Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Since we have a looooong weekend on the horizon, I thought you might need an appetizer for a party or get together.  Whether there are 2 of you or 20 of you, this dip is a winner.  The best part, there’s NO mayo involved so you can let it sit out longer without going bad.  Another awesome part, you can make this up to two days in advance.  #winning

I know, “no mayo in an artichoke and spinach dip?”  It’s true.  This healthier spin on the classic hot dip is fresh and bright and totally dippable.  You can simply serve this dip with veggies and crackers like I did or you can add it to a platter of cheese, meats and other yummy bites.

To start, sauté the well drained artichokes (I used canned) in butter and then add in the garlic.  Let this cool for 20 minutes.  Next whirl the green onions and spinach in a food processor until finely chopped.  Place in a bowl.  Now add the artichokes, shredded parmesan, and pecans (!!!) to the food processor and whirl.  Add that mixture to bowl with the spinach mixture along with EVOO, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.

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What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

I think you should add “making this dip” to your plans.

Biscuit Cinnamon Sweet Rolls

Haines, my niece, has two favorite foods:  cinnamon rolls and bacon.  I’m pretty sure she couldn’t choose between the two so we went for it on Sunday morning and made both for a late breakfast.

These cinnamon rolls are different from ones that I’ve made in the past in that you don’t have to prep anything the night before.  They also start with a biscuit base.  That’s right – these rolls are the perfect marriage of a buttermilk biscuit and a cinnamon roll.

Holy moly.

There are two very important steps to the dough portion:  make sure your shortening is FROZEN (I lied, I put this in the freezer the night before) and make sure you chill the dough for 10 minutes before adding the buttermilk.  This is the KEY to perfect biscuits.

Another important step once the dough is rolled out:  make sure the butter is super soft to spread over top.  And yes, it looks like a lot of butter and that’s because it is a lot of butter.  But you only get to cook bacon and sweet rolls for your favorite niece every once in a while.  So deal.

Once the sweet rolls are baked, they are drizzled with a delightful glaze that Haines LOVED (of course she did, it’s sugar).  I used whole milk in place of the heavy cream and it worked just fine.

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Incredible.  You MUST try this biscuit + cinnamon roll.

And bacon, please serve with bacon.

Avo-Tahini Toast

Let’s have toast on Tuesday!  This no-cook recipe is perfect for breakfast, lunch, a snack or, in my case, dinner.  I threw this together last Tuesday night after I taught barre class and it hit the spot.  Here’s what you do:

Toast your bread.  While the bread is toasting, mash your avocado with a little bit of salt. Spread the avocado on the toast.  Top with halved tomatoes.  Top with a sliced hardboiled egg.  Top with sliced olives.  Finish with a drizzle of tahini over everything.

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Quite the upgrade from my usual avocado toast.

Weekend Review

Good morning!  As I type this, I’m finishing my second cup of coffee and my favorite 5 year old is eating a bowl of Life cereal (her favorite “because the milk gets inside the cereal”) on a blanket on the floor.  And while my house has never been more messy, my heart has never been so full.  Speaking of full, our weekend was PACKED with fun activities to keep a little someone busy.

On Friday, after picking her up, we met Uncle Big Guy to pick out a dress to wear to dinner.  Unfortunately, Big Guy and little Miss don’t really agree on fashion but she still walked away with two new dresses.

That night we took her to a “fancy” dinner at the country club where she proceeded to lose her first tooth – BIG NIGHT!

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Saturday morning she woke to find that the took fairy, Sparkle, found her and left $10!  An exciting morning, to say the least.  And then we were off for a day of adventure.  First stop, the bird park.  If you live in the area, I cannot recommend visiting more.  We spent about two hours walking around and looking at the birds and the best part was the area where you get to feed the birds.

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Post-bird park we headed for lunch at TBC West where we enjoyed chips and dip plus tacos.

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As we were leaving lunch, I randomly threw out the idea of letting her hit a few golf balls and thankfully we were able to make it happen.

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We soon headed home and while I wish I could tell you we all took a little nap, that is not the case.  Instead we got to work on our homemade strawberry ice cream.

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On the menu for dinner:  grilled pizzas.  We had a blast making pizza with our favorite girl and thankfully it cooled down and we were able to enjoy dinner outside.

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Big Guy and I enjoyed an Insalata pizza from “The Pizza Bible” and we made a cheeeeeese pizza for Haines.  So good!  Our pizza was topped with mozzarella and goat cheese and after it cooked we topped it with a lightly dressed salad, raspberries and pistachios.

We soon retreated in doors to wind down with ice cream and a cartoon before we all passed out – it was a busy day.

