Tomato By Any Name is an Appetizer – Part 1 of 2

Food and Recipes?

Cooking is not my forte...

Cooking is not my forte…

Ok – I will admit it – the kitchen is a foreign country that has an un-interpretable language to me.  Cooking has too many nuances, too many rules, too many tools!

I like to eat.  That part of food I understand.  I have a kitchen – that cooking part, recipes, I do not understand.

Gadgets still lurk in dark recesses of cabinets and drawers that I haven’t an inkling what to do with.  I got them at my kitchen bridal shower.  That was 45 years ago.

I decided recently that I need to learn to cook and maybe I should write about that, too.  The reasons were simple:

I am dating a man – a younger, used-to-eating-well-as-he’s-into-physical-fitness-and-all-that man.

AND  I ran into a man at an entrepreneur event – a Delaware slightly obsessed foodie,  who is a genius, named Dave.   He offers free cooking classes in his store.  Free.  That’s as in “no cost to take the cooking part.”  I will only have to pay for what I may purchase depending upon the desired results of the cooking and my immediate impulse on the given day of the free class.  In other words – it’s going to cost a fortune to learn how to cook!   But… I’m hooked by the free part.  I’m in Dave.  I’m in.

So here’s what I really know about cooking.  I’ll start with appetizers.

I have two best recipes for just about anything.  If you know how to cook or not, you will find these of interest.  If you master these top-secret carefully selected recipes you will never be at a loss when someone stops by or you are expected to “bring a little something” to a party or event.   The second recipe will be in my next post. Here’s the first no-fail recipe.

Sister’s Empty-Dish Salsa

This works for any size dish or pan.  You just increase or decrease the ingredients accordingly.  I’m giving you the 9 x 13 version which works well for feasts.

The Ingredients

  • 2 packages 8 oz. cream cheese (low-fat, regular fat, etc. – it doesn’t matter.  Just buy the best ingredients if you want it to taste the best)
  • Salsa (this can be from well-known brands in a jar or your own family recipe – my “secret” ingredient is found in the standard 15 oz. jar.  I’m not here to make this difficult for you – your choice of salsa can be red hot, mild, chunky, whatever.  And you can use the larger jar as well  but it’s not really necessary as it tastes great with smaller one.  If you’re really feeling creative, then chop up a fresh tomato and throw that in as well.)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (plain old regular medium, sharp, or extra sharp, low-fat, no fat or whatever.  Again, the better quality the cheese, the better the taste.)
  • Bag of favorite scoopable chips – (this recipe screams scoopables)

The Process

  1. The first layer is the cream cheese.  Spread it out evenly on your pan or dish with a wooden spoon.  A wooden spoon works best for this.  ( If you don’t have any wooden spoons,  you should check out Dave’s shop as he has just about anything that you need to stock your kitchen like a chef.)
  2. For the second layer, evenly spread out the choice of salsa.  (so far so good, right?)
  3. Lastly,  load it up with cheddar on the top.   Sprinkle as much or as little of this as you want.  You know your crowd.  If they’re cheese lovers, add lots.  (These layers do not get stirred together, OK?)
  4. Bake at 350 for about 15 – 25 minutes.   It varies on how crispy you want your cheese.

The Creative Part

If you’re making a smaller portion, which I seem to do almost every day, just slather on some cream cheese, a little salsa, and top with cheese in your dish or bowl that fits the microwave.  Nuk for about 3 – 5 minutes (covered)   I will admit the cheese doesn’t get crispy but it melts nicely.  Test different lengths of time to get the consistency you like as microwaves vary.

My sister, practically a gourmet chef, swears by the oven as it makes the cheese crunchier.  I, as stated before, just like to eat, so microwaving is just fine for me.  The individual portions are great, too, for things like super bowl parties as you have your own dish and can be a double dipper if you want.

So now all you have to do is pick out your favorite scoopable chip – there are so many varieties out there now – and your appetizer will just knock them over.  Your dish will be one of the first to empty.  I can almost guarantee you that.

My second recipe, BFF Tomato Blues, involves Roma tomatoes (or any tomato) and fresh mozzarella.  I’ll post this next as I’m trying to do shorter blog posts.  I plan to incorporate my cooking experience in this blog as this blog represents my life (creative aspects mostly) more than any one particular aspect of it.  My focus is writing about what I’m interested in.  Right now, it’s cooking.   If you want to subscribe, you’ll be sure not to miss what passes as my attempt for enjoying a creative life.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’d love to hear if you try this recipe.     And remember my motto:   Cooking is not just an adventure, it’s a job.  Cheers. 



AN ASIDE:   And smaller dishes are great if friends just stop by unexpectedly as well.  Even though the last time several girlfriends did stop by I wasn’t able to make this for them and they know why, but I won’t be sharing this on this blog post but maybe another one.  And you know who you are girlfriends if you’re reading this, and you had better not comment!  LOL

I hold the copyright to this post.  I realize recipes are technically not but in the context of this post my words are.  ntaylorcollins ©2013  And if you’re in the northern Delaware area, Greenville specifically, stop by and see Dave at his store. 

Maybe we’ll run in to each other and the next thing you know, I’ll be writing about you.  🙂


2 thoughts on “Tomato By Any Name is an Appetizer – Part 1 of 2

    • Hi Liz. I hope that’s a good thing! Thanks so much for commenting. I seem to throw words into the ether – am happy when someone’s home. Hugs, taylor

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