This is a very special “Snow Day Snacks” – WIND DAY edition.
There was much hype this week about impending high winds today. The forecast was no joke: gusts up to 70 MPH. The news started stressing that the weather would be hazardous during the morning commute, and last night one of the more rural school systems canceled school for today. These were a few cues for me to check OPM.gov this morning to see if there was a 2-hour delay for the federal government.
I had a very intense week at work, and knew today would just be a full day of catch-up. When I groggily checked my phone on the off-chance we had that 2-hour delay, I had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming (a few times) when I saw before my hazy eyes:
CLOSED. And not a telework-ready day for me. O.M.G. And all the local school systems were closed. I knew I couldn’t be correctly dreaming the names of all of the local counties in my news alert emails. But after a winter of very little snow and snow-related delays and cancellations, it was unexpected – and so welcome.
I was thrilled I was able to lay low around the house today. And the winds did deliver. But in an apartment with no balcony, downtown where power doesn’t go out … I had zero complaints about the forced downtime.
Of course I am game to cook or bake on a homebound day, but the challenge with Snow Days – or Wind Days, as the case my be – is that I may not have stocked the fridge for the occasion, due to the short notice (or the panic that hits grocery stores before a big storm around here!). So I am left making something out of what I have on hand.
Which you know I love to do.
And today I was t.h.r.i.l.l.e.d to have all of the ingredients for this Classic Spinach Artichoke Dip. Seriously, when I found a block of mozzarella in the freezer, I did a (tiny) little dance. I have had a hankering for this dip for the past few months but hadn’t found occasion to make it. Bought the ingredients a few times, even. I knew immediately that I wanted to blog about it. And when I saw how the pictures were turning out, I wanted to blog about it today. Love when I am that excited about a post.
This recipe was passed to me in law school when I started cooking. I don’t remember exactly how it came to pass, but I remember reading the recipe AC’s mom had sent her and having so many questions. What is “neufchatel”? I don’t like mayonnaise – why do I like this? I don’t like cream cheese – which I learned was pretty much the same thing as neufchatel – why do I like this? Moms send recipes? I can actually make spinach-artichoke dip myself? Why can’t I stop eating this? And so on.
This was a favorite recipe when I was in my first few apartments and would have friends over for parties. It’s a total crowd-pleaser and is actually not that messy to put together. And if you’re looking to follow this party tip, it’s a great one to put in the oven for an hour while you go and get pretty. You can even mix everything in the casserole dish that you bake it in. The hardest part for me is draining the defrosted chopped spinach. No matter what I do, the spinach always seems to travel a bit. But if you can get through that, you are well on your way to Classic Spinach Artichoke Dip.
I doubled the spinach and artichoke from the original recipe. Sure, there is a brick of Neufchatel (~ light cream cheese) and a few handfuls of cheese, but I will sneak in some green wherever I can.
It is a delicious topper for pretty much anything. I had some corn tortillas in the freezer and baked them up into tortilla chips for this batch. I also found the odds and ends of some carrots and celery, along with an English (seedless) cucumber that looked good at Whole Foods a few days ago, and a red pepper from a vegetable delivery that was intended for Roasted Red Pepper Dip, but selflessly sacrificed half of itself to add a pop of color and additional nutritional value to my afternoon. Which looked very much like this:
I could seriously eat this all day long. BUT I just got Invisaligns yesterday, and am paranoid about them being out for too long. That was really my only limitation today. Otherwise… all Classic Spinach Artichoke Dip all day long.
- 4 oz mozzarella, shredded
- .5 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (an overflowing handful)
- 1 package Neufchatel (light cream cheese)
- 2 Tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp skim milk
- 16 oz bag of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water wrung or pressed out
- 12 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 2 large cloves of garlic, zested
- wedge of lemon (optional)
- Heat the oven to 350.
- In a medium microwave- and oven-safe casserole dish, like Corningware, combine the mozzarella, Parmesan, Neufchatel, mayonnaise, and skim milk. Nuke and stir until easily incorporated (about 1-2 minutes).
- Stir in the drained chopped spinach and artichoke, and zested garlic, mixing until it's uniform.
- Wipe any stray dip off the rim of the casserole dish with a paper towel, so it doesn't burn onto the casserole dish.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes, covered.
- Remove the aluminum foil and bake for 10 more minutes.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the top once it's done, if desired.
- Serve with tortilla chips, vegetables, and/or pita or pita toast.
Adapted from AC’s mom’s recipe.