Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

I have now made this dip twice. It is beyond incredible! Creamy, garlicky, cheesy, rich and loaded with shrimp. If there is anything left over you can use it as a topping on baked fish as well, which I did! Still incredible. If you don’t like shrimp or garlic stay away. Once you start eating this you can’t stop either so be prepared. The first time I made it we had a friend over for cocktails and snacks, this friend is a chef by the way. He was blown away by it. So it’s officially my new dip. It is best served with tortilla chips or pita chips. Even thin crostini would be great or crackers. I used greek yogurt cream cheese the first time I made it. It’s a mix of greek yogurt with cream cheese and less calories than regular cream cheese. But it’s just as good with regular cream cheese which I used the 2nd time. The recipe also calls for a shallot, which I didn’t have the first time I made it so I used 1/2 of a vidalia sweet onion. I also used light mayonnaise but feel free to use regular.

Give this recipe a try, you won’t be disappointed!

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

Hot Shrimp Scampi Spinach Dip

INGREDIENTS:

1 8 oz. package cream cheese of choice (cut up into cubes)

10-12 oz. medium cooked shrimp, chopped into chunks. (2-3 chunks per shrimp)

2 cups fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped

2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese (feel free to use more cheese also)

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon minced garlic (more if you like a lot of garlic!)

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Basil leaf for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large skillet, melt the butter at medium-high heat. Toss in the shrimp, spinach, shallot and garlic.

Stir gently until the shallot is translucent and the spinach is wilted. This should take about 5 minutes, making sure all the ingredients are heated through.

Remove from the heat and add in the lemon juice.

Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, 1/3 cup of the parmesan cheese and the cream cheese and mix well.

Put mixture into a baking dish large enough to hold it all. 8×8 or larger. Anything is good as long as it’s large enough to hold it all. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese on top and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Top should be lightly browned and bubbling.

Garnish with a basil leave. Serve hot/warm!

2015-10-24 17.18.54-1

Hot Won Ton Bites

Well this past week I decided to finally venture into the won ton appetizer realm. I have to say it was a huge success! These little wrappers are so cute! I made two different ones and the were both a huge hit. The main recipe I used was spinach and artichoke. I got the recipe originally from Kraft Foods and tweaked it. It called for red peppers. Everyone knows I don’t like sweet peppers so I used sun-dried tomato as well. If you want the original “Warm Spinach & Artichoke Cups” click and check it out. The second one I made was a sausage/cream cheese combo. I had two large Italian style chicken sausages and just ground them up and added cream cheese. HUGE HUGE HIT!

The won ton wrappers can be found in pretty much every supermarket. Look in your produce section by the Asian foods. The ones I used are the small square ones. Have fun with these because you can put just about anything into them and bake them! Experiment and have fun! I know I’m getting another package next time I go shopping! And make sure you have at least 2-3 mini muffin tins for these. You can use one but it will take longer.

INGREDIENTS:

24 won ton wrappers

(Spinach & Artichoke)

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry

1/3 cup light mayonnaise

1/3 cup light sour cream

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

¼ cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, minced (use less if it’s too much garlic for you!)

(Sausage)

2-3 large chicken sausage, Italian style, ground up (I used the food processor)

1 package (8 oz.) light cream cheese

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 350º.  Place 1 won ton wrapper into each of 24 mini muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure the edges of wrappers extend over the top of cup. Bake 5 minutes. Meanwhile combine the rest of the ingredients.

2. Once the 5 minutes is up remove from oven. Spoon the mixture into the cups.

3. Bake 12-15 minutes or until filling is heated through and edges of the cups are golden brown. They may need an extra minute or so depending on your oven. Just keep an eye on them. Enjoy!

Mary’s Famous Mexican Dip

Yes I know I have been quite negligent with my blog lately! I am so sorry everyone. I made a promise to myself this morning to do better and I will!

Today’s recipe I have tried to get for years! Everytime I visit my sister Michele in NJ for any type of party she always has this dip. Her mother-in-law Mary makes it and showed Michele and everyone falls in love with it! Even the kids! So on a recent trip there, Mary happened to be in attendance as well and the dip was on the menu. So with camera and notebook in hand I got it! FINALLY! It’s a type of layered dip that you serve on a platter. Serve it with tortilla chips. I would recommend using stronger chips as well because this dip has so many yummy things you don’t want to lose anything because of a broken chip! We’ve all been there, digging in to a great dip and snap! Broken chip. You try again. Snap again! Another broken chip. So find your best thicker/stronger chips for this recipe.  I am also playing with an idea to make this as an Italian dip as well. I’ll post that when I work it out! So for now, here’s everyone’s newest favorite party snack! Thanks Mary!! (Now I want to go and make some to snack on!)

Mary preparing the famous dip!

