Now this is summer. The sun, the low-80’s temps, the slight breeze, the just-enough humidity that means my skin isn’t dry and my daughter’s hair is adorably curly, but I’m not sweating and gross. It’s as good as they come.
This weather is a lot like it was seven years ago when my husband and I got married. After living in Phoenix for two years, it was like heaven! And when the good weather continued on our wedding day making for good pictures, a good round of mini golf between the ceremony and reception, and good memories all around… Well, God is good!
A week ago my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in the middle of a family camping trip. Not exactly romantic, but fun nonetheless. And while it might be nice to get away together, away from the kids and work and all, isn’t an anniversary also a way to celebrate all that’s happened in the years you’ve been married? We spent the day enjoying family– we took the girls to the water park, played mini golf with our oldest daughter, and shared steak cooked over the fire with my sister-in-law (his sister). At least for me it was a day to celebrate all that’s been added to my life over the past seven years. In actuality, the whole vacation was exactly that.
I love my family dearly and wouldn’t give up any of the things we share. But when I married Tim, I gained experiences and adventures that weren’t part of my family’s repertoire of things to do. Like camping. We don’t do anything rustic, but we do sleep in tents (or in our case, The Vacation Lodge — a 200+ sq. ft., 3-room tent, on air mattresses and, in this last round at Jellystone, with a dorm fridge stocked with milk and cold beverages). This is not something you would find my side of the family doing.
The other thing I appreciate about my “newly-added” family (including my husband) is their unabashed love for snacks. Meals are good, but snacks are better. Chips, popcorn, Chex mix, dips, crackers, cheese, cookies, chocolate — anything to accompany a good board game, campfire, or doing absolutely nothing works well. So it’s no surprise that spinach artichoke dip is a crowd pleaser.
If there’s some good story behind my spinach artichoke dip, I can’t recall it. Nor can I remember exactly when or why I started making it. A challenge from my husband? Probably. It’s always been one of his favorite appetizers at restaurants. It’s a bit of a splurge on the budget to make it (though ounce-for-ounce it’s certainly cheaper than the restaurant version — and tastier). It’s also not boasting great nutritional value, though one might argue that anything with spinach and artichokes has to be good for you. But it’s really not difficult to make, and it’s one of those things that I know is appreciated by those who eat it. I also know that it makes Tim’s day a little brighter. It’s an expression of love, as sappy as that sounds.
So when we finished unpacking the camping gear and got our three little girls to bed after a fun vacation, it only seemed right to whip up a batch. Some people do gushy cards or gifts like flowers, chocolate, or sports tickets to celebrate an anniversary. Me? I do spinach artichoke dip.
Baked Artichoke and Spinach Dip
- 1 can artichoke hearts, drained (quartered work the best) & chopped to desired size
- 1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed (if in a hurry, heat for 2-3 minutes in microwave or until thawed)
- 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
- ¼ cup butter or margarine
- ½ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
- ½ cup milk
- 1 ½ tsp. seasoned salt
- 1 tsp. minced garlic and/or ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (divided)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, optional
Drain spinach in colander by pressing and squeezing to remove water. In microwave-safe dish, heat cream cheese and butter 1 minute. Stir to blend. Add mayonnaise and milk and blend well. Stir in spinach. Add artichokes and beat to blend. Add salt, pepper, garlic, ½ of mozzarella cheese, and cheddar cheese (if using); beat till mixed well. Spread in shallow baking dish (13 x 9” or a bit smaller). Sprinkle parmesan cheese over mixture followed by other half of mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly (you can also simply heat in a microwave-safe dish; heat dip, covered, on high for 2 minutes. Stir. Recover and heat two more minutes or until heated through and bubbly on edges.) Serve with tortilla chips, bagel chips, or crackers.