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Posts Tagged ‘game day’

It’s a question we ask before almost every family get-together. Between my sisters, my mom, and me, one of us makes an abundant batch (with the hopes of leftovers) of our family’s thick and velvety taco dip.

Remember to grab a couple of bags of your favorite tortilla chips.

Taco dip | Random Sweetness Baking

Taco Dip

2 pounds (32-ounce box) Velveeta

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

2 (10-ounces each) cans chili with no beans

1-1/2 to 2 lbs. ground beef, browned with diced onion or onion flakes

Into a large saucepan over low heat, cut the Velveeta and cream cheese into cubes and melt together. Stir in the chili until thoroughly mixed and melty. Briskly fold in the browned hamburger. Serve hot with tortilla chips. Place in a crockpot if not serving immediately.

Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can melt this dip in the microwave but I’ve found it’s creamier, without white chunks of cream cheese, if I melt it low and slow on the stove top.

For a smaller batch of taco dip:

1 pound Velveeta

4 ounces cream cheese

1 10-ounce can chili with no beans

1 pound ground beef, browned with diced onion or onion flakes

Follow directions above.

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Anyone can mash together shredded and cream cheese and roll it around in dried beef and parsley flakes. But to be the rock star guest at a party, walk through your host’s door carrying a bucket of iced Coronas and a platter full of taco cheesecake.

Don’t crinkle your nose on this one. Taco cheesecake seems odd, I know. We think of cheesecake as being sweet and creamy and on our dessert plate, not as a savory appetizer on our party menu or in our tailgating cooler in the back of a truck.

Taco cheesecake appetizer | Random Sweetness Baking

Think of it this way — you stir together taco seasoning, cream cheese, chili peppers, pepper jack cheese, and roll it in into a cheeseball. So why not add a few more ingredients to make it even creamier, bake it, and then chill before serving with tortilla chips and crackers?

It’s the kind of food you can’t stop thinking about once you start craving it. And you won’t want to tell anyone this, but it is not difficult to make. You don’t even need a special pan.

Taco cheesecake on crackers | Random Sweetness Baking

Taco cheesecake is one of my sister’s favorite cheesecakes. She likes to add chopped black olives. You should also serve it with homemade pico de gallo.

You may want to buy a few more party dresses because your social calendar is about to fill up like a teenager in the cool kid crowd. Especially if you make Key Lime Cheesecake with Patrón Sauce. You will simply be walking the red carpet at that point.

Taco Cheesecake

4 teaspoons yellow cornmeal

24 ounces (3, 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

1/2 cup taco sauce or salsa

1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning

2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

1 cup (4 ounce chunk) shredded pepper jack cheese

4.5 ounce can chopped green chilies OR 1/4 cup finely diced jalapeno pepper and 1/4 cup finely diced bell pepper

Toppings (optional)

Pico de gallo

Sour cream

Chopped black olives

Green onions

Cherry tomatoes

Lightly spray a 9-inch springform or 9-inch round or square cake pan. (Or, two mini cheesecake pans.) Sprinkle the cornmeal onto the bottom of the pan. Preheat oven to 350˚.

In a large mixing bowl, beat softened cream cheese on medium high until smooth with no lumps. Add the sour cream, taco sauce or salsa, and the taco seasoning. Beat on medium until creamy. Slowly beat in the eggs, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. 

Fold in the pepper jack cheese and green chilies and/or peppers until it is all mixed in with the batter.

Pour the cheesecake filling into the prepared pan. Bake at 350˚ for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown and the center looks just set. Cool on a wire rack for one hour. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours before serving. (If using mini cheesecake pans, bake approximately 15 minutes.)

Cut into small slices. Serve with toppings, crackers, crispbreads, tortilla chips, or spread on bagel or bread pieces. Serve cold or at room temperature. The cheesecake is fine to sit out on your party platter for a couple of hours.

Taco cheesecake can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.

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Not everyone grows up with a taste and appreciation for juicy tomatoes. Up until a few years ago, I treated tomatoes as an invasion to my dinner plate. No matter why they were there, I would flick, pick, and poke tomatoes out of my food. The seeds were just as much of an intruder. I could handle salsa, if I used my tortilla chip to dig around and only come up with juice and a few speckles of peppers.

BLTs? Loved them! Hold the tomato.

Pico de Gallo | Random Sweetness Baking

I’m not sure what happened but I think it had to do with Jason being a vegetable lover. (He doesn’t read my blog so he’ll never know I’m admitting he introduced me to something good.) If I recall, I also don’t think I cooked with onions until I met him 11 years ago. I’m sorry, tomato! I was really missing out by not using your juicy flesh in my cooking. You are now welcome to sit on top of my burgers anytime.

peppers tomatoes onions limes

Now it’s all peppers, tomatoes, and onions on deck when I make pico de gallo. I know, I know. My hand is touching a tomato. And I still don’t use the seeds.

core tomato

Once I started liking tomatoes, it seemed like such a pain to cut them up. I was using a chef’s knife. Uh, hello serrated knife! Who knew? Yah, Jason did.

use a serrated knife to dice a tomato

Use kitchen gloves when cutting peppers. If you don’t, your hands and any other body part you touch will feel like a fire pit for an excruciating eight hours.

use gloves when dicing peppers

I’ve never really figured out if there’s a right way to cut cilantro. I just wash it and start chopping/mushing. I don’t use the stems. It’s a texture thing.

cilantro

You can make pico de gallo with any of your favorite vegetables. Leave out the cilantro if you don’t like it. Jalapeños too spicy for you? Use only bell peppers. Not a fan of onions? Who says you need it in your pico?