Ingredients:

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese (you can use light cream cheese if you wish)

1  jar (16oz.) of your favorite salsa

Shredded lettuce, about 2 cups

Shredded cheddar cheese, about 8 ounces

3-4 campari or plum tomatoes, chopped (Or you can use 1-2 large)

3-4 scallions, chopped (use whole scallion)

¼ cup jalapeño slices

1 small can sliced black olives (You can use green if you don’t like black)

So pretty!

Directions:

  1. On a large platter spread cream cheese to cover bottom.
  2. Spread salsa over the cream cheese.
  3. Add shredded lettuce on top of the salsa.
  4. Add the shredded cheddar evenly over the salsa.
  5. Top with the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Add scallions.
  7. Add jalapeño slices.
  8. Top with black olives.

Serve with sturdy chips!! Eat some before it disappears!

It's going fast!

Firecracker Coconut Dip

Ever have one of those “hump” days that make the “hump” seem like it’s Mt. Everest? Well today was that day for me. I also think I should have made my New Year resolution something other than exercising more. I think it should have been for me to do my blog in the MORNING!! Well today’s mess started yesterday morning. Took my half-and-half out of the fridge for my coffee and thought the container seemed a little on the warm side. Hmmm…Started checking other items. Same thing. Freezer check. Most still frozen but a few items were soft. Not a good sign. So I put thermometers in both places and my fridge was reading 60 degrees! Um that’s not right! And the freezer was almost 50! Also not a good thing. So I cranked the temperature to the highest it would go and by that night the fridge only dropped maybe 5 degrees. Same in the freezer. So I called the service dudes. They told me they’d be here sometime today between 8 and 5! As usual! And they’d call 30 minutes before they arrived! OMG! I was now trapped in the house all day. Afraid to go in the shower for fear the guy would of course show up without calling or something. Couldn’t do anything! Then later in the afternoon I get my delivery from Apple computers with my new iLife 11 software for my iMac. A third of the way through the installation it froze!!! OMG again! Now I’m on hold for tech support and of course the service guy beeps in! He’ll be there in 30 minutes! Yikes! Go back to Apple and they guy on the other end is saying Hello?? Ok so we shut down my iMac (Fiona, I name all my computers) and we try again. He stayed on the phone with me the entire time. All went well! Just a brain fart! It happens. I was scared to do anything for fear I’d erase my entire computer! (that is how you get when you have PCs for most of your computer using life and they always have issues) And for anyone who knows me I am totally attached at the hip to my computer. So as I am saying thank you and hanging up with Apple the repair guy shows up! 5:00! 40 minutes later my fridge is working. For now. Some defroster/heater or something. I needed a drink! So here I am, at 7:15pm finally doing the blog! And now that I’ve put you all to sleep with my ramblings…Here is today’s recipe.

This is a low-calorie dip and so refreshing and different from your usual ranch veggie dips or whatever else is out there. I love making my own dips, I know what is in them and I know what isn’t! You can even serve this dip with grilled shrimp or pork or put it on a burger! Versatility is a wonderful thing! And the “firecracker” is the explosion of flavor you will get from the wasabi or horseradish. If you don’t like it too “hot” put less in. But its sooo good!!

INGREDIENTS:

1 package (8oz.) light cream cheese, softened

1 carton (8oz.) light sour cream

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk or light cream of coconut

1-2 tablespoons wasabi paste (you can also use 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel

3 tablespoons lime juice

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a medium mixing bowl beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Beat in the sour cream, coconut milk or cream of coconut, wasabi paste, ginger, lime peel and lime juice until smooth. Chill for at least an hour. Always better to let dips sit and mellow out.

2. Serve with carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, peppers or any other vegetables you like!

Makes about 2½ cups

Not Your Usual Green Bean Casserole

For Thanksgiving we are going to a friend’s house and when I asked what I could bring, I was asked: “How about that green bean casserole thingy? Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete without it!” I said ok and searched for the usual recipe. Growing up in my house was very different when it came to Thanksgiving. Why? Well it wasn’t until we were all much older that we started to actually have a turkey for the Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not joking. I never really remember Dad carving a turkey. Ever. I do remember us having a huge tray of lasagna though. Every year. And sometimes a ham. But never a turkey. It was usually lasagna. When we started dating and then had to do the two house thing for the holidays we all discovered how different things were out there! Nobody had lasagna! I was flabbergasted! I don’t know why we didn’t have turkey, maybe Dad hated carving? I don’t know. But once we started experiencing the ‘normal’ Thanksgiving foods I was introduced to the green bean casserole. And for some reason it is rarely served any other time of year! Why? Again, I don’t know. So of course I have never made it before. This is a first. But I also didn’t want to do the same ho-hum basic green bean casserole. So I scoured the magazines and internet. I then took a little bit of each recipe that I found and it’s now something new. I am making it Thursday so I won’t know how it tastes until then. I will report back though for sure. And I will remember to take a picture before we eat it!  And have no fear everyone, I’m still using those french-fried onions. My husband insisted on it. I have to keep remembering, change is good. It will be fine. Thanksgiving will still be a food fest. Happy Eating!

