Bean dip recipe

This is my very favorite bean dip recipe. I’m pretty sure it’s from Marsha, she of the famous sausage balls. I’ve been making it for years and years, most recently for our pre-wedding party for Antoine and Heidi.

Bean Dip

1 lb. sausage, cooked
1 can refried beans
1 jar salsa
1 block Velveeta cheese

This is really good warmed up in the slow cooker for a couple of hours, or you can heat it up on the stove until the cheese melts. Serve with Fritos Scoops (or you can use regular tortilla chips, but they’ll most likely break and get messy)

Oh Bruschetta….


You are my favorite. I don’t know why I don’t make you more often. We’re enjoying the second season of tomatoes right now, and man they’re good. And yes, I fully realize that most of the country is facing record breaking cold weather right now, so keep hatin’. And come visit. 🙂

Along with the tomatoes, I got the biggest, loveliest armful of fresh basil for $2 this weekend. I see a lot of bruschetta and pesto in my future!

My version of bruschetta is super easy. Slice up some french bread (or cuban, or whatever). Chop up some basil. Seed and chop a couple of tomatoes. Pile it all on top of the bread. Salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil.Slice some fresh mozzarella and lay that on top. Pop in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Journal Your Christmas- The Legendary Broccoli Casserole

If you ask anyone in my family, they would tell you that my “signature dish” is Broccoli Casserole. I will get a phone call from at least one person each year wanting a recipe refresher. “What kind of cheese?”…

The funny thing is, since I’ve gotten married I never make broccoli casserole anymore! My “signature dish” is alive and well- just not in my house. (I now use this recipe).

This was one of the very first recipes I ever made. No one taught me how to cook, so once I was a grown-up and deciding for myself what to have for dinner, I decided I needed to get beyond fish sticks and ramen noodles. I started picking up those little cookbooks you get at the checkout lane. I actually still have them and it’s fun to look back at the food we ate in the late 90’s… everything was a casserole!  I’m sure my broccoli casserole came out of one of these books.

I remember being quite surprised that my tiny sister would actually eat it, although considering the amount of cheese in there, it really masks any vegetable flavor. But I was very proud of myself for coming up with such a “balanced” meal.

I started bringing it to holiday dinners. Even the people who hated broccoli loved my casserole. It was assumed that I would bring The Casserole to every Thanksgiving dinner until the end of time.

Then I up and got married and moved away. It was quite a shock to all of us. But even worse than my absence was the absence of The Casserole. That’s when the phone calls started…

So I come here today to offer up the recipe for my famous Broccoli Casserole. Now my relatives will be able to find it anytime they want. (You can still call me though!)

Broccoli, Chicken, and Cheese Casserole

1 bag frozen broccoli, or 1 head divided into florets
1 can of Cream of Something soup (chicken, mushroom, etc., whatever floats your boat)
1 can chicken, well drained
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1 bag shredded cheddar
1 bag Colby (sometimes it only comes in block form)

Steam or boil broccoli until tender. (It’s done when your kitchen starts smelling like a school cafeteria). Drain very well. Combine all ingredients and heat on 350 for 25-30 minutes. Or if you’re pressed for time, microwave the whole thing for about 10 minutes.

I’d post a picture, but like I said, I haven’t actually made it in years. Now I kind of want to though. Maybe Christmas dinner….

Recipe for my new favorite salsa and guacamole

I’m obsessed with dips and salsas lately. I think I’m trying to hold on to the last bit of summer. Since it’s still in the 90’s here most days it’s hard to be quite ready for the onslaught of pumpkin and apple recipes. Plus it’s football season, of course you need good dip recipes right?


I like my guac to be really simple. I like to save my tomatoes for fresh salsa.

Easy Guacamole (serves 2, easily doubled)
1 ripe avocado, peeled, seed removed, and roughly chopped)
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4- 1/2 tsp salt (if you’re eating with salty tortilla chips, you won’t need as much)

Put everything in a bowl and smoosh it up with your potato masher or the back of a spoon.

