Classic Spinach & Artichoke Dip + 5 Dips for the Superbowl!

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I traveled 2,464 miles in 48 hours.  With linked hands we cried and said goodbye to my grandfather, and later, with those same hands held high, we toasted his long, beautiful life.  He was loved and he will be missed.  Loved and missed, all any of us hope for when we leave this world.

Boston to Ft. Meyers to Venice and back again.  I am tired, bone tired, but I tuck the kids in, kiss their sweet cheeks and say good-night.  Later, I’ll rest my weary head on Bubba’s shoulder and close my eyes, grateful he is once again next to me.

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Loaded with spinach and artichokes and made a bit lighter with Greek yogurt and 1/3 less fat cream cheese, this classic party dip is sure to be a hit!

Makes about 5 1/2 cups

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light September 2007

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

1/2 cup whole Greek yogurt

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon +  a pinch more of garlic powder

1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (8 ounce) block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

1 (8 ounce) block full fat cream cheese, softened

1/2 (10 ounce) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry

Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips or grilled baguette

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Using a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese, Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and the rest of the ingredients until well combined.  Spoon and spread mixture into 1.5 quart baking dish and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.  Place on center rack in your oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  This may take an additional 5 minutes depending on your oven.  Serve warm, with pita chips, tortilla chips or grilled baguette.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss Superbowl Dips!

Love sour cream and onion dip?  Skip the store-bought versions and make your own for the big game!  Head to Alexandra’s Kitchen for her delicious recipe.

Bacon fans coming over tomorrow? Woo them with Taste and Tell’s bacon and horseradish dip.

If you love brie, you must make Spoon Fork Bacon’s basic brie dip.  Yum!

Hummus lovers head to Smitten Kitchen for Deb’s ethereally smooth hummus! Ethereally. Smooth. Hummus.  I gotta check this out soon!

Head here for my tried and true, never fail, always yummy guacamole.  Enjoy!

Sriracha Caramel Corn + 5 Sriracha Recipes to Try Now!

scc0054I love salty and sweet combinations and I’m not afraid of a little spice. In fact, I crave a little heat lately. Maybe it is a pregnancy thing or maybe my taste buds are bored. Either way when I came across a recipe for Sriracha Caramel Corn I had to try it. Bubba and the kids love caramel corn, but are not fans of anything too spicy. Luckily, the Sriracha sauce added more smokiness than heat so, they loved it. The caramel plays well with the salty popcorn and spicy sauce. It is a perfect marriage of flavors. (Yup, I just wrote marriage of flavors.)

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I made fresh pop corn which I recommend. I used this recipe from Simply Recipes. It is the best popcorn recipe I have found because it comes out perfect every time. I set aside the popcorn and made the caramel Sriracha sauce. The sauce comes together quickly. I found the recipe on the awesome food blog Dam Delicious. (Be sure to check out this blog if you haven’t already!) I adapted the recipe slightly by using brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup. Brown rice syrup adds a nice nuttiness to baked goods.

Once cooked, I poured the sauce over the popcorn and baked the popcorn at 250 for 45 minutes.

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One very long hour later the popcorn was ready for us to eat. I have to warn you this popcorn is addictive. One handful is not enough. You’ll keep coming back for more. But, is that a bad thing? Give this recipe a shot. You’ll love it!

Sriracha Caramel Corn

recipe slightly adapted from Dam Delicious

makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup brown rice syrup

Pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

6 cups fresh popcorn

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 250 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare fresh popcorn, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium/high heat. Be careful not to burn. Once melted, stir in brown sugar, brown rice syrup and sea salt. Bring to a boil, without stirring, for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add Sriracha, vanilla extract and baking soda.

Pour sauce over popcorn and combine until the popcorn is evenly coated.

Spread popcorn on baking sheet in an even layer. Bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Cool completely before serving. Enjoy!

5 Sriracha Recipes To try Now!

Sriracha’s popularity is not diminishing anytime soon. If you are new to the sauce, or need a little inspiration check out these recipes below.

I love banh mi sandwiches. This recipe for a pork meatball banh mi sounds dam good.

Want to serve pot stickers at your Super Bowl party? Try Martha’s Shrimp Pot Stickers with Sriracha Ginger Dipping Sauce.

If you prefer spicy wings at your Super Bowl party, try Michael Symon’s recipe.

I love Ranch. This popcorn recipe from the Curvy Carrot is next on my list of Sriracha recipes to try.

Want to make your own? White on Rice Couple has the recipe for you.

My Favorite Guacamole Recipe + 5 Delicious Appetizers for the Super Bowl

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My kids love family snack time. Our group snack time usually occurs on a Sunday during football season. Sometimes we eat popcorn and hot chocolate, sometimes chips, salsa and guacamole. Sitting together, sharing food and cheering on our favorite team brings us together even if it is only for a short time. We sit down and have dinner together every night, but often it feels rushed. Sunday afternoon never feels rushed.

Last weekend, we watched the Pats take on the Broncos. Bubba bought the kids a Pats balloon at the grocery store. We were excited. I made my favorite guacamole and we sat together, just the 4 of us and watched our team. It felt cozy. I think I understand, now, why they like family snack time so much. We just sit together. No one is trying to get anything done. No one is rushing. By the third quarter the kids lost interest in the game. Bubba and I held out hope they would come back and win, but not this time. The next day C asked when will we have family snack again. I said soon, but what I wanted to say was: how about now Goose? Until our next easy Sunday…

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This guacamole recipe is a family favorite. Even our 3-year-old loves it! I found this recipe in Bon Appetit a couple of years ago and it has since become my favorite guacamole.

guac0026This recipe calls for basil instead of cilantro and lemon juice instead of lime juice. The basil adds just a little sweetness. The lemon juice pairs well with the basil and makes the dip taste much brighter. This dip is great in the summer when fresh basil is abundant.

