Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Classic Revised - Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach. One of my favorite foods. It's brimming with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that fight cell damaging free radicals. Spinach artichoke dip has been one of my favorite appetizers. Unfortunately, spinach is often combined with high fat counterparts, alfredo sauce, mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, full fat cheese, making this beloved dip a nutritional nightmare.

Over the years, I've perfected my recipe for a slimmed down version of this loved favorite and over the years it has become a classic hit. This dip has 3 secrets... nefuchatel cheese, greek yogurt and a stand mixer.

Neufchatel cheese is similar to cream cheese, but with a lower fat content.  Tasted side by side, the difference is undetectable. Neufchatel cheese is located in the grocery store in the cheese section with the cream cheeses. Greek yogurt adds a thick and rich mouth feel without adding extra fat and packs a punch by providing probiotics and protein. It's a nutritional powerhouse.

The stand mixer. The final secret. It takes away the work of stirring, but also blends the dip so it's super smooth, allowing the flavors to melt into each other. Don't have a stand mixer? Try a hand held or a good old fashioned spoon and bowl. Your dip will be less smooth, but will still be delicious.

If my kitchen walls could talk: Want to spice things up? Add in sliced jalapenos or poblanos to add a kick to this dip. You can further lower the fat content by using fat-free cream cheese, but I can't guarantee the results. If you need a vegan adaptation, try using Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya mozzarella to top - let me know how it works!

Skinny Spinach Dip 


16 oz neufchatel cheese
1 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
14 oz canned artichoke hearts, chopped 
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 ts black pepper
1 tbsp minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 shredded parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip neufchatel cheese and greek yogurt until smooth on low. Add spinach and artichokes, stir until combined.
2. Add 1 cup of mozzarella, black pepper, minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Continue stirring until combined.
3. Spray a stoneware baking dish with cooking spray or a paper lined with olive oil. Add spinach artichoke mixture, smoothing with a spatula until even layer is achieved.
4. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve with organic tortilla chips.

Until next time,


Friday, September 4, 2015

9.4.15 Friday Favorites

The end of the week is here and it's the start of a long weekend! Any exciting plans this Labor Day weekend? My weekend is packed full with a birthday party, football game and one last day at the pool. I wouldn't have it any other way. Have a great weekend and enjoy my weekly recap of some of my favorite things!

Fall Sweaters
  • There isn't anything better than a sweater when the weather starts to drop. I'm loving gray this year and pairing sweaters with my favorite statement necklaces. I snagged this one at TJ Maxx for under $15.
Dasani Sparkling Water
  • I will have to send La Croix a "sorry, I cheated" card. I couldn't pass up this new flavor at the store - it's bubbly and basically everything I could want in a sparkling water. 

Cold Brew Coffee

  • Tones of chocolate, cocoa, well, just a rich experience with no bitter aftertaste. Run to your local Starbucks and try this, because once the PSL comes out next week, this will just be a distant memory! 
Slow Cooker Meals
  • Cooler weather means more slow cooker meals - lasagna, chicken, soups and more. Browse through some of my favorites on my recipe page and expect more in the months to come.

Until next time...! Have a great weekend :)


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Slow Cooker Spinach and Cheese Lasagna

Beauty surrounds us in the fall - the crisp air, golden hue of trees, leaves scattered on the ground. There's nothing better than a beautiful day outside and coming inside to a rich, creamy bowl of lasagna when the temperature starts to drop.

When the weather is beautiful, the last thing anyone wants to do is spend all of their time in the kitchen. The solution? A simple lasagna you can bake in your slow cooker. The moist heat helps to cook the noodles and the low heat setting helps to keep the sides from burning to a crisp. Cook this recipe late in the afternoon or on a lazy weekend as the time requirement is minimal.

If my kitchen walls could talk: Substitute low-fat or skim ricotta for a lower fat version of this dish. I recommend using a high quality or homemade marinara as the sauce will contribute many of the flavors to the dish. Dice the spinach finely in a mini food processor to save time or use 1 package of frozen. If you make this recipe with flour or whole wheat noodles, feel free to leave your thoughts for other readers in the comments below who may wish to do the same.

Slow Cooker Spinach Lasagna 


9-12 gluten free rice lasagna noodles, uncooked
2-26 oz jars of marinara sauce
4  cups fresh spinach, finely chopped
30 oz ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp parsley, dried
1 tbsp basil, dried
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese

1. Spray inside of slow cooker with non-stick spray or lightly line with olive oil using a paper towel. Layer 2 cups of marina in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer ~3-4 lasagna noodles lengthwise, breaking the ends to fit the shape of the slow cooker.
2. In a small bowl, combine spinach, ricotta, egg, garlic, parsley, basil and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese until thoroughly mixed.
3. Layer half of cheese mixture on top of noodles. Repeat marinara layer by using 2 cups of sauce, then repeating with 3-4 lasagna noodles. Layer remaining cheese mixture on top.
4. Top remaining cheese mixture with 3-4 lasagna noodles, layer 2 cups of sauce on top of noodles, then top with parmesan cheese and remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.
5. Cook for 30 minutes on high. Turn slow cooker to low and cook for another 2.5-3 hours. Turn slow cooker off and allow to rest for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Until next time... 

- L