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Dips easy fix when entertaining

Entertaining is fun, right? Shopping and chopping and decorating. Yeah, but sometimes it’s more of a chore than a blessing at this time of year. Especially with all the crowds and the time crunch everyone is under to get things done before the family and the holiday arrive.

My solution to what to serve when bunches of people are coming over – and you feel there isn’t quite enough on the menu but there just isn’t time to throw one more thing together – is the layered dip.

I have compiled a few not-so-ordinary, really great layered spread/dips that go great with a formal presentation and work equally as well when the clock is ticking and your family and friends (and Santa) are due to arrive any second.

Tex Mex Layered Dip

1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream

1 tablespoon taco seasoning

1 avocado, chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or parsley

1 (14.5 ounce) can vegetarian or regular refried beans

1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

3 green onions, chopped

1 cup sliced black olives

2 tomatoes, diced

1 cup green leaf lettuce, shredded

Taco chips and sliced cucumber, bell pepper strips, carrots and celery sticks

In a bowl, combine the yogurt and taco seasoning and mix to combine; set aside. In a bowl, combine the avocado with the lime juice and the chopped cilantro. Mix to combine and set aside.

Spread the refried beans into the bottom of a 10- inch serving plate. Spread the avocado mixture over the beans. Spread the yogurt mixture over the top of the avocado mixture, then sprinkle the black beans, cheese and green onions over the yogurt mixture. Continue topping with the black olives, chopped tomatoes and lettuce.

You can serve immediately, but I prefer to refrigerate at least one hour so the flavors have time to really bloom. Serves 8 to 12 depending on what else you serve.

Layered Seafood Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup cocktail sauce

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

3 green onions, chopped

1 tomato, seeded and chopped

1 cup cooked crabmeat, shredded or cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup cooked shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sour cream and mayonnaise. Mix until smooth On a 12-inch round serving dish, spread the cream cheese mixture. Gently spoon the cocktail sauce evenly over the mixture, stopping about 1/4 inch from the edge. Sprinkle the top with the chopped green bell pepper, green onions and tomato. Layer the crabmeat and shrimp over the top of the vegetables, then sprinkle the mozzarella over the top of the shrimp and crab. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Serves 8.

Layered Reuben Dip

1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons spicy brown or horseradish mustard

4 ounces cream cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups coleslaw mix

2 cups prepared sauerkraut, drained

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1/2 cup prepared chili sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

10 ounces sliced corned beef, chopped

4 slices seeded rye bread, toasted and cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

Rye bread toasts, rye crackers or potato chips for serving

In a food processor bowl, combine the Swiss cheese, 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, the mustard, cream cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until smooth. Remove and set aside. Rinse out the food processor bowl and combine the coleslaw, sauerkraut, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pulse three or four times, just until coarsely chopped. Remove and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise, the chili sauce, ketchup and a few grinds of black pepper and whisk to combine.

Spread the cheese mixture on the bottom of a 3-quart serving dish. Then top with, in even layers, in this order corned beef, rye bread chunks, chili sauce mixture and then the sauerkraut mixture. Sprinkle the caraway seeds on top.

Wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight. Serve with rye bread toasts, rye crackers or potato chips. Serves 8 to 10.

– Modified from a recipe on TV’s Food Network Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at ztlog@verizon.net or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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