Friday, January 31, 2014


Layers are good, layers are even great!  

When it’s cold outside, layers keep us warm.

Layered hair styles are fab.  Did you see Taylor Swift’s pretty new layers on The Grammys?  If I had layers like that I’d have been flipping them all over the stage too!  I didn't actually watch the Grammys as I was watching a recorded episode of Downton Abby, much more satisfying than an awards show (I don't have high opinions of awards shows), but I did happen to catch Taylor; love her!

Don’t forget about layer cake?   It’s yummy cake, upon yummy icing upon more yummy cake and icing…what’s not to love?

And ya know that most every Super Bowl party is gonna have the usual layered bean dip.   

We all love that layered bean dip, but perhaps it’s time for a change; change is also good!

Caribbean Layered Bean Dip is familiar but different.  This recipe uses refried black beans with Caribbean spices (granted Chinese five spice isn’t Caribbean, but most of the spices in it are), and also has some sweet yet tangy mango (Mango is used frequently in savory Caribbean dishes), and a little spicy heat to balance everything out.

I had planned on adding a layer of guacamole to this recipe, but my avocados were still rock hard; even after leaving them in a paper bag.  If you love guac, go ahead and add it, but the dip is still really delish without it.

I almost forgot…GO HAWKS!!!

Here’s what you do.

Dice a mango into about 1/4 inch pieces; the mango should be a little green but not too firm; a really ripe mango will be too sweet.

Marinate the mango in a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a few pinches of cayenne pepper, allow it to sit while the remaining ingredients are prepped.

For the refried black bean layer.

Start by toasting 1/4 tsp. each of Chinese five spice powder and ground allspice in 1/2 Tbsp. of canola or grape seed oil, in a skillet over medium heat.  

Toasting the spices really rounds out their flavors.

Don't walk away from this as it tends to burn quickly; this was my second attempt...oops.

When you can smell the spices (30 to 60 seconds) cut the heat and stir in the garlic powder.

And then stir in a can of refried black beans and return the skillet to the heat just until the beans are warm; this just encourages the flavors to marry.

Spread the beans into the bottom of a dish, you do want them to cool.

For the cream cheese layer.

Whisk together half of a block of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sour cream until smooth.  

If you wanna use reduced fat cream cheese and sour cream, I won't judge you.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the beans and then top with 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.  

For the toppings.

Evenly distribute the tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion and mango (which has been strained of the juices)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese (I chose to use both yellow cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese in this just for the color interest) and finish with minced banana peppers (I like the hot ones) and sliced ripe olives.

Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve; or serve immediately with tortilla chips, or if you're ambitious with Tostones (crisp fried green plantains)!

Serves 8

1              cup         Mango, diced small (the mango should be slightly green, but not too firm)
                             A squeeze of fresh lime juice
1 to 2        pinches    Cayenne pepper
½             Tbsp.       Canola or grape seed oil
¼             tsp.         Chinese five spice
¼             tsp.         Ground allspice
1/8           tsp.         Garlic powder
1-16          oz. can     Refried black beans
4              oz.          Cream cheese softened to room temperature (half a block)
½             cup         Sour cream
½             cup         Grated cheddar cheese
1              cup         Tomatoes, diced small
½             cup         Bell pepper (which ever you like), diced small
¼             cup         Red onion, minced
½             cup         Monterey Jack cheese
½             cup         Ripe black olives, sliced
1/3           cup         Jarred banana peppers, (hot or mild) minced

   1.       Combine the mango with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and couple of pinches of Cayenne pepper, stir and then set to the side to marinate.
   2.       In a medium skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the Chinese five spice and the allspice and cook while stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, just until you smell the spices (don’t walk away).  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the garlic powder and then the refried beans; return to the heat and cook just until warmed through.  Remove from the heat and spread the beans in an even layer in the bottom of an 8 x 8 x 2 inch pan or a large shallow bowl.  Set this to the side to cool slightly while you prep the remaining ingredients.
   3.       In a medium bowl whisk the cream cheese and sour cream together until smooth.  Spread the mixture over the beans.
   4.       Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the cream cheese mixture.  Strain any liquid from the mango and then evenly distribute the mango, tomatoes, bell pepper and red onion over the cheese.  Sprinkle a layer of Monterey Jack cheese and then the olives and banana peppers (for more spice, use more banana peppers). 
   5.       Serve immediately with tortilla chips; or cover and refrigerate.  

Notes:     You may use all of either cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.

                You may add a cup of guacamole; I would layer it on top of the cream cheese layer.

                This dip would be really great served with Tostones!

You may also like:

White Bean Turkey (or chicken) Chili