While my sister and her boyfriend were visiting, we had our good friends Yulian and Erik over for an appetizer night! Yulian has been my fellow instigator in many cooking adventures (including that chocolate cranberry cheesecake), but this time I asked her to just bring something Chinese. What can I say...I needed to introduce my sister to some awesome Asian cooking, and Yulian came through with her amazing potstickers.
For my part, I made onion, squash, and mushroom fritters...hot spinach artichoke dip with homemade pita crisps...
...apple chicken quesadillas...
...and mango sorbet with shortbread thumprint cookies.
You want to know the best part? We made this entire meal in one hour, with the exception of the quesadilla filling (prepared the night before). My kitchen was crazy!
I'm going to share with you the recipe for the spinach artichoke dip (upon Yulian's request), but first I've just got to share what the rest of that day entailed...i.e...the reason why we waited until an hour before dinner to start preparing.
We went to San Francisco for the day!
Our first stop was Ghirardelli Square followed by lunch at Boudin's Sourdough Bakery. This has to be the best sourdough bread I've ever tasted...hands down. But the best part? It's creative!
Here's a turtle...
...and a cute little crab.
We had a great time and a fabulous lunch. I wanted to buy everything in their store, but my husband managed to talk me out of it. He's good like that.
Our next stop was this little island...
...Alcatraz! If you ever go, I recommending planning to spend at least 4 hours there. There is so much to do and see! We didn't get to spend as much time as we really could have, but we did enjoy their excellent audio tour.
The prison cells were interesting, but the plant life on the island was my favorite surprise. Check out this beauty...
Finally, we wandered around Pier 39, looking into stores full of things like this...
Yes, I wanted to buy it all. Yes, my husband talked me out of it.
It's hard work staring at chocolate all day and not eating any. Needless to say, I was starving by the time we got home.
My recipe for Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip comes from the Taste of Home Light and Tasty 2003 cookbook. Back when Taste of Home published the "Light and Tasty" magazine, they used to compile all of their recipes for each year into one cookbook. I'm not sure that these are in print anymore - I can't find them online, and I've only rarely seen them in used bookstores. If you see one, though, snatch it up! These are my go-to books. They have fantastic food, lots of pictures, and include nutritional information for every single recipe.
This dip is probably in my top five favorite and most requested "Light and Tasty" recipes. It's sooooooo good. Don't be fooled by all of the low fat ingredients. Trust me...you'll love it.
You'll need a small onion, 2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach (thawed), 8 oz. of fat free cream cheese, 8 oz. of reduced-fat sour cream, 14 oz. water-packed artichoke hearts (drained), 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 t. salt, 1/8 t. pepper, about1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese to top, and pita chips to serve.
Dice your onion into little pieces and saute it in a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray until it's tender.
Once your onion is tender, add your spinach. The spinach needs to be squeezed dry and separated out (don't just throw a massive clump in). Cook and stir the spinach over medium heat until it's heated through.
Reduce your heat to low and add cream cheese (it's best if you cube it up first) and the sour cream. Stir these until they are melted.
Then, add the artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook these until heated through.
I generally chop up the artichoke hearts a bit first, and I always add extra red pepper flakes. We like the heat!
At this point, I suggest refrigerating your dip and serving it later. The longer you give the flavors to mingle, the better it tastes. Obviously, I didn't have time for that, and it was still excellent.
To serve, transfer to a microwave-safe dish and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
We like to serve this dip with pita chips. I cut my homemade pita bread into pieces and put them in the oven at 400 degrees until they got crispy. They were excellent!
Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
(from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2003)
1 small onion, chopped
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package (8 oz.) fat-free cream cheese, cubed
1 cup (8 oz.) reduced-fat sour cream
1 can (14 oz.) water-packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook and stir onion until tender. Add spinach; cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream cheese and sour cream. Add the artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes; cook for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
Transfer to an ungreased 1 1/2 qt. microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Cover and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serves 18.
Gluten-free variation - serve with rice crisps.
Nutrition (1/4 cup): 71 cal, 3g fat, 2g sat fat, 9mg cholesterol, 342mg sodium, 6g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g protein.
This post is linked to This Week's Cravings: Super Bowl and Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Roundup!