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Fox Valley Cooks: Artichoke dip with a kick

Cindy Castarts make her hot artichoke dip for gathering with friends.

Cindy Cain starts to make her hot artichoke dip for a gathering with friends.

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Artichoke dip

1 cup mayonnaise

7-ounce package grated Parmesan

14-ounce can artichoke hearts

4-ounce can chopped chili peppers

Tabasco sauce to taste

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons sliced green onions

2 tablespoons seeded and chopped tomatoes

Drain artichokes and chop into small pieces. Mix mayonnaise, cheese, chopped artichokes, chili peppers, Tabasco sauce and garlic powder until well blended. Pour into a 9-inch square glass or ceramic dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Sprinkle tomatoes and onions on top of mixture. Serve with crackers or toasted French bread slices.

Updated: January 29, 2013 9:53AM

Years ago, most women learned to cook from their mothers and carried on the tradition of making the same pot roast, chicken soup and other family meals. But many of today’s women are like Cindy Cain who learned a few things from her mom but much more from television cooking shows.

“When the kids were little, I would watch the Food Network,” says the 38-year-old Oswego mother of two. “I would then try the recipes for things I thought I would like. I really liked Rachel Ray and her take on ... home recipes. The recipes on the show really helped me to try things I most likely would have never tried on my own.”

Cain prefers quick, simple and nutritious meals because she works part time as a registered nurse at Rush-Copley Medical Center. She especially likes recipes that have interesting ingredient combinations but are still quick to prepare.

“I love to bake,” she notes. “My kids don’t like cake, though, so we have a lot of cookies. We even have a big cookie for their birthdays instead of cake. They also like to have brownies and ice cream.”

Cain often hosts her family and friends for holidays and parties. She recently enjoyed entertaining 25 guests for a New Year’s Eve party where she served appetizers.

“For a small group of people, I usually have two hot appetizers and a few cold appetizers,” she says.

“When there is a larger group like 25, I have four hot appetizers, a big Crock-Pot of meatballs and several cold appetizers. I think it is best to have a mix of hot and cold.”

One of her favorite hot appetizers is an artichoke dip that she got from a co-worker, which has a little kick to it.

“I time it so that the artichoke dip comes out of the oven when people are arriving,” Cain says. “It is best if it cools a little. It stays hot for quite a while.”

If the dip cools too much, Cain heats it briefly in the microwave during the party.

“Now whenever I go to a party, people ask me ‘can you bring the artichoke dip?’ It has become everyone’s favorite,” she says.

Cain serves the creamy white artichoke dip with crackers or toasted French bread. To save time, she purchases flavored and toasted frozen bread slices that can be heated quickly and served with the dip.

Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact
columnist Judy Buchenot at

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