Hot Collards and Artichoke Dip

Hot Collards and Artichoke Dip

This is a delicious spin on a classic spinach and artichoke dip. I may even like the collards version better. Collards and artichokes are both nutrient dense foods, so I feel less guilty about indulging in this rich dip. I don’t think that using low-fat cream cheese, mayo, and sour cream would alter the taste much.

This dip is also wonderful as a sandwich spread. I smeared some leftover dip on a piece of baguette and sprinkled shredded carrots (pulled from my garden) on top. Yum.

Hot Collards and Artichoke Dip

1 smallish bunch of collards, washed well
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Remove the stems and tough ribs from the collards and slice thin. In a pot of salted water, cook the thinly sliced collards until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander. Squeeze the remaining liquid from the collards and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, salt, and garlic powder together. Mix in the prepared collards and chopped artichoke hearts. Pour mixture into a small baking dish that has been lightly coasted with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° F. for 20 minutes, or until heated through and slightly browned around the edges. Serve with toasted sliced baguette, toasted pita bread, or crackers.

You can prepare this dip up to a day in advance. Cover the dish with foil and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake.


Queso

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I’m a Texan so when I think of chile con queso I automatically think of Velvetta and Rotel. I’m perfectly fine with admitting that. That stuff tastes good. Normally, I would look down my nose at a processed “cheese food” product, but it really is essential for the smooth texture of a Texas-style queso.

I would love to create the perfect Texas-style queso without using processed cheese. I have tried. Over the years, I have made many different versions. Some turned out well, some didn’t. This particular version turned out fine, maybe even better than fine. I even reheated leftovers in the microwave the next day and it was still fine. Sometimes when using “real” cheese to make queso it can clump up or become a stringy, greasy mess. I didn’t have that problem with this version.  Make sure to lower the heat and stir a lot to make the queso smooth (although it won’t be smooth like a queso made with processed cheese). You can add more milk if needed.

I love chunks of fresh avocado (and even pico de gallo) in my queso. You can add other ingredients like black beans, chili, chopped fajita meat, or cooked ground beef to make the queso a little more substantial.

Queso

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely minced (you can substitute pickled jalapeno or roasted poblanos)
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeds removed, and finely chopped (or use1 – 2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes)
4 teaspoons flour
8 ounces of cheddar and monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a bowl, toss the cheeses with the flour and set aside. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and then stir in the cheese and milk. Lower the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve immediately with tortilla chips.


Chocolate Fondue and Pound Cake

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Chocolate fondue is a Valentine’s Day tradition for my family. I usually make this chocolate coconut cream fondue but I didn’t buy the ingredients I needed the last time I was shopping for food and didn’t want to go back to the store for just a few items. This year I had to make a fondue with stuff that was already in my pantry. I have a pretty well stocked pantry, so it wasn’t too hard. I used milk chocolate chips because my oldest son prefers them. I think semi-sweet would be good too.

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Chocolate Fondue

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons milk, cream, or half and half

Heat the sweetened condensed milk in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the chocolate chips, butter, and cream and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined.

Serve the chocolate fondue with various fruits, cookies, and cake for dipping.

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I made this pound cake to go with our chocolate fondue. I usually buy a frozen Sarah Lee pound cake, but I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store so I just made this one. I have yet to find a perfect pound cake recipe. This one is very basic (although not a true pound cake). It’s good for making strawberry shortcake.

I got distracted by my 3-year-old son and overcooked the cake (I baked it for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Don’t do that). It was very dry (my oldest son mentioned something about a brick…), but we were dipping it in chocolate, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. I cut off the edges and the bottom and cubed it for the fondue.

Pound Cake

2 sticks (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a loaf pan or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour, mixing on the lowest setting until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake for at least 10 minutes before removing it from the pan . Let cool completely on a wire rack.


Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

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One of the things I miss most about Texas is the food, especially brisket and Tex-Mex. One of my favorite Tex-Mex places in Texas is Chuy’s in Austin. Chuy’s is a mini-chain now and I was able to eat at one in Plano when I was there this past September. It was wonderful! Of course Chuy’s serves up tortilla chips and salsa as soon as you are seated at your table. If you ask nicely, they will also bring you a little bowl of their Creamy Jalapeno dressing. It’s so yummy. I could seriously just eat spoonfuls of that stuff, but it’s also good as a dip for tortilla chips (or potato chips), as a salad dressing, or drizzled on anything (tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas, etc…).

Here’s my attempt at a copycat recipe of Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dressing:

Jalapeno Ranch Dip/Dressing

8 ounces sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 package dry Ranch dip mix (I used Hidden Valley Original Ranch)
1/4 cup prepared salsa verde (I used Herdez – it’s in a can)
pickled jalapenos, to taste (I used about 3 tablespoons of sliced pickled jalapenos)
fresh cilantro leaves, to taste (I used about a handful)

Combine ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

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Spinach Dip

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I love this spinach dip! I had it at a party years ago and the hostess shared her recipe. She served her dip in a pumpernickel bread bowl with additional bread for the dip. I like the dip with raw veggies and Ruffles potato chips. This dip also make a nice spread for sandwiches and wraps.

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Spinach Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
1 envelope (1 ounce) ranch salad dressing mix
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained completely
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained, chopped

Beat the cream cheese in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sour cream and ranch salad dressing mix and beat until well combined.

Microwave the frozen chopped spinach for about 3 minutes (until it is defrosted). Drain the spinach in a colander. When the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Stir the drained, chopped spinach and the chopped water chestnuts into the cream cheese mixture. Cover and chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. Serve with raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc…), crackers, and/or (toasted or not) pumpernickel bread.


Mezze Platter

Mezze is an assortment of small dishes or appetizers commonly found in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diet.  What dishes are included in Mezze differ from region to region.  Hummus, pita and breads, various salads, cheeses, olives, dolmas, sausages, vegetables prepared in various ways, dips, etc….  are common components of a Mezze Platter.

My Mezze Platter Included:

Hummus, pickled turnips, toasted pita bread, feta cheese, pepperocini peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and black olives.

Quick Hummus

  • 1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • olive oil
  • water

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Add olive oil and water -a little at a time- to get desired consistency. You can add other ingredients (like herbs or roasted red peppers) for something a little different. My favorite addition is cilantro.


Chocolate and Coconut Cream Fondue

Chocolate and Coconut Cream Fondue

From February 20, 2005:  I made this amazingly indulgent chocolate and coconut cream fondue for my family for Valentine’s Day last year and then again this year….the beginnings of a fun and very sweet tradition.  This year I tried to keep it simple and served the fondue with fresh strawberries, sliced bananas, maraschino cherries, sugar wafers,  and cubes of pound cake for dipping.   We also enjoyed dunking pretzels and teddy grahams in the rich chocolate concoction.  Last year, dippers included Pirouline cookies, cubes of angel food cake, grapes, and graham crackers.  Fresh pineapple and marshmallows are also  good, but you could dip anything into this fondue and it would be good!  This recipe makes a lot of fondue, so there is plenty for left-overs and for sharing with friends and neighbors.  I don’t have a fondue pot so I served it in a small warmed bowl….that worked just fine. Enjoy!

Chocolate and Coconut Cream Fondue

1 15-ounce can sweetened cream of coconut (such as Coco López)
12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
Assorted fresh fruit (such as whole strawberries, 1-inch-thick slices banana, 1-inch cubes peeled cored pineapple, and tangerine segments), cookies, cakes, marshmallows, pretzels, etc.

Combine sweetened cream of coconut and 12 ounces chocolate in heavy large saucepan. Stir mixture over very low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Stir in whipping cream and extract. (Fondue can be prepared 8 hours ahead. Cover; store at room temperature. Stir over low heat to rewarm before serving.)

Transfer mixture to fondue pot. Place over candle or canned heat burner. Serve with fruit for dipping.

Makes 8 servings.

recipe source:  Bon Appétit December 2002