Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Chicken

Are you a fan of Spinach Artichoke Dip?  Do you wish you could have it as your entrée?  Then you are going to love this delicious Slow Cooker Spinach Artichoke Chicken recipe we found on skinnyms.com.

This recipe has all the great parts of the dip and turns it into a full-fledged meal for you and your family.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups loosely packed spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 (6-8 ounce) whole chicken breasts (bone-in with skin)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons cream cheese, reduced-fat but not fat free
  • 4 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 (14-ounce) can preservative-free artichoke hearts OR 6- 8 artichoke hearts from a jar, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped grape or cherry tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a 4-quart slow cooker, pop in the spinach, chicken, and chicken broth.  Sprinkle garlic, salt, onion, and pepper on top of everything.  Place the cover on top and cook for approximately 6-8 hours on low, or if you’d like, 4-6 hours on high.

Right before you serve this dish, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and set them on serving platters.

In a separate bowl, stir together cream cheese, artichokes, and Parmesan cheese.  Keep stirring until it becomes a creamy mixture.  Spoon over the chicken breasts.

Top it all off with the tomatoes and extra Parmesan cheese, if you so desire.

 

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Crock Pot Low-Fat Beef Stew

It’s summertime but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a tasty beef stew on those rainy days that are a natural part of our Pittsburgh summer weather.  If you are looking for a healthier option than usual, check out this recipe from skinnyms.com.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean beef stew meat, cubed in about 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons flour for coating the beef
  • 1 cup red wine, (optional non-alcoholic wine or vegetable broth)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, remove leaves from 4 sprigs
  • 2 cups beef broth, fat-free and low-sodium
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Directions

Coat the beef with the flour, then sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.

In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the floured beef.  Once browned, pour in the wine.  Keep cooking until the sauce is slightly thickened and there is no more alcohol smell (typically about 5 minutes).  When this is done, you can transfer the beef and the sauce into the crock pot.

Start adding to the crock pot, with the sauce and beef, your minced garlic, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, red pepper, thyme, bay leaves, broth, tomatoes, and the last ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper left.  Place the cover on top and cook on low heat for 8 hours or on high heat for 4-6 hours.

Serve with a thick, artisan bread to complete the meal, if you are so inclined.

Once done, enjoy!


Sources:  http://skinnyms.com/slow-cooker-low-fat-beef-stew-recipe/

Designing a Healthful Diet

By:  Lynsey Bish

What exactly is a healthful diet? A healthful diet provides the proper combination of energy and nutrients. It has four characteristics: it is adequate, moderate, balanced, and varied. No matter how young or old, overweight or underweight, healthy or ill, if you keep these characteristics in mind, you will be able to select foods that provide you with an optimum combination of nutrients and energy each day.

What tools can help you design a healthful diet?

Many people feel it’s not possible for them to eat a healthful diet. They mistakenly believe that the foods they would need to eat are too expensive or not available to them, or that they’re too busy to do the necessary planning, shopping, and cooking.

Although designing and maintaining a healthful diet is not as simple as eating whatever you want, most of us can do with a little practice and a little help. Here are some tools to help get you started.

Dietary Guideline for Americans

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are a set of principles developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health to promote health, reduce the risk for chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of obesity among Americans though Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity[1].

They include twenty-three recommendations for the general population, but you don’t have to remember them all! Instead, they encourage you to focus on the following four main ideas.

Balance Calories to Maintain Weight

An important strategy for balancing your calories is to choose nutrient-dense foods (foods that provide the most nutrients for the least amount of calories). For example, skim milk is more nutrient dense than whole milk, and a peeled orange is more nutrient than an orange soft drink. At the same time, being physically active for at least 30 minutes each day can reduced your risk for chronic diseases!

Limit Fat and Sugars

Fat is an essential nutrient and important part of a healthful diet but, because fats are energy dense, eating a diet high in total fat can lead to becoming overweight. Less than 7-10% of your total daily calories should come from saturated fat, and you should try to consume less than 300mg per a day of cholesterol[2]. You can achieve the goal by replacing fats, like butter and lard, with plant oils, and replacing full-fat milk, yogurt, and cheeses with low-fat or nonfat versions.

Limit foods and beverages that are high in added sugars, such as sweetened soft drinks, cookies, and cakes. Many foods that contain added sugars often supply calories, but no essential nutrients and no dietary fiber. Sweetened foods and beverages can be replaced with those that are low in or have no added sugars. Sweetened beverages can be replaced with water and unsweetened beverages[3].

