Saturday, May 23, 2009

Very Full Freezer

I've been packing my freezer until it can take no more! Now it's time to eat it all before it goes bad. Then, I'll pack it again.

Here's a menu plan for the next few weeks to get rid of all of it. Some of the items will be listed a couple of times because we have multiple of them prepared or because it's a family favorite. I'm going to number it so that I'm not stuck to a certain day of the week:
  1. Homemade pizza --
  2. Garlic Chicken and fettuccine
  3. Hamburgers & hot dogs
  4. Chicken tacos & black bean salsa
  5. Cheesy Mexican Chicken
  6. Chinese Chicken Salad
  7. Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches
  8. Chicken & Broccoli with corn bread
  9. Spaghetti Bake
  10. Chicken Garden Salad
  11. BBQ Salmon and baked potatoes
  12. Zippy Casserole
  13. Calzones
  14. French Dip Sandwiches
  15. Beef Fajitas
  16. Beef Shiskabobs
  17. Stromboli
  18. Breakfast Sandwiches
  19. Garlic Chicken Pasta
  20. Black Bean & Kielbasa soup and empanadas
  21. Chicken Pot Pie
  22. Spaghetti with meat sauce
  23. Chicken Nuggets & Fries
  24. Garlic Chicken & Fettuccine
  25. Stuffed Shells
  26. Calzones
  27. Chili & Corn bread
  28. Chicken Rice Salad
  29. Won tons and salad
  30. Stromboli
  31. Citrus Pork Chops
  32. Hamburgers & Hot dogs
  33. French toast & bacon
  34. Italian crock-pot chicken
  35. BBQ bacon & cheddar chicken
  36. Wild rice soup and whole wheat bread
  37. Chicken Kiev
  38. Chicken tacos & black bean salsa

I often save leftovers and freeze them in smaller sized portions. I've put these in vacuum sealed bags in the freezer and they're ready to defrost. So, for my lunches:

  1. Beef Stroganoff
  2. Wild Rice Soup
  3. Crustless Quiche
  4. Egg Rolls
  5. Calzones
  6. Black Bean Soup
  7. Stromboli

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nine-Patch quilt-a-long

So, I joined a quilt-a-long to make a beautiful nine-patch scrappy quilt. I love the idea. I have tons of fabric scraps. Yet, I found I couldn't motivate myself to get started. It was going to take a quilting therapist to figure out what the road-block was.

My therapist(a bowl of ice cream) and I sat down to talk. Together we figured it out. It was the scraps. I'm held back by the scraps. I love going to the store to pick out and match fabric. I love an organized, color-coordinated quilt. The adage to pick one or two fabrics that 'pop' isn't really my style. This quilt is really pushing me out of my comfort zone --- the colors don't match!!!! I recognize that's the beautiful thing about this quilt. But it's still a really large mental hurdle for me to conquer.
But, I decided that was exactly why I needed to buckle down and get going -- I'm about 20 squares behind right now. So, last night I went through my scraps and ironed them to see what was going to work for the 2.5" starting squares I need. Today I started cutting squares and 2.5" strips from the fabric. Before you know it, I'll have put together a scrappy quilt. Will I love it???? That's the question.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Easy Breezy Cheese Bread

This stuff is the best bread on the planet. Take it to a friend and they'll love you for life. I'm not exaggerating. Really! I should keep it to myself, but it's so good, I guess I'll share it -- you just have to give me credit :)

The original recipe comes from King Arthur flour. I love their products and all of their information. PLEASE use King Arthur bread flour when making this recipe -- you'll notice the difference. It'll raise higher, taste better and it isn't bromated, so it's much safer to use. I buy my flour at Walmart, so you can probably find it no matter where you live.
I have modified the original recipe so that it is now much easier to use. There are two ways to let the dough rise so that you get what you want -- more flavor or speedy results. It's up to you.
Cheese Bread

4 3/4 cups King Arthur bread flour
1 3/4 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
4 cups grated cheese -- we use a colby/monterey jack combo
Combine water, yeast and one cup flour. Mix well. Add salt. Slowly add the remaining flour. When the dough cleans the sides of the bowl, you'd added enough. Depending on the humidity, you may or may not need all of the flour called for.

