Party Fare—Fresh Spinach & Artichoke Filling in Crispy Wonton Cups

I love both the flavors + the crisp crunch paired with the creamy goodness of these yummy appetizers. Both the filling and cups can be made ahead. Just fill the wonton cups right before your guests arrive. Since the cups are crisp, they hold up well without getting soggy.

Fresh Spinach & Artichoke Cups in Crispy Wonton Cups        Yield: 18 to 24 cups
2 to 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach, blanched and chopped (or one package of frozen spinach)
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco®)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
----
Wonton Cups (recipe follows)
Paprika for sprinkling, if desired 
  1. Blanch spinach in salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and let cool on a few paper towels. Use paper towels to press out as much liquid as possible. Chop.
  2. Drain artichokes and roughly chop. Once chopped, also press them with a few paper towels to remove extra liquid.
  3. Mix spinach and artichokes with other filling ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Extra mayonnaise, sour cream and/or cream cheese can also be added to this recipe to stretch the finished amount. This mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated
  4. When ready to serve — Fill cups with a heaping teaspoon of chilled mixture, and lightly sprinkle with paprika if desired.

Wonton Cups
Wonton Wrappers (also referred to as Skins; they come in various sized packages; use what you need and refrigerate or freeze extras)
Pan release
  1. Lightly spray cups of mini muffin tins with pan release; add a wonton wrapper to each cup. Shape each wrapper so it conforms to the cup and lift the peaks so they stand in the air.

    I use a wooden tamp to make sure that the excess wrapper is pleated to the edge of each cup. If this is not done, the excess skin may be in the way when the cups are being filled.
  2. Bake wrappers in a preheated 350° for about 12 minutes, watching carefully so that the do not burn.
  3. Remove cups from tins and set on a cooling rack.
  4. May be made several days ahead. Store in an airtight container.
Recipes without photos . . .
Fresh Spinach & Artichoke Cups in Crispy Wonton Cups        Yield: 18 to 24 cups
2 to 3 large handfuls of fresh spinach, blanched and chopped (or one package of frozen spinach)
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco®)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper
----
Wonton Cups (recipe follows)
Paprika for sprinkling, if desired 
  1. Blanch spinach in salted boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and let cool on a few paper towels. Use paper towels to press out as much liquid as possible. Chop.
  2. Drain artichokes and roughly chop. Once chopped, also press them with a few paper towels to remove extra liquid.
  3. Mix spinach and artichokes with other filling ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Extra mayonnaise, sour cream and/or cream cheese can also be added to this recipe to stretch the finished amount. This mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated
  4. When ready to serve — Fill cups with a heaping teaspoon of chilled mixture, and lightly sprinkle with paprika if desired.
Wonton Cups
Wonton Wrappers (also referred to as Skins; they come in various sized packages; use what you need and refrigerate or freeze extras)
Pan release
  1. Lightly spray cups of mini muffin tins with pan release; add a wonton wrapper to each cup. Shape each wrapper so it conforms to the cup and lift the peaks so they stand in the air.
  2. Bake wrappers in a preheated 350° for about 12 minutes, watching carefully so that the do not burn.
  3. Remove cups from tins and set on a cooling rack.
  4. May be made several days ahead. Store in an airtight container.

You can’t believe how fast it disappears! — JAZZABELL . . . very spicy and incredible

    Barry loves this sweet and spicy sauce. He first tasted it at a friend’s home and went on about it so much that she often makes a batch just for him.
     Research indicates that this sauce (also referred to as Jezebel) was a Southern staple back in the 50s and 60s so I guess you might say it is an “oldie but goodie.”
     This palate pleasing sauce is always a hit at parties and is a quick fix appetizer as once made, you just pour it over whatever size of cream cheese block that the situation warrants. (I’ve even shaped the block of cream cheese into seasonal leaves or Christmas tree shapes.)

JAZZABELL
1 (18 oz.) jar apricot preserves (or use pineapple or peach preserves)
1 (18 oz.) jar apple jelly
1 to 2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 small (2.5 oz.) jar horseradish
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

For serving:
2 to 3 large (8 oz.) cream cheese blocks
Assorted crackers 
  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. Keeps for weeks in refrigerator. 

  2. To serve: Pour sauce over cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Recipe without photos . . .
JAZZABELL
1 (18 oz.) jar apricot preserves (or use pineapple or peach preserves)
1 (18 oz.) jar apple jelly
1 to 2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 small (2.5 oz.) jar horseradish
1 tablespoon cracked pepper

For serving:
2 to 3 large (8 oz.) cream cheese blocks
Assorted crackers 
  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate. Keeps for weeks in refrigerator. 
  2. To serve: Pour sauce over cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Adding a few more layers of flavor to . . .Layered Dip + Barry's Home-fried Corn Chips


