rice and corn with cilantro & avocado

this side dish makes me so happy, i’d probably eat it for the main course.
it is light, refreshing, and the perfect thing to go with anything on the grill.
it’s ingredients lean southwestern and mexican, so it goes really well with chips & fresh salsa or a big cheesy plate of enchiladas. i even think it would strike the perfect balance with a burger or a steak.

rice and corn with cilantro & avocado and lemon dressing
8 side-dish servings


1 cup long grain white rice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded & chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded & chopped (about 3/4 cup)

1 jalapeño, seeded & chopped

1 cup yellow zucchini, chopped

1 avocado, diced

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (about 1 bunch)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. cook 1 cup rice according to package directions (about 12-15 min). meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and 3 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl. season dressing to taste with salt & pepper.

2. heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. add corn, green bell & yellow bell pepper, jalapeño, and zucchini. sprinkle with just a bit of salt & pepper. saute until veggies are just tender, about 6-7 minutes. place in a large bowl.

3. add rice, green onions, cilantro, and dressing; toss to coat and serve. top each serving with diced avocado*.

* this recipe makes a pretty big batch so we had leftovers at the end of the evening. because of this,  i add the avocados in with each serving. otherwise, the avocado will turn brown with the leftovers in the fridge.


recipe adapted via bon appetit

black bottom (chocolate cream cheese) cupcakes

photo (31)

we had a little dinner party the other night that consisted of lemon pepper grilled chicken, corn & rice with cilantro and avocado, cheddar-green onion muffins and then we finished the meal with these: chocolate cream cheese cupcakes. i mean, after such a healthy meal, you need some cupcakes like these.

it’s genius really – someone figured out a way to breed the chocolate cupcake with cheesecake. the devil’s food cake outer part of the cupcake is rich and moist, and then you have the creamy cheesecake center, flecked with chocolate chips that melt in your mouth.

you can thank me later.

black bottom (chocolate cream cheese) cupcakes
makes 18 cupcakes


8 oz (1 package) cream cheese, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt

1 large egg

6 oz (half a package) semisweet chocolate chips

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract


1. preheat the oven to 350.

2. line muffin pans with foil or paper baking cups. using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. add the egg and mix well. fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

3. in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar, 3/4 tsp salt, the baking soda and cocoa powder. add 1 1/2 cups of water, the oil, vinegar and vanilla and stir until smooth.

4. fill each baking cup 2/3 full with the cake batter and top with 1-2 tbsp  of the cream cheese mixture.

5. bake until the edges are firm to the touch, about 25 minutes.

recipe via

spicy pinto bean dip

now that football season is upon us,
it’s only natural for one to crave nachos, chips and dips.
for me, the first dip i crave is this one, a spicy & creamy bean dip.
and it’s just a little bit sinful.
but worth every chip you dip in it.

spicy bean dip

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened

8 oz sour cream

2 16-oz cans fat free refried beans (regular or spicy)

1 package taco seasoning mix (or 2 tbsp of my homeade mix)

5 drops hot pepper sauce, such as tabasco OR about 1 tbsp+ sriracha (my personal favorite; you can use more, to taste)

2 tbsp dried parsley (or a little over 1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley)

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 8-oz package shredded cheddar cheese

1 8-oz package shredded monterey jack cheese


1. preheat oven to 350.

2. in a medium bowl, blend the cream cheese and sour cream. mix in the taco seasoning, green onions, and parsley and blend well. mix in the refried beans, hot pepper sauce, 3/4 of the cheddar cheese and 3/4 of the monterey jack cheese. transfer the mixture to a medium-sized baking dish (mine was a 12 inch oval). top with remaining cheddar & monterey jack cheeses.

3. bake for 20-30 minutes, until cheese is slightly browned.

recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
photo via

cake batter bars

i. love. batter.
anything i make that consists of batter, pre-baking – you can betcha i am licking that bowl and spatula until they’re dry.
(besides, a good friend told me once that it doesn’t have calories until you bake it. bless her.)
that is why i fell in love with these cake batter bars… BATTER.
i mean, aren’t you drooling a little bit? and the best thing is, you don’t have to worry about eating all the batter before you put it in the oven, because it’s pretty much still batter after you take it out!

funny story. the first time i made these there was way more batter than i thought and when i took it out of the oven (even after cooking it about 10 minutes longer than the recipe called for) it was basically brown and crisp on the outside and totally raw on the inside. learn from my mistake. READ THE DIRECTIONS. make sure you see that the recipe calls for 1 1/4 cup of the cake mix. NOT the whole box:)

cake batter bars

1 1/4 cup funfetti cake mix

3/4 cup AP flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 heaping tablespoons sprinkles of your choice (i used a whole, 1.75 oz container of sprinkles, which was about 4 heaping, and it was plenty)

1. preheat oven to 350F. grease an 8 x 8 inch pan (i’ve used a 9×12 and it worked fine too).

