Family, Food, Snacks

Layered Black Bean Dip

Black Bean Dip

When it’s time to bring a hardy appetizer to a party, this bean dip is always my “go to” recipe.  I love Ro*tel.  I use it a lot because it always adds that extra kick. The base of this recipe comes from the Ro*tel website and the “Fiesta 7 Layered Dip”, however I changed it up a bit because I prefer black beans.  It’s always a favorite at every party and super easy to make.


  • 1 Can of Ro*tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (10 oz.), drained and liquid reserved
  • 1 Can of Refried Black Beans (10 oz.)
  • Fresh Guacamole (refer to earlier post for my recipe approx. 12 oz.)
  • 1 Container of Sour Cream (16 oz.)
  • 1 Package of Taco Seasoning Mix
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of Shredded Cheese (Cheddar and Jack Cheese blends) or however much you like to use.  Technically, I don’t even measure my cheese.
  • 1 Can (2.25 oz.) sliced Black Olives, drained and optional
  • Top with diced green onions, diced jalapeno, and crushed tortilla chips – all optional


  1. Reserve 1/2 cup of drained tomatoes and set aside. Blend the remaining tomatoes and reserved liquid with the black beans.
  2. Spread the bean mixture in a 8×8 glass dish and then spread the fresh guacamole on top of bean mixture.
  3. Blend together the taco seasoning mix and the sour cream.  Spread mixture on top of guacamole.
  4. Next top evenly with cheese and reserved tomatoes. Add the extras if you choose.

This dip can be made without a few of the ingredients too. I’ve made this dish many of times without guacamole and it’s still awesome.  The one thing that really shouldn’t be left out is the Ro*tel!



Family, Food

Fresh Spinach and Bacon


Looking for that last minute, quick, throw together, side dish?  This spinach dish is for you. On this particular night, I was looking for something different instead of the usual “go to” quick vegetables such as corn and peas.  I had some fresh spinach from Costco in the refrigerator.  It was time to use it as a side dish instead of doing the normal spinach salad.  I threw together this recipe in about 8 minutes which is exactly how long it takes to cook.

Wow, it was really good!  I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of cooked spinach, however I do like it when there are great flavors involved.  The combination of Rotel and bacon were a perfect fit.  The Rotel added some extra zing not to mention bacon is always a great addition to many dishes.  We LOVE bacon.  My 10 year old son even liked this spinach dish.

Another bonus about this dish…it only take 8 minutes! I would suggest making this dish when everything else is ready for the table. It is that quick and easy.


  • 10-15 Ounces of fresh Spinach (Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach from Costco)
  • 1/2 Can of Rotel (original and strained)
  • 4-5 Slices of cooked Bacon (broken up in pieces)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Cloves of fresh Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste ( we prefer Sea Salt)


  1. Heat Olive Oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Using a garlic press, add the fresh minced garlic to the oil.  Next add the Spinach.  It will shrink very quickly.
  2. Stir in the Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies. Then mix together the Bacon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Family, Food, Garden

Zucchini Squash Parmesan


A family favorite from my Mom
A family favorite from my Mom

When I’m in the mood for a different vegetable, zucchini and yellow squash is always my “go to” vegetable, especially in the summer time.  You can do so many fun things with squash.  Of course, we love to marinate squash and grill it. You can put them on kabobs or eat them raw as a snack with your favorite dip.  My kids are fans of ranch and zucchini, although my kids will eat almost anything dipped in ranch.

This recipe is a long time family favorite from my Mom, Carol DeFrancesco.  With many recipes, I may tweak it a bit for personal preference.  For this particular recipe, I use olive oil to brown and sauté my squash.  My Mom used butter for the most part.   The olive oil seems to be an easier and healthier alternative.  This side dish is great with any meat of your choice.  It’s easy to make, but it does take a little time to sauté the squash so be sure to plan accordingly.

Zucchini Squash Parmesan

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Meanwhile, chop both the zucchini squash and yellow squash in large 1 inch pieces.  (If you cut them too thin, they get mushy.)
  2. Brown and sauté the squash approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.  Once finished, remove squash and add more until all finished.
  3. Next, put all the cooked squash back into the pan over low heat.  Spread the Rotel tomatoes or diced tomatoes evenly on top of the squash.
  4. Season the squash with fresh basil and/or Italian seasonings and salt and pepper.
  5. Last, sprinkle the fresh parmesan cheese all over the squash.  Cover the pan to melt the cheese.  Serve and enjoy!

Like with any recipe, you can alter this to your preference or what you might have at home.  In the past, I always used Italian seasoned diced tomatoes, but then I tried a can of Rotel tomatoes with chiles.  We love the extra kick from the Rotel.

Stay tuned for some more recipes using squash!