Showing posts with label Dinner and a Book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinner and a Book. Show all posts

Friday, May 13, 2011

Awesome Party Dip

For Mother's Day I didn't really want to fuss all that much. My family agreed and when my mother-in-law came over with my sister-in-law, we ordered pizza and watched my taping of a TV show - Dinner and a Book - which aired in Indiana on April 23rd. At that point I hadn't had a chance to watch it myself yet, but I figured it would be a fun diversion after dinner.

Boy, was it! The people at WNIT in Indiana were wonderful, and the host, Gail Martin, was a dream to work with, but I think you'll agree that I shouldn't be cooking and talking at the same time. My family rolled as this tape played. And I don't blame them a bit. The second half isn't quite as hilarious as the first half. And maybe folks outside the family won't see my ineptitude quite as humorously as we do. My goal was to post it here and then to my website, but I'm coming up empty. Stay tuned in future weeks as I try to make it available. And then let me know what you think. You can stop watching after the lemon seed...

Anyway, for Mother's Day, I decided to make a few appetizers and I happened upon a recipe for a new dip that is absolutely delightful. I couldn't wait to share it here because everyone went nuts for it. You've had spinach dip, I'm sure. This is a version I'd never tried before but wow, was it good.

We served it with tortilla chips, and we prefer those wonderful El Milagro chips that come in windowed brown paper bags. The best available at the supermarket, if you ask me.

Here goes:

Awesome Party Dip

1 Tbsp chopped jalapenos
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded Colby-Jack or Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup onions, chopped
1 10-oz package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to get all the water out
1/2 cup half-and-half

Make sure your cream cheese is very soft. I usually pop mine in the microwave (in a glass bowl) for about 30 - 45 seconds to get it blendable. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a buttered, ovenproof dish and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 - 24 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.
You're going to love this. The jalapenos give it a subtle kick and the warm dip is a perfect appetizer. Actually, after serving this and a few others, we weren't even sure we needed the pizza, but we ordered it anyway and had a lovely Mother's Day dinner.

I love this because it's easy and delicious. Most of all, it's a very different version than other spinach dips I've seen.

Try it, you'll like it!

By the way, don't forget that GRACE INTERRUPTED comes out June 7th. I'm hosting a fun launch party on June 12th and I'd love for you to be there in person or in spirit. My next newsletter will go out right around the 7th. If you haven't signed up yet, please do so today!


Friday, February 25, 2011

Scallops over a bed of Creamed Spinach

Is anyone here from Indiana? Hope so, because I'll be appearing on WNIT's Dinner and a Book television show on April 23rd, but the show broadcasts only in Indiana.

I'll get a copy of the program, and when I do (the week it airs, I believe) I'll post it on my website. What a fun experience. We had TelePrompTers and three cameras and even an audience. The host of the show, Gail Martin, couldn't have been nicer. Brenda, the director, Angel, Paul, and so many others were supportive and just plain fun to hang out with. I had a blast, can you tell?

Anyway, as Gail and I talked about the White House Chef series and the Manor House series, we made dinner. And of course we used recipes from Buffalo West Wing!

Gail prepared a Greek salad, and Nantucket sea scallops. I prepared hummus and creamed spinach with olive oil and shallots. We finished off with the Triple Berry Cobbler that Gail had prepared ahead of time. Too fun.

I should have taken pictures between segments, but I forgot. I think I was just too nervous and excited to think about anything else but not looking like a goofball on camera.

The recipes, as they appear in Buffalo West Wing, are available via the PDF (and they're also in the back of the book, natch). My personal changes and tweaks, however, appear below

Nantucket Sea Scallops

(I'm not 100% sure mine came from Nantucket, but the ones I found were on sale. Just as good! There's a whole section on how to clean scallops in Buffalo West Wing, but I bought the kind that come pre-cleaned in nice vacuum packs.)

2 tablespoons of canola oil (I used olive oil instead)

4 tablespoons butter

3 cleaned scallops per person for an appetizer portion. 6 cleaned scallops per person for a main course (I used an entire 1 lb bag and boy did these guys shrink!)

1 clove garlic, smashed, cleaned, and finely minced (because I had more scallops and we love garlic, I upped this to 4 cloves)

Salt and pepper, to taste

You will need a sturdy cast iron skillet or equivalent. You want something with a heavy bottom that will evenly distribute the heat from your cooktop, and not have hot spots that might burn the scallops. Place the pan on a burner set on medium-high heat. Place the canola oil in the bottom of the pan with the butter. Mix together as the butter melts. Toss in the minced garlic and give the pan a stir. Let the oil heat up until it is hot, but not smoking. You can test the surface to see if it’s hot enough by carefully dropping a drop of water into the pan. If it sizzles and dances across the surface, the oil’s hot enough.

Using tongs, transfer the scallops to the prepared hot oil in the pan. Let brown for roughly 2 minutes, then turn to brown the other side. Remove cooked scallops from skillet onto warmed plates. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve on a bed of Creamed Spinach with Olive Oil and Shallots (below).

**Okay, for the record, I didn't have a cast iron skillet. I used my non-stick skillet, and I have to say, the scallops did not brown as nicely as they should have. When Gail Martin of Dinner and a Book did this, hers came out so beautifully. Gosh, I wish I would have taken a picture. Lightly browned, beautiful scallops. Mine were cooked and tasty. Just not so pretty.***

Creamed Spinach with Olive Oil and Shallots

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup shallots, finely minced

10–12 oz. fresh spinach, washed, dried, and trimmed to remove tough stems (I used frozen. Should have doubled this recipe. Wow, it was good!)

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

½ cup liquid—milk, chicken broth, or white wine, depending on personal taste

1 pinch fresh ground nutmeg

¼–½ tablespoon salt, or to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Put olive oil in a sturdy cast iron skillet or equivalent over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add shallots, stirring until they are clear, about 1 minute. Add spinach, and continue stirring until mixture is heated through and reduced and wilted, about 2–3 minutes.

Remove from heat. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk vigorously until a smooth bubbling paste forms, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the liquid. Keep stirring until you have a thickened sauce. Add the nutmeg and salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk. Add in the spinach mixture. Stir to coat. Plate. Top with grated cheese. Serve.

My husband commented at least three times about how great this meal was. He's not much of a seafood eater, so this was high praise indeed. And he liked the spinach so much, he finished it. I really should have made more! Would have been a nice leftover for lunch today!

These are really super easy to make. And they take surprisingly little time. Try it!


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