Written on September 25, 2013 at 8:30 am , by Kristin Porter
Well it’s officially fall, and with the season of crunchy leaves and cooler temps comes televised football games on what feels like every day that ends in -y. The games are on so often at my house that the roar of the crowd has practically become soothing white noise for my 2 month-old son! I kid. (Kind of!)
Even if I’m not as excited by the constant kickoffs as my husband, there’s one thing I can get into – yummy, football-friendly appetizers like Spinach-Artichoke Dip with Blue Cheese and Bacon. This decadent dip featuring tender artichoke hearts, chewy spinach, smokey bacon, and tangy blue cheese is the ultimate game-day treat. Perfect for dipping into at halftime or all game long.
Smokey bacon is what takes this otherwise ordinary spinach-artichoke dip and makes it extraordinary. I bought thick, center-cut bacon and let it sizzle low and slow over medium heat in my favorite cast-iron skillet until it was crisp yet still chewy. The kitchen smelled mouthwatering.
The bacon is combined with the usual spin-art-dip players like light mayo, cream cheese, artichoke hearts, and spinach, then further amped up by the addition of tangy bleu cheese crumbles. Normally I’m not the biggest fan of blue cheese but the addition actually scored major points with me. It combined with the other flavors so deliciously!
The recipe calls for cooking the dip in a small crock pot, but kickoff was less than an hour away when I made this for my husband and me to enjoy. So, I scooped the mixture into a baking dish then topped it with grated parmesan cheese and baked it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Perfect! Salty, savory, decadent. The ultimate game-day dip!
Written on May 30, 2013 at 9:00 am , by Michael Wurm, Jr.
In January of this year I started a new series on Inspired by Charm called A Year of Yeast. When I created this series, I knew I wanted to find a really great pizza dough recipe. I was thrilled the other day when I stumbled across this recipe for Pizza Dippers. To be honest, I was excited for several reasons. First, I love homemade pizza. Second, I love lots of sauce and this recipe suggests an extra side of it for dipping. And finally, there was an option in this recipe for whole wheat. Perfection!
I pretty much followed the recipe except for a few minor tweaks in my toppings. I figured both the whole wheat crust and some extra veggies on top would make me feel a little bit better about eating pizza. I sliced some fresh yellow squash and baby portobello mushrooms and sprinkled them on top. I also added some julienned fresh basil leaves on top before baking and a few small, whole leaves after the pizza came out of the oven.
The pizza was delicious and the crust turned out beautifully. It was wonderfully soft and flavorful. The addition of the sugar in the dough really brought everything together. I think I just may have found my go-to pizza dough recipe!
I tried to limit myself to only a few slices for dinner, but as the night progressed, most of it disappeared. – You know a pizza is truly delicious if you can eat it straight from the fridge!
You can get the recipe for Pizza Dippers here.
For more information about A Year of Yeast, swing by Inspired by Charm anytime. And I’m curious: What are your favorite pizza toppings? Let me know in the comments below.
Michael Wurm, Jr – Inspired by Charm
Written on May 16, 2013 at 6:01 am , by Jessie Shafer
I often hear my female friends scoff at the money their husband or boyfriend pours into power tools and other garage-type thingies. They’ll say something like “He just had to have that third cordless drill,” with unsubtle sarcasm and a roll of their eyes. But the truth is, ladies, I totally get the obsession with having the right tool for the job. True, I may need to cut off my husband’s account at our local auto parts store, but can I really blame him?
After all, I display the same lack of control in any kitchen shop. If you ever want to distract me for hours on end, just point me in the direction of a Crate&Barrel or Williams-Sonoma. My kitchen drawers are busting at their dovetailed seams with special gadgets for getting those pesky peels off garlic cloves, extracting every last bit of juice from citrus, and a spatula in every shape (and size and color) that is manufactured. We even had to install extra shelving to hold my collection of small appliances, woks, choppers, and mixers.
One item, however, that was always missing from my compilation of cookware was a mortar and pestle. It wasn’t for lack of exposure, since any kitchen shop worth its salt offers a mortar and pestle (or two or three) in their product line. No, what held me back was my desire to own a traditional Mexican mortar and pestle – an authentic one made from volcanic rock. And what better place to get one of those than in the country of origin? On a recent trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico (made possible by an amazingly generous invitation from good friends who own a vacation home there) I met my molcajete (mole-ca-het-tay), which is the Mexican word for mortar and pestle. She (my molcajete) cost 200 pesos, which is only about $16 dollars US, but I guarantee you she’s a priceless souvenir I’ll treasure forever.
Now, don’t let her simple design fool you. The molcajete needs special care and primping before she’s ready for food prep. Over the last few weeks I’ve been coaxing and scrubbing and seasoning Ms. Mole (that’s what I call her now) so she can help me with my summertime salsas and guacamoles. If you’re considering adopting a molcajete of your own, here’s what needs to be done.
Step 1: Submerge the molcajete in water and scrub to remove any dirt or loose pieces. Don’t put the molcajete in the dishwaster and don’t use dishwashing liquid or other soaps.
Step. 2: Allow molcajete to air dry.
Step 3: Grind uncooked wet rice, one handful at a time, in the molcajete until the rice turns gray. Remove ground rice and repeat several times until the rice remains white when ground.
Step 4: Grind a handful of rock salt in the molcajete until it is fine salt or powder.
Step 5: Rinse and repeat this process several times, grinding more rock salt until the bowl of the molcajete is smooth to the touch.
Step 6: Grind 4 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in the molcajete until a paste forms. Allow mixture to sit for 24 hours.
Step 7. Rinse the paste out of the molcajete and allow molcajete to air dry.
Steps 3 and 4 may need to be repeated after several uses of the molcajete to keep it well seasoned.
The first thing I made in my molcajete was a favorite Better Homes & Gardens recipe for Chunky Guacamole. Ms. Mole performed beautifully, mashing the ingredients to a perfect consistency with style and grace. As my husband and I were digging in to the tasty avocado dip, I told him I think Ms. Mole needs a companion on the appliance shelf – maybe that new Vitamix blender I’ve been wanting. He just rolled his eyes.
Written on December 6, 2012 at 8:30 am , by Erin Gleeson
Hello from The Forest Feast! Lately I have been really into edamame. Since I don’t eat much meat, I am always looking for different sources of protein, and there is a lot you can do with these bright green little beans. Using this Edamame Humus recipe, I whirred them up in my food processor to make a colorful, healthy dip. Out here in the woods, we love having snacks with our cocktails before dinner, and this is a fun alternative to regular hummus. Considering its color, if you serve it with red bell peppers it’ll be a festive appetizer to serve at a holiday party this time of year.
A great cocktail hour snack! And easy to make ahead for holiday entertaining…
- 1 10 ounce package frozen sweet soybeans (edamame)
- 1/2 cup snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley (I left this out since I am not a big parsley fan, but you could alternatively add basil or cilantro)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (lime also works)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika (optional, for garnish)
- 8 cups assorted vegetable dippers, such as sweet red bell pepper pieces, cucumber slices, baby carrots, snow pea pods, and/or celery sticks
1. Shell and cook edamame until tender according to package directions; drain. Several grocery stores sell pre-cooked shelled edamame beans in the frozen section.
2. In a food processor combine edamame, parsley, lemon juice, the water, tahini, garlic, salt, and cumin. Cover and process until smooth. With food processor running, slowly add oil in a thin steady stream, processing until smooth. Add additional water if necessary to reach desired consistency. If desired, sprinkle with paprika. Serve with vegetable dippers or crackers.
The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods last summer where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook.