There are two reasons why I don’t cook more often. The first is that I’m convinced that cooking is very time consuming and that it will take forever to make the most basic things. For someone like me, who lives a very “on the go” kind of lifestyle, the time to make a balanced meal can feel like an eternity. The second is that I’m more motivated to cook things for other people than I am for myself. If I know that we’re having a food day at the office or a family gathering is coming up and I need to bring a dish to pass I am all over it. Mostly because a lot of recipes are tailor made to feed more than one person and I don’t like the idea of having leftovers for dinner so many days in a row. Cooking feels a like a lot of trouble to go through for just myself.
Recently, I stumbled upon a recipe for seven layer taco dip and it immediately stood out to me as something that even I could prepare. I’ve been known to buy taco dip from the store or to bribe friends and family to make theirs for me. Why not just do it myself? I tweaked a couple of things about the recipe that I wasn’t sure about and bought all the ingredients. I cut the vegetables myself and spent the next 30 minutes making a brief mess of my kitchen and my clothes. Lo and behold, I had made a delicious looking taco dip that soon became a much loved and much discussed dish at the next office food day. Suddenly, I was being asked to bring it along. I was being asked for the recipe. That never happens to me!
Of course, I mentioned it on Twitter and posted a picture. Enough people asked about it that I figured I would talk about it and include the recipe here. So without further ado, here is how to make my world famous seven layer taco dip.
1 (1 ounce) package of taco seasoning mix
1 (16 ounce) can of refried beans
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
1 (16 ounce) container of sour cream
1 (16 ounce) jar of salsa
2 cans of sliced black olives, drained
1 large tomato, diced
1 bunch chopped green onions
2 packages of shredded cheese
A couple of notes about the ingredients:
– I try to stay away from Americanized ingredients, whenever possible. If you venture down the taco aisle at the grocery store, you can see brands that are more authentic, like Goya, La Preferida, etc. I would choose brands like that for your taco seasoning, your refried beans, and your salsa. If for whatever reason you don’t have access to those types of brands, then I’m sure using more American brands like Old El Paso and Ortega would be just fine.
– You can use low fat or non-fat versions of the sour cream and the cream cheese, but I wouldn’t do that with the refried beans. I have found that the healthier versions of refried beans are more dry, more difficult to get out of the can, and harder to mix in with the taco seasoning because of this. If you would prefer them anyway, be my guest. The finished product should still turn out the same.
– Make sure to use a really chunky salsa, like a picante or something that’s not very watery. Because the salsa is going to act as a layer, you want to make sure that it can support whatever you put on top of it. If your salsa is too soupy or runny, your final layer or two will not sit well.
– Regarding the cheese, I really enjoy the brands that are listed as “Mexican style” or “Taco style” blends. They usually consist of a mixture of cheeses, like Asadero cheese, cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack. I tend to use the entire package, because the cheese is one of the final layers and you want to make sure you have enough for your handfuls of vegetables to rest comfortably on. Depending on how big of a pan or dish you plan on using, I would maybe even pick up an extra bag to be safe.
– First, take your green onions and chop them up. Place them into a small bowl on the side.
– Take your tomato and dice that up. Place it into a different bowl on the side.
– In a medium sized bowl, mix the taco seasoning in with the refried beans.
– In another medium sized bowl, mix the cream cheese in with the sour cream. Make sure it blends smoothly and with as few lumps as possible.
– Pour the mixture of the taco seasoning and the refried beans into a small to medium sized casserole dish. I like using a smaller dish because it’s deeper and it really emphasizes the layers. It also helps the layers stay firm in the fridge until you’re ready to take the dip out and serve it. Use a spatula to evenly spread the mixture across the dish and around the corners. When you’re done, it should look like a single flat layer. You may have some excess left over, as I try not to make the layers too deep.
– Next, pour the mixture of the cream cheese and the sour cream on top of the previous layer. Smooth it all out with the spatula, making sure not to press too hard or to actually dig into the layers with it. Again, you may have some excess, because of the reason listed above.
– Open up your jar of salsa and begin pouring that on top of the layer of cream cheese and sour cream. Begin spreading that around with the spatula, like you did with the previous two layers.
– Take a few handfuls of cheese and begin sprinkling that on top of the layer of salsa. Keep doing that until you can’t see any more salsa. Feel free to take your fingers and slide it gently around, to fill any open spaces in the dip where you can still see salsa. This is why I usually use the whole bag. Pay extra attention to the middle and to the corners of your pan. Sometimes the cheese may come out of the bag in clumps or it may be sticky. If that’s the case, take a second to break it up in your hand before you pour it on top. The cheese should sprinkle out of your hand or the bag, not come out in clumps. It’s easier to spread it around when it’s not in clumps, too.
– Lastly, take a handful of the green onions and tomatoes that you chopped up and diced earlier and sprinkle it on top of the layer of cheese. Make it as colorful as you would like. Again, feel free to take your fingers and slide things around if you want. Open up the can of black olives, drain it and then sprinkle those in, too. You should see a nice array of red, green, and black jumping out at you as the final layer of your taco dip. My first batch turned out like this:
I tend to make it at least a day before I know that I will need to serve it or have it ready, so the layers can really settle and take hold. Eventually, it will cave in on itself once people start to dig into it. But until then, you really want the dip to keep its shape and not have it collapse in on itself.
And that’s it! With any luck, you have just prepared a terrific seven layer taco dip for yourself and for others to enjoy. Feel free to bring it to your next guild meet up or even make it as a raid time snack for yourself or your significant other (if they happen to game, too).