Super Fast Salsa

So I missed posting this for Cinco de Mayo by 2 days! But better late then never. This salsa is so easy to make and always great to have on hand. I don’t know about you and yours, but our family literally goes through gallons of salsa! So grab your blender or food processor and let’s get going!


  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½  white onion, chopped
  • 2 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with jalapenos, undrained
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, with some tender stems
  • juice of 2 limes (or lemons will work too)
  • salt, to taste

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor in the order listed. Puree until smooth, or leave a little chunky, if desired. Save any unused salsa in an air-tight container. Store in the refrigerator.

Roasted Zucchini Bites

Turn these raw, chopped zucchini’s into this:

I was talking about these zucchini bites with a friend the other day and knew I had to make them! I am really trying to eat more vegetables these days and this seemed like an easy, flavorful way to do it! (every little bit helps!) These are also a healthy snack for the kiddos when they come home from school. Or use them as an appetizer at your next gathering. They make a healthy substitute for french fries or onion rings. They are packed with flavor and crunch! Yum!

Roasted Zucchini Bites

  • 2 green zucchinis, sliced in circles
  • 1 1/2 cup plain Panko crumbs **
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning  (I use McCormick Italian seasonings)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 Tablespoon water, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a shallow dish or bowl beat eggs and water. In a different shallow bowl combine panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasonings and salt. Stir until combined. Dip each zucchini slice in the egg and then immediately in the crumb mixture. Make sure to coat the entire zucchini slice. Place coated zucchini’s on a parchment lined cookie sheet and oven roast for 12-14 minutes. Serve hot!

**You could also use traditional plain bread crumbs, I just prefer the crunch! I am addicted to the Panko crumbs!

Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

We went out to eat this week at a local Mexican Restaurant . My cute Aunt Diane was out here from Utah for a quick visit. She is the super bubbly, generous, funny, and loving type. We were all happy to spend some time with her and soak up her enthusiasm for life. We were sitting in the restaurant catching up and perusing the menu when we decided that we should definitely order the queso dip as an appetizer. As I started to order for myself and then my kids, the queso dip somehow got lost in the back of my mind. It never got ordered. Never fear! I decided to make it the next day to fill that craving! It is fantastic served immediately after being done cooking. Get your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy this warm, cheesy, tasty dip. And a word to the wise: After chopping your jalapeno pepper, wash your hands! I know from first hand experience. I almost lost an eye last night! Ouch!

Restaurant Style Queso Dip

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, finely diced
  • 12 ounce white American cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounce Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper until softened and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the shredded cheese and 1/4 cup of the cream.  Quickly stir until the cheese is melted. Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and additional cream a little at a time until you reach desired consistency.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips

Blackberry and Brie Pastry Puffs

Who is done with their holiday shopping? Christmas is a mere 3 days away and I just started mine! I am officially in rush and panic mode. But don’t worry I do have an appetizer that is great  for the holidays. Warm, light, fruity with that tang of brie cheese! YUM! They are very quick and easy and isn’t that what we all are looking for during the holidays? Shopping done, or not.

Blackberry and Brie Pastry Puffs

  • 1 pound of Puff Pastry Dough, cut into 18 rectangles (thawed according to instructions on box)
  • egg wash (1 egg whisked with 2 Tablespoons water)
  • 8 ounces Brie cheese
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts or hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

After you have cut pastry dough into 18 rectangles, brush around the perimeter of each rectangle with the egg wash. At one side of the rectangle, place one blackberry, 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon of brie cheese and a sprinkle of nuts, Fold the pastry over to cover the filling. Then press edges of the dough together with your fingertips to seal. Brush the tops of the pastry with eggs wash. Bake on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let cool about 10 minutes, the filling is extremely hot!  **TIP: The colder the pastry dough, the more “puff” you will get. So work quickly and make sure to get those babies in the oven still nice and cold!

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Toffee Apple Dip

I love apples! My favorite are Gala apples. They are crunchy, sweet and oh so juicy! A cold, fresh Gala apple has to be one of the best things in the world! So when my friend introduced me to this sinfully delicious dip that goes with apples, I was ecstatic! About a year ago I was in Utah running a half marathon with my friend, and she also had been introduced to this dip. The day after we ran the race, we sat around and ate this dip and talked about how we just ran 13.1 miles, calories were non-existent as far as we were concerned. It was heaven. This dip is super easy to make and everyone loves it. So dig in! Go find your favorite apple and start dipping! 

