99 Flavors of Dip: # 1 5-Minute Blender Salsa

This 5-Minute Blender Salsa is fast, easy, and fresh.  All you need is fresh ingredients, a little salt, and a blender.

5-Minute Blender Salsa prep

The salsa can be served with tortilla chips or used as a topping on tacos, burritos, or whatever else you like.

5-Minute Blender Salsa

This salsa is rather Hot.  If you’d like a less spicy version, remove the jalapeno seeds or use half of a jalapeno.

It tastes even better on the second day, once all the flavors have melded together.

5-Minute Blender Salsa

5-Minute Blender Salsa

  • Servings: 4-6
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Fresh, spicy tomato salsa made in the blender.


  • 1 large ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 ts salt


1. Place all of the ingredients except salt into a blender.  Blend on high until all vegetables are pureed to desired consistency (20-30 seconds).  Pour the salsa into a bowl and stir in salt.  Letting the salsa sit will allow the flavors to blend.



99 Flavors of Ice Cream Sandwiches: # 1 Double Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches

This might quite literally be one of the most amazing, delicious desserts I have ever had.  The chewy, sweet cookies combined with the slightly sweet, creamy ice cream is simply divine.  I wish I had an ice cream truck to share these…

The cookies are simple and can be whipped up in just 20 minutes.  I used my Pistachio Pudding Cookies recipe without chilling the dough.

pistachio pudding cookies for ice cream sandwiches

I used Talenti brand pistachio gelato for the inside of my ice cream sandwich.  I love the extra creaminess of gelato.  You can sit the ice cream or gelato outside of the freezer for about a half an hour to make scooping and squishing between the cookies easier.


Rolling the outside edges of ice cream in slivered almonds adds a little bit of crunch.

Double Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwich

Double Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwich

Sink your teeth into this green beauty – the textures and flavor are truly amazing!

Double Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwich

Double Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwiches

  • Servings: 8-9 sandwiches
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Two chewy pistachio pudding cookies filled with pistachio gelato.



1. Follow the recipe for Pistachio Pudding Cookies, but do not chill the dough.  After mixing the batter, drop by large tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake in the 375 degree oven for 8 minutes.  Do not roll in powdered sugar.  Let the cookies cool.

2. Take the ice cream or gelato out of the freezer 30 minutes before serving the ice cream sandwiches, if desired (for ease of scooping).  Crush the slivered almonds into smaller pieces onto a small plate.

3. Sandwich a scoop of pistachio ice cream/gelato between two pistachio pudding cookies.  Roll the outside edges of the ice cream in the crushed slivered almonds.


99 Flavors of Burgers: # 2 Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world!

Being a mom is a hard job, so I hope you get treated royally today.  That includes eating whatever you want.  So today I can cheat and eat ground beef in this indulgent Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce.

I’ve come to love smashburgers and prefer them over a traditional thicker patty.  You can use a burger press, a rolling pin, or a spatula to smash your burger patty, which I did for this version.


You don’t need to add any seasonings to the meat, just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  It’s important to use fattier meat (80/20) so that the smashburger can cook in it’s own grease (I know, healthy right)?

cooking smashburgers

American cheese is added while the burgers are still in the frying pan, resulting in melty goodness.

smashburgers with American cheese

The secret sauce lends the perfect amount of zing and when layered with two burger patties and American cheese, the result is amazing!

secret burger sauce

Just for good measure, I buttered and toasted the bun.

double smashburger

You know you want to bite into this sloppy burger mess.

Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce


Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Thin smashed burger patties layered with American Cheese and a tangy sauce


  • 1.5 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 Tb mayonnaise
  • 2 ts sriracha sauce
  • 2 ts white sugar
  • 2 Tb sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 4 soft potato hamburger buns
  • 8 slices American cheese


1. To make the secret sauce whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, sriracha, and pickle relish in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is smooth.  Set aside.

2. Place a large skillet on stovetop and turn heat to high.  Separate ground chuck into chunks that are a little less than a quarter of a pound.  You do not need to shape the chunks of meat. Place them directly into the skillet and flatten as much as possible with a large spatula.  Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper.  When the first side has browned after 2-3 minutes, flip each patty.  Smash them again with the spatula.  Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until juices run clear and burgers are done.

