I *love* Christmas stockings and the little goodies that are inside. We always opened them up first thing in the morning, and among the toothpaste and fruit (we always had an orange stuck in the very bottom of the toe), was always one or two prize possession gifts. Little trinkets or jewelery or keepsakes. The kind of thing you’d never buy any other time of the year, but under the early morning light and twinkle tree lights, they’d put a sparkle in my eye.
So I’m still a sucker for stocking gifts. Poor SM. This tradition is completely lost on him. He doesn’t think it’s funny that I buy shaving cream and wrap it up and put it in his stocking. And he thinks it’s strange that there are some good gifts in there, and others that are just plain old boring toiletries. (Santa wants you to take your daily multi. Why wouldn’t he put vitamins in there?)
This recipe is a little stocking stuffer gift from me to you. But the good kind, not the Walgreens Clearance Sale kind. It’s my favorite silly-easy go-to appetizer that everyone cannot get enough of. In fact, even though I’ve made it a hundred times, I don’t have a picture of it because it typically is attacked by my vulture friends during its short trip from oven to counter. I turn around to grab the camera and it’s almost gone. I’m sure I’ll make it at SUE!’s this Christmas, and maybe she can stave off everyone long enough for me to snap a shot for you. Trust me. It’s delicious.
Spinach and artichokes are two of my favorite veggies, and the combo can’t be beat in my book. Perfect in eggs, hot or cold sandwiches, pizza, and of course – hot, gooey, cheesy dip. This recipe really has no origin to speak of. It’s the product of years of hard (hard) research. It’s delicious with pita chips, crackers, baguette slices, toasted crostini slices, or in a bread bowl. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with this one. Feel free to experiment with the recipe to suit your own favorite flavors as well as what’s in your pantry. Stirring in small-diced red peppers after baking is just one example – they add a nice crunch and also make it a festive red and green. Whip up a bowl for a holiday party this week – it will be a hit. And then Santa will fill your stocking with the good stuff. Enjoy!
Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip
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Time to prepare: 20 minutes
1/2 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 2 T)
1 clove garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/4 t kosher salt
dash red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 T olive oil
1 box frozen spinach, thawed
1 – 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (in water, not oil), drained & coarse chopped
1 – 8 ounce block of cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes, and saute until shallots are soft, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Don’t let the garlic or shallots burn.
Thaw the spinach in the microwave and wrap in a clean dish towel. Wring out as much liquid as possible.
Heat the cream cheese in the microwave for about 30 seconds (if it’s not at room temperature) so you can stir it in with the other ingredients.
Combine oil mixture and remaining ingredients in a bowl, transfer to an oven-safe serving dish and heat until cheese is melted.
To make accompanying pita slices, purchase original greek style pitas (the ones without a “pocket”) and cut into 6 or 8 wedges per round. Spray with cooking spray (olive oil flavor if you have it) and toast in the oven for a few minutes until browned. Bake or broil these – they can go in with whatever other dishes are cooking – just be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.
Likewise, the dip can broil or bake depending on what else you have in the oven. At 350 degrees, it will take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook, stirring once about half way through. Alternatively, you can use the broiler, just keep stirring every few minutes so it heats throughout and the top isn’t burned.