12 Holiday Food Comas: Spinach Dip

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While the rest of the country has been suffering through a truly heinous winter with -50 degree winds, never-ending snow, and icy roads covered in car-degrading salt, Californians across the state have been horrified to hear their own fate: a low of 35 degrees. Heavens! When will our afflictions be over? Is there no god above to protect us from this hell?

Thankfully, we powered through and are back to just “chilly” (that’s what 60 degrees feels like to our delicate bodies). It’s a Christmas miracle that we came out alive and can appreciate the little things in life once more. Like food.

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I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate thing going on with spinach dip. Oh sure, it’s a wonderland of creamy, spinachy goodness, but you’ll always encounter a mega mayo fan who puts the ratio at 10:1 and ruins it. There’s nothing like a palate full of mayonnaise to remind you of how life was so good without it.

Obviously, it’s all based on personal preference, so my attempt is to go for more spinach, a touch of brie, and a kick with some spice. This isn’t a gooey recipe, so if you want more creaminess I would increase the sour cream by another half cup and maybe add some cream cheese chunks for a festivus flair.

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Spinach Dip

1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
2 lbs frozen, chopped spinach, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 c sour cream
2 green onions, sliced finely
2 triangles of brie
1/4 c shredded parmigiano cheese
1 t dry mustard
1 t paprika
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 t salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″x 13″ baking pan. Press the spinach in a dish towel to get out as much moisture as possible. In a large bowl, mix the spinach, artichokes, parmigiano, sour cream, green onions, mustard, paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cut the brie triangles into 1/2″ — 1″ chunks and layer half onto the bottom of the baking pan. Spread the spinach on top and layer the rest of the brie on top of that. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until brown on top. Serve hot with sliced baguette, crackers, etc.

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12 Holiday Food Comas: Peppermint Brownies

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Everyone has their own list of holiday favorites. Recipes they make every year without fail, whether they’ve been passed down from grandma or discovered in a lonely college dorm room whilst dreaming of a white Christmas. This year I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites, some new ideas I’ve been toying with, and suggestions from friends, so every day for the next 12 I will be posting a new recipe to help everyone enjoy the holidays. Today’s beast: Peppermint Brownies.

While peppermint bark is a staple this time of year, I can never eat very much of it. This is probably a good thing for my blood sugar levels, but December is the one month I feel entitled (yes, entitled) to shove as much food into my mouth as possible without feeling an iota of guilt. It’s my right as an American, a human, and practicing Atheist. And I don’t care that that last bit doesn’t make any sense. It’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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What better way to transform a chocolatey peppermint treat than to turn it into a brownie? I can think of nothing superior.

I did not think enough ahead and didn’t put the crushed candy canes on before popping the pan into the oven, but I would definitely suggest it for any followers. The brownies form a bit of a crust, so sprinkling them on after they bake is not really ideal.

Peppermint Bark Brownies

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
10 Tbsp. butter
3 oz. cream cheese
3oz white chocolate chips, melted and cooled
2 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsifted flour
3 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. peppermint extract
1/2 c crushed candy canes

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 13×9″ pan, or line with foil. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips & 6 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan.  Set aside. In a standing mixer, cream remaining butter with cream cheese and melted white chocolate; add 2/3 c. sugar and beat well.  Add 2 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 Tbsp. flour.  Set aside. In the clean mixer, beat 4 eggs till frothy; add 1 1/3 cup sugar & beat again. Add semi sweet chocolate mixture, then add rest of flour with salt & baking powder.  Add peppermint extract and rest of vanilla. In the prepared pan, layer half of semi sweet chocolate mixture, then cream cheese, then rest of chocolate mixture.  Dip knife down into mixture and swirl layers, then sprinkle with crushed candy canes.  Bake for 40 minutes or until barely done. This recipe does much better when it’s a bit wet— when it’s dry it just ain’t right. Nom nom nom!

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