February is a pretty interesting month, when you stop to consider it. The first two weeks alone contain some of the strangest and/or polarizing cultural celebrations out there.
Take, for instance, Groundhog Day, celebrated right off the bat on February 2. Why a rodent should be trusted as a meteorologist is beyond my comprehension, not to mention the oft-ignored fact that, regardless of his prognostication, spring will come at exactly the same time. Unless you live in the northeastern United States, in which case you know all too well that spring will come whenever it pleases, and usually not until May.
Next, we have the unofficial but much-celebrated holiday of the Super Bowl. This could be just an evening of good friends and good food, but the popularity of football has turned the Super Bowl into a whole day (“Super Bowl Sunday”), which often extends into Monday, one of the most popular days for calling in sick. While doing our weekly grocery shopping yesterday, my husband and I noticed that we were surrounded by plastic garlands made to look like footballs. All of the specials were on things like ground beef and avocados. Entire industries are being shaped by this one sporting event. Don’t get me wrong, I love any excuse to celebrate! It’s just a bit of a weird tradition, when you stop to consider it.
Also in early February we have the self-indulgent Academy Awards celebration. If you were ever a woman in her twenties, or if you like movies even a little bit, you’ve probably tuned in. I do nearly every year, even though
I rarely have seen even close to the majority of the nominated films. I guess there’s a bit of escapism involved in watching beautiful people walking down a really clean carpet and gracing lowly reporters with a few words before waltzing off to clap daintily and present each other with awards. Why do I watch? I really have no idea. What a strange thing!
Last, but certainly not least, is perhaps the most polarizing holiday of all—Valentine’s Day. Originating from a combination of pagan traditions and the martyrdom of a nice priest just trying to do the right thing, this is also one of the weirdest celebrations we have in February. We buy each other chocolates, flowers, jewelry, stuffed animals, and a whole host of other things, just to prove that we actually love each other. If you’re single, you might hate Valentine’s Day. You might celebrate Galentine’s Day instead, and hang out with your girlfriends. Single men take a more subtle approach, and may just stay home and play video games like on another day of the year. Here in the northeast, it’s usually super cold, but ladies throw on a dress and tights and go out to a nice restaurant after work to wait an hour for a table. And we don't pay. It’s just the romantic thing to do. All that being said, I actually don’t mind Valentine’s Day at all. There’s never a bad time to tell someone—your husband, wife, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends, whoever!—that you care.
But back to today. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and like everyone else out there, I fully intend to celebrate! If I don’t, I will be forced to dwell on the fact that it’s cold and that I have laundry to do.
One of the best parts of a day like today is the chance to eat things like taco dip. I love Mexican food (or the Americanized version thereof), and will gladly eat it whenever possible. Taco dip is also one of those amazing recipes that you really can’t ruin, because nothing gets cooked. Layering ingredients in a dish is fairly simple, even for those of us for whom recipes often seem too rigid. Taco dip is also amazing in its adaptability; you can make a delicious taco dip in many different ways.
I’d like to share my personal recipe for taco dip. My secret is to rely heavily on spices. I don’t use spice packets, but instead mix in my own. I like things with a LOT of flavor.
Danielle’s Taco Dip
One 16 oz. can refried beans (Any brand will do)
One 8 oz. box of Neufchâtel cheese (If you’re using Philadelphia brand, this is equivalent to the “1/3 less fat” version)
8 oz. sour cream
16 oz. salsa
8 oz. shredded cheese (Any kind will do, but taco-seasoned cheese is ideal)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup shredded lettuce
Begin by spreading the refried beans in a thin layer on the bottom of a baking pan or glass dish.
Next, soften the Neufchâtel cheese by cooking thirty seconds in the microwave. In a separate container, mix the Neufchâtel with the sour cream. Add all of the above spices to the mixture to taste. (I use at least a teaspoon of each, but probably much more. It’s important to do this to taste—cayenne pepper is not to be trifled with.)
Next, spread the mixture onto the refried beans. Pour the salsa over the top of the sour cream/Neufchâtel layer, spreading until flat. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the salsa. Top with the chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Enjoy!
If you’re looking to make taco dip today for your Super Bowl party, give this a try, and let me know what you think. I hope that you have an awesome time celebrating, and may the best team win!