Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

home-artichokeI love living in Southern California where there is the availability of local fruits and vegetables in the stores, as well as what is trucked and flown in from around the country and from other parts of the world, pretty much year-round.  It really makes cooking and eating fun! #ThisGirlLovesToEat 

One of the few things that I do have to be patient for are artichokes.  Nowhere grows them as big and meaty as we do in California.  In fact, 99.99% of all commercially grown artichokes are grown in California. 

CAF_fest_logo-2017Since I happen to love them, it’s a pretty good thing that Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom named artichokes the Official State Vegetable of California on April 10, 2013.  Artichokes from California are so fabulous that they’ve had their own festival for the past 56 years: Castroville Artichoke Food & Wine Festival.

Some people dip their leaves in mayonnaise (which makes me want to gag), others in various aiolis, dips or other concoctions, but I’ve been a ridiculous creature of habit for as long as I can remember, eating my artichokes one way and one way only: dipping each succulent leaf into a bowl of melted butter.  Occasionally I may deviate in the preparation of the steam that surrounds my artichoke, adding some white wine, maybe some garlic or some lemon to the water, but I never deviate on my buttery leaf bath.  Until now.

This long forgotten recipe I’d clipped from the May 2007 edition of Cooking Light Magazine convinced me to change my ways (at least temporarily).

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Artichokes With Roasted Garlic Wine Dip

  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 4 medium artichokes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  1. Preheat Oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° F for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.
  3. Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Remove artichokes from pan.
  4. Combine half of garlic pulp and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and salt. Pour mixture into a blender; add remaining half of garlic pulp. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle dip with parsley, if desired. Serve dip with warm artichokes.

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Buffalo Spinach Artichoke Dip

Tasting Table is one of my favorite Twitter follows.  I love browsing their website for restaurant reviews, recipes, new spins on classic drinks, and guides to cities I am planning to travel to.

I was surfing their website today and came across an appetizer that included 4 of my favorite tastes in a single dish: bacon, Buffalo sauce, spinach and artichoke hearts!  Add to that the ability to make ahead, the reviewers rated it 100% make again, and it didn’t call for any hard to get ingredients and this girl who loves to eat was sold!

Note:  I did adapt the recipe from the original:

    1. I prefer a bit more bacon (and I buy mine from the butcher case, never pre-packaged because we don’t have great options in my stores);
    2. I made the blue cheese optional (it’s not a favorite of mine) and offered some substitution options; and
    3. I added a bit more hot sauce to mine.

bcartdip

Buffalo Spinach-Artichoke Dip

  • 3 slices (5 ounces) thick-cut bacon (I use 6 slices)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 9 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
  • 6 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 ounces smoked blue cheese, softened (I don’t care for Blue Cheese, so I substitute Gorgonzola.  You can also use Goat Cheese, Feta, Stilton, or Brie)
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 6 tablespoons Franks Red Hot Sauce (I like mine spicy so I add a couple TBLS more)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the bacon over medium-high heat.  Cook, turning as needed, until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then finely chop and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Add the artichoke hearts and spinach and cook until the spinach is lightly wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the cream cheese, blue cheese (or whatever cheese you’ve substituted), 1 cup of the Parmesan, sour cream, and hot sauce until smooth.
  7. Fold in the spinach and artichoke mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer to a 1½-quart casserole dish and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan with the chopped bacon, panko crumbs and olive oil.
  10. Sprinkle the panko crumb topping over the dip and place the casserole dish on a sheet pan in case any cheese bubbles over.
  11. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes, then serve.

tt_logo_image_1The recipe calls for serving with chips.  I like to eat this dip with really thick, freshly made tortilla chips, Triscuits, carrot chips, thick bell pepper slices or celery.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Best Thing I’ve Ever Had at Islands!

