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Layered Taco Dip

Robert Schneider Jr. identified himself as "an avid Steeler fan and former Three Rivers tailgater," who used to live in Ross but now calls Laurel, Md., home. "This recipe is usually a good appetizer for 6 to 8 people. [See note.] Also, because it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to prepare, I usually make it a little on the hot side to diminish the tailgaters' ability to gobble it all down in 10 minutes. Two large bags of tortilla chips (or Doritos) are required in order to devour the whole thing."

12 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 (16-ounce) can refried beans
12-ounce container guacamole, found in the produce section, or 2 ripe avocados, mashed
1 pound ground beef, optional
Cayenne pepper and cumin to taste or chili powder and garlic powder
16 ounces picante sauce (hot, medium or mild, to taste)
1/2 to 3/4 head shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 white onion, diced (or scallions)
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
Small can sliced black olives
Bag shredded 4-cheese mix
Small jar jalapeno peppers

In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Spread on a 12- to 15-inch diameter tray or equivalent-sized cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to make it set up a little stiff.

Blend refried beans and 1/4 can (use bean can) of water in mixing bowl. Evenly spread on top of the cream cheese/sour cream base.

Spread guacamole on top.

Brown and crumble ground meat in a skillet; season with cayenne pepper and cumin (or garlic and chili powders) to your tolerance for heat. Drain. Sprinkle meat onto the guacamole.

Pour on and spread picante sauce as the next layer.

Sprinkle 1/2 bag of shredded 4-cheese blend over picante sauce.

Shred lettuce for the next layer; use just enough to make an even layer -- not too deep.

Finely dice onion and bell pepper; sprinkle evenly over lettuce.

Dice tomato and sprinkle on top

Cover evenly with remaining shredded cheese.

Distribute small can of black olives evenly on top of cheese.

Finely chop as many jalapenos as your tolerance to heat permits and sprinkle them on top of everything. Chill 1 to 2 hours.

Serve with tortilla chips and a cold Iron or two. Enjoy.

Note: We found that this dip easily serves between 14 and 18 people.

Thursday, September 23, 1999

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