Spinach, Artichoke and Parmesan Dip…..

Hello everyone-

I just had to share my latest creation with you!  I made this dip for a party last night and I/they loved it!  Everyone loves artichoke dip but the usual recipe is loaded with mayonnaise.  Delicious, but over the top in terms of fat and calories.

As usual, I’ve incorporated my old stand by Greek non-fat yogurt into my recipe.  It’s the best cheat ever!  You can also lighten it up even more if you’d like to by using low-fat cream cheese and low-fat mayonnaise.

Here’s the recipe…

Spinach, Artichoke and Parmesan Dip

1 1/2 cups greek non fat yogurt
1 8 ounce package softened cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves roasted garlic in 2 tablespoons olive oil (in a very small sauce pan over the lowest possible heat, roast finely chopped garlic in the olive oil until slightly browned.  Cool.
1/2 cup parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the top before baking
dash worcestershire  sauce
dash hot sauce
1 lb. thawed and water squeezed out frozen chopped spinach
2 cans artichoke hearts, chopped into small pieces

Stacey’s Pita Chips or toasted garlic baguette

1)  Roast the garlic and cool, thaw the spinach and squeeze out water and drain and chop the artichokes.
2)  Preheat the oven to 350′.  Coat a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
3)  In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft.  Add the yogurt and mayonnaise, beat well, scrape sides of bowl.
4)  Add cooled garlic and oil mixture, worcestershire, hot sauce and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and beat.
5)  Add the spinach and artichokes and mix on low-speed until well incorporated.
6)  Spread into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons parmesan.
7)  Bake for 35-40 minutes.  Serve warm with pita chips or toasted baguette



New Year’s Soiree….

Looking forward to a simple cocktail/appetizer party on Saturday.  As always, I obsess over what I’ll be serving.  (in a good way!)  In my experience I’ve found that most people really go for hot appetizers.  I think it’s nice to offer a couple of cold items  so that there’s something available between hot apps.  Olives are nice.  I like to offer some vegetables as well so that my guests have a healthy option.  I love the look of blanched broccoli on a vegetable tray.  *Blanching will make the broccoli very bright green and will make it less bitter.  Serve fresh cut veggies with my Light Bleu Cheese Dip.  No one will know it’s light, so good!

Another thing to consider is whether your guests will mostly be standing and mingling.  Always a good idea to serve items that are bite size and easy to eat.  Be sure to have plenty of cocktail napkins on hand as well.  If guests are a little shy about going up to an appetizer table, circulate them yourself or enlist another guest to do so.  This will put everyone at ease.

Here’s what I’m thinking…


1)  Fried Calamari with Fresh Marinara Sauce (the sauce can be made ahead)  Not sure about this one….like to have most everything done ahead of time! 
2)  Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli (make ahead, just warm in oven)
3)  Black Forest Ham and Gruyere Puff Pastry Squares (Ina Garten) great at room temperature (make ahead, serve at room temperature or warm in oven for a few minutes)
4)  Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms (make ahead, warm in oven)
5)  Proscuitto Wrapped Breadsticks with Boursin and Arugula (cold) (make ahead)


Mini Cheesecake Bites with Fresh Raspberry Sauce (make ahead)
Something Chocolate…not sure what….
Fresh Berries with Mascarpone Cream-beautiful, simple, and festive.  (make ahead)

I have time before my gig, so I’ll be changing things around a bit.  Will let you know my final menu.

Have a nice evening-


*to blanch broccoli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the cut broccoli to the water and set the timer for 1 minute.  Drain and immediately plunge the  hot broccoli into a bowl of ice water.   Once the broccoli is cool, drain well.  Enjoy!

Prosciutto & Boursin Cheese Appetizer…..

This is a very elegant, simple, and amazingly delicious appetizer!  The best part?  There is no cooking involved!  If you like ham rolls with cream cheese, this is a bit more sophisticated.  I used onion bread sticks, a blend of cream cheese and garlic & herb boursin cheese, baby arugula, and prosciutto ham.   I was disappointed when I opened the box of bread sticks and half of them were broken.  I decided that it made the plate look interesting to offer different sizes.