3. Place a slice of American cheese on each burger patty and let sit in the skillet until the cheese has melted.  Butter both the top and bottom of the hamburger buns and toast them slightly.  Place a burger patty on the bottom bun, top with secret sauce, another patty, more sauce, and the top bun.



99 Kinds of Stir Fries: # 2 General Tso’s Chicken

Since my Sticky Garlic Chicken is my most popular post so far, I decided to share my version of General Tso’s Chicken.  Unlike the Sticky Garlic Chicken, which has a very balanced flavor, General Tso’s Chicken is spicy.  My version is coated in cornstarch and stir-fried in a small amount of oil, rather then deep-frying, which makes it healthier.  I also use reduced sodium soy sauce and chicken broth.

The smaller you make your pieces of chicken, the crispier and saucier they will be.


Stir frying involves high heat, which creates the crunch of the coating.  You only need a small amount of oil and about 20 minutes total cooking time.cooked cornstarch coated chicken

I’ve fine tuned the sauce from multiple General Tso’s recipes.

General Tso's Sauce

This recipe is quick, easy, and one of our favorites.

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Crispy coated pieces of chicken in spicy General Tso's sauce


  • 3 TB oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 rice vinegar
  • 1 ts minced garlic
  • 1 Tb cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
  • 1 ts red pepper flakes
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  1. Cut chicken breast into small bite-size pieces.  Pour cornstarch into a plastic gallon bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and garlic.  Stir until sugar has dissolved.  In a separate bowl, stir 1 Tb of cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce, stir,  and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces. Cook on high about 10 mins, stirring and flipping the chicken often, until the coating is browned and crispy.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 10 mins until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet.  Turn heat back to high and add the sliced green onions and red pepper flakes.  Cook, while stirring, for about 30 seconds, until green onions are wilted and red pepper flakes are fragrant.  Pour the sauce into the skillet. Cook on medium-high for about 3 minutes, until sauce just begins to thicken.  Add the chicken pieces back into the skillet and stir to coat.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until sauce has thickened.  Serve with cooked white rice or fried rice.


99 Kinds of Bread: # 1 Southern Hushpuppies

love hushpuppies.  I mean, I really love them.  Unfortunately, since I limit my intake of fried food, I don’t make or eat them very often.  Since I’m not originally from the south, I had never had a wonderful hushpuppy until I moved here.  And it took several experimentations to get the perfect consistency and method to produce actual spheres (rather than misshapen blobs).  But finally I have done it!  The perfect round hushpuppy, thanks to a cookie scoop!

I also had to thicken up the batter so that they properly fell into the hot oil, without leaving a long tail behind them.  A little bit of sugar, buttermilk, and onions make these hushpuppies divine.

hushpuppy batter

The oil must be really hot before you add the hushpuppies.  A cookie scoop works miracles to make the perfect round hushpuppy!

Behold, sweet, golden fried perfection.

Southern Hushpuppies

These have the perfect consistency and texture.  I wish I could have more.

inside the perfect hushpuppy

Southern Hushpuppies

  • Servings: about 16 hushpuppies
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Classic southern cornmeal hushpuppies


  • 3 cups vegetable or canola oil (for deep frying)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tb vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 ts baking soda
  • 1/4 ts salt
  • 1/3 cup onion, finely minced


1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in the buttermilk (you can substitute 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 Tb of vinegar added, let sit for 5 mins before adding to cornmeal), oil, and egg.   Stir in the minced onions.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fryer.  When the oil is hot, use a cookie scoop to drop spoonfuls into the hot oil.  Fry about half of the batter at a time, so that the fryer is not too crowded.  Turn the hushpuppies after about 2 minutes.  Fry until golden, 5-6 minutes total.  Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a paper towel lined bowl.  Repeat with the remaining batter.

99-taste.com adapted from Allrecipes

99 Types of Cookies: # 3 Banana Pudding Cookies

These Banana Pudding Cookies are AMAZING and EASY!  They are another concoction thanks to my daughter.  After taste testing, she described them as “sweet, with melty, gooey chips, and a surprising crunch.”  The crunch is provided by vanilla wafers, which are paired with white chocolate chips in a banana-flavored cookie dough.  Banana pudding turned cookie!  Yum!


You can whip these cookies up in 20 minutes.  No chilling required, just mix and drop and they turn out beautifully chewy.

banana pudding cookies ready for baking

I think these are a new favorite of mine.

