Black Bean Veggie Dip

Highly addictive. You'll love it. Makes quite a lot, so bring it to a party to share!

Black Bean Veggie Dip

1 green pepper, diced
2 avodados, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup oil
1 T. lime juice
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 packet dry italian dressing mix
cilantro, finely chopped
green onion, chopped

Place peppers, tomatoes and avocados in serving bowl. Add Lime Juice to keep avocados green (can be done before or after they are added to the others, doesn’t really make a difference).
Add corn and black beans to bowl. Add chopped cilantro and green onions to taste (amount is up to you on how much you like). In a separate bowl, reconstitute Dry Italian Mix with oil and water (The packet will say to put vinegar in, DON’T). Add/stir into veggie bowl. Serve fresh with tortilla chips!

This is another Harding family classic.


Sweet n' Spicy Asian Chicken

The sauce on this chicken is so delicious. Mostly sweet, with a tiny kick. The recipe I used called this 'Bourbon Chicken'. It doesn't have any bourbon so I tried to come up with a more appropriate name. Either way it was very delicious, and of course, fast and easy! The sauce and chicken would go great with a veggie stir fry.

Sweet n' Spicy Asian Chicken

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons oil (for pan-frying)
cornstarch (for dusting)

1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon ginger (I used ground ginger)
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ cup apple juice
⅓ cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ cup water
⅓ cup soy sauce

Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces, and lightly dust with cornstarch. Heat oil in your wok and fry chicken bits in batches until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a bowl combine all sauce ingredients. Pour into wok and bring to a boil. Add chicken bits back to the pan, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve over rice, or by its self. Would also be great mixed with vegetable stir fry.

Recipe from my new favorite food blog, My Kitchen Cafe.


Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Moist, chocolatey... and the zucchini makes it healthy..... right.....?

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 ½ cups shredded raw zucchini
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup oil
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes). Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Recipe from JoyofBaking.com.


Fudge Brownies

One of those recipes you find and it haunts you until you make it. It didn't help that a friend made them after I'd seen the recipe on her blog, and after tasting them I knew how good they were. Rich and chewy and fudgy, everything a brownie should be. I never do brownies from scratch but these were so easy.

Fudge Brownies

1 cup butter, melted
3 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 x13 baking dish.
Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove, and cool pan on wire rack before cutting.
Dust with powdered sugar and top with raspberries before serving.

Recipe from the amazing Kelsey Egan.


Blueberry Boy Bait

So I'm slightly obsessed with blueberries lately. I made blueberry pancakes over the weekend that were just divine. And now it's Friday night and Klane's at scouts and what's a girl to do but bake when she's bored? I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and had to try it. With a name like that, how could you resist? I was a little misled thinking it was a dessert cake. It actually reminds me a little of my mom's breakfast cake, or a coffee cake. We had it for dessert but it worked better as breakfast. I added extra blueberries than the recipe calls for, and definitely didn't regret the decision.

Blueberry Boy Bait

2 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
¾ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk (though buttermilk, which was all I had on hand, worked just great)
½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, do not defrost first as it tends to muddle in the batter)

½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (do not defrost)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk two cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated and scraping down bowl. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping:
Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen (one of my very favorite food blogs).


Blueberry Muffins

Did you know July is National Blueberry Month? I didn't - I was informed by Klane, of all people. Anyway, blueberries were on sale this week. Hurray! Mmmm, maybe I'll make pancakes next. Or cake. Or bars. Or scones. I just can't get enough blueberries.

Blueberry Muffins

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 ½ cups blueberries
1 tablespoon flour (if using defrosted frozen berries)

1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower part of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each one. Beat in the grated lemon peel.
4. Beat in one half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yogurt. Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yogurt. Again be careful to beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat. Fold in the berries. If you are using frozen berries, defrost them first, drain the excess liquid, and then coat them in a light dusting of flour.
5. Grease a standard 12-muffin muffin pan. Distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups. Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick (we use a thin bamboo skewer) to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve slightly warm.

Makes 24 muffins.

They look so happy in there.

Recipe from Simply Recipes.

I should tell you a little secret. I often do not follow recipes because I don't have everything on hand. Whew - glad to get that off my chest. But the reason I'm telling you this is so you will know that you can still make this (and many other recipes) if you don't have every little ingredient. It might be a tad different but it will probably still be delicious. For example: I didn't have fresh lemons (so no lemon zest). Just added some lemon juice instead. Also, I got to the middle and realized I only had about 3/4 cup of vanilla yogurt. I attempted to make up the other 3/4 cup with sour cream and only had about 1/4 cup of that. So I used buttermilk. Well, actually, I didn't have buttermilk, so I used a buttermilk substitute, which is a cup of buttermilk mixed with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Goodness. That's a lot of random substitutions. And you know what? They turned out just perfect!

Coconut Curry Chicken

A stab at homemade Thai, from a very easy recipe by Kelsey Nixon Eagan.

Coconut Curry Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder
½ onion, thinly sliced
½ green bell pepper, sliced
½ red bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed, diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
2. Heat oil and curry powder in a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. (toast the spices for more flavor) Stir in onions, peppers and garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken, tossing lightly to coat with curry oil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in center and juices run clear.
3. Pour coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and sugar into the pan, and stir to combine. {Mine turned out pretty runny, I would drain the tomatoes to prevent this.} Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Serve over jasmine rice and garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Serves 6.


S'mores Bars

I saw this recipe on Kathryn's recipe blog and knew I had to try it. It definitely didn't disappoint.
Thanks, Kathryn!

S'mores Bars

½ cup butter, room temperature
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (approximately 7 full graham crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 super-sized (5 oz.) chocolate bars (I used Symphony bars)
1 ½ cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. Crush graham crackers in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin, then add flour, baking powder and salt to bag and shake to combine. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half. Press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. Two 5 oz. Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread marshmallow fluff evenly over the chocolate layer.

Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff. Flatten it out between your hands the best you can, place on top of fluff, and spread it to the edges using your fingers.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool and cut into bars. We served them warm with ice cream, which turned out delicious!

Recipe and photos from Kathryn.


Summer Strawberry Treat

A delicious and easy treat for any weeknight, or Saturday afternoon,
or party, or shower, or dinner, or romantic date.

Really it's good anytime. This is one of my favorite ways to eat whole strawberries.

Just dip strawberries in sour cream then roll in brown sugar. Yes, sour cream. It's amazing.