When you buy prosciutto, ask for it to be sliced slightly thicker than usual, which is paper thin.  If it’s too thin it can be very difficult to work with.  Cut the prosciutto in half longways.   This ham actually sticks to itself nicely so they stay wrapped.  I used a broken bread stick here.  I just made sure that the prosciutto covered the broken top.
Next add a smear of cream cheese and boursin cheese, beaten together with a hand mixer.
Add a couple of pieces of arugula.  Be sure that it’s completely dry after washing.
Carefully roll the ham over the cheese and arugula.  Done.  Now taste one.  Holy moley that’s good!

Prosciutto and Boursin Cheese Appetizer

1 box of onion bread sticks (20 pieces)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
4 ounces garlic and herb boursin cheese
14-16 slices proscuitto ham, sliced thin
8 ounces of arugula, washed and completely dried

1)  With a hand mixer beat the softened cream cheese and the boursin cheese until well blended.
2)  Slice the prosciutto in half longways.  Wrap the tip of a bread stick with the ham, add a smear of the cheese mixture, add a couple of arugula leaves.  Gently wrap the ham around the stick.
3)  Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.  Makes about 10 servings.

Pretty and yummy.

Have a great week!


Warm Tomato & Garlic Goat Cheese Dip


I had my good friend Amy over for dinner the other night for a belated birthday dinner.  I just  so happened to have a good size chunk of goat cheese on hand, one of my friend’s fav’s.    How could I go wrong with  fresh  plum tomatoes, onions, and lots of garlic?   I made it ahead and put in the frige.   I popped it into the oven about 10 minutes before she arrived so it would give us a little time for chat and a glass of prosecco before we dove into the appetizer.  It was savory, creamy and delicious. 

Warm Tomato & Garlic Goat Cheese Dip

Toasted bread crumbs
1 slice of whole wheat bread, processed into crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small sweet onion finely chopped
2 large cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
3 plum tomatoes, finely diced
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 tablespoons of red or white wine
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely sliced (chiffonade)
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1 Baguette thinly sliced on a diagonal

1)  Preheat the oven to 275′.   Process the slice of bread until you have crumbs.  Add the olive oil and pulse a couple of times.  Spread over a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 5-8 minutes, give them a toss after about 4 minutes.  Bake a little longer if needed.  You’ll want them to be evenly toasted brown.  Watch them closely as they can easily burn.   Remove from the oven and cool.  Turn the oven temperature up to 350′.
2)  Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat, add olive oil.  Saute the onions until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic and cook another minute. 
3)  Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and wine.  Cook until most of the moisture has evaporated from the tomatoes, stirring often.   Add the water.  Cook until most of the water has evaporated.  Remove from heat and add the basil.
4)  Coat a small 3-4 cup baking dish with olive oil.  Add the crumbled goat cheese.  Top with the fragrant cooked tomato mixture.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.  Remove from the oven and top with the toasted bread crumbs.  Serve with sliced baguette or pita chips.  Serves 4.

I hope you had a nice weekend!


Baked Potato Skin Appetizers with Bacon and Cheese

Who doesn’t love potato skins?  Look to buy small potatoes.  They bake in about 45 minutes and are easy to manage when eating.  Make the skins and bacon ahead of time and bake right before you want to serve.  Save the leftover potato flesh for skillet potatoes

Start by baking 12 small potatoes at 375′ for 40-45 minutes.  

Cook the bacon until crispy.  Drain over paper towels and cut into small pieces.  Set aside.

Once the potatoes are done, cool until you can handle them.  Carefully scoop out the flesh of the potato.

Brush canola oil on the potato skins to coat.  Once they’re all coated with oil, season generously with kosher salt.   Bake in 375′ oven for 14-16 minutes.

The leftover potato flesh will be good for 7 days in the refrigerator.

Top the hot skins generously with cheese and cooked bacon.  Bake at 375′ another 5-7 minutes.  Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.  Enjoy!

Potato Skin Appetizers
 12 small potatoes, baked, halved, and hollowed out
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ lb. bacon cooked and cut into small pieces
8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup sour cream
½ cup thinly sliced green onions

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Bake potatoes for 35-40 minutes.

2) While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and cut into small pieces. Set aside.

3) Remove potatoes from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them. Cut in half and remove the flesh of the potato.  Save the flesh for breakfast potatoes.

