Monday, February 9, 2015

Health(ier) Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Well, hellloooo there, long lost friends!

I think the last time I plopped down a food blog, was almost two years ago... I'm officially nestled into Seattle's rainy heartbeat, and absolutely love it. The weeks of "morning showers, afternoon drizzles, evening rains" we're in the middle of aren't my favorite, but they'll pass.

I could bloviate for a while about how since we moved here from Nairobi just over two years ago, it's been so much harder to cook healthy, wholesome meals for my family here in the good o'l US of A. About how I will only shop at Trader Joes because at least their label is GMO-free, and their store is small enough I don't cry from sheer overwhelmedness. I could discuss the odd food production in this country, and the crying shame of healthy food being almost unaffordably expensive. But I'll spare you the diatribe and instead commit from here forth to, more or less, just being another little corner of the vast inter-verse that hopefully helps you create food you LOVE. Love eating, love making, love feeding to your friends and family, and helps you love life a little bit more because of edible goodness.

A quick look through this blog will reveal I'm not a strong-finisher...my year of homemade meals made it through about 3 weeks...but what I lack in finishing, I make up in willingness to keep my failures out there and keep learning from them. Maybe I'll pick back up the year of homemade meals some day. For now, it sits as a reminder that...well, whatever you want it to. Just know my visible lack of completion doesn't bother me one bit :) I'm not at all a finished product, and neither is this blog...even as you cook, may you find this blog a place where you feel refreshed, capable, and enough just as you are. Cause you are.

To launch us off, Aunt Sue has requested I post my most recent twist on Spinach Artichoke Dip. Spinach Artichoke dip (the hot kind, mind ya) is one of my favorite appetizers (*cough, cough...meal??) but I was having a pretty hard time with the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, etc called for in every recipe. Read on for Health(ier) (though not recommended for every day) Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Ingredients: 
1/2 c chopped red onion 
1/4 c unsalted butter 
1 medium size bag fresh baby spinach 
1 large log herbed goat cheese 
1 c non-fat, plain Greek yogurt 
1 jar artichoke hearts, quartered 
1/2-1c grated cheese (pepperjack will give you a spicier dip, pecorino-romano will produce a more sophisticated dip...pick your favorite cheese and put it on top!)
Crushed red pepper (optional to sprinkle on top) 

Pull the goat cheese out of the fridge so it can soften up a bit. Unless you want a singular huge bicep...then leave it in fridge until mixing time for a one-armed mixing work out.

Saute the onion and the butter until the onions are browned, headed to burnt. But don't let them burn. I recommend a low heat for a long time, but if you just can't wait, proceed with reckless abandon and searing heat. Just don't leave the room. There is no recovery for a charred onion...

Add the fresh spinach and cover with a lid. The spinach will wilt and cook down.

In a mixing bowl (preferably your favorite one, because you should always cook with your favorite things. And if you don't have a favorite mixing bowl, get one right now! Mine is an old crock styled, super heavy, deep cream-colored bowl from my grandmother. She has an identical one in her kitchen, and this one was found in their basement after a house fire that destroyed quite a bit. But this bowl lived on...and while it's full of hairline cracks, and heavy as sin on a Sunday, it's full of love, and memories, and the reminder that eating is a sacred, through-the-ages gift)

Ok, now in your favorite mixing bowl, combine the goat cheese, greek yogurt, and artichokes. Add the onions, butter, and spinach mixture - mix until all is combined.

Pour into a shallow baking dish - I usually use an 8x10 or small casserole dish, but you can use whatever you like. Top with your favorite cheese, and if you want a little more kick, a sprinkle of crushed red pepper

Pop in the oven at 350F until it's warmed through and cheese is melted on top.

Serve with blue corn tortilla chips. Or on toasted sour dough bread. Or with a spoon.

Side note - you can play around with the ratios on this...just like you can with most recipes! Following a recipe to the letter is like color with numbers - it's gonna more or less turn out, but you may not love it. But cooking is art, so explore and create!

I'll drop some pics in this post next time I make this, and until then - dine away!!

Bon appetit, lovelies!

xo
Sarah

Abbreviated recipe: 
1/2 c chopped red onion 
1/4 c unsalted butter 
1 medium size bag fresh baby spinach 
1 large log herbed goat cheese 
1 c non-fat, plain Greek yogurt 
1 jar artichoke hearts, quartered 
1/2-1c grated cheese (your favorite)
Crushed red pepper (optional to sprinkle on top) 

Saute onion & butter until onions are dark brown. Add spinach and cook down until soft. In a separate bowl, mix goat cheese, greek yogurt, and artichoke hearts. Add onion, spinach, butter mixture to goat cheese mixture. Combine thoroughly. Pour in baking dish, sprinkle with cheese, heat at 350F until cheese is melted. Serve. Repeat.




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