IMG_4377Bean and tomato salsa
1 can of beans (I like kidney or black beans) drained and rinsed
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1/4- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro (I like a lot) chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lime
2 cloves garlic, chopped,  or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4- 1/2 tsp. salt

Add everything into a bowl and mix to combine. This salsa is pretty forgiving and open to substitutions.

Both of these dips are great with chips and fantastic over tacos.

Some of my favorite veggie sides


I’m pretty obsessed with veggies lately. Summer means a ton of fresh produce at the farmer’s market. Plus, I’m always trudging towards that “healthy lifestyle” thing. Which doesn’t always work, but I try to have at least two veggie sides at dinner most nights.

Here are some of my favorites that are in heavy rotation. I use a mix of fresh, frozen, and canned veggies, depending on what’s on sale and how much time I have.

Asparagus (always fresh, never ever ever eat canned asparagus!) My favorite way is cooking using this method with pesto. I’ll usually use jarred pesto, I haven’t had much luck making my own so far). It’s also great with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, or dipped in balsamic vinaigrette.  Asparagus is Amazing dipped in Siracha dip. (I couldn’t find my recipe, but this is similar)

Broccoli (fresh or frozen). I’m not really fussy with broccoli. I like it plain with salt and pepper. A squirt of lemon juice or a some parmesan cheese is nice. It’s also great with the Siracha dip above. Actually anything is good with that. When I’m fancy, I’ll make broccoli gratin. (That recipe is worth a read to learn how to deal with broccoli stems).

Cabbage (fresh) This is my go-to slaw recipe. I also really love this spicy version, but I omit the peanuts.

Carrots I’m not a huge carrot lover. But we tried this carrot puree recipe earlier this year and it was really tasty. I also put shredded carrots in almost every soup that I make, along with celery and onion.

Cauliflower (fresh or frozen) Anything that can be done with broccoli can be done with cauliflower pretty much. I really like this spicy roasted cauliflower. (spicy is the key work here). You can also treat cauliflower like potatoes, like mashing or roasting. And of course, tossing it with some parmesan. I think the theme of this post should be “Put some parm on it”

Corn (fresh, frozen, or canned) I don’t have a “recipe” but my favorite way to eat corn is with a few shakes of onion powder, a couple of scallions, a little butter, salt and lots of pepper.

Cucumbers (fresh) This is my favorite way to eat cucumbers. I also love this cucumber salad with tomato and feta. (I omit the olives). Another super simple fresh cucumber salad recipe. If you like it spicy, this Chinese cucumber salad is yummy.

Green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned) I have a couple of green bean recipes that I’ve made for years. For Cajun green beans, drain a can of green beans and a can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you like it super spicy) Add a tsp of Cajun seasoning, and hot sauce to taste. Fresh steamed green beans are great with dip too. I’ll eat them cold that way with Siracha mayo as a snack.

Mushrooms (fresh) I’ll throw mushrooms in a lot of things, from soups to tacos. Sautéed mushrooms with thyme and white wine mushrooms is one of my very favorite sides. You can also roast them.

Peas (fresh, frozen, or canned) Another non-recipe recipe, but I really love adding lemon pepper seasoning to peas.

Spinach (fresh) This garlicky spinach recipe is my new favorite way to eat spinach. I can’t find my favorite creamed spinach anywhere, but this is very similar. I also love adding spinach to soup and smoothies.

Squash and Zucchini (fresh) I’ve been eating this recipe for zucchini and feta for a long time. I make a variation of it almost every week. Sometimes I skip the feta, sometimes I add mushrooms. I could eat it every day.

Of course one of the best ways to up your veggie intake is with salads in jars.

You might have noticed a trend in my recipe recommendations. I get the vast majority of my veggie recipes from Kaylin’s Kitchen. Even if you’re not into South Beach or low carb-ing it, her site is a fantastic resource for healthy food. You can type the name of any vegetable into her search bar and come up with a dozen or more recipes. I can’t recommend it enough!

I hope this helps of you find yourself in a vegetable rut. I love trying new recipes, so if you have one you love, please share! 🙂

Recipe- Easy Cucumber Salad


This is one of our favorite sides right now. We serve it with just abut anything, but crab cakes are especially good. This is a great little salad for the summer, so cool and refreshing! It’s also a very forgiving recipe, open to lots of substitutions.

