Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I think I am pretty good at reading my wife. I know when she is hungry, upset, happy, anxious, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what she really loves to eat. She gets me to, but in so many different ways. I know that I am the cook in the house, but I think I am so much more than that. Sure yesterday I rocked out homemade crepes for my wife, a Thai curry fish recipe, as well as a Thai beef salad that I knew would be a bend to her knees on first taste, but I also think that I provide some other good things such as a great sense of humor, a good hug, and an emotion and discipline to guide my kids through their early times in life (and hopefully much longer than that). My wife has introduced me to things, or maybe reintroduced me to things, that I would have probably never had ever wanted again, and this recipe is one of those. It’s the classic spinach and artichoke dip.

This is one of those dips that she fell in love with back in the late 1980’s, or early 1990’s at the chain TGIF. It’s that iconic image when opening their menu back then. The spinach and artichoke dip. Heck, we even recall going out to eat there when I returned home (I wasn’t going to say no) and sure enough that was ordered as an appetizer.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

As I have been home or a couple of weeks, I have been purging things in my refrigerator and cupboard (and doing a pretty good job at it), and this was a perfect creation to use up a can of artichokes, cheese, breadcrumbs, mayo, sour cream, and a bag of spinach my kid was so gung ho to use up for lunch. Do you think he touched the spinach? No.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire

This recipe is way too easy. The hardest part is probably waiting. Waiting for the spinach to cook and cool, or the dip to be  cooked and ready. Seriously.

Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.

During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.

As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe
Spinach and Artichoke Dip Recipe

Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.

Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

This dip is a crowd pleaser. It’s best served right out of the oven, scorching hot, or warmed. As much as my wife loves it, I will admit that I like it to in moderation. With that said, it’s a dip that is hard to walk away from. You might say things like ‘That’s it for me’, ‘I’m out’, ‘Get that away from me’, but one thing is for sure, I will find you coming back for another swipe of a veg, cracker, or chip. Yep, it’s that good. I hope you enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizers
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts, quartered, drained, chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, cooked, strained, cooled, and chopped
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated with microplane
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup fine bread crumbs
  • crackers, bread, vegetables, or other dipping items that you desire
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the spinach to a pot. Add in the water and bring this to a medium heat. Basically cook down the spinach until softened, only a few minutes, then strain, press out all of the water, and let it cool.
  2. During this time, get a mixing bowl. If you want to use your electric mixer feel free. Add in the chopped artichokes, half of the cheese, mayo, sour cream, garlic, and salt. Give this a good spin or mix. Yes, we are still waiting on that spinach to cool.
  3. As we wait, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and get your casserole dish out. OK, now that the spinach is cooled, and chopped, toss this into the mixing bowl, and give another good mix.
  4. Scoop the mixture into the casserole dish, add the remaining cheese to lightly cover the top, then sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.
  5. Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until that top is nice and golden and bubbly.
  6. Get ready. You know that molten hot dip you know you shouldn’t dig into but can’t resist? Yeah, this is one of those.

 

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa)

I know that recently Cinco de Mayo excites the gringos, but I could go for what everyone gets excited about that day, everyday. See, I may be like you and could seriously eat tacos, Tex Mex, or anything in between those (enchiladas, burritos, taquitos) on a regular basis. I’m not going to be shy about it. But in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to whip up some really easy, and excellent tacos. Tacos I knew my wife and kids have never had, and ones I have been wanting to make for years. Welcome tacos de papa, or Mexican Potato Tacos.

Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos Recipe

These tacos could probably compete with one of my all time favorites, tacos al pastor, and as you can see how much I love Mexican as well as Tex Mex food, well these come straight to top ten, and that’s no joke.

These are just way too easy to make and the result, however basic they may be, are so super satisfying that they have you thinking about leftovers for breakfast, or a gentle reheat in the oven for next day’s lunch.

Let’s get started.

  • 3 whole russet potatoes, cleaned, skins peeled and removed
  • 1 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin, to taste
  • 1 package sturdy corn tortillas
  • 1 cup of canola oil
  • crumbled queso fresco, optional
  • 2 whole serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, thinly sliced, optional
  • salsa verde, optional
  • optional sides (Mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole)

The focus here is really on the tacos. The fixings are up to you. I loaded my plate up Tex Mex style with all of the fixings because, hey that’s how I like to roll on my Mexican platter. The only thing it was missing was a great chile toreado!

Start by quartering your cleaned potatoes. You can go smaller if you want. I had some time on my hand so quartered worked fine by me. Add these to a pot of cold water, along with the garlic, one roughly chopped serrano chile, and add the teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain, return them back to the pot on medium heat an and cook to remove any excess water.

Once the water is evaporated, you have a couple of options. My first option is to always use a potato ricer for my potatoes. If you don’t have one, use your favorite masher, heck even a couple of forks. You want the potatoes smooth, but if you like some texture, then heck by all means get some texture into those suckers. If you want to remove the garlic and chilies, then go for it. Me? I mash them into the potatoes. Once mashed, add some salt, cumin, pepper, butter, and milk. Give a good stir, taste, and adjust any salt or cumin if needed. Set aside to cool.

How to make Mexican Potato Tacos
How to make Mexican Potato Tacos

When you are ready to get these things going, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and let it come to temperature for a couple of minutes.

Lightly heat up your corn tortillas in the microwave, or in a separate pan. The goal is to make them flexible for folding. Corn tortillas out of the bag are no bueno.

Once the oil is heated, and you have some workable corn tortillas, take a nice spoonful of the potato mixture and slather it into the tortilla. Fold the tortilla over, using the potato as the glue to pinch around the edges, and gently lay into the skillet. Repeat with a couple of more tacos. I think I fit about 3 tacos per cook.