4) Brush the inside and the back side with a thin layer of canola oil. Season the inside of the potato skin generously with kosher salt.  Place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and generously top with cheese and bacon. Bake an additional 8-10 minutes.

5) Remove from the oven and top each skin with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of green onion. Serve immediately.   Makes 24.

Natchitoches (Nack-uh-Tush) With Spicy Yogurt Dipping Sauce

I came across this little stuffed meat appetizer pie in a Food and Wine Cookbook,  Best of 2010.  I made a couple of small changes.  I didn’t care for the crust, it was a bit tough.  I used my own pie crust recipe-worked like a charm.  I did, however, love the idea for a spicy tart dip.  The recipe suggested using buttermilk, but I always have plain yogurt on hand, so I made my version of it.

The name really piqued my curiosity so I googled.  Turns out these meat pies were popular in the late 1700’s in the small Louisiana town that shares the name.    It is said that the meat pies were easy for working men to transport to work and were easy to eat.  I LOVE food history! 

I enjoyed making these little appetizers but they were time consuming.  I think it would make an interesting dinner (make them larger) and I think kids would dig it.  (maybe cut back on some of the spice)  I’d serve a nice green salad with a vinaigrette.  The sharp vinegar cuts the richness of the meat filling. 

Brown the meat in a little olive oil.  Add minced garlic, green pepper, and onion.  Cook until vegetables are soft.  Add tomato paste, cayenne pepper, ground cloves, dried thyme, ground coriander, allspice, sugar, and water.  Add a couple of pinches of salt and a couple of dashes of Tabasco.  Allow to cool completely. (be sure to do this, the crust dough will not fare well with warm filling)  Prepare the egg wash and preheat the oven to 350′.

Roll out a pie crust disc into a 12-14″ circle.  Using a 4″ biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.  Working one at a time, brush half of the circle’s edge with the egg wash.

Add a tablespoon of the cooled meat mixture to one side of the circle.

Fold the circle over the meat and seal the edges.

Crimp the edges with a fork and poke the center of the pastry with the fork to vent steam.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes.  While they’re baking, prepare the dipping sauce.  Enjoy!

Natchitoches Meat Pies with Spicy Yogurt Dip


My pie crust recipe, doubled and chilled for 30-40 minutes


 1 tablespoon olive oil

½ lb. lean ground beef

1 large clove garlic, minced

½ cup onion, finely diced

1 small green pepper, seeded and finely diced

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons water

2 pinches salt

Two shakes of Tobasco

1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk

Yogurt Dip

 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons sour cream

½ cup non fat greek yogurt

1 teaspoon ground celery seeds (or ½ teaspoon celery salt)

Two shakes hot sauce

1)  Prepare crust and wrap discs in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes.

2)  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add meat and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, and bay leaf.  Cook 7-9 minutes until veggies are soft.

3)  Stir in tomato paste through water.  Cook for 3-5 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf and allow the mixture to cool.

4)  Preheat the oven to 350’.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

5)  Roll out the pie crust to a 14” round.  Using a 4” biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as you can.  Brush the edge of half of the round with the egg wash, add a tablespoon of cooled meat mixture to one side of the circle.  Fold over, press to seal.  Using a fork, crimp the edges and poke the center of the tart to vent.  Place on cookie sheet.  Brush with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

6)  In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients until well blended.  If sauce is too thick, thin out with a little milk.

 *Make a day or two ahead and warm in 350’ oven for 10 minutes.  Whisk the sauce and serve.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce…..

This is one of my favorite appetizers.  It is quite simple and easy to make ahead of time.  The peanut sauce is fantastic!  For a different twist, try tossing the grilled chicken pieces, a pinch of red pepper flakes,  and peanut sauce with a pound of hot angel hair pasta and  top with chopped cilantro….OMG, delish! 
Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

For the marinade:
4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
4 teaspoons coriander
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast or thighs cut into 1” pieces
32 or more 6” bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20-30 minutes

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons chili powder
½ of marinade
1 cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water plus more if needed
Lime wedges

1) Combine all marinade ingredients and set aside. Cut the chicken into 1” pieces skewer 3 pieces per skewer. Pour half of the marinade over chicken and marinate for an hour.
2) For the sauce, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 5-7 minutes. Add chili powder and reserved marinade, brown sugar, and ½ cup of water. Continue over heat until very hot. Remove from heat and add peanut butter, carefully whisk until completely incorporated. Add additional water if the sauce is too thick. Loosely cover and set aside. To warm the sauce, do so in microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds at a time. Heat until just warm. If you over heat the sauce, the oil will separate.
3) Cook chicken over preheated grill 8-12 minutes. Serve with peanut sauce and garnish with cilantro and fresh lime wedges. Makes approximately 32 skewers.  Allow for 2-3 per person per serving.

