Yay for having a full kitchen again! After almost two years of sharing a kitchen, or having substandard non-functional kitchens, we are set up again! We have our very own gourmet paradise, and we take full advantage of it. Kelly & I immensely enjoy cooking and creating new dishes together, and are back into the swing of things.
And although everything we make generally has a healthy slant to it, we love food just enough that the constant act of creating (and eating) new dishes is sure to put on a few pounds if we’re not careful to get enough exercise.
Which is another reason we love living in the country – the exercise!
So in the spirit of creating healthy dishes with a gourmet flair, we masterfully came up with a bastardized version of the traditional Mexican 7-Layer Dip – with just 5 layers!
Each individual layer is homemade (save for the cheese – duh) and has its own recipe, so here are the layers, from bottom to top:
- Homemade refried beans
- Cream cheese with a twist
If you can, make the salsa and guacamole in advance and refrigerate to allow the flavours to mix and marry.
The beauty of this dish is that the entire thing can be made and assembled in advance and cooked at the last minute – perfect for entertaining.
After our time in Hawaii at Popai, we learned to become true omnivores; we eat meat every other day at most, and enjoy cooking with legumes the rest of the time. We save a ton of money buying dry beans and cooking them up in larger batches, to be used over a number of different dishes. And with a hankering for Mexican food one day and some red kidney beans soaked and cooked, we tried our hands at refried beans.
1 can (or equivalent) Red kidney beans (or pinto beans, or pretty much any similar bean)
2 tablespoons Lime juice
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cumin
1/ 2 to 1 tsp Cayenne
If you are using canned beans, drain and empty the contents of the can into a blender. If you are using dry beans, soak and cook them according to the package directions, then put into a blender.
Add water half a cup at a time and blend. You want the mixture to be pasty, but don’t worry if you have a mixture with lots of very small pieces – it adds a nice texture that isn’t necessarily characteristic of refried beans, but which works for this recipe. Don’t worry if you end up adding a little too much water, as it will cook off when you fry it.
Add the lime juice, salt, cumin, and cayenne. Blend to mix.
Heat up a non-stick skillet with a little oil in it. Add the bean mixture, and as the recipe indicates :refry those beans! About five minutes will do, stirring often.
Empty the mixture into the bottom of a greased casserole dish and spread evenly.
CREAM CHEESE WITH A TWIST
125 grams Cream Cheese
2-3 tablespoons Corn kernels
Whip up 125grams of cream cheese with a blender or fork until creamy. Add 2-3 tablespoons of corn kernels, either canned (and drained) or raw and freshly cut off an ear of sweet corn. Frozen corn will also do.
Spread the cream cheese mixture in the casserole dish over the refried beans.
Feel free to play around with homemade salsa recipes. This one however, has flavours that aren’t characteristic of salsa but which really compliment the rest of the dip.
2 tablespoons Onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Celery stalk including leafy top, diced
2 teaspoons fresh Coriander
Dice 3 tomatoes and put into a bowl. Add the onion, minced garlic cloves, celery including leafy top, coriander, and salt and pepper to taste.
Spread the salsa evenly on top of the cream cheese mixture.
I love guacamole dearly, and like everything else I have my own twist to it. In fact, I would eat avocadoes whole if given the chance. So the more guacamole you add to this recipe, the better! Here is one “unit” of guacamole which works well, but depending on how much you like the stuff, you may want to increase the quantity for this recipe.
1 ripe avocado
2 tsp finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
Chop the avocado coarsely and put into a bowl. Add the onion, basil, salt and pepper to taste, and mix with a fork. Don’t be afraid to leave some chunks of avocado in the mixture – I quite enjoy lumpy guacamole. If you prefer the creamy stuff though, go to town and mash it. Your choice.
Spread the guacamole carefully over the salsa.
This is the only part you don’t have to make from scratch! Simply grate enough cheddar/Colby/mozzarella/insert-your-favourite-melty-cheese-here to cover the top of the dip.
Put your dip into the oven at about 180 (Celsius) for about 20 minutes. If you want to brown the cheese on top, put it under the broiler for the last few minutes.
Serve with tortilla chips, toasted pita wedges, or even homemade tortillas if you are really adventurous. Stay tuned…