Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken

Winner winner chicken dinner!

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.

You heard me. Today I’m bringing you the ultimate in chicken dinners, perfect for you to whip together in these first few days of fall when we’re craving comfort food but not quite ready to pull out the Crockpot. Artichoke dip lovers, you’ve been warned.


This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is basically my excuse to take a favorite appetizer and turn it into a full-fledged meal. It’s high-protein and also happens to help meet your daily quota of healthy veggies. You can also easily enjoy it alone as a light meal, or if you’re a carb-lover like me you can serve it atop a bed of bowtie pasta tossed in a simple lemon, butter and pine nut sauce with even more spinach thrown in for good measure.

Have I convinced you yet that this needs to happen for dinner tonight?

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken served over a simple bowtie pasta for the perfect kid-friendly weeknight dinner.

What if I told you this Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken has the revered appetizer spread both inside the chicken roll-ups AND slathered all over the top? Yea, thought that might win you over.

There are a couple of things that I absolutely love about this recipe that I just MUST bring to your attention:

First, it makes plenty of spinach-artichoke dip, so rest assured that you will have plenty to snack on while your main course is cooking or for your next Sunday football get-together. You don’t even have to bake it if you don’t want to, totally up to you!

Second, this is a “set it and forget it” meal, meaning once you’ve constructed your cute little chicken roll-ups, all that’s left to do is pop them in the oven and worry about whatever you’re going to serve with them (if anything.) That’s a functional fall meal if you ask me.

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is creamy, delicious and sure to please the pickiest of palates. In fact, I’m pretty sure any kids you have with a mind of their own about what they will and will not eat will gobble this up faster than you can say “eat your vegetables.”

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is a protein- and vegetable-packed dinner that's incredibly easy to make.

I love baking sweet treats and mixing up cocktails for y’all, but as we move into comfort food season I also want to make sure you have plenty of healthier comfort food choices on hand for just any weeknight dinner. If you have anything you’d like to see me make, or any parameters for a recipe you’d like me to stick to (i.e. sheet pan dinners, Crockpot cooking, etc.) please tell me in the comments below!

I’m working hard to get a ton of stuff queued up for you guys for when I’m out on “maternity leave,” so now’s the time to put in your requests!

In the meantime, here are a few of my other “healthy” comfort food dinners that would be perfect for you to start whipping up this fall:

Bruschetta, White Bean and Pancetta Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Champagne Roast Chicken with Grapes and Shallots

Carrot, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Pizza with Fontina

Double Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp

I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with the most delicious food! Xo

A plate of Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken served over a bed of spinach and pine nut bowtie pasta.

This Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken is the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.
Print
Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

The classic appetizer dip is rolled inside and slathered on top of lean chicken breasts to make the perfect weeknight dinner that even the kids will love!

Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4-inch thick
Instructions
  1. Combine cream cheese, yogurt, garlic, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic powder in a small mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can make this up to a day in advance and keep it in the refrigerator if you’d like. 

  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a glass or ceramic baking dish large enough to hold your chicken roll-ups with cooking spray. Set aside. 

  3. Spread the flattened chicken breasts out on a large cutting board and season both sides of the breasts with salt and pepper. Place a couple of tablespoons of the prepared spinach-artichoke dip on each breast, then roll up the breasts and secure with a toothpick or two (you could also wrap with kitchen twine if you’d prefer.)

  4. Place the chicken roll-ups in the prepared baking dish and place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. 

  5. Remove roll-ups from oven and turn broiler on high. Spread more of the spinach-artichoke dip over top of each roll-up and return to the oven for 5 more minutes, or until the spread on top is slightly browned and bubbly.

Recipe Notes

Serving suggestion: Cook up some bowtie pasta and toss it with some more fresh spinach, toasted pine nuts, butter and lemon juice. Place chicken roll-ups over top of pasta for serving.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Chicken | CaliGirlCooking.com

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

Who’s up for a back-to-school treat?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to kick off fall and back to school.

I sure am, even though it’s now officially been over 10 years since I’ve been in school. But I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want some Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars in their life?


I realize it’s not been too long since I posted my last cheesecake recipe, but when you’ve got something good going on I’m all about celebrating it. And when the ideas are flowing I’m always anxious to share them all with you!

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are definitely my jam. They’re the perfect size, meaning you don’t feel completely laden with alllll the dairy after devouring a huge piece. And did I mention they’re full of one of my favorite flavor combinations ever? Yep, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan and could eat PB&J basically every day of my life until the end of time if given the opportunity.

It’s peanut butter-jelly time, my friends.

These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect back-to-school treat for your little ones!

Let me tell you, we are not skimping on any flavor here. Even though it doesn’t seem like much, the peanut butter and jelly flavors really shine along with the cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of the Classic New York-Style Cheesecake but, especially at this time of year with school starting up again and fall creeping back onto the scene, it’s fun to mix it up and sneak in some classic childhood combos.

So, what do you think? Ready to hear how perfected the ultimate Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars? You’re going to be blown away by how easy this is…

A bite of these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars is all you need to soak your day's worries away!

First, we start with a peanut butter-y graham cracker crust. All that’s required for this step is graham crackers, peanut butter, butter and a food processor. That’s it! Pulse it all together and press it into a square baking dish lined with parchment paper. We bake it off just a tad to get things to set a crisp up a bit, then we’re off to the races with our strawberry jelly swirled cheesecake batter!

The first step to Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars: a peanut butter-graham cracker crust!

True to my usual habits, I stuck to using one block of regular cream cheese and one block of light cream cheese for my batter base. Remember, we’re all about that balance! It’s all very similar to my other cheesecake recipes, so if you’ve made either of those before (and even if you’ve not) you’re in good shape to whip these up tonight.

Once the cheesecake batter is poured all over the peanut butter-y graham cracker crust, you’re going to want to strategically place some hefty dollops of your favorite jam or jelly over top. We’re incredibly lucky to have a huge store of homemade jams on hand from my in-laws, so I opted for some classic strawberry, but you can really use any flavor you like.

Drag the dollops through the batter with a knife or toothpick, and you’ll get the beautiful swirly look you see in the photos.

Delicious strawberry jam is swirled through the cheesecake batter in these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars right before baking.

Into the oven (no water bath required) for a quick 30-ish minutes, then some time to set up in the refrigerator, and you’ll have you AND your kids’ new favorite after-school snack sliced up and ready to devour as soon as they get home from school (or as soon as 5 o’clock rolls around and you’re done with work if you don’t have kids of your own.)

It doesn’t seem like much, but what this recipe lacks in difficulty it most definitely does not lack in flavor. The peanut butter in the crust carries through the entire bar and meets up with the strawberry jam that’s perfectly swirled through the cheesecake, giving you all three flavors in every single bite.

A close-up look at super-tasty Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars.

If these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars aren’t the perfect September treat, I don’t know what is!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to kick off fall and back to school.
Print
Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

 Combining a classic back-to-school flavor pairing - peanut butter and jelly - with creamy cheesecake, all in easy handheld bar form. The perfect after-school snack!

Course: Dessert
Servings: 12 bars
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 8 full sheets graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite jam or jelly
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9x9-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving an inch or two hanging off the sides. Set aside.

  2. Now, make the crust. Combine graham crackers, peanut butter and butter in a food processor and pulse until crumbly yet sticky. Press this mixture into the prepared baking dish and bake in the 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. 

  3. While crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheeses, eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla and sour cream. 

  4. Remove crust from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour cheesecake batter over the graham cracker crust.

  5. Place jam or jelly in a small ramekin and microwave for 20 seconds. Scoop dollops of jam evenly over top of cheesecake batter, then drag a knife or toothpick through the dollops to create a swirl pattern. 

  6. Bake cheesecake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden and the middle is still slightly jiggly. Let rest, out of the oven, until cool enough to touch and then transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight.

  7. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and, using the overhanging parchment paper, pull bars out of the baking dish and onto a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the cheesecake into 12 bars. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars | CaliGirlCooking.com

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats

Every new school year deserves a fun and healthy breakfast…

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are loaded with filling Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, granola and honey for the ultimate kid-friendly breakfast!

Am I right? Well, you’re in luck, because these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats will make any reluctant schoolchild excited to get up in the morning and ready to take on the day with lots of filling protein and other healthy nutrients from alllll the festive fruits.


We all know that breakfast bowls are taking over the mainstream, and I’m sure no stranger to the idea here in the CaliGirl Cooking kitchen. It was over a year ago now that I completely changed my breakfast game with this Slow Cooker Superfood Oatmeal, and just a few weeks ago I showed you how to sneak some extra servings of the good stuff into your kids with these Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. Oh, and if we’re talking about more fun kid-friendly breakfasts, we can’t forget these Breakfast Banana Splits! (Which will also surely get your kid out of bed for school in the morning, just saying.)

So, what’s up with these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats? To be honest, not much, but you wouldn’t guess it from all they’ve got going on! There’s actually no cooking involved, it’s more compiling a bunch of fresh, delicious and healthy ingredients together and serving them in a fun and festive way. They take almost no time to throw together, which means they’re just that much more perfect for a busy weekday morning when you’re trying to get homework organized, teeth brushed and kids out the door.

Let’s get into it!

A Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boat will keep your kids full and energized well into lunchtime.