Toffee Apple Dip

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits (I use the Heath Toffee bits with milk chocolate)

Mix Cream cheese and brown sugar until well combined. (I use an electric handmixer to do this, but you can certainly do it by hand.) Add vanilla and toffe bits. (store in an air tight container for up to 5 days)

You Don’t Want to Know Dip

I must confess something. I had never made this dip until this weekend. But just in case you don’t know, Shannon and I are trying to publish a cookbook soon. We are doing this blog to give you a taste of what will be in that cookbook. Shannon and I have spent many hours filing through our recipes and deciding which ones are worthy to go into the cookbook. This is Shannon’s recipe. And it kept coming to my mind because when we first met to discuss recipes she said that this one had to go in the cookbook. I asked her what was in it that made it so great and she proclaimed “You don’t want to know!” So, I finally called her this weekend and said, “I must know what is in that dip because I want to take it to a party.” One of my good friends was having a housewarming party and all we were required to bring was an appetizer, a good appetizer. With recipe in hand, I went to the grocery store and bought all the necessary ingredients. All the while wondering if it really was cookbook worthy. Guess what? It is!  I loved it, the hubs loved it, the party people loved it and even the babysitter loved it! (I made her her own bowl) With so many holiday parties coming up, this will be a perfect appetizer to take and knock everyones socks off! It is spicy, creamy, warm and delish! So it is with great pleasure I give you the  cookbook worthy “You Don’t Want to Know Dip” recipe!

You Don’t Want to Know Dip

  • 2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1  1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4 ounce) can of diced jalapenos
  • 1 (4 ounce) jar of pimientos
  • 1 jar of dried beef, sliced and cubed  (comes in a small jelly-like jar. I found it next to the SPAM)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, diced
  • 1 large bread bowl
  • Bag of Frito’s Scoops

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top out of your bread bowl. Then empty out the bread. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, pimientos, dried beef, and green onions. Pour it all in! Juice and everything! Pour mixture into your empty bread bowl. Replace the top and wrap in foil. Bake for 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve warm with Frito Scoops.

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California Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Chips and salsa is always good, right?  When I was in college I practically lived on the stuff!  But why don’t we try to take the salsa to a whole new level?  Stop buying the canned stuff from your local grocery store and make this instead!  This is an oldie but a goodie!  I have been serving this salsa for about 10 years now, and I swear that everytime I make a batch everyone ooo’s and aaaa’s over it.  It is just good… there’s no other way to explain it.

California Black Bean and Corn Salsa 


  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1 canned chipotle chile or more, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or crushed


  • 2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (see note)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender.  Process till thoroughly blended.

Combine the beans, corn, bell pepper and onion in a bowl and mix well.  Add the dressing, starting with about half the dressing and toss to coat.  Add more dressing if needed, to taste.  Marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving, stir in the tomato, avocado, and cilantro.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: fresh sweet corn may be used without cooking first.  I have also used Trader Joe’s frozen super sweet white corn, and it works great.

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Self Contained 7-layer Dip?

We made these lovely little morsels this week after a friend of mine brought something similar to a party I attended.  This is a regular occurrence for me… try something at a restaurant, party or social gathering that is interesting…. come home and tweak it.

The taco bites from the party were simply taco meat, sour cream and cheese layered inside a “Scoops” chip.  There were much fancier things laid out at this particular party, but the taco bites were the thing everyone raved about.  So, I thought, why not try to bump it up a notch and do a mini 7-layer dip in a scoop?  Emily & I did and they turned out to be very tasty!

But, a word of warning; they were a little more time consuming than I would have hoped. Probably worth the effort if you’re looking for a show stopper at a party, but if you’re just trying to feed the family… this is not the item for you.

7 Layer Bites

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 small can sliced olives, drained
  • ½ cup green onion, sliced
  • 1 bag Scoops (by Tostitos) tortilla chips

In medium frying pan, brown ground beef together with onion.  Add the taco seasoning once the beef is cooked through.  Once taco seasoning is incorporated add the refried beans and warm through.  Remove from heat.

Lay out the Scoops chips on a platter.  (Sort thru them, and use only the intact scoops).

Then layer in the following order:

  • Taco meat
  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Then garnish with a slice of each of the following:
  • Tomato
  • Green Onion
  • Olive

Hope you all enjoy these as much as we do!!!