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.


What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?

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

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

Trust me on this one.  I loosely followed a recipe so I’m going to give you all the details as to how I threw together this amazing guacamole for the Super Bowl last weekend.  This is super simple and would be perfect for any occasion.  Or just a margarita.



3 ripe avocados
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
3 green onions
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 lime, juiced
sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil

In a food processor, whirl the red onion, garlic and green onions until finely chopped.  Add in the avocados, citrus juice and salt and pepper.  Taste to make sure there is enough salt – I always feel like I put in too much but you need a lot.

Transfer to a bowl and top with chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Serve with fresh veggies or some chips.


Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!  And welcome to December.  It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year.  As soon as I’m done teaching and making myself look presentable this morning I’m heading to Charlotte to see the newest love of my life, Braxton.  Not only that, but the timing of my visit is perfect in that I’ll be able to go to my sister-in-law’s gender reveal.  Basically it’s a weekend full of baby stuff.  I’m flying solo this weekend and while I’m not wishing the weekend away, I can’t wait to see Big Guy on Monday -he’s been in Texas all week.  I hope your December kick-off is full of laugher and all things merry.


Favorite Bundt:  Eggnog Buttered Rum Cake.  Y’all know I love making bundt cakes.  The combination of buttered rum plus eggnog sounds magical.


Favorite “Appy” Hour:  Polenta Bites with Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Ricotta and Chutney.  Instead of the go-to crostini, why not amp up your appetizer with polenta?  I’m excited to give this a try.


Favorite Reason for the Season:  The White Envelope.  I might have shed a tear while reading this story.


Favorite Meatless Monday:  Sweet Potato Tacos with Apple Radish Slaw.  In between all the sweets and treats and cheesy appetizers, I need to squeeze in some healthy meals.  Plus, I have lots and lots of sweet potatoes from the garden.


Favorite From Scratch:  Sourdough Bagels.  This past weekend I had a cinnamon crunch bagel and remembered how much I love bagels.  So let’s make some at home!


Favorite Fashion:  Holiday Travel Outfit.  I’m really into capes and ponchos this year.  And this outfit looks incredibly comfy yet stylish.


Favorite Drool:  Cranberry Brie Pull Apart Bread.  I can’t even handle this concept.  In a good way, obviously.


Favorite Slow Cooker:  Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup.  All the goodness of an enchilada in a belly warming soup.  And I already know when I’m making this.


Favorite Cocktail:  Honey Vanilla Pear Margaritas.  This + the Christmas tree + a Hallmark movie + guacamole would rock my world.


French Onion Tartlets + Caramelized Leek and Spinach Dip

Not one but TWO recipes coming your way today.  December is busy.  There are holiday parties to attend, gifts to be purchased, and preparations to be made for family gatherings.  These two appetizers are the perfect bites for any cocktail party or holiday get together.  I made both for Thanksgiving and they were a hit.  The best part – I prepped both recipes the night before and simply assembled and baked (one of them) the day of.


The French Onion Tartlets are addictive!  They taste just like french onion soup except they come in a little phyllo shell.  To prep in advance, simply prepare the entire recipe up until you fill the tarts.  Place the french onion and cream cheese mixture into a container and store in the fridge.  Simply fill the shells and top with gruyere before baking the day of the party.  Changes I made to the recipe:  I used red wine to deglaze the pan (it’s what I had opened for my sangria) and I added a little more decadence with the addition of shredded gruyere on top (only because it was in the cheese drawer and I figured WHY NOT!?!).

The best part about the caramelized leek and spinach dip is that it can be prepped in entirety the day before.  I doubled the recipe and simply stored in the fridge until it was time to eat.  I served the dip with crunchy crackers plus carrots and celery.

Do you have any go-to appetizer recipes for the holiday season?

A couple other easy, peasy recipes:  bacon wrapped dates (so good!) and cream cheese topped with pepper jelly (Trader Joes has a great one).

Beer-Battered Pumpkin with Dipping Sauce

It’s Thanksgiving week!  Is your menu set and your turkey bought?  I did the big grocery haul today for the ingredients I’ll need for what I’m taking to the Watson Thanksgiving meal.  Let’s just say I wasn’t the only one loading up my cart today.  Though there are still two things I haven’t been able to find:  frozen pearl onions and golden beets.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Big Guy and I had a mini-Thanksgiving yesterday and it was a blast!  We spent the evening laughing, eating amazing food and watching Hallmark Christmas movies (the husband is obsessed).  Before our big meal, we whipped up an fried pumpkin (!!!!) that blew our socks off.  It was so much better than we ever imagined.


First, carefully peel and cut a sugar or pie pumpkin (small pumpkins used for cooking) into slices.  The pumpkin is then dipped in a beer batter  that includes flour, cornstarch, salt and the beer.  Once battered, it goes straight into the hot oil where it cooks for about 3 minutes.  After frying the pumpkin, a few sage leaves are fried for a little savory punch of herb flavor.  Sprinkle with salt and serve with a buttermilk garlic dip.

