cheesy spinach dip

cheese 3

You know what is hard to photograph?  Cheese.

It really seems like it shouldn’t be.  It’s like, ooey, gooey, melty, delicious cheese… it’s practically doing your job for you!  Except once you put it in front of the camera, it becomes a shiny, globby, hot, goopy mess.  (Note to self:  Due to the way you photograph and the rules of the transitive property, you may actually be made of cheese.  Look into this more later.)

Anyway, you know that I liked this recipe a whole lot, because I decided to share it with you anyway.

cheese 1

And… I ate that much on my own.  Just for you.  For pictures! (Well, that’s what I told my other half when he asked what happened to the rest of it, at least… but I know my secret is safe with you!)

And yes, I know that it’s fall and everything should be all pumpkin and apples which is great and all but… it’s also hockey season!  And I heard that there’s this thing called “football” too… or so I’m told.  Anyway, what that means is sports are happening, which means there may be more gatherings than your used to, and you may have a house full of hungry people who are looking for something delicious to shove into their face holes.

Well, my friends, this is your secret weapon.  It takes almost no time to assemble , it uses ingredients that you most likely have in your house anyway (much like my apple muffins), and then you just let it hang out in the oven for about 20 minutes or so and VOILA!  Hot and gooey cheese dip for all your friends to savor!

You can thank me later.

Cheesy Spinach Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 (1-ounce) packet ranch dressing mix; I used Aaron's favorite
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1 (7-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes or tomatoe with chiles(like Rotel); drained
  • 1 + 1/2 cups cheese of your choice; separated (I used cheddar)


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. 2. Ensure spinach is drained as much as possible (see notes)
  3. 3. In a large bowl, mix the ranch dressing, cream cheese, and sour cream together. Add spinach, tomatoes/chiles, and 1 cup of the cheese and stir to combine.
  4. 4. Pour mixture into greased casserole dish (I used a 2-quart baking dish) and cover with remained 1/2 cup of cheese.
  5. 5. Bake in preheated oven about 20 minutes, until dip is bubbly and cheese is browned to your liking. I like to broil mine a bit towards the end because we are a pro-burned-cheese family.


* I used cheddar cheese because we got a giant block of it at Costco, I suspect some monterey jack or pepperjack would do well here too... maybe even provolone or fontina, add a sprinkle of Italian herbs and you just went from Mexico to Italy, friends! Moral of the story is that you want something good and melty.

* To drain spinach, I wrap mine it in a couple layers of paper towels and press as hard as possible to extract the liquid over a collander. I usually repeat this about 2 or 3 times to get as much liquid as possible out.

[ Recipe adapted from ]


warm-up wednesday: chili


Oh hello there.

I just made like a thousand cookies, and needed something that would kick all of the sweetness out of my system.  So I thought, why not a little bit of spice?

Plus, I hear it’s getting chilly for a lot of the country.  Not here, but the rest of you, I hear you’re getting chilly.  Here it is always acceptable to eat anything containing chilis, because it’s the southwest, and hey… this is chili country.  Or chile country.  (Not to be confused with the country of Chile)

There are two types of chili: Chili with beans, and then delicious chili.  This is delicious chili (no beans!).  I hate beans… I HATE THEM SO MUCH!

If you don’t have a fiery hatred of beans, by all means throw them in the pot, but you won’t find any beans in my chili.



On a scale of one to “OMG MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!” I would rank this at mild to medium heat.  It’s got a little kick, but not too much.  If you’re sensitive to heat (like my sister, she would probably say that her mouth was on fire if she ate this) you can leave out the chili flakes.  Or, do like I do, and eat it with some tasty cornbread or tortilla chips to help temper the heat.

I also find that making chili the day before I actually want to eat it, and then letting the flavors mingle in the fridge overnight helps the mellow the heat and improve the flavor.  Maybe that’s just in my head though, I’m not sure.

You can also see I like my chili a bit more on the “heartier” side, you can absolutely make yours “soupier” by adding more beef stock, or tomato juice, or even plain old water.  Whatever floats your boat!

Chili – Makes about 4 – 5 servings (but can easily be doubled)

[ Printable Recipe ]

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium bell pepper, red
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (2 – 3 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (sub some chipotle powder for extra flavor)* Salt-free
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I used ½ smoked and ½ sweet)
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth (more if you like it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (or undrained, if you want it soupier)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add bell peppers and season with salt & pepper; continue to cook until caramelized (or as close to caramelized as you are patient for). Just keep going, you can do it!
  2. Once onions and peppers are cooked, remove and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then the beef. Cook until browned (you may need to do this in batches if you are making a large pot of chili).  Add salt and pepper to beef, then add onions and peppers back to pan. Stir until well-mixed, then add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about one minute more.
  3. Add spices to the beef mixture. Cook one minute more, stirring constantly.
  4. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, worcestershire, brown sugar, and vinegar, stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil and add canned tomatoes; turn heat to low and continue to cook, covered, over low heat 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, stir, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Continue to cook another 15 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary at the end.


When scaling up this recipe, I noticed that it wasn’t just a straight doubling or tripling of the recipe.  The amount for 3 pounds of beef was as follows:

Large Pot Chili Recipe

  • 3 lbs beef
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 to 3 bell peppers; finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 5 Tablespoons chili powder* (*Salt-free)
  • 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon chili flakes or 1 teaspoon cayenne, if desired, for heat* ( usually leave cayenne on the side so each person can meter their own spiciness)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes; drained
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock (or more if you like soupier)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon brown sugar, divided 
  • Oil, Salt, and Pepper as needed

Cook according to directions for small pot of chili.  Taste seasonings towards the end and adjust as necessary.  Add additional brown sugar at the end if it tastes too acidic, or additional vinegar if it tastes a bit dull.