Healthy Appetizers

A few weeks ago for the Super Bowl, I was searching for some healthy, yet entertaining-worthy appetizers. The fiance is on a mission to lose some weight before our wedding, but I still wanted to find some fun finger-foods for our super small Super Bowl gathering.

Nearly a month later, I’m sharing them (I can’t believe Feb is almost over!!) so you can use them for your next get-together – formal or informal!

Goat Cheese Marinara and pita chips: I first stumbled across this type of dip at Bricco, in downtown Cleveland. When my friend Ali told me she’d made a version on her own, I couldn’t wait to try it. I’ve been making it ever since! So simple, and delicious:

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. marinara sauce (we just made our own, but if you are fearful of making your own pasta sauce, a store-bought brand may do … don’t tell my Italian mother I told you that!)
  • 1/2 small brick of goat cheese (I love Chevre… I think it comes in 5 oz bricks)
  • Hot pepper flakes, to taste

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350.
  • Take a small custard cup, safe for baking (I used a 3.5 oz rameken / custard cup) and fill nearly all the way with the marinara sauce. Mix in hot pepper flakes.
  • Cut the 5 0z goat cheese brick in half so that it’s about the height of the ramekin. Plop (lightly! or it will splatter) into the center of the marinara filled baking dish.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until goat cheese is melty. Yes, melty is a word.

That’s it! Serve with either homemade pita chips, warm pita bread, or my favorite — Stacy’s Simply Naked. Yum yum!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip: I also served some “healthy” spinach and artichoke dip. The recipe was adopted from a Cooking Light recipe from a few years ago.

Ingredients:

  • 10-ounce bag fresh spinach
  • 6 ounces (3/4 block) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 8 ounces (full block) fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups part-skim mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts (canned in water), drained and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 6 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided (That’s what the recipe calls for .. I used more because I love me some Parmesan!)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. (Same temp as the above recipe – you can make them at the same time!)
  • Tear spinach into bite-size pieces, removing any thick stems. Rinse in a colander and then dry. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté the spinach over medium heat until wilted. Drain in the colander, pushing a little of the extra water out. (NOTE – I forgot to tear the spinach before cooking and had to try to chop it when it was hot and cooked…which was more difficult)
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheeses with a potato masher. Add sour cream and mash more. Add spinach, mozzarella, artichokes, pepper, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Stir everything until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan on top. I used a little more than 1/4 c because I love Parmesan!
  • Bake 30 minutes, or until Parmesan is melted dip is all bubbly. Remove from oven and give it a minute or two to cool down. Serve with homemade tortilla chips or low-fat/baked version.

And this – I snapped a photo of!

Enjoy!  I’ve just got a crock pot, thanks to my registry, so some recipes for that to come!

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