Dianne’s Crazy Good Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I have always loved spinach artichoke dip. I mean what’s not to like, it’s gooey, cheesy goodness. Before Alexis was born, I started experimenting with making my own. This recipe is what has evolved over time. The components are mostly the same, but the quantity and quality has changed over the years. I have friends who specifically request this dip when they’re coming to visit. It’s always a hit with those that love this kind of dish.

What You’ll Need:
1 – 12 ounce package of frozen spinach
1 – 12 ounce package of frozen artichokes, chopped
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of Parmesan, shredded (Note: Make sure you’re using real Parmesan.)
6 to 8 ounces of goat cheese
1 teaspoon of garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Only add the extra salt is the garlic salt you use isn’t particularly salty.)
Mozzarella (optional, only if you choose to bake the dip)

This dip can be made two ways. Once you get all of the ingredients in the pot and heated through and the cheeses are all melted, it’s perfectly OK to eat right away, BUT if you want to really make it pop, top with some mozzarella and bake. If you’re going to go the oven route at the end, preheat your oven to 400 F before you start making the dip.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Eat It Now or Bake It

In a large stock pot add all the ingredients except for the mozzarella, and stir over medium heat until heated through and bubbly. It really is that simple. At this point you’re ready to go, or you can do the next step.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Ready for Cheese

If you decide to bake the dip, spread the dip out into a baking dish and cover with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Ready to Bake

Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned on the edges.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: Baked

Serve with crudités, bagel or tortilla chips, or toasted bread. The toasted bread is really, really good, but you can’t go wrong with any of the choices.

If you really want to spice things up, throw on some splashes of hot sauce.

Spinach Artichoke Dip: With a Splash of Hot Sauce

Notes: You can leave out the artichokes if you want to, but they really do make the dish. This dip makes a good topping on pizza in place of your traditional tomato pie, or spread on garlic bread before baking.

Cheesy Potato Cakes

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Ready to Serve

One of my favorite things when I was a kid is when my mom would make potato cakes. She didn’t make them often, but once in a blue moon when we had left over mashed potatoes she make some. I remember watching her make them and thinking one day I’d make them too. I don’t make them that often either, but when I do, I often add in cheese, because cheese and potatoes…what’s not to like?

These potato cakes come together quickly and you can make and “fry” an entire batch in about a half hour. They’re perfect as an appetizer, or even as a snack. If you like cheese and potatoes, this is the dish for you!

Cheesy Potato Cake

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt (Note: Use less salt if you’re mashed potatoes are heavily salted, more if they aren’t.)
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 potato, shredded
Olive oil
More shredded cheese for serving
Sour Cream
Chopped scallions

In a large bowl mix together mashed potatoes, flour, sea salt, black pepper, cheese, egg and shredded potato until “dough” forms. This can be a bit sticky depending on the moisture content of your potatoes and humidity and such. You’re going to get your hands dirty, but what’s the fun of cooking if you don’t get a little messy! 😉 Form in to a ball about the size of a plum and then flatten. Repeat until you run out of potato mixture. You can make the patties all at once, or make them as you go, it’s up to you.

Add flattened patties to a skillet that has a thin layer of olive oil heated over medium heat. “Fry” each side until browned. When you flip the first time, flatten the patty a bit with your spatula. I like to flip them a couple of times until they’re done. Place on a tray lined with paper towels after “frying” and sprinkle with sea salt.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Fried

Serve warm topped with a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions.

Cheesy Potato Cakes: Dig In!

Notes: There isn’t a lot of oil in this, so frying isn’t quite the term, but it serves it purpose. You can add in herbs to the potato cake, such as dill or thyme if you like. They’re also good just plain if you don’t want to add the toppings.

Southwestern Egg Rolls

Southwest Egg Rolls

(Note: I wrote this entry in September of 2015. I’ve been planning this comeback and merging my two blogs for a while and then got side tracked. I still remember this guy and this day. I decided to post the entry as I wrote it. This is one of my and Lex’s favorite snacks. Enjoy!)

It’s been a while. Did you miss me? My last entry was in December of 2014 for the Christmas cookie swap. I’ve taken a hiatus of sorts. It happens. I have wanted to get back to blogging for a while now, but apathy overtook me. It’s hard to believe that at one time I posted an entry every week day, usually 4 recipes per week and links on Friday. I’m not sure how I had the energy for that, especially with a young child.

Now that I’m back, things might be a little different. Dianne’s Dishes is and always will be primarily a food blog, BUT from time to time I’ll be posting musings and antidotes that might not be related to food. I’ve decided to combine my food blog and my personal blog, because well it’s my blog, so I can. 😉 That means today you get this recipe for Southwestern Egg Rolls and my little drive by friendship with an according to him “grumpy old bastard” because it’s two for the price of one day!