Knead for 6-7 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly tough when you finish kneading.

Place in a well oiled bowl and cover. Choose your method for rising:
  • Speedy -- place in your oven and turn the light on. Let it rest for about 2 hours or slightly more than doubled in bulk.
  • Tasty -- If you can wait, put the dough in the fridge. We like it best when it's been in the fridge for 2-3 days before shaping it into loaves. This is called a 'cold rise' and it gives the dough a slightly sour flavor. Don't let it sit for more than a week or you really do get sourdough bread. Pull it out of the fridge about an hour before you plan to shape it into loaves, it's easier to work with that way.

Once your dough is risen, roll it out into a rectangle about 18 inches high by two feet wide.
Spread the cheese evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough as tightly as you can. If you let it flop, you'll get big air bubbles between the layers. Cut the dough in half.
Place it on a greased cookie sheet or in a bread pan. Cover. Let it rise for 65-80 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 425. Spray the bread with water just before you put it in the oven. This will give it a crunchier crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes depending on how dark you like the crust. We usually pull it out at about 35 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lynn Valley Lodge Coconut Cookies

When I lived in North Vancouver, we volunteered at a fun little rest home. I just loved the ladies there! My adopted 'Aunt Phil' was such a hoot, telling me about her escapades in her youth. There was a group of women that played Yahtzee every Tuesday and we would eat these cookies. I'm sure they've all long since left Lynn Valley one way or another, but I'll always imagine them dueling over the little tables every time I eat these cookies.

Lynn Valley Lodge Coconut Cookies


2 sticks butter
1 ¼ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ cup rolled oats
¾ cup coconut


Beat butter, sugar and egg until smooth and creamy.

Combine remaining ingredients.

Bake at 300 for 10-12 minutes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Plan for 5/10 to 5/16

We were so-so at following last weeks menu. It just wasn't fun to cook -- I wanted to be outside working on the garden. I'm hoping to do better this week.

Here you go:

Sunday -- Fettuccini and French Peasant Bread

Monday -- eat out

Tuesday -- Stromboli

Wednesday -- Zippy Casserole

Thursday -- Clark's Favorite Pork Chops and yummy potatoes

Friday -- Spinach, Chicken and Pasta Salad

Saturday -- Calzones

Clark's Favorite Pork Chops

I often make this dish for company. It's easy to put together the night before, and just pop it in teh oven an hour before dinner. Choose a nice looking baking dish because you really don't want to transfer this to a serving plate -- the onion and lemon will fall off the chops.

Clark's Favorite Pork Chops

8 pork chops
8 lemon slices
8 onion slices
16 tablespoons brown sugar
16 tablespoons ketchup

Arrange pork chops in a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.

Top each pork chop with one lemon slice, then one onion slice, then two tablespoons brown sugar, then two tablesppons ketchup.

Cover and bake for 45 mintues at 350 degrees.

Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.

This recipe comes from the Favorites cookbook.

Spinach, Chicken and Pasta Salad

Another one of my favorite recipes from the Favorites Cookbook. I'll be the first to admit when you start eating this salad, you think, "Well, it's OK. Kinda average." Then something kicks in. You can't stop eating it. At family functions we always ask my husband's aunt to make this salad. After every one's been through the buffet line, most of the women gather around this salad, picking pieces out with their fingers. You just can't resist it.

Spinach, Chicken and Pasta Salad

16 oz bowtie pasta, cooked al dente
1 (10 oz) bag fresh spinach
1 (6 oz) bag craisins
3 (11 oz) cans Mandarin oranges, drained
2 (8 oz) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 oz honey roasted peanuts
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup bottled Teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
6 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Cook pasta
2. Blend dressing ingredients together in a blender or food processor.
3. Mix dressing and cooked pasta in medium bowl and marinate for at least two hours(I do it overnight)
4. Combine rest of salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
5. Add pasta/dressing combination and toss.
6. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Making Calzones

I really love calzones. It's taken me a few years to learn some things about making them.