We start out with some fresh papaya halves, then give them a good squeeze of lime juice. If you’ve never taken lime juice to your papaya before, you’ve really been missing out. Don’t skip this step. It’s a game changer!

Next step is to load up the boats with some plain Greek yogurt – because we all need that protein – and then top it with any fresh fruit we can imagine. I used strawberries, kiwis and blueberries, but feel free to improvise and use what sounds best to you. Just about anything would be delicious!

The final touches to our Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are a sprinkle of our favorite granola and a drizzle of sweet honey. That’s it! See, I told you it wasn’t hard.

A Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boat ready to be devoured by any hungry adult or kiddo!

So now that I’ve made such a big deal about this tasty back-to-school brekkie, tell me, do you have kids who are starting up their school year this week? Are you so relieved or secretly bummed you don’t get to hang out with them all day anymore? I obviously don’t have any kids in school yet, but in my current state I can tell you I’m incredibly grateful for healthy, easy recipes that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, just like these Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats!

Do you have any fun back-to-school recipes you always turn to at this time of year? If so, I’d love to hear about them!

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats are the perfect healthy, kid-friendly, weekday breakfast for kids and adults alike!

A Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boat will keep your kids full and energized well into lunchtime.
Print
Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats
Prep Time
10 mins
 

A healthy, kid-friendly breakfast to serve up on a school day that's full of protein and vitamins to keep your little ones energized until lunchtime!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 papaya, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime, divided
  • 1 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • Sprinkle of your favorite granola
  • Drizzle of honey
Instructions
  1. Squeeze lime over both halves of papaya. 

  2. Divide yogurt evenly among papaya halves, then divide all fruit evenly on top of yogurt.

  3. Sprinkle granola over fruit, then drizzle on honey. Serve to your hungry kiddos!

Back-to-School Papaya Breakfast Boats | CaliGirlCooking.com

Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls

All hail the hidden veggies!!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!

Seriously, who doesn’t want a HUGE serving of vegetables hidden into one of the most delicious acai bowls of all time? If you’re a fruit/breakfast fanatic like me and like to start your day off on the right foot, these Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls are for you.


And, speaking of hidden veggies, if you have picky eaters in your household (ahem, kids) you’re going to LOVE the fact that there is tons of broccoli and spinach packed into each and every one of these bowls.

Back in the day, when I first moved to Santa Barbara, I was living with my brother and sister-in-law and their three young kids until I found a place I could settle into on my own. As part of my “rent,” I’d try to cook for them as much as possible. As most families with young kids do, my bro and SIL were always struggling to get their kids to eat anything besides carbs and fruit. So, I took it upon myself to help them sneak some goodness into their diets in any way we could.

Some of the biggest hits I created for the kids were Hidden Veggie Popsicles. I’d basically whip up a smoothie with kale, carrots and sometimes even avocado the night before, poured the smoothie into a popsicle mold, and first thing in the morning there would be delicious, healthy POPSICLES waiting for the kids for breakfast. I mean, who doesn’t want popsicles for breakfast? They were a huge hit.

A healthy serving of Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. Your answer to a quick, easy and healthy breakfast!

Fast forward to almost four years later, now I’m trying to sneak as many vegetables into my diet as possible with my ever-changing preggo mama appetite. Throughout my first whole trimester, veggies were not my friend. I’m normally a huge salad eater, but a big bowl of raw greens was the LAST thing I even wanted to think about eating.

Luckily, my healthy appetite for fruit has maintained throughout the duration of my pregnancy (and will hopefully continue to!) I’ve been able to drink our Power Protein Smoothies we make almost every day, which do also have some kale mixed in, and if I’m looking for a healthy snack in the afternoon, a piece of fruit (most likely paired with cheese) is the first thing I’ll grab out of the refrigerator.

On the weekends, the hubs usually spoils me with eggs, bacon, the works, but occasionally we’ll have some place we need to be in the morning and thus need a quick, healthy breakfast to get our day started on the right foot. On these days, you can most likely find us at Backyard Bowls, Santa Barbara’s acai bowl/smoothie mecca that is basically amazing beyond words.

I’ll usually order either their PB&J Quinoa Bowl if I’m in the mood for a warm, belly-filling meal, or their Green Bowl if I’m looking for something more refreshing. The Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls I’m sharing today are my own personal take on the Green Bowl, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to enjoy them just as much as I did!

These Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls from CaliGirl Cooking are the perfect healthy breakfast for picky eaters.

