Archive for the ‘Dip’ Category
Today has been a great day (minus the hour it took to get home). There must have been an accident on the interstate because that is a new record by 10 minutes. What kept me going during the long ride home was the excitement of my first intermediate yoga class. I signed up as part of our town’s rec department, and we do yoga in a middle school cafeteria. The teacher is awesome. She’s in her early 60s I’m guessing and she’s so peppy and happy. I kept thinking she’d make an awesome neighbor. She’d be one of those people who would always watch your house when you leave town and bring you jam in the summer.
That’s one thing that’s different in an apartment. We are surrounded by people and I have no idea who any of our neighbors are (expect the hoarders across the hallway). When we lived in a duplex, we loved our neighbors and managed to see them more often even though they were farther away.
Anyway, the yoga class lasts for 12 weeks and I can already tell I’m going to love it. Between car rides and sitting at my desk nearly all day, my body craves the stretches and inversions of yoga. And without fail, I always feel great after every class.
Pre-yoga, I snacked on kitty cookie crackers from Trader Joe’s with Oliver and my new favorite spread – cashew butter. Before I wrote this article for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on nut butters, I thought I hated cashews. Well my taste buds must have changed because I couldn’t get enough cashew butter and lemon curd sandwiches. Epic, I tell you!
I remember buying cashew butter for a muffin recipe and it was pretty expensive, $7-something a jar. If you can get cashews on sale or buy them in bulk, it’s much cheaper to make the sticky stuff yourself.
To make my version, you only need cashews, walnut oil and salt. If you don’t have walnut oil, use canola because it’s mild in flavor.
Makes about 1 cup
8 ounces cashews
1-2 tablespoons walnut oil
Salt, to taste
In a food processor, add cashews and grind for about 2 minutes. Add a tablespoon of oil while the machine is still running. Continue running the machine for another minute. If you like your cashew butter extra smooth, add a little more oil and season with a pinch or two of salt and grind to your desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 weeks.
In addition to cashew butter, I’ve also made homemade peanut butter, which turned out fantastic. It’s like the best natural peanut butter you can find but butter because it tastes fresher. Next on my list: homemade cookie butter. Oh yeah.
Question: What’s your favorite nut butter? Have you ever tried making it yourself?
Confession time: Since I went out for sushi with Brittney and Laurie last week for book club, I’ve been craving sushi like mad. We went to Thai-namite in downtown Milwaukee and I got shrimp tempura and sweet potato rolls. It got me thinking how terrible grocery store sushi is. I’ve had good luck at Trader Joe’s, but other than that I don’t bother.
I am heading to Glorioso’s market on Saturday for a canning class (given I’ve already canned apple pie filling, garlic dill pickles and cranberry apple butter, but there’s always more to learn). Thai-namite is right across the street, so I think I may have to make a pit stop.
Speaking of great food, Brenton has this obsession with all things beer and especially beer dip. We made the best beer cheese dip with bacon tonight. Not the healthiest thing in the world, but we did use 1/3 less fat cream cheese :) Plus, I firmly believe in portion control. All things in moderation — no matter what it is.
Of course the starring role in this dip was the bacon. Remember when I reviewed Pig of the Month BBQ? Turns out we still had a pound of chipotle bacon in our freezer. Although I don’t care for bacon by itself, I love adding it to salads, burgers, dips, etc. I could even see spreading this dip onto a panini instead of mayo.
Beer Cheese Bacon Dip
1-8 ounce package 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons beer, or to your liking (we used PBR, but any beer you like to drink is fine)
2 teaspoons ranch seasoning
3 bacon strips, crumbled
Mix cream cheese with bacon, cheese and ranch seasoning. Add beer to thin the dip out to your desired consistency. Serve.
Question: What do you do with leftover bacon? My dad loves making a breakfast dish with fried potatoes, bacon, mushrooms and onions. Try as I may, I cannot make it as good as he does.
As I was trolling though my recipe section, I began to notice something. I use pumpkin, a lot. From breakfast to desserts and dinner, nearly every one of my food categories contains a dish with pumpkin. Since it’s fall and canned pumpkin is everywhere, what better time to do my first recipe roundup?
Question: Do you like cooking with pumpkin? What do you like to make? Links welcome!
Happy Memorial day!
Yesterday we went to Brittney’s house for a pre-Memorial Day party. Ryan made the best ribs ever – I wish I had a picture! It was also the first time Oliver was going to meet Murphy. I really hoped they would get along!
That morning I took Oliver on a 5-mile run (it was probably about 80 degrees outside). Even still, he had a ton of energy to burn.
We played bags, aka corn in the hole, in her backyard. This brought me right back to my college days – so fun! It makes me pine for a backyard of my own, but at least we have our own balcony at the apartment (I know, it’s not even close).
