Taco Layer Dip

I often see this dip sold in the prepared foods section of grocery stores. It’s very easy to make and can be prepared with higher quality ingredients at less than half the cost of the store version. So with 30 minutes of time, why not make it yourself? It’s also a bit healthier than many typical cheesy chip dips, and I’ve watched this disappear in a matter of minutes at quite a few parties. There are as many versions for this dip as there are people who prepare it, so feel free to customize it to your taste.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. sour cream
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. cumin
1 can re-fried beans
1/2 c. your favorite homemade or jarred salsa
4 oz. finely shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese (or a combination of the two)
1 c. diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c. chopped lettuce
1/4 c. chopped green onion
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. sliced olives (your choice of black or green)
1 avocado, sliced and coated with a squeeze of lime juice (about 1/4 lime)

Choose a serving dish with straight side walls at least two inches high, such as a 9×13 Pyrex pan or a more decorative deep-walled pie dish. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Mix in the chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Spread the mixture as your bottom layer in your chosen dish. Next mix the re-fried beans with the salsa, adjusting the amount of salsa to your taste.  Spread it on top of the cream cheese mixture. Next, sprinkle the cheese and then the tomatoes. Toss the lettuce, green onions, and cilantro together and spread it over the tomatoes. Then drop the olives evenly over the top. Lay the avocado slices on top just before serving (so they don’t have enough time to discolor too much). Serve with your choice of fresh tortilla chips, and enjoy!

Tips and alternatives:

  • You can use a prepared taco seasoning instead of chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Start out with 1/2 tablespoon of the mixture, taste, then add more to suit your preference.
  • You can keep the beans and salsa as separate layers, or even omit the beans altogether if a bean dip isn’t your thing.
  • Instead of avocado slices, you can spread 1 cup of prepared guacamole as a layer on top of the beans and salsa.

TDB Homemade: Guacamole

Super Bowl weekend is rapidly approaching, and for some, that means hosting a party and making numerous appetizers to stave off hunger during the hours it takes to watch the game. With ballet in our blood, the Dancing Buckeyes are more at home in the theater than the stadium. But considering that the NY Giants will be playing, I’m sure my New York City household will at least watch some highlights from the game, and guacamole is certain to be gracing our menu that day!

Guacamole is one of those beloved accompaniments to the ubiquitous game-watching tortilla chip. You can tweak it to your liking, adding more or less spice, plus it’s extremely healthy, which you can’t claim about numerous other chip dips. So whether or not you will be watching the Super Bowl this weekend, you may eventually have a need to enjoy a dip or two of guacamole.

1  ripe avocado
4-5 grape tomatoes
1 Tbl. finely diced onion (red or white)
1 clove garlic, pressed
small handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
twist of lime (about 1 tsp.)
1 small dried chile, crushed (optional)
salt to taste

Slice lengthwise through the avocado , around the seed, to divide the avocado in half. With a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the shell. Remove the avocado seed by hitting a knife into its center, then twisting clockwise. The seed should easily be removed if the avocado is fully ripe. If, for some reason, the knife won’t remove the seed, you should be able to push it out with a spoon.

Place the avocado flesh in a medium bowl and mash with a fork until you have a smooth, silky texture. If you prefer, leave a few medium size chunks of avocado for a slightly different texture. Add the onion and garlic. Squeeze the juice and seeds from the tomatoes and chop them into quarters. Add to the bowl. Add the cilantro, dried chili (optional), and salt. Add the twist of lime. You may also add some lime zest if you choose, which adds another level of zesty citrus. Combine all the ingredients together. Taste and add more salt if you need. If you choose not to add the dried chili, you may want to add a good grind of fresh pepper. Serve with some blue corn chips (my favorite brand is, Xochitl) for an added burst of color. Go team…..and go guacamole!!!!

Tips and variations:

  • Guacamole is very versatile and should be made to taste. Feel free to adjust the amounts on any of the ingredients.
  • Add a bit of finely diced jalapeñ0 or a pinch of chili powder for another dimension of flavor.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled!) depending on your crowd and appetites.
  • Guacamole is best when made fresh because it oxidizes very quickly. If yours must be made a few hours ahead of time, or if you have any leftovers, preserve its freshness by covering it with a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the guacamole to prevent air contact.
  • Guacamole makes a great spread on sandwiches, by itself or mixed with a just a bit of mayo.