Fresh 7-layer dip

You guys. This dip. ZOMG it’s like someone took your grandma’s 7-layer dip and gave it to a gourmet chef, who slapped it into shape like a boot camp sergeant. Not gonna lie: this dish requires a lot of stuff. But start to finish, I’d say this is doable in under an hour, if your chopping and multitasking skills are on point. (My wine handicap added a bit of time.) Technically, this dip is only 5 layers, but you can always add some tomatoes or olives or whatever else you like on your tacos.
Fresh 7-layer Mexican dip
Super tasty, very impressive, good as an app or a standalone meal.
This thing is a showstopper – the best appetizer at any party and totally appropriate for dinner, all on its own, with chips. Not kidding. It also goes pretty well with this. Thanks to Annie’s Eats for the recipe!
You’ll need:

Beans: 

  • 1/2 lb. chorizo
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Layers:

  • 1 1/2 c guacamole (Either prepared or homemade.)
  • 1 c fresh salsa (I used this fresh tomatillo salsa, but use your favorite.)
  • Crumbled queso fresco or shredded pepper jack cheese – as much as you want 🙂

Sour cream: 

  • 1/3 c sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, chopped (seeded if you don’t want it super spicy)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime

Get cooking:

Beans:

  1. Heat a pan over medium-high heat, add chorizo and cook 5-7 minutes, until browned and fully cooked.
  2. Add beans and stock, cooking for 5 minutes until stock reduces.
  3. Mash beans and set aside to cool.

Sour cream:

Mix ingredients together, adding salt or more lime juice as wanted.

Assemble the dip:

  1. Spread the beans on the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan.
  2. Top with guac, salsa, sour cream and cheese.
  3. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or veggies.

Mexican pho

When one of your very best friends comes home from Maryland, you drop everything to make her whatever sounds good. And when she comes home in the fall, what sounds good is soup. And Mexican.
I wanted something simple to pair with this, and came across my pho recipe from last winter – clean flavors, fun toppings. And thinking Mexican made me think tortilla soup. Ta done – Mexican pho was born! This would be equally good with a quesadilla side, or even just queso and chips.
Mexican Pho
Simple and satisfying, it’s like the LBD of Mexican food – dress it up any way you want!
You’ll need:
  • 8 c chicken broth – low sodium
  • 2 c chicken (rotisserie leftover roasted chicken works – you can also add 2-3 raw chicken breasts and shred before serving)
  • 2 carrots – diced
  • 1 large onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Additional lime wedges, minced cilantro, avocado, queso fresco, tortilla strips and jalapeño slices – to serve
Get cooking: 
  1. Place all ingredients (chicken broth through pepper) in a slow cooker and stir to combine.
  2. Heat on low for 4 hours, or high for 8 (you can cut the time down if your chicken is already cooked.)
  3. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with plenty of minced cilantro and jalapeño slices.

Roasted sweet potato burrito bowls

My latest foray into “how can I feed more people, more often,” is hosting a monthly book club. But my friends love everything from teeny-bopper vampire tales to gut-wrenching memoirs to aspirational career books – why would we want to read the same thing (that every other book club in the country is probably reading)?

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So we don’t. Each month we pick a theme, and read a book of our choice. Not only have we not spoiled a book for someone, we actually talk about books – plus, we get recommendations (on what to read – and what NOT to read).

I try to match the menu with both the theme and any dietary restrictions (in this case, vegetarian and gluten free). March’s theme was luck, so I wanted something green – but real green, not processed green. Enter roasted sweet potato bowls with green rice. Barely adapted from Cookie and Kate, these bowls were a HUGE hit – and I made a HUGE amount. This recipe could be halved (and even quartered) if you want a more manageable dinner. It multiplies well, is super filling and also really healthy. (We made up for that with dessert. And wine.)

sweet potato2

 

You’ll need:
Green rice
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 c brown rice
  • 6 c broth (veggie or chicken)
  • 2 16 oz. bags frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed of liquid
  • 3/4 c cilantro
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt to taste
Sweet potatoes
  • 5-6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Zest of one lime
  • Salt to taste
Black beans
  • 3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 c salsa (any is fine)
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • Juice of two limes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes
  • Avocado
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Queso fresco or chipotle cheddar
  • Lime wedges
  • Minced jalapeno
  • Sour cream

Get cooking:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Toss sweet potato with olive oil and spices, spread in one layer onto one large or two smaller baking sheets. (I use stones, so I don’t have to grease, but you may want to spray/parchment your pans. As long as they’re rimmed, you’re fine.) Bake, turning once or twice, until browned and fork tender (35-40 minutes.)
  2. For the green rice, blend vegetables in a blender or food processor until smooth. (You can thin out with broth if you need, it’ll depend on how much water your spinach has.) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until shimmering but not smoking. Add rice, stirring and browning lightly. Stir in green blend, cook for a minute, then add broth and boil. Once it’s boiling, cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until rice is tender (35-45 minutes.) Once it’s done, remove the lid, cover the top of the pan with a paper towel and replace the lid (this soaks up excess moisture and helps the rice stay separated.)
  3. For the beans, combine ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until other ingredients are done. You can smash-up some of the beans if you want a more “refried” texture, or leave them whole.
  4. Once everything is finished, serve buffet style with all the garnishes, and let people assemble their own bowls. Serves 8 with a fair amount of leftovers.

 

I have an obsession with…enchiladas

So here’s the thing. I like to eat lots of different things. I have a few meals that are in constant rotation, but for the most part? I branch out a lot. The one thing, though, that I could eat every week for the rest of my life, without fail, is chicken enchiladas. Really, any Mexican food, but there is something about chicken enchiladas – the spicy red sauce, the creamy center, all that cheese, topped with my homemade guacamole – that makes me GIDDY with delight. I am totally biased and I don’t think any restaurant makes them nearly as well as I do, and really, don’t even GET me started on restaurant guacamole – most of it should be illegal because it’s awful.

A former high school teacher – Tiffany, but really, always Miss Frayer to me, even as a 26-year-old adult – sent me a FB message w hile back asking if I had any enchilada recipes. Poor woman, she had no idea what was coming. I have slow cooker and stove versions, and a huge variety of both. I’m posting my enchilada manifesto below – and you know what? I’m going to tell you how to make slap your mamma guac too, just because it’s such a tragedy that so many people eat so much BAD guacamole.

You’ll need:

Filling

(Any of these can be adjusted based on preference – also can be used without enchilada “stuff” and served with chips as chicken nachos.)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Jar of salsa
  • Can of black beans, drained
  • 2-3 red/green/yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 block cream cheese or 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1 t paprika
  • Cayenne to taste 🙂
  • Oil (if needed)
  • Tortillas
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar

Red sauce

  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/2 T cumin
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1 t cinnamon – my secret ingredient 😉
  • Cayenne to taste 🙂
  • Oil

Get cooking:

Filling

  1. Slow cooker version – dump 2 chicken breasts into a crock pot with a jar of salsa. Cook over low for 8 hours or high for 4. Shred, add spices, a can of drained black beans, sautéed red/green/yellow pepper, onion and garlic and cheese.
  2. Stove version – saute diced chicken in oil with onion and pepper, add garlic. Then add spices, salsa and cheese.

Sauce

  1. Saute onion in oil until translucent, add garlic and saute until fragrant, add tomatoes and spices and stir.
  2. Put together option 1: Cover bottom of pan in layer of sauce, fill tortillas and put on top. Cover with sauce and add cheese – bake at 350 until cheese melts and inside is warm, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Option 2: Cover bottom of pan with sauce. Layer in one layer tortillas, followed by one layer of filling, sauce, tortillas, filling until you run out of filling. Top with one more layer of tortillas and the cheese – bake the same amount of time.

Guacamole

(I’m going to write this as if you were making for one person, so one avocado’s worth of “stuff.” Expand as needed.)

You’ll need:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 red onion, diced fine (red is very important here, to get the right flavor)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/2 roma tomato, diced (if you are a tomato in your guac person – I am not)
  • Salt and cilantro to taste

Get cooking:

  1. Mix ingredients together – I keep the avocado a bit chunky, because I like the texture, but mash if you like.
  2. Let it sit about 10-15 minutes if you can to let everything mingle. If you can’t, I’m not judging.
  3. Serve on enchiladas or with El Matador tortilla chips. (Now, I don’t hock many name brand things. I will swear on a stack of bibles that short of making your own chips from your own homemade tortillas, these are God’s chips. I am certain they serve them in heaven or I don’t want to go there.)