This week worked out so that I have 3 things for you that are all great helpers for when you’re throwing a party. I know a lot of people are throwing football parties this time of year and probably some birthday parties too. If you’re one of those people, than this post is for you.
The first thing I have is another MP3 deal from Amazon, because parties generally need some sort of music. All you have to do is go over here, share what would be part of your ideal care package, and buy music with your free $2 of MP3 credit. I would love to hear what y’all want in your care packages as well as what music you decide to buy. I received a lot of wonderful care packages while I was in college (Thanks Mom and Dad!!!), and one thing I love is getting so many different items all at once. Nowadays my ideal care package would include Diet Coke (because y’all know I’m addicted), peanut butter (always handy), Ritz crackers (tasty on their own and amazing with pb), Reese’s cups (chocolate + peanut butter = happiness), an Agatha Christie mystery (I love Poirot and Miss Marple! Clean stories, great mysteries, and perfect for light reading.), and a copy of InStyle magazine (my “guilty” pleasure). With my $2 MP3 credit, I got a little nostalgic and bought a couple of classic Aaron Neville songs. I haven’t listened to him in a long time, but it reminds me of all the music I listened to growing up.
The next party pleaser is a dish that most people love in a category that most people consider a party necessity: Spinach and Artichoke Dip. The nice thing about dips is that they can be made ahead of time, they usually don’t require much work, and almost everyone loves them. I brought this dip to our potluck on Sunday, and it was very well received. What I like most about this dip is that it’s heavy on the veggies and very light on the mayo. (I eat mayo, but I’m not a fan of dishes that call for large quantities of it.) I put the dip together on Saturday, then just had to pop it in the oven for a few minutes before lunch on Sunday. To make things easier, I served mine with tortilla chips, but it would also go great with crackers, chips, or a toasted baguette (whichever you and yours prefer). It’s not as creamy as some dips out there, but I like that you can taste the spinach and artichokes. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where this comes from, and there are too many spinach and artichoke dips floating out on the web for me to locate it. If you’ve seen this recipe somewhere else, please let me know where; I’d love to attribute it back to its source.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip
4 5 oz. bags baby spinach (Costco and Sam’s Club usually have great deals on baby spinach.)
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 9 oz box thawed, frozen, chopped artichoke hearts (I can never seem to find the frozen artichoke hearts. I used a 15 oz. can of artichoke hearts in water that I drained and chopped in my mini food processor.)
1/4 c. mayo
3 oz. shredded Gruyere (I didn’t want to pay for Gruyere, so I just used some shredded mozzarella that I already had on hand.)
1. In a large nonstick skillet, bring 1 c. of water to a boil. Add the spinach, 1 bag at a time, and stir til wilted, about 3 min.; drain. Rinse with cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as possible, then coarsely chop. Rinse the skillet and put it back on the stove. (To get out the moisture, I squeezed the spinach by hand until I couldn’t get any more water out of it. I’ve heard that you can use a kitchen towel, but I didn’t want to turn mine green. I also recently read that a potato ricer makes quick work of this tedious job. I don’t have one, but now I think it would be a nice addition to my bevy of kitchen gadgets. Also, don’t worry about how little spinach you end up with. Once it’s chopped and mixed with the other ingredients, you’ll be surprised at how much it turns out to be.)
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In the skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, til softened, about 8 min. Stir in the garlic, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; cook 2 min.
3. Stir in the cream cheese and mash it til smooth. Stir in the spinach, artichoke hearts, mayo, and 2/3 of the Gruyere. Transfer everything to a shallow baking dish. (I used a 7×9 in. pan to ensure a good cheese to dip ratio.)
4. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top of the dip. Bake til it’s golden brown and bubbling, 15-20 min.
Of course, no party could be complete without some sort of sweet treat. Our week 3 Holiday Cookie is a definite crowd-pleaser. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Oreo Cheesecake Cookie. This is a super easy cookie that delivers the taste of an Oreo cheesecake without all the work and wait time. My husband is a huge fan of Oreos, so I knew that these would be a hit with him, but they also would be perfect for any type of party or cookie exchange.
Oreo Cheesecake Cookies (from Brown-Eyed Baker)
1/2 c. softened butter
3 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. sugar (I thought they were just a little too sweet. Next time, I’ll try 3/4 c. and see how that works.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. Oreo crumbs (I used mini Oreos for a few reasons. The bag of mini Oreos was cheaper and would leave less in the house to tempt me. Also, mini Oreos have less cream, so they make better crumbs.)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment (or a silicone mat). In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium til smooth and well combined.
2. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix til well combined. Add the flour and mix on low til incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Place the crumbs in a small bowl. Scoop the cookies into 1 1/2-2 in. balls and roll in the crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and bake 12-15 min. or til the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed. (Mine puffed a little less than the Brown-Eyed Baker’s. I think it’s because I let my butter and cream cheese get too soft, so my cookies spread more and puffed less.) Cool on the pan 2 min., then cool completely on a wire rack.
Hopefully these recipes will come in handy for your next party. Do you have one in the works? I’d love to hear what types of parties you’re planning on having soon. Until then, have a good day and check back next week for more delicious treats.