Creamy Kinda Healthy Spinach Dip

February 2, 2013

Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

I've been pinning some pretty decadent/wicked recipes on Pinterest lately. That's what we all do, right? It's no fun to pin a plate of carrot sticks. Boring.

This pin of Game-Day Garlic Knots Monkey Bread is one of the wicked ones. I'm really on a mission to eat clean, so I can't do bread or even any wheat so Game-day Garlic Knots Monkey Bread is out. Totally out of the question. Boo.

Even while eating WELL, I think it's still possible to eat FUN. If I go to a Super Bowl party tomorrow, I want to be able to enjoy something warm and gooey and spicy and delicious while I'm watching commercials and Beyonce's half-time show.

Just because I'm being good right now and trying to make amends for my lack of discipline around the holidays doesn't mean I have to be deprived. This recipe for Creamy Spinach Dip does the trick for me. Whole Foods was sampling it the other day so I grabbed the recipe and was surprised at how good it was! And as a bonus, it's vegan, gluten-free, and high fiber!

Whole Foods‘ recipe suggested serving it with celery, carrots and red bell pepper. You can do that if you want, but that's not my thing. I like it warm and stuffed into little bite-sized tomatoes or served alongside gluten-free crackers. I love Crunchmaster Multi-Seed Crackers and everything from Mary's Gone Crackers.

Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip Tomatoes

Creamy Kinda Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

(based on Whole Foods' recipe but jazzed up)

  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds removed, if desired)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (or 2 15-ounce cans), rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, prepared and squeezed to remove excess liquid
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Frank's Red Hot Sauce to taste

Cook peppers, onion and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add almond milk and simmer, scraping up any browned bits, for 2 minutes more. Carefully transfer contents of skillet to a food processor along with lemon juice, yeast, beans and avocado and purée until smooth. Stir in spinach, and vegan cheese if using. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Frank's. Serve warm or at room temperature. To heat dip, keep in a crockpot on low heat, or spread in a baking dish and bake in a 350°F oven until hot throughout, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes enough for a crowd.

 Creamy Healthy Vegan Spinach Dip

By the way, are you following us on Pinterest? We're BigSisTexas and LilSisCA. Come check us out!


Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip

January 10, 2013


Every year between New Year's Eve and New Year's Day our family consumes a ginormous amount of black-eyed peas; but, I may have finally gone a little bit overboard.  This year my black-eyed pea eating marathon started around noon on New Year's Eve when I started cooking them and ended late on New Year's evening when I polished off what was left.

We've always said that you can never eat too many peas on New Year's since they're supposed to bring you good luck, but I'm sure that I probably consumed several hundred of those little black eyes. Is that overkill?

Don't know yet. I guess time will tell.

Our Southern family tradition has always been to serve ham, black-eyed peas,  greens and cornbread at midnight on New Year's Eve. We've done it for as long as I can remember and I continue to do it every year whether it's for a large group of friends or just our family. This was last year's dinner plate.


This year we were invited to a neighbor's house for New Year's Eve so I decided at the last minute to make this Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip to share with our friends for some added good luck!

Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip
(adapted from Recipe Girl)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
16 ounces Mexican-style or regular Velveeta
3 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed & drained
1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed & diced
1 can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown. Turn heat to low, add the cheese and stir until melted. Add peas, peppers, chilies, tomatoes, and garlic salt. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a crock pot or and serve hot with chips.

Note: I couldn't find the Mexican Velveeta at my store so I used the regular instead and just added some chopped stewed tomatoes, an extra can of green chilies and an extra can of peas to make it a little chunkier. I also eliminated the green onions from the original recipe because I just don't like them.

This dip is very similar to another family favorite and one of the guys'  most requested football watching snacks; the infamous Rotel Dip.  The main difference between the two dips is that this one uses the black-eyed peas instead of ground beef, which makes it perfect for vegetarians.

And, something tells me that BigSis knows exactly how to turn this recipe into a yummy vegan dip. 🙂

BigSis' Vegan Twist: You got that right, LilSis. No one loves a dip more than mwah, and I've probably eaten my weight in that Rotel dip over the pre-vegan years!

Blackeyed Pea Dip Chip Vegan

This is actually a pretty easy recipe to veganize. Just nix the Velveeta and substitute a vegan queso. You can find several brands on the shelves of Whole Foods and other grocers who carry natural foods. I prefer to make my own with just a few ingredients like flour, nooch, tomatoes with chiles, and a bunch of spices. It sounds weird/gross, but I even feed it to non-vegetarians and they eat it up.