Consume more Healthful Foods and Nutrients

  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Each day, try to eat a variety of dark-green, red, and orange vegetables, along with beans and peas.
  • Make sure that at least half of all grain foods (breads, cereals, pasta, and so on) that you eat each day are made from whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, which include milk, yogurt, cheese, and fortified soy beverages.
  • When making protein choices, choose protein foods that are lower in solid fat and Calories, such as lean cuts of beef or skinless poultry. Try to eat more fish and shellfish in place of traditional meat and poultry choices. Also choose eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Choose foods that provide an adequate level of dietary fiber as well as nutrients of concern in the American diet, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. These nutrients help us maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce our risks for certain diseases. Healthful foods that are good sources of these nutrients include fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, whole grains, and low-fat milk and milk products[1].
  • Follow Healthy Eating PatternsThere isn’t a healthy eating pattern that everyone should follow. The best recommendation made in Dietary Guidelines is designed to accommodate diverse cultural, ethnic, traditional, and personal preferences that still fit into your food budget. MyPlate.gov is free for everyone to help find a healthy eating style and build it throughout your lifetime. MyPlate will focus on helping you make healthy food and beverage choices and include all five food groups. It’s about making small changes to create a healthier eating style.

    Overall, the Goals of the Dietary Guideline are to promote health, reduce the risk for chronic diseases and improve nutrition and physical activity.


[1] Abou-Samra, R., et al. 2011. Effect of different protein sources on satiation and short-term satiety when consumed as a starter. Nutrition Journal 2011, December 23(10):139.
[2] Thompson, Janice, Melinda Manore, and Linda A. Vaughan. The science of nutrition. Boston: Pearson, 2014. Print.
[3] 2010 Dietary Guidelines. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 June 2017

Copycat Dunkaroo Dip

Looking for an exciting dessert to take to a party or make your friends and family?  This copycat Dunkaroo Dip is easy to make, extremely tasty, and fun.  If you are 90s kid, you will especially love this recipe since it brings back memories of one of the greatest lunch snacks.

Ingredients:

  • I box of Funfetti Cake mix
  • 2 cups of Plain Yogurt (you can substitute fat-free yogurt , Greek yogurt, or soy yogurt)
  • 1 cup lite Cool Whip
  • Your favorite flavor of Teddy Graham’s

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix your Funfetti cake mix, Cool Whip, and yogurt. Make sure to completely whip it up so there are no lumps in it.
  2. Place plastic wrap on top and refrigerate for about 4 hours to chill it.
  3. You can garnish with additional sprinkles if you are so inclined.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Indoor Herb Garden

Are you itching to get your garden started now that spring is here? We certainly are.  There is nothing better than using fresh herbs in all of your recipes.

When starting an indoor or porch garden, you must remember that these herbs need at least 4 hours of sunlight to grow properly.  They also like to be kept in similar temperatures that we do, between 60-70°F.

Each plant is different, so they need to be watered accordingly.  Most won’t need to be watered every day, so you can wait until the soil is slightly dry to water them again.  Plants like basil, mint, parsley, and chives however, like to grow in slightly moist soil.  But, remember this, one way to ruin a plant and cause its roots to rot, is to let it sit, oversaturated in water.  The best way to tell if a plant needs to be watered is to stick your finger about an inch down into the soil to see if it is dry.  If the soil is dry, it is in need of hydration.

Choosing the proper pots is also important when curating your indoor herb garden.  Clay pots are porous and tend to soak up the water your plants need so you will end up watering than more than necessary.  Try glazed or plastic pots for indoor plants that won’t dry out your plants.  The most important thing to make sure is that your pots have drainage holes.  You can use rubber, plastic, or metals plates underneath your pots to catch the excess water runoff.  Start with pots that are at least 6 inches around to give your herbs the room to grow.

For creative ways to house your herb garden, check out Brit & Co’s “20 Ways to Start and Indoor Garden” list for a lot of great, innovative, and space saving ideas.

Don’ts:

  • DO NOT use 1 planter for all of your plants.
    • They each need their own room to grow.
  • DO NOT just use any dirt you find outside.
    • Since these plants won’t be planted in the ground, they will be missing out on the natural nutrients the soil provides them.
    • Use potting soil that is rich in nutrients.
  • DO NOT over water your plants.
    • Give the plant some time to soak up that water and for its soil to dry out a bit.
    • If you see yellow leaves on your plants, which means you are overwatering.

And remember this, your plants will tell you when something is wrong with them.

Below are some of our recommendations for herbs to grow indoors all year long.