Sunday morning started with biscuit cinnamon rolls (more on that later) and bacon and then Haines and Big Guy had some gardening to get done.

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We spent most of the day outside before bathing and playing a few games inside.  She requested chicken drumsticks and corn for dinner and we ended with a Barbie movie and ice-cream.

I am so thankful that we were able to spend some one-on-one time with our little nugget. She is incredibly smart and I loved our conversations and her hilarious comments.  She definitely kept us on our toes.  Thankfully I know we’ll see more of her this summer and I can’t wait to make even more memories.

See ya’ll tomorrow with a recipe!

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  This weekend has been a long time coming:  my niece is coming to visit!  We promised her when she turned 5 that she could come spend a weekend with Aunt Emmy and Uncle Chris all by herself and we finally coordinated our schedules so we could make it happen.  We have a fun weekend planned and can’t wait to spend some one-on-one time with my favorite 5 year old.

Here are my favorites from the week:

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Favorite Layers:  Chocolate Layered Zebra Mousse Cake.  How fun is this cake?

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Favorite Dip:  Curry Hummus.  What a perfect snack.  Or lunch.  Or dinner.

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Favorite Tropical:  Hacienda Convertible Gown in Kauai Kisses.  The perfect summer dress in a fun palm print.

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Favorite One-Pan Dinner:  Lemon Basil Chicken.  Because sometimes life is crazy and you need easy dinner ideas.

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Favorite Carbs:  Breadsticks with Homemade Ranch and Pizza Sauce.  I need a night of nothing except catching up on DVR and breadsticks.

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Favorite Spring Cleaning:  5 Strategies for Organizing Your Pantry (And Keeping it That Way).  I love nothing more than organized closets.  And drawers.  And rooms.

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Favorite Date Night In:  Seared Scallops with Porcini Mushroom Risotto.   Drooling.  This dinner is begging for a bottle of white wine.

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Favorite Purchase:  2017-2018 Simplified Planner.  After years of using the same planner, I’ve upgraded.  I love that every day has it’s own page which means lots of room for LISTS.

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Favorite From Scratch:  Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  I adore cinnamon raisin bread but I’ve never tried to make it at home…

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Favorite Poolside Sipper:  Strawberry Gin Lemonades.  Summer is right around the corner!

CHEERS!

Mushroom Cheese Ravioli with Rosemary Butter Sauce

Say “hello” to your next date night in dinner.  While I love going out to dinner and traveling to fun new cities, there’s something about a cozy evening in with a delicious home cooked dinner and a bottle of wine.  And while we haven’t had one in a couple weeks and I’m not really sure when our next one will be, I couldn’t resist sharing with you the dinner we made during our last date night in.

And don’t be scared of this recipe.  We made homemade pasta but it is NOT necessary.  In fact, the recipe called for wonton wrappers that you find at your grocery store and we made the decision to make the recipe more difficult.  So there is no excuse not to make these raviolis.

The ravioli filling is a mixture of sautéed mushrooms, thyme, ricotta cheese, fontina cheese and parmesan cheese.  The filling is so simple but it really makes the earthiness of the mushrooms shine through.

The sauce is light (aka not full of cream) but still FULL of flavor.  The butter is browned before adding in some garlic and rosemary (is there any better smell?).  Then add in some chicken broth and/or some white wine plus salt and pepper and let it reduce.

The combination of the mushroom and cheese ravioli plus the rosemary butter sauce is magic.  We did not even miss the meat in this dinner.

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Oh, date night, you’re my favorite.

Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole

Let’s get something out of the way:  I am not sharing this recipe because it’s beautiful.  Because let’s be honest, most casseroles are not pretty.  I’m sharing this recipe because not only is it delicious but you can make two casseroles with this one recipe – one for tonight and one for later (or for a friend!).  I made this for dinner a couple of weeks ago and then popped one in the freezer so I could take it to my sister in law and brother.

What I love most about this casserole is the lack of cream of mushroom soup.  Instead you make your own “soup” with milk and mushrooms plus a little bit of flour to thicken up the mixture.  The creaminess comes from the milk as well as the addition of cream cheese.  Instead of onions, leeks are used for a milder flavor.  I adore wild rice and totally think I need to add it into our weekly menu more often – so nutty and hearty.

Like I said, you can make one big casserole or you can split it up – one for now and one for later.  If you’re going to freeze one, stop before you get to the baking step; allow the dish to come to room temperature and then cover tightly and freeze.

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Another great thing about casseroles – leftovers are even better since the ingredients and flavors have time to really meld together.

Do you have any favorite freezer-friendly meals?