One of the most important is starting with good dough. Here's a great recipe -- it works every time. I divide it into three pieces -- eating one and freezing two for pizza or calzones later. Each piece will make four calzones or one large thin-crust pizza. People in our family eats two calzones each.

Step #1 --Roll out the dough, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

Step #2 -- Divide into fourths with a pizza cutter. On top of one half of each fourth I put a slice of ham, a tablespoon of ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella, four slices pepperoni and a little bit of Mexican blend cheese.
Step #3 -- Fold over the empty half of the dough and seal together. Cut a slice into the top of each calzone as a steam vent. (If you have trouble with cutting dough, spray your sharpest knife with cooking spray and go for it!) Placed on a greased cookie sheet.
Step #4 -- Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Turn the pan half-way through baking.

Step #5 -- Be sure to move to a cooling rack if you'll be waiting to eat them. Just like all bread, the bottom will get soggy if left in or on the pan.

Zippy Casserole

Growing up, this was a family classic. We had it ALL the time. In college, I'd make it for my roommates for Sunday dinner. No fancy-schmancy, but tasty all the same.

Zippy Casserole
1 lb macaroni, cooked according to directions, drained
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1 green pepper, finely diced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 lb cheddar cheese grated

1. Cook and drain pasta
2. Brown and drain ground beef
3. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
4. Combine noodles, beef, pepper, cream of mushroom soup, ketchup and half of the cheese together.
5. Top with the remaining cheese
6. Bake for 45 minutes covered, uncover for 15 minutes more, or until cheese is desired texture.

French Peasant Bread

This is a very simple bread to make. It is absolutely fantastic to eat! It's very similar to Macaroni Grill's appetizer bread that they bring to the table.

French Peasant Bread

1 package dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons butter

1. Place yeast, water, sugar and salt in a warm bowl and stir until dissolved.
2. Add flour and stir until blended, but DO NOT KNEAD.
3. Cover and let rise one hour or until doubled in size.
4. Flour hands, remove dough from the bowl and place in 2 rounds on an oiled cookie sheet.
5. Let rise an additional hour.
6. Brush the top with melted butter and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.
7. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and cool an additional 15 minutes.
8. Remove from the oven and brush again with butter. (I like to top with a good shake of salt as well)
9. Serve warm. We like to dip the warm bread in basalmic vinegar.

This is another from Favorites. Love that cookbook this week!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Food storage organization

I've been working for the past couple of months to organize my pantry and food storage. If finally feels under control. Here is my beautiful on the door spice rack:
I have two small spice racks on order to finish it off. They should arrive next week. I'm so glad I bought this rack -- it's made finding things so much easier.

Next is my new and improved pantry storage boxes. These are made from Lock & Lock, and are available at most Target and Walmart stores. I cut the vinyl labels myself and put them on. There are boxes for: all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, rice, wheat, oats, pancake mix, brown sugar, powdered sugar, chocolate chips, powdered milk, crackers, and one that's still empty. They are so easy to use and each holds either a 5 lb. bag, a #10 can or a mylar pouch. So no matter where the pantry stock comes from, I can fit it into my containers.
For my over the counter cupboards, I decided to use small storage containers from Ikea for all the little snack food we eat constantly like raisins, teddy grahams, croutons, etc. I use the big ones on the top shelf for pasta. I store extra boxes behind the containers. That way we eat what's open first.
In the basement I have shelves from Costco that I use to hold all the canned goods. I also have special storage bins (not pictured) to hold extra flour and powdered milk. It's all packed in animal proof containers. Love it!
Now with this new organized approach, I can see what I have on hand for my three month supply of food. If my tax return had been larger, I honestly would have preferred to get this mammoth $400 storage rack.

(Costco is currently selling the shelf reliance system for $100 less than the website. Had I known that a few weeks ago, I might have purchased it. Oh well!)

