Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Summer, in most parts of this country, is reason to celebrate. The snow's melted, the water in the swimming holes is warm enough to jump in without getting goose bumps, light-weight cool cotton clothes are comfortable and casual, and you don't have to get bundled up. The kids get a break from school.

Ah-h-h freedom…vacations…flowers…green grass…backyard barbeques…great food and drink!  

Out here in the Arizona desert  it’s a different story. It’s too hot to go outside. Excessive heat warnings are blasted across the TV screen every morning. Errands to run? Get them done before noon.

And, who wants to be outside grilling steaks when it’s 110 degrees?

Nevertheless, we do party and barbeque in Arizona…in the desert…just not in July, August and September.

Here are a few of my favorite southwestern party appetizers. Nothing complicated. Enjoy.

Chili Con Queso Dip

        Half stick butter
        ¾ cup tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or use canned.
        ¾ cup finely chopped yellow onion
        2 4-ounce cans diced green chile
        2 pounds Velveeta cheese, cut in chunks.
        2 cups tomato soup undiluted
        1 lb. ground beef
        Sliced jalapeños for garnish

Sauté onion and tomatoes in butter over low heat in a heavy soup pot.

Add ground beef and brown it completely until it’s crumbly and mixed well with the tomatoes and onion.

Put this mixture in a strainer over a bowl and drain off the fat.

Put the meat mixture back in the soup pot.

Stir slowly adding cheese, chiles and soup until it is melted and mixed.

Add milk, a little at a time, if the dip is too thick.

Put it in a small crock-pot on the low setting to keep it warm.

Serve it as a dip or on nachos with the jalapeños sprinkled across the top, if desired.

Tomato and Basil Salsa

This is the freshest tasting salsa there is. It always gets rave reviews.

Mix the ingredients in a serving bowl and put in the refrigerator for an hour so the flavors can blend together.

        1 tomato peeled and chopped
(Do you know how to peel a tomato? Put the tomato in a deep bowl and cover with boiling water. After a couple of minutes take it out and it will peel easily. Don’t leave it in the water too long or it will cook the tomato.)

        ½ chopped red onion
        2 tablespoons seeded and chopped jalapeños
        Juice of one lime
        1-teaspoon vinegar
        Basil chiffonade (sliced fresh basil leaves)
        Salt & pepper
        ½ tablespoon olive oil

Serve with corn chips or “scoops”.

Cowboy Caviar

   This is a good dip with tortilla chips or mixed with 2 cups shredded cabbage for a salad.
        Mix together the following:
        2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
        1 ½ to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
        1 ½ teaspoons salad oil
        1 clove garlic minced
        1/8-teaspoon pepper

        1 firm-ripe avocado cut into ½-inch cubes. Add to vinegar mix.
        Drain and rinse: 
        1 15-ounce can black-eye peas
        1 15-ounce can corn kernels

        Add peas and corn with the following to vinegar mix:
        2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
        2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
        ½ pound Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
        1-teaspoon salt

Refrigerate covered until serving.


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