I ate something great when I met my husband for a rare weekend lunch out at Islands yesterday.

cheddarfriesThey boast, and truly do have, the #ColdestBeerInTown and they’ve got an amazing menu of burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, tacos, and some truly sinful appetizers.  If you can skip the fries covered in melted cheese and crispy bacon you have far more willpower than I do! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

I sat down at the bar, ordered an ice cold Kona Longboard from the tap,KO_LBL_Pour-with-Bottle_web_204X3771 and glanced at the menu, but was drawn to the bar top menu announcing their limited time specials: Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich and it’s spicy brother  Moa Mauna Loa Crisp the difference between the two being the Moa Kaneohe has bacon, Swiss and a cream cheese ranch spread, while the Moa Mauna Loa has blue cheese crumbles, and Buffalo sauce on it.

What really appealed to me about these chicken sandwiches was that the chicken breasts weren’t just the usual breaded in flour, dropped in oil, & fried, chicken breasts.  These chicken breasts were battered in a lighter tempura batter and then double fried.  I love tempura!

I like blue cheese dressing occasionally, but not on my burgers, and not even with my Buffalo wings.  But a girl can always ask the waitress for some accommodations to her order, right?

So, I ordered the cheddar cheese fries with bacon #IHaveZeroWillPower and then ordered the Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich with it’s crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato, chopped red onion, Swiss cheese, cream cheese ranch spread and substituted the spicy chicken breast used in the Moa Mauna Loa: battered in a spicy tempura batter and fried, then added to the sandwich without the blue cheese crumbles, but with an added drizzle of the Buffalo sauce.

islandssandwich

It came out and people around me asked what I was eating…it was pretty darn impressive. Trying to figure out how I was going to get my mouth around it, I cut it in half and found that the breast was incredibly tender and juicy. Not only was it impressive to look at, it was cooked perfectly, and it was the right combination of fresh, creamy & spicy!

The manager was serving tables and stopped to ask if I liked my sandwich.  I told him I was loving it and commented it should always be on the menu.  He said they actually fry the breasts twice, which is why the sandwiches stay on the menu for such a limited time, the cooks complain they have to spend more time on them.  Knowing that, I’m even more impressed that they can keep the breasts from overcooking.

I give #2BigThumbsUp to the Moa Kaneohe Crisp Chicken Sandwich and Moa Mauna Loa Crisp Chicken Sandwich at Islands Restaurant.  I’m not sure how much longer they will be on the menu, but if you get a chance go to Islands and try them!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

Another Twitter video find when I was hungry…best part?  It’s from www.health.com!

buffalocauliflower

My sister Wendi and I fell in love with these when we went to San Diego and found a sports bar to watch USC football at before going to a Blake Shelton concert last year. I’ve finally found a recipe that comes close to what we had there!

Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

  • Preheat oven to 400° F.
  • Wash a Large head of fresh cauliflower (About 1 lb).
  • Remove the outer leaves and stem and then cut to separate the individual florets.
  • Dry the florets and spread out on a cookie sheet lined with foil.
  • Sprinkle florets lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Put sheet in oven and roast for 20 – 25 minutes stirring once.

In a medium bowl combine:

  • 1 TBLS Butter melted
  • 3 TBLS Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (or any kind you like)
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • Put roasted cauliflower florets into the bowl and stir with rubber spatula until all florets are coated with sauce.
  • Return coated florets to the cookie sheet.
  • Roast at 400° F for 5-10 minutes more or until cauliflower starts to brown.

Make the dipping sauce:

  • In a small pan over medium-low heat put 2 tsp Olive Oil and 1 clove garlic, minced.
  • Heat until garlic starts to brown.
  • Transfer garlic and olive oil into the mixing container of a blender or Vitamix.
  • Add 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt.
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 TBLS Parsley
  • 1 TBLS Chives
  • 1 tsp Dill
  • 1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Honey
  • Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Blend until well combined.  Transfer to a small serving bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with the dip and ranch dressing on the side.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Napalm Spicy Chicken Wings

napalmwings

I usually spend half the day to treat my family to my decadent buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese on Super Bowl Sunday.  This year we aren’t particularly interested in the game, so we won’t be having a crowd over and it’s far to much effort (and way too many high fat/high calorie leftovers) to make for just the two of us.

