Slow Cooker Dip Week: Spinach and Artichoke

For our annual potluck, the Pie and I decided to make three hot dips and have them with crackers and vegetables for people to snack on while they waited for the rest of the food our guests to arrive.  As with all slow cooker meals, the prep pictures look prettier than the final shots, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they’re well worth eating — so worth eating, I’m giving each dip its own post this week.  Today we’re making SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP WITH BACON.  This dip, adapted from a Better Homes & Gardens recipe, is easy and fantastically tasty, and we halved it to fit in our 1/4qt slow cooker.

First, cook up a couple slices of bacon.  Drain those on paper towels and crumble them when they’re cool.

Dips Week 10

Dice up about 1/2 a sweet onion and a few green onions, and chuck them in the bacon skillet with a little bit of the bacon fat and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.

Dips Week 2

Chuck those in your 1.4qt slow cooker when they’re ready to go.

Dips Week 16

Roughly chop up the contents of a 14oz can of artichoke hearts and huck those in, as well as about half a drained 10oz box frozen spinach.

Dips Week 11

Chop up a sweet bell pepper finely and chuck that in.

Dips Week 8

Crumble up about 2oz blue cheese and pitch that in too, as well as 4oz package plain cream cheese (that’s half a block package).

Dips Week 12

Add in as well as much minced garlic as you like, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard and give the whole thing a good stir before covering and cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 2-3 hours, until everything is all melty and lovely.

Dips Week 20

Stir in your crumbled bacon and you’re good to go.

Dips Week 27

It’s the one on the right. Stay tuned for the middle dip on Friday!

Dips Week 30

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Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 5

I have another recipe for an artichoke dip here, but for Krystopf and Atlas’ baby shower this past weekend, I decided on a lighter version that I got from The Best of Clean Eating 2and it was such a hit that despite it making more dip than I ever thought possible, it was completely gone after just three hours.  Cait liked it so much that she insisted I push forward all other blog posts so that she could get this recipe as soon as possible.  So here you go.  I made this dip the day before the shower and chucked it in the fridge, saving the last step of baking and sprinkling of cheese for right before the party.

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Start by defrosting a 10oz package of frozen chopped spinach.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 1

Drain it well (you can see my handprint from pressing on it) and set it aside.

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Chop up 4 or 5 green onions and set those aside for now as well.

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Chop up about 1 1/2 cups cauliflower (this is the low-calorie filler in this dip) and pop that in a pot.  You could use frozen cauliflower as well, if you’d prefer.  Cook it until it’s tender and drain it.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 2

Huck the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor and add 1 250g/8oz package cream cheese, as well as 3 tablespoons milk.  Purée that sucker to a fine liquid, then transfer it to a bowl for now.

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Chop up a large white onion and several cloves of garlic.  Don’t worry about getting them too fine.  Whip those into a large frying pan with a few drops of olive oil.  Sauté those for about 8-10 minutes, until the onion is all soft and see-through.  Chuck those in the food processor you were using before.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 9

Crack open and drain a 14oz can artichoke hearts.  Chop those suckers up smallish and throw them in the processor.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip 3

Take your spinach and chuck that in as well, together with about 1/4 cup fresh dill sprigs, a few pinches salt, and a half teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

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Give that a go in the processor until it’s a texture you like.

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Dump it out into the bowl with the cauliflower/cream cheese mixture and add in the chopped green onions.  Give it a good stirring and add more salt or cayenne as required.

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To bake the dip, preheat your oven to 350°F and smooth the dip into a largish-sized casserole dish.

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Bake this, covered, for 20 minutes.

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Uncover it and sprinkle it with grated cheese (this is a mix of mozzarella and cheddar).

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Bake again for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and dip is hot all the way through.  Serve it hot with pita and chips!

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Garbage Soup with Squash, Spinach, Beans and Barley

Don’t let the name of this soup turn you off: it’s just a moniker my mother applied to any soup she made out of what was left in our refrigerator.

This week I had leftover spaghetti squash from my earlier experiment, as well as leftover cavatappi pasta from our spaghetti night.  What to do . . . ?

The nice thing about soups is they’re dead easy.  I filled a large pot with water and set it to boil.  I added a few heaping spoonfuls of Knorr Vegetable Stock (I use the powder instead of the liquid because I usually can’t use a whole carton before it goes bad and I don’t like to waste it).

Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours on medium-low.

I peeled and chopped a large parsnip and a small turnip (actually a rootabega but who’s checking?) and chucked them in the pot, together with a handful of pearl barley and about a cup of dried white beans.  I also added about a cup’s worth of frozen spinach to the mix, as well as the leftover squash and pasta.  There was already a significant amount of basil in the pesto that was on the squash (as well as the hazelnuts and parmesan cheese), so I didn’t add any other herbs to the mix.  When we eat it we usually add salt and pepper to suit our individual tastes.

Once I got the soup boiling, stirring often, I turned it down to a simmer, medium low, for about two hours, until the beans were cooked and the rootabega was tender.

We ate it hot with tabouleh sandwiches, and it was great.

My dad got me these bowls for Christmas. I am Big Al.

I let the rest of it cool and ladled it into yogurt containers for storage.  I find the yogurt container is a good standard measure for freezing, as it contains about two full servings.

Yogurt containers are a good size for two servings.