Banana Pudding Cookie

This recipe bakes up 24 cookies, perfect for sharing.



Banana Pudding Cookies

Banana Pudding Cookies

  • Servings: about 24 cookies
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Chewy banana pudding cookies studded with white chocolate chips and vanilla wafer pieces


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ ts baking soda
  • ½ cup margarine, softened (use one with a high vegetable oil content like Land O’Lakes)
  • 2 Tb white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 3.4 oz pkg instant banana pudding
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 8 vanilla wafer cookies
  • yellow food coloring, optional


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar until completely creamy. Beat in banana pudding mix until fully combined with the butter mixture, then beat in the egg.  Add a few drops of yellow food coloring, if desired.  Mix in flour and baking soda until fully incorporated.  Break the vanilla wafers into pieces and add them to the cookie dough, along with the white chocolate chips.  Stir until combined.

3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to drop by tablespoonfuls on cookie sheet.  Bake in upper third of oven for 8-9 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Cookies will appear underdone, but will set while cooling.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


99 Variations of Chocolate Chip Cookies: # 2 Hershey Chunk Cookies

It’s time for some more chocolate chip cookies, which honestly, are probably my number one favorite dessert.  So trying to come up with 99 variations is not a chore, it’s a labor of love.

This version has a lot of cookie, with just an occasional studding of super sweet milk chocolate (provided by Hershey bars).  It is also a small batch recipe, which means you can gobble them up quickly and then make some more cookies!

Hershey chunk cookie dough

You don’t need to chill this cookie dough to get great cookies, but it is beneficial to refrigerate the chocolate bars first so that the chunks break off in nice clean pieces.

Hershey chunk cookie dough blob

I love cookies that can be made in about 20 minutes.  Not too long to wait for that gooey sweetness.

Hershey Chunk Cookie

If you like more cookie than chocolate, this is a good recipe to try.

A pile of Hershey Chunk Cookies

Hershey Chunk Cookies

Hershey Chunk Cookies

  • Servings: 18-20 cookies
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Chewy, buttery cookies studded with chunks of milk chocolate

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie


  • ½ cup margarine, softened (use a high vegetable oil content one like Land O’ Lakes)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TB brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 2 TB white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ ts vanilla
  • ¼ ts baking powder
  • ¼ ts baking soda
  • ¼ ts salt
  • 1 cup plus 3 TB all-purpose flour
  • 2 milk chocolate Hershey bars, refrigerated


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine both sugars with the softened butter until creamy.   Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well combined.
  3. Break Hershey bars into pieces (refrigeration makes this easier and cleaner).  Stir the chunks of chocolate into the cookie batter.
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls a couple of inches apart onto cookie sheet.  Bake in oven 9-11 mins., until just barely browned on the bottom.




99 Kinds of Stir Fries: # 1 Sticky Garlic Chicken

I love stir fries because they come together quickly enough to be made on a weeknight, they are relatively healthy, and they can be made in a lot of different variations.  Sticky Garlic Chicken has a very balanced flavor – not overly salty, spicy, sweet, or vinegary.  The sticky sauce coats the chicken nicely and the cornstarch coating provides wonderful crispiness.

The smaller you make your pieces of chicken, the crispier and saucier they will be.


Stir frying involves high heat, which creates the crunch of the coating.  You only need a small amount of oil and about 20 minutes total cooking time.cooked cornstarch coated chicken

My family loved that the sauce was not over-powering, but still flavorful.


To finish the dish, I garnished with green onions.

Sticky Garlic Chicken

For a milder Asian tasting dish, give this one a try.

Sticky Garlic Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Cornstarch coated chicken pieces tossed with a sticky, garlic sauce

Author: 99Taste original by Leslie


  • 3 TB oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 3 Tb dark brown sugar
  • 1 ts sesame oil
  • 2 ts sriracha sauce
  • ¼ ts salt
  • 1 Tb cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 ts garlic, minced


  1. Cut chicken breast into small bite-size pieces.  Pour cornstarch into a plastic gallon bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt.  In a separate bowl, stir 1 Tb of cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces.  Cook on high about 10 mins, stirring and flipping the chicken often, until the coating is browned and crispy.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 10 mins until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add the minced garlic.  Cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Pour the sauce into the skillet. Stir until all chicken pieces are coated.  Continue cooking on medium-low until sauce has thickened, about 3 mins. Add the sliced green onion and cook until slightly tender.  Serve with cooked white rice or fried rice.

