Thursday, January 01, 2009

Weekend Cookbook Challenge: Spreading the New Year Cheer

The very first blogging event I ever participated in was the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, hosted for four years by my very best friend and lost twin sister, Sara of I Like to Cook.

When I saw earlier last month that Sara was hosting in December and had chosen appetizers as the theme, I made note to make sure I got my post up in time. Of course, seeing that today is January 1, 2009 it appears that I'm late. Luckily, Sara so graciously allowed me to be a bit late with this and for that I'm grateful because the appetizer I chose is perfect for the first gathering of the New Year.

The recipe I used came from a 1985 copy of Ladies Home Journal of my mother's and is a dip/spread for Artichoke Spinach and Crab. It is super simple to make and perfect for any gathering of folks you have over. What I really love about the recipe is it can be made a day ahead and served either warm or cold. It works for both a casual gathering of friends or a fancy dinner party. It makes a great filling for phyllo cups and quiche too! It is very versatile.

I always keep the main ingredients on hand: a can of artichoke hearts, a 10 oz box of frozen chopped spinach, a package of shredded cheddar cheese, and a small container of sour cream. To this you can really add anything from shredded crab meat or lobster meat or if you want, you can leave out the seafood and make a pretty grand baked artichoke spinach dip.

Did I mention it toasts up nice under the broiler on a bagel for a pretty little brunch?

Artichoke Spinach Lobster Dip

Spinach Artichoke Crab Dip

1 8.5oz can of plain artichoke hearts (I like Goya brand)
1 10oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 cup cooked crab or lobster, shredded (optional)
1 8oz cream cheese, softened and whipped (or buy the pre-whipped)
3/4 cup of sour cream
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp kosher salt

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.

Drain and chop artichoke hearts and combine in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Spread into casserole dish and bake for 15 minutes until cheese is melted and dip is hot.

Allow to cool if serving cold.

Serve on crackers or with pita chips