Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I wanted to actually make something for at least one football game this season, so I decided to make spinach and artichoke dip for the Saints vs. Seahawks playoff game. I also happened to be hunger over with a serious case of the munchies when I was in the grocery store earlier that day, and just couldn't pass up the idea when it popped in my head. You should have seen the bizarre assortment of food I had in my basket as I was checking out. If it wasn't for the dip ingredients, it really wouldn't have made any sense at all. I had angel hair pasta, boxed blueberry muffins mix (only a hungover me would go for this), ice cream, salsa, diet sunkist (SO underrated let me tell you) and then obviously frozen spinach, cream cheese, etc. etc….

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, room temperature
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil (can use dried)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (plus more for top)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sour cream or mayo
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 frozen square thing of spinach, defrosted
1 14 oz. can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350. Rinse and chop the artichoke hearts and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the spinach and artichoke hearts. (I started with a whisk but that was a pain because the thicker ingredients kept getting stuck. I thought I large spoon was easiest.)

Squeeze out as much liquid from the spinach, break it apart with your hands and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix in with a spatula or large spoon. Then gently stir in the artichoke hearts.

Spread the dip evenly into a baking dish (either one you are serving or a square cake pan. I don't have pretty serving dishes so I used a pan and just put it in a bowl after. I feel like it would have stayed warmer longer in the pan but it wasn't very pretty looking)

Sprinkle a light even layer of mozzarella on top and bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cookies and Cream Cookies

I know it's crazy, but Oreos just aren't my favorite. I've never really loved them, even when I was a kid. I'll eat them of course, but I don't bat an eyelash when I pass them in the grocery store or anything. I feel like i'm the only one, but I actually like the golden Oreos so much better. I also get beef for hating steak and preferring Royal Red shrimp over lobster. I know, it's a crime; especially in my family (although maybe not the royal red part). 

My roommate and best friend, i.e. Courtney, happens to love Oreos. When I came across this recipe, I knew that I had to make them (for both of our sakes).  Since I always prefer a hot, homemade chocolate chip-y cookie, I thought these would be the perfect compromise. I couldn't believe it, they were amazing. They also never got hard. Ever. I really don't think it's possible to over bake these because of the pudding, so they are pretty much foolproof; and any foolproof recipe is one that you keep forever - especially when you can say it's completely homemade. (in other words, a boxed cake mix is pretty much foolproof, but where are the bragging rights, youknowwhatimean?) 

The only annoying part about this recipe, at least for my sake, is that you have to buy or have Oreos on hand, and you don't use the entire package. Thus, I end up snacking on the Oreos, even though I don't really enjoy them; because you know, they're just…well there….and that easy to open package just makes them so accessible.... However, having a mother that freezes literally everything (shootout, Althea!), and who actually prefers frozen cookies to fresh, I know that Oreos can last forever in the freezer. And since you only use about half of the package, you can use those leftovers to make another batch in the future OR like a pie crust for a peanut butter pie or something….or cookies and cream ice cream (but with a chocolate base, because of course I don't like regular cookies and cream ice cream either…)

For these cookies, I used this recipe and this recipe; no idea where the original came from.

Cookies and Cream Cookies 
with crushed Oreos and white chocolate chips 

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar 
1 3.4 oz. package instant vanilla pudding mix 
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
One column of Oreos, crushed in a plastic bag, plus 5 crushed by hand for bigger pieces 

1 heaping cup of white chocolate chips

Note this cookie recipe follows a slightly different order than normal. But I promise, so as it says. Also, unlike most cookies that need to be refrigerated, these can be baked immediately. I also suggest letting the dough get more room temperature if you plan on refrigerating the dough before baking.


1.   In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

2.   In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy

3.   Add the pudding mix and blend until incorporated

4.   Add eggs one at a time, and then vanilla

5.   Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl and mix until just incorporated  

6.   With a spatula, fold in the chopped and crushed Oreos; then the chocolate chips.

7.   When ready to bake (these can actually be baked immediately) preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 8-10 minutes. (Bake time can vary depending on your oven. I knew they were ready when it was very slightly brown around the edge)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Since I didn't work this year for Christmas break, apart from babysitting, I had a lot of free time on my hands. So, of course, I decided to spend as many hours as possible baking and decorating cookies. I am so annoyed with myself though because I bought new food coloring, plastic piping bags and tips and cookie cutters when I had some in the closet at my moms house the entire time. It's ok, because I would have had to buy red anyway (but still annoying regardless) Thats a lot of $dough$ even with the killer Michaels discounts. And I also have all of my goods at Elon, so that was annoying too. But I actually use them there, so at least they weren't just sitting in another state for no reason.

Decorating these things is addicting. I'm ready for round 3….

Christmas Sugar Cookies 
I got the recipe here and followed the advice from the comments

1 ½ cups butter, room temperature
3 cups of sugar
4 eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tsps vanilla

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large together, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs and vanilla.

In 3 increments, add the flour mixture to the large bowl, using a spatula (not the mixer).

Either cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or over night. You can also separate the dough into two balls or disks and wrap in plastic wrap. (It was hard digging out the hard dough from the bowl, so I prefer doing it this way and breaking off pieces at a time)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly flour your work space and rolling pin and roll out the dough to about ¼ to ½ inch thickness. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a silpat or tin foil (I rotate between the two because I only have one silpat)

If your oven maintains a consistent temperature, bake for 6 to 8 minutes – making sure the edges don’t get too brown. A faint brown edge is ok, but maintaining a light tan color is preferable.  Cool completely.

For my decorating icing I use this recipe from Sweetopia, but I add a teaspoon or so of almond extract to tone down the strong flavor of the confectioners sugar. 

The bite sized ones might be my favorite, although they are a little too easy to eat...