So let’s talk about Mr. Grumpy Bastard…

I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from depression from time to time. Lately I’ve been on a down swing; I’ve been tired; no more than that, exhausted, down and more than a bit grumpy. The past few days have been particularly bad, but I put one foot in front of the other and get on with it, because what can you do?

This morning I had to go to Wegman’s to get some cucumbers. Alexis and I seem to go through cucumbers like most people go through water, and a weekend without cucumbers would be a bleak occurrence. While perusing the produce section I saw a very tall elderly gentleman, and trust me if someone is tall to me, they’re actually tall, my father is six foot nine, I know tall. I automatically smiled at him because, I appreciate the tall people.

He smiled back and said, “You have a mess of hair young lady.”

I wasn’t sure what to say to that, because well I do, I have a lot of hair. I’ve always had thick hair and when it’s freshly curled, like this morning, it looks bigger. I’m ok with that, so I smiled at him and said nothing.

“I didn’t mean that in a bad way,” he told me. “Your hair reminds me of my daughter’s hair. She had thick hair.”

“Had?” I asked hesitantly.

“We don’t talk these days,” he told me with a shrug.

“I’m sorry. Might I ask why?” I asked him carefully. I didn’t want to be nosy, but for some reason it seemed important.

“Because I’m a grumpy bastard,” he told me with a sad smile.

Now I don’t go hugging complete strangers…ever, but this guy needed a hug, so I hugged him. I hugged this complete stranger, just because he looked like he needed one. I wasn’t a long hug, but it was a hug nonetheless and he hugged me back, when I pulled back, he patted my shoulder.

“What was that for?” he asked me with a smile.

“It’s Hug a Grumpy Bastard day and I thought I wouldn’t get to participate,” I told him a bit sassily and he laughed.

“Thank you,” he told me a bit choked up and he cupped my cheek and kissed me on the forehead.

I blushed, because well I always blush, I’m the queen of the easy blush, and gave him another smile.

“I think I needed you today,” he told me and he gave me another smile and wandered off.

I realized after he walked away that I needed him today too. It’s funny how that works, like the universe knows what you need and sends it to you. In this case it sent me a grumpy senior citizen, who needed a little affection, and in the process it made me feel a little better about mankind at the same time. Drive by friendships can be just what you need, just when you need them. He and his daughter might have issues, and he might really be a grumpy bastard, but it doesn’t make him any less human, and in that moment he was extremely nice to me, and in the mere minutes we spent together, he made me really smile. Smiling is good. I needed to smile and I think he did too.

Now let’s get on to the egg rolls!

I’ve had this kind of egg roll at various places over the years, and I had always thought it would be fun to come up with my own variety. I had meant to make these for years, but today I felt like experimenting, so I did. I love how they turned out! Alexis really liked them too. We’ll definitely be making these again.

What You’ll Need:
Olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
Roughly 2 cups of cooked chicken, chopped (Note: A little more or a little less won’t make a difference.)
1 – 15.5 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup of frozen corn kernels
¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
A generous pinch of sea salt
½ to 1 teaspoon of black pepper (Note: More if you like pepper, less if you don’t.)
¼ teaspoon of cumin
2 teaspoons of chili powder
A dash of cayenne pepper
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying (Note: I used peanut oil.)

Southwest Egg Rolls

In a very large skillet sauté onion in a little olive oil, until slightly browned. Stir in chicken, black beans, corn, parsley, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder and cayenne to mix. Heat through for 2 minutes or so until mixture is warm. Set aside.

Heat oil for frying. You can use whatever kind of oil you usually fry with. I like to use peanut oil for things like egg rolls. As always, be careful when you’re dealing with hot oil. Make sure you know the smoke point of the oil you’re using, as well as the flash point, and keep a close eye on the temperature. Don’t let it go too hot.

While the oil is heating, assemble the egg rolls.

Place an egg roll wrapper on a flat surface and spoon some filling on to the middle of the wrap:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Next fold up the edges:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Then fold the bottom toward the back:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Wet the back edge of the wrapper:

Southwest Egg Rolls

You can do this with your finger or with a brush.

Then finish rolling the roll:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Place the roll aside and repeat the process until you run out of filling:

Southwest Egg Rolls

Once the oil is heated, gently place the rolls in the hot oil, flipping once, when the edges are browned:

Southwest Egg Rolls

When the other side is browned, and this doesn’t take long at all, just seconds, place them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain:

Southwest Egg Rolls

It usually takes less than a minute to fry the entire egg roll. Repeat the frying process until all your rolls are done. I like to place them seam side up first, and then fry the non-seam side second.

This recipe makes 18-22 egg rolls.

Notes: If you want to make this recipe vegetarian, you can add a second can of beans and leave out the chicken. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.