3-4 cucumbers
1/4 c vinegar (your choice, I’ve used balsamic, rice wine, and plain white, and they’ve all been great)
1/4 c sweetener (sugar, honey, or Stevia)
1/4 c olive oil, optional
1 pinch (about 1/8 tsp.) red pepper flakes
1-2 green onions, chopped

Peel your cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides with a spoon. If you’re using English cucumbers, you can skip this step. Slice your cucumbers and salt well.

If you have time, take the extra step to drain your cucumbers. Place your salted cucumbers in a colander and put the colander in a bowl. Stick everything in the fridge for a couple of hours. You’ll be surprised at how much liquid the cucumbers let off the first time you try it! This isn’t a necessity, so if you don’t have a couple of hours, don’t worry about it. But it does make a difference in the crispness of your salad.

Mix up a dressing of the vinegar, sweetener, and oil. (I don’t really like a lot of oil in my dressings, so I usually don’t use it, but I think I’m probably in the minority). Add red pepper flakes and green onions. Mix in cucumbers and enjoy!

Recipe- Cheddar Cheese Soup

We ate a ton of soup earlier this year. This was one of our absolute favorites. The original recipe came from Epcot Food and Wine Festival Cookbook. I changed things up a little, but I think it’s just as good as the soup served at Food and Wine.

Here is the version we ate at Epcot in 2010. (along with chicken sausage and polenta from the Canadian booth).


And here’s my version.


1 onion, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
4 TB butter
1 cup flour
3 cups chicken stock
4 cups milk
1 pound grated cheddar cheese
1 TB hot sauce
1 TB Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, melt butter on Medium heat. Add celery and onion, cooking until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add flour and stir constantly for 4 minutes. Whisk in chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add milk and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes. Do not let soup get hot enough to boil.

Remove from heat and add in cheese, hot sauce, and W sauce. If soup is too thick (which mine usually is) add more milk.

This soup is fantastic served with fresh bread, like my Cheesy Onion Bread

iPhone birthday cake

On Friday I made a cake for Jason’s birthday. It’s always a bit of a challenge to make a dessert he’ll like. But I think this year was the most successful one I’ve made. We might actually finish the whole thing, which I don’t think has ever happened. It helped that he had three days off from work in a row. We spent them relaxing, watching TV, and eating cake. 🙂

My original idea was to make emoticon cupcakes. I found a bunch of cute ones on Pinterest, but the all involved fondant. Jason doesn’t like fondant, so I was wracking my brain for something fun to do with the cake. (It was a craptastic morning, so this was partly to cheer myself up).

I decided to go with an iPhone cake after seeing these adorable app cupcakes. This video was also really helpful and cute. I was still a little on the fence with the whole idea, until I saw that you can make your own homemade fondant. It was supposed to be way better than the store bought kind, so that pretty much sold me.

So I walked to the store (in the rain) and got my ingredients. I decided to go with a plain yellow box cake mix and chocolate whipped frosting. Then I’d make the “apps” out of fondant and food coloring and stick them on top. That way if he didn’t like them, he could just peel them off.

I came home and baked the cake. (I also attempted to make mint chocolate chip ice cream, but that was a total fail. Did I mention it was a rough day?) While the cake was cooling (and the ice cream was failing) I started mixing up the fondant.

I followed the recipe exactly. The only thing I would add it to be sure and use the dough hook instead of the paddle for mixing because the fondant is extremely thick. It’s pretty much the consistency of play dough.

I drew a diagram of how I wanted the cake to look. I figured out the apps I wanted to make and what colors I would need. Then I rolled out the fondant. I used a shot glass to measure out how big I wanted my apps to be. This wasn’t exact, but I needed a starting point to figure out how much of each color I’d need.


Mixing up the food coloring was probably my favorite part of the whole process. I like to squish things in my hands 🙂 Making the actual apps was a bit tedious, but so much fun!

