What do you do for the holidays? I used to rush around to about seven different holiday parties on Christmas, putting kids in and out of snowsuits and car seats in the snow. I had enough of that after the first three years of having kids, so now I cook. I cook a lot. I follow the philosophy of, if you cook, they will come and if they don’t, well at least there’s great food to eat. I learned this at a young age, thankfully. You see, I have this problem with cooking for an army even when there’s only four people to cook for, so it suits me to entertain, especially for large parties. I just love having everyone over for the holidays, honestly. The fire roars, the Chateaubriand roasts, the gravy simmers, the vegetables steam, the family laughs, the kids scream in delight and run through the halls. The wine pours and the lights twinkle as the Christmas music fills our home with holiday cheer. The cold and snowy wilderness outside makes it all seem so old-fashioned, which I love. It’s pretty cozy up here in our nook of the woods, and those that are closer to the hustle and bustle of the city get to escape with us, away from the traffic and the stress without having to deal with airports and mass transit travel. Just a simple one hour car ride from New York City and you can be at our cozy little house in the big woods.
And how do we start our festivities? Well, usually with a huge antipasto and a few dips. This particular dip is my favorite. My mom used to make a version of it all the time when I was little and I never tried it even though it smelled amazing. I was a pretty stubborn little girl, especially when it came to mayonnaise..and wearing itchy sweaters and tights. I still hate mayonnaise (don’t hate me, I’m sorry), and tights for that matter (leggings are so much more comfortable), so now I have my own party where I can wear trouser jeans and bake my version of her artichoke dip without mayonnaise. Apparently these small nuances don’t really matter to anyone in my family but me, so I figure I might as well make them the way I really want them, that way I can really stop and enjoy it.
I realize these are little successes in my life, but I’m pretty surprisingly proud of them. I replaced the mayonnaise with sour cream, which I love. I also added spinach to make it a pretty green color, which is always good for the holidays and I blended the “chunks” as I called them when I was little. I don’t like chunks in my dip, but if you do, you can skip the blending and just go for a rough chop, instead.
I also serve it with this bread as well as crackers, some lightly toasted french bread and endive spears and celery. So, basically you can put it on anything (including a spoon) and it will be delicious. If you’re making this for a casual gathering, you can just go with tortilla chips and be done, but I like to fancy up each appetizer so it kind of expands the possibilities for personalization.
Let the holiday celebrating begin with this savory, deliciously creamy, cheesy, hot baked spinach and artichoke dip! My personal favorite and apparently everyone else’s too, since there have never been any leftovers in the history of this dip which means, it must be good.
Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- 1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach
- 1 9-ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 4 ounces of cream cheese
- 1/3 pound of Parmesan cheese, grated (reserving 1/2 cup for top)
- 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 teaspoon for those who are sensitive to spicy foods)
Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large microwave safe bowl, add frozen spinach and artichoke hearts. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for ten minutes, stirring half way through microwave time. Remove plastic wrap to let steam escape. Using an immersion blender, blend the artichokes and spinach, by gently pushing on three inch sections for a few seconds with the immersion blender. Stir and repeat the same blending technique once more. The artichokes and spinach should be finely chopped and almost pureed at this point.
Add sour cream, cream cheese and parmesan. Stir. Add garlic powder, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish, pour dip into baking dish, top with an additional sprinkling of grated Parmesan and place in preheated oven to bake for 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbling.
Serve with any of the following: endive spears, crackers, flat bread, toasted french bread slices, celery spears, etc.
Note: If you do not have an immersion blender, you may use a regular blender or just chop the artichokes and spinach thoroughly once cool enough to handle.