Girl + Fire = Food



Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I have a serious weakness for spinach and artichoke dip. But not just any S&A dip. The one at the Hollywood Improv is so damn good, I swear it has crack in it. I'm not joking. There's no other reason for me waking up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, jonesing for that dip.

I had spinach. I had artichoke hearts. So I attempted to create a simple dip. It didn't taste anything like the Improv's. But it was filling. And I pulled everything out of the fridge. It's a big win when I have a hankering for something and all the ingredients happen to already be in the kitchen.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip

4 cups fresh spinach
1 can (14.5 oz) artichoke hearts
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup ricotta
1/4 teaspoon Adobo with cumin

Steam spinach and artichokes in a veggie steamer over boiling water until tender and drain (the spinach will shrink to about 2 cups' worth). Discard liquid. Mix the cheeses, cream, yogurt, and seasoning. Heat for about a minute in the microwave. Stir in the vegetables and serve hot.

Yields about 3 small servings.

There are a billion variations of this recipe. This is by far the simplest. No baking! It's done within a few minutes. It's a perfect quickie side dish. Or, if you were starving like me when you made it, a filling main dish.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mushroom Soup

The menu for Day 2 of Operation No Carbs included mushroom soup for lunch. I pulled this together from 2 different recipes without even realizing it. Apparently I didn't go back to the original, but found a new one, when it came time to cook. (It's the Atkins website's fault. They have 2 different recipes depending on where you're looking. And you can't even link to one!)

Regardless, it was good enough. And perfect for this chilly day. It looks beautiful outside, but there's a strong, cold wind. Hopefully the roof doesn't blow off.

The original recipe(s) called for dried thyme. All my thyme is still in the herb garden, but I did have dried basil on hand. That was a really yummy substitution. I also don't care for super creamy soups, so I left out the heavy cream. For a recipe of this size, you could use about a half a cup, if you're so inclined.

Mushroom Soup (yields about 3 servings)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
1 carton (about 5.5 oz) of button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
14 ounces lower sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 teaspoon Adobo (to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots, mushrooms and thyme. Cook 10 minutes, until mushroom pieces are lightly browned.

2. Add chicken broth and water. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. 

3. Puree (in batches if necessary) in a blender. Return soup to pot; add Adobo to taste. Stir in lemon juice (if using) before serving.

Operation No Carbs

My birthday is next month and there's a possibility I'll be spending it in the Caribbean. *happy dance* So to get ready for swimsuit season, I decided to cut out as many non-fiber carbs as is possible and healthy. My body loves carbs, hates being off carbs, so I knew this was going to be the textbook definition of "easy."


Day 1 was yesterday. I borrowed liberally from the Atkins recipe database, as well as my own smarts. Since I'm slightly allergic to egg whites, I need to stay away from the egg-heavy Atkins menu plans. For lunch I made my own Caesar dressing, plopped a bag of Dole Classic Romaine Salad, and then topped it with the pièce de résistance: sardines. (Yeah, classic Caesar has anchovies, which I thought I had in the pantry, but it turns out they were sardines instead. So I went with it.)

 It was literally a piece of resistance. I had to choke those fishies down with visions of a tropical beach front and center in my mind.

Much like this:

Hello, paradise.

The recipe for Faux-Caesar Dressing follows. (Original is here.) I accidentally left out the olive oil, added too much hot sauce, and totally forgot about the anchovy paste. Also, 3 garlic cloves was way too many. Learn from my mistakes. One of which was pretending I could eat sardines without choking.

Faux-Caesar Dressing
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
2 shots sriracha sauce (to taste)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese

1. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together.
2. Toss lettuce with dressing until evenly coated. Divide on plates; top with a sardine.
3. Try not to choke.

Opeartion No Carbs is, thus far, a dubious success. Onto Day 2...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Test Kitchen: Blueberry Salsa & Risotto Rice Cakes

What do you do with blueberries? Cobbler, pie, compote, blah blah blah. I didn't feel like drowning beautiful, ripe blueberries in sugar. Teh Googlewebs came up with Blueberry Salsa over at Natalie's Killer Cuisine. And since I started my own herb garden this week, I finally had basil within reach. Win!

But salsa alone wasn't enough to make a dinner. Throw in a pan-fried steak, some Risotto Rice Cakes, a friend to test it all and voila! Dinner for two. (Little did I know that blueberries are my friend's favorite fruit. Some friend I am. Needless to say, she scored this a success!)

Spoiler: the rice cakes and salsa were delicious for breakfast the next morning. Story after the jump.