On Spinach Dip

I love spinach artichoke dip. It’s yummy, creamy, and it’s good for you because it’s got spinach, right? Well, no. Greg read an article in some bicycle magazine or something that said spinach artichoke dip is the worst thing to ever happen to spinach and artichokes and no one should ever eat it because it might actually kill you. That said, I’m going to go ahead and post my favorite recipe for the deadly stuff. I adapted it from a couple recipes. Next time I make it I’ll add a picture to this post. Oh, and just for fun, I’m including the recipe for really delicious pita chips that are definitely not as bad for you as the dip. Who knows, maybe they’ll counter the effects and save your life. If not, and you die from eating it, I promise you’ll die happy.

Yummy Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 pkg (8 oz) Neufchatel cheese (reduced-fat cream cheese), softened
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
1 jar (7.5 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Dash of cayenne pepper or a few drops of hot sauce such as Tabasco
1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients except parmesan until blended. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

Easy Baked Pita Chips
1 pkg whole-wheat pita rounds
2-4 TBSP Italian dressing (I like KRAFT Tuscan House Italian)

Heat oven to 350. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each pita round into eight pieces (like a pizza). Separate the halves and arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet. Each round will make 16 chips, so make as many as you need. You may need to do several batches or use more than one cookie sheet. Brush lightly with dressing. Bake for 10 minutes or until browned. Serve warm with dip or hummus.

If you make this and love it, or hate it, or have questions about the recipe, or take a nice photo of it that you’d like to share, please comment. Enjoy!

Eating in Pueblo

A conversation earlier today got me thinking about all the places I love to eat in Pueblo. There are some really tasty places to eat here, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites. In alphabetical order:

Angelo’s – My favorite things about Angelo’s: The pizza, the atmosphere, the setting, and the lemon cucumber dressing. Oh my gosh, that stuff is so good. Everything there is good in my opinion. And because I don’t like to eat outside, I love it that you can sit inside on the bottom floor but still feel almost like you’re eating on the Riverwalk.

Bingo Burger – Hands down, the best burger I’ve had in Pueblo, and well worth the price. They use fresh, local beef and buns from the Hopscotch Bakery. The Bingo Burger has Pueblo chilies mixed in with the meat. You just can’t go wrong with that! Plus, it’s a cute little place and the people are always really friendly. Warning: If you eat the sweet potato fries at Bingo Burger, you will be ruined for any other sweet potato fries anywhere. Yeah, they’re that good. Try them with Thai Curry Ketchup. Your tastebuds will thank you.

The Daily Grind – One of my first Pueblo favorites, The Daily Grind makes an excellent latte, in several intriguing flavors. They also have great sandwiches and really good soup. The BLT is the best sandwich by that name that I have ever had. I also like the Californian. And their potato soup is loaded with all the good stuff, particularly butter and cream. Gotta love that. It’s a little pricey and the atmosphere, especially later in the evening, can get a little…um…thick.

Do Drop Inn – I like their pizza, although Greg isn’t crazy about it. I’ve heard several opinions on it but basically if you don’t like thick, sweet crust, you won’t like it. What sold me on Do Drop Inn was when a friend and I had the lunch buffet at the Pueblo West location recently. Everything was good and fresh, and the eggplant parmegiana was To. Die. For. Wow. So good.

Enclades – If you like cajun food and you haven’t tried this little spot on 4th Street downtown, you are missing out. Everything there is good. The pecan pie will absolutely melt in your mouth. And if you like it hot, you must try the green chile gumbo. The combination of cajun spices and green chile is out of this world.

GG’s BBQ – I ate there once when it was in a gas station on the Mesa, but now it’s in a new location on the Hwy 50 frontage road just off Morris. Good barbeque is not easy to find in Pueblo but this place is good. Even their sides are really good. And they have really tasty homemade sauces. I hear the carrot cake is incredible.

Mi Ranchito – I’m ambivalent about most Mexican restaurants in Pueblo, but I do like the food at the Mi Ranchito on the Mesa. Their tamales are good, their salsa is edible, and they have these fried taco things, I can’t remember what they’re called exactly (Tacos Dorados, maybe?) but they are pretty tasty. The one in town is fine too, but I like the one on the Mesa better.

Paul’s Great American Heroes – Pueblo has quite a few really good sandwich shops, but I’m rather fond of Paul’s. It’s got fun atmosphere, fun names for the sandwiches, and really good bread. I love good bread. The I Like Ike and Ben Franklin are among my favorites, but pretty much everything at Paul’s is good. I’ve even had halfway decent posole there, and that’s not an easy thing to find anywhere, especially in Pueblo. Also, if you order the daily special, Paul’s can be pretty cheap.

Wireworks – Worth a mention because it’s vegetarian if you’re into that. They do have decent lattes, really good soup, scrumptious bagels, and hummus. I enjoy hummus.

