Saturday, July 19, 2008

Easier-Than-It-Looks Recipe: Touchdown Taco Dip

This past July 4th, Linda made this dip. It was excellent, and I couldn't wait to share it with you. We got this recipe from the Pampered Chef recipes. I like it best with multi-grain tortilla chips, but you can use other chips. Also it should be served warm, and is quite delicious when you do. It was designed to be served when watching football and shared with friends (but is also good by your lonesome). However, I hate to admit it, but I don't watch football, until the playoffs. Give me the FISH or the HEAT, and I'm there. So, really, you can have it whenever you want a tasty (mildly spicy) snack. Here it is...

Touchdown Taco Dip

1 can (16 oz.) refried beans

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, sliced

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, thinly sliced

Tortilla chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread refried beans over bottom of a deep casserole dish (or reasonable substitute). Combine cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning with minced garlic in a bowl. Mix well.

2. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over beans. Spread shredded cheese over top. Bake 15 - 18 minutes or until hot.

3. Sprinkle olives, tomato, onions, and cilantro over dip. Add more sour cream if you like. Serve (warm) with tortilla chips.

Yield: 16 servings

As usual, I suggest adjusting the recipe for your own tastes and preferences. Try it. You'll like it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I'm guessing that many of you remember your parent saying this to you as a child. "Turn off the lights." My mother would say this to my brothers and me, usually adding something about the cost of electricity. Well nowadays it pays to be more aware of the costs of many of the things that we take for granted. Actually, in this case it does actually "pay." In recent years I've come to be a lot better about this. Though my wife occasionally has to remind me. She's clever (and funny, sometimes). She'll say, when the light's left on in a particular room: "Who's in the bathroom?" Leaving it up to me to figure out the unsaid second half of the statement (first noticing that no one is actually in there), "Then why is the light on?" I get it. It's just one of those mindless habits of mine that lingers, and now has become much more costly. The answer, of course, is to become more aware of what we do and don't do, and the consequences. Be more mindful.

Mindfulness has far reaching relevance, if we apply it to our daily living. We have a lot of non-thinking behaviors that impact our lives short term and long term. Even things we do, that we decided long ago are not useful for us that we continue to do. Habits are hard to break. So you don't have to decide to change things all at once. That's often just too difficult. Am I right smokers? So don't keep doing things unconsciously. For example, if smoking is your obstacle, allow yourself to be more aware of when and why you're having that particular cigarette. Even if it's "because I want to." Make a conscious decision each time you have one. Don't let it just be automatic. Being more mindful will have a direct effect on cutting down. We all know the consequences of this habit, so reducing your use simply by being more aware will improve your health. Being mindful of turning off a light when you leave a room (or unplugging electrical appliances that are not being used) will save you money on your electrical bill. By the way, FPL is making a rate hike (for us Floridians).

So let's expand this mindfulness idea, and apply it to other areas of our lives. Relationships: Being aware of things that loved ones do (cooking meals, kids helping out, a coworker or subordinate that does their job well without whining), that you may take for granted, may now require some acknowledgement. Health: You can you be more aware of drinking water, managing stress (including time to relax, play, etc.), breathing more completely, exercise, even awareness of the emotional eating that we do. Personal Growth: Have you gotten too used to the depression or anxiety you sometimes struggle with? Do you remember to appreciate the good things in your life? I think you get the point, but here it is again. MINDFULNESS is better than mindlessness.