99 Flavors of Pizza: # 1 Thin Crust Pizza

I’ve made A LOT of homemade pizzas in the past 30 years.  Every few years, I try a new pizza crust recipe, and we decide that it is our new favorite.  But I’ve never found a truly thin crust recipe – until now.  My family said this is the best pizza I’ve ever made.  The crust is the same recipe that I used for my calzones.  It requires no rising and baking it on my pizza pan with holes on the bottom resulted in a thin, crispy bottomed pizza.

For the dough, make sure you are using a rapid rise or quick rise yeast.  Add the yeast dry to the flour.  Your water must be very warm – 120 to 130 degrees for the yeast to activate.  You’ll need to knead the dough for several minutes to achieve smoothness and elasticity.


My husband, having worked at pizza parlor in his younger days, rolled and stretched the dough.  He said the elasticity was perfect.  Your initial rolling doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, because you can finish stretching it on the pizza pan.

Thin Pizza Crust

My family will not let me divulge my secret pizza sauce recipe, which I have been making unchanged since I was eight years old.  All I can tell you is that it’s very simple and involves a can of tomato sauce with spices and seasonings.

Pizza Sauce

The crust recipe makes enough for two thin crust pizzas.  I made a large 14″ and a small 10.”  Top with whatever toppings you like.  I used a combination of mozzarella and shredded Mexican cheese, which we preferred over just mozzarella.


To achieve a truly crispy crust, you do need a pizza pan with holes in it.  Otherwise, the crust will be soft.


I could eat this thin crust pizza every week!  It really is that good.

Thin Crust Pizza


Thin crust pizza

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie with crust adapted from Fleishmann’s

Crust ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope or 2 ts rapid rise yeast
  • ½ ts salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees)

Topping ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • sliced pepperoni, cooked sausage, or any desired pizza toppings
  • cooking spray & cornmeal (for dusting the pan)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with the dry yeast and salt. Stir in the hot water and olive oil, then add ½ cup more flour.  When the dough starts to come together, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Whenever the dough feels sticky while kneading, add a tiny bit of flour. After the dough has become completely smooth and elastic, cover with a clean dishcloth and let rest 10 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a thin circle. Spray a pizza pan that has holes in it with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Transfer the crust to the pizza pan and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.  On each crust, spread on pizza sauce, top with both cheeses, and desired pizza toppings.
4. Bake the pizzas on lower rack in the oven for about 10 mins, or until crust is browned on the bottom.  Slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

99 Flavors of Grains: # 1 Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita

I think quinoa is my new best friend: full of amino acids, high in protein, and easy to cook. Technically, quinoa is a seed, but for the purposes of this blog, I am grouping it under grains. This Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita Bread was an amazingly delicious lunch, and healthy too. I’ve been dreaming about it on my other lunch days when I’ve had yogurt and fruit.

The recipe makes one large, fully stuffed half of a pita, but it could easily be doubled.

Use fresh veggies and cut the pieces small.  I used dark green leaf lettuce.


The buttermilk cilantro dressing is amazing!


The quinoa salad is just as delicious on its own as stuffed in a pita.


I loved this boldly flavored lunch.  Paired with an orange, it was delicious and satisfying.


Quinoa Salad Stuffed Pita

  • Servings: 1
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Quinoa tossed with lettuce, veggies, and feta with a delicious bold buttermilk cilantro dressing, stuffed into pita

Credit: 99Taste Original by Leslie

Dressing Ingredients

  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tb plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 ts garlic powder
  • ¼ ts dried cilantro
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients

  • ¼ cup dried quinoa
  • 4 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 or 2 Tb red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup shredded green leaf lettuce
  • 1 Tb feta cheese, crumbled
  • Halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
  • ½ of a pita bread


1. Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.
2. To cook quinoa, bring ½ cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa. Cover with a lid and turn to simmer. Simmer 12-15 mins until all water is absorbed.
3. Toss lettuce, carrots, red onion, tomatoes (if using), and quinoa with dressing until fully coated. Mix in feta cheese. Stuff salad into a pita and enjoy!