Pico de Gallo

Use any amount of vegetables you want. To give you an idea how many limes you need, I used the juice of 3 limes for approximately 4 or 5 cups of diced vegetables. It just depends on how much liquid you like in your pico.

red tomato

green bell pepper

jalapeño pepper

tiny red pepper

red onion

cilantro

lime, cut in half

salt

tortilla chips

  1. Wash all the vegetables.
  2. Dice all the vegetables, removing the seeds, and place in a bowl. Remember to use gloves when cutting peppers.
  3. Chop the cilantro and toss into the bowl.
  4. Squeeze the lime juice into the vegetables.
  5. Grind a little salt onto the top.
  6. Stir it all up, cover, and place in refrigerator.
  7. Serve with chips or any of your favorite Mexican dishes.
  8. Crack open a beer and put your feet on the table.

What is a food that you like now but you didn’t used to?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

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Every time I shred a rotisserie chicken, I wonder why I’m not vegetarian. So you can guess I’m not down with gnawing on hot wings because of the bones. And I don’t like dark meat.

But I love buffalo chicken – boneless buffalo white chicken with ranch dressing, buffalo wraps, buffalo chicken salads, the list goes on. But those dishes are often served with tangy blue cheese, not ranch dressing. That’s why this spicy, oh-so-creamy dip is a top pick for people who love ranch dressing with their fiery buffalo chicken, and people you’d never catch at the dinner table with an animal bone in their hands.

Buffalo ranch chicken dip | Random Sweetness Baking

You’ll enjoy this dip hot or cold. I mostly like it hot on tortilla chips and Jason likes it more as a cold spread. At least we agree on our favorite tortilla chips; the same big, salty ones we use to scoop up hearty Chicken Black Bean Salsa.

Although this dip has never made it past the chips in our house, it is addicting and you may find yourself craving it every day for every meal. Of course you could wrap it up in a morning burrito, but here are some ideas to use this dip in recipes that will carry you through evening meals and midnight snacks:

  1. Grilled [buffalo chicken] cheese sandwiches
  2. Tower of buffalo chicken nachos with veggie toppings
  3. Buffalo chicken panini
  4. Buffalo chicken & ranch quesadilla
  5. Enchiladas with creamy buffalo chicken ranch filling
  6. Croissant roll-ups
  7. Buffalo chicken taquitos
  8. Buffalo chicken pizza, topped with crunchy vegetables and baked ’til hot and bubbly

Here’s how you make my favorite buffalo ranch chicken dip:

In a large pan over low heat, slowly melt the cream cheese, stirring until silky and melty. You don’t want any chunks of cream cheese. Keep in pan on low.

melted cream cheese_4101

In a bowl, stir together the wing sauce and the ranch dressing.

ranch and wing sauce

Add to the melted cream cheese and stir until everything is mixed together well.

cream cheese dip

Add the shredded cheeses to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and the dip is well combined.

cheese

Toss in the shredded chicken and stir.

toss in the chicken

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Dip

2 (8-ounces each) packages cream cheese

1 (12-ounce) wing sauce (I use Hooters wing sauce, medium, because I’m kinda wimpy that way, but your sauce can be a heat factor of hell’s deepest pit or whatever you can handle without needing flame retardant clothing)

1 cup prepared ranch salad dressing (I use Hidden Valley, but I swear one of these days, I’ll think ahead and make homemade ranch dressing using this recipe from Ree Drummond a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman.)

1 (8-ounce) package Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1 (8-ounce) package Colby-Jack cheese, shredded

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (approximately 1-1/2 cups chicken)

tortilla chips or crackers

  1. In a large pan over low heat, slowly melt the cream cheese, stirring until creamy and melty. You don’t want any chunks of cream cheese. Keep in pan on low.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the wing sauce and the ranch dressing. Add to the melted cream cheese and stir until everything is mixed together well.
  3. Add the shredded cheeses to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese is melted and the dip is well combined.
  4. Toss in the shredded chicken and stir.

The dip is done. Here’s where you get to decide what you want to do with it. I usually eat some now. And then I put it in a big bowl with a lid and put it in the refrigerator. If it’s a casual weekend around the house, Jason will eat it when it’s cold and I’ll reheat some on the stove and eat it again. And again.

If I’m bringing the dip to a party, I’ll keep it hot in a crockpot. If I’m entertaining at home, I’ll either bake it at 350° until it gets a hot, bubbly crust, or serve it sizzling from a crockpot.

Any way you serve it, this is what it will look like when you’re done.

buffalo chicken dip all gone

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