**Ok, the green beans were a hit! Very tasty and full of crunchy goodness! The water chestnuts and almonds are a nice change from the ordinary. I also lowered the oven temp to 350 degrees, because the onions got a little too well done, but still really yummy! I’m also thinking next time maybe a little hot sauce added to it would be good also.


INGREDIENTS:

3 packages (9 ounces or so each) of frozen French-style green beans

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 (10.5-10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted (I am using the 98% fat-free kind)

3 ounces cream cheese, softened (I am using light cream cheese)

1 cup french-fried onions

1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, chopped

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (I am using 2%)

1 (2½ ounce) package slivered almonds

paprika

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cook green beans according to package directions, drain.

2. In a large pot or dutch oven melt the butter. Add the soup and cream cheese and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until cream cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the green beans, 2/3 cup of the french-fried onions, water chestnuts, garlic salt, pepper, and cheddar cheese.

4. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 1¾ quart casserole dish. Top with the almonds and remaining french-fried onions. Sprinkle with paprika.

5. Bake at 350º, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

Serves 8

Pumpkin Carrot Bars

Yes I am still in Fall mode. Trying to pretend it’s cooler outside and that the leaves are changing here. But then I look outside and see nothing but green palm trees, green leaves on the maple trees, green everywhere! Ok, so the leaves really don’t change here. They do fall on some trees but they aren’t pretty about it. Oh well, the sacrifice for living in the Sunshine State. Maybe they change in northern Florida? And right now the temperature is still 79 degrees. It’s 7pm! But I did buy a couple little pumpkins at Walmart yesterday! I will use them for pies or something later in the year. They actually last a long time after the fall! I’ve had pumpkins that lasted till April!

Well I found this recipe and changed it a bit to make it a little less fattening. I substituted Splenda and Splenda Brown Sugar Blend for the sugars and I use light cream cheese in place of regular. As always, feel free to use the real stuff if you want. I was also very happy to hear that the pumpkin shortage is officially over as well. Last year I had stocked up on the canned pumpkin when I found it. It was like gold! But the crop was good this year and we can all breathe easily now! Whew!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour or whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup granulated Splenda (sucralose)

1/3 cup light butter/margarine, softened

½ cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend

2 eggs

2 large egg whites

1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin

1 cup carrot, finely shredded

Cream Cheese Topping/Icing:

4 ounces light cream cheese, softened

¼ cup Splenda

1 tablespoon fat-free half-and-half (or whatever milk product you want)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan. (or similar pan)

2. In a small bowl combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda.

3. In a larger bowl, beat together sugar (1 cup), butter and brown sugar until crumbly. Add eggs, egg whites, canned pumpkin and carrots. Beat until well blended. Add flour mixture and mix until well blended. Spread into greased pan.

4. Mix together cream cheese, sugar (¼ cup) and milk until thoroughly blended.

5. Drop teaspoonfuls of topping over pumpkin batter and swirl mixture with a butter knife.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pan completely on wire rack before cutting into squares.

Makes 48 squares.

No-Bake Tropical Cheesecake Pie

Seems like I am on a pie kick right now. And if you ask my husband I am a terrible baker. Well this pie you don’t have to bake so how hard can it be. So what if every time I try a new cookie recipe it rarely comes out good. I also should stop trying to make all the cookies or cakes diet friendly. Sometimes cookies, cakes and pies just need the calories and fat and yummy stuff!  I have had many cookie exchanges around the holidays but since living here in Florida, I’ve found my neighbors and most of my friends just aren’t into them. I would be lucky if I got like 5 people to show. In New York I always had a houseful! And the cookies came out awesome! Maybe it’s the weather here. Maybe it’s the fact that in December I am still wearing shorts and flip-flops. I wonder…

Anyway, I can’t take credit for this recipe. It’s Rachael Ray’s recipe. If you’ve ever watched her talk show then you know she CAN’T BAKE!  So she says. She always burns the bread in the oven! Nice to know she’s just like the rest of us. Well this recipe does not involve baking so even Rachael Ray can make it! And if you really don’t feel like making the crust yourself, skip that part and just buy one of those Keebler graham cracker pie crusts. Who is gonna know!


INGREDIENTS:

1 package (¼ ounce) unflavored gelatin

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 rectangles)

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup cream of coconut

1 mango, cut into small cubes (peel it first though!)

2 kiwis, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise (peel this first also!)

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a glass measuring cup, sprinkle the gelatin into ½ cup cold water and let sit.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Mix in the butter. Transfer the mixture to a 10″ deep-dish pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form a crust. Freeze until firm.

3. Microwave the softened gelatin until melted, 30 seconds.

4. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a medium bowl and refrigerate. Add the cream cheese to the mixer bowl and beat at high-speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

5. Add the condensed milk, cream of coconut and melted gelatin and beat at medium speed until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Transfer the pie filling to the chilled crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 3 hours. Top with the mango and kiwis.