I have way too many memories of eating apps (that’s appetizers) at Applebees in the last 5+ years. My favorite was – and still is – the Spinach and Artichoke Dip. It’s so bad and so good all at the same time.
I remember when Applebees came to the small town that I grew up in during my senior year. That was the year that everyone lived for rides in the Corsi, zebra shorts (honestly, what?), and of course – those Half Price Apps after 9pm.
And then I remember going to college and still loving the Half Price Apps. On a weekly basis.
And then I remember one of my friends and I investigating the health horrors of all the Half Price Apps. And turning a blind eye because we loved them so much.
Here’s the good news. I have recently graduated from Applebees Spinach Artichoke dip (half price) to a healthy meal that features spinach, artichoke, white beans, and parmesan cheese called Spinach Artichoke Pasta. And it makes me feel a whole lot better than I do after polishing off the entire Spinach and Artichoke platter by myself.
This was the first time that I have used Philadelphia’s new “Cooking Creme”. I really enjoyed it. It is not quite as thick as cream cheese, but still has a little bit of cream cheese taste to it. It’s salty, but that’s ok with me. (And in a pinch, It works well for chip dip, too. I’m just sayin.)
- ¾ cup whole grain pasta (I like shells)
- a handful of fresh spinach
- 2 tbs. Philadelphia Cooking Creme
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered
- ½ cup white beans
- Parmesan cheese
- Cook the pasta. Drain and return to pot. Keep heat on medium/low.
- Add all ingredients except spinach. Stir until combined and heated through.
- Stir in spinach until slightly wilted. Top with Parmesan and ground black pepper.
I wish I could say that you’ll never find me at Applebees again, now that I’ve made this delicious alternative, but I think we both know that’s not true. Some habits die hard.