Cook the tacos for a few minutes, then gently flip over to crisp the other side. Question? Can I spray these with cooking spray and place into a 375 degree oven, turning once and going that route? Yes, but I think the texture is slightly different. If you want to go that route, go for it. You can probably fit more on a baking sheet!

Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe
Mexican Potato Tacos (Tacos de Papa) Recipe

Once the tacos are cooked, remove and place on a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain. Now you have choices. You can carefully open these up and stuff them with things such as cheese, salsa, beans, or whatever you like, or you can roll like I did.

Add the Mexican potato tacos to a serving plate, lining them up nicely, and ladle on some warm salsa verde, shower with cheese, and lay around your fixings. I like mine spicy so I showered mine with more chilies.

Sure, I made the kids a batch of chili lime slow cooked chicken tacos as well (only thinking what I could use for leftovers the following days), but these Mexican potato tacos were it! I laid them on the table, not discussing much about them only that they were potato tacos (you should have seen their looks), and those were the only tacos I had on my plate.

I think that curiosity drove my wife, daughter, and one of my boys interest, and as soon as they took a bite they were totally sold!

Guess who had leftovers the following morning? Well, me of course (take one, lightly crisp it up in the oven while you make an over easy egg and place that on top (thank me later)), as well as my wife who I think took down another two for lunch.

Easy. Super delicious. Something that should be on every Mexican menu but I have yet to see nor order. Just saying. If you are looking for an awesome taco idea, give this one a shot. Hope you enjoy!

Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip

I’m a real sucker for sauces, salsas, and dips. I can’t say that everyone else in my family is the same that way. So as I typically do, I scavenge through my refrigerator looking for things that can be used up, or things that I can come up with in terms of new ideas. I remember this clearly. It was taco Tuesday night at my house. Who can forget taco Tuesday’s right? This is when I found some cilantro and some sour cream that needed to be used before it went bad. Are you like me when it comes to sour cream? You use a tablespoon or so, then it sits there only for you to keep looking at the expiration date? Well, no more!

Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip Recipe
Garlic Cilantro Lime Dip Recipe

This recipe is way too simple to put together and lasts a handful of days in the refrigerator. It’s great on tacos, baked potatoes, and drizzled probably on anything that sour cream would lend a hand to.

Let’s get started.

  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • salt to taste

That’s it! What is not to love about that!

Add the cilantro, garlic, and lime juice to a food processor. Pulse and spin that baby until everything is nice and fine.

Garlic and Cilantro Lime Dip Ingredients
Garlic and Cilantro Lime Dip Ingredients

Add the sour cream to a bowl and fold in the garlic, cilantro, and lime mixture. Give it a good stir until everything is nice and smooth. Give a taste, and season with salt.

Hope you enjoy!

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

One of my wife’s favorite dishes is, well at least that I make, probably my garlic noodles that are infused sesame oil. This dish is also one that is one of my go to dishes when I go to a get together. Not only are those super easy to make, but everyone tends to love them. Let’s just say the bowl is always empty. I typically only make that dish when the mint in my backyard is in abundance, so typically late spring through early fall.

This dish however kind of stems from this recipe, but I wanted something a bit more hearty, and something that I knew everyone in my family would love, but with a couple of different twists. This is what I am coining as my loaded garlic noodle pasta salad.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

This recipe packs in the flavor, texture, and is a great main course.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean fermented bean paste
  • generous pinch of kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1 bundle bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water until slightly tender
  • 1 bag of bun bo hue noodles, or a thick pasta like a bucatini, cooked before al dente
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, cooked and chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 2 whole carrots, shredded
  • 1 small can of bamboo shoots
  • 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup of frozen broccoli florets, slightly thawed
  • 1/2 cup of chow mein noodles
  • Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced (optional)
  • An appetite

Start by mixing all of your sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, and set it to the side.

Next, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the half of the oil, and bring to heat. Give the skillet a swirl, then add in the chicken breasts. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, the remove from the skillet and let them cool. Once cool, chop them up. If you see a little pink, don’t worry as we will finish in the next step.

Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad
Loaded Garlic and Ginger Pasta Salad

Once your noodles are cooked al dente, make sure both of them are drained and ready to go. This is almost like a stir fry so everything is going to go a bit quickly.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet (make sure it is large enough to hold everything) on medium heat. Toss in the garlic, giving a good stir, and and cook for a couple of minutes being careful not to burn the garlic.

Add in the chopped chicken, and half of the sauce. Swirl around and cook for about 3 minutes or so. Next toss in the thick noodles, give a good toss, and make sure the garlic and sauce coat the chicken. Cook for an additional few minutes.  Next add in the broccoli, and give that a good toss. Add the beaten eggs, and stir. This almost creates a creamy sauce that everyone loved.

To a large serving bowl, add the carrots, bamboo shoots, peanuts, sesame seeds, bean thread noodles, and spinach. Give that a good toss.

Add the remaining sauce to the skillet, and using tongs or your tossing skills, make sure everything is nicely incorporated. Cook for another minute.

Add the noodle mixture to the mixed up serving bowl, and use those tongs to incorporate everything together. This can take a minute or two.

Now you are ready to serve. I keep the chow mein noodles and sliced chilies on the side for those that want additional texture, and heat.

The end result is well, how do I put it? Let’s just say no one spoke for about 3 minutes as their faces were looking down and slurping noodles. Then everyone came up for air and began questioning everything in the salad, and stating how awesome it was. This serves a small army, probably 12 people, and is great for leftovers, warm, or cold. What’s not to love about that, right? Hope you enjoy!