I started with a bunch of sauteed garlic, jalapeno and onion then built my usual queso and tossed in the peas.

Blackeyed Pea Dip Vegan

My version of the black-eyed pea dip is thicker than the Velveeta version, and not that photogenic really, but I'm fine with that. It's darn tasty, and now it's gone. Happy new year, everyone!


Did you know that today is National Spicy Guacamole Day?

November 14, 2011

Who knew? To be honest, I didn't know there was such a thing until I found it browsing the Internet. Hay walked in from school as I was finishing up this post and I jokingly asked him if he knew that it was National Spicy Guacamole Day and he said “yeah, we were talking about it in Econ today.” 🙂

And, just in case you didn't already know it, both us sistas LOVE us some guacamole! That's no exaggeration, either; when we visit each other, we eat it every single day, without fail. One of these days, I'm gonna have a nice big avocado tree out in my backyard!

When you buy good ripe avocados, there's really no reason to have to doctor them up much.  To this day, the best guacamole either of us has ever had was when we were in Cancun and it was just perfect ripe mashed avocados with lemon juice and a little Anejo sprinkled on top.

Here's our version of Super Simple Guacamole.

Super Simple Guacamole

If you like your guacamole with a little more spice to it, try Tyler's Chunky Guacamole.

Tyler's Chunky Guacamole (photo credit: Food Network)

And, here's a Classic Guacamole recipe from the California Avocado Commission.

For a little snack, I love to just eat a sliced avocado with some lemon juice and a little salt and lemon pepper sprinkled on top. It doesn't get much better than that!

So, in honor of  National Spicy Guacamole Day, go out and get yourself some avocados so you can whip up some guacamole tonight!



Stuffed Mushrooms Italian

July 6, 2011

I mentioned this family favorite recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms Italian a couple of years ago around Christmas time and BigSis shared her veganized version with us last New Year's Eve.

It's always been a tradition of ours to make these yummy mushrooms for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Eve, but these are also perfect for a summer cookout or barbeque. When I made these for our Father's Day cookout, I decided to try to get a couple of photos before they were all gobbled up since I wasn't able to get photos the first time around.

Try these the next time you need to take an appetizer to a ‘get-together' with friends or family and I promise you won't be disappointed. They're easy enough to make ahead and then just put on the grill on some foil to stay warm until ready to serve.

Stuffed Mushrooms Italian

24 large mushrooms
1 pound hot Italian sausage
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 shallots, minced
1/4 c. Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 stick plus 1 T. butter
1 c. or so seasoned dry stuffing mix (any flavor)

Wipe mushrooms clean, and remove stems. Saute very lightly (only about 30 seconds on each side) in 1/2 stick butter.

Remove sausage from casings and cook in skillet until brown. Drain. Saute shallot in 1 T. of butter until translucent. (I cheat sometimes and just saute the shallot with the sausage.)  In mixing bowl, combine cooked sausage, shallot, cream cheese, and breadcrumbs. Stuff generously into mushroom caps.

At some point after making these for years, we added this one ‘secret ingredient’ that wasn’t in the original recipe. After stuffed, turn the mushrooms upside down and gently press into the dry stuffing mix, just until the top is covered with a layer of stuffing mix. (The dry stuffing mix on top adds a nice crunch and wonderful texture to these mushrooms.) Put in a 13 x 9 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until hot. I like to keep them in a few extra minutes until the tops are browned a little.


Cheese and Chive Crisps

June 11, 2011

We had a great time last week while BigSis was here in California visiting and helping me prepare for the big baby shower! We ate Mexican food every single day during BigSis' visit and may have over-indulged just a little bit, but that's just what we do. It's tradition.

Now, it's back to the grindstone and the gym for both of us. BigSis is back to work in Texas and today was my first day back to work after several days off.

We shared a ‘sneak peak' photo of these crackers the other day when we talked about the shower and we promised that we'd be back to share the recipe with you.

Crispy Cheese Crackers

Crispy, Cheesy, Yummy, Chive Crisps

This recipe is similar to one that SisMama has made for years; with only slight variations like the chives and the rice krispies. You can find this recipe for Cheese and Chive Crisps on

Cheese and Chive Crisps

These crackers were absolutely “melt in your mouth' delicious and each and every one of them disappeared long before the end of the day.

