Two Thanksgiving Appetizers
An artichoke dish was a heavy favorite in the poll last week, but I thought I would actually write two quick appetizers for this post since Thanksgiving is one week away! (I’m publishing nothing but Thanksgiving recipes until the big day from here on out so you can look forward to that!)
When I think of artichokes, especially for an appetizer, I got straight to a spinach artichoke dip. It’s really everything I want in a dip: creamy, cheesy, hot, and lots of flavor. You can even make it spicy if that’s your style.
As you might imagine, there are a lot of spinach artichoke dips on the Internet. After checking out various recipes, I decided that it’s really hard to go wrong with this dip as long as you put some creamy stuff in it, use lots of artichokes and spinach, and bake it. (Okay. Some versions don’t even bake the stuff.)
So let’s make my version!
Two Thanksgiving Appetizers
Yield: Serves 8.
Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
2 14 ounce cans artichoke hearts in water (I like mine really artichokey.)
1 10 ounce bag frozen spinach (thawed and patted dry)
6-8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 Cup mayonnaise
6-8 ounces silken tofu
1 Cup Gruyere cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Parmesan cheese for topping
Chips, crackers, or spoons for dipping
3-4 Cups of fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup orange liqueur, also known as Triple Sec. If you don't have this, you can also use orange zest.
1/2 lemon, juice only
Tiny pinch of cinnamon
You'll also need...
1 wheel of brie
For artichoke dip:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Drain artichokes and roughly chop them. Add artichokes to a bowl with all the creamy ingredients and tofu.
3) Thaw frozen spinach and press it between a few paper towels to press out as much liquid as possible. Chop up the spinach and add it to the dip.
4) Add in grated Gruyere cheese and salt and pepper the dip.
5) Add dip to a square 8x8 baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese.
6) Bake dip at 350 for about 45 minutes until it's golden brown. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips or bread.
For Cranberry Relish Brie:
1) Rinse off cranberries. Add them to a pot with enough water to just just make the cranberries rise.
2) Add sugar and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes and use a spoon to mash up cranberries as it cooks.
3) Taste the sauce (let it cool) and adjust the flavors. it might need more lemon or more sugar depending on how you want it.
4) Let this cool for at least 2 hours so it can thicken fully.
5) Slather a wheel of brie with the relish and bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Serve it with crackers!
Spinach Artichoke Dip
First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Then drain all your artichokes and roughly chop them. I like mine on the more rustic side so I don’t over chop them.
Add your artichoke to a large bowl and then it’s on to the creamy ingredients. You can use a bunch of different things to make this dip creamy including the cream cheese and mayo I list in my recipe, but you could also use sour cream, heavy cream, etc.
In an effort to make this just a very tiny bit healthy, I decided to add about half a block of silken tofu to the dip. When it’s mixed in it produces a creamy texture and literally you can’t taste it at all.
If you’re completely opposed to this stuff, you can substitute any other creamy ingredient without a problem.
Prepping the spinach
I like to use frozen spinach for this recipe. If you use fresh, make sure to blanch it in hot water and then press out the water with paper towels or you’ll have a really watery dip.
For frozen spinach though, just thaw it out and then press all the spinach between a few paper towels. There will be a lot of liquid.
Once the spinach is dry, add everything to the a big bowl.
Also, add your grated Gruyere cheese! This made it even creamier although I’ll say that I had a hard time actually tasting the cheese in the final product which was shocking to me.
Salt and pepper the dip to taste (yes I recommend tasting it cold. If it’s good cold, imagine how good it will be hot!) Mix everything up and pour it into a 9X9 baking dish. Top it with a fare amount of Parmesan cheese.
Bake this at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until it is nice and golden brown. Serve it with pita chips, tortilla chips, or just a bunch of spoons! (Joking on the spoons… kind of.)
Cranberry Relish Brie
During the holidays, I like to make a batch of cranberry relish (or cranberry sauce). It’s great to just eat with turkey obviously, but it can used for all kinds of other things. I also used it for an awesome brunch dish that I’m posting on Saturday.
For a good quick appetizer though, you can just slather the cranberry relish on a good wheel of brie and bake it!
This really couldn’t be easier to make. Rinse off all your cranberries to remove any dirt or stems and then add them to a large pot. Add all your other ingredients and just enough water to rise up to the cranberries. I found that it was about as many cups of water as cranberries. Don’t worry about it though, if you add too much, you can just reduce it more later or add more water if you need to.
One note: Cranberries float. If you try to keep adding water until it covers the berries, you will fail.
Put this over medium heat and stir it slowly until all the sugar is melted. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes. The cranberries will all burst and start to break down and the whole pot will thicken up nicely due to all the pectin in the cranberries.
At this point, make sure to taste your mixture. Get a spoon and scoop out a little. Let it cool for a minute or two and then give it a taste. Too bitter? Add a bit more sugar. Too sweet? Add some more lemon. If it’s really runny, let it cook for a few more minutes.
Ideally, your final product will be the consistency of warm honey. It should be thick, but flow freely. Pour it into a container and let it cool at room temperature for 15 minutes and then at least two hours in the fridge. As it cools it will thicken up a lot.
Slather this stuff on a wheel of brie and bake it (I baked mine in a cake tin) for about 25 or 30 minutes at 300 degrees. You just want everything to be warm and gooey.
Some recipes call for wrapping the brie in puff pastry and that’s good also (although you then need to bake it at 350), but it’s okay to just bake it as is.
Serve it up with crackers!
Obviously, the warm brie is delicious, but the cranberry really sends it over the edge.
So, if you’re looking for a quick and tasty appetizer or two in the next week, check these out.
Do you have any quick holiday appetizers? Leave a comment!