This Buffalo Chicken Black Bean Dip is not only addictive, it’s microwave easy. Served with tortilla chips, crackers, bread, or celery sticks, it’s sure to be a hit.


8 oz reduced fat cream cheese

1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-15 oz can Hormel No-Bean Chili

12 oz shredded deli chicken

1/3 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

2 tbsp diced jalapeños (I used Mezzetta’s “Tamed Jalapeño Peppers)

Chips, Crackers, Bread, Celery–anything dippable 🙂

1) In large microwave-safe bowl, microwave cream cheese 1 minute; remove from microwave and stir in black beans, no-bean chili, deli chicken, and hot wings sauce; microwave 3 minutes, stir, microwave another 2 minutes; remove from microwave

2) Spread dip in large casserole dish, top with cheddar cheese and jalapeños and microwave an additional 1 minute until cheese melts; remove from microwave and serve with “dippable” of your choice; yum!

Servings: 8-10


It’s been too long since I made this recipe and, let me tell you, it’s been missed. What makes it stand out is the chipotle chiles and the tomato-avocado-lime topping. Super yum!

Pork and Chipotle Bean Nachos

4 slices turkey bacon

1 lb ground pork (or beef or chicken)

1 tsp sea salt, divided

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1-16 oz can fat-free refried beans (great alternative: 1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed)

3 tbsp water

3 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

1 tsp chili powder

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced

2 green onions, sliced thin

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups tortilla chips

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro, salsa, sour cream

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees

2) In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp; remove from heat and chop fine

3) To same skillet over medium-high heat, add pork, 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1/2 tsp), and pepper; cook 5-6 minutes until just cooked through; remove from heat, drain, and transfer to bowl; set aside

4) To same skillet over medium heat, add refried beans, water, 1 tbsp lime juice (reserving 2 tbsp), chipotle chiles, bacon, 1/2 tsp reserved salt, and chili powder; stirring often, cook 4-5 minutes until warmed through; remove from heat and set aside

5) To medium-sized bowl, add tomatoes, avocado, green onions, 2 tbsp reserved lime juice, and olive oil; gently mix to combine; set aside

6) Spread tortilla chips in large roasting pan and drop refried bean mix evenly over chips (you may need to add a bit more water to beans); scatter pork over beans, followed by cheese; bake in oven 5 minutes until cheese is nicely melted; remove from oven and evenly scatter tomato-avocado mixture over top; if you like, serve with optional toppings

Servings: 6-8 as an appetizer

WONTON (this is not your mother’s) MEATLOAF CUPS

I didn’t feel like cooking, so I pulled out a frozen meatloaf (courtesy of my friendly Publix), located the extra wonton wrappers that weren’t used in my Shrimp-Edamame-Rice Noodle Salad, some cheese, scallions, and ketchup. Having seen Wonton Taco Cups on Pinterest, I thought: Why not meatloaf? Good call. So easy. So “Goodness, this-is-not-your-mother’s meatloaf” (not that mom’s isn’t great). Though I limited myself to two, I could have eaten four (yes, this is me raving).

1-1/4 lb oven-ready meatloaf (Publix was my choice)

spray olive oil

24 wonton wrappers

3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup white cheddar cheese


1 green onion, sliced thin on the diagonal

1) Bake meatloaf per package directions

2) Meanwhile, spray olive oil in 12-liner muffin pan; assemble 12 wonton cups as follows: layer 2 wonton wrappers (bottom square, top diamond) to form 8 points; gently press doubled wrappers into each muffin cup; lightly spray wrappers with olive oil

3) When meatloaf is cooked through, remove from oven and adjust oven temperature to 375 degrees; let meatloaf sit 5-10 minutes, then cut into 12 portions

4) Layer each meatloaf cup as follows: sharp cheddar cheese, meatloaf, white cheddar cheese; bake in oven 8-10 minutes until wontons begin to blister and turn golden; remove from oven

5) Squirt ketchup around meatloaf and sprinkle tops with green onions; return to oven and bake 2-3 minutes; remove from oven and serve

Serves: 4 dinner-sized portions (as long as the lone female limits herself to 2 and the guys aren’t famished); or 12 appetizer servings

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 06/08/12


My guys protested when I announced egg rolls for dinner. In their defense (or should I say mine?), reluctance had nothing to do with my cooking. Rather, they imagined I planned to plop on their plates the deep-fat-fried bundles they’ve been served in restaurants. Not that these delicious bundles aren’t fried, but in only just enough olive oil to crisp up the wrappers. Then there was the very pleasant surprise of what they found inside: the makings of a club sandwich. Yes, she does it again–no leftovers. Meaning nothing to warm up for her lunch the next day. Sad. Sort of 🙂

16 egg roll wrappers

Ranch dressing

12 oz cooked deli-roasted chicken, shredded

8 slices bacon, cooked to lightly crisp and diced (I prefer turkey bacon for the low-fat content)

1-1/2 cups diced tomatoes

1 avocado, sliced very thin

3 green onions, sliced thin

1-1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

Olive oil

1) On large work surface, set out egg roll wrappers, turning them to form diamonds; working horizontally (1″ in from diamond points) assemble each egg roll as follows: light drizzle of ranch dressing, chicken, bacon, tomatoes, avocado, green onions, and cheese

2) Fold egg rolls as follows: fold bottom diamond point up and snugly around filling, fold in side diamond points, then roll up egg rolls; place egg rolls, diamond point down, on plate

3) Heat large skillet (the larger the better–you may need to make in 2 batches) to medium-high heat; add a generous swirl of olive oil; place egg rolls in skillet (diamond point down) and immediately lower heat to medium; cook egg rolls 2-3 minutes each side until wonton is crisp and golden

4) Before removing egg rolls from skillet, gently roll each side to side to ensure wrappers are cooked all around; remove rolls from skillet and place on plate; put in microwave and heat 1 to 1-1/2 minutes; serve with or without ranch sauce drizzled over top (a bed of shredded cabbage is also very nice)

Serves: 4 dinner-sized portions or 16 appetizers

NOTE: This is a “repeat” recipe featured on my original “Kitchen Novelist” blog 06/05/12