Smoked Paprika, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

26 Nov

Two days ago I went hunting for a recipe for the most addicting party dip dish ever – the famous Spinach & Artichoke cheese dip. When I think of that dish – I think of the former Bennigan’s (near Roosevelt Field Mall) and how it was nothing like I had ever tasted.

Fast forward to this week and I had offered to make this dish for a friend’s birthday party. I live outside of America and do not always have access to American products (like Philadelphia cream cheese) and decided to make do with what I could find in the local supermarket.

So here is my version of a highly addicting and delicious spinach & artichoke dip.

Smoked Paprika, Spinach and Artichoke Dip

You will need one pot + vegetable steamer, fine mesh strainer, a 8×8 lasagna dish, 2 small bowels and one large mixing bowel, a cheese grater, cutting board and can opener.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of frozen spinach
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts
  • Half of a large white onion
  • Half a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Half a cup of freshly grated English Cheddar
  • Half a cup of grated or thinly sliced Mozzarella
  • 1 cup of cream cheese (or here in Israel – I used shament)
  • 3 cloves of fresh pungent garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (I prefer McCormick’s for a strong flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • Vegetable oil for greasing the dish

To Make:

  • Turn on the oven and to 400 F (or 200 C)
  • Grease the 8×8 baking dish (I use vegetable oil with a paper towel to cover the bottom and the sides of the dish)
  • Defrost the spinach  (I prefer using a vegetable steamer in a big pot on the stovetop)
  • Grate the English cheddar into a bowl and transfer the shavings into a measuring cup to make sure you have enough. then return it back into the bowl.
  • Grate the Parmesan into its own bowl, transfer the shavings into the measuring cup and make sure you have enough then return it back into the bowl.
  • When the spinach has defrosted, place it into the fine mesh strainer over the pot and press down to remove any additional water. Let it sit there for 5 minutes to make sure all extra liquid has drained.
  • Chop the 3 garlic cloves into small itty bitty pieces and dump into the mixing bowel
  • Finely chop the half onion and dump into the mixing bowel
  • Chop the artichoke hearts into small pieces and dump into the mixing bowel.
  • Add the smoked paprika, regular paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and now mix
  • Throw in the spinach and mix (using a fork)
  • Toss in the Parmesan and English Cheddar and mix well with the fork.
  • Now don’t forget to add the cup of cream cheese
  • Add the 2 tablespoons of milk and mix again
  • Place the mix in the greased 8×8 lasagna dish and bake for 25 minutes
  • Pull the hot dish out and try not to eat it while spreading the Mozzarella across the top of the dish
  • Turn on the broiler as high as it goes and put it the dish back in the oven for another 2 to 5 minutes. You want to take it out of the oven when the top has light brown crunchy cheese top.
  • Serve hot with pita bread or french baguette or even your favorite corn tortilla chips.

Enjoy! Oh, and remember, this dish is highly recommended by your taste buds but definitely not recommended by your doctor or nutritionist

How To Make Your Fresh Vegetables Last Longer

22 Sep

My top tricks to keep our veggies and fruits to last longer

I don’t know about you, but most of our weekly food budget is for fresh produce. I shop at a local vegetable store where local farmers got together to sell their produce. It is not organic fruits and veggies but it is certainly farm to table.

Over the years, I have tried out a bunch of different tricks to keep the delicious veggies fresh while in the fridge. I have one trick that I depend on to keep our veggies fresher, for longer.

Here are my top tricks:

1.  A ziplock bag (or sealed container) and paper towels.

I store our cucumbers, fresh herbs, lettuce, spinach and mushrooms in sealed containers with one or two paper towels. The towels absorb the moisture and stops the produce from wilting. I need to note here, that I replace the paper towel every single time I open the container/bag. And if I haven’t opened it in a few days (no more than 3), I replace the paper towels. Again, you do not want the towels to become so moist that it helps rot the produce.