Here is my final result-


In case you can’t tell from the picture, I made app icons for messenger, calendar, the weather app, foursquare, notes, calculator, camera, photos, iPod, timer, phone, and mail. The phone looks a little janky, but it’s supposed to look like it has the red “missed calls” badge.

Oh yeah and one other thing… I totally put Jason’s wrong age on the calendar and weather apps. He’s really 38. Fail…. but we already know I’m a terrible wife, so I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone, lol.


Cheesy Onion Bread Recipe


This is my new favorite bread of all time. I made it earlier this month, froze most of it, and have been eating it ever since. This was my first time ever baking then freezing bread. I’m a convert now.

Sorry for non- bread machine owners. This recipe is similar, only she makes rolls instead of a loaf.

3/4 cups water, plus 2 tablespoons
3 cups bread flour (I used all purpose)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dry milk
2 tsp. minced onion (I used 1.5 tsp. onion powder)
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. yeast

Put everything in loaf pan in the order listed and let ‘er rip on the White Bread cycle.

*Note- I have learned by trial and error that for bread cooked on the White Cycle, I need to cut 30 minutes from the baking time for a softer crust. I did that for this bread and it turned out perfectly.

Green Smoothies

Recently, A Beautiful Mess did a week of green smoothie recipes. I was intrigued because I wasn’t sure what exactly green smoothies were. After a little research, I discovered that they were just regular smoothies with some green stuff added in, like spinach or kale. Ohhhh, right. My sister has been raving about those for forever. So I thought I’d give them a try for a few days.

I’ll be up front. I don’t super love smoothies. They’re ok, but I don’t want to drink my calories. A big reason why I gave up soda a few months ago. And I really love whole fruit. Why mess it up by liquifying it?

But the more  looked into it, the more interesting green smoothies looked. So I decided to try it, using ingredients I already had in the house. Like those frozen mangoes that I don’t remember buying.

Here are a few that I tried last week. Everything is measured as 1 cup, unless otherwise noted.


Spinach + Frozen mixed fruit (strawberries, peaches, grapes, pineapple) + 1 banana + milk


Spinach + frozen mango + strawberries + banana + milk


Spinach + Mixed frozen fruit + banana + 1 orange, juiced + ice + splash of water


Spinach + whole peeled orange + strawberries + frozen mixed fruit + splash water


Spinach + apple (cored, peel on) + banana + celery stalk + ice + water

Some thoughts.

I actually liked them all! Some better than others.

I was running low on milk towards the end of the week so I switched to water. Both worked out fine and I couldn’t taste much of a difference.

Towards the end of the week I stopped really measuring, just throwing in a handful of spinach or fruit.

The only one I didn’t really love was the mango, and I’m going to try adding lime and mint next time I use it. I still have a ton of mint from the garden so I can use that.

I really like adding oranges into my smoothies. I juiced it the first time, but the second one I just peeled and plopped the sections in. Yum! I love lots of pulp, but if you don’t, you can juice your oranges and it’s still great.

I found that if I use bananas, I can’t taste the spinach at all. But if I don’t it has a slight grassy taste. I don’t mind it, but something to keep in mind. For me, bananas seem to disguise the spinach taste the most.

I really like the idea of adding more veggies into my smoothies, but Jason is not on board with the celery idea. I liked it. Made me want to make a bloody Mary. I’d like to try carrots sometime.

My favorite time to make a smoothie was before or after working out. Maybe it’s mental, but it makes me feel healthier. I’d drink mine, then give Jason the other half when he got home from work.

The best way to store a smoothie without having it separate is to store it in the fridge in an insulated cup or thermos. If you put it in a glass, it will separate and you’ll have to stir it. It’s still good, but smoothies in layers turn me off for some reason.

Smoothies will never ever be a meal replacement for me. I don’t like yogurt or protein powder in my smoothies, so they just don’t fill me up. Great for snacks though.

You can clean your blender between making smoothies my squirting a little dishwashing liquid in and filling it up about halfway with warm water. Be sure to cover your blender well. Then pulse it a couple of times and rinse.

So I think I like smoothies after all. Who knew? I don’t want them every day, but they’re a nice addition.