Spicy White Bean Dip


One pantry item that I almost always have on hand is canned beans.  Whether it’s white, garbanzo, pinto or black.  Beans are always great to have on hand to make a dip or add into a dish as a healthy protein.

For this dip, I’ve used white beans.  I decided to make this dip a bit smoother, almost like a hummus.  You can certainly keep it chunkier if you like.  Just process it a little less.



Throw a can of white beans into your food processor or blender with olive oil and garlic.



Now add in the fun seasonings like curry powder and Sriracha hot sauce for extra flavor.  If you like it extra spicy, you can add in another tablespoon of hot sauce.  I stayed with one tablespoon of Sriracha because of my kids.  You know how they can be!

If you notice the dip is too thick, you can stream in some water until you get the consistency you like.


Spicy White Bean Dip

1 15oz can of white beans (rinsed and drained)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce

1 large clove of garlic

½ tsp curry powder

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

Pita chips


In a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Blend until smooth.
Serve with pita chips or your favorite crackers.

Kale Chips


Okay, I’m jumping on the kale bandwagon too!  I know I’m a little late, but I was so happily surprised by how well these chips came out, I had to post about it.



Besides being a superfood filled with nutrients, this is also very easy to make.  Just 4 easy steps!  Start with washing and cutting the kale into bite-sized pieces.  Make sure to dry thoroughly as well.



Spread out the leaves on a large sheet pan, with no overlapping pieces.  Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.



Once thoroughly coated, lay flat and throw it in the oven.



The oven does all the work.  Here are your crunchy, flaky chips that are also good for you.  Doesn’t get any better than that!


Kale Chips

1 bunch kale

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tear the kale leaves from the thick stems, then tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner and lay flat on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake until the edges are brown, but not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Greek 3-Layered Dip


I found this gem of an appetizer at a women’s function at my church recently.  When there is a potluck going on and you see a small huddle of women gushing and pointing at one particular dish, you know it’s gotta be good!  Well, I wasn’t surprised to find that I was right.  It was this savory and rich dip that we all could not get enough of.  Literally, there were only little bits of scrapings left by the time I got over to the dish.  I had to make it for myself to satisfy my taste buds’ craving for the flavor.



In short, it starts with a layer of hummus



then a layer of tzatziki sauce



and lastly, this Greek salad to top it off with even more flavor and color.  I made this salad and let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes and then strained off the liquid that comes out of the tomato and cucumbers.



The completed dip is just Greek heaven to my taste buds!  The hummus is creamy rich and the tzatziki sauce with Greek yogurt, cucumbers and dill give a great cooling tang to your tongue. However, it’s the salad on top that makes the whole dip.  It has grape tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives and fresh parsley. Altogether, it just makes for a fresh and healthy snack.



I served the dip with store-bought pita chips and also soft pita bread cut into triangles.  I brought this dish to a Christmas party this week and the red and green colors added to the festive colors of the holidays. It was a hit!


Here is my link to my basic hummus recipe:  https://kareninthekitchen.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/hummus-three-ways/

Tzatziki Sauce
From Brown Eyed Baker

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and cut into large chunks
1½ teaspoons kosher salt (for draining cucumber)
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, grated
4½ teaspoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh dill

Place the cucumber in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Let sit and drain for 30 minutes. Dry thoroughly with paper towels, then chop very finely. Combine the finely chopped cucumber with the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and dill.

Tomato Cucumber Salad

10.5 oz pkg grape tomatoes, cut into quarters

1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, chopped

1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 lemon, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Toss all ingredients into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Pour the salad into a colander and drain out the liquid and serve.

The Year of the Dragon

Happy Chinese New Year!  Supposedly, the year of the dragon is the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.  So, if you’re a dragon, live it up this year.

Here are a few of my favorite Chinese dishes I’ve shared with you before.  Hope this inspires you to try making and eating some new Chinese food this year.

Click on the name of each dish to take you to the recipe.

Green Onion Pancake

Pork Potstickers

Chicken and Shrimp Chow Fun

Lion Head Meatballs

Spicy Tofu and Edamame Beans

Pork and Prawn Dumplings

Homemade Salsa

According to an old Seinfeld episode, salsa ranks #1 in America as the top condiment of choice, over ketchup.  I did not know this.  But, after tasting this homemade salsa, I can see why!

On this particular day that I made this refreshing salsa, I didn’t know that I was going to also be giving my kitchen counter tops a thorough cleaning.

Read on to find out how it all came about.

In your trusty food processor, add in chopped onions and fresh garlic.

