Touchdown Tailgating: Shrimp, Popper Mac-and-Cheese and Red Pepper Dip

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I will start with a dip first, like we did last week. This week’s dip is a Spinach, Artichoke and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

Why all three? I’ll tell you why!

I love spinach dip. I love spinach and artichoke dip. I had every intention to make that, but I live in a small town, and there is a small grocery store near me. A small grocery store … with a painfully limited selection of artichokes. I ended up with a 6.5 ounce jar of overpriced marinated artichokes … not at all what I wanted.

So, with my lack of artichokes, I had to come up with a backup plan. I brainstormed and then remembered that, oh yeah, I’m currently obsessed with roasted red peppers. Why not combine the three? (And use more peppers to make up for my tragic lack of artichokes?)

I can’t take credit for the recipe idea, as I found a good one here.

Even though I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, it turned out pretty well. It’s full of vegetable goodness, but it’s cheesy enough that it doesn’t taste super healthy if you have children or if you want to secretly feed vegetables to the people watching the game with you.

I’m sure the TastyKitchen recipe is pretty solid on its own. (Except for the mayonnaise, because, as I mentioned last week, I hate it.) If you have the proper measurements of spinach, artichokes and roasted red peppers, I’m sure that it would be great. But if you don’t, or if you want to try the dip that I made, then go for this:

4 ounces of cream cheese (I used Neufchâtel)
3/4 cup sour cream
½ cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves peeled and minced garlic
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 1/2 jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (and, if they’re marinated, you might want to rinse them off a bit … I tried to get rid of some of the marinade taste)
1 cup cooked spinach, drained and chopped (or use 1 cup drained frozen spinach)
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped

(NOTE: As I’m sure you probably know, spinach has TONS OF WATER IN IT. Please make sure you drain it well. The spinach, red peppers and artichokes all have tons and tons of moisture. I set them all in a colander, then squeezed out excess water by hand. Otherwise, your dip may be a soup, which I guess could be delicious in a weird way.)

Place cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese, garlic, dried basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper into a bowl and mix well.
Add chopped artichokes, chopped spinach, and chopped red peppers to the bowl and mix well by hand.
Spread evenly in a small pan (I used an 8×8 square pan) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until top is bubbly and edges are beginning to brown.
Serve hot with warmed bread, tortilla chips or crackers.
Yield: About four servings … depending on appetite.

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