Basil

  • Needs as much sun as possible.
  • Keep the soil moist, but well-drained.
  • Benefits
    • Anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial which helps the body fight disease
    • Great anti-oxidant
    • Cancer fighter
    • Pain & fever reducer
    • Immune system booster
  • Favorite Use: in Caprese salads, with strawberries in water

Mint

  • Can thrive in minimal light, but it is best if you can get it a few hours of sunlight a day.
  • Benefits
    • Helps with digestion & weight loss
    • Nausea, fatigue, & headache relief
    • Helps with memory loss
    • Good for your skin since it is an anti-inflammatory & for relieving dryness on your scalp
  • Favorite Use: combined with fruit in water

Parsley

  • Parsley loves to be drenched in sunlight and having moist soil.
  • Benefits
    • Packed with every essential daily vitamin
    • Aids in bone health
    • Anti-inflammatory
    • Immune booster
    • Aids digestion
    • Contains antioxidants that battle the effects of aging
  • Favorite Use: in Israeli Salad (check out our recipe)

Thyme

  • Grows best when is has 6 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Benefits
    • Natural insect repellant
    • Useful in antiseptics
    • Helps lower blood pressure
    • Has antibacterial properties
    • Immunity booster
    • Used to help lessen stomach issues
  • Favorite Use: as a substitute for dried parsley in soups

Rosemary

  • The best way to grow Rosemary indoors is to start with a plant from a nursery, not with seeds, and plant in fresh, dry soil.
  • Benefits
    • Has memory boosting capabilities
    • Pain reliever
    • Protector of your immune system
    • Detoxes your body
    • Anti-aging properties
    • Helps heal skin conditions because of its antiseptic properties
      • Acne
      • Eczema
      • Psoriasis
      • Dandruff
    • Promotes healthy hair and growth
  • Favorite Use: as a finishing touch with fish and chicken dishes

 


https://bonnieplants.com/library/how-to-grow-herbs-indoors/

http://www.oregonlive.com/hg/index.ssf/2012/01/13­_herbs_worth_growing_indoors.html

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/advice/a19745/winter-herb-garden/

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have you gotten gifts or planned a special evening yet for your Valentine?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and we know how hard it is to come up with a special gift or evening for your loved one.  So, we have created a list to help you find unique gifts from delightful local shops in the Greater Pittsburgh area.  Whether you want chocolates, flowers, a nice romantic dinner, or an evening out, we have some options for you.

The Farmer’s Daughter

As a local floral shop, The Farmer’s Daughter strives to take your vision and make it a reality.  Their floral arrangements look natural and the attention to every detail is astounding.

431 E. Ohio Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Tuesday – Friday 11AM to 7PM, Saturday 11AM to 4PM

The Blooming Dahlia

Since 1996, Melissa Sacco, of the Blooming Dahlia in Mt. Lebanon, has been creating masterpieces for her clients using seasonal flowers.

308 Beverly Road, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15216

The Speckled Hen

Not located in the Pittsburgh area is the Speckled Hen, a small, gourmet chocolate company, owned and operated by Valerie Cannon.  She creates unique and beautiful chocolate confections that not only look wonderful, but they taste just as good.  It is definitely worth the drive to try some chocolate from the Speckled Hen.

656 Saxonburg Blvd, Saxonburg, PA 16056

Tuesday – Thursday 10AM to 6PM, Friday – Saturday 10AM to 5PM

The Milkshake Factory

Does your significant other love milkshakes and handmade chocolates?  Then you need to visit the Milkshake Factory to try their handspun milkshakes, sundaes, and variety of fine chocolates selection.  You can have any flavor of milkshake that you could possibly think of.

South Side Location:  1705 E. Carson Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Monday – Friday 11AM to 10PM, Saturday & Sunday 11AM to 10PM

Downtown Location:  Tower at PNC Plaza, 314 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Monday – Thursday 11AM to 10PM, Friday 11AM to 11PM, Saturday 12 to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 10PM

Naturoll

Naturoll is an ice cream revolution.  Using methods perfected in Thailand, they freeze ice cream batter and roll it into 5 perfect rolls right before your eyes.  Its ice cream and a show!

4318 Butler Street, Pittsbugh, PA 15201

Tuesday – Thursday 3 to 9PM, Friday 3 to 10PM, Saturday 12 to 10PM, Sunday 12 to 6PM

La Gourmandine Bakery & Pastry Shop

With two locations, in Mt. Lebanon and Lawrenceville, La Gourmandine produces quality breads, pastries, desserts, and sandwiches.  The authentic French atmosphere will transport you across the Atlantic and provides an authentic and romantic experience.

Lawrenceville:  4605 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Monday – Friday 7:30AM to 4:30PM, Saturday & Sunday 9AM to 2:30PM

Mt. Lebanon:  300 Cochran Rd, Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228

Monday – Friday 7AM to 5PM, Saturday 8AM to 3:30PM, Sunday 8AM to 2:30PM

Oakmont Bakery

Since they opened in 1988, Oakmont Bakery has been a Pittsburgh staple, serving some of the best breads, pastries, and baked goods, in the city.  They have a wide variety of goods and little café area where you can sit and enjoy your purchases with your loved one.  I cannot recommend the pepperoni bread enough.

