Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To (Apple)bees or Not To (Apple)bees?

That is the question. With half-priced appetizers and neon drinks for cheap, what self-respecting home cook can stand a chance against the tempting allure of the neighborhood restaurants' happy hour? 

Artichoke Dip

It's Friday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday), and you're tired, uninspired, and... retired? (just trying to keep with the rhyme) To make matters worse, it's close to the end of the month, and your wallet is telling you 'no' while your need for boneless buffalo wings and jalapeno poppers is screaming 'yes, yes, YES!'

I love dining out as much as the next gal, but I wonder if it's time to rethink the whole restaurant experience. So many dollars spent, and so many questionable ingredients used (you know how I feel about sodium). My husband and I are both avid cooks and sometimes try to recreate our favorite restaurant dishes at home. Its cheaper, usually healthier, and also a much better way to spend time together than sitting in a loud restaurant watching re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond on the TV over the bar.

Today's recipe is in honor of happy hour and all that it holds dear. To me, nothing says 'happy hour' quite like warm, creamy Artichoke Dip. Now you might be thinking: Where do I even buy artichokes? Isn't that a lot of prep work cutting off all those spikey leaves? Trust me, you can do this recipe with ease and finesse. It's healthful, flavorful, and requires only 8 ingredients including salt and pepper. It's also vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free, but who's bragging!

Homemade Artichoke Dip
Cast of Characters

Juice the lemons.
Put artichoke hearts in a mixing bowl and pour lemon juice over.
And olive oil.
Peel several garlic cloves and pinch some fresh thyme.
Put garlic and thyme in bowl and add a generous amount of salt and pepper. Toss all the juices, oil and spices together until evenly coated.
Pour into oven-safe pan and bring to boil on stove. (A Dutch oven would be great if you have one!)
After it reaches boiling, turn off the heat and cover with aluminum foil.
No oven-safe pan? No problem. Cover wood handle with foil. Then place in pre-heated oven for 35 minutes, until artichokes and garlic are lightly browned.
While the pan is baking, prep the fresh basil. Get a big pile of tightly packed leaves.
Pour browned artichokes into food processor. Mine is tiny so I had to do two batches.
Blend until partially smooth.
Add basil leaves, and a little more olive oil if its not looking moist enough.
*Girl From Scratch Modification: Add a healthy dollop of reduced-fat sour cream for an extra little bit of creaminess (this addition is not vegan).
Add toasted pita triangles, tortilla chips, celery or carrot sticks. It tastes even better the next day!
Nail Color: OPI 'A Grape Fit!'
Actual Recipe: Roasted Artichoke Pesto Dip

*Girl From Scratch Modifications: This recipe calls for bay leaf and gray salt. I didn't have any and it turned out just fine. I also didn't measure any amounts, just eye-balled it all. Some great additions to this: a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, a package of cooked frozen spinach, or diced cherry tomatoes. 

Please comment with your thoughts! If you try it, let us know how it turns out. Any other ideas for modifications?


  1. Excellent! I found some hot and spicy basil and have used that to add a little kick.

  2. This looks amazing. I think I'll make it for dinner tonight and turn it into a baked pasta dish. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. This sounds great! I love how you have posted pictures of the steps too! You have made it look so easy! Can't wait to make it! Thanks!!!

  4. Thanks for reading! This is one of the tastiest recipes I've ever tried. In fact, I once made it 3 weekends in a row....Good luck, and let me know how you like it!

  5. It's amazing how sticking something in a food processor can add just as much creaminess to a dish as adding fattening dairy. This looks beautiful and I'm looking forward to trying it!

  6. Lindsay - I had no idea you were a budding Rachel Ray/Julia Child! Loved your step by step photos and the great purple nail polish. You could make extra $ as a hand model! Also your final product presentation looked amazing. I'll definitely have to come back and check out your other recipes.
    PS I can't agree with you more about cooking in rather than going out. You save money and eat healthier!

  7. I LOVE the lovely way a recipe rolls off your blog's tongue :) This recipe is going to happen in my blue twin (they are brother and sister) mini Cuisinart this week!!! Thank YOU Girl From Scratch :)

  8. Lindsay, your walkthrough on creating this dip from scratch is tremendous. I can't wait to try it at home!