Keeping Cucumbers Fresh

Cucumbers: Add cucumbers to a ziplock bag (or a sealed container), add two pieces of paper towels. Stays fresh for up to 3 weeks. as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Green onions (scallions): Cut off the green stems, wrap in two pieces of paper towels and store in a plastic bag. Stays fresh for up to 3 weeks. as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Spinach: Dump a bag of baby spinach into a sealed container, add a single paper towel on the top of it before closing the container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks (as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Romain Lettuce: Wrap the bunch and place in a sealed container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

Fresh Herbs (cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, nana, sage, etc. ): Wrap the bunch and place in a sealed container. Stays fresh up to 3 weeks as long as you replace the paper towels every few days or when you open up the container)

2. Vinegar bath

I fill a large bowel with cold water and dump in a cap sized amount of white vinegar to the water and then gently (I don’t want to bruise the fruits or vegetables) place the fruits/veggies in the water for about 15 minutes. Then  I wash off with regular water and let the fruits and veggies air dry before placing them into the fridge.

Berries: Blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. Make sure they are completely dry before placing in the fridge or they will mold.

Strawberries: Will last 2 weeks in the fridge

Cherry tomatoes: Will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge

3. Storing onions and garlic in a “hole-y basket”

It is imperative to store onions and garlic in a bowl/container with holes. Don’t pack them in too tightly – these veggies need to breathe.

So try out my neat little tricks to see if this will keep your fruits/veggies to last longer and let me know if they worked for you.

If you liked this post, you might like my Hacking the Home post.

Two Military Funerals In One Day

22 Jul

Jessica, a journalist from the Times of Israel : “So is this your first military funeral?”

Me: “No, this is the second one”

Jessica: “Second one ever?”

Me: <heavy sigh> “The second one today. The first one was for Yuval Dagan, from Kfar Saba.”

__________________________________________________

Yesterday I went to two separate funerals for fallen IDF soldiers. One was for Yuval Dagan and the other was for Sean (Nissim) Carmeli.

These funerals were not on my “to do” list yesterday but by the end of the work day, it was apparent to me that I would be attending one funeral.

Yesterday afternoon I heard that one of the soldiers killed in the war was a “lonely” soldier – Sean (Nissim) Carmeli, who moved to Israel and volunteered to serve in a combat unit for the IDF.  Sean grew up in the States and at moved here with his family at 16. His family returned to the States and Sean decided to stay and enlist.

The second funeral was for Yuval Dagan of Kfar Saba. I stumbled across the funeral on my way home from work and knew I could not just go home. I needed to pay my respects for a soldier  that I never met who died fighting for our country.

I came home after the funeral with dried tears on my cheeks and told Eitan to hold me. I am lucky. I can hug the man that I love. And I told him… we need to leave to Haifa in 45 minutes to make it to the next funeral.

The drive was relatively quiet until we reached the entrance to Haifa. Traffic was backed up and the sight of the number of people walking to the cemetery made my jaw drop and a huge lump got stuck in my throat.

I don’t really know how to put my feelings into words so bear with me. You see, I am an olah. I moved here the summer of 2004 and I recently celebrated my 10th anniversary of being an American-Israeli. I am beyond proud of the hard choices I made and the daily choices I make to stay here. But I did not put my life on the line for our country and others like Sean, Max Steinberg, Michael Levine and others that came before them.

I was humbled at Sean’s funeral last night. The turnout was massive – and it was astonishing to see how many came to support Sean’s family and to say farewell to one of their own.

As an oleh, you feel different than a sabra. You are different. But when an oleh or volunteer dies fighting for our country, they are considered the same as a sabra. Sean might have grown up in a different country, but he died as a full blooded Israeli.

May Sean, Max, Yuval and the rest of the fallen soldiers rest in peace. May their families and loved ones find endless comfort and support from those around them and all of us.

And may we all experience true peace. Amen.

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