Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted

1 10oz package frozen spinach, defrosted
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
1 brick cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup italian cheese blend

Combine all the ingredients above and mix thoroughly.
Place in baking dish and bake for 20-23 minutes until warmed and bubbly OR place in mini crockpot to keep warm.
** I made this a day in advance and replenished my mini crockpot as needed.

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Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche

Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche
(sadly, no picture available since we ate it all up!)


For the black bean spread:

original Joelen recipe
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
3 tablespoons light sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, mash black beans to paste, leaving it slightly chunky for texture.
Add remaining ingredients and fold in until combined and incorporated; set aside.

For the ceviche:
adapted ceviche recipe courtesy of Food Network
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 pound fresh diver-harvested sea scallops or any other fresh scallop of high quality
1/4 cup diced red or yellow onion
1/2 minced, seeded jalapeno
1 plum tomato, seeded, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine lime zest, juice, and spices. Set mixture aside. Clean and wash the scallops, then cut each 1 in 1/2 lengthwise. Add scallops to lime juice mixture, stir well and set aside in cooler. Add the vegetables and cilantro to the scallop mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

To prepare & assemble the Tostaditas:
prepared black bean spread
prepared scallop ceviche above
tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons water

Spread black bean spread on a tortilla chip.
Top with scallop ceviche.
Combine sour cream and water in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the tostadita.
Serve immediately or have guests make them as they eat.

Mexican: Light & Refreshing

For dinner tonight, a friend came over to catch up on girltime. I prepared a quick dinner that was light, flavorful and used what I had on hand, since the hubby to the car to work today. (And it was a perfect chance to cook beef for myself since my hubby doesn’t eat beef!) With that said, here’s what I came up with and was pleasantly surprised what a little creativity can do!

Mexican Steak “Pitzas” with Cilantro Cream

1 lb beef flank steak, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon southwest seasoning
1 teaspoon Sazon con Cilantro seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil for cooking
4 gyro pitas
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2 finely diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2-3 tablespoons water

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a skillet over medium high heat, add the cooking oil, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
– Add the beef and seasonings and cook until browned.
– Meanwhile, place your gyro pitas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the pitas. Remove the pitas from the oven and set aside.
– When the beef has cooked thoroughly, carefully spoon the beef over the warmed pitas to cover completely.
– Top the beef with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted.
– While the pitas are baking, prepare the cilantro cream by combining the cilantro, sour cream and water. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
– When the pitas are done baking, remove from the oven and top with the cilantro cream and chopped tomatoes; serve.

Tex Mex Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 stalk green onion, sliced
2 japelenos, finely diced
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cook until done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add the slightly cooled quinoa to the bowl and toss
Season with salt & pepper to your taste.

Cranberry Cardamom Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Frances’s Cranberry Cardamom Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Add cranberries; stir to coat. In a small bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, butter and vanilla; mix well. Add to cranberry mixture; stir just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-10 minutes or until muffins test done. Remove from pans; serve warm.

Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

The following recipe was featured in my Muffin Swap event. You can read about it and view other muffin recipes HERE.

Joelen’s Cranberry Pumpkin Praline Muffins

Recipe adapted from HERE

3 T. brown sugar
1 T. sour cream
1/3 cup broken pecans
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground clove
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 canned pumpkin
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Grease twelve 2 ½ inch muffin cups or line them with paper bake cups. Set muffin cups aside. In a small bowl stir together 3 tablespoons brown sugar and sour cream. Stir in pecans. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.

Make a well in the center of the dry mixture. In another medium mixing bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk, pumpkin, 2/3 cup brown sugar and melted margarine. Add the pumpkin mixture and dried cranberries all at once to the dry mixture. Stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling each ¾ cup full. Drop 1 tsp. of pecan mixture on top of each muffin. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 20 minutes or until done. Cool slightly, and serve warm.

Don’t Be a Dip…

I’m a snacker and love snack food & snack portions. One of my fave snacks are dips (preferably involving cheese) with something crunchy. However these days I’ve been trying healthier alternatives to our favorite foods without sacrificing flavor.

Rather than whipping up a spinach & artichoke dip to munch on for lunch, I decided to throw a little spin on it by using a healthier version of the dip to create a more substantial and healthier meal. So for lunch today, I made Spinach & Artichoke Chicken adapting this recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Dip. Rather than using as a traditional dip, I topped boneless, skinless chicken breasts with it and served it with a sauteed yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms and tomato.


Here’s my recipe for Spinach & Artichoke Chicken:

1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts
6 ounces low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Breadcrumb Topping:
1/4 panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan

Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid.
Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft.
Stir in rest of ingredients and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350.
On a baking sheet, place chicken and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Top each chicken breast with the spinach & artichoke mixture.
Combine the ingredients for the breadcrumb topping and sprinkle over the spinach & artichoke mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Killing Two Birds with One Salsa!

Salsa is quite a popular condiment and in fact, I believe it’s even more popular than ketchup! Today I wanted to try making a variation of the traditional tomato salsa and to use it as a way to kick up the flavor in other dishes. I found a Tomatillo Salsa Verde recipe from Simply Recipes and it worked out beautifully. After I made the salsa, I used it to make Salsa Verde Chicken Quesadillas.

Here’s my adapted version of Simply Recipe’s Tomatillo Salsa Verde:

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, Jalapeño peppers, sugar, garlic & red pepper flakes in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are coarsely chopped and mixed. (You can process it finer to your preference but because I planned on using it further, I chose to do it coarsely.) Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator. Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes. Makes 3 cups.

Using the recipe above, here’s my recipe for Salsa Verde Chicken Quesadillas:

1 1/2 cup prepared salsa verde
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
stack of flour tortillas
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
cooking spray
sour cream, salsa verde, chopped tomatoes for garnish

In a freezer bag, place salsa verde with chicken breasts. Allow it to marinate for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place marinated chicken on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins.
Remove chicken from oven and cool. When cooled, chop up.
Place chopped chicken in a large bowl.
Add cheese and a tablespoon of prepared salsa verde.
Use chicken mixture as a filling for quesadillas.
Spray one side of flour tortilla with cooking spray and lay sprayed side on hot skillet over medium high heat.
Add 1-2 tablespoons chicken filling on top pof the flour tortilla and place another tortilla on top.
Spray the top of flour tortilla with cooking spray and flip in skillet when bottom is lightly browned.
Continue cooking until filling is melted and quesadilla is lightly browned on both sides.
Service with sour cream, additional salsa verde and chopped tomatoes.