531 Allegheny Avenue, Oakmont, PA 15139

Monday – Saturday 6AM to 7PM, Sunday 6AM to 3PM

Il Pizzaiolo

Do you and your significant other love pizza, especially real Napoli style pizza?  Then you definitely have to try Il Pizzaiolo, genuine Napoletana cuisine, with locations in Warrendale and Mt. Lenanon, with another location coming soon to Indiana Township.

Warrendale:  701 Warrendale Village Dr., Warrendale, PA 15086

Monday – Thursday 11AM to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 11AM to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 9PM

Mt. Lebanon:  703 Washington Rd., Mt. Lebanon, PA 15228

Monday – Thursday 12 to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 12 to 11PM, Sunday 12 to 9PM

Off the Hook

Off the Hook is a restaurant that focuses on the wonderful tastes of the sea.  With a raw oyster bar, diners can watch as their food is prepped and cooked before their eyes.  The best part about this restaurant is that you can order your favorite fish to go and cook it at home, with recipe cards supplied by Off the Hook, to have an even more intimate night at home with your loved ones.

908 Warrendale Village Drive, Warrendale, PA 15086

Monday – Thursday 5 to 9:30 PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 10PM

La Tavola

Looking for authentic Italian food made fresh daily in a quiet and romantic atmosphere?  One of Mount Washington’s hidden gems is La Tavola, an authentic Italian restaurant that creates Italian masterpieces.  With BYOB policy, you can bring your date, a favorite bottle of wine, and enjoy a fantastic selection of Italian dishes and desserts.  And if dining in isn’t for you, then do have takeout services available

1 Boggs Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15211

Tuesday – Thursday 5 to 10 PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 11PM

Cioppino

Located in the Strip District, Cioppino offers a wide variety of seafood and chophouse fare in a steakhouse atmosphere.  They pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients and cater to all kinds of lifestyles (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, etc.).

2350 Railroad St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Monday – Thursday 5 to 10PM, Friday & Saturday 5 to 11 PM

Bigham Tavern

If you like a more relaxed restaurant with a friendly staff and great high end bar food, you have got to check out Bigham Tavern.  Known for their award winning wings and deluxe mac and cheese, Bigham is the perfect place to hang out, grab a bite and brew, and watch some sports.  The best part?  You can come as you are, especially if you are hungry.

321 Bigham Street, Mt. Washington, PA 15211

Monday – Friday 11AM to 2AM, Saturday & Sunday 10AM to 2AM (Kitchen is open until 1 AM)

Brunch:  Saturdays & Sundays 10AM

Carnegie Museum of Art Exhibits

Iris van Herpen:  Transforming Fashion

“Fashion designer Iris van Herpen (Dutch, b. 1984) marries precision and meticulous handcraft, inventive technological solutions, and a striking, futuristic aesthetic.” The exhibit is open now until May 1st.

The Warhol Museum

Firelei Báez: Bloodlines

“Tracing the history of social movements in the United States and the Caribbean, Firelei Báez: Bloodlines presents a new body of work by Firelei Báez… Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking symbols of power with human gestures.” Open until May 21st.

The Frick Museum Exhibits

The Frick Collects:  From Rubens to Monet

“From Henry Clay Frick’s early purchases, to his daughter Helen’s collecting interests, through to the acquisitions that have been made by the museum in recent years, visitors will see and learn about the enduring legacy of the Frick family as art collectors.” Open until May 14th.

The Incline

Take your valentine for a ride on the incline to take in one of Pittsburgh’s most spectacular views. At the top of Mount Washington, be sure to take advantage of the viewing and photo opportunity on one of the overlooks.

The Incline runs Monday through Saturday 5:30AM to 12:30AM, Sunday and Holidays 7AM to 12:30AM

Israeli Salad

Are you looking for a healthy salad recipe to freshen up your lunches or dinners?  If so, you have got to try out this Israeli Salad recipe.  Not only is it refreshing and healthy, but it is tasty and is a great side dish or a standalone salad.

Ingredients:

  • Medium to Large size Mixing or Serving Bowl
  • 3-4 Roma Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 big cucumber (or 2 regular sized ones), chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped or diced
  • ¼ cup Parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup lemon juice (more if you like or less if that’s too much)
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive Oil (more if you need it)
  • Salt to season
  • Avocado (optional for additional taste)
  • Mozzarella (optional for additional taste)
  • Peppers (optional for additional taste or as a substitute if you don’t like onions, tomatoes, or cucumbers)

Directions:

  1. Seed and chop all of your vegetables and place into bowl.
  2. Finely chop parsley and add to vegetables.
  3. Add, lemon juice and olive oil, then salt to add that seasoning.
  4. Voila! You are ready to serve and enjoy!