I was a little skeptical about the rice krispies at first because I had always made the original recipe that didn't include the cereal, but BigSis convinced me that they would be yummy and now I couldn't imagine making them without the cereal. And the fresh chives made these cheesy crackers even more special.

The only thing that we both agreed on is that the next time we make these, we would at least double the amount of Frank's Red Hot to give them just a little more kick!  🙂

These tasty little crackers would be great for any get-together – especially a cocktail party – so give them a try!


Deviled Dip

February 6, 2011

If the Bears had made it to the Super Bowl, we would definitely be having a huge party at our house today, but, since that's not the case, we'll be a little more low-key. The guys will still watch the game and I'll probably pay some attention just because the game is in my home town and old stompin' grounds, Arlington, Texas!

(It'll be interesting because no one expected snow in Texas, in February, but Jerry got his Super Bowl!) 🙂

I ran across this recipe while browsing Food Network's site for some Super Bowl snack ideas and I thought it sounded quick, easy, a little different; and I had some eggs I needed to boil, so I decided to give it a try. I tested this out on my guys and a few friends and it got a thumbs up from everyone! It's a little bit of a cross between a deviled egg and egg salad.

Deviled Dip
(adapted from Food Network)

8 hard boiled eggs
1/3 c. Vegenaise
1 T. mustard
3 T. dill relish
3 T. real bacon bits
1/2 t. Frank's Red Hot (plus a few extra dashes)
1/4 t. Paprika
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
dash of salt
chopped chives
sliced baguette bread

Peel the eggs, chop them, place into a bowl. Add the Vegenaise, (or mayo/miracle whip), and puree til smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until blended well. Serve on sliced baguette bread and garnish with chives or bacon bits.

For the guys, this is obviously just a snack, but for us girls, this definitely could be a very satisfying lunch!

(Note: Since I can't have dairy and I really wanted to try this, I substituted Vegenaise for the mayo and no one even noticed.) Shhhhh… 🙂


1 Quick Recipe: 4 Super Bowl Party Snacks

February 5, 2011

You don't want to spend all day Sunday preparing for your Super Bowl party, do ya?  Me neither!

I already talked about vegan Bob Armstrong dip, which is now my go-to football snack.  What else could could I serve along with Bob, without spending a bunch of time or money?

I was noodling around some ideas, and I found this recipe for a Ranch Cheese Ball.  I thought it would be really cool to start with one basic cheesy spread recipe, and then use it in a bunch of different quick ways on Super Bowl Sunday!  Let's do it!

Super Bowl Vegan Cheese Appetizer Dip

The basic cheese spread can be customized with your favorite flavors.  I started with a tub of Tofutti Cream Cheese, a handful (around 1/2 cup) of Daiya Cheddar and a touch of Veganaise to thin it out a bit.  Then I added garlic powder, onion powder, dried onion, dill weed, pepper and Beau Monde seasoning.  You add what you like: hot sauce, olives, cumin, lemon pepper, whatever.  Allow the spread to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours to marry all the flavors.

Now, here's where it gets fun.  Take that spread and go crazy!

Super Bowl Vegan Cheese Appetizer Dip

  • Serve the spread at room temperature with crackers
  • Heat the spread up (nuking is fine) and serve with crackers or toasted bread rounds

Super Bowl Vegan Spinach Dip Appetizer

  • Create a healthier spinach dip.  Thaw frozen chopped spinach or use leftover sauteed spinach if you have it.  Squeeze it as dry as you can.  Mix it with an equal amount of cheese spread and a few good dashes of hot sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees until hot throughout.  Serve with toasted pita or tortilla triangles.  I like to cut up whole wheat tortillas and bake them until they're crispy.  A little spritz of cooking spray on both sides help crisp them up with almost no added fat.  I don't think you even need to salt them, but it's fun to sprinkle on salt-free spices before they bake.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Toast Appetizer

  • Make vegan shrimp toast.  Have you tried this Vegan Shrimp product from Vegetarian Plus?  I hadn't before, but they were a fun little experiment!  There are about 22 shrimp in a package, and the entire box is 280 calories and 8 grams of fat, but no protein.  To me, the texture is very shrimpy!  They don't have a fishy flavor as I expected, but instead they pretty much take on the flavors you add to it, kind of like mushrooms do, so season these guys up.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Appetizer

For your toast, saute the thawed shrimp in a pan with a touch of olive oil over medium heat for about 4 or 5 minutes, just until heated through.  I added lemon pepper and garlic salt while they were warming.  Kind of cute, aren't they?

