Taco Layer Dip

I'm not much of a sports fan, but I am a fan of food, so every time there is a huge game and we have friends over I put out a spread that rivals most major holidays. In addition of our main course of chili, hot wings, or pizza we always have an assortment of dips. My favorite is a simple taco layer dip that's made up of sour cream, taco seasoning, sharp cheddar cheese, green onions, black olives, and tomatoes. It's easy to toss together at the last minute, can be modified to suit a variety of tastes, and can be scaled up (or down) to feed a group of any size. Added bonus: you won't need to spend all day in the kitchen to make it which gives you more time for beer and football (if that's your thing.)

If you want my advice you should make a double batch, this is always a crowd pleaser and it's the first thing to disappear.

Taco Layer Dip | Not Starving Yet

Taco Dip

makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

16 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
10 - 12 fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
4 ounces black olives, sliced
2 - 3 green onions stalks

Directions

  • In a large bowl combine the sour cream and taco seasoning. Mix well, then spoon into the bottom of a large glass serving container. Top with shredded lettuce, sharp cheddar cheese, diced cherry tomatoes, black olives, and green onions. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

For this recipe I use a 2-Cup Pyrex Divided Dish (which you see pictured above.) You can also use an 8 inch pie plate or 9 x 9 baking dish. Keep in mind that you may need more toppings than what I've listed in the ingredients if you use a larger dish.

The taco dip can be made a day in advance, but often times there will be some liquid separation from the sour cream. You can drain the excess liquid off, but this dip is best when made the same day you plan on serving it.

 

Steak Fajitas

One of my friends recently asked me what my idea of the perfect food was and the answer I gave really surprised her. She expected something exotic... or at the very least chocolate related (have I mentioned that I have a sweet tooth?) It only took a few moments of consideration to make my choice. 

Tortillas are, without a doubt, the perfect food. 

Now before you disagree (or even worse, stop reading my blog forever) take a moment to wipe that look of shock off your face and think about this for a moment. How many foods can you name that you'd be happy eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack? That are good either hot or cold, are inexpensive, can be made into chips, and make even the messiest of meals instantly portable? Now that you've thought about it a moment, have you come around to my way of thinking?

See, I told you, tortillas are freaking awesome!

If I didn't need to come up with new and unique recipes every week I'd probably live off of them. Since I can't, which is probably a good thing, I'll have to be content to eat them every Tuesday when I make fajitas and the occasional lunch when my son refuses to eat anything else. He's become a bit of a flour tortilla addict, but I can't really blame him since he's fallen in love with the perfect food. The only way they'd be more perfect is if they were filled with steak, peppers, lightly caramelized onions, and fresh guacamole.

Steak Fajitas

Steak Fajitas
makes 4 servings

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, juiced
3 Tablespoons fajita seasoning (I use Penzey's)
1 lb sirloin steak
⅛ cup water
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell or poblano pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 flour tortillas
1 cup Henning's hatch pepper cheese, shredded (see notes)

optional

avocado slices or guacamole
sour cream
salsa
jalapeños
fresh cilantro

Directions

  • Combine olive oil, lime juice, and fajita seasoning. Generously coat both sides of the steak, and place in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Allow to marinate at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to cook, heat a skillet over medium-high, add steak, and cook for 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest for several minutes. Once cool remove any excess fat. Cut the steak into ½ inch wide strips. For extra tender meat make sure you cut at an angle, against the grain.
  • Add water to the skillet and scrape the bottom of the pan before adding bell pepper, poblano pepper, and onion. Stir until everything is well-coated with seasoning.
  • Turn the heat to high, then cook until most of the water has boiled away. Veggies should be cooked, but still slightly firm. Once the veggies are cooked add steak back to the skillet for 1 - 2 minutes to reheat.
  • Serve immediately on warm flour tortillas, with your choice of toppings.

Notes

Hatch pepper cheese is my newest addiction, but it can be hard to find outside of Wisconsin. If you can find it, I highly recommend it, otherwise just use pepper jack or sharp cheddar. If you're feeling a little more traditional cojita or queso are also good options, although they can sometimes be hard to find.

Guacamole

I love this time of year, mostly because the weather has finally started to warm up and I can ditch my winter wardrobe, but also because avocados are inexpensive and plentiful. They're great as a meal itself, served unadorned and uncomplicated, or as an addition to salads and sandwiches. As much as I love to enjoy them on their own, I could probably eat my weight in guacamole. It's no secret, I have a bit of an addiction and love to slather it on burgers, sandwiches, or eat it with tortilla chips. 

There are a number of ways to make guacamole, but I like to keep things fairly straightforward. It doesn't need to be complicated to taste good, but success in preparing it lies in the small details. You need perfect avocados, ripe but not too ripe, a fresh off the vine tomato (a hot house grown tomato just will not do,) a shallot, salt, and a few herbs and spices. Oh, and don’t forget the lime juice, to help keep it from browning. This small handful of ingredients turns a simple avocado into something extraordinary and because it's quick and easy to make it's the perfect dip to make for parties or last minute guests.

Guacamole.jpg

Guacamole
makes approximately 6 servings

Ingredients:

3 medium-sized avocados
1 whole lime
1 large-sized shallot
1 small vine-ripened tomato
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper 

optional:

jalapeño pepper, seeded 

Directions:

  • Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits and skin with a spoon. Dice into chunks, sprinkle with lime juice, and mash with a fork.
  • Mince the shallot, dice the tomato and optional jalapeño, then combine with the mashed avocado.
  • Add cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and ground black pepper, then stir to incorporate.
  • Chill the guacamole for 30 minutes before serving. 

Notes:

Guacamole doesn't store well, so try to eat it immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days, but you'll notice heavy browning where the avocado has begun to oxidize. To slow this down place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole before storing and scrape away any brown spots before serving.