It just didn't work out this year. I will say, I'm pretty proud of how the Costco shelves turned out. I can reach over the top of the food to put the newly purchased items at the back. That way I'm rotating the food as we use it, and nothing should ever reach an expiration date -- in theory anyway.

Next step -- three month tracking spreadsheet to share -- coming soon!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu plan for 5/3 to 5/9

I was really good at following last week's menu. We ate six of seven dishes during the week. I did move a couple around and we ate one for lunch, but we still followed the plan(except the one night when we were one hour away from home and had to go to Arby's).

I'm hoping that by making and following my plan, we'll waste less fresh produce and save money in the process. Here's this week's plan:

Sunday -- Chicken in a Pot with rice
Monday -- Crock-pot Chicken Cacciatore with fettuccine noodles
Tuesday -- Chicken tacos and black bean salsa in honor of Cinco de Mayo
Wednesday -- Chinese Chicken Salad
Thursday -- Navajo Tacos
Friday -- Panera
Saturday -- Beef Stroganoff

Wish me luck!

Chinese Chicken Wonton Salad

Ohhh baby! I love this salad! Ever had the Cheesecake Factory's version??? This one is definitely as tasty.

This recipe comes from one of the three cookbooks every woman should own.

Chinese Chicken Wonton Salad

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 package wontons, cut into thirds
1 head iceberg lettuce, torn into pieces
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 (4 oz) package slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
1 bunch green onions, chopped


4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Boil chicken breasts until cooked and slice into small pieces.
2. Fry wontons in vegetable oil until crispy and cool on paper towels.
3. In a large salad bowl, mix together chicken and wontons with lettuce, oranges, water chestnuts, almonds, green onions and sesame seeds.
4. Toss with dressing and serve immediately.

TIP: I often make all the ingredients, but leave them in separate containers -- do not mix with the dressing until just before eating. Each item will stay fresh and crispy for a few days and I can make the salad for a week's worth of lunches.

Navajo Tacos

This is my husband's favorite meal.

Navajo Tacos

1 lb bread dough
1 can chili (we use Cattle Drive Chicken Chili)
1/2 cup cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tomatoes, diced

1. Shape small pieces -- about one ounce -- of bread dough into flat disks. Let rise one hour.

2. Fry the disks in at least 1/2 inch oil until golden brown -- these are now what is called 'scones' out West.

3. Warm the chili.

4. Top the scones with chili, cheese, sour cream, and tomatoes.

Beef Stroganoff

I LOVE beef stroganoff. It's not my hubby's favorite, so I often cook it when I know he's going to be eating dinner elsewhere. I usually add a little extra Worcestershire sauce to the meat when browning. This is another recipe I make once and vacuum seal the rest into a few portions for a quick lunch another day.

Beef Stroganoff

1 pound beef stew meat
½ pound mushrooms
½ onion
1 Tablespoon butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 dash garlic salt
1 dash pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sour cream
Broccoli (optional)
4 cups egg noodles

Melt butter. Lightly brown meat, onion and mushrooms in sauce pan over low heat.

Add everything but the sour cream and egg noodles to a crock pot and simmer on low for 4-6 hours.

Serve over egg noodles.

Crock-pot Chicken Cacciatore

I usually cut the following recipe in half for my small family and we still have enough for eating dinner twice. I just vaccum seal the second half for another night.

Crock-pot Chicken Cacciatore

6 chicken breast halves (skinless, boneless)
1 jar spaghetti sauce (28 ounce)
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cubed
1 onion, finely diced
2 TBSP minced garlic
1 TBSP butter

Put the chicken in the slow cooker.

Top with the spaghetti sauce, green bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.

Cover, and cook on Low for 7 to 9 hours.

Serve over angel hair pasta.

Chicken in a Pot

This one is a classic, but just in case you haven't seen it:

Chicken in a Pot

1 lb Frozen Chicken Breasts
1 packet Italian Salad Dressing mix
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 cans cream of chicken soup or cream of mushroom

Put chicken breast in crock pot and sprinkle with packet of dressing.

