Cheap and Easy Party Favorite*

I’m off to a party this evening, a little affair to celebrate my sister’s twenty-ninth birthday with friends. Since this is the semi-kickoff for the holiday season, I thought that I would share a cheap and easy party recipe.**

The Stuff (Otherwise Known as Artichoke-Spinach Dip)

If Yetta reads this, she’s going to laugh her ass off. The Stuff was first introduced to us by a former coworker who spent the better part of the afternoon after we had devoured it creating cute little recipe cards for us. They had clip art and everything.

I’ll spare you that, but I can tell you that The Stuff kicks ass. I’ve brought this tasty dip to many an affair, and there’s never any left at the end. Chefs have asked me for my secret, and I love seeing their faces when I tell them. When I’m invited to potluck dinners, my friends say, “Oh yeah, bring The Stuff.” When I oblige, people exclaim, “Oh, yeah! You brought The Stuff!” while piling their plates high. My mother, one of the best cooks in the land, always buys the ingredients for me to make The Stuff as an appetizer on Thanksgiving AND Christmas Day.

I imagine some suburban housewife created The Stuff upon discovering artichoke hearts and not having the faintest idea what to do with them. The thing about suburban housewives is that, laugh at them all you want, they know comfort food. If you don’t trust them, trust me—this is the best artichoke-spinach dip you’ll ever eat.

You’ll need:
1 can artichoke hearts, in water, drained
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed (don’t try fresh, and for the love of all that is holy, do not try canned)
1 small can diced green chilies (found in the faux-Mexican section, alongside the “taco” seasoning)
1 cup mayonnaise (don’t use salad dressing)
1 cup parmesan cheese (the recipe calls for the powdery stuff, but you can used fresh grated, and it will still be yummy)

To assemble:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Alas, I don’t know my conversions very well).
Squeeze all the water out of the chopped spinach. Do this thoroughly, or the dip will be runny.
Chop the ends off the artichoke hearts, and discard (make sure you get the choke). Chop the rest into decent-sized pieces.
Dump the squeezed spinach and the chopped artichoke hearts in a bowl.
Dump in the small can of diced green chilies.
Dump in the cup of mayonnaise.
Dump in the cup of parmesan cheese.
Mix thoroughly.
Dump the mixture into small, ungreased casserole dish (I use a Le Creuset small oval baker).

To bake:
Bake at 375 degrees for 15–20 minutes or until top is slightly brown and the mixture is bubbly.

To serve:
Serve hot. This dip goes with pretty much everything, and I’ve seen people eat it with a fork. I tend to bring nice crackers (try to spruce up the suburban housewifey thing a bit, you know). Watch as people devour and laugh when you tell them that your secret is mayonnaise.

Fluff and the Stuff at Thanksgiving at Mom & Dad’s

* And you thought I was going to be vulgar

**I really can cook. I’ve slaved hours for dinner parties before, pulling fresh, homemade bread out of the oven as I put the finishing touches on the soup, appetizer ready, wine at hand, and main course under control. When time is short, and party time is upon me, however, this is the one thing I count on to please.


34 responses to “Cheap and Easy Party Favorite*

  1. Mmmm …
    I love the culinary term “Dump”.

    I don’t know what problem you guys over there have been having with your spinach, but we don’t have it over here, so I’ll be making this at the weekend with fresh spinach and artichokes (in season and great), and chilis from my greenhouse.

    Though my quest for Fluff is still unfulfilled. I searched the length of Gloucester Road on tuesday, but couldn’t locate the shop you found selling Fluff.
    I’ll keep looking. I don’t want to give in to internet shopping.

  2. Dive, I appreciate your fresh approach, but I should warn you that sometimes the secret to things is in the can. I hate to say it, but sometimes it’s true. You’ll make something absolutely delightful, but it won’t be the same, and it won’t be dumped.

    We’re going to hide out at the lake tonight, and since my daughter can’t get enough spinach/artichoke dip, I’ll make this for her. Thanks!

  3. I’m sure it will be wonderful with fresh ingredients. Let me know how it goes. The only thing I can think about with the fresh spinach is that there might be too much water in it.

    I’ve always been amused by the store-bought ingredient part of the thing. Variations, however, do seem to work well. I forgot to mention that a vegan friend came up with a way to do it vegan (it wasn’t as good, she said, and she cheated to eat more of mine at the next gathering).

  4. Robyn and I posted at the same time.

  5. Oh, and my inlaws make what they call Green Stuff. It’s a blobby mixture of Cool Whip, canned shopped pineapple, miniature marshmallows, and pistachio pudding mix. Green stuff is truly green and somewhat unappetizing to look at, but it’s a hit with the kids.

  6. Oooh. I’m afraid that I’m afraid of that one.

  7. Isn’t that the recipe for Kryptonite, Robyn?

  8. It’s like a preschool Kryptonite. We tried to make it with chocolate pudding once–you can imagine.

  9. Oh, oh. Foul.

    I think it’s the canned pineapple that gets me more than anything. Pineapple is something that should be fresh or not at all.

