Hot Artichoke Spread
cup finely chopped onion (1 large)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light dairy sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
Bagel chips, crostini, or sliced French bread
Preheat oven to 350F. In a 10-inch skillet, cook onion and garlic in hot butter over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, stir together cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk, mayonnaise, sour cream, and pepper. Stir in spinach, artichoke hearts, and the onion mixture. Spread cheese mixture in the bottom of a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated and top begins to brown. Serve with bagel chips, crostini, or French bread. Makes about 40 (2-tablespoon) servings.
Make-Ahead Directions: Prepare as above through Step 2. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours. Uncover and bake in a 350F oven as directed about 40 minutes or until bubbly.
Hot Feta Cheese and Olive Spread: Prepare as above in Step 1. In Step 2, substitute 1 cup crumbled feta cheese with basil and tomato for 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese; substitute 1/2 cup halved, pitted kalamata olives for the artichoke hearts; and add 2 tablespoons snipped fresh basil. Continue as above in Step 3. If desired, serve with Toasted Pita Bread Wedges.
Hot Sausage and Mushroom Spread: Prepare as above in Step 1, except omit the butter and cook 8 ounces bulk hot Italian sausage, 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 cup chopped green or red sweet pepper with the onion and garlic; drain off fat. Set sausage mixture aside to cool. For Step 2, substitute 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese for 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese and omit the artichoke hearts.