Sarah's Gastronomic Adventures #1 : Are You Ready for Some Football?

Sunday, September 12, 2010
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a "love-affair" with food. I love everything about food. Taste, smells, how a dish can invoke memories, how certain foods can comfort you. As a child, my mom would review restaurants in town. At a young age I was an adventurous eater. I mean, what 13 year-old asks for sushi to be catered at her Bat Mitzvah (mind you this was 1996 before the sushi craze swept the nation).

Through my love of food, I also have found a love for cooking. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember; ever since I was able to reach the stove and counter-tops. My early childhood specialties included scrambled eggs, microwave chocolate chip cookies, and potato salad. My cooking has definitely evolved over the years, and cooking ethnic foods doesn't scare me. My most requested dishes (and most "acclaimed") are my Hot and Sour Soup, Chicken Parmesan, and Eggplant Parmesan.

As much as I love cooking, I find it hard to cook for just one. The average recipe makes four servings. I absolutely LOVE leftovers, but eating the same thing four times in a row gets old. And I find that I rarely recover previous meals from the black-hole of my freezer.

This leads me to my love of entertaining and hosting dinner parties. I find cooking therapeutic and nothing brings me more joy then to see my food eaten by good friends. I can do "cabinet cooking" where I turn pantry items into a complete meal, and I can easily follow the most complicated recipe. I have begun to start with base recipes created through Weight Watchers. I figure it's better to start with a low-fat recipe, and if it needs to be adjusted I can do so accordingly.

Yesterday was my first Nevada Football Game of 2010. My friends and I have gotten into a tailgating routine over these past years. Hibachi for grilling? Check! Coolers filled with beer, JAGER, vodka, rum, and mixers? Check! Some kind of "Sarah Specialty"? Check!

In honor of our first tailgater of the season, I made a crowd pleaser:

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Everyone seems to love this recipe.
They love it even more when they find out it's low-fat!
I mean, you get a quarter cup of dip per serving!
And when you think about it (or actually measure the amount of dip you eat) this is truly a good portion. One of the best things about this recipe is that it holds up throughout the day. It's best right out of the oven, but it also is great after sitting on a table during tailgating for three hours. The recipe says to serve with reduced fat tortilla chips. It's also good with fresh veggies (I like carrots).
And if you're lucky enough to have leftovers, it can be converted into a pretty good dish with pasta.

When you read over this recipe, you will notice it calls for reduced-fat items. Some people think taste is lost by using these ingredients. Trust me. IT'S NOT!!! Here are a few pix of my cooking process.
Next time I do this I will remember to have my real camera charged.
These iPhone photos don't do my cooking justice.

Melted butter, garlic, and chopped onions saute in pan for 5 minutes
Spinach, water chestnuts, and artichokes are added and sauteed for 2 minutes
Remaining 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese sprinkled on top of dip before going into the oven for 18-20 minutes

I put the dip into a smaller (unbreakable) dish for the purpose of tailgating.
Already being enjoyed at the UNR vs Colorado Game.
No tailgating is complete with out Nevada BLUE Jello-Shots and Jager!

Tailgating was a blast. Nothing beats spending the afternoon with great friends! The weather was beautiful (prob one of our last 80+ degree afternoons we'll have for a while). And best of all, The Pack won by an astounding 51-6. Next week's game against Cal should be even more exciting. Can't WAIT!!!


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