It's a fascinating process. When you write, you're often so focused on the page-to-page trees that you completely lose sight of the story-telling forrest. In these brainstorming sessions, we help each other get a firm grip on the heart of our conflict, develop the plot to emphasize that conflict, and cut the stuff that really doesn't fit. Oh, and we help each other write our one- or two-sentence "log line": a quick encapsulation of the whole story.
While we're working, we're also having a ton of fun. Molly has a gift for punny titles, Tracy has a wicked sense of humor, and I have developed a reputation for solving all plot problems by killing someone. Kym tells us stories about her years as a cop. Melissa's kids and critters keep us laughing. And, of course, there's always a spread of delicious food.
This go-round, Tracy brought this awesome spicy artichoke dip. I e-mailed her afterward to ask if she would share the recipe and let me share it with you. Ah. Turns out she didn't actually make it. It came from Costco. Which is great, if you happen to belong to Costco ... you can pick it up and enjoy without even stepping foot in the kitchen.
But we do recipes here, so I cobbled together a version of the dip that comes pretty close to Costco's.
|The Mezzetta tamed jalapeno peppers are KEY.|
So, for your Superbowl snacking pleasure, I bring you this zippy artichoke dip. I think it has a lot more flavor that the usual fare, with just the right amount of heat. It's great served with Triscuits, pita chips, or crostini. Num!
Kicky Artichoke Dip
1 large (12 oz) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, squeezed out, and chopped
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts (in water), drained, squeezed out, and chopped
1 - 8 oz. carton cream cheese, softened
1 c. mayo
1 1/2 c. shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 c. "tamed" chopped/pickled jalapenos (heap that 1/3 c. if you like extra kick)*
Preheat oven to 350.
Make sure you've pressed the excess oil/water out of your artichoke hearts. You can use your hands (if you're so inclined), or press them against the sides of a colander with a large spoon.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine mayo and cream cheese. Mix with a hand mixer until fairly smooth. Add artichokes, jalapenos, and 1 c. parmesan. Mix well. Spread in a 7x12 baking dish, top with remaining 1/2 c. shredded parmesan, and bake for 30 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 425 and continue baking for another 10 minutes (keeping an eye on the dip to make sure it doesn't burn).
Serve warm or room temperature.
* Look for Mezzetta "tamed" jalapenos. They are made from a special variety of the pepper that has a lot of flavor but reduced heat. If you cannot find Mezzetta's, then opt for a tablespoon of regular pickled jalapenos and make up the remaining with mild diced green chiles. But really look for the Mezzetta peppers. They're also fantastic on nachos!