2. cream both sugars, butter, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk.

3. gradually mix in flour, cake mix, and baking soda until just mixed. stir in sprinkles.

4. spread batter evenly into greased pan.

5. bake for 30-35 minutes until top is lightly browned and middle still jiggles slightly. cool completely before cutting.

recipe & photo via

olive my love potato salad

this ain’t your grandma’s potato salad, y’all.

i made this gloriousness you see the other night and it was a big hit with the husband.
and my stomach.
it’s not mayo- or mustard-based, so it’s lighter and refreshingly saltier.
i am a big sour-taste fan and i love olives… and this potato salad made all my dreams come true. 
the recipe came from our good friend and it was written not as a recipe, but as a friend would tell you how to make it.
so i sort of put it into a recipe the way i would make it. and i do encourage you to check out her post (called the farmer’s market potato salad) about it to see what all you could do with it, if you’re feeling adventurous.
oooh, and if you’re wanting a pasta one night, i think this would be great as a pasta dish. just replace the cooked potatoes with a veggie rotini or even orzo pasta.

olive my love potato salad

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

3 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp caper brine (just straight out of a jar of capers)

1 tsp capers

1/3 cup (or so) spanish green sliced olives

1/3 cup (heaping) pitted, halved kalamata olives

28 ounces potatoes (i used ruby sensation, but you could also use a small red or gold – or mixed), chopped into bite-size pieces


1. put the cut up potatoes into a pot and cover them with water. add a generous pinch of salt and bring to a boil. cook until fork-tender (about 12-15 minutes).

2. while the potatoes are cooking, make the vinaigrette: put the first 7 ingredients into a jar and shake (or into a bowl and you can whisk them together).

3. drain the potatoes once they are done cooking and put them back into the pot. toss with the vinaigrette. (i started with about 1/4 cup of the dressing to begin with – dress. then taste. and add as much as you like. and you’ll have leftovers of the dressing for a salad tomorrow.)

*if you are able, toss the potatoes with the vinaigrette and then refrigerate overnight to let the potatoes really absorb the dressing.

4. if not, toss with the olives and pour into a serving dish and enjoy!

gwyneth’s B.L.A.T. sandwich

veggie B.L.A.T. sandwich

we all know gwyneth. and we all love gwyneth.
i especially love her – not only for the way she sings “forget you” in that episode of glee, but – for her love of food.

she makes this delightful sandwich called the BLAT, that she shared in her GOOP newsletter:
bacon, romaine lettuce, avocado & tomato.

veggie B.L.A.T. sandwich

1 tbsp olive oil

8 slices whole grain bread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

8 slices bacon (you could also use turkey bacon)

2 very ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 ripe avocado, sliced

romaine lettuce

salt & pepper


1. cook bacon according to instructions on package. spread each slice of bread with a tablespoon of mayonnaise, then sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. layer on top of 4 slices: bacon, tomato, avocado and lettuce. top with the remaining four slices.

cut each sandwich in half and serve.

speedy tomato soup

tomatoes and i don’t always have the best of relationships, i’d have to say.
BUT there are quite a few instances where i simply adore the red fruit (yes it is a fruit),
such as tacos, a B.L.A.T. sandwich, and a GOOD tomato soup. and this weather we have been having lately is making me excited for what is coming, like fall & chilly weather… sweaters… cozying up by our fire pit…
and enjoying warm, yummy soups.
i love this recipe mostly because it is so easy.
rarely do you find recipes that are ridiculously easy, yet really good; i’d-eat-this-several-times-a-week good.

speedy tomato soup
recipe by picky palate


1 10-ounce can petite diced tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped white onion

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt


1. place tomatoes, onions, cream, salt, pepper and garlic salt into a blender, blend until smooth, about 20 to 30 seconds.

2. pour into a medium saucepan over medium heat stirring until hot, about 5 minutes. serve with a hot, fresh grilled cheese sandwich.

photo via