Southwest Burgers

Ok, so I am kind of obsessed with guacamole. I think I could eat it every day whether it is with tortilla chips, tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, veggies, grilled chicken, and now, these Southwest Burgers. Yeah, sure, I tried to infuse a “southwest” flavor into the meat, but really, all I wanted to do is slather copious amounts of guacamole on this burger. I was trying to think about what I was going to make for the 4th of July and figured I would make some sort of burger so after day-dreaming about guacamole, I decided to make these southwest burgers that I topped with some of my Best Dang Guacamole.

Southwest Burgers

Serves 4


– 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (or turkey, or black beans!)

– 2 tsp. taco seasoning

– 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

– 1 tsp. onion powder

– 4 slices of pepper jack cheese

– Toppings: guacamole and salsa

– Optional: If you want the burgers to be moister, try adding 1/3 cup of salsa into the meat. You can also add 2 tsp. of hot sauce if you want these burgers to have a kick to them!


1. In a large bowl, combine beef, taco seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, and onion powder. Form into 4 patties.

2. Heat grill or grill pan (spray with cooking spray first) to medium high heat. Cook burgers approximately 5 minutes on each side or until burgers are cooked to your desire. Add cheese slices on top of the burgers about 2 minutes before you remove them from the grill. Top burger with the best dang guacamole, salsa, and serve!

Three Bean Salad

Celebrating the 4th of July is synonymous with burgers, hot dogs, desserts, chips, etc (you know, basically any junk food!). So by no means am I going to pretend we had a really healthy meal on the 4th of July. I mean, that would just be very un-American of me! We had southwestern burgers and strawberry and blueberry cobbler (those recipes will be posted soon), but I wanted to try to off-set the bad carbs and sugar with a side dish that I could feel better about eating! This three-bean salad is delicious and healthy and it’s a great substitute for mayo-ridden potato and pasta salads. It’s very easy to make and is perfect for summer picnics and BBQ’s!

Three Bean Salad

Serves 6-8


– 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

– 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

– 1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed

– 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar

– 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 2 tbs. chopped cilantro

– salt and black pepper to taste

– Optional: 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice and finely chopped red onion


1. Drain and rinse beans in a colander. Transfer beans to a bowl. Add in all other ingredients and mix. Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Nutella Cupcakes

It was my friend/co-worker’s birthday last week and I offered to make the cupcakes. But ya see, it wasn’t so simple because Jennifer is usually the person in my lab that makes the cupcakes for all of our special events. I had some big shoes to fill and I didn’t want to make plain ol’ vanilla or chocolate cupcakes and then I remembered seeing this this post from My Baking Addiction for Nutella buttercream frosting and knew I found the right cupcakes. If you have never had Nutella, I highly suggest you pick up a jar of it the next time you hit up your grocery store. It is a chocolate hazelnut spread that was sent down to us from Heaven. The addition of Nutella to the cupcake batter gave the cake a rich, decadent taste!

I used the doctored up chocolate cake recipe that I used for my Triple Chocolate Cupcakes, except instead of adding in the pudding mix, I added Nutella and baked it right into the cake! These Nutella cupcakes were amazing, but I almost wish they had a little more Nutella flavor. If I make these again, I think I will do it the way Jamie from My Baking Addiction suggests by filling the cupcakes with Nutella after they bake!

Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for the cupcakes:

– 1 box devil’s food cake mix

– 4 eggs

– 1 cup vegetable oil (though I used more like 3/4 cup)

– 1 cup sour cream

– 1/2 cup milk

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1/2 cup Nutella


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs, oil, sour cream, milk, vanilla extract, and Nutella. Add in cake mix and mix until well-combined.

2. Place cupcake liners into muffin pan and pour batter into cups filling each cup approximately 3/4 of the way. Bake for 19-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Then, I want you to go for a quick jog or do some jumping jacks because if you are anything like me, you had at least two (maybe 3) spoonfuls of Nutella while you were making these cupcakes….

Ingredients for the Nutella Buttercream Frosting:

From My Baking Addiction

– 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened

– 2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar, sifted

– 1 13 ounce container Nutella

– 6-8 tbs. milk or heavy cream

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Cream together the butter and Nutella in a large mixing bowl. Add in confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time and continue until all sugar is creamed together with the butter and Nutella. Add vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of the milk or cream and mix. Keep adding a tablespoon of the milk or cream until your frosting is smooth.

– Because I wanted to add Nutella into the cake batter and needed it for the frosting, I bought the large, 26 ounce jar of Nutella so I didn’t have to buy 2 smaller jars.

Low-Fat Spinach Artichoke Dip

I’m a big fan of spinach artichoke dip, but let’s face it, it’s not the healthiest appetizer/snack choice. Most of the spinach artichoke dips you get at restaurants are made with heavy cream and full-fat cream cheese. I’ve come up with a low-fat, guilt-free version that you can make and enjoy at home!

I use this little guy for baking mine. It takes a bit longer to get the dip cooked/heated, but what I like about it is that it keeps the dip consistently warm. If you don’t have a mini Crock-Pot, no worries! You can still bake this dip in a small baking dish in your oven! Serve this dip with your favorite crackers, pita chips, or fresh veggies!

Low-Fat Spinach Artichoke Dip

Serves 6-8


– 2 8-ounce packages reduced-fat (or fat free!) cream cheese, softened.

– 2/3 cup skim milk

– 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

– 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

– 1 16-ounce bag of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well

– 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well

– 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese

– 1/4 tsp. salt


1. If using the oven, preheat to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and salt until smooth and creamy. Add spinach and blend until thoroughly mixed. Add artichokes and coarsely chop until desired consistency is reached. Add to stoneware or shallow baking dish.