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The next time you gather with family and friends make this dip. It comes together quickly and tastes great with tortilla chips, fresh veggies and even crusty bread. Maybe even try it on your burger this summer. Summer….

Guacamole with Basil and Shallots

Recipe from Bon Appetit

serves 8

Ingredients:

6 avocados, halved, flesh removed and diced

3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil + more for garnish

1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped

kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

tortilla chips, fresh veggies, crusty bread

Directions:

Place avocados in a large bowl and smash with a fork or potato smasher. Add lemon juice, basil, shallots. Mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer dip to a pretty bowl and serve with chips and veggies. For tips on how to keep guacamole green, head to the kitchn. Enjoy!

5 Delicious Appetizers to Make for the Super Bowl

Even if your favorite team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch. Try these appetizers, enjoy the commercials and may the best team win!

I love nachos and I love sweet potatoes. This recipe for Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos is calling my name. Be sure to explore their blog for more awesome recipes.

Looking for a new salsa recipe? Try my roasted grape and jicama salsa!

Pretzel Bites? Yes. How about stuffed with pepper jack cheese? Head here for the recipe.

French onion soup is too much work Super Bowl Sunday, but how about French onion soup wonton bites? Climbing Grier Mountain has the recipe for you.

Do you like mozzarella cheese sticks, but don’t like the calories? Try Averie Cooks recipe for skinny mozzarella cheese sticks. Only 110 calories each!

Roasted Grape + Jicama Salsa on Goat Cheese Crostini + 5 First Bites You Should Try for 2014

Rg0057It’s time to say goodbye to 2013 and welcome a new year. It’s time for a fresh start, so as an homage to fresh starts I made a roasted grape and jicama salsa served on a goat cheese crostini. The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook by Sara Forte inspired this recipe. I bought this book last year and fell in love with her healthy, original recipes and beautiful food photography. Next time you are in your local bookstore check it out or head over to her blog: www.sproutedkitchen.com. If you want a healthy, but not too complicated cookbook, this is it! This salsa is sweet and spicy and the jicama adds a nice crunch. The mild goat cheese serves as a perfect creamy balance to the sweet salsa. This salsa will also work well as topping on fish or chicken. It comes together fairly quickly and can be made a day ahead. Try this recipe for your New Year’s Eve or Superbowl celebrations. You and your guests will love it! RG0009 I tossed the grapes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper before roasting them at 425 for 45 minutes. The grapes are sweeter raw than roasted but I think the salt helps! Rg0018 I added half of a seeded, chopped Serrano chile but, if you like things really spicy add the whole thing. Remember a Serrano chile is hotter than a jalapeno. RG0027 Half of a red onion, well chopped, is all you need. The onion flavor will get stronger as it sits but is not overpowering. How pretty is that onion? RG0040Jicama. Jicama is a mildly sweet and crispy root vegetable. It adds a great crunch to salads and salsas. I first learned about jicama while watching a Chopped episode last year. I decided to add it to the salsa because the roasted grapes no longer had a crunch to them and I like salsa with a little texture. This jicama salad recipe from Simply recipes looks fantastic! RG0022Cilantro makes a weekly appearance on our grocery list. It may be my favorite herb! It adds so much flavor and freshness especially to salsa and guacamole. RG0050I grabbed a French baguette, sliced it and toasted for a few minutes. Then I mixed together 8 ounces of goat cheese with 2 tablespoons of milk. I spread the goat cheese on the toasted baguette and topped it off with a spoonful of roasted grape + jicama salsa. Bubba tested it and loved it! The kids asked to try it…and then spit it out, but I was proud of them for trying it. They are becoming more adventurous eaters every year! Before you say goodbye to one year and welcome another, make this salsa. Bring it to a friend’s party with bottle of champagne. They will love you for it. Happy New Year!

Roasted Grape and Jicama Salsa on Goat Cheese Crostini

recipe adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen

makes about 20 crostini

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb or 6 cups seedless red grapes, roasted

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 tsp of kosher salt, plus more to taste

fresh ground black pepper plus more to taste

1/2 of 1 Serrano chile, seeded and finely chopped (add the whole chile if you like more spice)

half of 1 jicama, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped

half a small red onion, finely chopped

1 French or whole grain baguette

8 oz. goat cheese at room temperature

2 tbsp. milk

Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 425. Rinse and pat dry grapes. Toss grapes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper. Place grapes on jelly roll pan, on the middle rack in the oven, and roast for  45 minutes. Finely chop chile, red onion and cilantro. Peel and roughly chop jicama. In a large bowl mix together chile, red onion, jicama, cilantro and red wine vinegar. Set aside. Once grapes are roasted, roughly chop them and add them to the salsa. Gently toss all ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside. Mix 8 ounces of goat cheese with 2 tablespoons of milk to make it spreadable. Set aside. Slice and toast baguette. Spread about 1 tablespoon of goat cheese or as much as you like on the crostini and add a spoonful  of salsa on top. Serve immediately. Leftover salsa is great topping on fish or chicken but I doubt you will have leftovers!

5 First Bites to try for 2014

This salty and sweet appetizer is a must make for this new year’s eve!

Homemade pretzel bites? Yes please! Head over to Two Peas and Their Pod for their recipe.

If you like sweet potatoes, goat cheese and pecans, try this recipe.

I really love salty and sweet combinations, as I am sure you can tell. Try this crostini combination from Foodie Crush. It is sure to be a hit!

Do you want to offer at least one healthy appetizer? Martha has you covered. Check out her spiced up hummus dip.