Food, Wine, Rock & Roll

Part food blog, part jam session

Hot Artichoke Dip

Posted by Becca On January - 4 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

I got a new crock-pot for Christmas from my mother-in-law and, as an added bonus, it came with this wonderful little crock-pot called the “Little Dipper Warmer.”  It’s entire purpose is to cook and keep warm things like dips and sauces.  It also melts chocolate for dipping.  It is really cool.  I am a huge fan of artichoke dips so, when I found this recipe, I decided to try it out in my new toy and it was delicious!  This can also be done in a regular crock-pot or on the stove top.


  • 1 6 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon diced pimento (optional)


Combine all ingredients in the warmer.  Cover and heat 30 to 60 minutes or until hot.

Serve with tortilla chips or crostini.

Tomatillo Salsa

Posted by Becca On September - 5 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

I found the recipe for this amazing salsa in the recipe for Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia (full recipe posted separately) and quickly discovered I had found something really special.  Not only is it terrific with the tilapia, it is equally terrific to have as a snack with tortilla chips or as a side with any Mexican dish.  Even when I make this in order to serve with the tilapia, there is still plenty left over to use at a later time.  It keeps in the refrigerator for up to two weeks and is sure to be an instant favorite.


  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 serrano chilies, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (11 oz.) can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Chop until smooth.

Italian Spinach Braid

Posted by Becca On August - 16 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

This dish has recently become one of my favorites because it is just fun.  It’s fun to make, fun to eat, and incredibly yummy.  It is a pretty flexible dish that can be served as a meal or as an appetizer.  It reheats very well, even in the microwave which I thought would make the bread soggy.  It seems to be a pretty kid friendly dish (just don’t tell them there is spinach in it), particularly when served with pizza sauce for dipping.


  • 1 loaf (1 lb) frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz roughly chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. grated Romano/Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp. fennel seed
  • 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Pizza sauce (optional) for dipping


Roll thawed dough into a 12×9 rectangle.  Transfer to a shallow baking pan or cookie sheet coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain any fat and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the spinach, cheeses, garlic, fennel seed, oregano and salt.

Spread beef mixture lengthwise down the center of dough.  On each long side, cut 1 inch wide strips 3 inches into center.

Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across the filling.  Pinch the ends to seal.  Brush with egg white.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with pizza sauce.


Something that so closely, but not quite, resembles pizza just cannot be paired with a wine.  I love wine but it just doesn’t seem quite right with this dish.  So, instead, I turn to something much more fun (not to say that wine isn’t fun): beer.  While I generally prefer imported beers, there is one American brewery that I enjoy immensely and that is Samuel Adams.  They have a great range of beers that can meet the tastes of almost everyone.  I particularly like to pair this dish with their Summer Ale, one of their (obviously) seasonal brews.


A dish as fun to make as this one deserves music that is equally fun and joyful; music that you just can’t help but get up and move with it is playing.  For this, there is no better musician than Bob Marley whose music is about celebration, love, and carries within it a pure joy for life.   I dare anyone to not be moved to dance and sing along when Marley’s music is playing.  Though I love all of his music, my favorite album to listen to for this dish is Legend, which covers a nice spectrum of his songs.


Posted by Becca On July - 19 - 20102 COMMENTS

I found this recipe when I first made Souvlaki because they are meant to be served together.  However, I have since discovered that it goes well along side other Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern dishes, as well as on its own as a dip with pita bread or flat bread.  The shredded cucumber in the dish makes it incredibly refreshing, the crushed garlic gives it a hint of spicy bite, and the yogurt smooths all the flavors out.  This dish is a little more involved and takes a bit of planning ahead.  However, it can be kept refrigerated for up to a week and makes a nice afternoon snack when you are looking for something a little different.


  • 1 cup plain low or no fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon course salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated on large holes of grater
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


Drain yogurt for 1 hour in a cheesecloth-lined strainer to remove some of its water.

Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt over the grated cucumber and drain, 10-15 minutes, to extract excess water.

In a bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add drained cucumber to yogurt, along with pepper, and mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Drizzle with olive oil.


Posted by Becca On July - 15 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Hummus is made by blending chickpeas (garbanzo beans) with other various ingredients.  Traditionally, it uses tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds).  However, when I decided to learn how to make hummus I couldn’t find tahini anywhere.  So, I started searching for a way to make hummus without tahini and found this incredibly quick recipe.  It became a staple in my household and, anytime there is a party, I bring my hummus.  It requires almost no time to make, there is very little clean-up after, it travels well, and can be eaten with pita bread as an appetizer or as a side dish with other meals (see Moroccan Chicken and Souvlaki).


  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin


Drain water from chickpeas, reserving 2-4 tablespoons.

In a food processor, blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.  Add chickpea water to hummus slowly (tablespoon at a time) until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with pita bread, flat bread, pita chips, or bagel chips.

Keep refrigerated.