Here’s what you’re going to need: some banana for creaminess, and one more for your toppings (because aren’t the toppings some of the best things about basically eating a smoothie in a bowl?), frozen acai (find it at your local Whole Foods or TJ’s), frozen broccoli and fresh spinach (there’s your veggies!), frozen cherries, pineapple juice, lime juice and some fresh ginger (if you’re feeling adventurous.) I love the ginger for the zinginess it brings to the bowl, but you can easily leave it out if you or your kids aren’t really into such a distinct flavor.

Throw everything into a blender, top with the banana, some sliced strawberries, granola, honey and, my favorite, PEANUT BUTTER, and you’ll have such a delicious, crowd-pleasing breakfast that Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls will soon become the most requested breakfast at your kitchen table. Promise!

An overhead shot of delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls. They'll be a huge hit with kids!

A close-up look at a delicious Hidden Veggie Acai Bowl from CaliGirl Cooking. The perfect healthy breakfast even the pickiest of eaters will love!
Print
Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

This healthy breakfast is packed with filling fruits and vegetables that will keep even the pickiest of eaters happy and full until lunch. 

Course: Breakfast
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen acai pack
  • 1 banana, plus 1 additional for topping
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries, your favorite granola, honey and peanut butter, for topping
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except toppings in a blender and blend until smooth. 

  2. Pour blender contents into one larger cereal bowl (or two smaller ones) and garnish with desired toppings.

  3. Enjoy immediately!

Hidden Veggie Acai Bowls | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Banana Split

It’s time to have some fun with our food!

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let’s start with this festive, tasty, KID-FRIENDLY Breakfast Banana Split. It’s got all of the fun of a classic banana split, yet it’s healthy enough to be acceptable for breakfast. That’s my kind of meal!


The idea for this recipe (if you can call it that) came to me while I was working out at the gym, as many of my great ideas do. I’m not sure what spurred it, sometimes things just pop into my head as I’m zoning out on the elliptical. But once I thought of it, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. I needed to make a Breakfast Banana Split ASAP!

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let me tell you a little story to set the scene for this idea.

When I first moved to Santa Barbara almost four years ago, I hunkered down in my brother and sister-in-law’s casita for a few months until my job went from temporary to permanent. I had a pretty sweet little set-up there, a futon bed, a full bathroom to myself, and a little nook with a mini-refrigerator. I did not have a kitchen, but luckily my fam didn’t mind me popping into the house and whipping something up, especially if it involved me making something that there three young kids, my niece and nephews, would eat.

While I lived there, I took a little bit of a challenge upon myself. Like most kids, my niece and nephews were not huge fans of foods that held any sort of nutritional value, so my challenge was to find ways to make food that they would love to eat while secretly sneaking in some healthy fruits and veggies. My greatest success with them was when I made “breakfast popsicles,” which were basically a big batch of smoothie loaded with greens (and sometimes other veggies,) poured into popsicle molds and frozen overnight. I mean, what kid doesn’t want to eat popsicles for breakfast?

As soon as the idea came to me for these Breakfast Banana Splits, I knew they’d be one of these dishes that kids will just jump at the chance to eat in the morning. I don’t have any children of my own (yet) but I look forward to exercising my nutrient-hiding creativity once again, and I know a Breakfast Banana Split will be making a frequent appearance on our household menu.

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com

So here’s how it goes down: Banana sliced lengthwise, just like the classic setup. Heaps of plain nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the ice cream, because we’re making this acceptable for breakfast. Loads and loads of toppings (mostly healthy, some a little more indulgent.) Finally, we can’t forget the cherries on top!

The great thing about this Breakfast Banana Split is that it’s incredibly versatile. I decided to use toppings like flaked coconut, chopped pineapple, date caramel, strawberry jam, toasted nuts and cacao nibs, but you can really use whatever you like (or whatever you have in your pantry!) Some other ideas you could include are freeze-dried fruit, melted almond or peanut butter or hemp seeds. The possibilities really are endless.

Whether this is a true “recipe” or not, you have to admit it’s a pretty genius breakfast option, especially when you have finicky little ones.

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com

What are some ways you sneak nutrient-rich foods into your picky eaters’ diets?

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Breakfast Banana Split
Prep Time
10 mins
 

The classic soda fountain treat is given a healthy spin and turned into a delicious, kid-friendly breakfast. Who doesn't want dessert for breakfast?

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 1 serving
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam, melted
  • 1 tablespoon date caramel (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 2 maraschino cherries
Instructions
  1. Place banana halves on either side of a sundae dish or larger, shallow bowl. Scoop Greek yogurt in between banana halves and add toppings. Don’t forget the cherries on top!

Recipe Notes

To make the Date Caramel (will make extra): Soak 20 pitted dates in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a food processor with 4 tablespoons water and 4 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Pulse until a smooth puree forms into a thick caramel consistency. Store any extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Breakfast Banana Split | CaliGirlCooking.com

 

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