Next pour in the cans of tomatoes.

Of course, salsa would not be salsa without jalapeno and lime.

Here’s where it got interesting.  Let’s play a game of I Spy.  Can you spot something wrong with this picture?

Have you found the lovely stream of pink fluid exiting my food processor?  If you’ve ever overfilled your food processor before, enough to fill your counter with a puddle of about 2 feet in diameter, please raise your hand.

Yeah, me too!

Picture me finally noticing the liquid all over the counters and scrambling around the kitchen to find a bowl big enough to dump the tomatoes into.  I lost about half of the tomato juice.

But, my kitchen counter tops got a really good cleaning that day!

Learn from my mistake and make sure you don’t overfill past the lovely line that the good people at Cuisinart put on the bowl.

Even with the little mishap with the food processor, the salsa came out amazingly!  The cold sweet tomatoes coupled with the spicy jalapeno and sour lime gave my tongue a lot to think about, in a good way.  Dipping a salty tortilla chip into the bowl and taking a bite transported me to my favorite Mexican Restaurant instantly.

I made enough to fill about 2 of these containers.

You will love the fresh taste of making your own salsa.  It definitely beats the stuff in the jar.  And using the salsa in the jar won’t help you clean your counter tops either! LOL

Restaurant Style Salsa

From The Pioneer Woman


1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice

2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)

1/4 cup Chopped Onion

1 clove Garlic, Minced

1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin

1/4 teaspoon Sugar

1/4 teaspoon Salt

1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)

1/2 whole Lime Juice


Note: this is a very large batch.

Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Corn and Black Bean Guacamole

This guacamole is an amazing way to stretch your avocado budget.  I can’t believe I bought them for $2 a piece!!  Fortunately,  I have an avocado tree in my backyard now.  Unfortunately, they’re only the size of golf balls right now.  I’ll have to wait for them to ripen so my avocado budget can balance out a bit.

I could seriously have eaten the whole bowl of this guacamole.  The flavors of sweet corn, tangy lime and fresh tomato and cilantro are a reminder of why I love summer recipes. YUM!

Corn and Black Bean Guacamole

2 avocados

1 ear of corn, boiled and cut off the cob

½ can (8 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tomato, diced

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

1 lime

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 tsp hot sauce

Put avocado in a bowl and smash with a fork.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.  Cover and chill for one hour for flavors to marry.  Enjoy with tortilla chips.

Tomato Bruschetta

Once in a while, my husband and I have dinner dates at home.  We feed the children dinner and send them off to bed a little early so we can have some fun in the ………………….kitchen, of course!  What were you thinkin’?

This tomato bruschetta is my husband’s specialty.  Yup, he’s cute and he can cook.  What can I say?  I’m a lucky girl!

On these dinner dates at home, we do appetizers for dinner.  In addition to bruschetta, we have smoked salmon, a cheese platter and some Italian deli meats.  I think that finger foods are romantic too.  Yes, there is fresh garlic in the bruschetta, but we’re both eating it so the smell cancels out!



Good tomato bruschetta must start with good tomatoes.  So don’t skimp on that.  Make sure they are plump and ripe.  Fresh basil is of course a must as well.   Since we’re going down this route, make sure you have good olive oil and balsamic vinegar too.

We have found a wonderful way to use the bruschetta leftovers too.  The next morning, my hubby makes a cheese omelette and throws some of this on top.  Pure genius and it gives a good kick to your breakfast.


Tomato Bruschetta


6 roma tomatoes, chopped

3 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


For toast

1 French baguette

olive oil

2 garlic cloves, cut in half


Preheat the oven on broiler setting.

In a medium bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Cut the baguette into 3/4-inch slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer and drizzle some olive oil over them. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.  Rub the cut side of the garlic on each slice of baguette.

Top the baguette with tomato mixture and enjoy!

Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

Bacon.  Blue Cheese.  Enough said!

Okay, not really.  I’ve got a lot to say about these tasty little bites.

I brought these to a New Year’s Eve party at my friend, Katie’s house and everyone loved them. They’re fun and festive and pop into your mouth in just one bite.

I love a warm appetizer.  The crunch and saltiness from the bacon was a great contrast to the pillowy soft dough.  The cream cheese with the chive and onion also gave the whole thing a great flavor.  The bacon played well with the tang of the blue cheese too.

This is also super easy to make because I used a  refrigerated crescent dough.



The lovely bits of crunchy bacon.  The smell perfumed my kitchen, hair and clothes.

I had dogs sniffing me up after cooking this.  I think my husband tried to get a wiff of me too!