Cook for 5-6 hours on low or until chicken is cooked through.

Take chicken out and cut into pieces. Return Chicken to the pot.

Add remaining ingredients.

Cook for another hour stirring several times throughout.

Serve over rice or pasta.

Freezes well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I just joined the quilt-a-long at Crazy Mom Quilts. I'm really excited to participate! I hope it helps me find my sewing motivation. I've been a little pre-occupied with the garden lately and haven't pulled out my sewing machine in a couple of weeks.

For the quilt-a-long, we'll be making a scrappy nine-patch pattern. Should be fun and hopefully scrap cleansing too. I'll post my progress, promise!

Planting my garden

I'm still building my garden's framework, though it's almost finished. I'm hoping to have seeds in the ground before next weekend. We just have to figure out how to move the frame from the garage to the great outdoors.

This week I've been deciding what to plant in my 28 squares of my square foot garden. I have two rows of 14 squares each. In my research into different varieties and types of each plant, I've selected a small sampling. This is mostly so that I can learn what will grow in our garden. Secondary to that is to learn which varieties we prefer. I'm particularly interested in the tomatoes. My favorite tomato is the campari type. I can eat an entire plate full with just a little salt. I'd eat them at every meal -- even breakfast. Unfortunately, I can't find the plants available for purchase anywhere, and I'm not talented enough yet to grow them from the seeds leftover from dinner. Because my entire family feels the way I do about a tasty tomato, I've chosen to go with all indeterminate(means produces until the frost) varieties. We'll see how that pans out as the season goes along.

My garden has taken quite a bit of thought, and of course an Excel spreadsheet. I've copied and pasted things around in Excel for weeks trying to come up with the perfect combination. Because so much of what I want to plant will need to grow vertically, the entire back row will be trellised. All of the plants requiring trellis subsequently have to be placed on that back row. Good thing we went for a long garden!

Here are the intricate details:

The Back Row:

The Front Row:

  • Square #1 -- Cucumber(Marketmore 76) from seeds

  • Square #2 -- Lettuce -- Romaine(Parris Island Cos Lettuce) -- I'll be rotating the planting in this square. The first planting will be a transplant from the store. I'll also plant seeds at 10-14 day intervals after that for good crop rotation. I'm a bit worried about when the lettuce will go to seed because of heat. But, since I don't know when that will happen, I'm going to try to grow as much as possible until then.

  • Square #3 -- Lettuce -- Salad Bowl Lettuce -- again, I'll purchase one then plant the others from seed.

  • Square #4 -- Lettuce -- Great Lakes Lettuce -- again, I'll purchase one then plant the others from seed.

  • Square #5 -- Lettuce -- Bibb Lettuce-- again, I'll purchase one then plant the others from seed.

  • Square #6 -- Green peppers

  • Square #7 -- Herbs -- small patches of cilantro, parsley & chives

  • Square #8 -- Red peppers

  • Square #9 -- Spinach -- Teton Hybrid Spinach from seeds

  • Square #10 -- Jalapeno peppers

  • Square #11 -- Spinach -- transplant from the store

  • Square #12 -- Yellow peppers

  • Square #13 -- Onion -- Spanish sweet and red onion

  • Square #14-- Sweet 100 Cherry tomato

Friday, May 1, 2009

Beautiful Birds

I live in a beautiful marshy town. Long time residents have purchased hundreds of acres of land within the town limits to save as nature sanctuaries. Large, marshy areas without homes or developments have led to a HUGE bird population. With the return of spring, the birds are out all over the place. It's so noisy! There are so many fun calls and sounds. You can readily see on my street:

Black-capped Chickadee

I've found this great website that helps you to identify birds. They have many tools to help you find the birds you may have seen outside using shape, color, location etc. My favorite piece of the website is that they include the sound that each bird makes. Go visit any page for a bird and they'll have a link to that bird's call. Our family favorite is the Chickadee, if I could figure out how to link to the sound I would, but you're just going to have to click on the Chickadee link above to hear it for yourself. :) My least favorite is the mourning dove -- it's my unofficial alarm clock every morning around 6:45 AM. The bird has some serious time keeping skills. I'll admit I shake my fist in the air at the pesky dove. Really, can't it wait 15 more minutes????