That’s all I can think of for now. Please feel free to comment with suggestions for places I didn’t mention or haven’t tried yet. I didn’t include chain restaurants in this list because everyone knows about them, but I will say I’m quite fond of Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday has a wonderful salad bar, and I think Texas Roadhouse is the best place in Pueblo for reasonably priced steak, although Applebee’s steak is certainly acceptable and I’ve always loved their French Onion Soup. Okay, I’m done.

What’s not to love about green chile?

I have been loving my NM green chile this year. I know Puebloans love their Pueblo chile, but I’m a New Mexico girl. Give me some hot long greens straight from Hatch, and I’m in chile heaven. So far this year I’ve enjoyed my green chile fried in rellenos, diced on a baked potato, cooked into breakfast burritos, and sauced up and smothered on those breakfast burritos, then topped with cheese. If you’re blessed to have access to some green chile, here are some “recipes” for you. “Recipes” is in quotes because I have a terrible tendency to never measure anything. Perfectly fine in cooking, not so much with baking, which is why I am a good cook but a mediocre baker.
(Only New Mexicans know how to do these right. I never trust a relleno outside of New Mexico)
2 whole green chiles, slit up one side, most of the seeds removed
About ½ cup flour
Seasoned salt
Baking powder
Sliced cheese (preferably Jack, but Cheddar works too)
Vegetable oil
Whisk egg with a little milk. Mix flour, seasoned salt to taste, and a dash of baking powder. Stuff chile with cheese. Dip in egg mixture coat and coat with flour mixture, then repeat. Fry in hot oil until lightly browned and crispy. Serves one.
Breakfast Burritos
1 lb. breakfast sausage
8 eggs
1-2 diced green chiles
Shredded cheese
About 6 flour tortillas
Brown sausage. Whisk eggs with green chile and a little milk. Add to skillet with sausage and cook, mixing with sausage. Heat tortillas one at a time in a clean frying pan. Fill with sausage and egg mixture, sprinkle with cheese, and fold burrito. Serves about 6.
Notes: You can add potatoes (cook them with the sausage) and reduce the number of eggs if you’d like. I have nothing against potatoes, I just usually don’t have them. Also, you can use corn tortillas instead of flour. I call these “breakfast tacos” and I think they’re quite tasty, too.
Green Chile Sauce
(This is NM-style green chile sauce with no meat)
About 1/4 cup olive oil
About ½ cup chopped onion
About 1 tsp minced garlic
About 1 Tbsp flour
About 1 cup chopped green chile
About 1 cup water
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet. Add onions, then garlic, and cook until transparent. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and cook for a minute or two. Add chile and water and cook until the sauce has a nice sheen. Add water in small amounts if sauce is too thick. Sauce can be used to smother burritos (be sure to top with shredded cheese), or in enchiladas, or really however you want to use it.
Note: All the amounts are approximate because I sort of just toss stuff in the pan until it looks good. Feel free to adjust as necessary. You can also add salt if you’d like.
Feel free to comment with questions, or to let me know if you tried one of these. Enjoy!

Best of Pueblo: The Daily Grind

Now that I live in a new town, I get to try new restaurants! I’m so excited! One of the ladies at our new church gave us a section from the paper called The Best of Pueblo 2009, and I’m going to make it my goal to try several of them over the next few months. Oh boy!

The Daily Grind is a coffeeshop and deli on Union Street. We went there last year when we were visiting Pueblo, but I don’t remember much other than we liked it. It’s kind of eclectic and chic, with old board games and paperbacks available for entertainment, and local art on the walls. It was voted the best coffeeshop in Pueblo, and when we returned today, we saw why.

One of the first things I noticed when I walked in was the wall of tea. It is a floor-to-ceiling shelf filled with containers of about forty varieties of loose tea. As tempted as I was to try them (Ginger Black Tea sounded especially tasty), I had to go with the Hazelnut Latte. I chose decaf because I’d already had tea that morning and I’m trying to be careful with my caffeine intake. Now, I have never found a coffeeshop that could rival Starbucks’ hazelnut latte, but this was actually better. It tasted richer, with a little better hazelnut latte. I was impressed. Then I ate the food.

I ordered a half BLT on multi-grain bread and the soup of the day, which was baked potato. I opted for the cheese and bacon on the soup (I get 300 extra calories a day, so why not use them on bacon and cheese, right?) It was the thickest, creamiest, cheesiest potato soup I have ever had, and it was so rich I had to take some home. Yum! And the BLT was great, too. I had to trim some of the lettuce off the edges (I think they used a whole green leaf), and there was some kind of reddish-orange sauce on it that I was a little concerned about, but not for long! The bacon was excellent (Greg said it tasted expensive), the lettuce was crisp, the tomato was nicely ripe, and the bread was toasted to perfection. I don’t know what kind of sauce the reddish-orange stuff was, but it was tasty. Oh, and they served it with a pickle spear that was over six inches long. Pickles are my favorite food lately, so I was perfectly happy.

I am now a fan of The Daily Grind. They have a large variety of sandwiches, pastries, soups, and salads, some really excellent coffeeshop drinks, and a pleasant, edgy ambiance. I imagine I will have more good things to say about them in the future!