7-Layer Dip

7 layer dip finished

Watching football this weekend? Attending a family friendly New Year’s Eve party? Me too. There is no better tailgate snack food for football watching and potlucks than a Mexican 7-layer dip. I will be bringing this crowd favorite to a friend’s house tonight, and I made individual sizes, so we can keep eating more dip during football games tomorrow. Normally, I like to use a layer of diced tomatoes instead of salsa. I forgot the tomatoes at the grocery store, so I went with the salsa layer, which is a totally acceptable substitute. You can see my original recipe with the diced tomatoes HERE. I know many people have a version of this recipe, but I think the Fritos Original Bean Dip and the taco seasoning mixed in with the sour cream makes this variation a little special. Happy New Year!

Ingredients

  • 2 (9-oz) cans Fritos Original Bean Dip
  • 1 container guacamole (about 10 oz.)
  • ~2 cups salsa
  • 1 pkg mild taco seasoning
  • ~12 oz. sour cream
  • 2 c. Mexican cheese blend, grated
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • scoop Frito’s or tortilla chips

Directions

  • Scoop the 2 cans of bean dip into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and spread evenly across the bottom with a spatula.
  • Dollop the guacamole on top of the bean dip and gently spread out using the spatula. Try not to disturb the bean dip layer. It’s kind of like frosting a cake.

7 layer dip guac

  • Dollop the salsa on top of the guacamole layer and spread gently.

7 layer dip salsa

  • In a small bowl (or the sour cream container), mix the taco seasoning with the sour cream. Combine well. It will be a light orange color. Spread the sour cream mixture over the guac and salsa. Gently spread with the spatula trying not to disrupt the layer beneath.

7 layer dip sour cream

7 layer dip sour cream layer

  • Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
  • Sprinkle the green onions over the cheese.
  • Serve with Frito scoops or tortilla chips.
  • Can be made ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes

  • Make individual layered dips in ramekins or the clear 9-oz. plastic cups.

7 layer dip individual

Cranberry Ice Box Dessert

cranberry ice box dessert finished

We were invited to a dinner with some of TheRoomDad’s coworkers, and TheRoomDad offered to bring dessert. That is code for, “My wife will make something.” My first thought was to bring Banana Peanut Ice Cream Sundaes. The sundaes are always a crowd pleaser, and it is easy to assemble the dessert on site. Then, I remembered another group dessert recipe that my mom served when we were all visiting her awhile back.

I abandoned the ice cream sundae idea and decided to make a Cranberry Ice Box Dessert. It is made ahead of time and sits in the refrigerator overnight before serving. It works well for a crowd, and the flavor is a little different from the desserts I might typically have at a dinner party (no chocolate). The dinner guests loved it, and I had requests for the recipe, so here it is.

cranberry ice box dessert slice

Ingredients

  • 2 c. chopped fresh cranberries
  • 1 large banana, diced
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 c. crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (or chopped pecans– or a combination)
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped

Directions

  • Mix together cranberries, banana, and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.

cranberry ice box dessert cranberry banana mix

  • Place 1/2 to 2/3 of the crushed wafers in the bottom of an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan.

cranberry ice box dessert vanilla wafer bottom layer

  • Cream butter and confectioners’ sugar together and beat well.
  • Spread the butter mixture over the crumbs. This step is tricky! The crumbs move as you try to spread the frosting-like mixture. I drop little dabs around the pan and then use a spatula and my fingers to gently spread as evenly as possible. the crumbs will mix into the butter mixture a little.

cranberry ice box dessert spreading butter mixture

  • Top the cookie crumb and butter spread with  the cranberry and bananas mixture. Sprinkle the nuts over the fruit layer.

cranberry ice box dessert fruit and nuts layers

  • Spread the whipped cream over the fruit and nuts. Cover the whipped cream with the remaining cookie crumbs (and maybe a few more chopped nuts).

cranberry ice box dessert whipped cream layer

  • Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.

Notes

  • It is hard to find fresh cranberries at the grocery store if it is not Thanksgiving. I bought a 10 oz. bag of frozen cranberries from the frozen fruit section at my grocery store. I chopped the cranberries in my Cuisinart after letting them thaw most of the way.

cranberry ice box dessert chopped cranberries

  • If you want to use a 9″ x 12″ dish, up the ingredient amounts a little. I needed the larger size for our group last night. I used the entire 10 oz. bag of cranberries, 2 medium bananas, 1 whole box Nilla wafers, a few extra tablespoons butter and ~1/3 c. more powdered sugar, 2/3 c. chopped nuts, and 2 c. whipping cream.

cranberry ice box dessert close up

Holiday Party Dip

spicy spinach dipIt’s been a food-a-thon around here. It started with the various holiday treats my students gave me last week, which we have been happily eating. I baked two batches of Christmas cookies over the weekend, and then my in-laws arrived yesterday, and we headed out for a fancy dinner. Cut to this morning when I baked a sour cream coffee cake, turkey chili, spicy spinach dip, and pita toasts. I don’t cook often, but when I do, I mean business.