Maybe someday I'll be able to recognize and identify all my flying neighbors just by the way they say hello.

Square Foot Garden, Step #1: The Box

This is the first step to building your square foot garden. I should clarify at the very beginning here that neither my husband nor I have any carpenter's training. This is all from personal experience. Right or wrong, this is how we did it. :)

Our garden space is slightly unusual, but it's what we need for our yard. We'll be making a box that is 14 feet long and two feet deep. It will sit along the fence at the side of our house.

Because of where we live and the animals of our surrounding forest, we'll be building a fence around the garden. The instructions for the fencing and building the fence will be posted later. These are only the supplies needed to build the shell of the box. Here it goes!!!

Box Total: $25.60

Supplies Needed:
  • Boards -- 5 wood boards measuring 2 inches X 6 inches X 8 feet. As you are selecting your boards, be very careful to watch for warping. We had to go back and get another because we forgot to check them at the hardware store.
  • Wood screws -- one package of 3 inch screws

Tools Required:

  • Drill
  • Screwdriver

Step #1 -- Purchase supplies and have wood cut. While still at the hardware store, have them cut the wood for you. It's so much easier than doing it at home. You will need your five boards cut as follows:

  • Board #1 -- Cut two feet off the end, leaving one piece six feet and the other two feet long -- this is one side of the six foot box and one end piece
  • Board #2 -- Cut two feet off the end, leaving one piece six feet and the other two feet long -- this is the second side of the six foot box and the other end piece
  • Board #3 -- Cut two feet off, then another two feet off and leave the four foot piece remaining. The two foot sections will be the end of the larger box
  • Boards #4 and #5 should be left alone, you need them to be 8 feet long.

Step #2 -- Place your boards out as you intend the box to look. It will help you to see any mistakes in placement or warped boards. It is important that the two foot piece is placed on the inside of the larger pieces. If you don't you will not leave enough room for "square feet" in your garden. It will be too narrow.

You will be making two separate boxes if you follow these plans exactly --

  • 28 inches by 8 feet (you get 28 inches by the 24 inch board plus two for each side board)
  • 28 inches by 6 feet

Step #3 -- Pre-drill holes for the screws. You will be putting two screws at each joint, so you will need to pre-drill two holes starting on the outside piece of wood first. Be sure to drill all the way into the second board. It will help to pull the pieces together tighter when you place the screws.

If you plan on putting fencing around your garden, be sure to leave space for the screws that will hold the fence post up at each corner. You will want to put one post screw at the top and one near the bottom.

As for drilling the holes, over time, we learned that drilling the two holes for one corner, then putting in the screws at that same location was actually faster than pre-drilling all of the holes all at once.

Step #4 -- Put two screws at each joint. Place your screws into the drilled holes and either use the drill or screwdriver to attach the two boards together. Make sure that the two boards pull together to form a tight joint.

Optional Step #5 -- Attach the two separate boxes together. We placed three screws on the middle boards to hold the boxes together. We will be surrounding the two boxes with a common fence, so we didn't want them to separate later.

Yahoo! Your boxes are complete! Tune in later for making the fence, the dirt and actually planting the garden.

Black Bean Salsa

This one is a treasure! My family loves it -- the kids will eat it with a spoon.

I tried something similar at a friend's house last summer and I tweaked the recipe to suit my taste buds. I love vinegar, so I put in a lot. You might want to try adding some and tasting before you add more than you'll enjoy.

Also, you HAVE to use the fiesta ranch version of the Hidden Valley dip. If you use the normal version, the dip has a very odd smell.

I serve this on chicken tacos, with chips or in a salad. But, it really is tasty just on a spoon too.

Black Bean Salsa


1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
6 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ package Fiesta Ranch Dip by Hidden Valley


Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Add additional salt, pepper, or more lime juice as necessary.