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Dec 31, 2015

To 2016 And Beyond!

How many cats do you see?





 Introducing our newest family members, Loki and Finn (MacCool), 6 months old.


Along with Loki (front) and Finn, we wish you a very erholsam/restful slide into the New Year and that all the dreams you've imagined for the next 365 days (And Beyond! - said with a Buzz Lightyear voice) will come true.


Our newly adopted rescue cats when they were still in hiding. Loki and Finn (aka The Mischief Brothers)
 
We are celebrating this evening with frozen margaritas and seven layer dip with a side of spanish rice


Seven Layer Dip (meatless version)

The recipe is designed to be spread across a large dinner plate and should serve 4-6 as an appetizer and 2-3 as a main meal. Using a larger decorative platter will also leave room for lining up the tortilla chips or fried tortilla wedges around the edges for a more festive appearance. Feel free to vary quantities according to taste, but don't skimp on the guacamole.

 Layer 1: Refried Beans 

The easiest is to use canned beans or, if available, canned refried beans (the easiest easy). These can also be made from scratch using dried pinto beans or, for something different, black beans. Simply cover the beans in water, add spices as desired, and cook the beans until tender. This does need some prep. Pintos need at least four hours cooking and black beans can take even longer. The beans can be presoaked the night before to speed cooking time. 

Alternatively, with a crock pot (on my wish list), add water, turn it on and forget them for several hours. 

Fry the cooked beans in lard or vegetable shortening or peanut oil (about a tablespoon or two per two cups of beans) until softened. Mash the beans and continue mashing and cooking - if they become too dry add a little bit of water - until they reach the desired consistency (I like mine with some lumps). Option: saute diced onion in the oil before adding the beans. Option 2: Fold in some sliced jalapenos at the end of the cooking time.

Layer 2: Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche

Put two cups of sour cream or creme fraiche in a small bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of taco mix (or make your own - here for example and here) and mix well

Layer 3: Guacamole

The heart and soul of 7 Layer Dip is the guacamole. This is my secret (oops) no-fail guacamole recipe that I learned from a woman I worked with at the UT Medical School in Dallas in my short-lived capacity as medical secretary many many years ago. I wish I could remember her name so I could thank her properly. The avocados must be perfectly ripe. Peel the avocados (need at least two, possibly more depending on size so you end up with a cup and a half - more is certainly okay - I've never ever had any leftover guacamole). Mash them in a bowl, add some finely diced green onion (optional), just a teaspoon or two of chopped and seeded tomato, a few squeezes of fresh lime juice, salt and hacked up cilantro leaves to taste and mix well. Be sure to keep this away from family members until ready to spread onto the dip.

Layer 4: Cheese

Use a good cheese such as a piquant Gouda or well-aged Cheddar or a good Mexican cheese if you can get it. Mozarella also works but is taste-neutral. Shred the cheese until you have a good cup and a half or even two.

Layer 5: Olives

Chopped and seed black olives, a half a cup or so

Layer 6: Lettuce and/or Cucumber

Shred the lettuce finely and, if desired, add a few tablespoons of finely diced cucumber to give about two cups

Layer 7: Tomatoes

Chopped and seeded tomatoes, at least two cups. Option: finely diced green onion can be mixed in with the tomatoes

Assembly:

Spread the refried beans onto the plate or platter to form a layer a bare centimeter thick. Spread the sour cream/creme fraiche on top. Follow this with the guacamole. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the guacamole. The rest of the layers can be sprinkled on as you like. But the order of the layers given here are the way I usually throw it together. The tomatoes on the top give the finished dish a nice color. Warning: the dish will only look good for about the first 30 seconds before everyone begins to demolish it. Give everyone a small plate to pile some dip on and pass around some good quality (plain salted) tortilla chips or deep fried corn tortilla wedges to use as dip utensils. The round chips seem to work the best.

Some people add a layer of ground beef between the beans and sour cream. When adding meat, divide the taco mix between the beef and the sour cream.

For frozen margaritas, this is a simple but excellent recipe and this one is sweeter because it uses a sugar syrup.

Enjoy!