I have to confess right off the bat that broccoli is one of those veggies — those pesky little “green thingies” — that my son has actually never turned his nose up at, luckily for me. Oh, he'd turned his nose up at plenty throughout his younger years, don't get me wrong; but for some reason, broccoli has always been one veg amongst a very small handful of others that I could safely rely on to fairly easily count towards the daily veggie quota. For me, it's the green “leafy” things that have always been my personal nemesis when it comes to my kid eating his vegetables, because for him it's always been less of a “taste” issue with foods and more of a “texture” issue. He's kinda weird that way. But for many of you, broccoli is something that is often pushed to the side by your little darlings, and skipped over in favor of something else on the plate. And who can blame them? Unless jazzed up a bit or incorporated into something that hides it well, broccoli really isn't much to jump up and down over. Kids don't really care that it's high in fiber, high in Vitamin A and K, and is one of nature's natural detoxifiers; I mean, why would they? But you, of course, do. And that's why you try to sneak it in any chance you get, like the good parent that you are. And I've got a little plan of attack along with a tasty and cheesy, gooey and bubbly recipe that'll knock their little mis-matched socks right off and get them asking for it again and again.
My “plan of attack” when it comes to food and kids is to try and get 'em when they're hungry. An appetite is a parents best friend, especially when you're looking to add some foods into the fold that tend to be on the healthier side, and perhaps not a first choice when it comes to snacking. And after-school time is ideal, because they're usually ready and willing to go for something a little better for them, especially if it's combined with a few other ingredients that they naturally love. Cheese anyone? Crunchy, crispy things? Perhaps I've piqued your interest by now. I'm talking about a delicious, ooey-gooey and bubbly hot broccoli and cheese dip to calm the snacking monster when it arrives home from school. And the best part about it is that the snacking monster won't even know that it's getting in some of those much-needed healthy “green thingies”, and won't really care. All it'll know is that it's enjoying chomping on what it's chomping on, and you're the hero, mom or dad. Yes, you.
So if broccoli is your personal nemesis, and you're desperately trying to find a way to make it enticing or to sneak it into something really lip-smacking and enjoyable for your kids, then this Gooey 'n' Bubbly Broccoli & Cheddar-Parmesan Dip with Garlic Crostini is a great homemade way to go to create a happy after-school snacker that now has a few extra veggies in 'em. And perhaps now, there'll be no more noses turned up at broccoli; because when it comes together with its best friends “cheese” and “crisps”, then what you've got is a recipe for the tastiest broccoli ever, making everyone happy-happy!
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Gooey 'n' Bubbly Broccoli & Cheddar-Parmesan Dip with Garlic Crostini
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(Serves about 6)
8 ounces broccoli florets
12 ounces light cream cheese, softened at room temp
1 cup light sour cream
¼ cup real mayonnaise
1 small garlic clove, pressed through garlic press
1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
• Pinch salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese, divided use
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Garlic Crostini (recipe below)
-If preparing immediately, preheat the oven to 450°, and lightly mist a baking dish (roughly a quart size) with cooking spray; if not, prepare the recipe as follows and keep refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to bake and serve.
-Blanch the broccoli florets in well-salted boiling water for about 30-45 seconds; drain and immerse into an ice bath for about 30 seconds to immediately cool and keep the broccoli a vibrant green; remove from the ice bath, and pat dry as much as possible with paper towels; chop up the florets into small pieces, and set aside for a moment.
-Add the softened cream cheese, the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder and parmesan cheese into a large bowl; with a hand-held mixer (or even a spatula if the cream cheese is nice and soft), blend the ingredients until well combines and fairly smooth.
-Next, fold in ¼ cup of the grated cheddar cheese, and mix until incorporated; spoon the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top, then finish by sprinkling over the remaining ¼ cup of grated cheddar cheese, and the Italian seasoning.
-Bake for about 20-22 minutes until bubbly and golden on top; allow to slightly cool (you can even scoop some out and place it into a bowl to cool it a bit and serve), and serve with the Garlic Crostinis on the side.
Garlic Crostini ingredients:
1 French or sourdough baguette, sliced thinly on the bias
• Olive oil to drizzle
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of salt
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil.
-Add the baguette slices to a large bowl, and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil over them; sprinkle over the garlic powder and the salt, and toss everything well to coat; turn out onto the baking sheet in a single layer, and bake for a few minutes until golden-brown, toasted and crisp.