep fry Friday ended up on Sunday due to company in the house. But the wait was worth it:

deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

Hungry yet?

melted mozzarella balls deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

They were gooey and tangy and crunchy. I used waffle bread crumbs for the coating and added some Italian seasoning. Dip them in beaten egg, roll in bread crumbs, dip again, roll again, toss in the deep fryer. I used a very small pot with a thermometer to tell me the temp. I used maybe 1.5 cups of oil heated to around 375F. The oil, due to the breadcrumbs, was not salvageable after wards, so I am glad I didn’t use the deep fryer.

deep frying mozzarella balls

It took me all of 10 minutes to throw these together and fry them. Quick, easy, tasty and something celiacs can’t order out in a restaurant (thus the justification for doing it at home).  Of course I had the homemade marinara (from garden tomatoes) already made in the freezer but that doesn’t take long either.

deep fried mozzarella balls and marinara sauce

So, tell me what day you are frying in a given month and what you plan to fry and send me your link and I will post it here. Eby is working on a new blog design for me and I hope to be able to have a Deep Fry Friday link or folder of some sort so that folks can check back. Me, I am shooting for the last Friday of the month, just for consistency’s purpose. Join in on the fun!

i’m out

Menu of the week November 9th: Pomegranate!

It seems lately that all I do is post my menu every week.  I do have about 15 posts waiting, some since March – how pathetic!  The problem is, I go online and get distracted by bleading blogs, or twitter or facebook.  Before I started posting my menu, I used to post once or twice a week and post more recipes.  I need to get back there.  I need a new camera too, but we will take one step at a time.

Today we were supposed to be up in Leelanau butchering and packaging our piggies Speck and Parma, however, it has been to warm and our butcher was still busy making honey.  Ok, the bees make the honey, but he puts it in nice bottles and markets it.  Since it was moved to next weekend, we had no plans for the day and actually relaxed, did no chores, played with the kittens (and the kitties) and got caught up on many of our DVR’d cooking shows.  This week’s menu is inspired by what’s in the freezer (need to make space for lots of pork) and by American’s Test Kitchen, Tyler’s Ultimate, and Barefoot Contessa.

This week’s menu is hosted by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness and the ingredient is pomegranate.  I have pomegranate juice in the freezer, so I will whip that out to make some Pomegranate Cosmos on Tuesday.  I need to clean the freezer out anyway.  Fresh pomegranates were on sale yesterday and I walked right by – silly me.  Please check out all the other great recipes using pomegranate on the menu swap.

Saturday:  Homemade pork tamales with red chile sauce – from the freezer stock.

Sunday:  Chicken cordon bleu with chives, gruyere and prosciutto topped with a roasted chicken jus; braised brussel sprouts with fingerling potatoes (from our garden) bacon and red onion.  My brussel sprout plants didn’t produce this year.  Each sprout is as big as this o.  So I bought some.

Monday: Flank steak with Penzey’s Northwoods fire spice and twice baked stuffed potatoes with Boursin cheese.

Tuesday: Grilled salmon with Tacoma sauce (remind me to post this sauce) and fennel slaw.  Company in town (yippee!), so we may totally do something else.  Either pescatarian or vegetarian if we switch as she is both.  Also, it is Veterans/Armstice Day and I have it off – one thing to thank Unions for.  The real thanks of course goes to all our Veterans out there – thank you for all you have done for us!

Wednesday : Pork Stroganoff with dill on noodles, side TBD, but something with pomegranate – perhaps a salad.

Thursday:  Baked potatoes topped with a white cheddar sauce, broccoli and bacon, and tossed salad

Friday:  On the road to Leelanau for the weekend.

i’m out

Menu of the Week April 28th: Peas

This week’s menu swap host is Manda over at Asparagus Thin and peas are the featured ingredient. My darling BF saw the subject peas and promptly boycotted the ingredient this week, but I plan to work them in for a dish just for me, peas with prosciutto and dill. Lately I have been struggling for inspiration and yet trying hard not to repeat menus (except for pizza and grilled asparagus of course). I think it would be great if I cooked something different almost every night for 6 months. In an effort to eat more brown rice (with this months Saveur as inspiration) I cooked up a rice cooker full and now am going to experiment with brown rice fritters and different ethnic flavorings.

Saturday: Mixed grill

Spicy lamb brats and spicy grass fed burgers with caramelized onions and cheese, penne with pesto and creme fraiche and grilled asparagus


Lunch: Vietnamese crab and shrimp soup with mung noodles, mint and basil

Dinner: Pizza!

White pizza with a roasted garlic and chive bechamel (made with goat butter as we are out of regular butter – how did this happen?), Italian sausage, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, feta and some mozzarella.

Monday: Cyprus (ala Saveur mag)

Souvlakia Hirina : Pork kabobs (from Pancetta, our pig) with tatziki with brown rice fritters with oregano, lemon zest and feta, veg to be determined

Tuesday: New Mexican

Green Chile Cheese Nachos (three of my favorite ingredients right there) and fennel slaw with cilantro and lime

Wednesday: Mediterranean mix

Braised leeks (and maybe some kale) and Chicken Provencal and brown rice fritters with parmesan and parsley

Thursday: Fresh American (or whatever you think fits here – I am at a loss)

Seared Scallops with roasted garlic chive butter, peas with prosciutto and dill for me, asparagus for the BF, oven roasted potatoes with garden herbs.

Friday: Mexican mayhem or Indian Monsoon

Company in town – we are either cooking up a Mexican storm with carne asada tacos( with grass fed beef of course – must use it up), pintos de olla, salsa, chips and guacamole – oh and margaritas or we are going out for Indian.

I must confess, I had a really busy week last week and didn’t get around to making my app of the week or my dinner for Friday night as I was helping a friend move. I still plan to attempt the gruyere pinwheels with herbs sometime this week. Also look forward to posts on rubs (as promised) and hotel butters. And I haven’t forgotten about the cocktail of the week feature either, but that feature will be switching to the cocktail of the month.

i’m out