Even Better 7-layer Dip

I've always loved 7-layer dip.  But it's a real bummer when the good stuff is all scraped off and all that is left is the hard canned-refried beans that break your chip when you attempt a scoop.  That's been my experience at least.

This recipe solves that "problem" and I'm happy to say it was a giant hit at a Super Bowl party.

If you need to make this gluten free, skip the taco mix and add in some granulated garlic, salt, cumin and chili powder in place of it.

This makes a LOT so if you are making it for a smaller group of people, half it.

Even Better 7-layer Dip

1 28-oz can refried beans or 3 c. homemade
3/4c. - 1 c. salsa
1 1/2 c. sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened (half a block)
2 Tb taco seasoning OR 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2-1tsp granulated garlic, 1/4 tsp salt
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 c. red onion, minced
2 large tomatoes or 3 small, seeded and minced
2-3 avocados, chopped (my taste-testers preferred more avacado)
1 small can chopped black olives, drained or 1/2 can whole black olives, chopped
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped

Mix together refried beans and salsa to your desired consistency.  Less salsa for thicker beans, more for thinner.  Spread the bean/salsa mixture on a large platter (or a cookie sheet if you don't have a big platter).  Rinse out the bean bowl and mix together sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning.  Spread the sour cream mixture over the beans.  Then sprinkle the rest of the ingredients in layers over the top of the sour cream. Serve immediately with tortilla chips or refrigerate until you're ready to eat it.

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Goat Cheese Mac

I found this recipe and it looked yummy and then I forgot about it until recently....when we started my younger son on an elimination diet to try to get his intestines healthy and determine what foods are causing the upset.  So, for the next 4-6 weeks he can't have wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts or fish.  This pretty much eliminates my current recipe repertoire.  Then...I was going through my Pinterest recipes board and found it.  It was an "aha moment" for me.

I will say, if you don't care for goat cheese you probably won't like this.  I do think that a cream cheese/parmesan mix could work for this if you wanted to try this.  The thing I love most about this dish is it is so very simple, and comes together very quickly.  It does take time to roast the tomatoes but you can certainly sub some sundried tomatoes instead.  Unfortunately I ignored the "cover your plants it's going to freeze" warning and my basil plant died so I used dried...next time fresh basil for sure!

Goat Cheese Mac
recipe adapted from Nummy Kitchen

2 lbs roma tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
1 lb short-cut pasta (brown rice or quinoa pasta for GF)
3/4-1 c. pasta water reserved
2 Tb. olive oil
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped or 2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
6-8 oz goat cheese, crumbled (I used more like 8 oz)

Ahead of time, preheat the oven to 250, quarter the tomatoes if using roma and layer them on a baking sheet.  Roast for 2-3 hours, until they're dried on the edges but still moist in the middle.  Remove from the oven and let the tomatoes cool, chop them up and set aside until you're ready foor them.  Boil the pasta according to directions, before draining reserve some cooking water.  Add to the hot pasta: water, olive oil, basil, salt, pepper and goat cheese.  Stir until the cheese is melted and it's all combined.  Add more cooking water if needed. Stir in tomatoes and serve immediately.


Creamy Tortellini Salad

This is another one of Our Best Bites' recipes.  You really can't go wrong with them.

I made this as a side dish with chicken sandwiches at a get-together recently and it was a hit.  This would be a great picnic item for the summer or add some chicken and make it a meal.  I will say that I would toss the dressing on at the last minute because the tortellini soaks it up and I like it saucy.

I used dried tortellini because I'm frugal and it's cheaper but fresh would be just fantastic.

Creamy Tortellini Salad
adapted from Our Best Bites

14 oz dried tortellini or 20 oz fresh, cooked according to package directions
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cucumber, seeded and sliced
1 c. black olives, halved

Mix all salad ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
3 Tb. white onion, coarsely chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp honey
2 Tb coarse grain or Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh black pepper
1 c. canola oil

Add all ingredients except oil into the blender and mix well.  While the blender is running slowly (very slowly) stream in the oil until everything is  mixed.  Refrigerate the dressing until you're ready to serve the salad.  Before serving toss the salad with the dressing.

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