You really can fry anything.

See you back here tomorrow with a delicious and healthy side dish that will be perfect for any of you that are still putting together your menu.

Friday Favorites

The 2nd Annual Flamingo Fling weekend is here!!!

For all of you wondering “what the heck is a flamingo fling?” – let me explain.  Last year my Momma wanted to have all the girls in the immediate family go to the beach for a girls-only weekend.  We picked a weekend and it earned the title “Flamingo Fling.”  We had so much fun that we had to do it again this year (and I’m hoping it becomes an annual tradition).

So as soon as I’m finished teaching barre class this morning, I’m hittin’ the road and headed to the beach.  I can’t wait to be reunited with my Momma and sister.  I plan on playing board games, perhaps having a movie night and eating my weight in guacamole.

Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Nostalgia:  Hushpuppy Panzanella Salad.  I have vivid memories of eating hushpuppies hot out of the fryer as a kid at my Pawpaw’s beach house.  This is a grown-up way of eating the Southern staple.


Favorite From Scratch:  Coconut Cream Pie.  I am a sucker for anything coconut-flavored. Also, I haven’t made a pie in a while.


Favorite 4-Minute Read:  This 100-Year-Old To-Do List Hack Still Works Like a Charm.  This is the simplest method for increasing productivity.  I’m going to give it a try!


Favorite Date Night:  Cajun Garlic Lemon Butter Shrimp with Caramelized Corn Polenta.  Two words:  Holy yum!


Favorite Fried:  Crispy Avocado Egg Rolls.  I love everything about this ingredient list.


Favorite Round-up:  31 Trader Joe’s Products You Can’t Live Without.  I don’t go to TJ’s near as often as I used to but I love seeing with other peoples MUST HAVES.  The items I can’t live without from TJ’s: oats, nut butter, nuts, cheeeeeeses, and gluten-free waffles.


Favorite Entertaining:  Fig, Hazelnut & Ricotta Crostinis.  So I want to host a little get together and have a crostini bar.  Sweet, savory and everything in between.  I love this little combo!


Favorite Mix It Up:  150-Calorie Oatmeal Toppings.  I love hot oats – even in the summer.  My favorite combo to try:  Salted Chocolate Chip.  Yes.


Favorite Spiralized:  Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Parsnip Pasta.  It’s been a hot minute since I used my little spiralizer – and I’ve never even thought of using parsnips.  Let’s do it!


Favorite Pop the Cork:  Pro Tips – Ask a Sommelier.  Some verrrrry helpful information regarding buying wine at the grocery store and picking wine at a restaurant.  If you’re wanting to step up your wine game and go beyond a cheap weeknight whatever wine, a good price range to get into at a quality wine shop is $18-25. 



Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, y’all!  Big plans for the weekend ahead?  We’re actually spending the weekend hanging out with my family to celebrate my grandmother’s (Mimi) 80th birthday.  Hopefully we’ll squeeze in a pool day with the coolest kids around on Sunday.  I’m trying to take advantage of any and all days filled with splashing in the pool and out in the sunshine because fall will be here before we know it (nooooooooo, I’m not ready).

Here are my favorites from the week:


Favorite Intrigued:  Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with Avocado Pickles.  The bacon is great and all but avocado pickles?!?  Say whaaaaaattttt?!?  This is a thing and I need to try it.


Favorite Break the Fast:  Cashew Ginger Granola with Dates and Sesame.  I rarely go a day or two without a Greek yogurt bowl.  And this granola would be the perfect yogurt topper.


Favorite Comfy:  Deck-Striped T-Shirt.  So I’m officially crazy.  I’m trying to figure out what to wear on our looooong flight to Greece and I’m thinking black leggings with tennis shoes (because have you tried keeping up with a 6 foot 4 man and also so I don’t have to pack the shoes) and a loose yet cute t-shirt.  Thoughts?


Favorite Entertaining:  Mix & Match Summer Crostini Bar.   This is such a fun appetizer idea.  Everyone can create their own flavor combo.


Favorite Craving:  Chicken Tinga Tacos with Grilled Corn Guacamole.  I haven’t had Mexican food in quite a while and these tacos (plus a watermelon marg) are calling my name.


Favorite Twist on a Classic:  Greek Wedge Salad.  Big Guy loves a wedge.  And I adore a Greek salad.  This is the best of both worlds – in my opinion.


Favorite Frozen:  Painkiller Cocktail Popsicles.   After a painfully hot week, I would love to have a (spiked) popsicle to cool off with.


Favorite Bite:  Crab Dip with Garlicky Gourgères.  Cheesy, crabby deliciousness.


Favorite Gentle:  Nourishing Cream Exfoliator.  I love to use an exfoliator in the shower on my face.  But some can be super harsh and full of not so friendly ingredients.  I’ve been using this for a couple of years now and it’s still my favorite face wash.  (p.s. it smells amazing, too)


Favorite In-Season:  Fresh Peach Daiquiri.  The ingredient list is simple but if you use high quality, in-season fruit this cocktail becomes something special.