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Pleasant Hill Grain Blog

Helping you achieve your culinary dreams.

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip: An Easy Appetizer

Need a quick appetizer for late summer get-togethers? America’s Test Kitchen understands a host’s need for convenience, and their take on this classic appetizer is not only easy but also irresistibly delicious. Preheat the oven, grab a bag of chips, and relax because this recipe is a no-fail staple!

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip


  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces mozzarella, shredded (4 cups)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped coarse
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Microwave the cream cheese in a large bowl until soft, 20 to 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Transfer to a greased 1-quart baking dish. Bake until browned and bubbly, about 35 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  3. This can be made ahead of time. Simply mix the ingredients and put them into your greased dish, then tightly wrap with and refrigerate. When you’re ready to bake it, pull the dip out of the fridge and start in the microwave, stir, then bake until bubbly and browned.

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Chicken & Rice Soup

Now that you’ve made your chicken stock it’s time to use it! Throw together this tasty soup from the Nourishing Traditions cookbook for a heartwarming meal this fall.

Chicken Rice Soup


  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 cup brown rice, preferably soaked for 7 hours
  • 1 cup finely diced chicken meat and/or chicken liver and heart
  • 1-1/2 cups finely diced vegetables such as carrot, celery, red pepper or string beans
  • Salt to taste, or fish sauce
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Bring stock and rice to a boil and skim off any foam that may rise to the top.
  2. Reduce heat and cook covered, about 1 hour until rice is tender.
  3. Add the vegetables, diced meats, season to taste and cook until just tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

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Wholesome Chicken Stock

Wholesome Chicken Stock featured image

Whether you’re feeling sick or you just want the most delicious soup possible, Nourishing Traditions has the stock for you! Invest the time into this large pot of nutrients, and you can turn an ordinary soup into an extra special meal!

Chicken Stock


  • 1 whole chicken or 2-3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbone and wings (feet and gizzards optional)
  • 4 quarts cold filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley


  1. If you’re using a whole chicken cut of the wings and remove the neck, fat glands, and the gizzards from the cavity. If you have chicken feet, use them! They are loaded with gelatin that will enrich this stock. Even better, use the whole chicken with the head on… these can be found at Oriental markets.
  2. Place the chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar, and all the vegetables except parsley. Let this mixture stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 24 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be.
  3. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add the bunch of parsley… this will add mineral ions to the broth.
  4. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon. If you’re using a whole chicken, let it cool, then remove all the meat from the carcass and reserve for use in other recipes.

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Golden Beet Poppy Seed Ice Cream

Golden Beet Poppy Seed Ice Cream featured image

I love the the little taste-test spoons at ice cream parlors. I’ll admit it; I’m the person who after about 15 minutes has had my full serving in samples and then ends up picking an ice cream flavor that I didn’t taste test in the first place!

Whether you’re the type of ice cream lover who knows your favorites and doesn’t stray, or the type who loves new flavors and can never decide, you need Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home in your cookbook library, and you should try her beet ice cream. Its earthy-fresh flavor is refreshing and not-too-sweet. If you use a red beet in this recipe your ice cream will turn out a beautiful bright pink. If you use a golden beet, like I did, the ice cream will be a warm butterscotch color.

Golden beet & poppyseed ice creamBeet Ice cream


Makes about 1 quart

Roasted Beets

  • 2 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Ice Cream Base

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon water plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I substituted real maple syrup)
  • Zest of 1 orange (use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest in large strips)
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds


The day before mixing your ice cream, place a Cuisinart ice cream bowl in the coldest part of your freezer.

Roasted Beets

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Wrap the beets in a sheet of foil.
  3. Bake until very soft, about 1 hour.
  4. Let the beets cool slightly, then wipe them with a paper towel to peel.
  5. Cut the peeled beets into chunks and puree in a blender or food processor.
  6. Force the puree through a mesh sieve.
  7. Combine 1/2 cup of the warm beet puree with the sugar (discard any extra beet puree).
  8. Set aside to cool.

Ice Cream Base

  1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
  2. Whisk the mascarpone, beet puree, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.


  1. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and orange zest in a 4-quart saucepan.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat, and boil for 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
  4. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heat proof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.


  1. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the mascarpone/beat mixture until smooth. Pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.


Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker mixing ice cream

  1. Remove the orange zest and pour the ice cream base into the frozen ice cream maker bowl.
  2. Add the poppy seeds and run the Cuisinart ice cream maker until thick and creamy.
  3. Pack the ice cream into a storage container and sprinkle with poppy seeds as a garnish.
  4. Press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
  5. Place your container in the coldest part of your freezer and allow to freeze for 4 hours.

Whatever your ice cream parlor habits are, we think you’ll enjoy trying this unique treat. Enjoy!

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A Lemony Treat for Those with Food Allergies

A Lemony Treat for Those with Food Allergies featured image

This dessert is free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar…and yet it doesn’t taste like cardboard! You must try these lemon bars from The Almond Flour Cookbook; they’re the perfect summer treat, whether you have food allergies or not.


Lemon Bars

Makes 16 bars



  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish with grapeseed oil and dust with almond flour.
  2. To make the crust, combine the almond flour and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar and vanilla extract. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Press the dough into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly golden.
  4. While the crust bakes, prepare the topping. In a blender, combine the grapseed oil, agave nectar, eggs, and lemon juice. Process on high until smooth.
  5. Remove the crust from the oven and pour the topping evenly over the hot crust.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden.
  7. Let cool in the baking dish for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and serve.

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