Great start to the unofficial start of summer.
Today I had quite the productive day. After about an hour of weight training at the gym, I did some writing, recipe testing and bread making – homemade sourdough focaccia. In the afternoon, we headed down to my parent’s house (they only live about 45 minutes away) to grill out for the holiday.
My mom has the coolest chip bowl. I just had to take a picture of it. The dip is shrimp cocktail sauce over cream cheese – amazing with crackers. (Except this man looks like his leg was taken off by a shark attack!)
Dinner consisted of prime rib on the grill, corn on the cob, my dad’s potatoes (one of my favorite things he makes-it has bacon, onions and mushrooms in it), fresh tomatoes and focaccia bread.
And Tristan had his first Memorial Day. He is about 11 weeks old and is smiling all the time. I try to catch it on film as much as I can.
How was your weekend? What’s the funnest thing you did?
I’ve gone bananas. Actually, I’ve gone pumpkin.
Two years ago when there was a canned pumpkin shortage in Wisconsin, I made sure to stock up whenever I could (which resulted in a stockpile of about 12 cans). And, literally, I had more pumpkin than I knew what to do with.
And I’m still using my bounty, from which I created these fabulous Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins, Pumpkin Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup, Black Bean and Vegetable Enchiladas with Pumpkin Sauce and Pumpkin Black Bean Chili.
Still, I haven’t quite satisfied my pumpkin craving this season yet (I’m planing a pumpkin bread pudding for this weekend). In fact, I was weight lifting at the gym yesterday and was hit with the biggest craving for pumpkin dip. (yes, amidst all the sweat and grunting men in the weight room, I am thinking about food. figures.)
I decided to put my new Kitchenaid Mix Master to work and create a dip that was reminiscent of pumpkin pie.
With Marshmallow Fluff in tow, I succeeded.
Pumpkin Pie Dip
Created by Alysha
1 – 8 ounce package Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place the cheese, fluff, pumpkin and sugar in a bowl and beat until combined. Add the spices and continue mixing. Taste. Add more spices if needed. (Note: My biggest cooking resolution right now is to taste as I go along. I have the biggest problem with that because I like to wait until the “grand finale,” aka when I am ready to sit at the table and eat.) Refrigerate dip until ready to serve.
Serve with sliced apples, grapes, animal crackers, graham crackers and marshmallows.
Question: What’s your favorite thing to make with your fixer (stand or hand-held)?
Most people have an idea for an invention, Ross Segel was someone who actually did something with it. He’s the founder of Snack Patrol, a snack food company that produces Cheese Jerky. (Learn more about Ross and his unique snack in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article I wrote here.)
While researching, I also got to experiment with recipe development. I made Beer Cheese Jerky Soup (delish), Pizza Dip and Beer Dip. With Cheese Jerky and Lakefront Brewery’s Wheat Monkey beer, this beer dip screams Wisconsin. It also pairs perfectly with pretzels.
Cheese Jerky Beer Dip
2 packages Cheese Jerky, grated
1 – 8oz package Neufchatel (or cream cheese), room temperature
1 ½ tsp Penzeys buttermilk ranch seasoning
2 Tbsp Lakefront Brewery’s Wheat Monkey beer, or more to taste
1. Place Neufchatel cheese in a mixing bowl and beat. Add Cheese Jerky and 2 Tbsp beer.
2. Mix in ranch seasoning until blended. If you want a thinner consistency, add more beer.
3. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy with pretzels.
For more info on Cheese Jerky, visit cheesejerky.com.
Spinach artichoke dip. Cheesy, creamy and gooey, this appetizer is often the most indulgent thing you can order at a restaurant. Take Chili’s for example – one order has 1130 calories! Hello!? This is supposed to be a good choice. It does have two rock star vegetables in it. But when you start adding bags of cheese and jars of mayo, this dish quickly turns into one of the worst choices you can make while dining out.
Good news for you, I’ve experimented with this old favorite to make it healthier, while still maintaining the same gooey consistency and knockout flavor. Meet Alysha’s Lightened-up Spinach Artichoke Dip.
Skinny Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 – 10 oz package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 – 14 oz can artichoke hearts, chopped thoroughly
4 green onions (whites and greens), diced
1 cup light alfredo sauce 9(I used Ragu)
1/4 cup Miracle Whip
3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all ingredients. Transfer to a medium-sized casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes.
OK, so I wouldn’t quality this as a health food-dish per say, but it still has a lot going for it (less cheese, light mayo, etc). What i especially like about this spinach artichoke dip is that it’s very thick and vegetable heavy. It stands up well to tortilla chips, pretzels or a slices baguette. All in all, a winner in my book.
What’s your favorite dip?