  10. As Old Knudsen will tell you, his Pictish brethren not only deep fry canned pineapple rings and eat them with chips and mushy peas, they also deep fry Mars bars, chocolate spread sandwiches and pizza.
    A meal at a Scottish chip shop contains enough fat and cholesterol to choke a blue whale … or to satisfy the average American child.

  11. Deep fried Mars Bars are good.

    Apparently deep fried Coke (as in Coca-Cola) has been a hit here at State fairs.

    When I was in London, I asked my friend to show me mushy peas. I only knew about them becuase of the Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros song.

  12. Thanks for the giggle Yetta! Yes I to am always asked to bring the “stuff” or my very, very famous Bruschetta.. haven’t met anyone or restaurant that can beat mine and the fans agree! Maybe we can have a cooking class next time your in town to add to your repertoire!

    Dive.. not to stick my nose over in the other side of the pond.. just make sure you cook the spinach before and squeeze the crap out of it or you “Stuff” will be very soupy! Appologizing in advance if you knew this already!

  13. Yetta, I do not doubt that your bruschetta is the best.

    All of you, Yetta is an AMAZING cook, so any tips she gives you, listen up!

  14. Your nose – and the rest of you – is more than welcome this side of the pond, Yetta 2. If you can cook like Sassy says, then get over here now!

  15. Thanks for the cudos Yetta and Dive thanks for the invite I may take you up on it one day, who knows!

  16. Hmmmm….

  17. I wonder, can you use Miracle Whip rather than mayo? I really hate mayonnaise and in my house growing up, Miracle Whip WAS mayonnaise and it was years later that I figured out there is a difference between that tangy concoction and the greasy oily white stuff that is Mayo.

  18. I was always told not to use Miracle Whip in this. I don’t know why, but since I’m not a fan of either spread on my sandwiches, I only buy mayo to make this stuff. You could always try it and see what happens. Perhaps people could post the results of their experimentations?

  19. Not to offend Before Girl, but substituting Miracle Whip for real mayo is like exchanging Cool Whip for real whipped cream. It’s nasty. It’s second class. It’s on par with Cheez Whiz.

    Sorry, just my subjective opinion. Miracle Whip makes me itch.

  20. beforegirl…STOP in the name of all that is cholesteral ridden… Mircle Whip had both sugar and vinager in it… beside the fat content in the mayo only adds to the yumminess…you won’t even know there is mayo in it once it is cooked..

  21. I only read comments because my ears are burning, you’re not a proper Scot until your first alcohol poisoning or your first heart attack.

  22. The former, probably. The later, no. Although someone from the family tree hailed from your lovely country, I guess I’m not a Scot. I’m OK with that.

    If someone wanted to get fancy with this, they could make aioli or something.

  23. Oh, and the mushy pea song? Playing right now on my iPod.

  24. Hoorah for mushy peas and
    Double-Hoorah for the very late but very great Joe Strummer.

    I’m going to dig out my old single of White Riot and remember The Clash tearing the place down at the Hope and Anchor back in my youth …

    And what was that Hmmm… for, Sassy?

  25. Lucky you, actually getting to see them. The first Clash song I liked (I was in elementary school) was “Rock the Casbah.” Not knowing what the Casbah was, I skated around the roller rink singing, “Rocks and asphalt. Rocks and asphalt.” Alas…

    I did see Big Audio Dynamite when I was in college, but I wasn’t impressed.

    The hmmm… was an observation.

  26. Funny I thought it was “rob the cash box” all this time.. Thanks for clearing that up for me…

    I got a great one from my youngest who came home one sunny summer afternoon telling me he had just heard the best song of his life. Well, I fancy myself somewhat of a music lover and know a lot of lyrics, I said oh, yea..what was it? He couldn’t remember exactly but told me the chorus…it goes like this….
    “dirty deeds and the dungeon cheese”…

    I made him repeat it several times before I told him what it really was..I still giggle everytime it comes on the radio!

    dive.. I know Sassy.. get your mind outta there Yetta…there will be none of that… or should I call you Yentta…LOL

  27. Bwhaaa haaa haaa haa. Dirty deeds and dungeon cheese? AC/DC as understood by a child. Hee hee.

    And more hee hee.

  28. oopps thats Yente, Yetta!

  29. Rocks and asphalt! Hee hee. Love it.

  30. Sassy, the stuff was incredible. I didn’t have the proper baking dish at the lake, so I improvised, but it was just great. Thanks!

    I’m planning on making it for the family gathering at Thanksgiving.

  31. Glad you liked it, Robyn!

    Here’s a funny update: I wound up being asked to make more of a main dish (being that my sister and I are vegetarians and the rest of the crowd goes for meaty treats). So I made oven roasted vegetables (delicious) instead. BUT, my friend P___ got the recipe off thisy here blog and made it. Everyone complimented his extraodinary cooking skills. He said to me, “I can’t believe they’re eating it. It’s mayonnaise!” Of course, he ate quite a bit of it himself.

  32. Please, I implore you to submit this recipe to Real Food for Real People. It’s the rules or I’d do it myself. Here’s the link, I hope you send it in.

  33. Just came back to get this recipe for Thanksgiving. I hope you’re putting it up on BakeSpace, soon. :-)

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