2. If using the mini Crock-Pot, cook for 1 1/2 hours. Sprinkle Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese on top during the last 10 minutes. If you are going to bake the dip in your oven, sprinkle with cheese and bake for approximately 15 minutes (the edges of your dip may turn a light golden brown).

Coq Au Vin Fondue

Let the fondue feast continue! First of all, I have to apologize for the picture for this recipe (it was hard to take a picture in our poorly lit living room)! I posted my recipe for our first course, Cheddar Swiss Fondue the other day. This Coq Au Vin fondue was our second course. In French, Coq Au Vin means “Rooster in wine.” Well, no roosters were harmed in the making of this recipe, but I call it Coq Au Vin fondue because it is my take on The Melting Pot’s version.

This recipe works well with a variety of meats. We typically do chicken and steak, but shrimp and salmon also work really well! If you have been to The Melting Pot before, you might be thinking about all of those great dipping sauces they give you. My philosophy on this is if you want to do this at home and save some time and money, don’t try to make a bunch of sauces from scratch. Some sauces are worth making every once in a while, but a lot of the time, we just use bottled teriyaki sauce and BBQ sauce. If we do fish, I like to do a lemon, white wine, and butter sauce. If you are feeling adventurous though, give some of their sauces a try! My faves are the curry and their green goddess dip!

Coq Au Vin Fondue

Serves 4


– 3 14.5 ounce cans vegetable broth

– 1 cup red wine (burgundy, or I sometimes use cabernet sauvignon)

– 2 garlic cloves, minced

– Optional: green onion, mushrooms

– Meat: If serving 4 people, I recommend you have at least 2 pounds of meat. Cut chicken, steak or salmon into bite-size pieces. Small red potatoes and vegetables also work well with this fondue.


1. If you plan to do all three fondue courses, I recommend doing as much prep work beforehand as possible for each course so all you have to do in between is clean your pot out. For Coq Au Vin fondue, you can prep by cutting your meat into bite-size pieces and try to trim away any fat. I then sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and put the meat back into the fridge until I am ready for it.

2. Heat fondue pot to high heat, add wine, broth, and garlic and simmer for approximately 3-4 minutes. You can tell that the broth is ready when you dip in a piece of meat and it immediately starts cooking. Chicken typically takes about 4 minutes to cook. Steak typically takes 2-3 minutes depending on how well-done you like to eat your steak.

– Be careful when serving raw meat. No raw meat should be placed on the same plate that you plan to eat the meat off of when it is cooked. I serve the raw meat on a large plate with its own fork and knife (if needed) and then give each guest a separate plate with another fork and knife. Make sure your meat is fully-cooked before eating it.

– As your broth continues to simmer while you cook your meat, the broth will start to evaporate. Our fondue pot is rather large so I need to add 3 cans of broth in order to prevent the broth from getting too low. If you are using a small pot, you can start with 2 cans of broth and a 1/2 cup of wine.

Cheddar Swiss Fondue

One of the first, “fancier” dates that my husband and I went on when we first started dating was to The Melting Pot. If you have never been to The Melting Pot, I suggest you go there. Like right now. Go. What are you waiting for?!

My favorite part of the whole fondue experience is the cheese fondue. Who doesn’t love bread and cheesy delicious goodness? I love bread and cheese just as much as I love peanut butter and chocolate. Yeah, I said it. And as much as I love going to The Melting Pot, it can be a little expensive and time consuming. My husband bought me an electric fondue pot a few years ago and we just love it! In fact, we prefer to just make fondue at home now instead of going to The Melting Pot. If you are careful with the types of ingredients you buy, you can save money and it is really nice to just sit at home, watch a movie while we eat, and take our time through each fondue course! Stay tuned for my Coq Au Vin Fondue recipe for cooking the meat as well as my chocolate fondue recipe!

Cheddar Swiss Fondue

Serves 4


– 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

– 2 cups grated Swiss cheese

– 1 tsp. ground mustard

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 1/2 to 3/4 cup light-bodied beer (I recommend Corona)*

– 1/2 tsp. salt

– 1/2 tsp. black pepper

– 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

– 1 large french baguette, diced into bite-size pieces

– Optional: diced granny smith apple, raw broccoli and cauliflower


1. If you plan to do all three fondue courses, I recommend doing as much prep work beforehand as possible for each course so all you have to do in between is clean your pot out. For cheese fondue, you can prep by grating all of your cheese and combining it in a bowl. Then in a small condiment bowl, I add the garlic, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. You can then store these ingredients back in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them!

2. Heat fondue pot to high heat, add beer, garlic, mustard powder, salt and pepper and simmer for approximately 2-3 minutes. Add in cheeses and continue stirring cheese until it is completely melted. Once melted, add in Worcestershire sauce. Lower the heat on the fondue pot and enjoy!

– Be careful with the amount of beer that you add to the cheese. You don’t want to pour too much in, otherwise your cheese will be too liquidy. I recommend starting with maybe just half a cup and if you feel your cheese is too thick, add the remaining 1/4 cup.

– I do NOT recommend using low-fat or fat-free cheese for fondue. It will not melt properly and your fondue will be clumpy. To make up for all the calories, I suggest you just work it off the next morning at the gym. :)

– If you don’t have a fondue pot and are thinking about getting one, I recommend buying an electric, non-stick pot. I have this one, and I love it. It’s nice not to have to worry about buying fuel. And because it’s non-stick, it’s super easy to clean out in between each course!