Don’t get me wrong.  We’ll watch the game, but we don’t have a vested cheering interest in the game and Budweiser has opted for a political ad in place of the usual feel-good puppy and Clydesdale buddy commercial, so we won’t be glued to the TV just mindlessly eating for 5 straight hours (hopefully).

That doesn’t mean we won’t be eating something amazing though. 😉

I came across this recipe for chicken wings that claim to be beyond “inferno” hot in, of all places, the December 2015 issue of  Wine Enthusiast Magazine.  The funniest part of the recipe, as written, is that there is nothing in it to make them “Napalm Hot.”  How hot you make them is based entirely on the heat level of the hot sauce you choose to add to the recipe, so the decision is entirely yours.  In my case, to make them scorchingly hot, I will be searching for a sauce that is based on Ghost Peppers or Habañero Peppers.  They will be far too hot for me to eat, but my husband will be more than happy to burn his face off eating them!

Napalm Spicy Chicken Wings

  • 3 pounds chicken wings, patted dry with paper towels
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, plus more to fry
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2–3 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced, plus lime wedges for serving
DirectionsPlace the chicken wings in a large bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat an oven to 400˚F. Spread the chicken wings on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Place in the oven and roast until the chicken wings are firm but not fully cooked through, about 20 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in honey, hot sauce and lime zest, and let simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the lime juice and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Using a large pot, pour in enough of the vegetable oil to reach 5 inches up the sides. Place over high heat and heat the oil until it registers 375˚F on a deep-fry thermometer.

Working in small batches, fry the wings, turning occasionally, until they are crisp and golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the wings from the oil and drain on a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Put the wings in a large bowl and toss with the hot sauce butter. Transfer to a platter and serve hot with additional lime wedges.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Creamy Avocado Bomb Sauce

This sauce, found on Pinterest,  could be used on anything from salad, to tacos, quesadillas, taquitos, egg rolls, or just eaten with chips.  The best part is you won’t need to feel guilty, at least about the dip…

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeno
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  1. Wash ingredients well, especially the cilantro because it can hold in a lot of dirt.
  2. Cut lime and avocado in halves. 
  3. Remove the avocado seed
  4. Scoop the avocado from its shell in put into Vitamix or food processor.
  5. Add 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 jalapeno, 3 garlic cloves, pinch of salt and 1/2 bunch of cilantro into Vitamix/food processor. 
  6. If you do not like your dip/dressing super spicy, remove seeds of jalapeno beforehand.
  7. If you want it extra spicy, add an entire jalapeno or substitute a habanero or hotter pepper.
  8. Squeeze 1/2 lime into mix. 
  9. Blend for 3 minutes.
  10. Do a taste test. You may need to add more salt, pepper or lime juice, depending on your personal taste. 
  11. If you would like a thinner sauce, if you are using as salad dressing, add just a touch of water to thin out. Start with a tablespoon and thin a bit at a time.
  12. Blend another 1-2 minutes.
  13. Pour into a sealed container, refrigerate until ready to eat.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Baked Cheese Puff Appetizer

My grandma called these cheese puffs, but if you prefer the French name, Bon Appétit calls them Gougères.

These delicate cheese puffs always impress. The dough takes a couple of times to get “just right,” but this is now one of my favorites to make for a crowd.

  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) grated Comté cheese or Gruyère
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°. Bring butter, salt, nutmeg, and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add flour, and stir to combine.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring vigorously, until a dry film forms on bottom and sides of pan and dough is no longer sticky, about 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat and let dough cool slightly, about 2 minutes. Mix in whole eggs one at a time, incorporating fully between additions. Mix in cheese and pepper.

Scrape dough into a piping bag fitted with a ½” round tip (alternatively, use a plastic bag with a ½” opening cut diagonally from 1 corner). Pipe 1” rounds about 2” apart onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp. water in a small bowl; brush rounds with egg wash.

Bake gougères until puffed and golden and dry in the center (they should sound hollow when tapped), 20–25 minutes.

Tip** These go FAST!  I’d advise you make a double batch.  

Dough can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.  Gougères can be baked 2 hours ahead; reheat before serving.

If you’re on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: my favorite recipes, drinks, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood