Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Party Snacks- Fiesta Taco Dip

I had my first taco dip at an office food day, so it seems fitting that for food day at work today I would bring taco dip. Why not- it's easy, many ingredients I already have on hand, and almost everyone loves it. It's definitely not fancy but it's good home cooking and sometimes that really hits the spot.

So my first taco dip- for a number of years I worked for an abstract company in Des Moines. I didn't work in the main office though, instead I was in an office deep in the courthouse basement. Not by myself though, I shared the office with five other women. Pam, who worked for the same company as I did, Chris and Sheila who worked for one of the other two abstract companies, and Janet and Shari, who worked for the third company. We were like a little world of our own down there. Even though our employers were competitors the six of us were more like co-workers. We helped each other out if we had trouble figuring out some verbiage in a court file or if we couldn't find something on microfilm. We worked together and had a lot of fun doing it.

Likewise, the people who actually worked for the county and the Clerk of Court also regarded us as an extension of their staff. They included us in every activity from the Christmas Name Draw to office food days. It was one of these food days that Janet brought her famous taco dip, and life as I knew it would never be the same.

I used my own heirloom tomatoes so there are pops of color
like crazy just from the tomatoes- purple, red, yellow,
orange- just gorgeous!! Plus three colors of bell pepper.
You may recognize the name Janet from some other posts. She is my good friend and canning/gardening buddy/enabler and we spend loads of time chatting online or visiting in person, talking canning, cookbooks, travel, politics, gardening, cats and of course, the good old days in the courthouse basement. She visited the Smithsonian recently and shared pictures of Julia Child's kitchen with us. As Janet is a master at gardening she always has the most amazing variety of fresh vegetables every summer. Her garden is HUGE and she generously shares with friends and neighbors every season. I'm always bringing something home- we trade canning jars, jars of food, zucchini, tomatoes, you name it. Anyway, Janet's taco dip is legendary. Taco dip itself is a pretty common recipe- beans, sour cream, seasoning of some sort, and toppings. Janet's garden always yielded the best tomatoes, the most beautiful peppers, fabulous onions and fresh cilantro, and those made her taco dip THE absolute best of all. 

This recipe is not Janet's famous recipe, but my family's favorite version of taco dip. It's a regular all during football season and at family get-togethers like holidays and picnics. Even the youngest members of our family munch up the fresh vegetables like crazy. The best part is, it's easily changed to meet your family's likes and dislikes, or food allergies. Add what you love, and leave off what you don't. Use fat free refried beans and fat free sour cream or yogurt if you are watching fat and calories, or go with dairy-free versions if you need to avoid dairy. For me the veggies are the best part, so I really load up on peppers, tomatoes, sometimes lettuce, and don't forget the salsa!

Fiesta Taco Dip

1 can refried beans
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
8 oz bag shredded cheese
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
small bunch scallions, sliced
handful cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives
1/4 cup chopped bell peppers
additional toppings as desired

In a medium bowl combine the sour cream and taco seasoning. Mix well. 

Spread the refried beans onto a large plate. Something with a rim works great. For parties at home I have a great big glass platter, and for a snack to take along I use a Tupperware cupcake keeper I have had for years. Top with the sour cream mixture and spread that out.

Layer on the cheese and then the toppings. I spoon a few spoonfuls of salsa on top and serve the rest on the side.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Additional toppings are totally up to you. We like spicy foods so I always add some sliced jalapeno, and use hot hot hot salsa. Sometimes I sneak a little teeny bit of finely minced super hot pepper- like ghost pepper in the sour cream making sure it's well distributed. WARN any guests if you use a super hot. I love avocados and if I'm making this to serve right away I'll add cubed avocado to the toppings, or spread some guacamole under the sour cream layer. Sometimes I'll scatter a handful of lime wedges on top too. Lime is a flavor that goes so well with Mexican and Tex Mex foods. Some other ideas include roasted corn, crumbled queso fresco, sliced or chopped hot banana peppers, sliced radishes, shredded lettuce- pretty much anything you might put on a taco.

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