A tomato rose garnishes this old favorite!
     There’s nothing new or mysterous about this old favorite that is always first to go at parties. However, I’ve made a few changes adding to the layers of flavor already included in this dip. First—I heat the beans + some green chilies and a dash or two of hot sauce and cumin. This gets rid of that canned bean taste. Second—I add taco seaoning to the sour cream.
     Seems like I never arrange this dip in the exact same way, so obviously you can rearrange the layers, adding more sour cream, guacamole, etc. to suit your preference.
     And, the very best way to serve this dip is with home fried chips. Barry cut up corn tortillas into wedges and then dropped them in the fryer.  He sprinkled the fried chips with Tex-Joy (a commercial steak seasoning).
Barry's Homemade Corn Chips: Cut corn tortillas into wedges. Add to fryer and fry until crisp. Drain on paper towels arranged over cooling racks and season with Tex-Joy.
Layered Dip   Serves 10 to 15
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, undrained
A couple of dashes of hot sauce (such as Tabasco®)
About ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½  cups grated Tex-Mex cheese, divided use
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 cup guacamole*
About ¾ to 1 cup chunky salsa (could add some fresh chopped tomatoes to this as well)
About ¾ to 1 cup sliced black olives
About ¾ to 1 cup sliced green onions, both white and green portions
  1. Heat refried beans in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the green chilies, a couple of dashes of hot sauce, and cumin. Stir well. (This step helps avoid a canned bean taste!)
  2. Layer 1: Spread the beans on the bottom of a deep plate or dish with sides (I used an 8”x12” dish). Let cool slightly.
  3. Layer 2: Sprinkle half the cheese over beans, leaving a rim of beans so they are still visible. Continue leaving a rim of the previous ingredient as additional layers are added.
  4. Layer 3: Mix sour cream and taco seasoning and then spread over the cheese, being careful not to disturb the cheese underneath. Hint: Add dollops of sour cream mixture to the cheese layer and then use a spreader to create a thin layer.
  5. Layer 4: Add the guacamole and spread over the sour cream layer.
  6. Layer 5: Spread on the salsa and chopped tomatoes.
  7. Layer 5: Add rest of the grated cheese.
  8. Layer 6: Pile chopped black olives in the center.
  9. Layer 7: Sprinkle with chopped green onions.

    *Guacamole—Barry starts from scratch using fresh avocados, lime juice, finely chopped red onions, salsa and a little of this or that!
Recipe without photos . . .
Layered Dip   Serves 10 to 15
1 (16 oz.) can refried beans
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, undrained
A couple of dashes of hot sauce (such as Tabasco®)
About ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ½  cups grated Tex-Mex cheese, divided use
1 cup sour cream
1 ½ to 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 cup guacamole
About ¾ to 1 cup chunky salsa (could add some fresh chopped tomatoes to this as well)
About ¾ to 1 cup sliced black olives
About ¾ to 1 cup sliced green onions, both white and green portions
  1. Heat refried beans in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the green chilies, a couple of dashes of hot sauce, and cumin. Stir well. (This step helps avoid a canned bean taste!)
  2. Layer 1: Spread the beans on the bottom of a deep plate or dish with sides (I used an 8”x12” dish). Let cool slightly
  3. Layer 2: Sprinkle half the cheese over beans, leaving a rim of beans so they are still visible. Continue leaving a rim of the previous ingredient as additional layers are added.
  4. Layer 3: Mix sour cream and taco seasoning and then spread over the cheese, being careful not to disturb the cheese underneath. Hint: Add dollops of sour cream mixture to the cheese layer and then use a spreader to create a thin layer.
  5. Layer 4: Add the guacamole and spread over the sour cream layer.
  6. Layer 5: Spread on the salsa and chopped tomatoes.
  7. Layer 5: Add rest of the grated cheese.
  8. Layer 6: Pile chopped black olives in the center.
  9. Layer 7: Sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Zucchini Quest continues w/ delicious CREAM OF ZUCCHINI SOUP

     Delicious! This is a simple soup that is full of flavor. I used fresh herbs for added flavor but dried herbs could also be used, or seasoning could be varied. 
     We had the warm soup with a sandwich and sliced tomatoes for a light and very delicious lunch.
     This will definitely be on our menu again soon. And, I’m thinking that the soup would be good chilled, too.

Cream of Zucchini Soup
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
3 medium zucchini, skin on cut in large chunks
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Leaves stripped from 4 to 5 springs of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
24 to 32 oz. (3 to 4 cups)  chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired for topping
Paprika, if desired for topping
  1. Heat oil on medium heat in soup pot; add onion, zucchini, and garlic, herbs + salt and pepper, and cook until veggies are partially tender.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Use full amount for a thin summer-time soup or less if a thicker soup is desired.
  3. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender, add the sour cream and purée again until smooth.
  5. Stir in sour cream and red pepper flakes if using. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
  6. Serve hot. garnished with Parmesan and paprika.
Cream of Zucchini Soup
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
3 medium zucchini, skin on cut in large chunks
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Leaves stripped from 4 to 5 springs of fresh thyme
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
24 to 32 oz. (3 to 4 cups)  chicken broth
2 to 3 tablespoons sour cream
Pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
Grated Parmesan cheese, if desired for topping
Paprika, if desired for topping
  1. Heat oil on medium heat in soup pot; add onion, zucchini, and garlic, herbs + salt and pepper, and cook until veggies are partially tender.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Use full amount for a thin summer-time soup or less if a thicker soup is desired.
  3. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender, add the sour cream and purée again until smooth.
  5. Stir in sour cream and red pepper flakes if using. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
  6. Serve hot. garnished with Parmesan and paprika.