I served the spicy spinach dip with the pita toasts as an afternoon snack. I would qualify the dip as Super Bowl worthy. I also like the fact that it has a festive feel due to the red tomatoes and green spinach. So, readers, Merry Christmas and happy snacking this holiday season!

spicy spinach dip ingredientsIngredients

  • 2-3 T. chopped jalapenos (I used canned and drained)
  • 3/4 c. chopped green onions
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 c. seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 8-oz cream cheese,  softened
  • 2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 c. half and half

Directions

  • Mix all ingredients together. Make sure the cream cheese is blended well.

spicy spinach dip ingredients mixed

  • Pour into buttered ovenproof dish.

spicy spinach dip pre baked

  • Bake at 400 degrees until browned and bubbly (about 20 minutes).

Pita Toast Ingredients

  • 1 package pita bread pockets
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 2 t. lemon pepper
  • 2 t. cumin

pita chipsPita Toast Directions

  • Cut pita pockets into 8 triangles. Separate the triangles into halves.
  • Blend butter, lemon pepper, and cumin.
  • With a pastry brush, spread each piece of pita with butter mixture.
  • Bate at 350 degrees until browned and crisp (about 10 minutes).

pita chips bakedNotes

  • You can use different herbs in the butter mixture for the pita toasts and serve them any time. Italian seasoning is a great replacement for the lemon pepper and cumin. Serve the Italian seasoning pita toasts with soup.
  • The dip can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. Bake about 10 minutes longer if the dip has been in the refrigerator before it goes in the oven.

spicy spinach bite

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

roasted red pepper dip

Our infamous event planner neighbor, Ms. Jackie, went above and beyond for her latest party. She hosted an 80s prom night last night in her backyard oasis, Possum Grove. She even rented a dance floor and had a balloon arch photo area. In honor of this big event, I cooked up a new party dip to share with guests rather than making one of my old reliables. This hot and cheesy roasted red pepper dip was better than I expected. I think throwing the bacon bits on the top before baking really elevated the flavor satisfaction levels.

The cream cheese base in this dish reminds me of the Hot Artichoke Dip and the Charleston Cheese Dip, which have always been favorites of mine. If you need appetizer ideas for football watching this fall or are cooking for a cocktail party with friends, I recommend this roasted red pepper dip recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-5 sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (~4 oz)
  • 1/3 c. chopped roasted sweet red peppers
  • 1 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • Ritz and/or Club crackers for serving

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic until blended.

roasted red pepper dip base

  • Stir in tomatoes, red peppers, mozzarella cheese, Italian cheese blend, and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese.

roasted red pepper ingredients

  • Spread mixture in a greased baking dish. I used an oval baking dish, but a 9-inch pie pan would work too. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bacon bits.

roasted red pepper pre baked

  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until edges are bubbly and lightly browned.
  • Serve warm with crackers.

Notes

  • Can be doubled.

roasted red pepper dip bite

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

strawberry pretzel salad serving

First of all, let’s just clarify that this recipe is not for a real salad. It is for a dessert. It is called a salad in the sense that Jell-O with fruit or nut bits mixed in is known as a Jell-O salad, gelatin salad, or congealed salad (that name gives me the “no” feeling).

My grandmother had a whole box of these gelatin salad recipes. Some of the combinations made no sense to me like grated onion in lime Jell-O with a tuna topping. I am happy to report that there is nothing repulsive about this strawberry pretzel salad. It is delightful and delicious, and it was the perfect ending to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and feast.

strawberry pretzel salad pan

Ingredients

  • 2 c. crushed pretzels
  • 10 T. butter, melted
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 16-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 6-oz pkg strawberry flavored Jell-O
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 3 c. strawberries, sliced

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a bowl, pour the crushed pretzels and 1 cup sugar and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir again until mixed thoroughly.

strawberry pretzel salad crust

  • Press the pretzel mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake for ~8 minutes.
  • Remove pretzel crust from oven and let cool completely.

strawberry pretzel salad crust pan

  • While the crust is baking, slice strawberries and put them in a bowl in the freezer. The cold strawberries will help the gelatin set up faster.

strawberry pretzel salad strawberries

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and continuing stirring until cream cheese is combined, and the texture is smooth again.

strawberry pretzel salad filling

  • Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. Make sure the cream mixture is against the edges of the pan to prevent the Jell-O mix from seeping through.

strawberry pretzel salad filling layer

  • Place the pan with the crust and cream layers in the refrigerator while you mix the Jell-O.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from the stove and add strawberry Jell-O. Stir until Jell-O is dissolved. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. Add the strawberries from the freezer and let Jell-O cool a little more.
  • Remove the pan from the refrigerator and carefully poor the Jell-O mix over the cream layer.

strawberry pretzel salad jello layer

  • Put pan back in the refrigerator until the Jell-O is set. It will take a minimum of 1 hour.

Notes

  • If the Jell-O is too hot when you pour over the cream layer, it will leak through. This will not ruin the taste of the dish, but it won’t look as pretty.
  • Skinny pretzel sticks or the tic-tac-toe board pretzel shapes work well. You can crush in a food processor or put the pretzels in a Ziploc bag and run a rolling pin over them. Pretzel crushing is a great job for littler helpers.
  • There are many versions of this dessert, and I compared several recipes. The ingredient list and amounts stay about the same. You may want to add a few more scoops of Cool Whip than what I listed.

strawberry pretzel salad slice