Friday, August 15, 2014

Freezer Friendly: Chicken Spinach Dip Bread Bowls

I'm still working on stocking the freezer.  We went to Costco last week in preparation for a couple of pool parties that we're hosting over the month, and so I have some big bags of hamburger and bot dog buns in the freezer, along with boxes of burgers.  They're taking up space I would like to be filling with food for the fall.  Things are looking fairly full at the moment.  But that hasn't deterred me from making something new to freeze.
I went back to Walmart and bought the Taste of Home Ultimate Meals from the Freezer.  They have a section on how/what to freeze, and lots of recipes that are not all baked pasta dishes to try.  I've marked a few things for the next little bit that look yummy, and are all freezer friendly.  I've also taken their suggestion to heart and started an inventory of my freezer.  Perhaps then I won't end up with 3 pork tenderloins on the bottom as I have right now.
J and I both enjoy appetizers.  When we're here for a Saturday during football season, we often will have a few weeks where I put out veggies and dip, crackers and cheese, some sort of snack mix and we graze as we watch TV.  The focal point usually is a hot baked dip and tortilla chips.  While I have never made a baked spinach and artichoke dip, we have enjoyed it elsewhere.
I looked at this recipe, and it looked delicious.  With the vegetables that are included, it's almost a complete meal in one dish.  We agreed that if serving for company, we would probably add a green salad, but this will stand up on its own.  As a bonus, it makes 2 bowls that will make 8-10 servings.  1 for now, 1 for the freezer.  Because it smells amazing.  There's no way you'd want to freeze both of these at once and just enjoy the aromas in the present.
I present to you now from Taste of Home, Merry Graham's Chicken Spinach Dip Bread Bowls:

1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; reserving 2 Tbsp of the spinach liquid
3 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-1 lb bread loves (we tried 2 different ones - farmer's bread and pumpernickel)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 lbs chicken breast, chopped into 1/2" chunks
1-14 oz. can water-packed artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and chopped
1-8 oz pkg cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, with more for sprinkling
1-1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2.  Cut a thin slice off the top of both loaves of bread.  Hollow out the loaves, leaving a crust of about 1/2".  Reserve the bread for another use.
3.  In a large skillet, melt butter with the minced garlic.  Cook until fragrant.  Remove from heat and brush the insides of both loaves with the garlic butter.  Return pan to heat with remaining garlic and butter.  Add peppers and onions.  Cook until tender.  Remove from pan.
4.  Add chicken to pan, cooking until no longer pink and cooked through.  Add artichoke hearts, cream cheese, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, spinach and reserved liquid, peppers and onions.  Cook, stirring until cream cheese is melted.  Add half the crumbled bacon to the pan and mix to distribute throughout the mixture.
5.  Divide mixture between the bread bowls (if freezing, allow mixture to cool completely before packing into the bread, then wrap bowl well in foil and freeze before putting into resealable bag for longer-term storage).  Top with reserved bacon and more Parmesan cheese.
6.  Bake, uncovered at 375F for 10 minutes before tenting with foil and baking for another 15 minutes, until filling is hot.  Let rest before cutting the bowl into wedges to serve. (if baking from frozen, allow to partially that in refrigerator overnight before baking, tented in foil at 350F for 1 hour before removing foil and baking and additional 10-15 minutes)

From Taste of Home:  Ultimate Meals for the Freezer

This is a prep-heavy recipe.  I was glad to have my mom to help make it.  She made the bread bowls and did the cooking while I chopped and prepped everything to go into the pan.  She has the patience for things like the hollowing out of the bread bowls.  We ate the farmer's loaf.  I now have the pumpernickel frozen.  I'm thinking it's going to be really good too.
This smelled amazing.  I kept commenting on that as things cooked.  The garlic permeated the kitchen early on and everything else just flowed from there.  My mother had a quick taste when the filling was all together and said it tasted as good as it smelled.  It was so colourful too!
It looked beautiful when it was ready for the oven too.
This was delicious.  It was similar to the spinach artichoke dip, but was hearty enough for a meal.  With a salad, it would be good for a party - and making 2 means there would be enough for a crowd!

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