Artichoke Dip-Transforming a recipe into a family photo

This is where I love to get creative combining a favorite recipe with a photo.  One of my favorite party dips is this artichoke dip.  It fills a casserole dish and serves lots of people.


2      Cans regular artichoke hearts (14 oz)
1      Jar marinated artichoke hearts (6 oz)
2-4   TBL minced onions
2      Large cloves garlic, minced
2      Lbs. cream cheese
3      TBL chopped fresh basil
½      Cup Parmesan cheese, grated  plus extra for sprinkling on top (good quality makes a difference)

– Cook onion & garlic in sauté pan until transparent

– Place artichoke hearts & cream cheese in mixing bowl.  Use your hands to crush the artichoke hearts into the cream cheese.  Add onion/garlic mixture, continue mixing until combined, leaving only a few chunks of artichokes remaining.

– Add basil and Parmesan cheese and combine.

– Place in oven proof baking dish. Top with small amount of butter & Parmesan cheese.

– Bake at 400 until top is golden brown. Serve with warm pita bread or toasted French bread.

Funny story about the first time I made this dip.  It was late afternoon Christmas Eve and I was busy trying to prep food for Christmas, cleaning the house, wrapping gifts & also doing the laundry.  This dip was for a party we were going to that evening.

Since I was flying around trying to put this together while doing other things the dip was sort of put together piecemeal.  When I got to the part about grating the cheese I just couldn’t find it.  I knew I’d taken it out of the fridge so I thought maybe I had it in my hand while I was going from upstairs, to the pantry, to the laundry room… I retraced my steps & actions right down to looking inside the dryer for this large block of very expensive Parmesan cheese ($26 worth of cheese to be exact).  Believe me this is critical to this recipe.  As I stood there scratching my head I realized that I hadn’t seen Lola (remember the 85 lb. of Bernese Mountain Dog?) for a while.  She is an eternal optimist so is always underfoot when there’s food around.  Hmm…. very odd that I hadn’t been stepping over this small pony/dog for a while.   I think you can see where this is going.  I found her upstairs in her typical Berner bear skin rug mode but looking very sorry and like she might have a little bit of a belly ache.  I mean let’s face it, an entire block of Parmesan?  In case there is any doubt in your mind,  yes, I found the plastic wrapping on the stairway and I was a little surprised that that didn’t go down the hatch too!

Lola, the cheese thief !!!!

I was very lucky that the store was still open & my husband was willing to make a quick dash for another block of Parmesan.  Normally this recipe is not all that expensive, but I do recommend a high quality Parmesan for the best results and if you happen to have a Berner that you keep the cheese in the fridge until it’s time to use it.

Once I’ve decided on a recipe I love, I choose a favorite photo that reminds me of a special holiday where I’ve made the dish, or possibly a photo that just seems to “go” with this recipe.  In this case, Niki and I have made this dip for Christmas Eve parties.  Niki had returned from Italy before Christmas but downtown Florence had been decorated and she took this picture of the lights in the city which I love for it’s simplicity and elegance.

After choosing a photo, I use my photo software to fade out the background, playing with different shadings.  For example, this is a 30% transparency effect of the entire canvas:

After deciding the effect of the background, I overlay the recipe on top of the photo:

After overlaying the recipe onto the photo I add it to Niki’s recipe collection in an acrylic box frame.  New pictures can be added to the front to display or you can move the recipe you are making to the front and it’s protected by the acrylic frame.  Another idea is to slide each photo/recipe into a plastic sleeve and keep in a notebook.