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Appetizer

You could use crackers, but I like toasted whole grain bread as a base for the shrimp toasts.  Just brush the bread rounds with a bit of olive oil and bake until golden.

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Toast Appetizer

Add a smear of your cheese spread to the toast, and top with a warm shrimp and a sprinkle of paprika.  Ta da!

Super Bowl Vegan Shrimp Quesadilla Appetizer

  • Toast up cheesy shrimp quesadillas.  Do you still have shrimp and cheese spread left?  Use it all up with this dish.  Roughly chop your shrimp and add to the cheese spread, along with some Daiya Cheddar and/or Mozzarella.  Don't worry about quantities; just add these ingredients to your taste.

I'm a spicy Texas girl, so I have to add peppers too.  I have a stash of roasted Hatch chilis in my freezer, so I thawed out one of those little babies, chopped him up very finely since he's a hot little bugger, and mixed him into the shrimp/cheese concoction.  You could use mild canned green chilis if you wish, and you could also add onions.

Spread a generous layer of the mixture onto one side of a tortilla (I like whole wheat), and fold over.  Cook in a little olive oil or vegan butter on medium low heat until toasty on both sides.  Make sure your heat is low enough to heat the filling throughout without burning the tortillas.

Cut into halves or quarters and serve with your choice of guacamole, sour cream, or salsa.

There you have it…one easy cheesy spread that very quickly becomes a variety of savory snacks.  If you're going to have a crowd or you're going to do several of these options, be sure to double, triple or quadruple the basic recipe.  Above all, have fun!


Super Bowl Dip: Bob Armstrong Goes Vegan

February 3, 2011

I wish I could take the credit for inventing this dip, because it's greatness. You have to understand; I love chips and dips more than almost anything so when I tell you a dip is greatness, I mean it's G-R-E-A-T-N-E-S-S!

I hear that Bob Armstrong dip originated with a Mexican food chain called Mattito's.  It's one of those off-the-menu items that everyone knows about and orders, so you know it has to be good.  Mattito's version starts with their cheese queso with a blob of ground beef plopped on top, along with a scoop of guacamole and a dollop of sour cream.  Then it's stirred all around and gobbled up with tortilla chips.

It sounds weird, but trust me, it's scrumptious.  At least the vegan version I make is, since I've never tasted the meaty original.

Let me give credit where credit is due…I found the recipe for vegan Bob Armstrong dip on the Dallas Vegan blog.  You start with a batch of vegan queso, which can be the tricky part.  There are a couple of good ones available online and at stores like Whole Foods, but I'm a me-do-it kind of a girl, so I follow the suggestions from and make my own.  It actually comes out fabulous; beyond what I ever expected.  But it gets even better…

Vegan Queso

Vegan Queso with Seitan Crumbles

Next, add a whole package of sauteed Upton's Naturals Ground Beef Style Seitan into it.  You can stop there, and be perfectly happy with an excellent vegan version of that Velveeta dip that is required at any Super Bowl party.  But don't stop!  Add a scoop of Tofutti Sour Cream and your favorite guacamole, either homemade or store-bought.  Stay with me!

Vegan Queso with Sour Cream and Guacamole

Vegan Queso with Sour Cream and Guacamole

Something magical happens when you stir in the sour cream and guacamole.  You get an unbelievable creamy texture that makes the whole thing sing!  It's creamy and spicy and cool and hot and tangy and cheesy; all in perfect dippy balance!

The first time I made this concoction, I literally inhaled the whole bowl by myself, and I have to admit I was making the “nom nom” sounds that my cats make when they're really relishing their food.

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Vegan Bob Armstrong Queso Dip

Bob isn't photogenic, but he's delicious!  I do have to confess that I could have taken a little more care in setting up these photos, but I was in too big of a hurry to eat Bob!

