Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Spicy Taco Layer Dip

I love this time of year. When summertime rolls around that means it's just the right time for backyard barbeques and cookouts.

I also happen to love the food that comes along with cook-outs. Grilled chicken, juicy burgers, crispy hot dogs, creamy pasta and potato salads. All American good food.

This Spicy Taco Layer Dip is the perfect dip for a backyard barbeque. The warm, creamy layers blend together with just the right amount of heat for an extra kick. Spicy taco seasoning and medium heat salsa give this dip some extra oomph. Melted shredded chedder on top along with rich cream cheese on the bottom tempers that heat for a well balanced dip. Serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips and celery sticks.

Oh, by the way. If you're looking for something that is quick and simple to bring to your Memorial Day barbeques this weekend, I'd say this dip has you covered. Prep time is less than 15 minutes, and after just a few minutes under the broiler it's ready to be served.

And I guarantee your fellow party-goers will be coming back for seconds and thirds and fourths.

The layers are quite simple. It all starts with softened cream cheese in a deep, round or oval baking dish or casserole dish. I actually used the 1/3 less fat variety of the cream cheese, because why not save a few calories here and there?

On top of the cream cheese goes refried beans. The beans don't really add much in the way of taste, but this layer is a good filler and stretches the dip even further. They are creamy and tender, and the perfect partner to the cream cheese.

A pound of ground meat (I used ground turkey, because that's what I had on hand) gets browned and crumbled with 1 medium onion. A package of taco seasoning and a touch of water go in to create that amazing juicy taco meat we all know and love. Don't deny it, there's no reason to.

Taco meat on top of beans.

A jar of salsa on top of taco meat. I used medium, but if you're a crazy hot and spicy lover, you can bump it up to hot salsa.

Shredded cheddar cheese on top.

The dip goes into a hot oven for just about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown and the layers are heated through. The salsa will loosen up a little bit, but after it sits for a few minutes, it gets absorbed by the meat and beans for carefree dipping.

That's all it takes for a delicious, gooey taco dip. Garnish the top with chopped fresh chives, chopped tomatoes, or black olives if your heart so desires. I hope you and your friends can enjoy this dip all summer long!

Here's what you need for Spicy Taco Layer Dip (Print Recipe!)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1.2 pounds ground turkey (ground beef would also work well)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 envelope taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
2 8-oz blocks 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 15-oz can refried beans (I didn't quite use the whole can)
1 jar medium heat salsa (again, I didn't quite use the whole jar)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or monteray jack cheese

Here's what you do

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a frying pan. Saute the onion until transluscent, about 2 minutes. Crumble in the ground turkey and cook until no pink remains. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle in the taco seasoning and add the water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Set aside to cool.

In the bottom of a 1.75 quart baking or other round, tall casserole dish, spread the blocks of cream cheese evenly to cover. Spread the refried beans on top of that.

Add the meat mixture, pressing down slightly with the back of a wooden spoon or knife to pack down the layers.

Pour the salsa evenly over the taco meat. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese. If you are bringing this to a party, cover tightly and warm in your host's oven. This is best served fresh and hot out of the oven. If you are the host, proceed to the next step.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook the dip for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the salsa is bubbly. Allow to rest for a minute or two before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips and celery stalks. Garnish with chives, tomatoes, or olives if desired.

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