Quick & Cheesy, Artichoke & Spinach Dip

People in Texas love cheesy dips.

This recipe came as a complete accident a few weeks ago when I was suddenly asked to come up with an appetizer big enough to feed 8 people, two of them teenage boys.   After scavenging the entire kitchen looking for ingredients that made sense,  I realized there was very little, and nearly not enough to make a dish for that many people, or that would appeal the teenage taste.  That is, until I saw the package of Trader Joe’s Artichoke and & Spinach dip hiding in the freezer!  In no way is this an original recipe, but mostly a way to stretch that one package of dip, give it a nice injection of flavor and make everyone happy.   In this case, it saved the day!

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time:  4-10 Minutes 

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pckg – Trader Joe’s Artichoke Dip
  • 3 cloves – Garlic
  • 1/2 bulb – Shallots
  • 1 tbsp – Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup – Chopped Frozen Spinach
  • 1 pckg – Light Cream Cheese (Neuchâtel)
  • 1/4 tsp – Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 lemon – Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup – Mozzarella or Italian Blend Cheese

Instructions

  • Slightly defrost TJ Dip in the microwave – follow instructions of the package.
  • Cream cheese should be at room temperature
  • Crush or mince garlic cloves, finely chop the shallots.
  • While the dip is defrosting, bring the olive oil in a sauté pan to medium heat
  • Sauté the garlic and shallots together until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the Cream cheese to a large mixing bowl, then pour in the garlic and shallot mixture, mix by hand using a spatula until incorporated and smooth
  • Add the defrosted Spinach (no cooking necessary, just make sure there’s no additional liquid)
  • Add the lemon juice, cayenne, a dash of salt & pepper to taste.
  • Add the packaged TD Artichoke dip, mix well.
  • Continue to mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Transfer into a serving dish, then top with Mozzarella / Italian Blend cheese.

 

Cooking Instructions:

In the Oven:  Broil in 425ºF for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

If using a Microwave:  Cover and heat in Med / High setting for 4 minutes

Serve with thick tortilla chips and enjoy!

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Y tu abuela, donde esta?

Hola!  Here’s a little intro post to kick start this adventure.  Sofrito Chic  incorporates two words that inspired this journey and what my social cooking is all about:  Good Puerto Rican soul food with a twist of chic.  Sprinkling ingredients and tricks here and there taken from my travel experiences adding that eclectic twist my kitchen has always had.
I grew up  between the mountainous jungle where my grandmother was born, and the busy and colorful microcosm of the capital city of PR, San Juan, hiding under my grandma’s “muumuu” playing with corn fritter dough stuck between my fingers.
I learned my best tricks by helping her cook almost every day from the age of 4 until my college days when she prematurely passed away.  Her approach to food and her attitude of never taking shortcuts in the kitchen taught me that hard work always pays off at the end.   As a city kid, my mom understood the importance of keeping us grounded and connected to our culture and past, so we often visited our close relatives in the country side, running around fields of coffee bushes,  plucking chicken feathers, or feeding baby piglets at my grandfather’s pig farm, all before heading home to traffic lights and MTv.
Abuela Goyita making pasteles on the kitchen table

Abuela Goyita (left) making pasteles on the kitchen table with her daughter Titi Margarita

My grandma and my mom instilled in me a deep appreciation for home-grown, fresh produce and the strong connection our food has to our  roots and the island culture.   As I  became young woman, I left my little island-universe and  found myself in far and away places exploring new parts of the world and picking up tricks and flavors in between never forgetting the lessons in life my grandma passed on to me.

Styling Abuela's hair was one of my favorite things to do

Styling Abuela’s hair was one of my favorite things to do

From the Plaza del Mercado in Rio Piedras, PR to the food market on the side of a small road in Krabi, Thailand; Sofrito chic documents the journey of that little girl with golden locks helping grandma pick pigeon peas from the back yard, to the woman I am today.   Infusing these flavors into every day meals, sharing them with friends from my small home in Austin, Texas.
Here’s a humble piece of me, and a bow to all the strong and amazing women that came before me.  I am happy to share the bits I’ve learned from my adventures in life with the hopes it makes you eat well and smile along the way.

Today is the 18th anniversary or your passing, so here’s a toast to you Abuela.  I miss you.