Sunday, December 7, 2014

Guilt-Free Creamy Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip


Looking for something that tastes like an indulgence but isn't packed with an exorbitant amount of fat and calories? This is it. I'm a total sucker for spinach artichoke dip. I've been on such a kick for it lately, I think I've tried every version available in town. Unfortunately, restaurant versions can easily contain 80-90 grams of fat and thousands of calories for an appetizer portion. Ugh. Diet fail.

Have no fear, though--with a few simple substitutions, my version contains less than 100 calories and 6 grams of fat per 1/4 c. serving. It is quick and easy to prepare and could easily be modified to suit your own tastes. One of the main ingredients, the Greek yogurt/cream cheese blend, is a product I hadn't noticed before and bought on a whim. I'm so happy I tried it in this recipe--it's much lower in fat than traditional cream cheese, but has a more "restauranty" dip flavor than just using Greek yogurt (I tried . . .). Many recipes use mayo (or a mix of mayonnaise and sour cream), but I'm not a huge fan of mayo so I just went with straight sour cream. Worked like a charm!



Guilt-Free Creamy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Makes 16 1/4 c. Servings

Ingredients:
1 8 oz. block Greek Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt Blend
1 16 oz. container Reduced Fat Sour Cream
1 10 oz. package Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 14 oz. can Quartered Artichoke Hearts in Brine
1/3 c. Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2/3 c. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided (1/3 c. to mix in, 1/3 c. on top)
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
Pepper to taste
Dash Hot Sauce

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F
Thaw spinach completely in microwave (I did mine on 30 second intervals for a total of 2 minutes or so). Dump thawed spinach into the center of a non-fuzzy dish towel (this might stain, don't use your heirloom tea towels) or several layers of paper towel. Squeeze as much liquid from the spinach as possible. Chop the spinach to break up long, stringy stems.
Drain artichoke hearts and roughly chop them.
Put the block of cream cheese into a microwave-proof bowl. I like to use my large 8 cup glass measuring cup. Microwave until cheese is softened enough to stir, about 1 1/2- 2 minutes.
Mix artichoke hearts, spinach, sour cream, salt, garlic, pepper, hot sauce, Parmesan cheese, and 1/3 c. mozzarella cheese in with cream cheese until well blended.
Spread into a buttered casserole dish and top with remaining 1/3 c. cheese
Bake 20-25 minutes, then broil for a couple more until the cheese is golden.
Serve with tortilla chips, pita, pretzel crisps, veggie sticks . . . whatever your heart desires!

Nutrition per 1/4 c. serving (calculated using myfitnesspal.com):
Calories: 93, Fat: 6 g., Sodium: 233 mg., Carb: 5 g., Fiber: 1 g., Protein: 5 g.

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 2 (calculated with Weight Watchers Points Plus calculator using the above information. If anyone uses recipe builder and gets a different result, please let me know in the comments)

I can tell you from personal experience that this dip reheats very well. It would also be a great make-ahead dish for a holiday party--throw it together the night before and bake it the day of. Be creative and enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

4 x 8 Christmas Card 2014 Freebie Template


I decided to try something a little different this year. I designed the above image for our 2014 Christmas cards, but I also made a blank version to post as a freebie! Just follow the link below to access it.

Christmas Card Template in Google Drive

I was in a sort of Dickensian mood this Christmas, so I used my beloved Picmonkey.com to create a card that was in this vein. To use the template yourself, download the image and open it in your favorite photo editing program (ahem, picmonkey.com). Import your family photo as an overlay, add it to your work, then drag it into place. Easy!

Use a text tool to fill in your name or greeting in the ribbon. Add to the design if you want! Reindeer? Ok! Sprigs of holly? Why the heck not!?!

Once you've got your image looking good, save it to your computer (I like saving in .png format). I have my cards printed through Vistaprint because they allow you to upload your own image to a blank 4 x 8 rather than using one of their pre-set designs. If you're not up to designing a whole card from scratch in the holiday rush, I hope you'll consider letting me help you along with this template. Be creative and enjoy!