Blue cheese all crumbled up.  Not the best smelling cheese, but mighty tasty.

Especially when it’s wrapped up with the bacon.


I used the onion and chive flavored cream cheese to save me some time.  Spread it evenly over the crescent dough.



Then spread the bacon and the blue cheese over the whole thing.

I’m not sure why my blue cheese looks like it’s glowing, but it really wasn’t.   The think the photo got a bit too much light.



Now roll that sucker up and cut off the ends.



Cut them into half inch slices.  I used two rolls of crescent dough, which made about 75 pieces.

Don’t bake your spirals this close together, as I show in the picture.  I just transported them to Katie’s  house this way.  When I got there, I took half of them off and repositioned the spirals with more space in between.  They don’t puff up much, but I didn’t want them to stick together.

Enjoy them warm!



Bacon Blue Cheese Spirals

2 cans crescent dough

8 oz container onion chive cream cheese

8 slices bacon, diced, cooked until crispy

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lay out one sheet of crescent dough and with a rolling pin, form into a rectangle.  Pinch together the seams if the dough starts to split.  Spread ¼ of the cream cheese on the dough, avoiding the edges.  Sprinkle ¼ of the bacon and ¼ of the blue cheese evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough into a log and set aside.  Repeat the steps with the other three pieces of crescent dough.

Cut each dough log into about 10-12 pieces.  Lay the spirals flat onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Bacon Mushroom Tartlets

You know how sometimes little appetizers are just a tease and you don’t really feel like you get enough of it to be satisfied?  This is definitely not the case here.

The flavor of this filling is super rich and decadent.  With the hearty mushroom flavor complemented by the bacon, you can’t go wrong………..unless you don’t like mushrooms…………or bacon.

Seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t like bacon?  I think not!

When I serve appetizers, I like to serve at least one that is a warm dish, especially in the winter.  Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice crudite platter too, but it gets a little old.

I guarantee this tartlet will not disappoint your guests.  They are a hearty appetizer that gets your stomach ready for the big meal to come!


Bacon Mushroom Tartlets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 package (8 oz) fresh mushrooms, finely chopped

4 slices bacon, chopped fine, cooked until crisp

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup cream cheese

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls


Heat oven to 350°F. In skillet add oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic; mix well. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender. Add in the flour and mix until it is cooked.  Add heavy cream and parmesan cheese; mix well. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of liquid has evaporated. Remove mixture to a bowl and allow it to cool.  Mix in the cream cheese, bacon and chives to cooled mushroom mixture.

Unroll crescent roll dough into 2 long rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal.  Cut each rectangle into 12 squares. Place 1 square in each of 24 ungreased miniature muffin cups. Firmly press in bottom and up sides of cups, leaving corners of dough extended over edges of cups. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon mushroom mixture into each cup.

Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Remove tartlets from pan. Serve warm.





Brie En Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts


I am a lover of cheese and if you are too, then you will love this appetizer!  I could actually eat this as a meal all by itself, but I like to share, so I did.

Brie en croute is French for brie in a crust.  It is a descriptive name, but doesn’t do it justice when it comes to the taste.

I made this brie en croute for my Bunco group and it was great to have all the ladies huddled around this dish wondering what is was and why it tasted so good.


Many recipes call for puff pastry, but I had a couple rolls of crescent dough in the fridge, so that’s what I used.

I also used some leftover homemade cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving.  The tart sweetness played really well with the creamy warm cheese.  And of course we needed some texture, so the walnuts did their job too!


Here is the whole tasty bundle wrapped up in the crescent dough.  It doesn’t look very pretty here, but after it’s time in the oven it came out beautifully golden brown and crispy.


Brie en Croute with Cranberries and Walnuts

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

1 round (8 oz) Brie cheese

1/2 cup homemade cranberry sauce

1/3 cup dried cranberries, softened*

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 egg, beaten


Heat oven to 350°F.

If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate crosswise into 2 sections. Pat dough and firmly press perforations to seal, forming 2 squares. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut crosswise into 2 rectangles. Pat dough to form 2 squares.

Place 1 square on ungreased cookie sheet. Place cheese on center of dough. Spoon cranberry sauce, softened cranberries and walnuts on top of the cheese.

Place remaining square on top of cheese round. Press dough evenly around cheese; fold bottom edges over top edges. Gently stretch dough evenly around cheese; press to seal completely. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm with crackers.

*To soften cranberries, mix dried cranberries and 1/2 cup hot water in bowl. Let stand 1 minute. Drain and pat dry.