Grilled Garlic Shrimp Over Baguette….

When I had my gal pals over for food and bubbly, this seemed to be the favorite.  This is a beautiful and extremely flavourful appetizer.  At the end when you put the shrimp on top of the bread, be sure to baste with plenty of the flavorful butter and garlic mixture.  It will soak into the yummy grilled bread.  There are a few steps in the preparation process, but they’re very simple.  If you’re entertaining, prepare everything right up to the cooking.  All you’ll have to do is about 10 minutes of grilling and you’re ready to serve.

Garlic Lemon Shrimp Over Grilled Baguette

2 lbs. large deveined frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled leaving tails
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
16-18 6” bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

For the lemon butter:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches black pepper
1 whole lemon, zested, then juiced
2 large baguettes, cut into 6″ pieces, then halved


3 tablespoons Italian parsley, finely chopped
2 lemons cut into wedges

1) If you’re using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 20 minutes. To thaw frozen shrimp: place in a large bowl and allow cold water to slowly run into bowl and down drain. Once thawed, peel and drain in colander. Put shrimp into a dry bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Skewer 2 per skewer. Refrigerate.
2) Put all sauce ingredients into a microwavable dish. Refrigerate.
3) When ready to cook, preheat grill.  Cut baguette and set aside.
4) Microwave the sauce ingredients until just melted.
5) Grill the bread first on both sides, you just want to get the bread a little crunchy with grill marks.  Cut each piece in half on a diagonal and place on a large serving platter. Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side or until bright pink. Immediately place the grilled shrimp on the grilled bread in a criss cross.
6) Generously baste with the lemon and garlic butter mixture. Garnish with chopped parsley and a fresh lemon wedge.  Enjoy!

Isn’t this an elegant presentation???


Baked Tortilla Chips and Strips…..

Baked Tortilla Chips
Baked Tortilla Strips are great in salads

Why not bake your own tortilla chips?  They’re much less expensive and have only 3 ingredients.  You will notice a big difference between these homemade chips and commercial ones, they have a true corn taste. You could also spice them up if you wanted to with a little chili powder and cumin, or a pinch of cayenne.

I love the baked tortilla strips.  When I make tacos for my kids I make a taco salad for myself with just a few of these.  Try these crunchy salad yummies on my Grilled Chicken Salad with Jicama.  Make a nice amount and store in an air tight container or a zip bag and they’re ready to go the next time you need them. 

Baked Tortilla Chips or Strips

1 dozen corn tortillas, for chips cut into 4’s, or cut into thin strips
1 teaspoon canola or olive oil
2-3 pinches of kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 300’.
2) Place cut tortillas into a medium size mixing bowl. Drizzle olive oil over and add salt. Toss carefully with your hands to evenly coat. Spread the chips/strips over a cookie sheet being careful not to overlap. You will have to bake in a couple of batches. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until completely dry. Cool completely and store in an air tight zip bag or container.

*Serve chips with your favorite dip or strips over salads

Light Bleu Cheese Dressing or Dip…..

You simply have to try this dressing/dip recipe.  It is absolutely delicious….no kidding, it’s my favorite.  Compare this ingredient list to any bottled you’ve tried..made with real ingredients.  This will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, although I doubt it will last that long!  Get your hands on some heirloom mini tomatoes, aren’t they beautiful?  Try dipping spicy chicken wings in this dip, fantastic!!!

Bleu Cheese Dressing or Dip
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons sour cream, use light if you wish
2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise, or any you may have
¼ cup bleu cheese crumbles
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate. Serve with crudités (fancy word for cut veggies) or use as a salad dressing. Great for dipping spicy chicken wings! Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 1/4 cup.

*add a little milk if it’s too thick for salad dressing