I conducted a highly-scientific experiment and took a batch of this to my carnivorous office, and guess what?  Voila, Bob vanished!  Try your own experiment at this year's Super Bowl Party, and take vegan Bob Armstrong dip along.  There's no reason to tell people that Bob's vegan now…until after he's in their happy little full bellies!  🙂


Stuffed Mushrooms Italian Veganized

December 31, 2010

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Happy new year!  LilSis and I love making appetizers, and there is no better opportunity for snack-crafting than New Years Eve and New Years Day!  My old Stuffed Mushrooms Italian recipe is a family favorite, and everyone loves it.  However, it's stuffed with meat and cheese so I haven't made it since I stopped eating critters almost 17 years ago.  It's time to veganize this baby!

This is a pretty easy recipe to veganize; I just substituted Tofutti cream cheese for dairy cream cheese, and sausage-style seitan for the pork sausage.  I think it came out pretty well, but I want to keep tweaking this recipe to see if I can elevate it from “delicious” to “ding dang awesome”!

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms Italian Veganized

1 small shallot, minced
1 pkg Upton Naturals Italian Sausage Style Seitan
1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
1/2 cup Daiya Mozzarella
4 ounces Tofutti Cream Cheese (1/2 tub)
Olive oil
Seasonings to taste: Italian Seasoning, salt, pepper, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, garlic powder
18 to 24 large mushrooms (depending on their size)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute shallot in a small amount of olive oil until softened.  Add seitan and sautee over medium low heat just until heated through; breaking it up with a fork.  When hot, add in the cream cheese and combine well.  Add the Daiya, breadcrumbs and seasonings.  Set aside while you prep the mushrooms.

Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel.  Rub with a bit of olive oil to keep them from drying out during baking.  Stuff with a generous amount of filling and bake until hot throughout.


  • I think I could reduce the amount of breadcrumbs, and perhaps eliminate them altogether since the dairy-free cheeses might bind the mixture together just fine.
  • The filling is nice and creamy before it's baked, but the dairy-free cheeses tend to break down a bit and get less creamy as they're baked.  I'd like to try pre-cooking the mushrooms on the stove top or in the oven, and then add the filling so it cooks for less time.  I definitely want the mushrooms to be completely cooked since raw mushrooms have been found to be carcinogenic.
  • This basic recipe is very customizable.  I can see adding chopped artichokes and black olives to the sausage for a tasty variation.

Happy new year, everyone!  Don't forget to have your blackeyed peas for luck and greens for prosperity.  Add a steamy pan of fresh cornbread and these mushrooms, and you have a delicous start to 2011!


Egg White Salad with Spinach, Feta Cheese and Parmesan

March 18, 2010

Since we just celebrated St. Patrick's Day, I figured this would be a good time to talk about how much I love the color green. If you've ever been to my house, then you already know that. Between my family room, kitchen, master bedroom and master bath, I've got seven different shades of green on the walls. It sounds weird, but it works. It's not offensive baby poop green, just more outdoorsy “plant like shades” of green.

So what does that have to do with Egg White Salad? Not much, but in addition to loving the color green on my walls, I have a little obsession with green vegetables. I have to eat at least one green veggie for lunch and dinner every day or I feel like I haven't eaten a well balanced meal. My favorite green veggies would have to be asparagus, broccoli, spinach, edamame, brussells sprouts, green beans, and green peas; and we include one of these with dinner almost every night. Luckily, my guys love the green veggies too!

A couple of weeks ago I bought an Egg White Salad with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Parmesan from Trader Joe's. The spinach in the salad is what initially got my attention. It was good but I was a little disappointed that it had green onion in it. Green onion happens to be one green veggie that I'm not in love with.

I didn't save the container to make note of all the exact ingredients so I just made this up as I went along in an attempt to duplicate the salad, minus the onion. Luckily, this is not the kind of recipe where you have to worry about the quantity of each ingredient. I probably could have used one less egg white or a little more spinach, but for my first try, I thought it turned out really good.

This would have been great on top of some romaine or butter lettuce and sandwiched in-between an Oroweat Multi-Grain Sandwich Thin, but I had it for lunch on a few Reduced Fat Triscuits.

Egg White Salad with Spinach, Feta Cheese, and Parmesan

4 boiled eggs, yolks removed and whites chopped
1/4 c. cooked and drained frozen spinach
2 T. Feta cheese
1 T. Parmesan
1 T. Light Sour Cream
Salt and pepper to taste

No need for any fancy directions. Just mix all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste. Serve on toasted bread or crackers.